by Chris Karenbauer
Dr. Ronni Kurtz is one of Cedarville University’s newest Bible professors. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Kurtz, his wife Kristen and their daughter Finley live in Cedarville, Ohio where Kurtz teaches at Cedarville University as a Theology professor.
“There are many things that attracted me to Cedarville University,” Kurtz said, “but one of the most important was simply the strength of the curriculum and the strength of the students here at CU. I love higher education and want to give my life towards helping institutions – and the students that make them up – thrive.”
Kurtz has been teaching at Cedarville since the spring semester of 2022. In these two semesters, Kurtz has impacted his students. Junior Political Science major Joshua Heath, who was in Kurtz’s Theology II class last semester, admires Kurtz for his ability to keep Christ at the center of his lectures.
“He presented on the doctrine of Christ, his role as priest, prophet and king,” Heath said. “He made sure that he was Christocentric through all of it. He taught that Christ is central to salvation; Christ is central to eschatology and his return. Everything about how he presented in that class was Christocentric.”
Senior English major Grace Kohler, who was in Kurtz’s Theology I class last spring and is currently in his Theology II class, speaks about how one of their Christology lectures encouraged her to remember the depth of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
“He actually made me cry a little bit because he was talking about the glorification of God,” Kohler said, “and it was just so beautiful to see the glorification of Christ. It was so beautiful to see the actual depth of those words and how Christ’s perfect, sinless life and his humanity and the absolute injustice of his death was for our good and for our benefit.”
Kurtz wants to teach college students, whether they are Bible majors or not, that every Christian is a theologian, and they need to know how to apply theology in their lives. Theology is a joy; it is an adventure to remember God and what he does for his children. And Kurtz is a prime example of that to his students.
“Not only did he teach us academic concepts of theology, but he always grounds it in how that’s applicable in our Christian life,” Kohler said. “He talks about how theology should be done in the church, for the church.”
Along with his love for his students, Kurtz also loves the local church. When Kurtz and his family moved to Cedarville about a year ago, they searched for a church that would line up with their theological beliefs and that would help them grow in their walk with Christ. Kurtz attends a church plant in Dayton called Trinity Church where they are growing alongside the church.
“At Trinity, we have found deep community and dear friends,” Kurtz said. “The Church is faithful in the exposition of Scripture, the administration of the ordinances and liturgy, and in the proclamation of the gospel. We are very blessed to have found a covenant family like Trinity Church.”
Because of his love for the local church, Kurtz deeply respects the local church pastors.
“While the academy is a wonderful tool for the kingdom, ultimately, Jesus is coming back for his bride, not the academy,” Kurtz said. “I love what I do vocationally, but professors are not the heroes, local church pastors and faithful church members are.”
Kohler recalls that Kurtz’s love for the local church translates into his lectures. She explains that Kurtz teaches his students that the church should teach theology to the congregation.
Even though students constantly hear it at Cedarville, Kurtz highly encourages students to join a local church.
“Other students and professors are a wonderful gift, but only covenant church members have the responsibility to oversee your soul,” Kurtz said.
Not only do his students enjoy the topic of the lectures, but they also enjoy Kurtz’s style of teaching. Heath claims that Kurtz is very down-to-earth and relatable, while Kohler claims that Kurtz aspires to be the Mr. Rogers of theology with his jokes.
“He’s got a good, engaging personality,” Kohler said, “but also has a clear structure to what he’s talking about. So it’s easy to follow, and it makes sense.”
According to Kohler, Kurtz despises PowerPoints and goes old school with a whiteboard and markers. Even so, Kurtz makes sure that his students can grasp difficult concepts of theology. He stops to allow students to ask questions, and he answers them with Scripture references to make sure the student understands thoroughly.
“I felt like he handled class very well as a professor and being accessible to his students,” Heath said. “But also just as a person and being someone who is able to communicate theology with joy and hope. He has a desire for people to learn. I think there was just a clear mark in there of how much he cared.”
Kurtz believes that his life’s calling is to help other Christians, but especially his students, “to look at Christ until they begin to look like Christ.” He embodies his calling in 2 Corinthians 3:18, which said, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Both Kohler and Heath attest to Kurtz’s calling. They see that Kurtz loves the church and wants his students to also love it. He has been teaching Kohler that theology is not just an act of study, but is also an act of worship done in church.
“Theology is not only just to give us more knowledge or sharpen our minds, but it’s really to direct us to look on God and be like, ‘Wow, he’s so beautiful!’” Kohler said.
Heath said that Kurtz embodies the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37, “And Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”
“I think he is truly striving to love God, and in his love, in his desire to know him, and his desire to understand this theology, he is trying to strive to know him and love him,” Heath said.
“I hope students pursue their academic life as a devotion to the Lord,” Kurtz said. “I pray that they spend their 1,000 days with us here at CU in a way that would cause them to treasure Christ and cherish his gospel more at graduation than they do today.”
Chris Karenbauer is a senior Journalism major and the Editor-in-Chief for Cedars. She enjoys reading and writing, hanging out with friends and listening to music.