Editor’s Note: A separate post called “Seminary Infographics” has been posted that demonstrates some of the data that William and Bart have been discussing.
As a contributor to this site and an unrepentant SWBTS booster, how ought I to respond to William Thornton’s latest post, Just How Are Our Seminaries Stacking Up These Days? It’s a hard question.
“Quickly,” must constitute at least a portion of the answer, since I’m about to board an airplane for Africa.
“Not at all” was an option—perhaps the best one—when considering that a reply probably has as little chance to make any worthwhile contribution as had the original post. The statistics are important. It is a part of my job as a SWBTS trustee to review them, and review them I do. But I review them with a purpose larger than schoolyard bragging and taunting.
“With evidentiary rebuttal” captured my attention briefly. There are many other metrics, all of them available to anyone who wants to look. The CP allocation formula is based upon FTEs, which is pretty much the gold standard in academic measurement. Look at those numbers and you get a different result. But I’m sitting in an airport gate area and it’s just not in the cards for me to put together a substantive reply at this point, nor do I know what that would really serve, other than to further an objective that I do not support: Talking about our seminaries the way that CB Scott talks about football.
But perhaps the best response of all would be “PRAISE THE LORD!”
- If the allegation is that SWBTS has “declined,” well…if you’re the largest seminary in the world, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re going to “decline” from there. It’s a petty and small person who takes anything other than the top slot as evidence of the last gasps of a corpse, especially when new enrollment at SWBTS is up dramatically, with enrollment in the School of Theology alone up 30% over last year.
- Shouldn’t we rejoice that our overall system of seminaries is so much healthier today? Should we pit them against one another, or acknowledge that they are all—all six of them—ours. People who try to exacerbate rivalries between members of the same team are generally members of another team.
- The fact remains that I’d rather have a seminary education from ANY of our six SBC seminaries than from any other seminary in the world.
Several years ago, while I was in Santiago de Cuba on a mission trip, a young Cuban Christian asked me, “Why do your American churches name themselves the way that they do?”
“Huh?” I responded. “I don’t understand.”
“You have a lot of ‘First Baptist Churches, but then it’s ‘Trinity,’ ‘Calvary,’ ‘Harmony,’ etc.”
I pondered what he was saying, contemplating the Cuban manner of having First, Second, Third, Fourth…that is, Primera, Segunda, etc.—the whole numeric chain down to the last Baptist church in town.
I said, “I guess Americans like to be first, and are uncomfortable being anything else.”
“In being this way, you are wrong,” he accused. And I was left with nothing to say.