With the exception of a few years, Dr. Kurt Hild has been teaching ever since 1969. He has spent 30 of those years at The Master’s University, as a professor in both the Education and English departments.
His academic and spiritual impact has been undeniably far-reaching. Dr. Mitch Hopewell, Professor Esther Chua and Dr. Todd Bolen are only a few of those who have gone from being Hild’s students to being his colleagues at TMU.
None of this would have been possible, of course, without two significant developments.
First, Hild had to come to know the Lord after graduating from college, and, second, he then needed to learn what it looked like to teach English as a Christian.
The journey started in small-town Nebraska, where Hild grew up attending a strong church.
“I never walked fully away from the faith,” Hild says, “but I lived a markedly disobedient life. While I was at church, I was good – and when I wasn’t in church, I was easily tempted into being otherwise.”
Throughout and after college, he was plagued with the nagging sense that he wasn’t living in accordance with what he claimed to believe. But it wasn’t until he began teaching English at a small Midwestern high school that God took hold of his heart through a conversation with former students who had become involved in Campus Crusade for Christ.
“Essentially, I think, they shared the gospel with me. I look back to them as the ones who were probably instrumental in making the gospel clear regarding repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Hild says. “Now, that was not new – I knew that before. But if there’s a point to which I can go back and say I first had a settled sense of wanting to walk faithfully before the Lord, it’s that conversation.”
Through these same students, he was also introduced to a young woman named Tammi. As they got to know each other, he became smitten, and they eventually married in 1974.
As all of this was happening, Hild began to wrestle with the question of how to teach English as a Christian. He began to wonder if he instead needed to enter vocational ministry. So, having been influenced so greatly (if indirectly) by Campus Crusade, he and his wife moved to California, and he became a staff writer for Campus Crusade’s publications branch.
However, during his three years with the organization, Hild read James W. Sire’s “The Universe Next Door,” a worldview book written by an English professor. Sire used key pieces of literature as the ground on which to examine fundamental questions about reality, and this fact helped Hild begin to think clearly about academia.
“It showed me how the English teacher can be a thinking Christian and can teach works of literature, understanding and working through them from a Christian perspective,” Hild says.
From that point on, Hild was struck by the desire to return to teaching and to further his own education. He was hired to teach English at Los Angeles Baptist High School, where he served for the next 11 years. While there, he earned his Master of Arts in English. He also happened to be teaching the children of a certain pastor at Grace Community Church. It was during this time that Dr. John MacArthur became the president of Los Angeles Baptist College.
“One day, Dr. MacArthur was standing by the fence, watching his son play baseball. And so I sidled up to him, because I knew him by casual conversation,” Hild says. “I congratulated him on his new appointment. And then I finally worked up the courage and asked, ‘Would there ever be a place at The Master’s College for someone like me?’ And he said to me, ‘I was thinking of you.’”
Hild started as an adjunct professor in the English department in the spring of 1987, and he transitioned to full-time the subsequent fall.
The next years were a flurry of activity. Hild entered a doctoral program, and in the middle of it, after 20 years of marriage, the Hilds had their first and only child, Andrew.
“It was in the sweet providence of God, because Tammi and I had been told that we could never become parents,” Hild says. “It just wasn’t going to happen for us. But then, lo and behold!”
After earning his doctorate, Hild briefly left TMC and returned to Los Angeles Baptist High School to help lead a college-readiness program. But his love of teaching college students soon pulled him back – this time as a professor in the Education department, and later as the department chair. He had a hand in hiring professors like Dr. Jordan Morton and Cindy Hallman and Matthew Brown.
But his heart remained with English. So, when he was asked if he could return to the English department to meet a need, he was overjoyed at the opportunity. Those who have been in his classroom know that talking students through the worldview implications of an Alfred Lord Tennyson poem or a Jane Austen novel is what Hild was gifted to do.
Eventually, Hild shifted into an administrative position to help process TMU’s growing influx of transfer applications. Now, though, in his 31st year at the university, he is once again teaching in the English department. At the same time, he is investigating the development of an Interdisciplinary Studies major.
“I’ll continue at the university as long as God gives me strength and breath and a mind,” Hild says. “I would like to continue doing what I do for a long time because I love the school. I love the people with whom I get to work. I believe in our mission. When students graduate from here, they don’t emerge as completely mature Christians – they’re not yet who they’re going to become – but they do emerge as people different from the ones who came in. And I love being part of helping students solidify their foundation.
“I came to TMU because I really believe that the principle battle is for the mind. ‘As a person thinks in himself, so he is.’ If there’s one thing I want to do in my classes, it’s to ask my students to think about what the authors are saying, and what the implications are, and how well it lines up with Scripture.”
Hild believes a crucial question to always ask is, “How is Christ glorified in what it is that I do?”
“I may not always be able to see the details,” he says, “but unless I make the overt, active choice to think about the implications of what it is I’m doing and why I’m doing it, then I’ve missed the point, and I get involved in doing what I did when I was a kid – artificially separating the sacred and the secular.”
The Master’s University and Seminary admit students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.
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