Well, I'm not thinking about packing up everything, moving across the country and going to seminary, but I am thinking about where to pursue my M.DIV while I am pastoring the church that the Lord has stationed me at. I graduated Bible College 13 years ago and decided to walk away from full-time, vocational ministry soon afterwards because the legalistic stench that I had breathed every day for four and a half years while at HAC and GSBC. I enrolled at a computer school for a one year diploma so I could get a fast start at a computer company in the Silicon Valley and move on. But God wouldn't let me. He gave me just enough work at a software company to pay off my technical school bill and then plunged me into seven months of unemployment! It took four years to finally get me into anything remotely close to vocational ministry. Two years later, I became a full time pastor! Six years later, I'm still pastoring, have learned a lot, but I know my education is not sufficient for a lifetime in this calling. My wife is expecting our first child in October, and between then and some time in 2018, my child will be preparing to go to school. That means I have a short window of time to get this Masters degree under my belt before the Christian school bills start piling up. I'm only four years away from 40 and all I have to show for myself in terms of schooling is a piece of toilet paper with some signatures on it.
For the past few years, I have taken several classes online with Veritas School of Theology and will continue to do so working on a Masters in Theological Studies until I finally finish. However, Veritas is not accredited, and I want at least one of my degrees to have some academic respectability behind it. So, what are my options? I can't move anywhere, so I'm limited...
Seminaries with online programs:
Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA - The disgraced Ergun Caner was president. The scandal wasn't handled well. No thanks.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville KY - Most credits can be earned online, but there are internet fees and trips to Louisville on top of my non-SBC status which will cost me more. Al Mohler is their president and they are on the cutting edge of the "New Calvinism" reformation. I'd love to do their program if I chose to go the online route...but it's really expensive!!
Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, PA - Full MDIV online, low cost and there is a scholarship program available to students whose churches are willing to help with the cost. They used to be connected to the GARB, and have moved away from that to more of a conservative Evangelical orb. Because of their past association as a Fundamentalist school, they may not have that much credibility in broader Evangelicalism.
Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas TX - I don't know enough about them theologically to really make that kind of commitment.
Knox Theological Seminary, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. - Only 2/3rds can be earned online. They have a partnership with Logos Bible software and that's all I know about them.
Seminaries Near Me:
Masters Seminary, Sun Valley CA - I would love to go there, but it's too far away and they don't have an online or hybrid program to make it possible. John MacArthur is old fashioned like that.
Golden Gate Baptist Seminary, Mill Valley, CA - They cost about as much as Southern because they are an SBC school. They seem to have an Ed Stetzer-style of missional philosophy. I'd have to drive all the way past the Golden Gate Bridge for classes in the worst of Bay Area traffic.
Western Seminary, Santa Clara, CA - They used to be a Conservative Baptist Association school that has become non-denominational. Their theological approach is to give you the tools and help you come to your own conclusions. They have an extension campus here in the Bay Area (main campus is in Portland, OR) only about 20 minutes drive from where I live. Ironically, they are a stones throw away from GSBC too. Of course, I wasn't surprised that they had never heard of them. :)
Choices, choices...what should I do? Right now, I'm leaning toward BBS if I chose to go the online route. It's the most affordable and most accessible. Although, if I could get some student aid, I'd prefer Southern because I have already appreciated the leadership of Al Mohler. If I decide to go to seminary on campus, I'm leaning toward Western Seminary for several reasons: Being Non-Denominational may open new opportunities in the future and their theological approach fits well with my personality. Don't shove your philosophy down my throat...give me the tools and let me wrestle with it. That appeals to me. Then, I can't help but be drawn by the closeness in vicinity. The price is a little high, but it's not much more than any other accredited seminary.
Is there anyone out there who could recommend another idea?