Bible colleges are being pinched these days. Many collegians are choosing to remain at home and attend community colleges. Others are opting for state universities. Of those who go off to Christian schools, a higher percentage than ever are choosing liberal arts colleges. The focus of ministerial training has shifted away from colleges and toward seminaries.
The question is being asked: Do Bible colleges still have a place? If they do, then what shape should they take?
Some Bible colleges are responding to this question by increasing their offerings in fields that are further and further from biblical education. They are offering programs in education, aviation, nursing, business, and a variety of other disciplines. To the extent that Bible colleges have pursued this strategy, they have begun to metamorphose into liberal arts colleges. Their approach seems to entail the recognition that the true Bible college has outlived its usefulness.
I disagree. I believe that the Bible college can and should still occupy an important role as a service organization to local churches. In order to be genuinely useful, however, Bible colleges are going to have to clarify what sort of education they intend to offer. They are going to have to present a viable alternative, not only to Christian liberal arts colleges and universities, but also to secular institutions.
Most obviously, Bible colleges must play to their strength, and that strength is biblical instruction. It goes without saying that good biblical instruction is (almost?) completely absent from secular institutions. More relevantly, Christian universities and Christian liberal arts colleges generally do teach the Bible with less excellence than the better Bible colleges. Christian education has to involve more than tacking a few Bible survey courses onto a degree in broadcasting or physical therapy. It has to involve the intensive, concentrated study of the Bible itself.