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.
When I visited seminaries back in 1978 prior to enrolling, I went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary which was touted as the largest seminary in the world. Put together bold-talking Southern Baptists and tall-tale Texans and you’ve got a recipe for some heavy, heavy trash talking. Largest IN THE WORLD! Largest IN HISTORY!
Impressive, though I chose not to attend.
How are things looking these days? Well, it depends on the measure but let’s look at graduates and compare our six seminaries of 2003 with those of 2012:
SBC SEMINARY GRADUATES
Golden Gate 180 249
Midwestern 80 141
New Orleans 448 617
Southeastern 333 333
Southern 409 556
Southwestern 649 455
One wonders exactly what they are touting out at Southwestern these days, the seminary not being the world’s largest, not even the largest in the SBC, not even the second largest in the SBC by this measure. Still, over four hundred grads is a huge seminary; nonetheless, although graduates may vary from year-to-year, SWBTS clearly is a declining seminary. In contrast, Southern is a growing seminary. Someone can play the Calvinist card here if they wish.
I admit to being out of touch with seminaries (see the note below about these figures) and there may be some wrinkle in this of which I am unaware but any way you slice it Southwestern is a declining seminary and New Orleans and Southern are growing seminaries. There are other measures to use in looking at seminaries.
One figure I would like to see is how many graduates of each of these institutions receive a graduate level degree and how many receive an undergraduate degree or diploma.
[Note on source: The source for these figures is the SBC annual reports. I was given the figures by a researcher and have not fact-checked them all. I did check a few by the SBC annuals that I have in my possession. If there are errors or omissions, perhaps a number-geek reader would inform me.]