Educating an Educator

September 09, 2023



The Circuit

Dr. Jerome Van Kuiken carries WBS values into the classroom at OKWU

As Professor of Ministry and Christian Thought at Oklahoma Wesleyan University, WBS alumnus Dr. Jerome Van Kuiken carries both the Wesleyan theology and the relational discipleship model he learned at Wesley Biblical Seminary to the hundreds of undergraduates at OKWU seeking to influence culture with the grace and truth of Jesus Christ.

Jerome was born and raised in the Philippines by parents who were missionaries. “I had a very positive experience as an MK,” he says. “It gave me a cross-cultural appreciation that has been helpful to me even in my teaching now because I have international students.”

Returning to the U.S. in high school, he attended Kentucky Mountain Bible College. From there, he moved to Mississippi to attend WBS, graduating with his M.Div. in 2000. “The impact of WBS on me was huge,” he recalls. “I had questions coming out of college about the tradition in which I had been reared, and Wesley Biblical Seminary gave me answers and a deeper appreciation for my Wesleyan heritage. At the same time, it also broadened me to be more informed and appreciative of the heritage of the ‘small c’ catholic church.”

I love to get students excited to see the value, the intellectual beauty, and then also the practical payoff of the Bible and theology.”

Jerome Van Kuiken (M.Div. '00)

Thinking back on his seminary years, Jerome recalls the personal care of WBS professors. “Probably the biggest memory was when I was in Bill Ury’s discipleship group on Trinity, Personhood, and Relationships. My wife was due with our first baby at the end of the year, but the baby came early, during finals week. So, I was there in the hospital with my wife and our newborn little daughter and Bill Ury called up in his role as discipleship group leader just to check in on me. I told him, ‘Look, I’m not actually skipping your final in Trinity, Personhood and Relationships. I’m just taking a practical final because there are three of us and plenty of personhood and relationship going on here in the hospital!’”

Along with Bill Ury, Jerome says he learned how to teach from Matt Friedeman. “With his illustrations and whole-body movements, he’s all about hitting the different learning styles,” he says. “So between the two of them, I got both the content and the presentation.”

Jerome has applied his WBS learning as a remarkable educator himself. After teaching at Vennard College and Wesley College, he came to Oklahoma Wesleyan University in 2009. He took on his current role as Professor of Christian Thought in 2011 and also served as Dean of the School of Ministry from 2019-2022. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Manchester in 2014.

Jerome touches the lives of a variety of students. He teaches ministry majors, which he says is very rewarding. “They are a good, solid group, hungry to learn, which makes for good class discussion.” On the other hand, he also teaches general courses, reaching students who may not yet be believers, or whose faith may be uncertain. “Some are culturally Christian or may never have really engaged with Christianity at all. So studying theology is a way of refining, of helping students have a clear and correct understanding of what historic Christian belief has been across 2,000 years and across all sorts of cultures.”

Jerome’s professional research and writing has focused on Christology, but he also takes on topics such as theology in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and in the Spider-Man films. He has produced videos for Seedbed’s Seven-Minute Seminary and has a forthcoming book on Jude, published by Seedbed, entitled The Judas We Never Knew: Learning from Jesus’ Brother and His Letter.

As a thinker, writer, and educator, Jerome has been shaping lives for over two decades since graduating from WBS. The lessons he learned here—both from the theology that was taught and from the way it was lived by his professors—continue to multiply for the Kingdom.

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