Differences: Institutes, Bible Colleges, Seminaries, Grauduate School of Religons

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Rhetorician, Aug 6, 2011.

  1. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
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    To whom it may concern:

    For some here that seem to be "anti-education" or "don't see the need" I wanted to post and have us have a lively discussion about "ministerial training" or "ministerial education." Some may have not ever thought through the implications that there is a difference and what the differences mean for ministry.

    There is a difference, is there not" along a spectrum from "in house"/in church internship training to "graduate school of religion" education.

    Which is better?

    Which is worst?

    But what is the difference?

    Is what was good in the 1940s and 1950s good for today?

    Is any needed at all?

    Is there a "one size fits all?"

    Let me hear from you.

    "That is all!" :tongue3:
     
  2. rorschach

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    I doubt anyone is anti-education. There are aspects of educational systems that deserve to be criticized, to be sure, but we should be careful not to confuse the two.

    Could you specify whether you are asking about ministry preparation specifically, or education generally? (Or whatever else you might be asking about)
     
  3. Rhetorician

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    My dear brother:

    What I would like to see discussed seems to me to be to be contained in your question and my OP? :laugh:

    Now why would I be asking about "education generally" on the BB, or on this thread?

    "That is all!"
     
  4. exscentric

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    I have seen Bible Institutes from the inside as student and later as teacher. They turn out folks that go into small churches and missions and do a fine job. I've watched a seminary ruin a great preacher from an institute/Bible college (the school was in transition). I've known a number of Bible college grads that did great work in local churches.

    Seems to me that God used to and I believe still does train/prepare his choices of men as He desires if they are seeking His leading. If a man feels led to an Institute or seminary differs little if He is following the Lord that is preparing him.

    Having said all that, when teaching I saw quite a large number of institute graduates filter into local churches as laymen and do a fine job in that area and were tremendous assets to their pastors (I feel that this occurred as some did not feel adequate to the pastorate in preparation, while others did this by choice and leading). I also had several through my office asking me to try to move the school to a four year program since they felt that they needed more preparation (though they were doing good work in their present ministry).

    Whether institute or college, I personally would prefer four years, if not five for some of the less mature. Year 4/5 in an internship (with a good pastor) would be a great alternative. (This is based on the lack of maturity of high school students entering the institute.)

    In some cases a seminary could use that additional year as well, though most exit in good shape do to their previous time in college.

    Personal opinion, all three are valid, all three are quite useful to the Lord but the right level for the right person.

    As to some being anti-education, some of the institute movement might well fit into that category. I've said on the board several times, from my experience some look down their noses at the less educated while others look up their noses at the educated while God is probably not overly pleased with either.

    It is His business where He leads His future servants. As I've said, in my opinion :)

    The subject at hand is a bit broad in my mind and my comments only stir the pot a little. Since, in most cases, all levels of Christian education have evolved from HOPEFULLY Godly men seeking His guidance in the direction of the particular institution, thus it might be assumed all exist because God wanted them to exist. That was a general sweeeeeeping statement as I know there are probably some schools that might be better closed

    The institute movement was to get Godly men trained quickly to serve across the world and it did a fine job, the world was covered with many workers. It will be of interest in the future for some to look back to see if it was the push for education that was part of the steady decline in outgoing workers over the years.

    I suspect that the Bible college movement rose from the line of thought that a little more time under instruction would help the workers to be better prepared. I also would assume that the institute movement is on its last legs due to the need of our advanced society needing a better trained person.

    May God make things more clear in His good time :)
     
  5. Rhetorician

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    Ex Response

    Dear Ex,

    Thank you for such a well articulated response. I agree!! AMEN!!

    I am an advocate of all God Called servants getting the best and most formal education they can for ministry.

    Very well said. Thanks! :tongue3:

    "That is all!"
     
  6. Tom Butler

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    I'm asking this question without knowing the answer.

    Is it possible that the choice may involve a perception of intellectual rigor?

    I graduated from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee in 1961. At the time it was universally regarded as tough academically, not only for the ministerial student but also for the rest of us.

    I am currently Chairman of the Trustees at Mid-Continent University, a Baptist school in Mayfield, Kentucky. Many of our early ministerial students had a problem. They were called to the ministry as adults, and going off to the university was a problem, given that they were raising families and paying bills.

    Yet they needed the training in Biblical studies. They needed to learn how to prepare sermons, learn how to preach, learn how to teach, and they needed to learn how to pastor. Schools such as MCU provided that training. And, that training was good enough to prepare them for seminary if that was their choice.

    Bible colleges like Mid-Continent helped to resolve financial, family and job problems.

    I can't speak for others, but at Union (my alma mater) and at MCU, there is enough intellectual rigor to go around.
     
  7. PilgrimPastor

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    Schools of Religion

    I've never understood exactly where the various designations come from. A Bible Institute makes perfect sense but what is the distinction between titling a school a Theological Seminary opposed to a School of Religion or Divinity School? Just preference as to name "sound." Is it actually reflective of a distinction in philosophy of education / theology / perspective?

    I get the difference between "Baptist Theological Seminary" and "Theological Seminary." My M.A.R. from Liberty says "Liberty Theological Seminary" (Pre-Caner change) then my M.Div. says "Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary" (Caner change and remains today). That is a clear statement about what theological perspective is taught here. The other distinctions are less clear.
     
  8. glfredrick

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    As Thomas Road changed from Independent to Southern Baptist, so too did their school, Liberty. I doubt that many people realize that Liberty University is a school started and that promulgates the message of Jerry Falwell. Not a bad school, all in all, but rather fundamentalistic in nature.

    My thoughts on "theological seminary" or "divinity school" in general are that they, in large part, depend on the current direction of their host entity, whether secular in nature (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, many state schools, and many private schools that were all once affiliated with some religious denomination) or denominational. We would expect Harvard Divinity School to teach unitarian universalism because that is where they ended up after being founded by the Puritans as a solely Christian institution. As liberalism moved through the ranks of higher education, many a seminary or divinity school went with that liberal expression, thanks in large part to the appeal of the Tubbingen School in German, influenced by the fathers of modern liberalism.

    Other "seminaries" are smallish entities, supported by a congregation or handful of congregations, and have no wide-ranging impact as they only train a handful of men in any given semester.

    There are Bible Colleges a-plenty across America, and most seem to be un-accredited. A few have garnered a reputation for turning out quality students, but just as many have the opposite reputation -- they are "pastor mills" for a certain sect and that is their only contribution.

    Of the large and influential seminaries -- the ones who set the pace for the Evangelical movement around the world, one will find the bulk of the high end scholar/professors -- the ones who write the texts that everyone else uses -- and students there will find themselves educated well, roundly, and likely without the bias found in other smaller, regional, or denominationally-specific entities.
     
  9. PilgrimPastor

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    That's my impression as well. I'd be curious to know of the historical development / trends of the naming of seminaries along these lines. Most "Schools of Religion" fit the bill you have described right on.

    I studied with Liberty for about 7 years. (2002-2009) In my undergraduate studies, very much fundamentalist. In my graduate studies, not as much, more conservative Evangelical, like Dr. Gary Habermas; scholar, conservative.

    I know this came up in another thread, but I'm not sure if was representative of a changing (slightly) climate in the distance learning program / campus or just a shift from undergraduate to graduate studies or just my perception.
     
  10. glfredrick

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    I'd attribute it to the passing of Falwell. A new day at Liberty and at Thomas Road BC. <gasp> they are dually aligned with the SBC <gasp> :smilewinkgrin:
     
  11. exscentric

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    "Thank you for such a well articulated response. I agree!! AMEN!!"

    Hey watch those accusations!! :) Thanks

    Bible Institutes are normally 3 year courses with a diploma. New Tribes mission runs one that is 6 months or a year, haven't heard recently. Usually strong Bible and little liberal arts.

    Bible colleges normally offer aa or ba/2 and 4 year courses. Emphasis is on Bible but have some liberal arts courses. Some more than others.

    Seminaries most of us know build on a 4 year degree. Some take the Bible college degree and some don't (back in my day anyway :)

    As to names one I know went from Western Baptist Bible College, went to Western Baptist college, went to Western, went to Corban so do names mean much? Not so sure anymore!
     
  12. Siberian

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    New Tribes Bible Institute is a 2-year program (NTBI is half of NTM's missionary training course, the other 2 years consisting of language & culture acquisition training and church planting classes).
     
  13. glfredrick

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    Probably not so much in a name, rather more in what stands behind that name, both doctrinally, and in the staff on board to present the education to willing students.

    Anyone can go out and round up a couple of local pastors and start a Bible Institute or Pastor's School. Churches are doing that all over the place. But that does not mean that the quality of the education one receives will be similar to that received at Wheaton, Southern, Dallas, Liberty, etc., and even at the places I just mentioned, there are huge differences in theological philosophy that trickles down into the teaching.

    Also, are we talking introductory level education, mentorship, apprenticeship, bachelor's degree, master's degree, doctorates, etc.? As one goes up the ladder in educational work, accreditation must accompany that work to make it meaningful. Who cares if someone gets a doctor of ministry by completing a couple of Internet courses and paying a few bucks to some firm that sends a fancy diploma in the mail. Is the degree accredited and is the doctorate worth anything once granted? Can one teach somewhere else with that degree or is it for show only?

    All of these questions deserve an answer, and each student will need to be wise as he or she seeks out the proper educational course for their own life. The mere fact that one is seeking out higher education, even if just a mentor program in a local church, means that he or she has to have some grasp of what they are doing and why. Otherwise it is just another exercise in cult following.
     
  14. Rhetorician

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    Relevant Question

    For all who were educated in an Institute or Bible college:

    Is either / both of these institutions going to go away? or have they gone away already? :thumbs:

    "That is all!?
     
  15. exscentric

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    Bible institutes are going, only a few left that I know of, maybe more ???

    Bible Colleges not so much. Most are smaller, the bigger ones often add seminaries and continue to grow. Columbia for one.

    Then there is Multnomah in Portland and Corban in Salem that are now calling themselves university. Not sure they measure up to that level but do not know for sure. I think Calvary in Kansas City has done this as well.

    Colorado Christian university grew out of a tiny Bible institute (Denver Bible Institute) which split to Rockmont Bible college and Western Bible Institute which later merged and became CCU.

    I'm sure there are others.

    Institutes serve a small group but most are financially poor since they often are on pay as you go status or very limited funding. Some students go on to Bible College/seminary.

    To the original question, I'd guess Institutes will plug along and Bible colleges will continue if not morph into something larger.
     
  16. Tom Butler

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    In an earlier post, I mentioned Mid-Continent University in Mayfield, Kentucky. It started out as a Bible college.

    When I went on the board of trustees in 1997, the school was struggling to survive. Because of he leadership of Dr. David Jester, and his successor Robert Imhoff, the trustees agreed to expand MCU into a four-year liberal arts college.

    While the training of those going into full-time Christian service occupies a central part of the MCU mission, MCU is now is also training young men and women to be salt and light in whatever profession they wind up.

    An accelerated business degree program has been a huge success and has insured the financial survival of the school.

    It also enabled the school to initiate a Masters level curriculum as well.

    Some folks fear that Mid-Continent has left its theological and ecclesiological roots. It has not. But had it remained only a Bible College, there would be no such roots to leave, because it would have shut down years ago.
     
  17. Rhetorician

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    TB Response

    Hello My Dear Brother,

    I too am a Bible College grad-Mid South Bible College-in Memphis. When Dr. Jim Crichton, a Dallas Theological Seminary grad (and avid Dispensationalists I must add), died the school seemed to slap the wall.

    Dr. Crichton was able to "put the glad hand" on the right folk and had the preaching and admin and interpersonal skills to keep things going. But the little school seemed to founder after his demise. They eventually named the college in honor of him.

    Through a succession of presidents the Lord has sustained the college. Of late they have been "bought out" by one of the "for profit" college conglomerates similar to Phoenix U., but with a "Christian based philosophy." With this came another name change-"Victory University." And with the ad campaigns came a new "Provost" Rev. Gov. Mike Huckabee (sp?).

    They are even advertising that if you are 18-23, never been to college, can qualify academically, and can meet all of the other criteria, then you can have the first 12 hours of tuition free. This must be a great draw for them for the Fall of 2012.

    For them too the teacher/educational program, business program, and especially psychology programs have been the money makers. Althought SACS gave them some low ratings in the recent past. Now they are touting the "on line" and alternative program times, and places to be the "user friendly" way to go. More and more we are becoming "market driven" and I am sorely afraid that the quality and rigor of the education programs will decline; especially where there has been little or no money (like the BC programs) and now there may be some $.

    Is this happening at MCU? I would love to talk to you via PM or phone call privately about this.

    "That is all!" :thumbs:
     
  18. Siberian

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    I agree with some sentiments already mentioned; I think the time for Bible Institutes has definitely passed and the era of the Bible College is coming to a close as well. They thrived in a day when finding a conservative, Bible-believing seminary was tough to do, and institutes & colleges served as good alternatives.

    The model thriving now is good Liberal Arts Schools with biblical studies departments and seminaries, of course, for graduates. IMO it is a much better training format, as the colleges and institutes had inherent limitations that their grads who had vocational-ministry in mind seldom were able to get beyond.
     
    #18 Siberian, Aug 9, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 9, 2011

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