Bible College vs. Liberal Arts Christian University vs. Public University

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Rhetorician, Feb 15, 2006.

  1. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
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    To all who have an ear:

    All who have read any of my posts know I am convinced that much formal education is vital for ANY MINISTRY position.

    These questions are pertinent for the foundations of all formal education of pastor-teacher-missionaries-denom workers et al I believe

    Questions to ponder:

    Is a Bible College degree alone enough for ministry with a Bible major?

    What are the advantages/disadvantages of a Christian Liberal Arts degree w/ & w/o a Bible major?

    What are the advantages/disadvantages of a secular university degree in some discipline other than Bible?

    I know it must be kept in mind; A. the education needs to fit the person for the ministry into which s/he feels called; B. seminary may be an ultimate option for the person.

    Please use these two to frame your discussion.

    I would be interested to hear your opinions and logic on these various subjects. I have intentionally framed the discussion to be "open ended" so I can consider the various views.

    sdg!

    rd
     
  2. PastorSBC1303

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    It provides a good foundation, but I do not believe it should be the end of the road for education. I would think if possible a person in ministry would want to expand on that degree with a Masters at the very least.

    I do not have any experience with a Christian liberal arts degree, so I will leave this for others to discuss.

    I think the advantages are having experience with people outside of the Christian world. As long as a persons faith is strong, they are going to get to meet and have relationship with people from a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs. It provides a lot of witnessing opportunities. I also think it provides a foundation of education to fall back on if something happens and ministry does not work out.

    The disadvantages would be coming to seminary without a lot of the same understandings in languages, theology, and church history that those who have a degree from a Bible college, etc.

    This is the route that I took in my education and I am thankful for it. I think it gave me a good foundation for my seminary work and pushed me to work harder in seminary because I did not have the same knowledge as many of those from Bible college.
     
  3. bapmom

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    Rhet,

    most Bible colleges Ive looked into differentiate between a simple Bible major and a major that goes toward a ministry degree. In fact, the Bible college I went to, ALL students graduated with the equivalent of a Bible major, on top of their declared major and minor.

    In my circles, a major in Pastoral, Missions, Christian Education, etc....is enough for a ministry position. Of course, that is not where learning ends.

    Its funny, on the foreign mission field there are many Bible Institutes being set up to train national pastors, and quite often it is a two-year course thats offered. No one seems to blink an eye at that. They want to train their men, but they also see the urgent need to get those men into the field and starting churches.

    I think its too much to say that ALL ministry positions must be filled with only men with Masters Degrees.

    Liberal Arts Christian colleges are good for those students who don't necessarily plan to go into full-time ministry, but are looking towards a secular career and just want to get educated in a Christian atmosphere.
     
  4. gb93433

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    Depends on the type of ministry. Eaangelsism does not require an in depth knowledge of the Bible but teaching requires more.

    The person who has a secular degree knows other things which the Bible major does not. He always has something to fall back on as well should he need it. Quite tough to have an intelligent discussion about the constants in physics if you do not even know what a constant is. More knowledge opens more doors due to more commonality.
     
  5. superdave

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    Depends on the ministry. It is at least a good start. In our church, there are several lay members who have post-graduate degrees in Bible. Probably should have a pastor with a higher level of formal education given that fact.

    I have a Christian Liberal Arts degree, a General Studies, Humanities degree, with Math and Science as minors, my education included more than 45 credit hours of Bible and Church Ministries classes even though I was not a "ministry" student. I was well prepared for my current role in a secular job, and as an active member of my church involved in several different ministry opportunities. I also could have followed that degree with one in a Seminary, My brother is doing exactly that with the same degree I received. It is a very well rounded academic degree, great for teachers or pastors, especially when followed by a seminary degree. If your secular degree is offered by one of the many schools that have Liberal Arts programs, this would be my most highly recommended degree type to persue. I would even recommend it for ministry students who might want to eventually teach, or who just want a broader humanities education, and are intending to get the majority of their focused theological training in seminary.

    Broader Major offerings, better research opportunities, definitely a more varied experience with different philosophies/viewpoints to deal with. The downside is a lack of Bible/Church Ministries education, and obviously, different overall philosophy for all subjects.


    Great Questions. Not easily answered, but certainly must be considered carefully for those who are preparing to start their higher education.
     
  6. Rhetorician

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    superdave,

    I thought they might prompt some thought and pique some opinions.

    sdg!

    rd
     
  7. NateT

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    I would say that for a person planning to go into ministry, they should not pursue a liberal arts undergraduate.

    Here is my reasoning: Seminary appears to be an option more now that it formerly was. Here at SBTS, we have a Theology School, Church Music school, Evangelism/Missions school and a leadership school. It is not a school only for men wanting to become pastors or professors. It is very much also for para church organizations. That being said, it seems as if there are fewer men and women entering ministry with only an undergraduate degree.

    A typical M. Div program takes approximately 3.5 years to complete. Often times, this is where people get married and start having kids. That can stretch things out to 4 years or more. Most people need to work during seminary (I don't know anyone who doesn't need to.) That being said, you're going to have to find a job. It would be a lot better to provide for a family if an individual had some type of degree other than a liberal arts degree. Something like accounting, engineering, etc.

    Now some degrees (like engineering) are very academically intensive and might not be worth the effort. However, something like nursing, accounting, info technology, etc would be helpful in finding a job that could help provide for education and the family at the same time.

    Plus, the sad fact is that the number of people who leave the ministry is significant. Whether it is from burn out or immorality doesn't matter here. If you leave the ministry and all of your education from high school on is a degree in Bible and an M. Div, you're going to be going back to school to get trained in something that you can support yourself with.

    I didn't feel called into ministry when I went to undergrad. I got a BS in Electrical Engineering. Now that I'm at seminary, I had a fellow student in my first building who was working at a fast food resteraunt. He had a wife and 3 kids (they now have 4) and was making something like 8$/hour. The money he made in 40 hours, I made in 10. It is a lot easier to handle seminary if you don't have to work 40 hours a week, plus take a full load of classes.

    One other advantage to going to a secular university and being trained in something other than theolgoy is that it gives you a different point of view in your ministry. You can identify with the people you minister to because you have had some of the same experiences.

    Just my 2cents
     
  8. Pete Richert

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    Isn't this the ongoing arguement on this whole forum. I think in summary; there is no requriments in formal education for elders in our church as outlined in the Bible. The Bible does give the qualification to be "apt to teach" so study of the Bible must take place one way or another. All things being equal, I think more education is always better from conservative God-loving sources, whether formal or local to the church.

    I got a degree from Wheaton College in IL with a major in mathematics. Can't speak about Bible major, but as for Christian liberal arts

    Pros: For some people, being surrounded by committed and genunie believers helps strengthen your faith, especially in these very formative years. For some, being in a Chrisitan atmosphere is a good transistion from home into the world, as opposed to the more available vices of a secular school (though those vices exist in the Christian schools to, make no mistake about it). Many of the otherwise secular subjects (such as physics, math) often integrate Christian thinking into them. In Wheaton's case, opportunites for ministries abound and are well organized (helping the poor, ministry to the elderly, tutoring, otherwise reaching people with the gospel of our Savior). Wheaton also provides great chapel services where many Godly people came and spoke. Basically, if you are committed to growing in your faith in Jesus, good Christian schools, such as Wheaton offer many resources.

    Cons: Strangly enough, many of the same pros I just listed can also be cons, depending on how you respond. While many are enouraged being in a community of believers, some don't grow at all or become apathetic or cynical. This can be especially prevlant if your realize that many of these motivated and godly people are actually quite hypocritical. Indeed, you are confronted with the fact that, we are all sinners! Freshmen often come in and put up an image of Godliness, faced with the pressures around them, and when this breaks away it can be dishartening. Quite a few sophmores deal with this cynical time where you have to reevulate what it really means to trust in God. Likewise, in a Christian community, your not often challenged in your faith by unbelievers, so you don't get much refined. While those in secular schools can either fall of the wagon and live as non-believers or mature into very strong mature Godly Christians, at Christian schools you can often just dangle in between and not grow. Christian schools also might not have the same academic opportunites. You won't get the variety of subjects from large public schools, nor the same academic standards. All things considered, Wheaton is a pretty good school for academics, but it had no engineering department and its physics department wasn't nearly what you would get at a good large universtiy. I double majored with a secular instituion in electrical engineering at the same time, and got my masters in EE, so I feel qualified to comment, which I will for the next question.

    To split up this question, to answer the advantage of a secular "subject" (as opposed to school), the major advantage is that you can get a job in it. Many elders won't be called into full time service or will be but not to bodies of believers that can support them fincially, and they will need second jobs. For those, nothing beats a good degree in computers science. As for a secular school, a secular school provides opportunites that I listed above. Sometimes better academics. More opportunites, More chances to share the gospel and minister among people who need it (your non-believing friends) etc. I got a degree in EE from Illinois Tech and then a masters from Stanford in the same, and no Christian University that I am aware of could offer the same level of education. Actually working with non-believers to share the good news of the Messiah is also great preparation for actually doing ministry as nothing beats real life experience!

    Cons: bad influences everywhere. Easy to assimilate into the culture when you are so closly bombarded with it. Suddle non-Christian world views being leaked out in lectures may influence you more then your think, even in subjects such as math and physics. Not a lot of accountablility for some young Christians leaving the home for the first time.
     
  9. Rhetorician

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    Thanks guys; Pete, Nate, & superdave!

    I never thought this line of questions could bring out such deep and profound responses.

    Keep 'em coming!

    sdg!

    rd
     
  10. Martin

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    ==No. A person must also be born again and called by God into the ministry. That means they are not doing it for mommy or granny rather they are doing it for the Lord because He called them to it. Too many go into the ministry for the wrong reasons. Now as far as education yes a Bible College degree is enough. You don't need a Masters degree or anything like that (though it never hurts). If I were 18 again, I wish, I would go to a school like Southeastern or Liberty and get my BA and MA (or MDiv) from that school.

    __________________________________

    ==I don't know. My BA is from a secular University. I have attended Bible College and I have a graduate degree from a major Seminary. I would think, however, that having undergraduate courses in Bible would be good mainly if one is going into the ministry or seminary (advanced standing).
    ____________________________________

    ==Hint...don't take religion classes at a secular university. Uggg! I made the mistake of taking a Old Testament course in college. My Old Testament professor argued that David and Johnathan were homosexual lovers :mad: . Nobody in the class agreed but he defended his position all the same. I was only 19 at the time and, while I did not agree with the prof, I did not have enough knowledge to argue with him. Secular Universities are fine but get a degree in History, Sociology, Education, or something like that. Their religion departments tend to be very, very liberal (in general). So I would advise folks to stay clear of them. My undergraduate degree is in Sociology. It gave me a well rounded undergraduate foundation on which to build the rest of my education. It also taught me alot.

    Martin.
     
  11. gb93433

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    You also know what it is like to be amongst non-Christians and live the Christian life. Some have excuses and do not want to hear the truth. Some people do not want you to reduce their excuses to zero.
     
  12. NateT

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    You also know what it is like to be amongst non-Christians and live the Christian life. Some have excuses and do not want to hear the truth. Some people do not want you to reduce their excuses to zero. </font>[/QUOTE]How many times have you heard someone tell a pastor that the reason they're a pastor is because they don't want to work but one day a week. If you've been through what they've been through in terms of schooling, work etc, you'll probably have more credibility in their eyes.
     
  13. bapmom

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    I don't know Nate. I tend to think that people who would be so callous as to actually state that to a man in the position of pastor would have no respect for that man almost regardless of his educational background. I know many pastors who have heard this at one time or another in their ministry, no matter how much schooling they had.
     
  14. mcdirector

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    On the understanding what it's like in the real world response . . .

    these are the same reasons people give to pull kids from or not put them in Christian school. The fact of the matter is that education gives us knowledge and training -- not necessarily job experience. AND the only people who think those of us in Christian service haven't had to deal with real people (have somekind of pollyanna experience) are ones that haven't been in Christian service -- cause we all know what a pit of vipers it can be sometimes.

    As to an undergrad in biblical studies -- I think it's a good start, but there is more to being in the ministry than having a strong biblical foundation. It is so very helpful, but there is much more to it. I'd rather get some (at least some) of my training/experience in higher education than in front of the people I've been called to serve. (I've done both and been embarrassed in both, but not nearly as embarrassed after the training :D )
     
  15. NateT

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    You might be right. My main point wasn't how we'd be able to come to an understanding of those we minister to. My bigger point is that it just makes good sense to be trained in something in addition to Bible and Theology (carpentry, utilities lineman, accountant etc)
     
  16. bapmom

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    I understand that, absolutely. Even if they never need it as something to fall back on, a pastor of a small church often has to do all that stuff all by himself.

    And if a man is starting his own church from the beginning, than he would definitely need some sort of training to support himself until he has a supporting membership.
     
  17. TaterTot

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    I am so glad I went to a secular institution. I was exposed to a broader spectrum of things both academically and socially that I dont think I would have experienced otherwise. Plus, I found my husband there. [​IMG]

    That is not to say that Bible colleges and Christian colleges dont have their place. I really wanted to attend one of our state Baptist colleges, but couldnt afford it. I see now in hindsight that God was going to use my education at a state school for His glory and for my own good. I know thats different for everyone tho.
     

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