Pascut Has a Passion for Mentoring
by catherine elvy, staff writer
Christian Union’s newest ministry fellow at Brown University likes to reflect upon how his name resonates with his divine calling.
Romanian-born Ben Pascut is quick to explain how the translation of his first name, Beniamin, involves the concept of advisory service to a king. “I really think it’s my destiny to form leaders and be an advisor to people in high places,” said Pascut, who joined Christian Union’s faculty at Brown in the summer.
Indeed, the opportunity to mentor aspiring academics and to disciple some of the nation’s brightest students played a role in the interdisciplinary scholar’s decision to relocate his family to Rhode Island to serve with Christian Union.
During the fall semester, Pascut marveled at how many of his students, including one zealous freshman from East Asia, have stepped up to encourage their peers to consider Christianity. “This particular freshman just stands out,” said Pascut. “He has been extremely excited finally to learn about Christianity. He is so invested in the lives of others.”
Such interaction is truly rewarding for Pascut, an award-winning lecturer with international teaching and ministry experience. As he works with students, the husband and father of partial Jewish heritage especially relishes opportunities for spiritual formation, preaching, and social activism.
Pascut brings impressive credentials, including a doctorate in the philosophy of religion from the University of Cambridge and a master of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. His portfolio also includes a wealth of background in campus and church ministry.
Pascut’s path to higher education took a remarkable route, especially after preaching his first sermon as an early adolescent. His father, a pastor who spent time in a labor camp under the Communist regime as punishment for embracing his faith, visited Moody Bible Institute in Chicago in the late 1990s. While there, he prayed that his son would someday attend the storied Bible college and add the Romanian flag to the banners flying outside The George Sweeting Center for World Evangelization.
Later, a Romanian businessman heard the youthful Pascut deliver a motivational talk and stepped forward to enable the financially-strapped teen to attend Moody. In 2006, Pascut completed a bachelor of arts in Bible and theology.
While at Cambridge, Pascut appreciated opportunities for academic partnership and interdisciplinary approaches to research. “I have never had the privilege of taking things for granted,” said Pascut, who worked part-time jobs throughout his undergraduate and graduate studies.
Such dedication has paid off for Pascut’s endeavors on behalf of God’s kingdom. Among his notable achievements, he seized a prized opportunity to serve as a researcher on behalf of the National Geographic Channel.
In 2011, Pascut worked as a consultant for Jesus: Rise to Power, a documentary that used historical documents, artifacts, and reenactments to describe the life of Christ and highlight the rise of Christianity. The three-part documentary explored the early years of Christianity within the Roman Empire. It also recounted how Christianity moved from being a persecuted movement to the empire’s official religion.
While providing research for the documentary, Pascut relished interaction with historians, including those who lacked a background in religion. “I became very passionate about interdisciplinary work, engagement, and building leaders in those kinds of fields,” he said.
In 2017, Pascut’s Cambridge doctoral dissertation, Re-describing Jesus’ Divinity through a Social Science Theory, was published as part of Mohr Siebeck’s WUNT international series. The 254-page monograph took the fresh approach of employing identity theory to the study of Jewish monotheism and Christology.
Pascut, a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Academy of Religion Society, and the Society of Christian Ethics, welcomes opportunities to submit scholarly papers for publication and lecture at conferences. He presented a talk entitled “World Christianity and the Globalization of America’s Colleges” at the Currents, Perspectives, and Methodologies in World Christianity conference, hosted by Princeton Theological Seminary in 2018. This spring, he will return to Princeton during the World Christianity event to deliver a talk entitled “Interreligious Activity and the Science of Identity.”
The presentation reflects his work on his forthcoming book entitled Next Christians: How College Life is Shaping the Future of American Christianity. The book explores the fascinating journey of identity formation and deformation of Christian students on secular campuses in the United States. It reveals stories of how academic life can oppress or erase Christian identity for some students, and inspire and mature it for others.
As for the latest chapter in his service with Christian Union at Brown, the multi-talented Pascut is focused upon providing mentorship to aspiring leaders at secular colleges, while while incorporating options for scholarly research and speaking engagements. The ministry provides an “outstanding platform” for Pascut to share the fruit of his seasoned, wide-ranging gifts.
“I’ve always tried to reach as high as possible,” he said.