It struck me the other day that there are a lot of Pentecostal/Charismatic/Third Wave leaders with degrees from secular universities instead of Bible colleges/Christian liberal arts schools, so I started putting a list together.
The list is heavy on the Assemblies of God because those are the circles I run in, and it’s also minister-heavy for the same reason. I’d love to add some business leaders. I’m leaving out Chi Alpha missionaries because we’d swamp the list.
In alphabetical order:
For Their Undergrad
- Bret Allen (pastor, Bethel Church of San Jose) – Eastern Washington University
- John Ashcroft
(politician and author) – Yale for undergrad, University of Chicago for law school
- Rocky Barra — (pastor of Connection Church in Canton, MI) — Eastern Michigan University (for both undergrad and master’s)
- Glen Berteau (pastor of Calvary Temple in Modesto, CA) – Louisiana Tech
- John Bevere (author and conference speaker) – Purdue
- Brady Boyd (pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs) — Louisiana Tech
- James Bradford (pastor of Central Assembly in Springfield, MO) — University of Minnesota (all the way through Ph.D.)
- Frank Cargill (district superintendent of Oklahoma) — Oklahoma State University (undergrad), University of Oklahoma (master’s),and the University of Central Oklahoma (another master’s).
- Dennis Cheek (pastor/church planter & Vice President for the Kaufmann Foundation) — Towson University (undergrad), another undergrad from Excelsior College, a master’s University of Maryland Baltimore County, a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction/science education from Pennsylvania State University, and a Ph.D. in theology from the University of Durham.
- Alicia Chole (author and conference speaker) – UT Austin (through her master’s)
- Earl Creps (church planter, author, educator) – University of Pittsburg for undergrad, Northwestern for Ph.D.
- Mark Driscoll (pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle) — Washington State University
- Denny Duron (pastor of Shreveport Community Church in LA) – Louisiana Tech
- Jonathan Gainsbrugh (evangelist and author) — University of Virginia
- Randy Garcia (pastor of Fortress Church in San Antonio, TX) — University of Texas at San Antonio
- Paul Goulet (pastor of International Church of Las Vegas) — University of Ottowa
- Wayne Grudem (theologian) — Harvard
- Stanley Horton
(theologian and author) — B.S., University of California, S.T.M. from Harvard
- Roger Houtsma (founder of World Outreach Ministries) — UC Berkeley
- Tim Johnson (Congressman) – University of Illinois – Champaign/Urbana
- Steve Lim taming of the shrew the download (Academic Dean at AGTS), UC Berkeley
- Mike McClaflin (Africa Regional Director for Assemblies of God World Missions) — University of Wyoming
- Lee McFarland (pastor of Radiant Church in Surprise, AZ) — University of Colorado
- Marvin Miller (director of Rayne Project Ministries) — Whitter College
- Donnie Moore (evangelist) – University of the Pacific
- J. P. Moreland (apologist and scholar) — University of Missouri
- Marilyn Musgrave (Congresswoman) — Colorado State University
- Rich Nathan – (pastor of Vineyard Community Church of Colombus, OH) – Case Western Reserve University
- Sarah Palin — (politician) — University of Idaho
- Ray Rachels – (Southern California District Superintendent) – Troy State University
- Cecil Robeck (scholar) — San Jose City College (for his AA)
- Mark Rutland – (president of Southeastern College) – University of Maryland
- Anthony Scoma (pastor of Southwest Family Fellowship) — University of Texas (Austin)
- Charlie Self — undergrad and Ph.D. from UC Santa Cruz (break for Graduate Theological Union in the middle)
- Sean Smith (evangelist) – University of the Pacific
- Zollie Smith
(Executive Director AG US Missions) – Florida State University
- Sam Storms — University of Oklahoma
- James Watt (politician) – University of Wyoming
For Grad Work Only
- Chris Carter (scholar — APTS) — PhD from Aberdeen University
- John Carter (scholar — APTS) — PhD from University of Illinois in educational psychology
- Roli dela Cruz (scholar, APTS) — PhD in textual criticism from Birmingham University
- Gordon Fee (scholar and author) — Ph.D. from USC
- Richard Hammar (AG legal counsel) – Harvard Law
- Rich Israel (scholar) — Ph.D. from Claremont
- Todd Labute (scholar — APTS) — PhD from Marquette University
- Everett Wilson (scholar) — Ph.D. from Stanford University
- George O. Wood (General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God) — Law degree from Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, California
- Amos Yong (theologian) — M.A. from Portland State and Ph.D. from Boston University
Why compile a list like this?
First, if you’re a student at a secular school don’t assume that you can’t go into vocational ministry. As this list shows, some of the most well-known ministers in the Pentecostal world come from the same place you do. And the trend isn’t abating — when I was in seminary I learned that half of my classmates at AGTS had gone to non-Christian schools for their undergrad just as I had.
Second, if you’re a youth pastor (or a parent) don’t be scared to send your kids with a ministry calling off to secular schools to major in business or physics something. Bible colleges aren’t the only route to ministerial preparation — and for many people they’re not the best route.
Third, don’t feel alone if you’re in ministry and graduated from a secular university. At least in the Assemblies of God it’s pretty easy to feel isolated, because they have all these Bible college alumni reunions at every big minister’s gathering and there’s never a gathering for “went to a pagan school.” You may feel alone, but you’re not even close to alone.
Anyway, there are no doubt dozens more who aren’t coming to mind right now. I welcome contributions to the list — leave any updates in the comment section or email/facebook me. (If you’re reading this on Facebook, by the way, you’re only reading a copy. Click on the link at the top to go to the original where you can leave a comment). When you make a suggestion, please indicate your source (personal conversation, published bio, heard them mention it in a sermon, friend of a friend, etc).
edit 3/20/2008: first update is Mike McClaflin — thanks to Dennis and Jen for this!
edit 3/21/2008: Rich suggested Roger Houtsma along with Gordon Fee and George O Wood (I’m leaving those two off for now because only their doctorates that came from a secular school — trying to decide what to do with that). I’m also leaving off Mark Batterson for now because he started his undergrad at University of Chicago but finished at a Bible college. I also added a third reason for the list.
edit 3/21/2008: Charlie also suggested several Ph.Ds, so I’ve started a second list of those who did grad work at non-Christian schools.
edit 3/28/2008: Brady Boyd, Marvin Miller, JP Moreland, Mark Driscoll, Sam Storms, and Wayne Grudem added
edit 6/18/2008: Frank Cargill, Dennis Cheek, Randy Garcia, Jonathan Gainsbrugh added
edit 7/1/2008: added Anthony Scoma — doh! How did I overlook my bud?
edit 7/9/2008: added Rocky Barra — thanks to David Moore for the pointer
edit 7/24/2008: removed Doug Peterson and added Roli dela Cruz, Chris Carter, Todd Labute, and John Carter per Ekaputra Tupamahu’s suggestions in the comments below. I haven’t tracked down a bio on each person, so their undergrad degrees might also be from secular schools.
edit 8/29/2008: added Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska and VP nominee.