Apologetics Department welcomes Professor McDowell on staff

Sean McDowell talks about continuing his Biola legacy as a new assistant professor.



Olivia Blinn/THE CHIMES

Jackie Grade, Writer

Olivia Blinn/THE CHIMES


As a 1998 philosophy and biblical studies graduate, point guard for the basketball team and Talbot graduate, Sean McDowell now plans to continue his Biola legacy. While juggling a teaching, writing and speaking schedule, McDowell has now joined the Christian apologetics department as an assistant professor of apologetics. He only drives up to campus from his home in San Juan Capistrano once a week, but found time to talk about his new position on staff. He promptly picked up his phone in the midst of his library studies and cheerfully consented to answering a few questions.

Jackie Grade: How did you get started as a Bible professor?
Sean McDowell: Well, I have been teaching theology and philosophy to high school students for about a decade … at Capistrano Valley Christian School [CVCS]. And then about three years ago, I started working on my Ph.D. — I thought it would be awesome to be in either college or graduate classes. I’m not done with my Ph.D. I’m still working on it. Craig Hazen, the head of the apologetics department, called me and asked if I would be willing to start on faculty this fall. I didn’t really expect that they would come in and ask me if I would consider teaching. I was in consultation with my wife and in prayer. And then I jumped at it.

JG: Was it an easy question to say yes to?
SM: We have had conversations probably about two years prior to that about teaching. But, it just wasn’t the right timing yet. Then the department grew about twenty percent, and Craig realized they needed more help and he gave me call.

JG: What does your schedule look like this fall?
SM: I am doing a lot of teaching this fall — some for Biola and then some for other conferences that I do. So, I have a pretty full schedule. I am working really hard writing my dissertation. I am doing other work for Biola — creating papers and helping develop a Ph.D. proposal. And then I am taking one class at Biola … it’s kind of an integration seminar. All new faculty have to take it. And then I still teach one high school honors class at CVCS.

JG: What classes are you teaching the rest of this year?
SM: In the spring, I will have two theology classes and a class on the resurrection. And then after that, I will have quite a few classes each year and rotate.

JG: How has being the son of Josh McDowell influenced your career path?
SM: My parents never had an expectation on me that I would do anything similar to what my dad does. They never expected me to write, or teach or speak. I think as a whole, they encouraged me to take the gifts God has given me and to use the things that I love positively for his kingdom. So, if I had been a lawyer, if I had been an engineer or if I had been a [basketball] coach — which I thought about — I think my parents would have been thrilled and pleased. But I think, seeing how my parents raised me, asking the kind of questions and seeking after truth, I started to seek truth for myself. I really started going that direction by myself. Now, my parents are thrilled — I think my dad loves it that we’re doing stuff together. I mean he absolutely is on cloud nine. I think he is as excited as I am that I’m teaching at Biola.

JG: How has this worked into your family now?
SM: Well, I have been married 13 years to my high school sweetheart. We have three kids — they’re nine, six and one. One of the reasons I still teach a class at the Christian school is that two of my kids go there, so it’s easy to stay connected to that community. I sure hope my kids go to Biola some day, but it’s up to them whether they want to or not. I take them to basketball games, and they will be coming up with me when they can. My wife could not be [more] supportive [than] she is. And she went to Vanguard, so that makes it even cooler.

JG: What do you look forward to most about your time here this semester?
SM: Above all, I have been just reconnecting with a lot of people who have had just a huge influence in my life when I was at Biola and Talbot as a student. So, whether it is fellow classmates who are now teachers, whether it is my coach, other people on staff  — it’s fantastic to reconnect with them in a different way now that I am teaching. Second, I think the Biola apologetics program is the best in the world, and there’s nothing that compares to it. It is just thrilling and exciting to start being able to take my love for apologetics … to a whole other level.

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