Bible Colleges? To be or not to be?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Rhetorician, Sep 17, 2010.

  1. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
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    Hello to all who might have an interest:

    I think this may have been discussed before (and maybe not?). But what do you see happening to the old "Bible College" model of education?

    Is it necessary?

    Will there be a place for it in the future, especially with "online education" being on the front burner so to speak?

    Has it been replaced?

    Has it become outdated and outmoded?

    Has it outserved its usefulness?

    I guess I am lonesome for the old days, cause I have a degree from Mid South Bible College, aka Crichton College, aka Victory University in Memphis, TN. And they are now a "for profit" "University" after the model of the University of Phoenix, only with a Christian World View, if I have understood properly?!

    Will the "Bible College" go the way of the Do-Do Bird? Or will it continue its status as the "red-headed step child" (can you say illegitimate?) at the family picnic of academics? :tear:

    Does it even have a "necessary evil" status for existence?

    A little help here please?

    "That is all!"
     
    #1 Rhetorician, Sep 17, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 17, 2010
  2. Jim1999

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    Not all are given to advanced formal education. The traditional Bible college helps to fill this role for men who are otherwise quite capable in the ministry.

    Another question we might ask is have we overeducated the pulpit and gone beyond the average person in the pew?

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  3. preachinjesus

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    Looking historically the Bible College system existed as a fundamentalist counter to the increasingly secularized seminary system during the modernist-fundamentalist controversy. Different ministries (Frank Norris for example) would set up Bible Colleges for their people who wanted a basic degree in Bible that remained faithful to the text of Scriptures. It also sought to educate the young preacher boys in ministry level degrees and then send them out into the field, and thus bypassing the "modernist" seminaries that would dilute their passion for the inerrant Word of God.

    I think it still has its place. We need great Bible institutes for lay people and young men called to ministry. Though I don't think the diversification of these schools into other areas is helpful for their original intent.

    This is a good question. Possibly with the growth and explosion of degrees/non-degree programs for lay people like Liberty's Home Bible Institute and others there isn't as much of a need. These schools served their purpose well between the 1920s and 1970s and imho saved evangelicalism from the dangers of creeping liberalism in many of their denominations. When one considers the results of their ministry historically there is a strong point that they have, and possibly, continue to provide quality ministry level education.

    I think when they become diversified they lose their purpose. Imagine a seminary like SBTS suddenly offering Masters degrees in business or art. Doesn't make much sense given their historical aims and causes.

    I am very wary of "for-profit" post-secondary educational systems. Maybe for business oriented profession, but the kind of thinking, the kind of work that needs to go into ministry isn't happening at these places.

    Also, the financial burden is terrifically high for these schools and I don't believe it is either good stewardship or sustainable socially for them to exist.

    Its a big question. I think the Bible college can, and should exist, as a counter to the more secularized humanities based liberal arts universities. But when they start trying to please Peter, Paul, and Mary and change their mission to accommodate other trends there are some problems that come up. Some of this can be good, for instance my alma mater Liberty was originally Liberty/Lynchburg Baptist College. But some can be bad.

    Historically Bible Colleges really did serve a great purpose. I just don't know if that is still necessary. Finally, and this is a big point, almost all of these schools were based around a huge personality driven ministry and when most of those guys go away they falter.

    Great thread. I'll enjoy the convo! :thumbsup:
     
  4. exscentric

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    Two I attended went broke, another is morphing into whatever they are headed for (less and less Bible and more and more secular).

    They filled the purpose of giving a little more education than a Bible Institute but both were to help get men to the field/pastorate as quickly as possible to fill the great need for missionaries/pastors.

    As Seminary emphasis grows I would think they Bible College would dwindle, though probably a good resource for some men wanting to work in small towns/missions.
     
  5. paidagogos

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    New Bible colleges.......

    Yes, some are folding but new ones are opening. IMHO, the Bible college movement is alive and well.
     
  6. gb93433

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    The other question is have those in the pew expected more from the pulpit than from themselves compared to the past expectations they had?
     
  7. Tom Butler

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    Rhet, I can only speak about Mid-Continent University, Mayfield, Kentucky, where I serve as a trustee.

    I agree with the first statement, but not necessarily the second. In MCU's case, without the diversification into a liberal arts school, it would not have survived. The accelerated degree program saved the school, and put it on solid fiscal ground. The traditional programs, including those in the College of the Bible (the old Bible College renamed), lose money. Without the non-traditional programs, they'd still be losing money and we'd be out of business.

    The expansion to being a liberal arts school was not without controversy. Many long-time supporters and alumni worried that the school was moving away from its theological roots, its reason for existence. MCU has diligently sought to remain true to those roots. But it does no good to try to hold onto those roots when there's no longer any school.
     
  8. Greektim

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    I would absolutely love to teach in a Christian liberal arts school. Why is it that we think only the Bible college & seminary students need good Bible classes? That is why I have been impressed with LU's curriculum for non-sem students. I don't know how much of an impact the theology & Bible classes are having. But it is good exposure.
     
  9. Tom Butler

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    Exactly. We can hope we have an impact, but we can't ever guarantee it. All we can do is be faithful, and leave the results to God.
     
  10. Zenas

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    I probably ought to stay out of this discussion because all my higher education was at state universities. Nevertheless, I have to wonder if the Bible colleges are being totally fair with the students they enroll. Almost none of them are accredited and this means there is no chance of being admitted to any professional or post-graduate program (except at one of the Bible colleges). You can't get a teaching certificate because your degree is not from an accredited institution. You can't even go to an accredited seminary, such as STBS, from there.

    So. unless you plan to be a minister in a fundamentalist church, or teach in a private unaccredited school, there is no place to go with their degree. It seems to me that Mid-Continent got it right by becoming accredited and offering a Bible based education to persons who might want to pursue non-religious careers. Tom, to the extent you caused this to happen, I commend you very highly. I have watched this school since a friend enrolled there in 1978. By 1990 I wouldn't have given two cents for its chance of survival. But today it is a thriving institution with a bright future.

    As for accreditation, it seems that most of the Bible colleges say they have an aversion to being regulated by state and federal agencies. However, the accrediting agencies have nothing to do with the government. They are private non-profit associations created and supported by their member institutions. So what is the problem with getting accredited?
     
  11. Greektim

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    That's not exactly true. I went to Piedmont Baptist College & Grad School (TRACS accredited) and am now enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. My wife also went to PBC for el. ed. and she is teaching 5th grade in a public school. This was done through the dual enrollment that PBC has with High Point University. So it is possible to have a career outside of the fundie circles as well as further education outside of fundie circules.

    All that said, I wish I went to a secular university or a better accredited Christian college. Oh well...
     
  12. dwmoeller1

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    Concerns like these are real. However...
    1. As long as they don't try and present their degrees for other than what they are, then I see no problem. Some people simply don't care about accreditation and often with good reason. The problem comes when schools like BJU or LBU imply they are providing something more than the really are.
    2. If one is careful and does their research so that they know the limitations of such degrees, then they aren't really being hampered by getting such a degree if it fits their goals and needs. They just need to make sure thats where they are really headed. So, for instance, while they certainly can't get a teaching certification, they may only wish to teach at Christian private schools where certification is not necessary (and, in some cases, not even wanted).
    3. Its not quite accurate that they can't be admitted to post grad institutions. Seminaries for one are unlikely to turn away a person simply due to lack of an accredited degree - particularly if the Bible school is well established and respected.

    Depends on what you mean by "got it right". If by that you mean "made it more likely to survive financially", then I wouldn't disagree. But I see no problem with a school catering only to those who want a limited and focused sort of degree as long as they are open and upfront about their limitations. Those who want more can go some place that wishes to offer more.

    Its not quite accurate to say they have nothing to do with government. At the very least, these agencies and the Dept. of Edu. have a very close working relationship. For one, the Dpt of Ed gives official recognition to certain bodies and not others. From what I can tell, the regional accreditation bodies make sure they do whatever they need to in order to stay nationally recognized.

    Thats not to say that I agree with the stance of Bible schools on this, but its not as unreasonable as you make it sound.
     
  13. Tom Butler

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    Zenas, regarding my role at Mid-Continent University, you are very kind, but, aside from giving glory to God, the credit belongs to the entire board of trustees, a gifted and visionary President, and to those whom he has brought aboard as administrators, staff and faculty, all of whom have bought into the vision there.

    dwmoeller1, I understand your concern when you wrote:
    The Christian Studies degrees offered by MCU are not limited in any way. Those who earn our degrees are well prepared for seminary-level work.
    In fact, we are preparing to offer a masters-level degree for our Christian Studies graduates.

    With regard to the 'Non-Religious" degrees, every student must take a number of hours of Christian Studies courses as a requirement for graduation.

    By the way, we don't give short shrift to the traditional Arts and Sciences side of the school. The elementary teacher education is ranked second in Kentucky. And the Accelerated Degree Program meets a need that is not likely to ever be completely filled in Kentucky.

    Along those lines, those "Advantage Program" graduates may now pursue a Masters degree in business. It's just getting started. The tuition from those programs help keep us on sound financial ground. That is no small thing.

    BTW, MCU is accredited by the Southern Association, and has been for many years. The process is a royal pain, but for MCU, it's worth it.
     
  14. preachinjesus

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    First, let's celebrate our agreement! :thumbsup:

    In part of my PhD seminars I did a seminar in the history of Fundamentalism in the United States. A significant part of that movement was the formation and use of Bible Colleges and Bible Institutes to further the aims of their various founders. I get why these institutions diversified their degree programs. As a student at Liberty I ended up running in some circles where I encountered Drs. Towns and Falwell frequently. This question came up.

    I just think given the Bible colleges' original intent the diversification is a hard pill to swallow. Now with ministerial education being all the rage and with the dramatic reduction in the size and reach of fundamentalism there isn't so much a need to get these preacher boys trained up and sent out. In fact during my MDiv work I tried to find positions in churches all over north Texas and was continually turned away for lack of education (didn't have my MDiv yet.)

    I just guess I wonder how well a Bible College degree serves its recipient if its not in a ministerial area. There are plenty of people that I know who don't take these degrees seriously in the secular world because they don't see it as providing a complete curriculum training.

    Hope I don't come across as too negative. I am thankful for the Bible colleges that are out there and are doing vigorous ministry training. These points are all part of the OP.

    Thanks for the replies and thoughts.
     
  15. Bobby Hamilton

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    I don't think it has. I attended a Christian University from 1999-2002. After my wife graduated I finished up at a Secular institution. With that said, I went to a lot of places job hunting, and I was surprised at how highly the University I attended was looked upon. I didn't even know as many people heard about it.

    Sidenote: My school was accredited.
     
  16. BobinKy

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    I think Bible Colleges should continue outside the track of traditional education (community college, 4-year, and graduate institutions). They offer what cannot be offered by grant-based schools. In a sense, a Bible College is a technical school and should not be bogged down by other curriculum. Recently, I checked the offerings of a few Bible Colleges and noticed the "Bible" portion of their offering is shrinking. This is sad.

    ...Bob
     
  17. Tom Butler

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    A degree from Mid-Continent U and its Bible College component will be in the area of ministry as well as Biblical Studies.

    But a degree from the College of Arts and Sciences requires a number of hours of Biblical Studies, as well.

    One thing that helps people take MCU serious is that it holds Southern Association accreditation. And boy are they nit-picking.
     
  18. table

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    The government has a lot to do with accrediting agencies because they are regulated by the US Educational Department, washington DC.
     

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