The department of theology, philosophy, and classical languages seeks to encourage students in critical reflection and understanding. The discipline of philosophy introduces students to the history of ideas, the processes of critical and analytical reasoning, the exploration of values, and the importance of self-reflection in the pursuit of wisdom. The study of philosophy enhances critical and reflective thinking, provides grounding in our heritage of ideas, and fosters an integrated ethical perspective and a sense of moral purpose.
Philosophy, Theology & Classical Languages programs
Bachelor's Degrees in Philosophy, Theology & Classical Languages
- Major in Philosophy (B.A.)
- Major in Theology (B.A.)
- with specializations liberal arts, available in: pre-seminary, youth ministry
Minors in Philosophy, Theology & Classical Languages
- Greek Studies
- Classical Studies
- Hebrew Studies
- Languages Across the Curriculum
- Language Acquisition
Theology, Philosophy and Classical Studies students are challenged both intellectually
with several opportunities to express thoughts and theories
. The department publishes the Faith & Reason newsletter
and a Theology-Philosophy Review
, as well as hosts an annual symposium
and academic forum
(a collaboration between the Alpha Chi Honor Society
and TLU Honors Program
). Students are encouraged to participate in departmental meetings
, review of classes
and lectures by visiting guest philosophers
Theology, Philosophy & Classical Studies Faculty
Phil Ruge-Jones, associate professor of theology, has a bachelor of arts from Lawrence University, a master of divinity from Luther Theological Seminary, and a doctorate from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
Dr. Ruge-Jones is an ELCA pastor who experienced a two-year internship in Chile during his masters program and led a mission among Spanish speaking people in New York upon its completion. During the 1998-99 academic year, he was a visiting instructor of systematic theology at the Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest in Austin. Dr. Ruge Jones' publication and teaching interests include systematic theology, Hispanic/Latino and other contextual theologies, and the Lutheran Reformation. He presides over The NOBS Seminar, an annual gathering of storytellers and scholars who look at the oral nature of biblical materials. The NOBS Seminar may be found at www.nobsseminar.org. He has two books that he has written about the theology of the cross. Cross in Tensions (Pickwick 2008) is for those with scholarly interest and The Word of the Cross in a World of Glory (Augsburg Fortress, 2008) addresses a general audience. More information on Ruge-Jones’ vocation and work can be found at web.mac.com/prugejones/iWeb/Site/Welcome.html.
His wife, Rev. Lori Ruge-Jones, is pastor of Living Word in Buda, TX. Together they learn biblical stories by heart for public proclamation of the Good News. They have led many workshops and training sessions in this art so that others also may announce the gospel in this way. He is currently learning the whole Gospel of Mark as part of this ministry.
He and his wife have two delightful children, Luisa and Lucas.
H. David Baer, associate professor of theology and philosophy and chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, & Classical Languages, received his doctorate from the University of Notre Dame in 1999, a master of theological studies from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in 1992, and a bachelor of arts from Oberlin College in 1990.
Norman A. Beck, Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages, has a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary, a bachelor of divinity from Trinity Lutheran Seminary, a bachelor of arts from Capital University, and an honorary doctorate of divinity from Trinity Lutheran Seminary.
Dr. Beck is an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastor, and he serves as the contract pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Stockdale (Denhawken), Texas.
He is a Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation Professor, active in Jewish-Christian-Islamic dialogue, the Jesus of history and early church development research, and the current political and religious situation in the Middle East.
In addition to journal articles, he is the author of Scripture Notes A, Scripture Notes B, and Scripture Notes C, published by CSS Publishing, Mature Christianity: The Recognition and Repudiation of the Anti-Jewish Polemic of the New Testament, published by Susquehanna University Press, Mature Christianity in the 21st Century, published by Crossroad (also published in Germany as Muendiges Christentum im 21. Jahrhundert by the Institut Kirche und Judentum), Anti-Roman Cryptograms in the New Testament, published by Peter Lang, and The New Testament: A New Translation and Redaction, published by Fairway Press. He has recently written a movie script, "Jesus, the Man," about the Jesus of history, and the manuscript of Blessed to be a Blessing to Each Other: Jews and Muslims as Children of Abraham in the Middle East.
Dr. Beck and his wife Esther have three adult children: Matthew, who works as a paramedic in California, David, who works at the mid-management level at the corporate offices of H.E.B. Stores in San Antonio and in partnership with his brother runs cattle, and Laura, who is a doctor of optometry in Austin. David and Laura are graduates of TLU. David and his wife Keli are the parents of a son, Dillon.
Jack D. Davidson, assistant professor of philosophy, received his doctorate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a masters and bachelors from the University of Washington. Prior to coming to TLU, Davidson held visiting positions at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Rice University.
Davidson’s interests in philosophy, and the history of philosophy, are quite broad. He is currently working on a book manuscript focusing on Gottfried Leibniz’s theory of freedom and moral responsibility. Past work includes papers on Aristotle, Descartes, Locke and Leibniz.
Davidson has two boys, Colin (aged 6) and Julian (aged 8), who keep him busy and out of trouble. Together they like hiking, exploring nature, swimming, and traveling.
Harry G. Foster, III, instructor in theology; B.S., Ohio State University; M.A., George Washington University; M. Div., Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with 23 years of service in the U.S. Army that included two combat tours in Vietnam, and service as a Professor in the Department of Strategy at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College as a specialist in the field of Terrorism and Insurgency. Prof. Foster began a new career as an ordained pastor, serving congregations in Texas and in Arkansas. His specialization in Theology is Old Testament Studies, with practical experience in archeology and the Bible as a participating member in the excavation of ancient Hazor under the sponsorship of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
Heather Hansen, instructor/ coordinator of Youth Ministry Concentration and Internship Program; B.S., Texas A & M University; M.A., Luther Seminary. Prof. Hansen has extensive experience in Youth Ministry leadership, having been the Director of Youth and Family Ministries at MacArthur Park Lutheran Church in San Antonio since 1996 and serving as a Youth Ministry coordinator for the SWT Synod of the ELCA since 2007. Prof. Hansen is also trained in Peer Ministry, Child in Our Hands, and Faith InKubators Head to the Heart Confirmation Curriculum.