Continuing Christian Education (economical, Not Necessarily A Degree)
Q: I am wondering if anyone knows of some courses or a program of study at or beyond the Master's level in Christian studies (theology, church history, practical ministry training) that is thoughtfully designed and economical. It need not lead to a degree. Basically, I think about continuing my education every so often, but I am concerned about spending a lot of money on a degree program, especially when I don't think it would have much practical benefit for me (e.g. in the job market). I've already completed an M.
A: in Biblical
Studies (New College Berkeley, 93) and I've been ordained (Crossroads
Bible Church, San Jose, CA). I've been in full-time Christian ministry
for 15 years, and get enough job offers to convince me that I'm in my
current position because I want to be, not because I have to be.
But I've always valued outside input, and I realize that a course of
study provides a kind of accountability and feedback that is helpful to
me. I just don't want to have to spend huge sums of money pursuing it,
Any suggestions -- maybe an unaccredited school that has good courses?
A:In addition to their credit courses, Moody Bible Institute has several continuing education and lay courses, and their course materials continue to be among the best. (Their Scofield Bible course is a classic.) Liberty U. (Falwell's school) also used to have a comprehensive home study course, although I don't know if they're still marketing this. For "headier" stuff, there are always the Institute for Theological Studies courses, used by many seminaries for graduate credit - they may also be available directly from ITS ITS offers a broad range of courses from a theologically diverse perspective (within evangelicalism, of course), and many courses are designed by eminent faculty members at the Cadillac seminaries. There are a few caveats, however. I am nearing the end of a four-year graduate degree at one of the larger seminaries, and in order to facilitate my schedule and get me out of here in four years I've had to take advantage of a few ITS courses. I have taken seven such courses in the last four years, and while some of them have been outstanding, others have been a disappointment. That disappointment had nothing to do with the quality of instructors chosen or rigor of the course; rather, it had to do with the dated material in the reading and lectures. For example, at least two of the courses that I took were designed in the early 70's, and much dialog had taken place in those areas of study over the last 25 years. You'll find in these instances that textbooks go out of print, and study questions and/or exams are all based upon the out of print text(s). This can be a frustrating experience. Incidentally, lest anything think that I jumped blindly into any of these classes, I asked ITS to provide dates of completion for each course that I was considering. Each time I wrote with specific questions, I received a packet of general information in the mail. And since ITS produces a significant number of courses, finding a peer who had taken the course or a professor familiar with it was not always possible.
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