Why Reformation Bible College Exists
Posted On June 22, 2017
Reformation Bible College (RBC) is unique, and its mission is urgent: “Above all, know God.” It fills a needed gap among institutions of higher education. Firmly established upon and governed by theological convictions, RBC is unabashedly a Christian college. There are two main types of Christian colleges: liberal arts colleges and Bible colleges. RBC has something exceptional to offer when set against either type. Historically, Christian liberal arts colleges have offered a robust curriculum in the humanities, as well as majors devoted to professions and career paths. Yet their biblical and theological curriculum offerings have not been as plentiful or extensive. For example, colleges and universities belonging to the Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) only require a minimum of six credit hours of biblical or theological instruction. And of course, Christian liberal arts colleges represent a wide swath of theological commitment, with many espousing a watered-down version of core Christian doctrines and beliefs.
On the other hand, there are Bible colleges. One of the accrediting associations to which many Bible colleges belong, The Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), formerly required member institutions to have thirty credit hours of biblical and theological instruction. Recent standards have relaxed that threshold. Historically, Bible colleges have not had robust programs in the humanities and great works. Also, Bible colleges have not tended to be Reformed. Bible colleges trace their roots to the Bible institute movement of the early twentieth century. This movement was rooted in fundamentalism and dispensationalism. As you consider college choices, look at the curriculum. A college may be named Christian and even have a long and fabled reputation, but the curriculum may exhibit little commitment to educating students in the source of truth, goodness, and beauty—in God’s Word and in theology. Yet, we also recognize, as the hymn writer put it, “This is my father’s world.” We look to the classics and to the arts, knowing that “all truth is God’s truth,” and knowing the value of being schooled in the history of ideas.
In light of the landscape of Christian higher education, consider the curriculum at RBC. The core of the curriculum includes hermeneutics, followed by seven courses on biblical survey. There are seven courses on theology, covering all the major topics. There are also seven courses on great works, looking at literature, art, and music from the time of the Greeks to the present day. In the freshman year, there are two courses taught in church history and two courses taught in biblical theology. The senior year has two courses in apologetics. Every student in our four-year degree takes a course on modern philosophy. Why? Because ideas have consequences.
All of these courses are taught from the perspective that a rigorous education, while hard work, is well worth the reward. These courses are taught from the solid foundation of the historic, orthodox, Reformed faith.
Dr. R.C. Sproul designed and implemented this curriculum. It represents the college he would have wanted to attend, and it represents the hallmarks of his long and faithful ministry. If we look outside of Christian universities and colleges for a moment, please consider the words of Martin Luther:
I am much afraid that the universities will prove to be the great gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, and engraving them in the hearts of the youth. I advise no one to place his child where Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not unceasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.
The great universities of Europe and the early universities of America were all founded upon biblical convictions. Those days are long gone. Many of these formerly Christian universities are actually intent on undermining and leveling Christian convictions. But at RBC, we remain committed to “diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures.”
RBC is a Bible college, with a heavy curricular load of Bible and theology courses. It is a Reformed college, with a distinct and clear commitment to the Reformed faith. Finally, RBC places great weight on the classics and on the pursuit of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Taken together, these emphases mean that RBC occupies a unique place in higher education. You could even say that RBC is an experiment in redefining higher education.
While the curriculum is of extreme importance, there is more to a college than the curriculum. RBC is also unique in that for us education is discipleship. We are not simply content with imparting knowledge. We long to see renewed minds and transformed lives. From the beginnings of Ligonier Ministries in 1971, Dr. Sproul was committed to teaching theology for life, recognizing that theology is essential to life and leads to a life of service and worship of the true and holy God. We believe that theology spills out of the classroom and impacts every area of the life of our students. We long for students who will love God with all of their heart, soul, strength, and mind.
The “something more than the curriculum” that truly makes a college worth the expense and the hard work is how it affects your character. Whatever profession you enter, you enter it with your character shaped by your education. At RBC, we believe that who you are is important. We want young men and women of conviction. We want students who will proclaim and contend for the gospel. We want men and women who will have the wherewithal to navigate challenges and opposition, because challenges and opposition will surely come. We want men and women who will humbly, faithfully, and boldly serve the church. In short, at RBC we want to prepare the next reformers.
And that is the second reason why RBC is important. What we do here is urgent. Dr. Sproul has said:
Grounding students in what is good, true, and beautiful through Scripture is one of the most effective ways we can seize tomorrow’s ground for Christ today.
We are not interested in the temporary or the trendy. We focus on the permanent, transcendent, and eternal as we train the next generation for a new reformation. RBC serves a unique place on the horizon of higher education and speaks to an urgent need in both the church and the culture. That is why RBC exists.
Dr. Stephen Nichols is President of Reformation Bible College.