A Tale of Two Colleges

NickImage

This week brings fascinating news from two colleges. The two institutions are facing almost opposite situations, and the contrast between them is both remarkable and illustrative. Because change occurs constantly, Christian organizations are constantly required to apply their principles to new situations. Cedarville University and Faith Baptist Bible College provide a clear contrast in terms of how new applications might take place.

The school that is now Cedarville University started out as a Bible institute in Cleveland. During the early 1950s it acquired the name and campus of Cedarville College, formerly a Presbyterian school. For many years, Cedarville College staked out its identity as a fundamentalist, Baptist institution. Under the leadership of James T. Jeremiah, it was one of the flagship schools identified with the Regular Baptist movement.

In 1978, Paul Dixon became president of the college. He brought with him a vision to make Cedarville into a world-class university. Regular Baptists, however, had neither the numerical nor the economic strength to fulfill his dream. Dixon needed a larger constituency and broader appeal, and in pursuit of these goals he began to downplay some of the distinctives that Regular Baptists thought important. There was a softening of ecclesiastical separation as the platform featured a broader variety of evangelicals. There was an increasing openness and even friendliness toward the more current trends in popular culture. There was even a shifting of the criteria for faculty selection. By the early 1990s, Cedarville professors were putting themselves publicly on record for their (belated) support of the Equal Rights Amendment—legislation that was almost universally opposed by conservative Christians of all sorts.

As Cedarville broadened its appeal, it experienced growing tensions with Regular Baptists. These tensions came to a head when, at the end of Dixon’s tenure, Cedarville formally identified with the Southern Baptist state convention in Ohio. Under the new president, William Brown, the university refused to endorse the Statement of Purpose of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, a requirement for partnering institutions. For both these reasons, the GARBC terminated its partnership with Cedarville in 2006.

The divorce was ugly, at least on the Cedarville side. Since the GARBC national conference was held in Michigan that year, Cedarville supporters were transported by busloads to try to overwhelm the vote. At one point some threatened to rush the platform if a particular parliamentary ruling did not go their way. In the end, however, the association had the votes to remove Cedarville from partnership.

Shortly thereafter, scandal erupted on campus as a couple of the most conservative tenured professors were terminated suddenly. Alarmed constituents formed watchdog groups and began to spread word of theological aberrations. Most Cedarville constituents found these charges difficult to believe, but the university continued to show signs of movement away from its fundamentalist roots. In an attempt to reassure conservatives, in 2011 the university adopted white papers dealing with creation, with justification, and with divine omniscience.

The situation, however, continued to deteriorate. In 2012, a professor was fired for teaching that the opening chapters of Genesis were non-historical. Then two philosophy professors published that they could not vote Republican since they supported universal health care, decreased defense spending, increased spending on social programs, and economic redistribution. Consequently, the question was no longer whether Cedarville should be considered a fundamentalist institution, but whether it should even be considered a conservative one.

In response, the board placed the philosophy major under review and indicated its intention to end the program. In October, President Brown tendered his resignation, followed by a key vice president in January 2013—many believed under pressure from the board. In response to concerns that Cedarville might be moving in a fundamentalist direction, board chairman Lorne Sharnberg was quoted as saying that Cedarville “isn’t moving anywhere. We’re staying right where we’ve always been.” Ironically, these are the very words that the Cedarville leadership used to say when it was moving away from fundamentalism.

While these events have been taking place at Cedarville, Faith Baptist Bible College has been facing a difficult decision of its own. The school long ago staked out a position that was traditionally dispensationalist, strongly Baptist, and conservative in its appropriation of contemporary popular culture. It has required its students to become members in churches that share these commitments.

Through the years, one of the congregations that allied itself with Faith was Saylorville Baptist Church. Dozens of students and several staff are members at Saylorville, and in many ways (for example, its commitment to evangelism) Saylorville models values that Faith shares. Over the years, however, Saylorville has adopted an increasingly contemporary ministry, and it has recently dropped the word Baptist from its name. As Saylorville has made these moves, Faith has felt considerable pressure to soften its commitment to its principles and to broaden its appeal.

Decades ago, one of the presidents of Faith Baptist Bible College (David Nettleton) argued that when Christians disagree, they must either limit their message or limit their fellowship. This past week, Faith’s board made the decision to stand by its message and allow its fellowship to shrink. Students and staff will no longer be permitted to join Saylorville Church.

This may represent the hardest decision that the administration and board at Faith has ever made. They are not angry with Saylorville. They love its pastor and its staff, and they believe that Saylorville is in some ways a good model. They are not denouncing the church, but they are separating from it at one level. They are making this move because, if they do not, their principles will be obscured. They are aware that the decision will be costly.

Cedarville and Faith represent opposite approaches to the application of principles in changing situations. Cedarville committed itself to wider influence and was willing to sacrifice principles in order to obtain it. Faith has committed itself to maintain its principles, and it is willing to accept narrower influence in order to uphold them. Both have responded to change, but they have responded in opposite directions.

Granted, sometimes Christians hold mistaken principles that they ought to revise. Simply to abandon principles in favor of increased influence, however, is a devil’s bargain. Once principles have been obscured, they become very difficult to clarify. Both Faith and Cedarville will face some unhappy constituents. Cedarville’s will be unhappy because their school’s position is not clear. Faith’s will be unhappy because their school’s is. The difference is this: no one is attracted to obscurity and uncertainty, but some may be attracted to a clearly stated position when it is consistently maintained.

Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands
Martin Luther (1483-1546), translated by Richard Massie (1800-1887)

Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands,
For our offenses given;
But now at God’s right hand he stands
And brings us life from heaven;
Therefore let us joyful be
And sing to God right thankfully
Loud songs of hallelujah. Hallelujah!

It was a strange and dreadful strife
When life and death contended;
The victory remained with life,
The reign of death was ended;
Holy Scripture plainly saith
That death is swallowed up by death,
His sting is lost for ever. Hallelujah!

Here the true Paschal Lamb we see,
Whom God so freely gave us;
He died on the accursed tree—
So strong his love!—to save us.
See, his blood doth mark our door;
Faith points to it, death passes o’er,
And Satan cannot harm us. Hallelujah!

So let us keep the festival
Whereto the Lord invites us;
Christ is himself the Joy of all,
The Sun that warms and lights us.
By his grace he doth impart
Eternal sunshine to the heart;
The night of sin is ended. Hallelujah!

Then let us feast this joyful day
On Christ, the Bread of heaven;
The Word of grace hath purged away
The old and evil leaven.
Christ alone our souls will feed,
He is our meat and drink indeed;
Faith lives upon no other. Hallelujah!

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

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Jim's picture

Quote:
Then two philosophy professors published that they could not vote Republican since they supported universal health care, decreased defense spending, increased spending on social programs, and economic redistribution. Consequently, the question was no longer whether Cedarville should be considered a fundamentalist institution, but whether it should even be considered a conservative one.

 

I guess one  cannot be a Democrat and a Fundamentalist!

By the way I am for decreased defense spending: I think that France, England, Germany, Japan and South Korea should have increased defense spending so that the US does not need to defend them! See a recent WSJ article entitled Why France  Can't Fight

Quote:
On paper France has 230,000 men and women in uniform, but only 30,000 are estimated to be deployable on six months notice.

France does spend money on modern weaponry: Since 2009, one of the few pieces of equipment that saw an upward revision in planned inventory through 2014 is Dassault's twin-engine Rafale fighter jet, of which France already has more than 70, with plans for nearly 160 more.

But militaries need the not-so-sexy stuff, too, and here Paris has been shortchanging its soldiers for years. French infantrymen must now deploy with barely half the number of logistical transport vehicles the military had planned four years ago. French diplomats spent the first week of the Malian intervention haggling with the U.S., Canada and Britain for American-made C-17s to transport soldiers and gear to Mali.

George Will has recently addressed the issue - The death of NATO?

Quote:
NATO's secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, recently warned that "at the current pace of cuts," it is hard to see how in the future "Europe could maintain enough military capabilities to sustain" military operations such as those under way in Libya.

Actually, Europe could not sustain them today; only U.S. munitions, intelligence, refueling and other assets keep the Libyan operations going.

.....

Since the Cold War's end, the combined GDP of NATO's European members has grown 55 percent, yet their defense spending has declined almost 20 percent. Twenty years ago, those nations provided 33 percent of the alliance's defense spending; today, they provide 21 percent.

Pastor Shane Belding's picture

The trajectory which you observed in Cedarville could be applied to several of our present conservative colleges and seminaries. The move to restrict authentic fundamentalism to historic fundamentalism, the hesitancy to separate over "secondary doctirnes" and the emphasis of the doctrine of the gospel (soteriology) over a doxological (the glory of God) purpose all contribute to our younger generation being susceptible to becoming the next "conservative" evangelicals. May God give us wisdom to discern this slide to compromise in our own institutions, and churches. Ideas do have consequences.

 

Pastor Shane Belding

Berean Baptist Church, International Falls, MN

 

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Regardless of whether you agree with Faith's decision in this case, I'm glad to see Dr. Bauder present the school in a positive light, and in a fuller context. Faith has much to offer, but is not an institution that is given to self-promotion. I think the thread on the related news item here on SharperIron is the most attention I have ever seen the school get on this site.

Unfortunately, that thread contains comments from some with little knowledge of Faith who seem willing to judge the school based on this one incident.

I hope this article draws some more informed reaction from Faith alumni and supporters, whatever side of the issue they may be on. Having made a statement on the other thread, I look forward to reading the comments of those with additional knowledge of the situation.

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Jim's picture

In defense of Cedarville: "As Cedarville broadened its appeal ..."

Mission:

  • Faith is primarily oriented towards preparing young adults for vocational ministry
  • Cedarville is oriented towards preparing young adults for secular careers

Size:

  • If Faith has 300 students (and this number is not clear to me!)
  • Cedarville has 3000+ students

Offerings (both are regionally accredited with North Central Association of Colleges and Schools):

  • Faith has limited academic offerings (and one would expect that with a narrower mission!)
  • Cedarville has broad academic offerings: including engineering, computer science, nursing, Pharmacy, et cetera. Cedarville has fleshed out their offerings in the STEM fields - and Faith does not pretend make those offerings.

I suggest ... appreciate Faith for what it is .. and Cedarville for what it is! Yes Cedarville broadened its appeal, but I suggest that they would not be the kind of University that they have become unless they had made some of these strategic decisions.

 

 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Pastor Shane Belding wrote:
The move to restrict authentic fundamentalism to historic fundamentalism...
I don't understand this statement. Are you saying authentic fundamentalism is somehow greater (larger) than historic fundamentalism? How are these not the same thing?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Steve Davis's picture

Pastor Shane Belding wrote:

The trajectory which you observed in Cedarville could be applied to several of our present conservative colleges and seminaries. The move to restrict authentic fundamentalism to historic fundamentalism, the hesitancy to separate over "secondary doctirnes" and the emphasis of the doctrine of the gospel (soteriology) over a doxological (the glory of God) purpose all contribute to our younger generation being susceptible to becoming the next "conservative" evangelicals. May God give us wisdom to discern this slide to compromise in our own institutions, and churches. Ideas do have consequences.

I know next to nothing about either school but I think you are right that ideas have consequences. I’m not sure who represents “authentic fundamentalism” today since all branches claim to be authentic or at least the most faithful. Yet the “hesitancy to separate over ‘secondary doctrines’” (depending how you define them and separation) actually better represents how Christians should relate to each other – separate when biblically mandated, fellowship as broadly as possible with believers committed to the full authority of Scripture, partner with those who more closely reflect your distinctives.
 

When we hold our distinctives with the same certainty with which we hold the fundamentals of the faith then we will practice a greater degree of separation. When we hold our distinctives with conviction but with a lesser degree of certainty (particularly in areas of historical divergence) we can enjoy genuine fellowship and express biblical unity. For example, I believe that believer’s baptism by immersion best reflects what the New Testament teaches and the apostles and early church practiced. Yet I am more convinced about the subject of baptism than the mode. And I wasn’t always exposed fairly to other views during some of my training. It took taking Church & Sacraments with Sinclair Ferguson at RTS to at least admit that others have compelling arguments for their positions. I still don’t buy into the position but I won’t separate from those who differ (although full partnership in some endeavors wouldn’t work). So how these schools see their mission and understand what and how much needs to be distinctively emphasized will determine what students and faculty they will attract. It also may determine their viability. May both schools prosper!
 

Bert Baker's picture

Just over a year and half ago, I was at Faith for a high school tournament.  What I experienced was impressive. 

The students were both friendly and helpful.  The staff I found to be extremely interested in our needs and concerns.

The chapel services were outstanding.  I could think I were at Bob Jones or Maranatha while being in attendance.

The music was very conservative and the preaching totally Biblical.  I came away with a deeper respect and appreciation

for Faith. 

I would NOT hesitate to send my children there today.

 

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Would we have this problem if churches had not handed over the training of future ministers to colleges and universities?

Just askin'.

Jim's picture

Bert Baker wrote:

Just over a year and half ago, I was at Faith for a high school tournament.  What I experienced was impressive. 

The students were both friendly and helpful.  The staff I found to be extremely interested in our needs and concerns.

The chapel services were outstanding.  I could think I were at Bob Jones or Maranatha while being in attendance.

The music was very conservative and the preaching totally Biblical.  I came away with a deeper respect and appreciation

for Faith. 

I would NOT hesitate to send my children there today.

 

Would you send your young adult there if he aspired to be a chemist? (or another one of the majors Cedarville offers but Faith does not)

I say this because if one wants to be a chemist, 4 years at Faith really will not advance a young adult in that field of endeavor! I would never say that one's education dollars are wasted but to become a chemist will entail many more years and dollars after the Faith.edu education.

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Jim,

You appear to be confusing two issues. One is the question of whether a Christian college can offer a curriculum that is broader than biblical studies or ministry training. Is there a place for a Christian university or liberal arts college? Your answer seems to be yes, and I agree with you in that answer. Separatist fundamentalism has fine example of both, the best-known being Bob Jones University. My brother is a graduate of BJU, and I believe that he received above-average preparation for his vocation (I also have two siblings who attended Cedarville, and I pastored a church that encouraged its young people to consider Cedarville). The breadth of the curriculum is simply not the issue.

The other issue has to do with doctrinal and ecclesiastical breadth. Dixon wanted a big university instead of a little liberal arts college. The Regular Baptist movement could not give him the students and money that he needed, so he began looking for a broader ecclesiastical base upon which to build. By itself, that is not necessarily a problem--all of the Regular Baptist institutions must reach beyond the GARBC, The question is, In which direction do they reach?

Cedarville has consistently reached toward its left. In order to appeal to those on the left, it had to broaden its commitments, connections, and philosophy in that direction. What Cedarville is facing now is that consequence of that broadening. Any movement toward its right is likely to cost it support from those to whom it has sought to appeal. The university cannot retreat very far, because it needs all 3,000 of those students to keep financing its operations.

Can a person be a Democrat and a fundamentalist? Not intelligently, no. To put it more broadly, a thoughtful person cannot simultaneously be a liberal and a conservative--and the connection between social/political and theological/ecclesiastical liberalism (or conservatism) is closer than some people seem to think. Given its current posture, Cedarville is not a consistently conservative institution.

All other things being equal, students who attend Cedarville can learn to be good chemists. I am not convinced, however, that they will learn to be good Christians. I would sooner have my child in a Catholic university or a state school than in Cedarville University.

Kevin

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

All other things being equal, students who attend Cedarville can learn to be good chemists. I am not convinced, however, that they will learn to be good Christians.

This should never be, IMO, the purpose for attending any university or seminary. This is a function best served by parents, and sans parents, one's church. 

Which hearkens back to my earlier question...

Jim's picture

I agree with you on the Democrat point

Re this: "All other things being equal, students who attend Cedarville can learn to be good chemists. I am not convinced, however, that they will learn to be good Christians. I would sooner have my child in a Catholic university or a state school than in Cedarville University."

Or is it the job of the church to make people "good Christians"?!

I have no skin in this game ... University of Cincinnati '71

 

 

 

T Howard's picture

Quote:
All other things being equal, students who attend Cedarville can learn to be good chemists. I am not convinced, however, that they will learn to be good Christians. I would sooner have my child in a Catholic university or a state school than in Cedarville University.

I would say this is true of "fundamentalist" colleges like PCC as well, but for different reasons.

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Susan,

Ministers have been trained in colleges and universities since the Middle Ages. For a thousand years before that, they were trained (often badly) by monasteries. Before that, no one needed to teach them Koine, because they all spoke it.

Other than settling for an ignorant ministry, what do you see as an alternative to colleges and universities?

Kevin

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Jim,

It is certainly not the job of avowedly Christian, evangelical institutions of higher learning to make people worse Christians.

If the mission of these institutions has no connection at all to fostering biblical Christianity, then why bother with them? Close their doors--we will be none the poorer.

Kevin

Jim's picture

Majors at Faith:

  1. Administrative Assistant Major (A.A., B.S.)
  2. Assistant Pastor Major (B.S.)
  3. Biblical Studies Major (A.A., B.S., B.A.)
  4. Christian School Education Major (B.S.)
  5. Local Church Ministries Major (B.S.)
  6. Missions and Evangelism Major (A.A., B.S., B.A.)
  7. Music Ministries Major (B.S.)
  8. Pastoral Major (B.S., B.A.)

Really, the only majors females will likely pursue are #’s 1, 4, & 7 above. Biblical studies might appeal to some…..but that’s generally a male-dominated major too. (And # 7 would likely be only for a music teacher, since Minister of Music wouldn’t be an option in most baptist chuches.) Plus, the only major for # 4 at the secondary-teaching level is in English education. So anyone wishing to be, say, a high school Science or Math teacher probably needs to look elsewhere. So unless female students are interested in training to be administrative assistants or limited types of teachers, there really isn’t much in the way of choices for them.

 

 

Steve Davis's picture

Kevin T. Bauder wrote:

Can a person be a Democrat and a fundamentalist? Not intelligently, no.

Kevin (and Jim too since he agrees with you on this)

I really got a kick out of this since I’m a registered Democrat. I knew there was another reason why I couldn’t be a Fundamentalist :-) . In my defense, living in West Philly, I would never get to vote in local primaries as a Republican because there are no elected Republicans in this part of the city called “left of center.”  If I lived in Northeast Philly where most of the Republicans are concentrated, I might be a Republican. And in the national primaries I can vote for the Democrat I would most like to see face the Republican. And I thought this was intelligent Smile .

 

Steve

 

Jim's picture

Kevin T. Bauder wrote:

Jim,

It is certainly not the job of avowedly Christian, evangelical institutions of higher learning to make people worse Christians.

If the mission of these institutions has no connection at all to fostering biblical Christianity, then why bother with them? Close their doors--we will be none the poorer.

Kevin

  • I'm not convinced that Cedarville makes students worse Christians AND
  • I am not an advocate of "better off that their doors are closed". I actually find your comment uncharitable
  • I value Cedarville while recognizing that it is not a perfect school.
  • Not to diss another school by name, but I think to call oneself a University while not offering the STEM offerings is disingenuous

As for us. We (my wife and I) did not come from even middle class backgrounds. We had to earn and pay our own way through colleges (my wife at St Pete Junior College and later at Florida State. Me from the U of Cincinnati). I am shocked by the cost of private education and what is being offered by Christian institutions: the lack of or poor accreditation, and the paltry offerings (when these kids graduate and enter probably the most difficult job market in 80 years!).

 

Jim's picture

My Valuable, Cheap College Degree

 

Two of my children graduated from college debt free:

  • Child # 1:

    • Started working at pizza place at age 14. At 16 worked as barista at Caribou coffee (until college graduation)
    • Participated in Minnesota's Post-Secondary Enrollment Option
    • Worked her entire way through college while attending state school full time.
    • By the way ... a barista is hard work: on feet the entire time, opening store at 5:00 a.m. or closing it at 11:00 p.m.. Clothing and shoes get soaked with coffee
  • Child # 2:

    • Volunteered for the USMC after HS (9/11 was while he was in combat training)
    • Served in Iraq
    • 2 years of community college while working full time 2nd shift in bank operations
    • Joined the MN National Guard after 6 years in the Marines\
    • GI bill helped fund all
    • University of Minnesota - graduated May 2012 with a degree in engineering (worked full time for 3 of 4 semesters. Several semesters he worked multiple jobs)

Neither took out student loans .... neither received significant financial help from their parents ... both graduated debt free.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Kevin T. Bauder wrote:
Susan,

Ministers have been trained in colleges and universities since the Middle Ages. For a thousand years before that, they were trained (often badly) by monasteries. Before that, no one needed to teach them Koine, because they all spoke it.

Other than settling for an ignorant ministry, what do you see as an alternative to colleges and universities?

Kevin

"We've done it this way for thousands of years" doesn't tell me why universities are more Scriptural, appropriate, or superior to the local church for the training of ministers. Where does the Biblical authority lie for training and approving men for ministry?

University training also doesn't inoculate its grads from ignorance, or guarantee congregations a qualified minister as per 1 Tim. 3, so the the idea that the only alternative to ignorant ministry is college is not entirely accurate. 

IMO, one of the church's safeguards against predators (of all stripes) is the close knit mentoring relationship that develops between the trainer and trainee, as well as the laying on of hands of the elders of the church. I think the traditional classroom may give us many learned men, but it doesn't give us better ministers.

We've followed the world into the assembly line-conveyor belt method of educating young people, thinking of it as more efficient because we can do so much more for so many in a shorter amount of time. But where's quality control? Wasn't there a comment in another thread about seminary diplomas being used as passports into ministry positions, without so much as a baggage search?

How many controversial issues have we discussed here over the years that involve tension between churches and seminaries? And every time I ask myself the same questions. 

I think Jim has a point about the difference between these two schools. I live in Beavercreek, within spittin' distance of Cedarville, Some of our current (as in the church we are currently visiting) church leaders/teachers have attended or graduated from CU, many students attend the church, and my husband often does business with the school (he works for an equipment rental company) as well as many churches of different denominations in the area. The school has a good reputation in our community, but no one thinks of it in terms of primarily producing ministers. It is a good place to go to be around fellow Christians, have Christian professors, and also get a decent education. 

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Jim,

I am astonished to read that you find my comment uncharitable. Perhaps you would be kind enough to explain why.

You asked, "Or is it the job of the church to make people "good Christians"?!"

My answer is that Christian institutions of higher learning have no reason to exist if not to foster biblical Christiainity. Surely we don't think that Cedarville or Bob Jones does a better job teaching chemistry than MIT or A&M. The reason that we want schools like that is precisely because of their Christian commitments and nurture. If they can't give us that, then they may as well close--we don't need them.

How is this uncharitable?

Kevin

Pastor Shane Belding's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Pastor Shane Belding wrote:
The move to restrict authentic fundamentalism to historic fundamentalism...
I don't understand this statement. Are you saying authentic fundamentalism is somehow greater (larger) than historic fundamentalism? How are these not the same thing?

The distinction I am making is historic fundamentalism was a movement in its infancy. Fundamentalism grew beyond separation only over the fundamentals. It began as a interdenominational movement and then broke off into more defined groups that saw the need to take separation beyond the fundamentals. The younger generation appears to  deem this a deviance from the scriptures were as I do not. Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism were not separate groups in the infancy stage but as the doctrine of separation was exercised in the real world of ecclesiastical associations it became evident and necessary to broaden the scope of the doctrines which to separate over. The debate as to how many doctrines require ecclesiastical separation is difficult and varied according to each individual church and institution but is necessary to accurately apply the doctrine of separation. Approaching the topic of separation with the mindset that older was somehow purer is naive.  Authentic fundamentalism ,whatever that is, well at least embrace that the bible calls for separation / limited fellowship (semantics) for more than just the fundamentals of the faith.

 

Pastor Shane Belding

Berean Baptist Church, International Falls, MN

 

Barry L.'s picture

"Not to diss another school by name, but I think to call oneself a University while not offering the STEM offerings is disingenuous"

From a technical standpoint, does one have to have STEM offerings to be technically called a university? If not, "disingenuous" is probably an improper term.

Just like any school, folks need to be careful what they major in at that school. Even at the University of Minnesota I'm sure there are unemployed graduates because of the major they picked.

 

As to Susan's point. I don't think she is saying that each church needs to be giving out theology degrees for the pastorate. I think her point is that most fundamental churches' sole blueprint to educate their young lay people is to ship them off to Bible college. There are two problems with that:

1) The expense for private liberal arts college is pretty steep nowadays, I know, I know, "I had to work my way through school". But they aren't making that much more per hour than you did 20-30 years ago and their college costs have quintupled.

2) Most of the time when young people go off to college, they don't come back to their home church. Many just hang around the college town after graduation.

Before folks went to college, parents and churches did a better job of teaching Bible truths to their young folks .
 We have become a bit lazy using Christian colleges as our backstop.

JVDM's picture

My question is, can one intelligently be a fundamentalist and still be a Democrat or Republican?

Jim's picture

One last comment on  "uncharitable" and then I will be willing to discuss with you when we connect at church.

I read your comment that you wished Cedarville closed. Perhaps you were using hyperbole or I misunderstood you

I can list several colleges that I think are basically educational charades ... to name one Hyles Anderson. But I don't wish them closed.

 

Mike Harding's picture

The conservative wing of the Republican party still stands for traditional values.  That has all but vanished in the Democratic party in more recent elections.  One could simply be an independent and vote for the individual.  Nothing wrong with that in my mind.  However, in a practical way either a republican or a democrat will be in the white house and the congress in the majority of cases.

Pastor Mike Harding

Pastor Shane Belding's picture

 

 

 

 

Steve,

you state  

"When we hold our distinctives with the same certainty with which we hold the fundamentals of the faith then we will practice a greater degree of separation. When we hold our distinctives with conviction but with a lesser degree of certainty (particularly in areas of historical divergence) we can enjoy genuine fellowship and express biblical unity."

I agree but would add that in these areas it is not as simple as they are right and  I am right because we are convinced in our minds having researched it. In the doctrines of dispensationalism or covenentalism either we are right or wrong. In the mode of baptism it does not go multiple ways. The concern I have is that the younger generation is getting the impression (because of post modernity) that the scriptures can be approach in a non absolutest way. There is one meaning God intended and we are bound to seek that out and to teach it with passion and conviction. We are also ,as you point out, to recognize there are definitely different degrees of certainty due to our fallibility and the limited scriptures on certain subjects. When we deal with them, honesty demands, that we teach with humility and clarity on the degree of certainty that the bible allows. I also would like to highlight that this is not to say that all scriptures bears the same weight. The roles of husband and wife in scriptures is clear but does not bear the same weight on the gospel as the doctrine of Christ.

How does this apply to the discussion at hand?    Faith made a call of separation based on teachings/ instruction of the scriptures that are not in the fundamentals area but that is not to say they have no grounds for separation. 

 

Pastor Shane Belding

Berean Baptist Church, International Falls, MN

 

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Susan,

While it may be true that higher education is not a complete inoculation against ignorance, it is at least some pretty decent prophylaxis--if it is gained in an institution that actually values learning.

In principle, the local church is responsible for the preparation of its ministers. Indeed, a future pastor cannot get the necessary hands-on training in any other environment. Churches, however, are not prepared to provide all of the equipment that a minister should acquire.

At minimum, a pastor-bishop-elder needs to have mastered the tools of thought. The mission of the church, however, does not include instruction in grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic. Furthermore, most homes are ill-prepared to inculcate these skills. Mastery of the liberal arts is the single most important aspect of baccalaureate education (which is why the graduate receives a bachelor of arts). So important is it to preparation for ministry that the Puritans (who were strongly committed to local church mentoring) made it their business to establish colleges as quickly as they could.

Furthermore, a good pastor must possess significant exegetical skill. He must be able to function in the biblical languages. He must have a broad and sound understanding of the structure of the text of Scripture, and, increasingly, of the critical issues related to the biblical text. Lacking these skills, a minister will never be more than an echo.

If they are to minister well, pastors must also possess at least a modicum of theological sophistication. They must understand why they believe what they believe. They must perceive how the various components of the system of faith relate to one another and how they relate to lived Christianity. What is more, if a pastor is going to understand the doctrines that he says he believes, he also needs to know how those doctrines have been developed in the confrontation with error. For this reason and others, he needs a fair grasp of history.

This description does not begin to address all the needs of ministry. Today's pastor has to be able to think about cultural issues. He has to be able to counsel increasingly-common problems that were virtually never encountered a generation ago. He has to be able to parry spiritual threats on the left hand and the right. We should not expect him to learn these things ad hoc, any more than we expect airline pilots to learn to fly jumbo jets by the seat of their pants.

What I am suggestion is that, contrary to some understandings of the ministry, a pastor ought to be a learned man. He will not gain his learning by accident. It requires concentrated, rigorous, sustained instruction. I do not know of a single church in which the pastoral staff is equipped to offer this kind of learning. The teachers must master these disciplines at a far higher level than their students.

I think I'm a modestly bright person who has managed to get a halfway decent education. Nevertheless, I could never give a young man all of the preparation that he needed for ministry. If I were his only teacher, he would be severely shortchanged. I don't know of anyone who could do that job. It takes a team of teachers who are largely devoted to that task.

Can you think of a single church that is in a position to do this? The closest we come is churches like Fourth, Inter City, or Calvary, churches that have employed teachers who function along side the pastoral staff. These are local churches that operate seminaries, for the precise reason that, if their pastors had to teach all of the skills personally, they would never be able to provide the pastoring that the congregation needs.

But the seminaries rely upon students who have already mastered certain intellectual skills. That is why we require a bachelor's degree in order to enter the program. Nobody I know of has received all the necessary learning from home schooling. Nobody I know of has received it from their church (even if their church had a school). Nor should they. God lays upon parents the duty to rear their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and He lays upon churches the responsibility to make disciples, but He nowhere holds them accountable for personally providing all the education that their children or members might require. That takes something like a college or a university. You can tear off the label if you'd like, but you'll still end up with some comparable institution and program.

It's not a question of either-or. Both universities and local churches are essential to training ministers (so are seminaries). We tried taking a shortcut a century ago with the Bible Institute movement. We have never really recovered. So, yes, there are specific reasons for which universities or comparable institutions are both appropriate and superior to the local church for certain aspects of preparation for ministry.

Kevin

Jim's picture

Barry L. wrote:
The expense for private liberal arts college is pretty steep nowadays, I know, I know, "I had to work my way through school". But they aren't making that much more per hour than you did 20-30 years ago and their college costs have quintupled.

There's been a lot written of late as to why college costs are inflating faster than the economy as as whole.

On: Yes it was easier 40 years ago:

  • Yes ... college cost less
  • Yes ... there were manufacturing jobs and now that has somewhat dried up (I worked at a chemical company for 4 years while I was in college. It's still there.
  • Yes ... things cost less (one could buy a new VW Bug for $ 2,000)
  • No .... wages were much less ... $ 1.25 per hour
  • My own childrens' experience is contemporary.

On: The definition of University:

  • There perhaps is no authoritative definition of "University" but generally it means "a collection of colleges" (MW- think of of the word "universal"). To re-brand oneself from a Bible college to a University without really offering a broad spectrum of educational options is in my view disingenuous. If we disagree we will just have to leave it there.
  • And my original point was that Cedarville has offerings that Faith does not.

How to do a real disservice to our young people:

  • Guilt and group think them into thinking that they have to go to the school(s) their pastor or youth pastor directs them to!
  • Thinking the purpose of the schools is to finish them as Christians
  • Convincing them that their best option for a Christian spouse is at a Bible college
  • Ignoring the reality that regional accreditation matters
  • Laden them (or jointly they and their parents) with debt
  • Let them enter the job market after 4 years without an education that will provide them with a job

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