Demise of the "Big Six?"

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Rhetorician, Feb 7, 2011.

  1. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
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    To all who have an "ear to hear," inside as well as outside the SBC!

    I am wondering what will happen to our beloved "Big Six (SBC) Seminaries?"
    With the so-called drop in demographics will we;

    1. Need to have six seminaries in the SBC any longer;

    2. Have the money to support six seminaries with the monies being shifted to the GCR and other missions projects/issues;

    3. Can keep 6000 to 10,000 students in the "Big Six" year after year?

    Think about it. With the Baptist colleges more and more starting "seminaries;" and the seminaries starting colleges; can the seminaries be sustained long term?

    Let me hear from you, whether or not your are inside or outside the SBC.

    Are we banging our head against a wall? :BangHead:

    "That is all!"
     
  2. Ruiz

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    I think you ask two questions. First, can you keep 6 seminaries and then the question is whether you should keep 6 seminaries. The first question deals with ability the second is goal.

    First question:

    I believe you can keep the six seminaries. The question is should and can the SBC keep other entities thriving and can the seminaries survive without raising tuition. In my circle, for instance, Southern Seminary is highly respected even though we are outside the SBC. Financially, should the SBC be putting as much money toward other entities in the Cooperative Program. I think the SBC would rather lose items like the Ethics and Religious Liberty than a seminary.

    Second question:

    While I love some in the Southern Baptist Convention Seminary system, I think their goal should be to encourage Seminaries on a more local level with more local church oversite. I think the existing Seminaries should be weaned from the Cooperative program over a 10-20 year cycle and become self sustaining.

    As for Colleges becoming Seminaries, that is going to happen. In my opinion, few have the respect of some of the other Seminaries nor backing. However, it doesn't cost much more to operate a Seminary after you have an undergraduate program. Overall, the Seminaries will survive and Southern seems to be thriving. However, I think a focus on local accountability of Pastors and more church integratedness is needed... without losing the academic. I think this can be accomplished.
     
  3. mjohnson7

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    Great Questions

    Do we?
    Do we need to have six? I am not sure about that...I am not saying "yes" or "no", but I also wonder if some mergers would not be merited. RTS and GCTS both have thrived with satellite campuses, not the typical extension centers associated with the Big Six seminaries.

    Money availability seems to move in cycles - particularly with the economy. The helpful thing about that is it does help us prioritize.

    I think SBC seminaries could help themselves financially by dropping ATS accreditation and sticking soley with the regional bodies. By doing that, they could offer fully online degrees, like Liberty. Embrace it...online education isn't coming, it is here.
     
  4. Crabtownboy

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    Would you allow a surgeon to operate on your who had not gone to an accredited medical school ... say a medical school from a poor 3rd world country that had very low graduation requriements? You get my drift.
     
  5. StefanM

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    ATS is not the only valid form of accreditation. In fact, it seems absolutely ridiculous that a theological accreditor should be considered the "standard" when it includes institutions such as the Starr King School for the Ministry (Unitarian Universalist) and Harvard Divinity School (Interfaith). The institutional missions of these seminaries are so far removed from the missions of SBC seminaries that it seems absolutely absurd that ATS accreditation would even matter.

    IMO, they should either drop ATS accreditation and stick with regional accreditation, or they could start an evangelical accreditation agency.
     
  6. Crabtownboy

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    Same question to you. Would you allow a surgeon to operate on your who had not received his medical education from a school that could not meet accreditation standards.

    The mission of a school does not factor in, at least not much, in accreditation. The education of the staff, the size of the library and other resources are what factor into it. I am sure there are others on the board who know more than I about accreditation. But, I want a well educated doctor as my doctor and I want a well educated pastor as my pastor.
     
  7. preachinjesus

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    Lots of meat to talk about right here. Always enjoy your provoking posts good sir! :thumbsup:

    No. The era of a big ole convention is ending and we don't need the six. We can reasonably handle five or even four but the entire program has to change.

    Midwestern is facing difficult times and likely should be shuttered soon. It isn't regionally influential. The other five campuses are doing well but the dispersement isn't useful for actual ministry need. If you say that the east coast is held by SEBTS, the west coast by GGTS, and the midwest by SBTS, you still have to figure out where SWBTS and NOBTS fit into the equation. They are pretty close in proximity.

    The way the seminary system develop historically was based around times where a young man would go to the regional seminary because travel was expensive and difficult, get his training, and then return to the field to minister in churches linked with that seminary.

    As I've mentioned here I went to SWBTS. I loved my time at SWBTS. I'm glad I went to SWBTS. But half of my courses don't apply to every day ministry work. The problem with seminary MDivs (which are viewed as the primary degree for ministry) is that the coursework is developed by academicians and not practitioners. I'm not saying we move away from important classes but there should be a need to evaluate whether someone is just getting a degree with useless knowledge or a degree that will benefit them.

    A more rounded MDiv program should include courses on management, budgeting, human resources, church law, etc. I can't find any that do and it creates a real problem for our graduates. The attrition rate for grads is appalling right now. If you couple that with the numbers of grads who immediately leave the convention to lead non-SBC churches the stats get really bad.

    I don't think so. If someone is seriously considering cutting funding for seminary to send more missionaries into the field the idea is 1) silly because the missionaries must be trained somewhere, 2) a non-starter at convention. The 2+2 programs at our seminaries are HUGE for missionaries in the field.

    Yes but I don't think it means we keep six seminaries. If we are serious about reaching people in the north east and above the Mason-Dixon line we need a seminary for New England. Also one in the Pacific-Northwest. Consolidation and redevelopment are essential here.

    The nature of education has drastically changed and the accessibility for anyone to a decent level education from anywhere on the globe is huge. One needs to be evaluating the effectiveness of programs for non-traditional (which is the new standard) students when doing this. I've talked with a lot of seminary personnel who makes these decisions, my overwhelming impression is they don't really have a handle on how much the future of education will not look like the past 150 years.

    This is a BIG problem in the system. Some of the seminaries have violated the unwritten law that they shouldn't be in the undergrad business. It is a good rule imho. Let the state conventions handle the undergraduate institutions and the major seminaries the graduate instruction.

    Let me hear from you, whether or not your are inside or outside the SBC.

    Always :BangHead:

    For what its worth the increasing diversification of the education supported by amazing technological advancements should compel us to do something different. The real issues are so multi-faceted it should give us all pause.
     
  8. mjohnson7

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    Yes, I "get your drift". The truth is, that is the same tired old argument we keep hearing over and over, that, quite honestly is apples and oranges. Regional accreditation is not second rate as you suggest and Stefan is correct, ATS accredits schools that endorse and teach heresy. That is your standard? ATS is a joke with regard to orthodoxy!

    If you objection is to distance learning, fine, but ATS is hardly "the gold standard" as so many seminaries/divnity schools/grad schools of religion make it out to be.

    With regard to distance learning, it can be done in a manner just as beneficial as brick and mortar in MOST (not all) instances. The objections are always the same...praxis, then throw up the pitiful med school example, then mentoring from professors...etc, etc. All nauseating!

    The truth is, there is no mentoring in MOST seminaries today, even orthodox Baptist ones. Seminaries have budget requirements - the issue is money. That is just the truth. Is that bad? Should it not be that way? Maybe not, but it is reality. I am all in favor of local church based seminary/pastoral training, but MOST do not do it with rigor and there are fewer and fewer pastors who actually have anything to pass on to proteges.
     
  9. preachinjesus

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    I'd have no problem with it. The surgeon in question is likely operating in an American context. He/She would have had to pass the medical board review programme. Thus regardless of whether or not the doctor got their degree at Hollywood Upstairs Medical College or at Johns Hopkins they still have to demonstrate their knowledge before they can operate. :thumbs:

    BTW, I don't mind the analogy, I wish more people saw ministers as having a craft on the level of doctors and lawyers.

    ATS accreditation is a thing of the past. The whole body predicates its credential on an outmoded educational program.

    Right now the SBC seminaries have more of an opportunity to train ministers for the Gospel across the globe who are reaching people with the Gospel, fighting the darkness of Islam, pushing back the blanket of abuses, and seeking the restoration of the broken than ever before. If the big six seminaries could get it into their brains that what is happening outside the US is more important than keeping it inside and that we can train up 100 church planters in India that will be more effective at spreading the Gospel than 100 of the average seminary attendee we could see a worldwide revolution.
     
  10. mjohnson7

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    I think preachinjesus makes some great points. I think he is correct in the need to consolidate or totally change some of the seminaries. He is on target with the old "regional" idea.

    To do what he suggests though, would take a miracle - toppling some egos, crushing some pride, and major cooperation - I think theological education in the SBC would be better because of it, though.
     
  11. glfredrick

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    We may indeed end up with fewer than 6 SBC seminaries -- or more than 6. God knows.

    I'm not a big fan of the seminaries started by Baptist colleges -- many of whom are anything BUT Baptist in nature. Typically, they are not founding seminaries because of the need for more student capacity, but rather because their religious departments are filled with ex-moderates that were ousted from the 6 big seminaries and they need a place to grind their liberal ax.

    Right now the seminary I'm most familiar with (Southern) is growing like crazy. We're at an historical high as far as student population and influence in the church and cultural world are concerned. We've had some issues, like all the seminaries (and colleges!) with finances due to the huge drop in the market, which tended to wipe out a lot of endowment funds that schools tend to use to fund "chairs" and day-to-day operating expenses, but that does not reflect a drop in student population.

    Interestingly, the "moderates" said that Southern would fail once the conservative resurgence started to make necessary changes. They were SO wrong... SO wrong. We've almost doubled the numbers than ran before the resurgence!
     
    #11 glfredrick, Feb 7, 2011
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  12. Earth Wind and Fire

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    And how is Big Albert M faring after all this remolding....does he still wear body armor?
     
  13. go2church

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    I don't know there is any problem supporting 6 seminaries, but 6 seminaries with four of them in the Southern portion of the United States, perhaps there needs to a reallocation in that area. Really how different is Southwestern from New Orleans, especially since all have dictated the 2000 BF&M be used? Nothing in the Northeast and very little out West just to point out a few areas.

    Also, there seems to a be move for seminaries to have an undergrad element, this is a mistake and should be left thousands of undergrad schools already in action, concentrate on being a seminary not a ESL institution (hello Southwestern)

    Need to get on board with the online, non-traditional methods of learning.

    All that being said, this big six grad wouldn't attend or recommend a big six seminary to anyone interested in attending seminary, far better choices out there as far as I am concerned.
     
  14. glfredrick

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    Depends on where he is speaking...

    Otherwise, very very well.

    You can read his daily blog and other input at <albertmohler.com>.

    Truthfully, I came in during Mohler's first year on campus. The place was a wreck compared to now. Building maintenance had been deferred for decades, there was some new construction by his predecessor, Roy Hunneycutt, but there were a lot of other critical issues.

    Professorial staff turnover was rapid and needed. Early on, I collected some of the writings published by the out-going profs -- it was incredible in its liberal direction -- far worse than anyone I've seen on this board to date (even people like billwald). One phrase that I've remembered since reading that stuff was, "God, he, she, it..." The writer went on to describe a god (cannot capitalize) that had nothing at all to do with the Bible. Another entire book was testimonies of "How I Changed My Mind"

    http://www.alibris.com/booksearch.d...bn=&siteID=5Nv03vHgBCI-9FrQoEHFkHnjGJYLJGAoUw

    The topics were primarily wrapped around how these profs changed their minds from Bible-believing Christian church members to agnostics that held to some form of "theology" but denied much of orthodox Christianity.

    The house cleaning was necessary and the profs that left (pun intended) were more radical than most people will ever know!
     
  15. glfredrick

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    SBTS (Southern) has fully accredited on-line classes. The course content is identical to that taught in the classroom. We also have a plethora of regional centers where the profs from Southern fly out to teach in person just like they would if one took coursework at Southern.

    SBTS started an undergrad program to teach pastoral ministries, youth ministry, worship and music ministry, and missions (plus some biblical counseling). The leaders of the Seminary found a need to teach biblical content and that need was not being fulfilled in other colleges and universities. How did they know? Based on the students entering the M.Div. program... Even those with "Bible College" background were not adequately prepared for the course of study at Southern. The undergrad program is as rigorous as the graduate-level work. I know... I was in the first class of graduating students after the change over. What was once "Boyce Bible School" an associates degree-level course of study taught primarily by retired pastors, and completed by enrolling at Campbellsville University is now taught by many of the same profs who teach at SBTS and the degrees are fully accredited 4-year programs.

    How different is one school from another? Well, for starters, they are Baptist... That means that each one is autonomous and responds to their own set of Trustees and directors. There is no one-program-fits-all scenario. Second, they each have their own profs, who specialize in their own field of study. Golden Gate has a prof who may be the world's foremost expert in the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. Southern is stuffed with best in the world (perhaps best in the entire history of the church) profs in many fields -- the faculty assembled at SBTS is nothing short of astounding! SEBTS has Danny Akin and a host of great profs. SWBTS has Roy Fish, perhaps one of the best evangelism men ever, plus some of the key players in the conservative resurgence (war is still on-going in Texas!).

    One needs to figure out what he wishes to study, and under whom, then pray, look for God's guidance, and move to wherever God leads. Don't for an instant figure that this will all be easy... It is anything but easy. Especially at Southern. When I use the term "rigorous" I mean that in its full richness. Expect to read a book per week in some courses and write papers in the 25+ page range in others (undergrad or not). The men who write the books for everyone else are the ones in the classroom at Southern...
     
  16. StefanM

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    Apples and oranges. One cannot compare medical education with theological education. Even within the broad distinction of Allopaths vs. Osteopaths, there is still a sufficient amount of overlap to make little difference.

    With theological education, it's much different. It's not even a matter of small interpretation differences. You pretty much can't get any farther from SBC life than Unitarian Universalism.

    To bring the analogy back to medical education, it would be like having one accrediting agency for medicine, psychoanalysis, hypnotherapy, and voodoo.

    It is beyond absurd to think that having the approval of university representatives with theological beliefs antithetical to yours would be essential to evaluate institutional effectiveness in training your denomination's ministers.

    Also, institutional mission is an inherent factor in theological accreditation. At the very least, the school must be ministry/theology oriented. A school offering an MA in Religious Studies at a state university would not be a candidate for ATS accreditation.

    Furthermore, the idea that a non-ATS seminary is necessarily inferior is absolutely false. Regional accreditation covers all of the factors you mentioned (education, library size, etc.). The sine qua non of ATS accreditation is the focus on theological education.
     
    #16 StefanM, Feb 7, 2011
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  17. go2church

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    Well, that is a nice story about your experience at Southern. But I would take exception to the phrase "each one is autonomous". Not hardly, not any more. If the SBC "voted that pickles had souls", they would have to teach that pickles had souls. Hardly autonomous, fundamentalism has made sure of that.
     
  18. preachinjesus

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    This is a good observation.:thumbsup:
     
  19. glfredrick

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    You are obviously unfamiliar with the way the SBC works. NO ONE tells any professor how he should teach, save that they willingly sign the Abstract of Principles (in effect since the formation of Southern Seminary -- the first of all the SBC seminaries) and agree to teach "in in accordance with, and not contrary to..." that document. NO other stipulation.

    Here is a link to the Abstract: http://www.sbts.edu/about/truth/abstract/

    Earlier profs who were removed by the Trustees were removed because they had signed the Abstract, but were teaching against what it was that they signed. Virtually no other way to remove a tenured prof...

    During my coursework at SBTS, I've been taught by profs who were all over the map, theologically. I've had explained (and hashed out in the classroom) discussions on virtually every theological point of view under the sun. These profs, at times, disagree amongst each other as to some point or the other in their theology. They do so in godly love and respect, but they do hash out differences and hold differences.

    On top of that, I've watched panel discussions where people like Dr. Mohler and Dr. Patterson (of SWBTS) with others, sit down and deal with Arminian and Calvinist doctrines. I've seem similar when one group is in favor of signing a Baptists and Catholics Together document while another group is vehemently against such a document. I've seen debates between pre-millennial, post-millennial, and ammillennial views, etc. There is a LOT of diversity in the profs of our seminaries.

    No way for anyone on the outside, looking in, to ever know the depth and breadth of those teaching students at one of our major seminaries. And anyone making a statement as you have above REALLY does not understand much about the major seminaries of the SBC.
     
  20. go2church

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    Wrong, I have a SBC diploma hanging on the wall, so pretty familiar with how things work. You have been impressed that is without question, I too had been impressed, but not any more, what once was is no longer and for me that is a shame. You are entitled to your opinion

    It isn't diversity if you bring someone in allow them to speak and then proceed to share with you all the reasons they aren't right believing Christians - ie Mohler and his latest ridiculous creationism is the only way push.

    Would someone who holds to a non-literal view of Genesis 1-11 be hired at any SBC seminary?

    Women have been exiled to the kitchen or sewing room, pastors have been elevated far beyond their intended place, mega has replaced meaningful, historic Baptist doctrines have been set aside and trust in the Holy Spirit has been replaced by signatures.

    You may like what it has become, but I don't share your same point of view.
     

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