Dr. Hiles is a native of St. Louis and Dean of the College of Theology at Grand Canyon University. He studied sculpture, completed an M.Div., and earned a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Southeastern Baptist Seminary before becoming a professor. His interests relate to the doctrines of salvation and the church as well as the intersection of theology and culture.
“It’s difficult to comprehend all that God is doing at GCU. Incredible opportunities to serve Him present themselves every day. I am richly blessed to be involved in the College of Theology at a time when the university is experiencing explosive growth. Our theology programs are expanding in new and exciting directions, our faculty is amazing, and students’ lives are being transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. God is good!”
Who am I and how did God lead me here?
I grew up in a small town north of St. Louis, Missouri. Throughout high school and early college I planned to be a sculptor and to do illustration on the side. My first degree was a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. God had other plans for my career but I never really lost my interest in the arts and in the ways that art influences culture.
Upon sensing a call to ministry, my wife and I moved to Fort Worth, Texas a year after I graduated from art school. While there I earned a M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. My plan was to pastor and perhaps plant a church, but God led me to study at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Raleigh, North Carolina. At Southeastern I earned a Ph.D. in systematic theology. My dissertation focused on the use of visual images in the church.
Upon graduation from seminary, I was appointed assistant professor at Louisiana College where I taught Christian worldview and systematic theology. Within about 3 years of my arrival in Louisiana, I helped launch a small divinity school and was named Associate Dean of the school. Soon thereafter the Lord opened a door for my family to move to sunny Arizona where I was appointed Dean of the College of Theology here at GCU.
What do I enjoy most in the College of Theology and in my ministry?
I greatly enjoy the collaborative culture at GCU, which allows me to work closely with other leaders at the university to grow and develop the College of Theology and promote the integration of faith, learning and work across the disciplines. The cooperative spirit within the College of Theology is equally remarkable and it is incredible to work with a diverse faculty that is united in purpose and passionate about the gospel. We spend a lot of prayerful time together preparing theology programs that educate and equip current and future pastors and Christian leaders.
What advice do I have for theology students?
The major goals of the Christian life according to Jesus are fairly straightforward. We are to love God with our entire being and love our neighbors as ourselves. It is easy to become distracted from these goals because so many things vie for our attention and affections. When done well, theology promotes these goals and serves as a means of advancing them. When students sense that they are not growing in the love of God and others, an adjustment is necessary.