Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Erskine and Biola

In addition to the many other hats I wear, I am a graduate student at Biola University. I point that out for two reasons: first, in the interest of full disclosure, and second, because I believe it gives me unique perspective in this whole Erskine/ARP fiasco.

Time and time again, opponents of the ARP's oversight of their own college and seminary bring up the accusation that the ARP wants to turn Erskine into a Bible college or that if the ARP has their way, Erskine will lose its reputation as a liberal art college, or that integration of the Christian faith with the subjects taught at Erskine is not possible. I find all these scare tactics on the part of the anti-ARPers quite intriguing. And here's why:

Biola (or The Bible Institute of Los Angeles, as it was originally called), has been around for more than 100 years. It was founded in 1908 with money donated by Lyman Stewart, an oilman who also helped to fund the printing and distribution of The Fundamentals, which were used to counter the onslaught of Modernist theology which was gaining momentum at the time. It's interesting to note that what started out as a Bible college has grown into a University.

Biola is not reformed in doctrine, although there are plenty of professors on campus who have reformed sympathies, but one thing they do stress, and I believe they get right most of the time is the integration of the Christian faith with all areas of life. That is, Biola teaches every subject from a Christian worldview. (This includes the sciences.) So it astounds me, being a reformed graduate student at a not-reformed University to hear claims that it isn't possible to teach a certain subject from a Christian worldview, especially when that claim is coming from what is supposed to be a Reformed College! I look around the classes I am in and I see evangelicals from a variety of backgrounds learning philosophy, history, and science as it is taught by evangelical professors! How can this be? I thought it wasn't possible to teach science or philosophy or history or English from a Christian worldview? And yet, here we are, learning these things.

And then there are the accusations that Erskine will become a Bible college. Often, the boogeyman that is brought out to scare folks is "Bob Jones". But, I offer an alternative: Biola. No, I do not want to see Erskine turn into another Bob Jones University, but I really wouldn't mind seeing it become a little more like Biola. After all, Biola for over 100 years has defended the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture, a doctrine, which if you read what certain professors at Erskine say, will only reduce Erskine to a laughing stock, an unaccredited fourth-rate Bible school. But, here is Biola, for over a century upholding the doctrine of inerrancy, and they have never worried about losing their accreditation. And look at some of the scholars and notable alumni that have passed through Biola's halls: Donald Barnhouse (former pastor of Tenth Presbyterian, Philadelphia), John MacArthur (noted pastor and author), Scott Derrickson (Hollywood screenwriter/director/producer), David Kinnaman (President of the Barna Group), John Thune (U.S. Sentor from South Dakota), Michael Long (2008 California Teacher of the Year). Do these men get every aspect of their theology right? Maybe not. But, the point is that this "Bible college" has produced more men and women who have impacted the world for Jesus Christ than Erskine has. And they've done it all while Biola was teaching that Scripture is inerrant, and while Biola taught their subjects from a Christian worldview.

And so, here I am, sitting across the country from Erskine quite puzzled at what I hear coming out of Due West. Science can't be taught from a Christian worldview? Teaching the doctrine of inerrancy will damage Erskine's reputation? Well, my oh my, don't let the faculty and administration at Biola know that! After all, for over a century, they've been quite content doing just that all the while cranking out men and women with well-rounded educations who go on to do great things for God. And I'd hate for that to change.

1 comment:

  1. Please explain your comment that Biola "has produced more men and women who have impacted the world for Jesus Christ than Erskine has." How do you quantify "impact"? You have referenced notable men (no women), but the witness for Jesus Christ by Erskine educated teachers, social workers, scientists, and businessmen/women is relevant and not to be discounted, as they too "go on to do great things for God." Jesus really doesn't look at our degrees, does He? He looks at our hearts and doesn't care about theology.