A Continuous Spiritual Path: Angela Klaus – Student Profile
December 6, 2023
MATS student Angela Klaus is discovering her Christian identity as an academic, scientist, and Buddhist.
By all accounts, Angela Klaus has a successful and fulfilling career as a scientist and educator. After earning a doctoral degree in cell and developmental biology at Rutgers University, she served for nearly a decade as the director of advanced imaging at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. She then accepted a faculty position in the Department of Biological Sciences at Seton Hall University, a post she’s held for the past 17 years, where she teaches courses and conducts research focused on spermatogenesis, or how organisms develop and maintain a steady supply of sperm throughout their lifetimes. Suffice it to say that Klaus, a practicing Buddhist, didn’t have seminary on her mind in the least. “Everything changed in 2020,” she says. “I experienced what I can only describe as a profound experience of God, completely and unexpectedly.”
Almost immediately, she began researching academic programs. In addition to its anti-racist mission, New Brunswick Theological Seminary appealed to her because it offered one of the few programs that was entirely online and fit within her full-time work schedule at Seton Hall. She decided on a Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS), and has since discovered a passion for the New Testament—a topic she hopes to continue studying in a doctoral program after graduation. “The best part of my New Brunswick Theological Seminary experience has been the coursework itself,” she says. “Studying the Bible and theology has helped connect me to God.”
Klaus is the first to admit that her path has been unconventional, and her friends and family (“all strongly agnostic or atheist,” she quips) marvel at the ways in which she’s dedicated herself so fully to two distinct academic and personal passions. “My research in the lab doesn’t overlap at all with what I’m studying at seminary,” Klaus says. “I’m developing in a new way I never would have anticipated and, to be honest, I’m still trying to figure out how to marry the two.”
In the meantime, she finds herself drawing on and calling back to her Buddhist practices and beliefs as she develops her Christian identity. “For example, when I think of the Kingdom of God, I equate that to the Buddhist concept of enlightenment; I can’t help but understand Christian concepts in a Buddhist light,” she says. “For me, becoming Christian as a Buddhist is part of one continuous spiritual path.”