What started as a unique perk of being a student at the UI — getting actual college credit for taking Bible classes — turned into something much more meaningful for Christine Chakoian.
“I was shocked when I took my first class my first term and discovered that the Bible had different — and sometimes conflicting — versions of history, like the versions of the gradual entry into Canaan in Judges vs. Joshua immediately winning in the battle of Jericho. Or the narrative of the early church in the book of Acts vs. the various accounts in the letters of Paul.
“Suddenly, I felt like I had a choice to make: could my faith stand up to difficult questions? I decided then that if my faith couldn’t use every corner of my brain, it would crumble anyway.
“I became a Religious Studies major, studying Old Testament with Professor David Peterson, Judaica with Professor Gary Porton and New Testament with Professor Vernon Robbins. And I loved it.
“I became a TA in New Testament Greek, and a research assistant to Professor Robbins.
“Finally, one day, I decided to try out church again. I went to McKinley Foundation — since I grew up Presbyterian — and much to my amazement, there were Professors Robbins and Peterson singing in the choir. I realized that if they could unite their heart and mind in faith, so could I.
“After graduating from U of I, I went on to Yale Divinity School for my master’s, became ordained in the Presbyterian Church and went on to serve five churches. Now I’m back in the academy, which I love: serving as VP for seminary advancement at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.”