The Department of Christian Studies enjoys a long and rich history with Campbell University. The Department of Religion was established in 1961, during Campbell’s transition to a four-year college. In 1975, it absorbed the Department of Philosophy to become the Department of Religion and Philosophy. In 1996, the Department gave birth to the Campbell University Divinity School. In 2016, the Department’s name changed from Religion & Philosophy to the Department of Christian Studies.
Since its beginning, the Department has had seven department chairs: Dr. John Bunn (1961-75), Dr. Jerry Wallace (1975-81), Dr. Charles Allen (1982-87), Dr. Michael Cogdill (1988-96), Dr. Donald Penny (1996-1999), Dr. Glenn Jonas (1999-2015), and Dr. Adam English (2015-present).
Currently, the Campbell University Department of Christian Studies offers both an Associates degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Studies on Main Campus and through AOE Online. Within the Christian Studies degree, students can choose from three concentrations: Ministry, Youth Ministry, and Pre-Law. Students can also minor in Christian Studies. In addition, the Department houses and supports the Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Humanities.
The Department supports the General College Curriculum (GCC) by teaching Introduction to Christianity (required of all students) and a variety of GCC elective courses. These courses are the most visible and tangible evidence of Campbell University’s Christian mission in the curriculum.
Beyond the degrees and course offerings, the Department plays a key role in demonstrating the Christian mission, heritage, and identity of the University through public lectures, campus-wide initiatives, online devotions, and faculty-student interaction.
Dr. Donald B. Keyser
Dr. Don Keyser (1922-2006) was an integral member of the Religion Department faculty from the department’s beginning. He was born in Virginia on 19 April 1922 and came to Campbell Junior College in 1941. Following his graduation two years later, he completed his B.A. degree at Wake Forest College in 1945. He then attended The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY where he completed both the Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees. In his doctoral work he specialized in the area of Church History. After several years in the pastorate, Dr. Keyser returned to Campbell in 1959 where he remained a faculty member in the Religion Department until 1997. In 1972 he became the first Charles B. Howard Professor of Religion and held that chair until his retirement. Dr. Keyser touched thousands of lives during his 38-year career at Campbell. One of his former students, Dr. Mark Gaskins, summed up Dr. Keyser’s influence this way: “I am so grateful to God for Donald Keyser. God used him to open my mind, to appreciate how people might come to other viewpoints, with which I might disagree, to teach me to love the history of God’s people beyond the pages of the New Testament, and to appreciate my heritage of religious liberty as a Baptist.”
Dr. Perry Q. Langston
Dr. Perry Q. Langston joined the Campbell faculty in 1950 and taught for 36 years. During his tenure he helped the Religion Department grow from junior-college to senior-college to university status. A decorated veteran of World War II, Dr. Langston was rendered paraplegic by shrapnel in North Africa. Upon his return to the States, he completed his education and spent his entire career seated in a wheelchair – which always seemed to enable rather than to confine him. A familiar sight in those days was to see him “coasting” down the hill towards his home on what is now Leslie Campbell Avenue. At Campbell, Dr. Langston taught primarily in the field of religious education but also offered courses in Bible, psychology, and sociology. A hallmark of his religious education program was the “depth study,” a senior project which sent students into area churches to analyze their organizational and programming structure. Never having children of the own, Dr. Langston and his devoted wife Clara dedicated their lives to Campbell and especially to the Religion Department, virtually “adopting” students by opening their home and hearts to them. The Langston Chair of Religious Education in Campbell’s Divinity School is named in their honor.
Dr. Charles Howard
Charles Barrett Howard was born in Salemburg, NC on 2 December 1900. Both of his parents, two brothers and one sister all died of tuberculosis when Dr. Howard was a small child. Although stricken by tuberculosis himself, he survived and was raised by his maternal grandparents. He graduated from Wake Forest College in 1921 and embarked upon a preaching career that lasted for 70 years. He served as pastor of twenty-six different congregations in North Carolina (many simultaneously) and led 1,263 revivals in 700 different churches over his career. He preached more than 25,000 sermons in 23 different states. In 1934 he became the pastor of the Buies Creek First Baptist Church following the death of the church’s longtime pastor James Archibald Campbell. Four years later, Howard began teaching Bible at Campbell College becoming the school’s first religion professor. Howard and his wife Alma later established the Howard Memorial Christian Education Fund, which provided financial aid to thousands of students as well as other Christian workers such as missionaries, pastors, and employees of Christian institutions.