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My Moody Experience

Here I continue with my reflections on my fundamentalist past.

For me, as an inordinately gung-ho evangelical Christian teenager, passionate about learning about the Bible, Moody Bible Institute was the ideal learning environment.   More than just about anyone I knew, even there, I thrived on the academic side of the school.  Moody at that time did not give a bachelor’s degree.  It was a three-year diploma.   For a degree, one needed to transfer credits and go to another college.  That’s what I did after my three years, when I could transfer two of those years to Wheaton and graduate from there with a degree in English literature.

There was no English literature to speak of at Moody.  In fact there was no liberal arts curriculum of any kind.   It’s not because they rejected the liberal arts as … too liberal.  (!)  It’s that the school simply wasn’t interested in the humanities, the social sciences, or the hard sciences.   Who cares about such things?  What matters is the Bible.   Hence the name of the school:  Moody Bible Institute, where Bible is our middle name….

There were a variety of majors at Moody.

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Education at Moody
My Fundamentalist Beginning



  1. Avatar
    MatthewAMcIntosh  May 12, 2015

    I always encourage Christians to read – really READ – the Bible, and THEN study it. If they can remain a Christian after that, they must be mired in cognitive dissonance and exercising drastic levels of willful ignorance.

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      Lee Palo  May 13, 2015

      That’s not a very nice thing to say that Christians who remain so after studying the Bible are willfully ignorant or mired in cognitive dissonance. I’d agree with your sentiment that Christians ought to really read and study the Bible, but your conclusion is unwarranted. There are a lot of ways of integrating higher criticism with one’s faith. Faith isn’t about knowing all the right answers. Certainty is an illusion. As Nietzsche said, “There are no facts, only interpretations.”

      There are Christians like Bishop John Shelby Spong who aren’t ignorant of higher criticism, and yet maintain their faith (even if the content of Spong’s faith doesn’t look at all like what fundamentalists think it should).

      And yet for *some* Christians I am sure you are right that they are mired in cognitive dissonance and/or exercising drastic levels of willful ignorance. …just not *all* Christians.

      • Avatar
        MatthewAMcIntosh  May 15, 2015

        My apologies, my phrasing should be, “In my opinion” or IMHO or something after it. It may not be nice, but that’s what I believe.

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          gavm  March 23, 2016

          its no different to people who study economics and yet still think socialism isn’t anything but garbage. People believe what they want to believe. They take on a belief because they want to them justify it after. Smart people are just better at justifing bad beliefs

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    rivercrowman  May 12, 2015

    Bart, great story. … Three years is a long haul for a Diploma. It’s still possible to get an Associate degree in liberal arts at a community college in only two years. I wonder how many Moody graduates land instant jobs as pastors in (presumably Protestant?) churches. … Anyway, it’s good to be learning your educational history.

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    BobHicksHP  May 12, 2015

    i’m not sure if this should be called coincidental or providential to your current thread, but I thought others might be interested in this. The headline is, “New Pew Research study shows a sharp drop in the number of American Christians.”


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    Ryan  May 12, 2015

    I’m curious: what was the general view of the sciences (archaeology, evolution, geology, i.e. age of the earth) at Moody when the subject arose in conversation?

    • Bart
      Bart  May 13, 2015

      We were against evolution. We thought geology was widely misinterpreted. And we believed archaeology verified every statement of the Bible.

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    Wilusa  May 12, 2015

    So different from my background that it’s as if we grew up on different planets!

    I noticed the CBS News Website is currently featuring the latest Pew poll on religion in the U.S., which shows the percentage of “nones” still increasing.

    Interesting: They say the largest religious group in the U.S. is Evangelicals, follwed by Catholics – and that was the case as long ago as 2007. But they admit other polls show more Catholics.

    A while back, I heard (an almost certainly Catholic) reporter on NBC claim that Catholics are the largest denomination in the U,S, – and “if they were a denomination,” so-called “lapsed Catholics” would be the second largest!

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    mjordan20149  May 12, 2015

    When I was a grad student at the University of Michigan, I became involved in the Independent Fundamentalist Bible Church. As a result of this “conversion” I decided to teach music at a small Bible College in Toronto, Ontario. I was there for three years, and was asked to leave. I foolishly thought that I could use my musical training to teach Fundamentalists to love Renaissance and Baroque sacred music. It was a lost cause. I learned the hard way that most Evangelicals don’t really care about music as a sacred art. It functions simply as a way to get people into church in order to hear sermons and hopefully (like me) convert to fundamentalist christianity.

    So I ended up in a briar patch-out at a “secular” university in Alabama (which was more like the Bible College than any secular university I’d attended!) I’ve been at a Community College in Texas for the past 34 years, and it has been a good place to work for most of that time. To be completely honest, music does more for spiritually than Fundamentalism ever did. I sometimes feel confused when people don’t seem to be able to hear what I could when I was 15 years old. I was converted to beauty through the wonderful music of Chopin, Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Brahms. Sadly, I was seduced by Fundamentalism and kind of lost my way for a while, but beauty converted me again eventually, and I hope to share the message of beauty (and lots of other things as well-the real world is not always a beautiful place) teaching Music to students who still don’t hear what I hear a lot of the time-you can’t reach everyone!

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    justjudy6  May 13, 2015

    I get it. I once had that fever as well. Lovin’ your story, Bart.

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    garytheman  May 13, 2015

    Professor Ehrman. Thanks for going into detail about Moody. I lived near there when I came to Chicago and had a chance to interact with them. They were fundamentalist to the core. They could ‘t see past their nose to embrace in theological discussions outside their tiny realm. As a Lutheran conservative I thought we night have some things in common but was contrary to my thinking. Thank you for sharing your story.

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    RonaldTaska  May 14, 2015

    Very interesting. Thanks for sharing this. I share your passion for knowledge in this field.

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    gabilaranjeira  May 17, 2015

    I share with you the love for knowledge. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge, as you said. Knowledge as an end on its own. Thanks for sharing yours with us.

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