Religion and Culture
The curricular mission of the Department of Religion is to lead students who major in Religion and Culture to understand religion as a significant part of the human experience, simultaneously shaping and being shaped by cultures, societies and worldviews. To this end, students will become acquainted with the sacred scriptures and basic history and tenets of major world religions. Students will acquire a more in-depth understanding of the histories, beliefs and scriptures of Judaism and Christianity and will have the opportunity to explore more fully the third of the Abrahamic religions, Islam; they will understand the roles of the dialectical relationship between religion and the societies in which they are embedded with respect to such issues as science and religion and engagement with contemporary culture. Students will come to understand the roles that religion sacred texts play both to legitimate and to challenge given cultural norms and practices. Students will be encouraged to recognize that religion plays its most significant role in society when it assumes a stance to affirm human dignity and to challenge social and cultural structures that diminish such dignity. Finally, students will learn essential skills to do original research in religion appropriate for undergraduate students.
Students interested in studying religion, either as a major or minor, should strongly consider submitting an application for the Vocational and Spiritual Exploration scholarship and the Hester Scholarship. Click here for more information.
Degree programs offered:
- Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Culture
- Minor in Religious Studies
J. Bradley Chance, Ph.D., Religious Studies
Professor of Religion and Chair of the Department, and Director of Academic Advising
Dr. Chance received an A.B. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He then attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where he was awarded the M.Div. Dr. Chance holds his Ph.D. from Duke University. His areas of focus include New Testament and early Christianity, biblical interpretation, and religion in the contemporary society, including sociology and religion and science/religion dialog. Chance is recipient of the Willard Teaching Award, 2013. He is also recipient of the Northland Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Teaching Award, 2001 and the Missouri Governor's Teaching Award, 2002. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion.
Milton P. Horne, D.Phil. in Theology
Professor of Religion and Coordinator for Faith and Learning
Dr. Horne received a B.A. from the University of Missouri, Columbia. He attended the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he was awarded an M.Div. Dr. Horne then received a Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Oxford. He focuses on the Old Testament; ancient Near Eastern religion and culture; and the history of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Horne is recipient of the Willard Teaching Award, 1994 and the Northland Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Teaching Award, 2008. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature.
Brendon C. Benz, Ph.D., Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East
Assistant Professor of Religion
Dr. Benz received a B.A. from Taylor University in Upland, Ind. After teaching high school history for two years in Queens, N.Y., he attended Princeton Theological Seminary where he received the Henry Snyder Gehman Award in Old Testament and gradated with an M.Div. Dr. Benz holds his Ph.D. from the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. While there he was awarded the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award and served as a teaching fellow for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Teaching and Learning Program. His areas of interest include Israelite history and religion, biblical theology, and contemporary biblical interpretation. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Oriental Society.