Union University
Union University School of Theology and Missions

Ethos Statement

  1. Union University explicitly identifies itself as a Christ-centered academic community that derives its vision and values from Scripture and Christian tradition. The Student Handbook (pp. 14-19) identifies five community values that are to govern the behavior of all who are a part of this university community. These are: the worth of the individual, self-discipline, academic/personal integrity, respect for property and the environment, and respect for community authority.
  2. From these five values, several dozen particular rules for students are articulated, as well as the sanctions imposed for violations of each rule. Those who are a part of the Union community know that an elaborate structure involving students, staff, and faculty exists for the adjudication and enforcement of these rules. Though the administration of justice in any community is never flawless, this university is serious about the rules it articulates and the process of enforcing them. This is so not as an expression of legalism but instead as part of the overall vision of the university as a Christ-centered academic community seeking to define itself clearly amidst a morally relativistic culture.
  3. The School of Theology & Missions believes in the vision and values of Union University, and is fully committed to the five community values articulated in the Student Handbook. As faculty in this department, we fully support these values and expect students majoring in our department to live in accordance with them. Furthermore, insofar as these values apply to us as faculty (as most of them do) we are committed to living in accordance with them ourselves, and are willing to be held accountable for doing so.
  4. As Christian ministers, and Christian studies faculty members, we are also aware that those who are in positions of Christian leadership must be "above reproach" (1 Tim. 3:2). It is inevitable that both within the Christian community, and before a watching world, those of us most closely identified with the ministry of the Gospel are likewise most closely scrutinized. While we do not believe that there is a higher "ministry track" over against a lower "layperson track" in the divine economy, it is the case that "we who teach will be judged more strictly" (Jas. 3:1). This higher level of scrutiny, and stricter standard of divine judgment, has to do primarily with the role of the minister in embodying and articulating the Gospel. Both the Christian and the secular community look to ministers to see if there is any truth in our lives that might match the truth we so boldly proclaim.
  5. By extension, therefore, those who are pursuing Theology & Missions degrees are likewise more highly scrutinized than other students, both within the university and in the Jackson community. The fact that the majority of Theology & Missions majors are intending to pursue some form of ministerial vocation makes this higher level of scrutiny appropriate. Indeed, one might consider it a fitting practice run for the scrutiny and accountability that are a part of the life of all who serve in ministry. Those who are majoring in Theology & Missions but are not called to full-time vocational ministry might find the heightened scrutiny and accountability inappropriate or unwelcome, but it is simply the case that it goes with the territory. If one’s major is Christian Studies, one’s life will be closely watched by fellow Christians and by the world.
  6. When Theology & Missions students live in such a way that they fall short of community values, they bring dishonor not solely upon themselves but also upon our department - and the Gospel. On such occasions, department faculty members are routinely questioned as to how our students could so flagrantly disregard the community values of the university and of the Word of God. It is as if the university community is telling us as Theology & Missions faculty that we are not doing our jobs well. Like other departments of the university but with special intensity in our School, they need us to be producing students who embody the values we profess as a university. When our students violate community standards in significant ways, it discourages and even shames the entire university community.
  7. With this document, we are intending to alert new and returning Theology & Missions majors to the unique status and responsibilities that you have in the Union University community. We are likewise alerting you to our sense of responsibility as a department to be involved in the accountability process when one of our students violates university values. We are asking you for prayerful heart-commitment to adhering to those values, looking out for one another, and embracing your own unique role in the university. For current and future ministers among us, we are asking especially that you learn to take the yoke of ministerial integrity upon you now, for it will be a permanent aspect of your life once you are embarked on the Gospel ministry.