Bible college

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Bible college, sometimes referred to as a Bible institute or theological institute or theological seminary, is an evangelical Christian or Restoration Movement Christian institution of higher education which prepares students for Christian ministry with theological education, Biblical studies and practical ministry training.

Bible colleges primarily offer undergraduate degrees, but may also offer graduate degrees, lower-level associate degrees, certificates or diplomas in specialized areas of Christian training where a full degree is not required.


Spurgeon's College, London

Bible colleges differs from other theological institutions in their missionary perspective.[1] In Europe, the first schools that could be classified in this category are St. Chrischona Theological Seminary (affiliated with Chrischona International) founded in 1840 by Christian Friedrich Spittler in Bettingen, Switzerland, and the Pastors' College (affiliated with the Baptist Union of Great Britain) established in 1856 by Baptist Pastor Charles Spurgeon at London in the United Kingdom.

In the United States and Canada, the origins of the Bible college movement are in the late 19th-century Bible institute movement.[2] The first Bible schools in North America were founded by Canadian Pastor A. B. Simpson (Nyack College in 1882) of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and D. L. Moody (Moody Bible Institute in 1887). Many were established as a reaction against established theological colleges and seminaries, which conservatives believed were becoming increasingly liberal and undermining traditional Christian teachings, such as Biblical inerrancy.[3]

The American Bible college movement developed in reaction to the secularization of U.S. higher education. The "Bible institute/college movement" has been described as "a protest to the inroads of secularization in higher education and as a base for the education of lay workers and full-time Bible teachers, evangelists, and pastors".[4] As one historian put it, "It is not a coincidence that the Bible institute movement grew up during the very period when the philosophy of naturalism became prevalent in American education".[5] Between 1882 and 1920, 39 Bible schools were founded in the United States.[6]

In 1995, a campus of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in the United States was established at the Louisiana State Penitentiary following an invitation from the prison warden, Burl Cain.[7] The school has contributed to a significant reduction in the rate of violence in the prison.[8] In 2016, Cain founded the Prison Seminaries Foundation, an organization that has various member seminaries in American prisons.[9]


Bible colleges generally confer bachelor's degrees, most often in biblical studies and various divisions of Christian ministry, pastoral ministry and worship ministry or church music.[10] Some Bible colleges offer degree programs in ministry-related areas that also have secular application, such as Christian education.

Beyond the undergraduate level, some others have established seminaries and graduate divisions.

At some Bible colleges, associate's degrees, diplomas, or certificates are available. These programs are generally designed for laypersons (such as Sunday school teachers) who neither want nor need a bachelor's degree to perform their Christian service, but who desire additional training in such areas as Bible studies or the teachings and practices of their denomination.

Many Bible colleges offer correspondence or online training.[11][12]

Many Bible colleges in the United States and Canada that offer intercollegiate athletic programs are members of the National Christian College Athletic Association or the Association of Christian College Athletics.


The International Council for Evangelical Theological Education was founded in 1980 by the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance.[13] In 2015, it would have 1,000 member schools in 113 countries.[14]


Bible colleges are usually associated with evangelical, conservative, Christian fundamentalist denominations.[note 1] Their primary purpose is to prepare people for roles in Christian ministry.[3] The Bible-centered curriculum is typically supplemented by structured programs of Christian service.[15]

Professor salary and teacher-student ratio[edit]

In the United States the average salary for a full professor at a Bible institute was around $49,000 in 2012. The student-to-faculty ratio is around 13 students to one instructor.[16]

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  1. ^ David Emmanuel Singh, Bernard C. Farr, Christianity and Education: Shaping Christian Thinking in Context, Wipf and Stock Publishers, USA, 2011, p. 173
  2. ^ History: Biblical Higher Education Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine, American Association of Bible Colleges website (accessed November 19, 2007)
  3. ^ a b Bible Schools, in The Canadian Encyclopedia (1st page in online version of article)
  4. ^ Larry J. McKinney, "THE FUNDAMENTALIST BIBLE SCHOOL AS AN OUTGROWTH OF THE CHANGING PATTERNS OF PROTESTANT REVIVALISM, 1882–1920", Religious Education: The official journal of the Religious Education Association, 84:1, 589-605. Page 594
  5. ^ Frank E. Gaebelein, quoted in McKinney (1989:590)
  6. ^ McKinney (1989:599)
  7. ^ Erik Eckholm, Bible College Helps Some at Louisiana Prison Find Peace,, USA, October 5, 2013
  8. ^ Michael Hallett, Joshua Hays, Byron R. Johnson, Sung Joon Jang, Grant Duwe, The Angola Prison Seminary: Effects of Faith-Based Ministry on Identity Transformation, Desistance, and Rehabilitation, Routledge, Abingdon-on-Thames, 2016, p. 234
  9. ^ Grace Toohey, Why is retired Angola warden Burl Cain traveling the world now? Unique non-profit,, USA, May 12, 2018
  10. ^ Michel Deneken, Francis Messner, Frank Alvarez-Pereyre, La théologie à l'Université: statut, programmes et évolutions, Editions Labor et Fides, Genève, 2009, p. 61
  11. ^ Abby Perry, Non-Traditional Seminary Students Are Changing the Church,, USA, January 7, 2020
  12. ^ Christianisme aujourd'hui, École biblique ou fac?,, Switzerland, March 24, 2008
  13. ^ Bernhard Ott, Understanding and Developing Theological Education, Langham Global Library, UK, 2016, p. 23
  14. ^ Brian Stiller, Evangelicals Around the World: A Global Handbook for the 21st Century, Thomas Nelson, USA, 2015, p. 170
  15. ^ a b Bible Schools, in The Canadian Encyclopedia (3rd page in online version of article)
  16. ^ Todd C. Ream, "Protestant Bible Institutes in the United States", in The International Handbook of Protestant Education, ed. William Jeynes, David W. Robinson, Springer, 2012, pp. 123-136.

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