Joseph PakAssociate Professor of Biblical Studies
- PhD, New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary (2001)
- STM, Dallas Theological Seminary (1993)
- MDiv, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary (1988)
- BS, Electrical Engineering, Virginia Tech (1985)
Why I Came to Taylor
I am at Taylor because, for me, teaching at an undergraduate level is the best way to serve God and the best way to invest my life into the future. Before I came to Taylor, I was an associate pastor at a big church in charge of discipleship training, evangelism ministry (Evangelism Explosion), and family ministry (which included counseling ministry and caregiving ministry). I was also an adjunct professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Though the church and teaching ministry were fulfilling, I often asked myself a question, “what is the best way to invest my life?” The answer has always been investing it into the potential leaders of the next generation.
So when an opportunity arose to come to Taylor and teach full-time, it was a God-sent to me. But God’s gift was even greater than granting my desire to teach at an undergraduate institution because Taylor is no ordinary college. Taylor is 166 years old, but it is unapologetically evangelical which is very unusual since it is the nature of higher education academic institutions to gradually drift away from their evangelical convictions over time in their effort to remain culturally relevant. I believe it is God’s hand on Taylor that protected its doctrinal purity and academic excellence. Many students decide to come to Taylor upon their first campus visit because they sense God’s presence here.
My goal at Taylor is to equip students to become fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ and competent leaders of the next generation. It is a challenging goal because in order to accomplish this goal, I have to become such a disciple first. Students learn by example much more than by lectures. Even in classrooms, more is caught than taught. Though it is a daunting challenge, it really is the only way I can have an impact on the students, so I take this challenge seriously.
Since I teach biblical studies and religion classes where the subject matters are all faith related, it is difficult not to integrate faith and learning in my classes. To give you one example, in my Biblical Literature I class (Old Testament survey), we devote one class to the study of book of Job. After briefly covering the basic issues such as the literary structure and content, I introduce to the students the story of an individual who used to be a Christian but studying the book of Job caused him to renounce his Christian faith and become an atheist. He was not able to cope with his understanding of the God that the book of Job seemed to portray: God who is incited by Satan to bring unspeakable suffering and pain to an innocent man’s life, and when asked by Job why he did so, his answer seems to be, “I did so because I could.” The God of book of Job to this believer-turned-atheist was a cosmic bully who parades his power and says, “might makes it right.” Then we have a small group discussion trying to answer his questions and other questions raised by the book of Job. Why do the righteous suffer? Why do the wicked prosper? Why doesn’t God answer Job’s questions?
I was born and raised in a home where the father did not have any religion and the mother was a Buddhist. The first time I went to church was when I was in elementary school, but after a few weeks my mother did not allow me go to church because she thought it was not good for one family to have more than one religion. The next time I went to church was when I was a junior in high school. My family was living in Falls Church, Virginia, and this time my mother did not stop me and my parents eventually began going to church with me and my sister also.
Though I began attending church regularly and reading my Bible regularly, I was a nominal Christian during my junior, senior years in high school and my freshman year in college. I was born again during the summer break of the freshman year on August 25, 1982. I was going through some rough time and for the first time in my life I sought God with all my heart. I was saved in a similar way that Cornelius and his family were saved—while listening to the words of exhortation from a godly man.
The first thing I did when I was saved was to open my Bible and read the parts that I had underlined. I underlined them because I liked what they said even though I did not fully understand what they meant. When I went back and read them again, for the first time in my life, the Word of God became alive and I understood their meaning in a way I had not before. Looking back, I now realize that it was the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit.
Since my salvation, my greatest prayer request has been to know, love and serve Jesus with all of my being. It has been about 30 years since I was born again, and I can say that I know and love Jesus more than 30 years ago. I am also an ordained minister and served the church many years. I also have been teaching at Christian higher education institutions many years. Still, there were many ups and downs in my faith journey. I stumbled often and still struggle to keep Jesus in the driver’s seat in my life. But my greatest prayer request has not changed, and it will remain the same for the rest of my life.
I mostly read books related to classes or teaching. Currently I am reading Historical Theology by Gregg Allison, and a couple of books about the influence of internet on students’ thinking. As for music, some of my favorite singers are Anne Murray and Rich Mullins. I also listen to Korean CCM and some K-pop (Korean pop music). I don’t watch TV much, but I love to watch movies. Some of my favorite movies are Romeo and Juliet (older version), the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Dave.
Major Career Accomplishments
I am involved in a biblical theology study group at IBR (Institute of Biblical Research). I am also preparing to publish my papers in journals which I presented at ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) annual conferences.