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Bible college

As far as I can tell, 1 Kings 18:4 is the best Scriptural warrant I can find for bible colleges (Americans read "Seminary"):

While Jezebel was killing off the LORD's prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.

Away from all that troublesome ministry with its attendant persecution, the hidden prophets were fed and watered by Obadiah the first Principal of a Theological College.  No doubt they spent their time fiercely debating the issues of credo-circumcision, the validity of women prophets and evidentialist apologetics to a post-Yahwistic mindset.  I'm being playful of course (not with an endearing playfulness mind. More a sharp, abrasive playfulness, the kind of playfulness no one likes - that kind of playfulness.) 

Anyway it must be admitted that bible college can be a breeding ground for all sorts of nonsense.  But then we must take responsibility for how the college experience is enjoyed/handled/endured.  Here are 45 ways to waste your theological education by Derek Brown.  Painful reading.  Painfully close to the bone. H/T Between Two Worlds.



0 thoughts on “Bible college

  1. The Orange Mailman

    Hey Glenn-

    For some reason, I’ve thought that the sons of the prophets in the days of Elisha functioned like a school for the prophets. I believe it was founded by Samuel at Ramah and carried on by other prophets most notably Elijah and Elisha. Who knows how many prophets who wrote scripture came out of this school of the prophets?

    Some classes that were offered:

    Food Multiplication Tables

    Underwater Axe Swimming

    Prophesying as a Second Language

    Bald Heads, Disposable Beards, and Leather Girdles:
    Classic Fashion Faux Pas To Avoid

    Anointing Made Simple: Pray, Point, and Pour

    Fiery Chariot Watching

    The Gehazi Complex

    Bedchamber Eavesdropping

    Dreams, Visions, and Backaches

    Buying Back Your Wife (For Less Than You Sold Her For)

    Advanced Anointing: Identifying, Selecting, and Delegating

    Healing Lepers, Pottage, and Waters

    Confronting Kings with Lambs, Figs, and Drought

    Water Parting 101(Kidron), 102(Jordan), and 103(Red Sea)

    The Jezebel Obsession

    Cursing Without Sinning

    Ditch Digging

    Mantle Modeling

    Ephods, Urim, and Thummin


    Fiery Chariot Riding

    Resurrection: How to Raise the Dead - Yourself Excluded


    Have fun and stay busy - Luke 19:13

    -The Orange Mailman

  2. glenscriv

    Thats's hilarious Orange! Thanks for that. I particularly like:

    Bald Heads, Disposable Beards, and Leather Girdles:
    Classic Fashion Faux Pas To Avoid

    Buying Back Your Wife (For Less Than You Sold Her For)


    Advanced Anointing: Identifying, Selecting, and Delegating

    Nice one.

  3. glenscriv

    Ah yes, S2C, I was vaguely aware of that. Generally in Australia and UK we'd use 'Bible college' even of the institution that trains people for ordained ministry - whereas in US that's 'seminary' - is that right? And therefore in the US 'Bible college' refers to what? A Christian liberal arts college? Derek Brown who I've linked to above is currently at "Seminary" - and my experience of UK "Bible college" seems pretty equivalent.

    What's that quote about US/UK - Two nations divided by a single language?

  4. bobby grow

    Hey Glen,

    I have a degree from a Bible College and one from a Seminary; the former is under-grad and the latter is graduate (i.e. Masters level or even post-grad). Bible College can be lib arts but not necessarily, for example my bib college had an 'pastoral major'.

    Anyway just thought I would clarify, I don't think bib college and seminary are synonymous from the UK and the US; since I'm pretty sure both systems similarly make the distinction between undergrad and grad level studies---at least academically.

  5. glenscriv

    Bobby, good to hear from you! Hope the shoulders are alright.

    There is certainly a distinction between undergrad and grad level at bible colleges here, but many also do grad level stuff at 'bible college' (and it's still called 'bible college). Or you could do grad and post-grad at a university but that would be quite unlike 'seminary' and we wouldn't call it that.

    This is the most amount of discussion I've had on posts for weeks! What does that say?

  6. bobby grow


    interesting. I'm thinking of making a come-back with my blog, I have found some new stretches for my arms that may allow me to blog.

  7. Standing Solus Christus


    Yes, Bobby pretty much clarified the distinction I was referring to. Seminary is typical for more established denominations (i.e. presbyterian, baptist, methodist, etc) for men seeking to be ordained to the Gospel ministry.

    However, non-denominational or charismatic types are averse to "academic" education and would settle for their ministers to just go through Bible college if anything at all. Of course, these are fairly broad generalizations.

    Some larger "Bible colleges" have even emerged as universities and offer a wide range of degrees including business, psycology, etc. I am thinking of Biola.

    Back to the original post, however...

    I think there is a stronger case, biblically, for Seminary education when the apostles are considered. They were called by the Lord to drop their nets and follow him. Then for approximately three years they were trained by Jesus in matters of faith. They even referred to Jesus as "Rabbi" or "Teacher".


  8. glenscriv

    Indeed S2C, but my reading of it was as quite a hands-on training experience. Sent out two-by-two etc and accompanying Jesus in 'live ministry' if you like. Jesus did not take them away from day to day ministry for 3 years. He did so periodically (eg Luke 9:10) but it was a fairly on-the-job training style don't you think?

  9. Standing Solus Christus

    Agreed, and most Seminaries require a certain amount of hours "interning" as a requirement of graduation. This gives them that hand’s on training in the Church.

    Also, you must admit that when Jesus left they (the apostles) were given "another Paraclete" who infallibly inspired their teaching. This protected them from error. Since we do not have that gift any longer denominations have an obligation to ensure that ministers are thoroughly equipped to not lead the sheep into error. Thus, the training would necessarily have to be more formal just for practical purposes.


  10. glenscriv

    S2C, that assumes that 'thorough equipping' = 'more formal' = 'our modern conceptions of seminary training'. I don't think either of those equals signs necessarily follow.

    For instance, the apprenticeship scheme we are offering at my church will involve training together with other apprentices from other churches - learning biblical, systematic, pastoral theology and languages. But each apprentice will be based in a local church, supervised by their pastor and serving very actively in that body. I wonder whether a scheme like that could - if resources are poured into it - not only be a precursor to seminary education but actually replace it.

    Some advantages off the top of my head:

    * you don't create a hybrid body called seminary which is not quite an academy and not quite a church. Often this hybrid fails to be either and many slip through the cracks.

    * churches more actively take responsibility for what is their charge - raising up the next generation (2 Tim 2:2)

    * theory and practice are better brought together in the learning process

    * people and the pulpit are more obviously the focus of training (rather than 'learning for learning's sake')

    * the pastoral needs of those training can (arguably) be better addressed in a church setting in which the gifts of the members are more rounded

    * mission (not simply one-off week-long missions) remains very much on the agenda throughout the training process (it so easily drifts to the back-burner in seminary)

    I admit that I'm still endorsing the pooling of resources and central, formalized training (say 2 days a week?). But I'd want to do things much more from within a church environment. See what I mean?

  11. Standing Solus Christus


    I believe the method you are describing is what we would define as an internship. This is a supplement to the seminary education.

    A good analogy that I have heard for a minister of the gospel is a medical doctor. Before a medical doctor can practice medicine he must be thoroughly trained in a reputable institution.

    I am sure that you would feel comfortable going to a doctor who had no formal training. Although what you call "apprenticeship" is helpful and a necessary aspect of the training, the apprentice is being trained by jouneryman or master who would be the Pastor. Most Pastors do not have the time to specialize in a particular field due to the demands of ministry.

    Seminary provides a place where specialists can focus on particular fields that practically can not be done by a full time Pastor. This provides a benefit for the student to receive a quality education (and the people he ministers to). Those who are not exposed to this would be missing out on that benefit.

    I am no expert at this, but speaking from experience the difference between a Pastor who is trained in a good seminary versus a medicore or no seminary at all is drastic. In many cases an extraordinary disservice to the people of God is done when ministers are not trained well. It's like going to a medical doctor with no formal training. If this is the case for a medical doctor who heals this temporary body that is passing away, how much more important is it for the minister who deals with eternal matters?


  12. glenscriv

    Sorry for not getting back to you S2C. I fully agree that the best possible training should be available for this, the most fearful of callings. And I agree that most pastors, the way things are currently set up, do not have the time or (often) the expertise to train up the next generation of pastors from within the existing church structures. But that time and that expertise is out there, it's just currently being channelled away from the body of the local church and concentrated in an institution called 'seminary'. We have the resources, it's just that the resources lie, in a sense, outside the life of local churches.

    Now we already realise that 'seminary' is not like 'medical school' in that we want to train theologically from within a confessional outlook, in an atmosphere of prayer and worship and a community of concerned and caring brothers and sisters. Already we know that theology is not like medicine which is why we try to make seminary quite church-y. I'm trying to push that one step further. I'm trying to imagine a world in which there isn't a church-*like* institution called 'seminary' but where those resources (which, as I say, are already in existence but leaked from the local church out to the seminary) are available from within that church structure. It would mean pooling resources between churches. It would probably mean a longer training period for those being raised up and definitely mean a life-long commitment to training others for all those in ministry. It would certainly also mean that those who train up young ministers are not themselves divorced from the ministry of the local church but all of them will be active in it. (It should not be a case of "those who can't... teach seminary).

    Anyway I'm repeating myself so I'll stop. Am happy for you to have the last word on this one. Have enjoyed the interaction. Thanks.

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