Ask Dr. Don DeYoung if there is one scripture verse that has helped guide him in his decades-long journey and he will quote 1 Peter 3:15. “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
For DeYoung, his life has always been about honoring Christ. Whether it be choosing a career path, taking seminary courses, or knowing which scientific theory to teach, he has always returned to the Bible as his foundation.
Dr. Don DeYoung (MDiv 83), was the only child in his family to complete college. Little did he know, he would become a nationally recognized author and leading voice in Creation science advocacy. DeYoung’s academic journey took him to Michigan Technological University where he received his BS in applied science and MS in solid-state physics. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in nuclear physics from Iowa State University.
When finishing up his graduate degree he knew there was a big fork in the road. Should he pursue the financial lure of industry or take an academic path toward teaching creation science within Christian education? When he told one of his physics professors from Iowa State that he was leaning toward Christian education, his professor responded, “Don, you’re throwing away your education.” DeYoung admits that it was a hard point of decision, and his continued hope was that the Lord would lead him in the right direction.
That direction ended up being toward Grace College, where he has been ever since. According to DeYoung, Grace gave him a foundation and structure to build his life on.
Walking the Path
DeYoung’s decision to come to Grace College was in part because of an interaction he had with Dr. John Whitcomb (BDiv 51, ThM 53, ThD 57), ironically while DeYoung was still at Iowa State. Dr. Whitcomb was there to challenge a conference crowd with the belief of Young Earth Creationism. Hanging on every word that day was DeYoung. He was being ignited on a pursuit of the theory of creation that continues to this day.
This is one reason why DeYoung came to Grace as a professor in 1972. At the time, Grace required all of its faculty and staff to take a few core seminary classes. But for DeYoung, he didn’t stop when his requirements were satisfied. Those courses gave way to a decade of sporadic seminary training, through which he scraped together an MDiv.
“Frankly, physics gets a bit tedious after a while,” says DeYoung. “But the theology part of it – the intelligent design has kept me going.”
For 46 years, DeYoung served full-time in the Department of Science and Mathematics at Grace, and he continues to teach a few courses today. He also served as the president of the Creation Research Society for 22 years and authored 22 books on creation science topics.
He has found himself speaking and presenting at churches, schools, and conferences across the country. But of all the accomplishments he’s earned, what he is most proud of is his family. “I have enjoyed getting to share the journey with my wife, Sally (ASN 86), and my daughters and son-in-laws: Jenny (DeYoung BA 90) and Gene (BA 89) O’Hara, Jorie (DeYoung BS 91) and Scot (BS 93) Bail and Jessica (DeYoung C 96) and Derrik (BS 96) Hobbs.
Looking Back and Moving Forward
Young Earth Creationism might have started out as a mere conference topic for DeYoung, but teaching this often controversial topic from what the Bible presents continues to be one of his greatest passions. He recalls some of some of the best advice he ever received from Chuck Thornton, a pastor in Alaska, was, “When you teach, take the material and put it on the bottom shelf where normal, regular people can understand it and gain from it.”
“To the outsider, Creation science seems unscholarly and anti-science,” says DeYoung. “But it’s where everything comes from. I’ve been in this business long enough to watch countless theories come and go, but when you go back to the Scripture, the truth never changes. It gives me assurance that my God is dependable and sure.”
Would you like to learn more how to defend your faith with gentleness and respect and be equipped to advance the gospel in ways that people can understand and follow? The Master’s of Divinity in Christian Ministry at Grace offers various concentrations and will equip you to lead wherever life takes you.