3 Questions with Andy Naselli, assistant professor of New Testament and theology at Bethlehem Baptist College & Seminary

1. What advice would you give to students considering doctoral studies, but unsure whether they should pursue them? 

Think through diagnostic questions such as these:

  1. What do you want to do with a Ph.D.? Would a different degree be more prudent?
  2. What school do you want to attend for a Ph.D.? Why? How will earning a Ph.D. under certain professors prepare you for what you think God has called you to do? Are they good mentors? Do they model what you want to be?
  3. If you are married, what does your spouse want to do?
  4. What do you think your gifts are? If you are married, what does your spouse think your gifts are? What do other mature Christians who know you very well (especially your church’s elders) identify as your gifts?
  5. How will you pay for this? (I wouldn’t make that question central, but it’s important.) Are you willing to go into debt? (I wasn’t.) If you are married, are you willing for your spouse to work? (I was until we had our first child.) Are you willing to work yourself? (I always worked at least part-time and then full-time as soon as we had a child.)

If you work through questions like those and conclude that this is an open door you want to walk through (and other mature Christians who know you well are encouraging you to walk through it), then go for it. But be forewarned: It’s not an easy road. You’ll have to sacrifice and persevere. But it’s totally worth it if God has called you to it.

2. You have written about memorizing whole books of the Bible. What book would you recommend a Christian start with? 

Perhaps something smaller like Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5–7 (~17 minutes) or Paul’s letters to the Philippians (~14 minutes) or Colossians (~13 minutes).

3. Do you have a favorite Christmas memory or tradition? 

My favorite memory is Christmas Day 1998. I was a college freshman, and about two weeks earlier I had learned that my youngest brother, Michael, had Stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer. I was in a fog. On Christmas Day, I picked a book off my bookshelf that one of my professors recommended. I didn’t know anything about the author. The book is called The Pleasures of God, and the author is John Piper. I read it cover to cover that day. I had never heard anything like it: God will most satisfy us when we know why God himself most satisfies God. I don’t know the precise day I became a Christian, but I know the day I became a joyful Calvinist.