Question and Answer: TMC professor Dr. Abner Chou
Dr. Abner Chou began teaching Greek at The Master’s College in 2004, and became an Associate Professor in the Biblical Studies Department in 2007. However, his journey as a member of the TMC community began much earlier. Chou is himself a TMC graduate.
In addition to the Bachelor of Arts degree he holds from TMC, Dr. Chou has also earned a Master of Divinity degree, a Master of Theology degree and a Doctor of Theology Degree … all from The Master’s Seminary.
He is in many ways a home-grown professor.
He’s also among the college’s most popular teachers. His classes are always packed and, more importantly to Chou, his students always leave buzzing about what they are learning from Scripture.
Vanessa Dawson, a TMC communications major, caught up with Dr. Chou for a brief question-and-answer interview. What follows are excerpts from that exchange:
What motivated you to be an Old Testament professor?
Chou: I didn’t enter college or seminary with the idea that I’m going to be an Old Testament Professor. Fundamentality I came in with the drive to make people love and be amazed by the Bible. And so it wasn’t about the Old Testament necessarily. It was about just increasing people’s passion.
It was professors like Dr. Steven Boyd or Dr. Will Varner and Dr. Daniel Wong who opened up my eyes to the beauty of the Old Testament and to what it was doing in the Bible. That got me really excited, and so the Lord used that as my education continued to land me in a position where I was doing Old Testament and teaching as an Old Testament professor.
If there was only one thing you could teach about in the Old Testament, what would it be? If you could limit it to one thing?
Chou: If I limited it to one thing it would be that God is central and you are not.
How is that shown throughout the Old Testament?
Chou: You could see that truth in the first verse, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” and then even all the main characters or so-called main characters we talk about, like Abraham or David or any of the Kings or Elijah and Elisha.
You see that they are always in response to God. The only reason you find out about Abraham is because God called him and He shaped his genealogical line to be chosen. Or the nation of Israel, which is a major player in the Old Testament – even its name is a remembrance of God. Israel … God fights.
And so everything is actually reflecting God. And in the end if you’re kind of morbid, you could just say all these people die so they can’t really be the main character because they’re all dead. The only person alive from the start to finish of the Old Testament is God and so I think He wins flat out.
What are some ways you tell people to look at the Old Testament so they become more interested in it?
Chou: If they’re asking the question: Who is God and what is He doing and how can I worship Him for what He does, then those kinds of questions really elicit the beauty of the Old Testament, where you can see God’s power, His graciousness, His kindness, His sovereignty, and you see it in real time.
You don’t just hear it in an abstract comment. Sometimes the New Testament gives that and that’s helpful to know those kinds of truths, but in the Old Testament it’s more by demonstration so you don’t just read that God is compassionate. You see it. You see Him spare the lives of thousands of people.
In the New Testament you might read that God is powerful or all wise in didactic propositional statements, but in the Old Testament you see through how the plagues humble an entire superpower. The Old Testament in that way is very vivid and if we are looking not about us but about Him, then those vivid portrayals really help us to worship Him.
How important is it to find a church that is serious about teaching the Bible?
Chou: I think it’s important to find a church that is solid. You’re never going to find a perfect church, but you can find one that’s solid that fundamentally is endeavoring to be a good church and from there make an effort to be plugged in responsibly, where you’re investing in the church in ways that actually edify the church.
You don’t necessarily have to be in leadership to do that. You don’t have to be the person that is always up front. That’s not what I’m talking about. I just mean that every time you are at church you are helping disciple and edify people, whether that’s officially or unofficially. That’s what being part of a church is.
If there was anything you could tell to the student body from your own experience, words of wisdom … what would that be?
Chou: Be serious and passionate about the glory of God in everything. Sometimes I think we are more bent on having fun or even satisfaction than actually achieving the goal that God has set before us. Fun is not bad and fun can actually be a part of that goal. Joy in the Bible is framed in that way.
But there needs to be a clear focus that whatever I’m doing, there’s no division between sacred and secular. Whatever I do, it is for the end goal of God’s glory and nothing but, and that means it’s going to change the way I do things. It’s also going make me more selective in what I choose to invest my effort in.
Vanessa Dawson is a TMC communications major.