Since creation, humans have sought to define and record the human experience. The Scriptures certainly do this as, through revelation, God has given us an understanding of the foundational questions that have driven the human experience: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? What is my destiny? The humanities, through literature, history, philosophy, art, music—represent man’s quest to understand and record the human experience and to answer these questions.
Because we have the Bible, Christians often ask why the humanities are necessary. As a professor who teaches in the humanities, I am occasionally asked a more direct question: “Why do I have to take a literature course? After all, I’m going to be a preacher. I don’t need this stuff.” Concern over this disconnect regarding important aspects of a Christian college education was part of the founding vision of Maranatha.
Maranatha’s Unique Focus
I graduated from a Bible college in 1973. While my courses in doctrine, church history, and books of the Bible were vital in my growth as a Christian, the college did not require a strong liberal arts core, and I felt that something was missing—something that could give a broader perspective to the biblical content I was receiving.
Following graduation, my wife and I joined the faculty of a Christian school where we were first exposed to the ministry of Maranatha through a Madrigal Choir tour and Dr. Cedarholm’s involvement in the story of “The Miracle of Maranatha.” I caught something in Dr. Cedarholm’s recounting of Maranatha’s foundations—that though he was talking about Maranatha as a Bible college, Maranatha was offering more than the typical Bible college curriculum.
Maranatha had multiple courses in literature, history, science, and mathematics. Maranatha was bent on shaping and equipping its students through an education that addressed the whole spectrum of the human experience. This focus on the humanities was missing from my own education.
The Humanities at Maranatha Today
Maranatha Baptist University continues the Cedarholms’ legacy, as the humanities are still a major emphasis of the curriculum. The Maranatha student not only studies the Bible and biblical subjects, but also studies the natural world, literature, history, politics, the realm of ideas, and the arts through a general education core. While some might question the need for such a focus, our contemporary culture demands that graduates be equipped to understand the world’s philosophies and Maranatha desires to equip students to counter those philosophies with the truth.
All of the courses in the general education core add to the student’s knowledge of the world that God has made, deepen the student’s knowledge of God Himself, and broaden the student’s understanding of how he or she can fulfill the Great Commission. The general core challenges students to become critical thinkers first and then to engage their culture and to become compassionate individuals who can relate to their friends and neighbors on a personal level.
In a digital culture that tends to segregate people through algorithms that filter the information that one receives and often limits the people with whom one interacts, Maranatha challenges its students through the humanities to broaden their vision and to see the world as Christ wants them to see it—human beings, created in God’s image who need the truth of the Gospel.
As I interact with my students, I am always grateful to hear their comments about their experiences in the general core. Students who chaffed at having to take English Composition comment about how the rigor of writing papers helped them become critical thinkers.
Other students remark that taking a literature course helped them to understand their neighbors or co-workers in a new light. Others who have chosen majors that require a more in-depth exposure to the humanities share how their understanding of the connections between the Bible and culture has developed and how that deeper understanding has equipped them to minister more effectively to our present culture.
Maranatha Baptist University continues the legacy of Dr. and Mrs. Cedarholm, equipping leaders for ministry in the local church and the world through its continued emphasis on the humanities.