Federal Intervention in Higher Education

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The federal government is changing its policy toward higher education, and the changes could affect every Christian college and seminary in the nation. The net effect of these changes is a significant federal takeover of the educational process. The vehicle through which the changes are being pursued is accreditation, but non-accredited institutions are likely to feel the bite of federal regulation. In order to understand the changes, you have to understand how accreditation works.

Until now, accreditation has been essentially an activity of the private sector. Of course, anyone can establish an accrediting agency, and there are accreditation mills just as there are diploma mills. Consequently, it has been necessary to create an organization to accredit the accreditors.

That organization is the Council on Higher Education in America (CHEA). CHEA was established in the 1990s to fend off a federal takeover of accreditation at that time. It represents the attempt by American institutions of higher education to regulate themselves through a process of peer review. CHEA does, however, get its force from federal involvement. It is the only agency that the United States Department of Education recognizes to accredit the accreditors.

In other words, a school that wants to be accredited works with a regional or national accrediting agency. That agency in turn works with CHEA, and when a school gains accreditation it also becomes a member of CHEA. Consequently, CHEA is the conduit through which the Department of Education recognizes accredited schools. The Department of Education publishes an annual directory that is the Holy Grail of accreditation: if a school is listed there, its accreditation is recognized (in theory) by other institutions.

The cooperative relationship between accreditation and the Department of Education was authorized in the Higher Education Act of 1965, part of Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” reforms. The act must be reauthorized periodically, and reauthorization provides the federal government with an opportunity to review and influence the educational process. Reauthorization is generally a stormy time in the relationship between accreditation and the government.

Once the Higher Education Act has been reauthorized, the Department of Education drafts new rules and policies to implement whatever provisions have changed. The last reauthorization occurred in 2008, but its repercussions are only beginning to be felt as the new rules fall into place. The net result is a significant federal takeover of the educational process.

The takeover is driven by two concerns. The first is a public perception that American education is slipping in quality. The second concern is money. The feds pour billions of dollars into higher education, and the government is naturally eager to curtail the waste of federal funds. The federal answer to both problems is identical, namely, increased regulation.

The government now defines what a credit hour is. The government has begun to regulate transfer of credits among institutions. The government is also regulating the burgeoning field of distance education. Finally, the government has begun to regulate the monitoring of student enrollment.

The impact upon higher education is decidedly negative. Educational institutions are supposed to ask what is best for their students. They are now asking what will best please the feds. In order to comply with recent federal regulations, schools must confront a mountain of new paperwork. The byproduct of federal regulation has been—and will be—to drive up costs while distracting institutions from their focus upon education. In accreditation as in many other areas, federal involvement creates far more problems than it solves.

The largest problem, however, is simply the presence of federal intervention in an area that was previously private. In effect, the government is in the process of taking over a huge segment of American society. As this takeover progresses, it will be the federal government that determines who can teach and what will be taught at every college and seminary in America. The federal government will ultimately determine which institutions have the right to grant degrees and which will simply be shut down.

For Christian institutions, the implications of such a takeover are obvious. Christians have had to work doubly hard to gain a foothold in the private accreditation system. Once the feds are in control, accreditation is likely to become the wedge by which the government forces Christian colleges and seminaries to adopt policies that reflect prevailing notions on subjects like evolution and homosexuality. The potential for damage is both real and alarming.

The government is also going after unaccredited institutions. At the moment, the individual states recognize the right of colleges and seminaries to grant degrees. In many states (Minnesota is one of them), religious institutions are completely exempt from the state’s oversight in this area. The Department of Education, however, is using its new leverage to pressure the states to force all degree-granting institutions to gain accreditation. In other words, if the federal government has its way, no unaccredited schools will be allowed to grant degrees.

The hour may already be too late to thwart the federal takeover. The only way that it could be reversed is through a significant public reaction against the increased federal regulation, coupled with a change in those elected officials who want to use the accreditation process as a way of increasing the federal headlock on higher education.

In the meanwhile, Christians need to begin thinking about other models of teaching and learning. Up to now, we have adopted a model borrowed from the medieval universities. We have coupled our educational process with the granting of degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctor’s levels. That is just what we may not be able to do in the future.

If that happens, we may need to rethink the process of ministry preparation. Future pastors and missionaries do need to be taught, but they do not really need degrees. We might well ask, What will ministry preparation look like in a world in which we are no longer permitted to operate colleges and seminaries? Unless something can be done to reverse the federal juggernaut, that day is almost certain to come.

Wisdom
(Prov. viii, 22-31)
William Cowper (1731-1800)

Ere God had built the mountains,
Or raised the fruitful hills;
Before He filled the fountains
That feed the running rills;
In me from everlasting,
The wonderful I Am,
Found pleasures never wasting,
And Wisdom is my name.

When, like a tent to dwell in,
He spread the skies abroad,
And swathed about the swelling
Of Ocean’s mighty flood;
He wrought by weight and measure,
And I was with Him then:
Myself the Father’s pleasure,
And mine, the sons of men.

Thus Wisdom’s words discover
Thy glory and Thy grace,
Thou everlasting Lover
Of our unworthy race!
Thy gracious eye surveyed us
Ere stars were seen above;
In wisdom Thou hast made us,
And died for us in love.

And couldst Thou be delighted
With creatures such as we,
Who, when we saw Thee, slighted,
And nailed Thee to a tree?
Unfathomable wonder,
And mystery divine!
The voice that speaks in thunder,
Says, “Sinner, I am thine!”

[node:bio/kevin-t-bauder body]

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Joel Tetreau's picture

Kevin,

Great article. Part of the answer I think would have to be keeping our brothers who are called to ministry in our own congregations and mentoring them into pastoral ministry/leadership. No offense at the Colleges and Semiaries - from a pure point of theory, that may be a better answer. The reality is, most of us in the pastorate are really not up to the demand that would place on us. To many of us are not as sharp as we ought to be in the languages, theology, homilitics, responsible counseling, mentoring, etc.....Also, our congregations would have to give up a certain amount of "time and energy" so that our leaders can reproduce more leaders. Again....that's a normal application from what the NT teaches.

Looks like I'll never be able to pick up that game of golf....rats!

Doesn't this also mean that we would have a whole segment of seminary and college prof's that will be out of work? Wow - You "teaching guys" would have to teach "unofficially" through other means. In some cases you would have to re-enter congregational ministry-life. That might be hard. Maybe we could get these X Fundamental Seminary Prof's into the secular Universities - teaching Grad and Post Grad Religion courses! We could infiltrate! I think that was tried before, right?

Perhaps we would have to start institutions in other countries where there was more freedom? (That's a sad statement for a Christian American born on July 4th to make!) Didn't the Puritans do this - English men studying in Holland?

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Dr. Bauder offers keen insight here into what is pretty obviously coming down the road at our colleges and seminaries.
Unfortunately, it is going to be difficult for us to argue in that day that the whole blasted system is unconstitutional (or, at least, extra-Constitutional) because Christian schools have been willing participants in the system for decades -- as long as it meant that federally-guaranteed student loans, Pell grants and other forms of revenue were heading in their direction (often subsidizing the participation of students who really had no business in college in the first place).
A visionary response -- such as has been offered by http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=2009&month=04 ]Hillsdale College -- was required decades ago. This would have led to an entirely different model of Christian higher education that would have had implications for everything from education to separation.
Easier said than done, I know. Also, in the grand scheme of things it may not have made a bit of difference in offsetting the perils Dr. Bauder is writing about. But it would have made us far less vulnerable.
Mind you, I am not trying to place blame on any particular school or administrator. I love Christian higher education, and am very much saddened that many will be hurt in the days ahead.
However, there is also an opportunity here, as Joel describes. To expand on something I once heard, perhaps the church age will end in a fashion similar to the way it began: with real Christians meeting in small house churches and real Apostolic teaching based in those very churches and similar programs -- not gigantic, multi-bajillion dollar colleges and universities (cf. Acts 19:9, 10).

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

SDHaynie's picture

These are some of the passages that came to mind when I read the question posited by Dr. Bauder. Like Joel said, mentoring inside the context of the local church is the answer. I have been involved in teaching in a Bible college on the mission field, and would love teaching in a Bible college or institute here at home. However, I fully support any well thought out program that returns the ministry of edification and preparation back to the local church. It's interesting to me that just yesterday my pastor preached on Edification of the Saints in his present series "A Fresh (that is, Biblical) Vision of the Church."
Thanks Dr. Bauder for the heads up.

Shawn Haynie

Rob Fall's picture

This possibility was one of the arguments against seeking accreditation.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Rob Fall wrote:
This possibility was one of the arguments against seeking accreditation.

I know that this argument was made, but was it correct?

Is accreditation the problem, or simply the vehicle that will be used to institute persecution -- against both accredited and unaccredited schools, as Dr. Bauder notes?

In other words, it seems to me that Christian schools sought accreditation for exactly the wrong reason, i.e., to be able to receive all the federal goodies. The latter was the real problem, not accreditation. Ironically, it was accreditation that made us wince, not the reception of government funds. We strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel.

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Louise Dan's picture

This totally misses the point. And it's a theological point. Fundamentalism has long been more concerned of the encroaching sin from without than the one within. Accreditation is an issue because many religious institutions haven't held themselves accountable. Thumbing your nose at accreditation has become a chimera distracting from substandard or ingrown education. BJU prides themselves on the ingrown nature of their Bible faculty. But that results in what you get when you marry your cousin generation after generation. It's ridiculous that it takes a secular institution to make sure a Christian one actually offers the kind of education it says it does. But that's the fault of fundamentalists, not the government. Accreditation is also valuable because it affirms that a school's president and faculty have real degrees, not the honorary ones that characterize a number of unaccredited fundamentalist institutions. I can't tell you how disturbed I was after the fact to realize how many of the chapel speakers, deans, and professors at BJU were using titles of doctor that had no merit in terms of education in their field.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Louise Dan, What does this have to do with BJU? Kevin Bauder is not connected with them and has no education or degrees from there.

While many schools may be giving a substandard education, BJU isn't typically considered to be one of them, I don't think. The comparison of the Bible faculty with marrying cousins seems a bit overboard though. You should probably rethink that one, or give some evidence as to how it is true or manifested. The theology at BJU is generally considered orthodox by most so far as I know.

Can you name any professors or deans at BJU using the title of doctor that have no merit in terms of education in their field? (Chapel speakers are on a totally different plane.)

Rob Fall's picture

During the period 1935-1995, just where was BJU supposed to get their faculty trained? The major seminaries (Princeton, Harvard, Eastern Baptist, University of Chicago, Baylor, et al.) in the period were flooded with modernism.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Rachel L.'s picture

Quote:
What does this have to do with BJU?

BJU is accredited by the same agency as CBTS. Both are nationally accredited. The DoE has increased its involvement in this issue BECAUSE OF national accreditation associations. Regional accreditation is the gold-standard in higher education. National accreditation is where you find the University of Phoenix, Kaplan, et al. Christian institutions would have been better served to practice separation from these diploma mills by seeking regional accreditation or by remaining unaccredited.

But this also speaks to Louise's post: BJU (and many other Christian schools) would not qualify for regional accreditation because so many of the faculty there either do not have terminal degrees, or do not have terminal degrees in the field in which they teach.

Bob T.'s picture

How this would proceed and be accepted is not clear at this time. There are constitutional and states rights issues to be dealt with. I went through part of my education paying for it with the GI Bill. It was considered a payment to the veteran not the school. However, it has now become a benefit that may put federal regulations on the school attended.

Considering the course of this country morally and spiritually the separating out of Christian training from the traditional academic structure may not be such a bad thing. Schools associated with churches may have to offer certificates instead of degrees but if the Christian churches and community came to understand what they represent this may be a good thing. A certificate of "Divinity foundation" would be OK.

We have become overly conscience of the degree concept. When the Demon (D.Min) degree started to be offered in the 1970s we entered into a new level of professionalism emphasis and degree awareness that only enforced the advancing of the professional clergy staff rule concepts in churches. The reality is that the D.Min. is a specified work done degree but not a true knowledge gained degree. A person in pastoral ministry who studies diligently should not have the time for D.Min. pursuit for just pastoral competence.

Many KJVO sect and Fundamentalist pastors put doctor in front of their name based on honorary doctorates from friends or some sub standard bible college. The ignored scandal of Christian ministry is the clergy separation claimed by the Pastoral and staff positions and the numerous non standard and phony DR. Degrees being touted by those in ministry. Perhaps the change in status of Christian training institutions may be a very good thing. None could grant degrees whether earned or honorary. Studies and competence could be acknowledged by non academic certificates. There would still be the need of institutional training with specialists in history, languages, and theology. We could get rid of most all practical courses and let that be accomplished by a year of internship. Perhaps we could end up with less preachers and more teachers. For the FB preachers instead of Dr. Zampoosie it could be CHPP Zampoosie (Certificate of honorary Pastoral Prestige).

Jay's picture

Rachel hits on a good point when she states:

Quote:
But this also speaks to Louise's post: BJU (and many other Christian schools) would not qualify for regional accreditation because so many of the faculty there either do not have terminal degrees, or do not have terminal degrees in the field in which they teach.

One of these days, I'd really like to know just how many BJU faculty - just the teaching faculty - got their degrees from BJU and not elsewhere. I think that could be an interesting study. Of course, it's not just BJU, too.

I think that I'll disagree slightly with Rob Fall, though, in that I think there are other good schools that existed pre-1995 - Dallas Theological Seminary, Reformed Theol. Semin, and Westminister (Philly) I think are all good schools - if you can get past other things. I don't know for sure, but I think I would be able to consider a Pastoral Candidate from any of those schools.

[/BJU discussion ]

I was talking with a young lady yesterday, and I wondered aloud - what is the proper, Biblical method for training pastors? I mean, if Bauder is right and there are no Seminaries or Bible Colleges (because they've all be shut down by the Dept. of Ed for non-compliance or whatever in the future), then what should we do? And more importantly - why did we get away from that Scriptural model in the first place?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Kevin Subra's picture

I believe that the college / seminary role was / is off-base. It doesn't mean that they could not do some good. It just means that they deviated from the local church focus and the definition of the local church (does the local church have arms that are not the church but somehow are?). Such well-meaning institutions have undermined the local church's assignment, and weakened it in the long run, rather than helping it.

The local church has become something to hold the parachurch organizations up, rather than the other way around. It is no longer capable or expected to train leaders, which I believe is a tragedy. (The church can, but it cannot / need not do so by mimicking the college / seminary format - we have attempted to do so all along, and have been cold-shouldered by a local Bible college.)

I do not welcome anything that weakens the church. However, I am very much for the church returning to its central role, and the artificial education standards (artificial standards). The higher institutions have become the steering mechanism for local churches and associations, rather than an enabling service to them.

As many parachurch institutions, especially those focused on education, have bowed to government regulation (usually to get indirect gov't funding via grants, scholarships, and loans to students), they have deviated from the cause (and missed the point). It was a matter of time before this happened.

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Rob Fall's picture

Jay C. wrote:
Rachel hits on a good point when she states:
Quote:
But this also speaks to Louise's post: BJU (and many other Christian schools) would not qualify for regional accreditation because so many of the faculty there either do not have terminal degrees, or do not have terminal degrees in the field in which they teach.

One of these days, I'd really like to know just how many BJU faculty - just the teaching faculty - got their degrees from BJU and not elsewhere. I think that could be an interesting study. Of course, it's not just BJU, too.

I think that I'll disagree slightly with Rob Fall, though, in that I think there are other good schools that existed pre-1995 - Dallas Theological Seminary, Reformed Theol. Semin, and Westminister (Philly) I think are all good schools - if you can get past other things. I don't know for sure, but I think I would be able to consider a Pastoral Candidate from any of those schools.

[/BJU discussion ]SNIP

You're right on the existence of those schools. But, I'm not up on the academic politics of the period especially on the later two.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Steve Newman's picture

The NT model for ministry seems to be proven faithful service in the local church. This seems vastly different from the "Bible college and seminary" model. While Bible college and seminary can be good and intensive, service in the church deserves more weight. The leaders appear to either have been picked by the apostles and/or the Holy Spirit or to have "emerged" after years of service.
What I have seen over the years has been the improved faithfulness and integrity of the "non-traditional" student over the "greenhouse-grown" students from high schools. Not that that model can't work, it just doesn't work as well.
Clearly, we need to get young people out in actual ministry more because our schools are in serious danger for all the reasons described above.

Rachel L.'s picture

The best pastors I've had have been well-educated, with advanced degrees. Universities provide opportunities for interaction with people who are "different" from one's home town and home church. Changing to a system where a pastor's training comes from a single church or from a couple of like churches is a recipe for unorthodoxy and "wrong emphasis." I shudder at the thought.

Louise Dan's picture

Larry wrote:
Louise Dan, What does this have to do with BJU? Kevin Bauder is not connected with them and has no education or degrees from there.

...

Can you name any professors or deans at BJU using the title of doctor that have no merit in terms of education in their field? (Chapel speakers are on a totally different plane.)

Someone already said it, but BJU and Bauder's seminary are in exactly the same position concerning national v. regional accreditation.

As for your last question, Mr. Berg for one. He has a bachelors and masters from BJ in Bible and Theology. He has an honorary doctorate from Tabernacle Baptist, but no education at all (at least according to his credentials on the BJU website) in the field in which he teaches and works, counseling and psychology.

Louise Dan's picture

Also, unless I missed it going over their website, NO BJU Bible professors have degrees outside of the university. That is a very unhealthy practice.

Louise Dan's picture

Dr. Hand -- however, his outside degrees aren't even in Bible (the area in which he teaches). So he wasn't educated at BJ, but he also wasn't educated in any seminary.

Louise Dan's picture

Jason Ormiston. His education actually sounds appropriate for the area in which he is teaching.

So 1 out of 14 Bible professors have an accredited degree in Bible.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
Someone already said it, but BJU and Bauder's seminary are in exactly the same position concerning national v. regional accreditation.
But they don't have anything to do with each other or anything to do with the article, at least so far as I can see. The article seems to be more about the whole process of educational accreditation.

As for faculty, do you have anyone besides Jim Berg? While I disagree with the practice, if the theology is good, it doesn't really matter. Again, I am not aware of any questions of their orthodoxy or any belief that they are a degree mill for theology. I think they would be well served by getting Bible faculty with degrees from other places for several reasons.

What about outside the Bible faculty? How many of those teachers have terminal degrees from BJU and how many from elsewhere. Any idea?

Let's not get this too far afield, however.

On the general topic of pastoral training, I think there are some things that are difficult to learn outside of a classroom with specialized instruction. Furthermore, keeping up with current literature is an important part of education and most pastors don't have the time or resources to do that. I do think that there are some things of pastoral ministry that cannot be learned in a classroom. So I think a hybrid approach is probably a good model.

rogercarlson's picture

Steve,

I have no problem with the local church taking lead in training pastors. But your post seems to be the other extreme. Maybe I am misreading it. But training men just in "ministry" usually leads to men that are not trained in languages, hermenutics and theology. Anyone remember Steve Anderson?? If not, do a search on youtube. A local church can train their men and I agree with others that it could be done. I think Rachel's caution is good as well. So maybe several area pastors and churches could team up if the need arises? But service only ministry training will lead to many ill-equipped pastors.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Rachel L.'s picture

Quote:
What about outside the Bible faculty? How many of those teachers have terminal degrees from BJU and how many from elsewhere. Any idea?

In the College of Business there are 26 faculty members listed on BJU's website. Of those, only 5 have doctorates, but 2 of those are EDUCATION doctorates from BJU. One is a Juris Doctorate, and the remaining two are PhDs from other institutions.

Thirteen faculty members only have a master's degree (two of which were earned at BJU), and the remaining eight hold only a Bachelor's or Associate's degree.

Louise Dan's picture

Larry wrote:

What about outside the Bible faculty? How many of those teachers have terminal degrees from BJU and how many from elsewhere. Any idea?

Dr. Mazak, who is the CHAIRMAN of the dept. of psychology, only has a BACHELORS in psychology. His masters from Clemson is the masters of education for school guidance counselors. Even his doctorate from BJ isn't in psychology.

Larry's picture

Moderator

How many of those 13 Master's are MBAs (which is considered a terminal degree isn't it)?

I just went and looked after I wrote that. Of the 13 master's, I counted 11 MBA's only two of which are from BJU. And one of the EdD's has an MBA from elsewhere (not counted in the 11).

Furthermore, you have a couple of aviation people in there which is not exactly a field where you go get a PhD in flight. Terminal has a whole different meaning when you are flying. And don't forget the culinary arts people. Can you get a terminal degree in cooking somewhere?

So, I don't know a lot about the specifics, but I am not overly persuaded that total picture is as bleak as "2 PhDs from other institutions" might make it sound. It looks like about half of them have terminal degrees from outside BJU, and few teach in a fields that probably don't have terminal degrees.

Louise Dan's picture

Larry, I don't mean this pejoratively, but you are not facing the facts. Dr. Berg has a complete lack of credentials. Dr. Mazak has the kind of education that would maybe get him a part-time job at a community college teaching 1st year psychology. Or he could be a guidance counselor at Mauldin High School. It sounds mean to say it, and I am saddened that it has to be said. But on the other hand, it's more than mean to advertise yourself as a facility offering expert education for $12,000 a year to students who don't know better when these are the qualifications of your lead teachers. It is right that the government get involved.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Louise Dan, I am not bothered by you sounding pejorative, but what fact that I have not faced.

Did I defend Jim Berg somewhere (although according to SACS a Master's degree is apparently acceptable for teaching undergraduate classes)? I didn't even comment on Dr. Mazak. The only thing I did was point out that the article does not appear to be about BJU or Central, say that I think BJU should hire outside Bible degrees, raised the question if anyone knew the status of terminal degrees at BJU, and then went and counted the MBAs on the business faculty. I am not sure how that indicates that there are facts I am not facing.

Now, with respect to Jim Berg, he was the dean of students for many years and taught one or two classes I believe then. He is a very knowledgeable man in the Scriptures, and you could do worse if you want to learn from someone. And he has about 30 years of experience. But he is hardly the leading teacher at the seminary and Bible faculty. According to the current website, he teaches two classes in the Division of Practical Theology.

With respect to Dr. Mazak and the psychology department, you have to keep in mind that BJU takes a biblical counseling approach in which secular psychology plays a very small (and often misleading) role. People who go there for counseling know that up front, so I hardly think there is misleading going on. Having a PhD in psychology is not helpful for the kind of training that they are offering.

With respect to the Bible faculty in general, I have already said that I think they should hire outside professors.

So what facts am I not facing? And how is getting the government involved in it going to change any of this? Everything you have said here is public information without government involvement.

Back to your original point, your claim was that accreditation is needed because of substandard education. Yet you have not provided any information that BJU offers a substandard education have you?

Rachel L.'s picture

While an MBA was once considered a terminal degree for those working in business, it is not considered a terminal degree for those teaching at the college level. At my (secular, regionally accredited) university, I think I only had one professor in the College of Business who was teaching with "just" an MBA... and it was "allowed" because he had unique expertise in his field, and he was not considered a full professor. We also did not refer to him as "Doctor."

I just did a quick check of Furman's Business and Accounting department: There are 11 people that appear to be faculty, of the eight people whose credentials were listed, all but one professor has a PhD. The one who only has an MBA is listed as an "adjunct" professor and she has 25 years experience working with major corporations in her field.

Forrest's picture

I know I am opening up a can of worms here, but the CE's are lightyears ahead of (most) of us when it comes to alternative forms of educating pastors. Mark Dever and Capitol Hill Baptist have their internship and weekenders programs both of which have been wildly successful in training men for ministry. Their internship program is being replicated in churches across the country.

Mark Driscoll (I know, I know. Just pretend its a different name) and Mars Hill have re:train which seems to be one of the most viable options going forward. It offers some distance training as well classroom and practical training, and instead of having a full time staff of PhDs and DMins they contract them for a week or two to come teach. The model is very appealing for a number of reasons:

Time and Distance: There is no reason you have to commit 9 months of the year to schooling. You can learn greek and hebrew in an online classroom. Then you can spend 2 months at the campus for other types of training. The rest of the time the students are plugged into "real life" ministry.

Overhead: They don't have to hire a rock star staff. They can use regular teachers for regular coursework (because let's face it, andy grad student can teach basic greek or hebrew). Then they hire the big guns when they need them to teach for a week or two.

This also keeps higher education in its useful place. There is a place for advanced degrees. We need the Kevin Bauders, Wayne Grudems, Alfred Edersheims, etc. Keep them in seminary. Keep our best minds working diligently in the schools and let's contract them out.

Forrest Berry

Larry's picture

Moderator

Interesting, Rachel. As I say, I don't know much about it. I was just curious after you mentioned that so I went a looked it up.

Overall, I think the higher education is going to be changing greatly. My gut is that we are going to see a trend away from liberal arts and towards vocational training (which I think will be worse overall). I think we are going to see increasing amounts of online education (which I think will be worse than classroom training for a lot of reasons). To me, module training or cohort training such as re:train is probably a better model that is sustainable for a while, especially for ministry. But you can't really learn Greek or Hebrew in a one or two week module.

I think pastoral training needs to be a combination of classroom and practical experience or mentorship.

But I would encourage any student to know what they want to do before you get too far down, and keep your options open as much as possible. You need to know up front if you can do what you want to do with the degree you are getting. Take for instance, a BJU degree. You can get into a lot of grad schools with it. But you can't get into all grad schools. So you have to know that up front as much as possible.

But a lot of it depends on what you want to do. If you want to pastor, you do things differently than if you want to be a research professor in chemistry which you do differently than if you want to be a pilot which you do differently than if you want to be an accountant, etc.

But I don't think the feds will be particularly helpful, especially in training Christian worldviews. So far, the feds don't have a great track record in much except spending a lot of money, and higher education certainly doesn't need help spending more money. So I doubt the usefulness of federal intervention in the overall quality.

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Where did all the BJU bashing come from? It's certainly not implied in the article that I wrote. What the Feds are doing now is not directed against BJU or, for that matter, against national accreditation (though it is being driven to some extent by the for-profits, but, ironically, many of them hold regional accreditation).

Nor is this a question of accredited versus non-accredited schools. The Feds are aiming to take over the entire field of higher ed. They will use the accreditation process to do this, but their ultimate goal is to eliminate all non-accredited colleges.

As for Bob Jones University, I'm astonished at some of what I'm reading here. My brother attended BJ, where he received excellent preparation for his field of work. Two of our faculty at Central Seminary have their baccalaureate degrees from Bob Jones. They were well prepared for graduate study and thrived in regionally-accredited doctoral programs.

I know many of the BJU professors personally, as well as others whose doctorates are from Bob Jones. Some of the most thought-provoking conversations I've had in recent years have been with these men. The university has some bright guys who know their stuff, and in many instances they have exported bright guys into other institutions.

People like Chris Barney, Mike Barrett, and Jerry Priest all have their terminal degrees from Bob Jones. They all function at a high level of academic excellence. They have all made or are making contributions to their disciplines. I would have no hesitation about using any of these men to teach in his area of expertise. And Stephen Jones is one of the brightest rising leaders in Fundamentalism. I look for nothing but continued progress on his watch.

Does BJU have room for improvement? Sure! And so do Harvard and Yale. Accreditation has been good for Bob Jones in that it has accelerated the pace of improvement. Whatever weaknesses exist have been acknowledged and are being addressed. The Bob Jones University of today is the most excellent version of the school that has ever existed.

Both of my children attended a non-Christian university that was close to home. They lived in my house and attended their home church. If they had chosen to go away to school, however, Bob Jones University would have been a live option. In the trade-off of considerations it is as good an alternative as any Christian college and better than most.

Incidentally, when it comes to theological education, the gold standard is NOT regional accreditation. The gold standard is national, specifically the Association of Theological Schools. When Stephen Crow was the head of the Higher Learning Commission (North Central Region), Central Seminary was weighing the choice between national and regional accreditation. Dr. Crow informed us that if we went with the HLC, then they would simply assign people from national agencies to evaluate us. The regionals really don't know what to do with seminaries--which explains how some regionally accredited seminaries are able to get away with the things they do.

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