From GED to PhD: Dr. Johnson’s Journey


Dr. Johnson's faculty profile picture. Photo courtesy of tkc.edu.

Dr. Andrew Johnson started teaching Old Testament Literature at The King’s College this fall. 

After his third year as a freshman in high school, Dr. Andrew Johnson’s high school administrators gave him two options: either complete three more years or drop out.

“They were basically saying, ‘Actually, we want you to leave,’” Johnson said. “And that’s when I was like, ‘Holy cow … ’”

Despite knowing he should stay, Johnson dropped out.

Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Johnson’s parents separated when he was nine. His father left the state for better job prospects and his mother became interested in “lesbian neo-Pagan witch craft,” Johnson said. “And us kids, we were kind of on our own for everything.”

At 12 years old, Johnson started smoking cigarettes. At 14, he worked in a pub and played in a heavy metal punk band. With shows, motel parties, girls and marijuana – high school had little appeal.

Even so, Johnson knew something wasn’t right.

“I remember as a 15-year-old thinking, ‘This is stupid – why would anybody let their kid do this?’” Johnson said. “But I wasn’t mature enough to turn myself around and say, ‘Therefore, I must change.’”

Dr. Johnson teaching Old Testament Literature Monday afternoon. Photo by Shamaila Iqebal.

After dropping out, Johnson moved in with his father in St. Louis, Missouri. He had three responsibilities to uphold under his father’s roof: work, pay rent and go to church.

However, he still held onto his wild side. He partied on until one day, he realized this wasn’t the life he wanted to live.

As soon as he turned 17, Johnson joined the Air Force. He expected the military to “straighten him up,” but instead, he learned “how to drink even more,” he said. Though he travelled the world and dodged bullets, he knew he was still missing something.

“I realized that after I’d done all these things, I didn’t feel any better about myself,” Johnson said. “I felt worse.”

He returned home to St. Louis and met up with some old friends from church. They explained to him that God is real – so real that God will do the convincing.

That’s when Johnson started praying.

“I went from not at all believing in this hocus pocus ridiculousness … from not being a Christian to being like, ‘Holy crap, I actually believe this,’” Johnson said. “I didn’t even understand. I was confused by all of it.”

After 20 years of not believing, Johnson professed his faith in Christ. He started junior college and received an Associates degree in Electrical Engineering. He then attended the University of Missouri and graduated with 215 credit hours and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. During his years at college, Johnson worked a full time job, and in between semesters he deployed with the Air Force.

While working as an IT manager Johnson started a Master’s program at Covenant Theology Seminary. In Missouri, he served as a part-time pastor, full-time Master’s student and full-time IT manager.

Then he started his second Master’s program (Philosophy) at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. As he continued his studies, Johnson started teaching as a professor. Last April, he received his PhD in Theology from St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrew’s (in Scotland).

While teaching last year at Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, Missouri, Johnson heard about The King’s College and applied.

“The thing that sold me on King’s is their focus on undergraduates,” Johnson said. “They take 18-year-olds seriously. We realize that they are adults and should be treated as adults … there’s just this mentality that we’re developing people.”

Dr. Johnson currently lives in Clifton, NJ with his wife and four children.