Blog Interview – Dr Calvin Smith – King’s Evangelical Divinity School

logo This week I will be interviewing a Bible training institution that is very close to home as far as I am concerned.

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at King’s Evangelical Divinity School.

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Calvin Smith on Revelation TV

Calvin Smith, Principal and Director of Postgraduate Studies at King’s Evangelical Divinity School (KEDS), Kent.

2) Tell us a little about KEDS.

KEDS was founded in 1990. Originally based in Wolverhampton we were then known as Midlands Bible College. We began as a part-time evening school but eventually moved into distance learning. KEDS offers B.Th. and M.A. degrees, and a Graduate Diploma in Theology, all validated by the University of Chester. We also offer less demanding Bible courses for those not wanting to commit to the requirements of a full degree. All our courses are wholly online.

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

A mixture of both. The M.A. can be taken full/part-time, while the B.Th. is part-time. However it can be completed in as little as four years (a full-time degree is typically three years).

4) How do KEDS students fund their studies?

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KEDS’s first building

Most are self-funding or receive assistance from their churches. The nature of distance learning is such we can keep our prices much lower than attending a university or Bible college (you also save on accommodation fees) and the affordable nature of our courses has been attractive to many students.

5) Does KEDS take students from overseas?

Yes, and our overseas student body is growing steadily. A few years ago about two-thirds of students were British and the rest overseas. Now we’re closer to a 55-45% split and I expect we’ll have equal numbers of UK and overseas within a year or two.

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

We have many students either preparing for or already in full/part-time ministry, but many are also studying at KEDS because they want to be more effective in the lay ministry to which God has called them. There are also people studying Theology at KEDS purely out of interest, or because they want to enhance their knowledge of the Bible.

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

Israel-11 Many are (or become) pastors, or go into different Christian ministries serving as missionaries, evangelists, general Christian workers, and so on. Quite a few KEDS students go on to do higher degrees both at KEDS and elsewhere. Some students use their degree to secure work in the secular world, where a company may be looking for the analytical and other skills acquired through a Theology degree.

8) What is distinctive about what KEDS offers compared with other colleges in England and overseas?

There are four features I would highlight about KEDS. First, our confessional Evangelical position which underpins all we do. We have modules in Evangelical Theology, while KEDS publishes the Evangelical Review of Theology and Politics. Second, we focus very strongly on hermeneutics at KEDS. I don’t know anywhere else in the UK where a whole Bachelor degree focuses on biblical interpretation in this way. Third is our focus on studying Theology by distance learning. Certainly other Bible colleges offer distance learning courses, but this is all we do, something we have focused on and invested in a great deal over many years.

David Williams is a former MA student who
recently came on board as a B.Th. tutor

We work hard on developing our eCampus and looking out for web and IT advances that help ensure our students enjoy the best distance learning experience. Finally, KEDS a Centre for Jewish-Christian Studies for those interested in Jewish ministry.Prospective students do not need to tick all four boxes to study at KEDS; most choose us because they want one or more of these four “distinctives”.

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

As an online school we’ve invested mainly in full-text electronic resources, whether books uploaded to our online library with publishers’ permission, or purchasing multiple full-text journal subscriptions. Our Chester students also have full access to the university library, including online databases and full-text library subscriptions. KEDS also provides students with details of local and online libraries they can access, together with a comprehensive list of websites providing a wealth of theological resources (including your own excellent biblicalstudies.org.uk website). Students may buy a shortlist of maybe a dozen books over their course, but on the whole they get most of their reading through the above options.

Thank you Calvin, for taking part in this series.

Blog Interview – Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. – Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

gcts-logo This week we go the United States for the next in our series of interviews about theological training around the world.

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS).

kaiser My name is Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., President Emeritus (July 2006) of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in S. Hamilton, Massachusetts, USA where I served as Professor of Old Testament and Ethics for four years before becoming President of GCTS for nine years (1997-2006).

2) Tell us a little about GCTS.

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary is a free-standing graduate school that goes back for its beginnings into the 1880s. Two schools came together under Dr. Billy Graham’s leadership in 1969. It offers the M.Div, MA in a number of Biblical, Theological, Missiological, Practical, and Counselling areas. It has some 2100 students and is known for its emphasis on Expository Preaching, teaching of the Bible, counselling,  and Missions.

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

About 60 % of the student body is full time. Others are part-time or among those who take courses “on line” at a distance known as “Semlink.”

4) How do GCTS students fund their studies?

There are a number of scholarships available to both USA citizens and oversea’s students. In addition, all who take a full-time schedule of ten course (30 credit hrs) in a calendar year get an automatic scholarship of $4,500.00 when applied for.

5) Does GCTS take students from overseas?

Yes, we do. Many of our faculty regularly teach in oversea’s schools during the Summer and during their Sabbaticals, so that is another drawing card for many who hear our faculty first hand.

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

GCTS prepares students to be pastors, missionaries, counsellors, teachers of the Word of God, and lay leaders in the Church. We have four campuses: one in Hamilton, Massachusetts, our main campus, CUME in the city of Boston for 50 yrs. now, where the “Center for Urban Ministry Education” teaches in five languages (Portuguese, Spanish, Kamer, American Sign Language, English), which engages the city scene, and two others in Charlotte, North Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida.

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Gordon-Conwell’s Hamilton Campus

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

The pastorate, teaching, advanced study for Ph.D., missions, lay ministry in the work of Christ.

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

GCTS has a heavy emphasis on the Biblical Languages, on preparing students to go on for doctoral work, on teaching, on evangelism and missions. Often our students  will  have studied with the professors who wrote the books studied in other seminaries.

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

GCTS has a library collection well over 200,000 vols. We also have great access to almost a dozen other theological libraries with inter-library loan in the greater Boston area plus advanced Technology research facilities. This is true also at all of our other three campuses in North Carolina and Florida.

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

Yes, this is a great help both to resident students, who are unable because of their schedules to take all the resident classes they need, and to those at a distance. It is called “Semlink” and offers a good selection of courses either for credit or non-credit. Chinese language courses are also available.

My thanks to Dr. Kaiser for taking part in this interview.

Blog Interview – Dr Rick Walston – Columbia Evangelical Seminary

logo This week we travel to the United States to learn about a college that is quite different to those that we have featured so far.

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at Columbia Evangelical Seminary.

148454_1705877132912_7671423_n My name is Rick Walston. I am the president (and one of the professors) of Columbia Evangelical Seminary (see more here). My education includes graduate degrees in apologetics and religion, and I have a DMin, as well as a PhD. I’m also a published author with six books (see more here). I might best be known for my book, Walston’s Guide to Christian Distance Learning.

2) Tell us a little about Columbia Evangelical Seminary.

Established in April 1991, Columbia Evangelical Seminary is conservative evangelical and non-denominational. It offers all level of degrees, i.e., undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral, entirely through distance learning. Over the years, CES has enrolled more than 500 students.

Recently, TheBestSchools.org named Columbia Evangelical Seminary as one of The Top 10 Graduate Programs in Christian Apologetics.

Columbia was established to reach those who cannot afford to leave their jobs to live on a college campus for several years. All course work may be accomplished entirely by mentorship study on-line. Students may be as specific or as broad in their majors as they desire. They may choose one solitary major, such as apologetics, or biblical studies, or counseling, or philosophy, or theology, etc. Or, they may choose an interdisciplinary major in which they combine several disciplines of their choice. Because CES students virtually design their own curriculum, it may be as varied or as specific as the student desires. CES offers majors in many fields, including but not limited to: Arminianism, Apologetics, Bible, Counseling, Calvinism, Christian Philosophy, Comparative Religions, Cults, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Ethics, Evangelism, Exegesis, History of Christianity, Homiletics, Jewish Studies, Leadership, Men’s Ministry, Ministry, Missions, New Testament, Old Testament, Pentecostal/Charismatic Studies, Postmodernism, Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Gifts, Theology, Women’s Ministries, Worldviews, and more. Furthermore, students may custom-design their majors (to be developed between the student and the seminary) to meet the student’s specific needs.

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

WGfullcover Students may do either. Students work at their own pace, taking single classes at a time or multiple classes simultaneously.

4) How do Columbia Seminary students fund their studies?

With CES’s low tuition costs, Associate’s & Bachelor’s $100 per credit, Master’s $110 per credit, and Doctoral at $125 per credit, students do not have to go in debt to earn the degrees they desire. CES is much less expensive than many educational alternatives.

5) Does Columbia Evangelical Seminary take students from overseas?

Yes. We’ve had students from the U.K., South Korea, South Africa, France, Sweden, and Germany, just to name a few.

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

CES has trained pastors, counselors, missionaries, writers, parachurch ministry leaders, and more.

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

Many of our students have gone on to be apologists, counselors, pastors, professors, and writers.

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

CESSgrad First, our programs are entirely off-campus through distance learning. Next, our students work one-on-one with mentors/professors of their choosing. Some students have even brought their own mentors to the program. Of course, CES has to approve the mentors that students bring to their programs, but it can be done. And, finally, students are allowed to design their own programs to meet their own specific needs. For example, one student might design a systematic theology degree in Reformed theology whereas another might design a systematic theology degree in Arminian theology. Students may design apologetics programs based on Presuppositional Apologetics, or Classical Apologetics, or Philosophical or Scientific Apologetics, or any combination thereof. In essence, students may design their programs in any Christian major.

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

Since our programs are all distance learning, we do not have a library. Students are encouraged to tap into local resources wherever they live, and they are instructed how to use the Internet and many of its resources for much of their research.

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

Yes, as stated above, all of our programs are distance learning via on-line. Thus, there are no residency requirements whatsoever.


My thanks to Dr Walston for taking part in this interview series.