Faith Profile: Prof. Howard, integrating faith and scholarship

History professor of 32 years, Dr. Howard, speaks of his journey to faith and Calvin.

Photo courtesy of Douglas Howard

History professor of 32 years, Dr. Howard, speaks of his journey to faith and Calvin.

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“After graduation, I would have fallen out of faith if it wasn’t for the Christian Rock concert,” said Douglas Howard, professor of history. Howard was ready to leave the church for good. God changed his heart the night of that Good News Circle concert and “from that point on, [he] was bound to be a person of faith.”

At the age of 18, Howard was leaving his “Christian” home to head off to college. However, “just because I lived in a Christian home didn’t stop if from being abusive,” Howard said. Growing up in a household where “science, scholarship and learning were different than faith” confused Howard. He knew that having knowledge did not mean that you could not be a Christian. 

After college, he felt a need to find a church. He explored a few non-denominational churches, but “nothing felt right.” It wasn’t until Howard did a summer program at Harvard where he found his church. He attended a church in the area that a friend of his went to. This is where Howard had another “spiritual moment.” During the service, Howard “encountered people doing this liturgy. I knew in that moment that I found the church that I had been after.” This “new” church happened to be part of the Reformed tradition. This church always existed; the only problem was Howard’s eyes were not opened to it until he started the search for “his” church. 

After Howard finished schooling, he was then on the search for jobs. An advertisement from Calvin College caught his attention. He heard about a history teaching position through a few friends that he knew who attended Calvin and decided to apply for the job. Howard found the interview at Calvin was very unique. 

He was drawn to how Calvin strived to work towards incorporating the Christian faith into everything that they tried to do. “This was something I had never seen before.”

After teaching at Calvin during his first two years, he felt almost as if he had attended a seminar on “how to be a Christian scholar.” The community that he built here was something that changed Howard’s view on Christianity, teaching, and incorporating faith into curriculums. “That was fantastic, and after that… I got to stay.” says Howard. 

He now knows that “science, scholarship and learning,” are not separate from faith. These three elements should be an encouragement to all, not the opposite. Howard has taught history at Calvin for 32 years and wants to encourage kids to learn more about their faith and what they know to be true.