There has been a post circulating on the Internet (you can read it here) of a list of 15 Top Colleges for Studying the Bible which has been attracting a good deal of attention. The criteria used to arrive at this particular ranking are not explained and no institutions outside of the US are listed, so the list is not particularly helpful. So, in order to give potential Bible school applicants a wider perspective of the range of training courses available to them I going to invite a number of faculty members from Bible Colleges in the UK and overseas to share something about what their College has to offer.
The institutions featured in the posts appear randomly, so no “ranking” of any kind is to be implied by their order.
My first interviewee is Dr Pieter Lalleman of Spurgeons College in South London, UK.
1) Please introduce yourself and your role at Spurgeon’s College.
My name is Pieter Lalleman. I am the Academic Dean and also tutor of New Testament at the College.
2) Tell us a little about Spurgeon’s College.
The College was founded by C.H. Spurgeon in 1856 and moved to Upper Norwood in 1923. We now offer a BA in Theology and MTh courses validated by the University of Manchester. We have an MA for people whose first degree is not in theology and we offer the research degrees of DMin, MPhil and PhD (validated by the University of Chester). On Saturdays we offer the ‘Equipped to Minister’ course for lay people in the churches, and we have accredited counselling courses. The latest addition is a general BA for those who just want to do theology in a warm, evangelical environment. The total number of students is almost 1000.
3) Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?
The Higher Education courses are available both full-time and part-time; the others are all part-time.
4) How do Spurgeon’s College students fund their studies?
Many courses are designated so that students can claim student loans and benefits. Often the churches contribute to the training of their members.
5) Does Spurgeon’s College take students from overseas?
Yes, in fact we have a tradition of doing so. We have Highly Trusted Sponsor status so overseas students are welcome.
6) What type of ministry is Spurgeon’s College intended to prepare students for?
We train future pastors and well as lay people for mission and ministry in the UK and overseas.
7) When students leave Spurgeon’s College what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into?
The full-timers normally become ministers, church planters or evangelists. But the majority of students are part-time and they stay in their jobs, better equipped to serve where they are.
8) What is distinctive about what Spurgeon’s College offers compared with other colleges in the UK and overseas?
We are a Baptist college but our staff and students represent the diversity of the churches in London. We are attracting many from Black Majority and Ethnic churches, including busy ministers who never had much training. Our warm atmosphere and London location makes us a natural choice and we have excellent relations with the local churches.
9) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.
The library was fully refurbished recently and is one of the best in the South East. It has the latest technology.
10) Does Spurgeon’s College offer a distance or on-line learning option? If yes, please tell us more about it.
Three of our courses can be taken entirely online: the BA, the Church Training Initiative for lay people and the master’s on Radical Free Church Movements.