Eric Lehner: Leading in Education

Eric Lehner: Leading in Education

Eric Lehner first felt led to ministry as a teenager. Directed by his conviction, he pursued a biblical education and followed a path of service that took him across to globe, teaching Bible and theology in Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and Southeast Asia.

Dr. Eric LehnerA 2012 graduate of BBS' Ph.D. program, he currently serves as the Academic Dean and Professor of Theology at Virginia Beach Theological Seminary.

He lives with his wife, Anna, and their two children in Chesapeake, VA.

Shortly after my conversion as a teenager, there was a growing conviction in my heart that I should give my life to full-time ministry. This conviction led me to enroll in Bible college and afterward to continue studies in seminary.

The Lord used godly pastors, patient deacons, and solid seminary professors to help me correlate truth with the Christian life and the work of ministry. Through my early years I received a consistent stream of encouragement to pursue teaching as the best path for long-term ministry.

My teaching opportunities in Russia and Ukraine were shortly after the demise of communism. During that time, there was a new measure of freedom to study the Bible openly but few available teachers. The decades of communist policy had eliminated formal theological education, at least for those of evangelical faith. The hunger of the Russian and Ukrainian students to study the word of God was remarkable.

I had two friends who were students in the Ph.D. program and they gave the program high reviews. At first I thought it was a distance education degree and that did not interest me. When I realized the program was designed around resident modules I became interested.

The idea of taking resident courses without moving my family and looking for new employment was very appealing. As I investigated the details of the program, I discovered most of my Th.M. work would receive standing in the program. This made it more affordable and much less stressful on my family.

My dissertation topic was "Jonathan Edward's Application of Theological Method to His Doctrine of Assurance in A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections." I chose this topic because it brought together three areas of study that are of great interest to me: the doctrine of assurance, Jonathan Edwards, and theological method.

My experience on campus was excellent. The faculty and staff were friendly and personal. On several occasions I was part of a group of students invited to dinner to the home of a faculty member. The educational experience was very challenging. Ph.D. work is demanding, and it should be. Now that I am serving as an administrator and a member of a graduate faculty, I am grateful for the rigorous training.

In addition to the interaction with faculty, I would say my colleagues were a highlight of my experience. I had the privilege of studying alongside many outstanding Ph.D. students. Continuous interaction with such gifted and diligent colleagues pushed me to work harder and think more clearly through difficult material. Though our student days are over and we have gone our separate ways in Christ's service, the friendships continue which were forged through years of studying together. I have no doubt we will remain colleagues in ministry for life.

Completing the rigors of the Ph.D. has significantly enlarged my capacity to engage the disciplines that I teach. Additionally, the writing requirements of the Ph.D. program forced me to develop my skills as a communicator. These skill sets have proven to be valuable beyond measure, as they are critical to preparing and delivering an effective classroom experience.

Learn more about doctoral programs here.

Contact Information

Baptist Bible College & Seminary offers outstanding Christian higher education through on-campus, online, and other distance learning options. Students go beyond the ordinary, learning to think biblically, grow spiritually, and serve faithfully as they gain critical leadership and life skills.

To learn more, go to or call 570.586.2400.

Posted on: 1/16/2014 11:07:08 AM

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