Ingo Sorke, Chair.

John Peckham, Jorge Rico, Lloyd Willis.

Adjunct: Heather Crews, Bill Kilgore,  Russ Laughlin, George Reid, Theodore Stewart.

Aims of the Department

This department seeks to introduce the student to a personal, vital and living experience with Jesus Christ, and to foster the growth of that experience. By careful examination and analysis of the written Word and its implications, every effort is made to determine the purposes and will of God, as well as His universal truths and ideals. Instruction is designed to provide students with a concept of service as well as to supply the methods which will enable them to share their experience, either in professional ministry, or in effective lay witnessing in the church and the world at large, with the objective of advancing the proclamation of God's final message to the world.


Besides providing courses designed to develop religious insights and skills in all students of the University, the department offers several programs to meet specific needs:

  • B.A. Theology (Professional - for Pastoral Work and Seminary)
  • B.A. Religion (for General Study Purposes)
  • Minor in Religion
  • Minor in Biblical Languages
  • Certificate Program (p. 121)

Religion, B.A.

RLGN 101 Christian Beliefs 3
RLGN 207 Research in Religion 1
RLGN 211 Life and Teachings of Jesus 3
RLGN 230 History of the SDA Church 3
RLGN 313 Prophetic Studies 3
RLGN 331 History of Christianity I 3
RLGN 332 History of Christianity II 3
RLGN 410 Biblical Studies Seminar I or
RLGN 411 Biblical Studies Seminar II 3
9 hours from the following:
RLGN 315, 316 Old Testament I, II
RLGN 317, 318 New Testament I, II 9
Total: 31

Theology, B.A.

RLGN 101 Christian Beliefs 3
RLGN 207 Research in Religion 1
RLGN 211 Life and Teachings 3
RLGN 220 Christian Witnessing 3
RLGN 230 History of the SDA Church 3
RLGN 313 Prophetic Studies 3
RLGN 320 Ellen White Writings 3
RLGN 323 Homiletics I 3
RLGN 324 Homiletics II 3
RLGN 332 History of Christianity II 3
RLGN 405 Biblical Theology 3
RLGN 410 Biblical Studies Seminar or
RLGN 411 Biblical Studies Seminar II 3
RLGN 423 Intro to Pastoral Ministry I 3
RLGN 424 Intro to Pastoral Ministry II 3
RLGN 425 Field Evangelism 3
RLGN 427 Hospital Ministry 1
9 hours from the following:
RLGN 315, 316 Old Testament I, II
RLGN 317, 318 New Testament I, II 9
Total: 53

Required cognates:

COMM 111 Fundamentals of Speech 3
HIST 331 History of Christianity I 3
PSYC 212 General Psychology 3

A Biblical Languages Minor is required to complete the Theology Program and for Seminary entrance.

Religion Minor

RLGN 101 Christian Beliefs 3
RLGN 211 Life and Teachings of Jesus 3
RLGN Electives 6
Select any two classes from the following:
RLGN 313 Prophetic Studies
RLGN 315, 316 Old Testament I, II or
RLGN 317, 318 New Testament I, II 6
Total: 18

Biblical Languages Minor

RELL 240, 241 Elements of New Testament Greek 9
RELL 340 Intermediate New Testament Greek 3
RELL 343, 344 Elements of Biblical Hebrew I & II 6
RLGN 314 Origin & Development of the Bible 3
Total: 21

Ministerial Program

The department warmly welcomes persons who are moved to offer their lives in full-time service to God and humanity. The faculty is available to assist such applicants who wish to evaluate and deepen their experience as well as to explore the expanding opportunities for service. The department will not recommend to the ministry any student who has not completed the course of study as outlined or who has a GPA that is less than 2.5, which is the minimum required for entrance to the SDA Theological Seminary. It is the student's personal responsibility to plan a course of study that includes all requirements for degree sought.

Completion of the major in Theology meets the guidelines stipulated by the Adventist Church and the minimal requirements for admission to the Seminary and entrance into the ministry.

B.A. in Theology

This program follows a special two-stage composite sequence, each stage approximately two years in length. During the first stage (freshman and sophomore years), attention is concentrated on fulfilling the requirements of the core curriculum of the University, together with introductory Religion classes. During the sophomore year, students begin the study of New Testament Greek, and apply for acceptance into the Pastoral Ministry Certification Program. Benefits of membership in the program include eligibility for higher departmental scholarships, an official departmental certificate and participation in the student pastoral program, and increases likelihood of future employment by a conference and it also gives eligibility for summer ministry opportunities.

The second stage (junior and senior years) provides for completion of requirements for the bachelor of arts degree, including specific professional studies. It is also the period when the student becomes more involved in practical aspects of ministerial training.

One goal of the Religion Department is to prepare students to commence service as pastors. Conference presidents seek graduates from Southwestern Adventist University who will be able to function as pastor-evangelists immediately upon graduation. For this reason, it is required that theology students complete Field Evangelism (RLGN 425), during the summer prior to taking Introduction to Pastoral Ministry (RLGN 423, 424). The Field Evangelism course (RLGN 425) includes participation in a major evangelistic crusade under the mentorship of a seasoned evangelist. This is to be followed by a three week personal evangelistic effort in a church within the conference where the major crusade was held. Those who have completed both of these programs before graduation are likely to be considered for conference employment ahead of others. The course Field Evangelism (RLGN 425) is a prerequisite for Introduction to Pastoral Ministry (RLGN 423, 424) and is an integral part of the theology degree. Most of our theology graduates will subsequently proceed to the Seminary for in depth training after field experience.

Theology students are encouraged to become involved in witnessing; and spiritual activities throughout their time in college. However, the last two years are particularly focused on ministry;  they are therefore, required to participate in the student pastoral program as well as be involved in other conference evangelism programs. The student pastoral program is coordinated by the SWAU Religion Department in conjunction with the Texas Conference and the Southwest Region Conference.

Ministerial Profile and Progression

A call to pastoral ministry or any related form of ministry is very personal. The faculty of the Religion Department recognizes that students who come to the department will either have a sense of divine calling or will be currently wrestling with this issue. The choice of ministry implies a high level of spiritual commitment and an exemplary life style.

Since graduates from the department will desire and need recommendation from the Religion Department in order to be seriously considered for ministerial work and for admission to the Theological Seminary, a progressive procedure for guidance of prospective ministerial candidates has been set up. At the end of the first semester of the sophomore year, a personality profile inventory test is administered to all those pursuing the theology program. After the test is processed, the department faculty sets up an appointment with each individual student for the purpose of analyzing the results and providing the student with an opportunity for self-evaluation.

Continuation in the theology program is at all times contingent upon the student's maintaining satisfactory academic progress, exemplary social and cultural development, and dedication to the principles of the Christian faith and practice as taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

In fulfillment of the requirements for the classes RLGN 423 & 424 Introduction to Pastoral Ministry, senior theology students prepare a paper describing their personal call and philosophy of ministry. Each paper is reviewed by the members of the Religion faculty and followed by a personal exit interview with the combined Religion faculty. The  composite results of this paper and interview constitute the basis for departmental recommendation for both ministerial work and the Theological Seminary. Subsequently, arrangements are made for senior theology majors to be interviewed by conference presidents on the University campus.


RELL 240 - Elements of New Testament Greek I (5 hours)

RELL 241 - Elements of New Testament Greek II (4 hours)

An introductory study of the elements of New Testament Greek. Emphasis on the fundamentals of grammar and vocabulary. Translation from selected NT passages. One semester may be applied toward general education religion requirements. (RELL 240 Fall, RELL 241 Spring)

RELL 340 - Intermediate New Testament Greek (3 hours)

Continued reading in the Greek New Testament with emphasis on grammar and syntax, with interpretive translation of selected portions of the New Testament. (Summer)  Includes preparation for the Seminary Greek exam.

RELL 343 - Element of Biblical Hebrew I (3 hours)

RELL 344 - Element of Biblical Hebrew II (3 hours)

An introductory course in the elements of Biblical Hebrew with emphasis on basic grammar and a working vocabulary. Translation from selected OT passages. The second semester will include grammar review, but will focus on translation from selected Old Testament passages. (RELL 343 Fall, RELL 344 Spring)  Includes preparation for the Seminary Hebrew exam.

RELL 491 - Selected Topics (1 hour)

Prerequisite: Approval of department chair

A study in an area of student interest under the direction of a staff member. This study may involve research, laboratory or library work. May be repeated for a total of 2 credits.

RLGN 101 - Christian Beliefs (3 hours)

A study of the basic concepts of Christian faith and practice with emphasis upon fundamental doctrines held by Seventh-day Adventists. (Fall, Spring)

RLGN 201 - Bible Study Methods (3 hours)

This course will teach the student a variety of methods for studying the Bible in order to gain a greater understanding of its message. It will contribute to both skill and confidence in the Bible student. (Fall)

RLGN 207 - Research in Religion (1 hour)

Prerequisite: CSIS 102, ENGL 121

An introduction to the research methods, documentation styles, and writing skills used in religious studies. Students will engage in critical thinking by utilizing and evaluating primary and secondary sources (including journals, indexes, and databases) to produce a book review, a research paper, and a professional presentation that involves public communication of the research process, evaluation of discipline-specific trends and resources, and the responsible and effective use of technology. Within this course, religion/theology majors begin the process of senior portfolio development. This course fulfills the requirement for UNIV 201: Research in an Academic Discipline as specified in Southwestern Adventist University's Quality Enhancement Plan. (Spring)

RLGN 210 - Introduction to Missions (1 hour)

Required for all student missionaries prior to service abroad. An introduction to issues and ideas in missions. Examines cultures and religions from the perspective of the national and the student missionary. (Spring)

RLGN 211 - Life and Teachings of Jesus (3 hours)

A survey study of the life and teachings of Jesus as outlined in the Gospels. His principles, methods, and teachings are studied in light of their application to modern life. (Fall, Spring)

RLGN 212 - Basic Christian Ethics (3 hours)

An introduction to the theory and practice of Christian morality; its biblical origins, norms, and sources of authority, including Christian approaches to basic issues such as decision-making, church-world relations, abortion, reproduction technology, euthanasia, marriage and divorce, and methods of social change. (Fall)

RLGN 220 - Christian Witnessing (3 hours)

A study of the biblical principles of the art and technique of personal evangelism. The student is taught to use the Scriptures effectively, to give specific Bible studies, to meet objections, and to gain decisions for Christ. (Fall, Spring)

RLGN 230 - History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (3 hours)

A historical study of the Adventist awakening of the 19th century and the subsequent rise, growth, and worldwide expansion of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Special attention is given to the role of Ellen G. White in the growing church. (Fall, Spring)

RLGN 233 - Introduction to Biblical Archaeology (3 hours)

A study of the history of archaeology, recent achievements, and archaeological method. (Spring)

RLGN 271 - Ministries Internship (1-3 hours)

This course allows the student to earn credit through professionally directed mission, evangelistic, colporteur or youth camp programs. Arrangements must be made with the instructor prior to starting the internship and supervision will take place at the location of the internship. Credit earned will be elective only and will not apply to the general education religion requirement or toward a major or minor. Grading is on a pass/fail basis. May be repeated for a total of 3 hours.

RLGN 285 - Introduction to Church Ministry - Distance Education Program (3 hours)

This course will introduce the student to various aspects of church ministry and church life.  Students will be instructed in such areas as Biblical ecclesiology; church organization and governance; distribution of funds, and the purpose and development of spiritual as well as social activities.  This class is offered on-line and does not apply toward the requirements of a Theology major or Religion minor.

RLGN 291 - Selected Topics (1-2 hours)

Prerequisite: Approval of department chair.

A study in an area of interest under the direction of a staff member. This study may involve research, laboratory or library work. May be repeated for a total of 2 credits.

RLGN 313 - Prophetic Studies (3 hours)

An introduction to and survey of the books of Daniel and Revelation. The prophetic themes of Daniel and Revelation, important to Seventh-day Adventist theology, will be a major focal point.  This course fulfills the requirement for a capstone/portfolio completion course for Religion Majors with components as specified in Southwestern's Quality Enhancement Plan.  (Spring)

RLGN 314 - Origin and Development of the Bible (3 hours)

A careful study of the history and development of the written material and canon of Scripture, covering Old Testament, intertestamental literature and New Testament. It also reviews the development of the English Bible and seeks to assist in the evaluation of modern versions. (Fall)

RLGN 315, 316 - Old Testament 3, (3 hours)

An introduction to the history, literature, and thought of the Old Testament. Study is given to the contemporary objectives of each book and application to life in modern times. Fall topics: Background, Pentateuch, The Writings. Spring topics: Prophets, Historical Books. (RLGN 315 Fall, RLGN 316 Spring)

RLGN 317, 318 - New Testament 3, (3 hours)

The study of the New Testament: its world and literature. Study is given to the theme and purpose of each book and applications to Christian life. Fall topic: Romans to Revelation. Spring topic: Gospels and Acts. (RLGN 317 Fall, RLGN 318 Spring)

RLGN 320 - Ellen White Writings (3 hours)

A course designed to give experience and guidelines in the study of the writings of Ellen G. White. The four major foci of the course are the historical context of the life of Ellen White, the development of her major literary works, the themes that tie her writings together across time, and principles for sound interpretation and current application of her writings. (Spring)

RLGN 323 - Homiletics I (3 hours)

RLGN 324 - Homiletics II (3 hours)

Prerequisite: COMM 111

A study of the basic concepts of biblical preaching and sermon preparation, including persuasion, human responses, the art of illustration and effective structure.  The second semester features actual practice in preparation and delivery.  (RLGN 323 Fall, RLGN 324 Spring)

RLGN 331, 332 - History of Christianity I, II (3, 3 hours)

A study of the rise and impact of Christianity in the Roman world and western culture. Attention is given to theological and social movements, the influence of Islam, the crusades, expansionism, and religious adaptation to modern life. The second semester traces development from the Reformation through the growth of American religion. (Also taught as HIST 331, 332) (RLGN 331 Fall, RLGN 332 Spring, or both Spring)

RLGN 355 - Music and Worship (1 hour)

This course will acquaint the student with the variety of worship structures, musical styles and instruments available for the worship service.  Students will be instructed in the purpose and design of worship services, in hymnology, in conducting and in rudimentary part-singing and choral conducting.  (Fall or Spring)

RLGN 405 - Biblical Theology (3 hours)

Prerequisite:  RLGN 101 and at least one of the following: RLGN 315, RLGN 316, RLGN 317, RLGN 318

This course consists of the study of several selected topics approached from a biblical perspective, including biblical inspiration and interpretation, the doctrine of God, the doctrine of Christ, the doctrine of Salvation, the doctrine of the Church, eschatology, and the doctrine of Man.  These studies will focus upon the contributions of several biblical writers to each doctrinal issue.  Some attention will also be given to the way in which selected recent writers have handled the biblical material.  (Spring)

RLGN 410, 411 - Biblical Studies Seminar I, II (3 hours)

Prerequisites: RLGN 315, 316, 317 or 318 (and RELL 240, 241 for RLGN 411)

A seminar on a biblical topic, book, or body of literature designed to encourage careful, responsible investigation and interpretation. May be repeated for credit. Fall semester: O.T. topic/text. Spring semester: N.T. topic/text. This course fulfills the requirement for an upper-division course with components as specified in SWAU's Quality Enhancement Plan. (RLGN 410 Fall, RLGN 411 Spring)

RLGN 419 - Philosophy of Science (3 hours)

A study of the philosophies and methodologies of science.  Includes a review of the history of scientific and religious thought and the role each has played in the development of modern theories of origin.  (Also taught as BIOL 419 or GEOL 419.)  (Spring)

RLGN 420 - Pastoral Practicum (1 hour)

Prerequisite: RLGN 323, 324 completed or taken concurrently

Supervised field work in area churches as coordinated by the department. Designed to give practical experience in a wide variety of pastoral situations. May be repeated once for credit upon approval of the religion faculty. (Fall, Spring)

RLGN 423, 424 - Introduction to Pastoral Ministry (3, 3 hours)

Prerequisites: PSYC 212, RLGN 425

For senior ministerial students. Applied studies in church and ministry, leadership, pastoral care, visitation, counseling, organization and finance, enriched by visits of specialists.  This course includes the Seminary's Church Policy exam (successful completion is valid for two years).   These courses fulfill the requirement for a capstone/portfolio completion course with components as specified in SWAU's Quality Enhancement Plan.  (RLGN 423 Fall, RLGN 424 Spring)

RLGN 425 - Field Evangelism (3 hours)

Prerequisite: RLGN 220

This course provides classroom instruction by a successful professional evangelist, accompanied by actual participation in a three-week series of meetings followed by student-led evangelistic meetings.  All facets of the course are taught in the city where the series is conducted. Taught on an arranged basis. (Summer)

RLGN 427 - Hospital Ministry (1 hour)

Prerequisite: Admission to junior or senior-level standing.

This course provides opportunity for students to expand mission focus to include ministry in specialized settings. Emphasis is given to the advancement of communication and assessment skills. Concentration will also be placed on the development of personal and professional identity and their related issues. (Spring)

RLGN 491 - Selected Topics (1 hour)

Prerequisite: Approval of department chair

Intensive study of a single approved topic in the field of religion. The course takes the form of a seminar, preparation of a research report, or other guided study as arranged with the department. Content and method of study must be arranged prior to registration. May be repeated for a total of 2 credits.

Certificate Program Through Distance Education Program

The Southwestern Adventist University Distance Education Program and the Department of Religion offers a Certificate in Church Ministry to prepare better lay leaders for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is a unique church ministry program which combines basic theological education with church history and applied ministerial methods and practices. The curriculum of the certificate consists of courses totaling 18 semester hours of college credit. These credits may be transferred to any other accredited college or university and may be applied to a degree at Southwestern Adventist University. The curriculum is also designed to help church lay leaders increase their knowledge and skills and be better equipped to work in various positions of lay leadership.

The Certificate in Church Ministry does not prepare candidates for full-time employment in pastoral ministry nor does it constitute an alternative theology degree. Anyone choosing full-time ministry as a goal for life must enroll in a four-year BA Theology program. Although the program will be entirely offered on-line, all courses can also be taken as traditional classes on the campus of Southwestern Adventist University in the current semester format. The courses in the certificate program are offered in either English or Spanish. The Spanish version, however, is only available on-line.


The Certificate in Church Ministry is open to persons age 25 or older who have served in positions of lay leadership and are officially endorsed by their local congregations or conferences. Applicants must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Previous college work is not required, but recommended.  Applicants must:

  1. Complete an application for certificate program
  2. Send a non-refundable $25 application fee
  3. Submit three letters of recommendation from a local church pastor, a local church elder, and a third local church leader which officially endorse the applicant
  4. Write a letter of intent stating why the applicant would like to take the college-level certificate in church ministry
  5. Send a current professional resume

Time Limitations

Candidates for this certificate must complete all requirements within a five-year period.

Certificate Completion

Certificates will be awarded to students who complete all course requirements and maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average. Candidates must submit a Certificate Completion contract to the Records Office. A $25 certificate fee is required at the time the certificate is completed.

Certificate Course Requirements

RLGN 101 Christian Beliefs 3
RLGN 211 Life and Teachings of Jesus 3
RLGN 220 Christian Witnessing 3
RLGN 223 Fundamentals of Church Ministry 3
RLGN 230 History of the SDA Church 3
RLGN 285 Introduction to Church Ministry 3
Total: 18

Cost of the Certificate

The on-line certificate will follow the tuition and fee policies of the Distance Education Program. DE tuition is currently discounted at 20%. The Certificate in Church Ministry is an accredited program. Local churches and conferences may provide students with scholarships for this certificate. There are no scholarships available from the university. All charges must be covered at the time of registration.

Academic Support Services

Students taking the certificate program will have access to important academic support services including library and learning resources, information on distance education technology, and the writing center.


Distance Educaiton Church Ministry on-line Program

Student Support Services

The Distance Education office will provide certificate students with a full range of student services appropriate to support the program, including admissions, financial aid, academic advising, registration, course materials, degree (certificate) audits, and graduation assistance.