World Geography Materials

Image result for geography map

***Note: this material is available for educational purposes only. It would also be important to note that the material is presented from a Christian worldview, though other ideologies are presented for understanding as well. Due to the importance of keeping content appropriate for high school students that I teach, I have denoted a few symbols, and have done my best to be accurate on skipping/muting specific portions of videos (sk = skip; M = mute). Also, it should be noted that I am constantly updating material. Otherwise, please download and enjoy the content.***

Syllabus

Introduction to World Geography

Creation

Sub-Divisions of Geography

Geology and Climatology

Industrial Geography

Human Geography

The Middle East

Africa

Europe & Russia

Asia

Latin America

Australian & Pacific Realms (plus the Last Frontiers)

North America

God and Gary Johnson

johnson-og-2

Religion has played an important role regarding presidential elections in the United States for many years. Some presidents and presidential hopefuls have greatly emphasized their religious beliefs and values, such as Abraham Lincoln, and Woodrow Wilson would probably fit that bracket as well. But others have generally kept their faith to themselves, such as John Quincy Adams. Many have heard during the current presidential election season about Donald Trump’s Presbyterian background, his alleged status of having been recently “born again,” and his memorable recitation of “Two” Corinthians 3:18.[1] On the Democratic Party’s side, Hillary Clinton has not had as many headlines published related to her religious views, but even her views have been clearly made known as relevant to her public and political work, as Paul Kengor’s God and Hillary Clinton illustrates. Although the presidential race has already proven to be unique in many ways, the rise of Gary Johnson as the Libertarian option for president has certainly had major ramifications. Among the millions of Republicans, there are certainly plenty of Donald Trump fans. However, there are undoubtedly numerous Republicans that have begrudgingly given their support to the GOP nominee. Meanwhile, there is even a group of voters that have decided they will not support Trump, if not due to policy issues, then likely because of concerns of conduct. For the straying Republican, Gary Johnson has become quite the candidate of interest. Johnson, nevertheless, has not made his religious views a major component to his candidacy or core convictions. Still, I would contest, Gary Johnson’s view of God does play an important role for potential voters. But even more personally, I would say that his view of God affects his own conceptions of governmental policy, and that many Americans find plenty of religious commonality with him.

 

For a man who supports the legalization of marijuana, gay marriage equality, and is not adamantly trying to eliminate abortion, Johnson might appear to be a thorough secularist. He has commonly been called fiscally conservative, but a social liberal. Earlier in the year, Johnson was asked about his religious views during a town hall, televised by CNN.[2] According to his own statements, he was raised a “Christian.” From that background, he admits, “if there’s one thing that I’ve taken away from Christianity,” it would be “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”[3] Johnson does not attend a church and seems to not assume the title of being a Christian anymore, but that does not mean he has jettisoned a belief in God altogether. In fact, he stated, “I have to admit to praying once in a while.”[4] Thus, he is not a Deist. When pressed specifically about his understanding of God, he said, “the God that I speak to…doesn’t have a particular religion.”[5] Judging from these statements, it would seem that Johnson holds to a form of non-institutional Unitarianism (though I’m thinking he probably would not like to be given a label). Johnson does believe in God, and prays to Him “once in a while,” but as far as his Christian upbringing is concerned, he seems to have mostly just kept his “golden rule” ethic. These ideas do not appear to be all that significant, unless they are placed in a context of Johnson’s Libertarianism.

 

Libertarianism is inherently a little tough to define because, at its core, it essentially advocates the prerogative of personal liberty. And where there is liberty, there is generally diversity. Nevertheless, most Libertarians are united under this principle of individual freedom. Libertarians also tend to dislike the oversight of the federal government, which is why they believe in keeping federal power to a minimum; hence the reason why Libertarians usually call for lower taxes, a non-interventionist military, and fewer federal laws (especially on things pertaining to personal liberty like gun rights, marijuana legalization, and the like). In other words, Libertarians would prefer that the government stay out of the way and let them live their lives. Ironically, this model of government is ideologically similar to Gary Johnson’s religious views. In both realms, the hierarchical overseer (federal government/God) generally stays out of the way. In both realms, the autonomy of the individual is of great importance, so much that little interaction is made between the person and the overseer. Because of this autonomy, institutionalism is generally bypassed (limited government/lack of church attendance). One might even say that Johnson’s religion is, in fact, Libertarian. This may cause us to ponder, do Johnson’s religious views affect his political views, or do his political views affect his religious views? Perhaps it would be best to conclude that the causal relationship is impossible to determine with certainty. More likely is that the two views, political and religious, share the common principle of having liberty with limited oversight.

 

Since religion is such a private matter for Johnson, those that are much more public with their faith may question whether or not their liberties would be retained under a Johnson presidency. It is clear that Johnson has not supported some of the recent legislation pushed in states like North Carolina regarding LGBT rights and religious liberty. However, both Johnson and his running mate, Bill Weld, have stated their approval of recent legislation passed in Utah. Though I have not been able to confirm which bill they have referred to in the talks that I have heard, it is quite likely that Johnson and Weld were speaking of S.B. 296.[6] Religious liberty advocates can breathe a sigh of relief since this bill protects religious institutions from being sued over sexual morality claims of discrimination. That means BYU, a well-known Mormon university, can continue to have the legal freedom to enforce standards of sexuality (such as prohibiting students from homosexual behavior), and pastors cannot be forced to marry couples they deem inappropriate to join in matrimony. While Johnson and Weld could probably do more to ease the concerns of religious liberty advocates, they do not appear to be on the quest to hinder the free exercise of religion, preferring to try to find a balance between granting civil rights to the LGBT community and not interfering with the religious community either.

 

For questions of sexual morality, clearly Johnson holds to a pretty common Libertarian perspective, and that is that government should not prohibit homosexual behavior, or even gay marriage. I would assume that Johnson likewise would not think the same things to be immoral as well. Regarding worldview, it seems clear that the Libertarian candidate for presidency does not accept the Bible as grounds for ethics and governmental policy, and that shouldn’t be surprising since his own statements make it very clear that his religious views are unorthodox and, according to my perception, even Libertarian. But I think that Johnson’s religious views speak of something greater, namely, that his ideas of God are strikingly similar to what Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton have termed “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”[7] Like Johnson, MTD argues that doing good to others, the “golden rule,” is the essence of religion. MTD is “therapeutic” in the sense that people can come to God with their problems when they need Him, as if He was a “divine butler,” which sounds a lot like Johnson’s prayer activity of speaking to God “once in a while.” Finally, the “D” in MTD refers to a type of Deism, meaning God generally stays out of the way of the dealings of mankind (unless He’s really needed, hence the “T” in MTD). The “D” in MTD is, of course, quite Libertarian, as inferred above. It’s no wonder that many Americans, particularly Millennials, are willing to vote third party—Gary Johnson’s worldview is so much like their own. For Americans that hold to a more orthodox and/or evangelical Christianity, they are left with the choice of figuring out if they want to form an alliance with someone who, though starkly different in theological and social views, has been successful in private businesses and as governor of New Mexico for two terms. After all, Clinton and Trump both possess several qualities that don’t sit well with many Christians. Whether or not one votes for Johnson, it looks like his views of society and government have resonated with many Americans, and as I have argued, both are derived to a certain extent from his view of God.

[1] On Trump’s conversion experience, see https://www.drjamesdobson.org/news/commentaries/archives/2016-newsletters/august-newsletter-2016 [accessed October 1, 2016]. Also, it should be noted that Trump’s statement of calling II Corinthians “Two Corinthians” may not be as embarrassing as some have claimed. When my wife traveled to England, she recalled that some Christians there also used the phrase, “Two Corinthians.” Since Trump has Scottish roots, it’s possible that he was simply speaking of the passage the way he was taught, as strange as it sounds to many American ears.

[2] http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2016/06/22/transcript-cnn-libertarian-town-hall-moderated-by-chris-cuomo/ [accessed October 1, 2016].

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/SB0296.html [accessed October 2, 2016].

[7] Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).

American Government Materials

600px-great_seal_of_the_united_states_obverse-svg

***Note: this material is available for educational purposes only. It would also be important to note that the material is presented from a Christian worldview, though other ideologies are presented for understanding as well. Due to the importance of keeping content appropriate for high school students that I teach, I have denoted a few symbols, and have done my best to be accurate on skipping/muting specific portions of videos (sk = skip; M = mute). Also, it should be noted that I am constantly updating material. Otherwise, please download and enjoy the content.***

American Government Syllabus

Biblical and Historical Foundations of American Government

Capitalism, Socialism, & Communism

Logic & Critical Thinking Skills

Constitutionalism

Electoral College

Executive Branch

Legislative Branch

Judicial Branch

1st Amendment

2nd Amendment

The Civil Rights Movement

Intro to the Military

Border Control

Government and Economics

U.S. History Materials

Image result for us history

***Note: this material is available for educational purposes only. It would also be important to note that the material is presented from a Christian worldview, though other ideologies are presented for understanding as well. Due to the importance of keeping content appropriate for high school students that I teach, I have denoted a few symbols, and have done my best to be accurate on skipping/muting specific portions of videos (sk = skip; M = mute). Also, it should be noted that I am constantly updating material. Otherwise, please download and enjoy the content.***

U.S. History Syllabus and Digital Textbook

Introduction & Early Discovery

Colonial America

The Great Awakening & French and Indian War

The American Revolution

The Constitution & Federalist Era

The American West (and Other Stories)

The Antebellum Era (The Texas Revolution, Texas and Oregon, The U.S.-Mexican War, and Slavery & Secession)

The Civil War & Reconstruction

The Late 1800’s (Railroads & the West and the Gilded Age)

The Progressive Era (Late 1800’s Politics & Foreign Policies and The Progressive Era)

World War I

The 20’s and 30’s

World War II

The Cold War Era

Modern U.S. History

World History Materials

Image result for world history

***Note: this material is available for educational purposes only. It would also be important to note that the material is presented from a Christian worldview, though other ideologies are presented for understanding as well. Due to the importance of keeping content appropriate for high school students that I teach, I have denoted a few symbols, and have done my best to be accurate on skipping/muting specific portions of videos (sk = skip; M = mute). Also, it should be noted that I am constantly updating material. Otherwise, please download and enjoy the content.***

World History Syllabus

Ancient World History

Egypt

Israel

Greece

Roman Republic

Roman Empire

The Early Church

The Early Middle Ages

The Middle Ages

History of Asia (Overview)

History of Africa (Overview)

The Renaissance

The Age of Discovery

Forerunners of the Reformation

The Reformation

The Age of Reason & Spiritual Awakenings

The Revolutions (American, French, and Industrial)

Expansion & Evangelism

World War I

Europe Between Two World Wars

World War II

The Cold War

Modern World History

 

Is an Unaccredited College or Seminary a Viable Option for Theological Education?

old-books-on-shelf

photo credit: proecclesia.net

I once received a phone call from a regionally accredited university, whose admissions counselor’s first words were something like this: “First of all, congratulations on achieving such a high GPA.” She then proceeded to ask a question, “Was your college accredited?” I explained that it was nationally accredited (but not regionally accredited). The phone call quickly ended, after I learned that their institution would not accept anyone unless they had a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree–I was applying to their graduate school. This literally infuriated me. How could a university’s admittance process be so narrow-minded in determining which students are equipped to enter one of its programs? Providentially, I applied to another grad school, which had a better program anyway, where I was accepted and will hopefully finish my M.A. this fall. This phone call taught me two valuable lessons. First, a regionally accredited school is not necessarily “better” (in terms of educational quality) than a nationally accredited school. I have compared syllabi and sat in on classes from regionally schools, and rarely do they require more from their students compared to my alma mater. Secondly, though, accreditation can potentially open more doors. The subject for this article, however, is directed not at national or regional accreditation. Instead, the question I am concerned with here would be, “Is an Unaccredited College or Seminary a Viable Option for Theological Education?”

  • Why Would a Theological Institution Not Pursue Accreditation?

I have surveyed probably hundreds of websites from theological institutions, and most of them have a page on accreditation. For schools that are unaccredited, they usually refer to some of these reasons. (1) They avoid accreditation to keep costs low. For a school to obtain or retain their status with an accreditation body, it requires a lot of time and money. Generally, unaccredited schools are much cheaper in tuition rates. (2) They avoid accreditation to separate themselves from the workings of the federal government. Most college students have spent hours filling out FAFSA forms. If they (or their parents) don’t make a lot of money, then might be able to obtain grant money and loans. Students that attend unaccredited schools cannot apply for federal aid (to the best of my knowledge), but then again, costs are also lower there. (3) They avoid accreditation to retain doctrinal autonomy with their faculty members. I have heard this referred to critically as “institutional in-breeding,” but I would also provide an alternative view. Some theological institutions hold to minority views on certain issues, so it can be somewhat difficult to put together professors that agree to certain beliefs that are not mainstream. Also, I think there is a biblical precedent to hiring graduates to become teachers. In Second Timothy 2:2, Paul said to Timothy, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Granted, the context here is referring to the local church, but is it too much of a stretch for this to apply to theological institutions?

  • Degree Mills vs. Legitimate Theological Schools

One of the biggest challenges that graduates from unaccredited theological institutions may face is the perception that they earned their degree from a so-called “degree mill.” There are places that, for a small price, can give anyone a degree, even doctorates. In studying logic, students learn of the “guilt by association” fallacy, but unfortunately, many unaccredited schools are unfairly viewed as degree mills. Consider, however, that many college graduates (from accredited institutions even), particularly in fields like music and psychology, have a very difficult time finding a job in their field with just that degree under their belt. I say this because when approaching the issue of accreditation, we should not have this false dichotomy in mind that an accredited degree automatically makes for a great career, while unaccredited degrees make for poor careers. Furthermore, since many graduates of theological institutions will pursue a career with local churches, it should also be noted that even an accredited doctorate will not automatically guarantee a successful ministry. Plenty of pastors with the prefix, “Dr.” before their names have endured intense anguish as leaders of troublesome churches. At the same time, borrowing from the principle noted in my introduction, an accredited degree can open up more options, which may be enough of a reason to stick with an accredited degree path.

  • Why Someone Would Not Pursue an Unaccredited Degree

As I mentioned in the introduction, my bachelor’s degree was nationally accredited (along with a master’s degree from the same institution), and to be honest, I am glad for it. One of the most important reasons for why someone should pursue an accredited degree is so that he/she can have the most possible options for further education. And for those that desire to serve in educational roles career-wise, it would be very challenging to do so with all unaccredited degrees. Still, there are some that have done quite well with an accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree, but an unaccredited doctorate (R.C. Sproul, James White, Tommy Ice, to name a few). They key issue centers on what someone desires to gain from a certain degree

  • Why an Unaccredited Degree is Sometimes a Viable Option for Theological Education

For some people, it would not be a wise decision to pursue an unaccredited degree, such as those that want to teach at an accredited institution or want to be ordained in a denomination that requires certain accreditation standards in their education. But there are a lot of people that would do well to choose an unaccredited degree, as long as the program is rigorous and biblically-centered. In particular, pastors, missionaries, and Christian writers that desire to study the Bible with the instruction of teachers and fellow students can be greatly enriched by numerous unaccredited schools. Just because an institution is unaccredited, it does not necessarily mean that the professors are poor instructors in the Bible. From a personal perspective, I am interested in resuming my D.Min. program at an unaccredited seminary once I complete my M.A. (which is at a regionally accredited school). I don’t expect the D.Min. to help me gain entrance as a professor into an accredited seminary, but I do hope it will help enrich my knowledge of the Bible so that I can be a better writer and teacher. On the other hand, my career goal is to eventually teach history at the college level in accredited institutions, so that is why I am pursuing options for a Ph.D in history at accredited institutions. If I finish my D.Min., I would not consider it a useless degree, and I don’t think others should think that of their degrees from unaccredited schools if they were able to have learned more about God and His Word.

  • Conclusion

The question that some readers may be asking is, “Should I pursue an unaccredited degree?” Hopefully I made it clear that a good percentage of people should pursue a degree from an accredited institution. The most important reason has to do with career options. But there are also valid reasons why someone may want to forego the accredited program and stick with something else. It may be worthwhile to ask yourself, will an unaccredited degree potentially prohibit me from pursuing my career goals? For those that answer with a clear “yes,” then I think an accredited school is preferable. However, for those that are uncertain, it would probably be wise to contact people who are currently working in the career you desire (as well as employers, depending on the field), and ask them if an accredited degree (and specify if it needs to be regionally or nationally accredited) would be needed. If career goals are not hindered by an unaccredited degree, then the next question would be, which institution would best help me study the Bible? It very well may be an accredited school, but I don’t think an unaccredited school should be left out as a possibility. There are also other questions such as finances, flexibility, and doctrinal preferences, which could play a part in a wise decision. Additionally, while options are limited, I have heard of some accredited seminaries accepting graduates of unaccredited colleges into their programs–sometimes with a probationary period to start (this is definitely something to ask a prospective seminary, especially those that may be in the middle of an unaccredited degree). Altogether the choice of attending a theological school is not usually easy. Likewise, much of what I have said here is my opinion, but I have tried to back up my opinions with valid reasoning. I have greatly enjoyed being an advising professor at an unaccredited seminary. Many of the students there have put forward tremendous works of scholarship. And while an unaccredited college or seminary is not the right fit for everyone, I believe it is a viable option for some people.

Free eBook: Readings in United States History

Readings in US History Cover

I recently compiled and edited a digital textbook for my high school students in U.S. history, Reading in United States History. It is composed of primary sources from throughout America’s existence, but with introductory comments.

Click on the link below to download it for free:

Readings in United States History