Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Bible Colleges

This post was sparked off by a tweet by someone about standards being challenged in Bible Colleges by younger staff and students. 

Click on Picture to enlarge

From across the pond: It certainly doesn't help Bible Colleges to maintain Biblical standards, if they are being run largely to cater for those who have been groomed for them from birth.  While no system is fool proof and can avoid regularly having to take or maintain a strong stand, yet the tendency to let the hope father the call in many of its students maybe creates a supposed call than a real one. 

Here in the UK, very few of my generation went to any kind of 3rd level University or College education at all. (Not speaking here of Bible Colleges, but secular education) Some of us left school in the late 1970's at 16 with a few 'O Levels' (as they were called then) while the cleverer or more focused ones, stayed two more years to get their 'A' Levels. Out of the smaller 'A' Level crowd, only a relative few went on to 3rd level education. Now, more and more students are going on to the 3rd level. Nobody bats an eyelid any more.

In the UK (even allowing for the smaller population head count or number of Christians per thousand of the population) - there are very few large Bible Colleges. I have no figures to hand, but I doubt that any number in their low hundreds, much less (say) a couple of thousand. A glance at the Internet shows that while there may be smallish Bible College in the USA, some of them sport massive campuses and cater for huge numbers of students. Indeed, if they continually failed to get such large numbers, then common sense would indicate that severe financial problems will fall on them like a pile of bricks. 

I started attending a good strong Evangelical church when I was converted back in 1978. There were dozens of young people in our Assembly, but only a very small few went to Bible College. None of them were groomed for the position, as far as I can tell. Certainly, when I got converted, I did not expect to go. No one ever encouraged me to go to Bible College. We were encouraged to get involved in the work of the Assembly and attend at the appropriate Lord's Day and midweek meetings. There was much that could be learnt (and was) from the exceptional pulpit ministry.  The ethos of Evangelical Christianity at that time in Northern Ireland was for young people to at least offer themselves for missionary service, but no one leaned on us heavily and (as said) many did not go to Bible College or to the foreign mission field at all. Many stayed at home with no distinct call to go anywhere other than the local Assembly and be a witness there. To this calling, they were as faithful as those who packed bags and went to the Mission Field. It is worth saying here, that Northern Ireland (Population: a mere 1.8 million) has produced an unusually high percentage of Evangelical missionaries, serving all over the world. My point is that this was achieved (under God) without going to Bible College being the norm for young Christians.

There is a danger in grooming children for the ministry or the mission field. My wee lad said when he was five that he wanted to be a preacher like his dad. If he eventually is called to preach, then I will be absolutely chuffed but I refuse (as said) to let the hope father the call. Since then, he has expressed interest in many other things. If he gets off a train, I don't even have to ask him what he wants to be "when he grows up." I can guess. If God calls him to the holy work of preaching, then I will support him as best I can. However, he certainly will not walk through the doors of any Bible College because Dad or Mum pushed him into it. I believe people are distinctly called to Bible Colleges. Not especially groomed. Jeremiah was called to the ministry while still in his mother's womb (Jeremiah 1:5) He appears, however, to have been a young adult when he first became aware of it. 

Just a few thoughts.

Added material: See here for how this kind of thing is being pushed

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