Blog Interview – Dr David deSilva – Ashland Theological Seminary

logo 1) Please introduce yourself and your role at Ashland Theological Seminary.

deSilva 1 My name is David deSilva, and I serve as Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary.

2) Tell us a little about Ashland.

Ashland Seminary is a graduate division of Ashland University, a school founded in 1888 by members of the Brethren Church, with roots in German Anabaptist and Pietist movements.  The seminary is currently multi-denominational in scope, with over 700 students coming from about 70 different ecclesial bodies.  We offer Masters-level programs in biblical studies, historical and theological studies, practical theology, and counselling/mental health, as well as the Doctor of Ministry degree.

3) Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?

ATS 2 Students can proceed through any of our degrees essentially at the pace that their other responsibilities allow.  More students are part-time than full-time.

4) How do Ashland students fund their studies?

Most students have outside employment, which they use to fund their program.  Many also seek financial aid through federal grant and loan programs or through their church bodies.  Scholarships are becoming increasingly available thanks to the generosity of donors and the diligence of our development team.

5) Does Ashland take students from overseas?

Ashland has always welcomed international students, both for the privilege of teaching them and for the many ways in which they enrich everyone’s experience here.  Faculty and administration typically go out of their way to make international students feel connected and at home.

6) What type of ministry is Ashland intended to prepare students for?

ATS 1 About one-quarter of our students pursue the Master of Divinity degree, which is required for ordination and full-time ministry in several mainline denominations.  Another third pursue a degree in counselling with the goal of working in the mental health field in either a secular or Christian context, although they are particularly well-equipped to work with clients coming from a Christian world view.  Another quarter pursue a two-year Master of Arts with a view to entering or advancing ministry in a church that does not require the MDiv or to embarking upon some other form of Christian ministry, whether youth work, Christian education, or serving in a para-church context.  About one sixth are enrolled in the Doctor of Ministry program: many of these have already been serving churches for at least several years.

7) When students leave Ashland what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into.

See response to question #6.

8) What is distinctive about what Ashland offers compared with other colleges in the US and overseas?

Student surveys tells us that we do a very good job of teaching them to interpret Scripture, to communicate its challenge in preaching and teaching, and to think through issues theologically.  This is not distinctive, per se, but it is a strong statement about our ability to deliver, as it were, in areas traditionally of great importance for a seminary education.  I would say that our commitment as a faculty not only to the education of our students, but also to their formation as disciples and as Christian leaders, is a distinctive strength of our institution.  Our faculty is wholly committed not only to the disciplines that we teach, but also to the church that our students will serve and to the God to whom we must all give account.

9) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.

We have a solid collection of about 80,000 books and periodicals on campus; a special arrangement with other Ohio libraries called OhioLINK makes virtually any book accessible to faculty and students.  For the occasional, truly arcane monograph there is “Inter-library Loan.”

10) Does Ashland offer a distance or on-line learning option. If yes, please tell us more about it.

We offer as many courses online as we do at any one of our physical locations; increasingly we are opening up “face-to-face” classes to remote populations through such video-conferencing tools as “WebEx.”  We hope to be able to offer complete degrees online (such as the MA in Practical Theology and MA in Biblical Studies) in the very near future.  Students can, however, currently complete more than half of any of our degrees from a remote location.  I personally teach several online or synchronous courses each year.

Blog Interview – Willem J. de Wit – Evangelical Theological Seminary, Cairo

logo 1) Please introduce yourself and your role at Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo.

willem My name is Willem J. de Wit. Born in the Netherlands, I teach Biblical Studies and Systematic Theology at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt.

2) Tell us a little about the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC).

This year we will celebrate our seminary’s founding by American Presbyterian missionaries 150 years ago. The seminary was originally housed on a boat that sailed over the Nile, so that students could combine studying with preaching the Gospel in villages. Nowadays, we have our main campus in Cairo and branches in Minya (250 km south of Cairo) and Alexandria (225 km north west of Cairo). Altogether, there are over three hundred students.

3) What programs does ETSC offer?

faculty
Some ETSC faculty and students in the library of the Center for Middle Eastern
 Christianity. Dr. Michael Parker (sitting) is ETSC’s Director of Graduate Studies.

Currently, our seminary is reviewing its curriculum and introducing new degree names. From fall 2014 onwards, we hope to offer the following degree programs:

  1. Master of Divinity (MDiv): a four year full-time program in Arabic that prepares students for ordination in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Egypt (the “Synod of the Nile”).
  2. Master of Arts in Theology (MAT): a four year part-time program  in Arabic (equivalent to two years full time), offering personal development, equipment for non-ordained ministry, and preparation for further studies.
  3. Master of Theology (ThM): a one year full-time or two year part-time advanced theological program, with specializations in Biblical Studies, Christianity in the Middle East, and Systematic Theology.
  4. Master of Arts in Organization Leadership (MAOL): a three to four year part-time non-theological program in English, combining general and Christian perspectives on leadership and management, offered in cooperation with Development Associates International.

From fall 2015 onwards, we also hope to offer some shorter certificate (non-degree) programs to serve various interests and needs.

4) How do ETSC students fund their studies?

students
ETSC Faculty

The seminary receives financial support both from churches and individuals in Egypt and from abroad, so that tuition fees can be kept relatively low.  For international students we are sometimes able to secure a scholarship.

5) Does ETSC take students from overseas?

Yes, certainly. Our programs in Arabic have drawn students from Sudan, Syria, Iraq, and other Middle Eastern countries. Our advanced program in English has received students from many nations: Norway, Syria, Italy, Korea, India, Sudan, Germany, etc

6) When students leave ETSC what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into?

Some ETSC students in front of the Mohammed Ali mosque
 at the citadel in Cairo.

Graduates of our ordination track usually become pastors in Egypt, especially in villages and in new church plants in ever-expanding Cairo. One recent graduate became a missionary pastor in Iraq and a soon-to-be graduate is currently serving half-time in Gaza. Graduates of our part-time programs usually use their degree to be better equipped for ministries in which they are currently serving
Graduates of our advanced program in English have become full-time or part-time faculty at our seminary and at seminaries in Sudan and in the United States. Some graduates have continued their studies overseas, at institutions like Princeton Theological Seminary and Yale Divinity School. One of them is now the head of our seminary library and another is the chairman of the board of our seminary. International graduates serve as pastors or in other positions in their home countries.

7) What is distinctive about what ETSC offers compared with other colleges in Egypt and overseas?

chapel
Inside the recently renovated chapel of ETSC.

Our seminary is one of the leading centers of Christian theology in the Arab speaking world. As a Presbyterian seminary we have welcomed students from many Protestant denominations and even some from Coptic Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.
For international students, Egypt is a fascinating country: it is the second country of the Bible, has an incredible number of Pharaonic, Coptic, and Islamic monuments, and is the center of the Arab Spring. Compared to most Western countries, life is very cheap. Although mass demonstrations are now less common than during the last few years, our on-campus accommodation makes it easy for students to stay a day at home in case of unrest in the city.

Two types of international students will especially enjoy studying in Egypt at our seminary:

•    students interested in studying Christianity in the context of the Middle East and in an Islamic society;

•    non-native speakers of English who have a TOEFL score that is above 500 but just not high enough to be admitted to most schools in America or Europe—ETSC specializes in offering high quality theological education to people for whom English is a second language.

8) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.

Students of the ordination program
during a conference last September

ETSC has two libraries on its main campus: a general theological library with some 50,000 volumes (half in English, half in Arabic) and a specialized research library in its Center for Middle Eastern Christianity (CMEC).

9) Does the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo offer a distance or on-line learning option. If yes, please tell us more about it.

We offer programs in our branches in Minya and Alexandria. Next academic year we hope to start implementing on-line distance learning.

My thanks to Willen de Wit for his contribution to series. ETSC publishes its own journal, the Cairo Journal of Theology. Please pray for the faculty of students of ETSC.

Blog Interview – Dr Andrew Naselli – Bethlehem College and Seminary

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By Dr Andy Naselli (with Betsy Howard)

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at Bethlehem College and Seminary.

naselli_4490e424ef9416b82053c5d733907002 I serve as assistant professor of New Testament and biblical theology. I teach courses primarily at the seminary-level on Greek exegesis, New Testament, biblical theology, and systematic theology.

2) Tell us a little about Bethlehem College and Seminary.

John Piper, our chancellor and professor of practical theology and biblical exegesis, summarizes our vision: “In every subject of Bethlehem College and Seminary, the ultimate aim is the same: see Jesus as infinitely admirable and share in the Father’s infinite enjoyment of the greatness of his Son, and then be equipped to show it.”
BCS is the organic outgrowth of The Bethlehem Institute (TBI), 
which began as a church-based training center that also offered a two-year graduate-level vocational eldership training program in 1998. In 2009 the TBI Board sensed God’s leading to develop TBI into Bethlehem College and Seminary. 
BCS offers several degrees:
•    A.A. in Christian Worldview
•    B.A. in the History of Ideas
•    B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies with a cross cultural or exegesis concentration
•    B.Th. through our Degree Completion Program
•    M.Div. through our seminary
•    Th.M. through our seminary
And BCS has continued to offer non-credit classes for lay people through The Bethlehem Institute.
Currently 180 students attend BCS.
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3) Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?

All of the degree programs are full-time, but both undergraduate and graduate certificate options exist for students who wish to take courses on a part-time basis.

4) How do Bethlehem College and Seminary students fund their studies?

One of our institutional goals is to keep tuition low so that students can graduate unencumbered by debt. Although BCS does not give any formal financial aid, in effect, every BCS student is receiving a significant scholarship grant because tuition covers only about one-third of the actual cost of providing their education. Currently a year’s tuition in the seminary costs $4,500 and a year of undergraduate tuition $5,540.
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5) Does Bethlehem College and Seminary take students from overseas?

While BCS cannot currently offer international student visas, non-U.S. citizens who have permanent residency status are able to apply for admission. We desire to offer more biblical training to international students in the near future.

6) What type of ministry is Bethlehem College and Seminary intended to prepare students for?

Our M.Div. and Th.M. degrees prepare students for pastoral ministry and further scholarship. Our undergraduate programs prepare students for a variety of secular and ministry vocations.

7) When students leave Bethlehem College and Seminary what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into?

Many seminary graduates have become full-time pastors, church planters, and missionaries. Others have gone on to further study to teach. Our Associates Degree and Bachelors Degree students have pursued teaching, tech work, and further education.

8) What is distinctive about what Bethlehem College and Seminary offers compared with other colleges in the US and overseas?

I’m not sure I’m sufficiently familiar with other colleges in the UK and overseas to answer this question accurately. But one of our distinctives is that we are a church-based school, an arm of Bethlehem Baptist Church. And we are intentionally small so that the professors can invest more in the students. The seminary has a cohort-model that accepts only fifteen students a year, and those students take all their classes together.
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9) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.

BCS just renovated and expanded its library space to over 3,000 ft. BCS students have access to all of its online resources remotely and all of its physical holdings on site. The recent expansion has also drastically increased student study space on campus.

10) Does Bethlehem College and Seminary offer a distance or on-line learning option? If yes, please tell us more about it.

Given BCS’s desire to be church-based with a strong emphasis on discipleship, degree and certificate programs require “in-person” participation. (We provide lay-level theological curriculum for wide distribution through Bethlehem College and Seminary Press.)

My thanks to Dr Andy Naselli and Betsy Howard for taking part in this series of interviews.

Blog Interview – Dr Mike Reeves – WEST

This week we visit Wales to interview Dr Mike Reeves.

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at WEST

I am the Director of Union, a ministry of WEST, and serve on the faculty, lecturing in systematic and historical theology. Previously I was Head of Theology at UCCF

2) Tell us a little about WEST

WEST’s origins can be traced back to the fruit of the Welsh Revival in the early years of the 20th century. It became a fully fledged theological college when it moved to its present campus in 1985. Renamed WEST in 2007, WEST is an interdenominational School, offering degrees in theology through from BA to PhD. We also run an International Foundation Course, which majors on English for Theology, in preparation for the BA. Currently there are just over 100 students registered with us. We would describe our theological stance as contemporary reformed.

We are soon to be announcing the launch of an entirely new product, which will deliver a world –class theological education directly into local church contexts…

3) Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?

We take flexible learning seriously at WEST, so we offer options at undergraduate level in both pace and place. Part-time students can take up to 7 years to complete the BA/BD or 4 years for the Graduate Diploma.

4) How do WEST students fund their studies?

Student loans are available for eligible students taking undergraduate degrees. Many are supported by their churches or friends and family. Others make considerable personal sacrifices to finance their studies.

 

5) Does WEST take students from overseas?

Yes, EU students have free access. WEST can accept Tier 4 visa students and short termers under student visitor visa regulations.

 

6) What type of ministry is WEST intended to prepare students for?

Pastors and church planters, plus many other roles, paid or otherwise, full or part-time, that would benefit from a Bible-centred, theological education. We have a broad range of modules especially on the BA/BD so that students can create a course for themselves that is best suited to them in terms of their previous exposure to theology and ministry, gifting, and intended sphere of service.

7) When students leave what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into.

See above.

8) What is distinctive about what WEST offers compared with other colleges in the UK and overseas?

We teach theology from an evangelical, contemporary reformed perspective. Our concern is to be ‘missional’ recognising that we are located in a post-Christian society where we cannot simply prepare church leaders for traditional, maintenance ministries. Our international, cross-cultural context greatly helps students gain a more global understanding.

9) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.

Photo: Donald Mitchell (WEST Librarian)

WEST’s library is comprehensively stocked with 25,000 volumes and includes a wide range of over 120 print journals as well as a broad range of electronic resources.

10) Does WEST offer a distance or on-line learning option. If yes, please tell us more about it.

Yes, the BA degree is fully available as a distance learning option, which may be taken either full or part-time.  Modules are taught via Moodle, the virtual learning environment through which course materials, readings etc are delivered. Continuous interaction with the study material is encouraged by activities for which the lecturer gives feedback.

We are actively encouraging the formation of learning communities in various places both in the UK and overseas to better enable those who do the programmes by distance learning to reflect together on both their studies and their ongoing experiences of ministry.

My thanks to Dr Reeves for taking part in this series.

Blog Interview – Dr. Dan Wallace – Dallas Theological Seminary

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at Dallas Seminary

I am Dan Wallace, professor of New Testament Studies. I am also the Executive Director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts

2) Tell us a little about Dallas Seminary

DTS was begun in 1924 by Lewis Sperry Chafer and W. H. Griffith-Thomas. Their vision was to have a seminary in which every book of the Bible was taught. That is still part of the curriculum. DTS also does not have an MDiv. Its flagship degree is the four-year ThM. It has especially strong Old Testament and New Testament departments. DTS requires 2 & ½ years of Greek and 2 years of Hebrew for its ThM students. We also have a PhD program and a DMin program, among others. Enrolment is about 2000 students, many of whom are at extension schools or online students.

DTS is an evangelical seminary not affiliated with any denomination. We accept students from all denominations. Its distinctive is its premillennialism, though students do not need to adhere to this doctrine. DTS is a dispensational school, but only one unit on dispensationalism is required.

Many on the outside think that DTS is a fundamentalist school that crams dispensationalism down students’ throats or at least heavily promotes it. This has not been the case in my 39 years of association with the school. DTS has serious scholars who make a contribution in many areas. We have first-rate Old Testament and New Testament scholars, patristic scholars, theologians, church historians, etc. The faculty are members of several scholarly societies including Society of New Testament Studies, Institute for Biblical Research, Society of Biblical Literature, and the Evangelical Theological Society, to name a few.

3) Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?

I’m not sure I understand the question. Courses are courses; students are full-time and part-time.

4) How does Dallas Seminary students fund their studies?

About half of tuition is paid by donors; students have to raise the rest. There is an increasing number of scholarships for students, and full-time students get a discount on courses.

5) Does Dallas Seminary take students from overseas?

Absolutely! A large percentage of our students come from overseas—from South Korea, Kenya, India, China, and about 50 other countries I believe.

6) What type of ministry is Dallas Seminary intended to prepare students for?

DTS chiefly prepares people for full-time vocational ministry—including the pastorate, missions, translation work, and teaching. Many parachurch organizations are populated with DTS grads. We do have courses specifically intended to enrich laypeople.

7) When students leave Dallas Seminary what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into.

See #6.

8) What is distinctive about what Dallas Seminary offers compared with other colleges in the UK and overseas?

The ThM is the most distinctive thing about DTS, with its rigorous requirements in Greek and Hebrew and instruction in every book of the Bible.

9) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.

DTS’s library is excellent. I believe the holdings are about 400,000, and these are focused on the Bible, theology, philosophy, Greek, Hebrew, archaeology, biblical backgrounds, church fathers, etc. Every incoming students gets a large package of Logos Bible software to use during their time at the school. If they graduate, they get to keep it. The library system includes first-rate Interlibrary Loan, several computers with a variety of Bible software loaded in them, excellent resources in German, French, and to some degree Latin, Spanish, and other languages.

10) Does Dallas Seminary offer a distance or on-line learning option. If yes, please tell us more about it.

Yes, it does. But I don’t teach these courses so I can’t speak to this well. I know that we have quite a few Chinese students taking on-line courses and what we offer on-line increases every year.

My thanks to Dr Wallace for taking part in this series.