[Kristin and Brian Tabb are part of the BCS community. Kristin received a B.A. in English with a concentration on Secondary Education from Cedarville College, and an M.A. in Biblical Exegesis from Wheaton College. Brian is the Assistant Dean of the Seminary, and Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at BCS. Brian received his Th.M. from Luther Theological Seminary, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the London School of Theology.]
Having been through rigorous academic Bible training myself, I (Kristin) am so very glad that BCS is seeking to encourage women in their academic pursuits in our undergraduate programs. I’m grateful to God for the opportunity he gave me in my single years of pursuing him through academic biblical training – during those years, my theology was deepened and enriched, my understanding of God and his Word challenged, and my desire to know God and make him known strengthened. I have since used my degree to write curriculum with my husband and serve others in the church with the understanding God has given me, to understand and appreciate my husband’s work and to minister with him overseas, and to minister to our children here at home. So, why women at BCS? A few reasons:
1. For the Sake of the Kingdom.
The Great Commission is not yet complete. The kingdom mandate remains – and with it, a strategic reason as to why it is valuable to educate women, along with men, at BCS. This world needs Christian women of vibrant faith with firm theological grounding – serving as professionals, home educators, missionaries, wives, mommies. Groups that women will reach include Muslim women in far away places, refugees from around the globe, children with disabilities, public school children and youth, the aging, homeless women and youth, young professionals, next door neighbors, their own husbands and children, orphans, foster children, fellow church members, lost Americans, lost nationals overseas. Receiving a Bachelor’s degree through Bethlehem College and Seminary thoroughly prepares women well for the task at hand: ushering in the kingdom of God. By training their minds to think biblically, and by training the heart to love God and his ways, and by practicing obedience to Christ within the community of the body of Christ –women are prepared for the task.
2. For the Sake of BCS
Women are valued at BCS because both genders are made in God’s image, reflecting him in a way that is unique in all of God’s created world. Men and women present different aspects of who God is through their respective masculinity and femininity! This is the beauty of complementarity – and it is often underappreciated. Ideally, studying theology and worldview at a complementarian school should free women from the need to compete, or to “prove” themselves, to “win one for the women”, so to speak – temptations that often exist in secular and even Christian schools, which rarely produce godliness. We want to acknowledge and appreciate the differences between the way women and men tend to engage in studies and in the classroom dynamic – our men tend to be driven by a desire to “guard the good deposit (2 Tim. 1:14),” and our women tend to be driven by a desire to see the gospel worked out by faith in love (Gal. 5:6). Both of these perspectives are needed and valuable in the classroom setting, and contribute to the ultimate goal of knowing, loving, learning, and spreading the Gospel well.
3. For the Sake of Discipleship
It is this third reason that is closest to our hearts. Personal spiritual transformation (discipleship) is, we believe, the most important reason for women to study Scripture academically. Jesus had female disciples, and they were commended for their desire to learn from him – a priority which should be the top priority for any disciple of Jesus Christ. In Luke 10, Martha is “distracted” with something – something that is a good and biblical thing: hospitality and service. These aspects of biblical womanhood are good, but Mary, her sister had chosen the “one thing” that was necessary (or, the word could be translated, needful): sitting at the feet of Jesus to learn from him. Jesus’ commendation should ring loud in the ears of our female students: “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Single, college-age women are at a unique place in their lives. Many will continue to work full-time jobs, go into full time missions or ministry work, marry, and have children. But this brief season in their lives is dedicated to doing something that many of them will not have focused time for after college: deep, hearty study of the Word of God and examination of the worldviews that exist around us and in us, and learning in a church community dedicated to seeing the Word of God be a living Word in their lives. This deepens theological roots to run deep and encourages sanctification to happen. It equips women with knowledge, skills, and passion to feed themselves (and others) from the Word of God, whether single, married, married with children, widowed, retired, or on the mission field without access to a solid local church. Moreover, that Word will transform them into the image of Christ now, and for the rest of their lives. This is the best gift any disciple of Jesus Christ can be given – women included.
My Husband’s Perspective: Our Story
I met Kristin while we were both studying Biblical Exegesis at Wheaton College Graduate School and serving in college ministry. We shared (and still share) a common passion for God’s Word, for discipleship, and for the nations. When we married and came to Bethlehem in 2005, we sought opportunities to minister together, which led us to serve in young adult ministry, small groups, short-term missions, and mentoring. We recognize that Kristin’s academic training in biblical exegesis and theology has been and continues to be invaluable. Her education uniquely prepared her to teach groups of women in East Africa who were hungry for God’s Word and to mentor younger women locally. I particularly appreciate seeing my wife pour over her ESV Study Bible and explain important and challenging theological truths to our young children at bedtime in ways they can grasp. I pray that Bethlehem College will attract, train, and faithfully send out women who are passionate for God’s kingdom, wonderfully enrich their communities, and whole-heartedly pursue personal discipleship, like Mary choosing “the good portion” which cannot be taken away.