Facing Financial Challenges, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Cuts Faculty Positions

"The number of full-time students at the evangelical seminary has dropped 44 percent in 20 years." - C.Today

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Ed Vasicek's picture

I have my disagreements with Trinity's theological viewpoints sometimes, but the school has been a bastion for conservative evangelicals with guys like D.A. Carson and Wayne Grudem around.  But the decline is no longer just in liberal churches; those who think they are exempt probably do not have recent stats.

We have seen Bible college after Bible college merge or close, many of them closer to my belief than Trinity. Think of Northland, Citadel, Tennessee Temple, etc., etc.  We are in a growing decline.

Online learning seems to be displacing seminary programs.  Big online schools, like Liberty, or small ones, like ones we never heard of, seem to be the way more and more people are being trained.  Sadly, some ministry training (like preaching, for example), is better learned n a classroom, IMO.  Other things may fare well online.

Based on the current shortage of pastoral candidates, we can chalk some of it up to declining enrollment in Bible colleges and seminaries. When you consider how many receive degrees but never actually make it to vocational ministry -- and add those who drop out after a few years -- we need to keep feeding in the quantity for long term vocational numbers to hold their own, which they are not.

The sky is not falling, but -- numerically at least -- the heyday for seminaries and Bible colleges seems to be over.  We will reduce, reconfigure, and eventually find a lesser but more stable paradigm.

"The Midrash Detective"

Andrew K's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:

Online learning seems to be displacing seminary programs.  Big online schools, like Liberty, or small ones, like ones we never heard of, seem to be the way more and more people are being trained.  Sadly, some ministry training (like preaching, for example), is better learned n a classroom, IMO.  Other things may fare well online.

Imo, one of the biggest losses will be the peer/dorm theological discussions.

Sure, a lot of people, esp. professors, mocked them, or expressed weariness at the same topics being hashed out over and over again by freshmen and sophomores. But they forget that for each new class, those topics weren't new to them.

Students need the sharpening and interaction of working through those issues with others who are doing the same. Online forums just don't cut it.

Joel Shaffer's picture

If Grand Rapids Theological Seminary hadn't added its counseling degree 20 years ago where students can become licensed therapists, they would've been facing the same predicament as Trinity.