ACTS-ES: A Liberal Arts Foundation

Welcome to the ACTS-ES (Asian Christian Theological Studies for English Speakers) program! We’re a 4-year international program offering a Bachelor of Arts in Theology at Tokyo Christian University.

The Asian Christian Theological Studies for English Speakers curriculum is comprised chiefly of liberal arts courses from the following disciplines:

  • Humanities
  • Social Sciences
  • Language and Culture Studies
  • Biblical Studies
  • Theological Studies
  • Intercultural Studies and Missiology
  • Christian Ministry and Field Education
  • Independent Research

At Tokyo Christian University, we study the Bible and theology within the context of liberal arts, and we study liberal arts within the context of a Christian world view. Why do we do this? How does such an education enable effective Christian living?

Here, we firmly believe that the most powerful education for effective Christian living must include the liberal arts. Let us consider three reasons.

First, because Christians believe that God created all things in heaven and on earth.  God created richly, with enormous variety. For a thousand years, Christians have acknowledged that studying a spectrum of the liberal arts gives the student at least a hint of the majesty and diversity of God’s creation and, thus, of God’s own greatness. A liberal arts education, truly pursued, can be a form of Christian worship.

Second, the liberal arts develop certain central skills. The student must analyze the subject matter, dig behind the surface to get at the real meaning of a text, separate fact from opinion, interpret the facts, synthesize the data in creative new patterns, create theories to account for that data, and write precisely and analytically. In short, the student must develop a critical, synthetic, and creative intelligence.This educated intelligence explains why the liberal arts produces leaders. As we grow older, we face radically new situations, which neither we nor anyone else could have anticipated. To act effectively in those unforeseen situations, we need precisely the critical intelligence and breadth of knowledge that the liberal arts foster. That’s why people with a liberal education tend to rise to leadership in the ministry, in law, in politics, in government, in business, in medicine, and in all the professions. The liberal arts give people the tools and skills to lead effectively.

Third, the liberal arts directly enhance the study of the Bible and theology. The more one knows about ancient history, for example, the more accurately one can understand the original meaning of the Bible. And it is impossible to get a deep understanding of Christian theology without some knowledge of philosophy. And though less traditional, many people find the social sciences, such as psychology, sociology, and economics, genuinely helpful in applying Christian truth to new situations. To the extent that a pastor, missionary, or Christian layman needs to know the Bible, to understand Christian doctrine, and to apply both to new situations, the liberal arts will prove helpful indeed.

The Bible says every Christian is a priest, or in contemporary language, that every Christian is a minister. Even those Christians we normally call “laity” are in fact ministers; they minister as lawyers, businessmen, and school teachers, and they minister as family-members, neighbors, and citizens. TCU firmly believes that the combination of theological studies and the liberal arts — the integration of faith and learning — can empower each Christian’s ministry, whether that ministry is in business or politics or in full-time pastoring and missionary work.

TCU is the only evangelical university fully accredited by the Japanese government, and it is the only university in this country that integrates liberal arts with the study of Bible and theology. We believe that TCU offers a useful, powerful, and distinctive preparation for an effective Christian life, whether ordained or lay.