Advanced MDiv at SEBTS or Standard MDiv at SBTS

Discussion in 'Seminaries, Colleges & Education' started by AlchemyTim, Aug 11, 2017.

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  1. AlchemyTim

    AlchemyTim Puritan Board Freshman

    Good morning, folks--

    I joined the Puritan Board just a moment ago so that I could get you folks to weigh in on this question.

    I'll graduate this December, and I am looking for a seminary to attend. SBTS seemed like a solid choice for theological education. They have a stout faculty-- well published and well reformed. On top of that, SBTS has been hiring outside of their institution, which may help curb the intellectual stagnation on campus. The other plus is I live in the Louisville area. Once again, it seemed like a no-brainer. That was until I reached out to SEBTS. While both seminaries have an Advanced MDiv program, my current degree would enable me to do the Advanced MDiv at SEBTS. SBTS requires languages in their Advanced MDiv program, but I did not take any in my undergrad. This is why an Advanced MDiv w/ SBTS is off the table.

    The biggest difference that I see between an MDiv and Advanced MDiv would be the number of required credits. SBTS requires 94 (that number includes languages), while the Advanced MDiv requires 61 credits. That is, at least, a full year's difference. I would then be looking to do a ThM, but those are future plans. As such, they are tentative.

    Anyways, I wanted to ask you all to weigh in and evaluate with me the academic rigor and theological fidelity of both institutions. I would also note that my elders are helping me navigate through education questions and next steps. We have not yet talked about SEBTS, but I wanted to get info about it first. One of my elders are still in seminary though; the other left SBTS because of other demands.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
  2. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    Hi Tim,

    Several questions arise.
    1. Where did you do your undergraduate study?
    2. What was your major?
    3. Why are you interested in seminary?
    4. Why the desire for an Advanced MDiv track?
    5. Does the SEBTS A-MDiv not require languages? I find that hard to believe...
    6. What do you hope to do with an A-MDiv + ThM?
    7. What sort of financial situation do you presently have? (stable, in flux, etc.)
    8. How would that be impacted at SBTS vs. SEBTS?
    9. What sort of financial aid do you anticipate at either institution?
    10. What do your elders counsel you to do? This is perhaps the most weighty question of all. They know you and care for your soul.

    Grace to you.
  3. AlchemyTim

    AlchemyTim Puritan Board Freshman

    All great questions, reaganmarsh. I'll answer them in the order you posted them.

    1. Don't laugh-- but Liberty University. It was a foolish decision on a number of fronts, but it has helped shape my theology by way of adversity. There are some great brothers and sisters there, but you hear wacky things sometimes that would make me pull my hair out.
    2. I'm a Religion major.
    3. I'm interested in seminary because of a number of reasons. First, if someone is called to pastoral ministry, theological education is necessary. Not to merely "find out who you are," but to shape and sharpen tools that already exist. Two, I did the bulk of my education online. I learn best, like many others, face-to-face. I am an auditory learner, and I would expect seminary to augment what I already have.
    4. The advanced MDiv seems sexier academically-- it looks better on paper. The time aspect is certainly appealing. I was a late-bloomer in life; I am 30 right now. While I do not think that there is an expiration date on the call, I don't want to be the reason why I am not prepared. Does that make sense?
    5. A bit of clarification-- both SEBTS and SBTS require languages. SBTSs A-MDiv requires languages up front, whereas SEBTSs A-MDIV has languages already built into the curriculum.
    6. I don't think that either degree solidifies or confirms a call to ministry. Seminaries merely exist to give further tools to the called. I think both degrees would help augment future (even current) ministries. I've also asked a few friends about bi-vocational ministry. That would look like teaching at a community college while pastoring. This is one way to chase that goal. But even more than that, I now value education and I want to get as much as possible! Goals do not necessarily mean musts. I am evaluating what (I think) I need and moving from there.
    7. My family is in an alright financial state. We have some college debt, but nothing gross outside of that.
    8. If we stayed in the area, we would consider buying a house. If not, we would continue to rent as we have. My wife works full-time; so do I. She is taking her board exam though at the end of the month. If she passes, her earning power effectively doubles. If we moved, her certification follows here. She's fine w/ working while I work part-time and paying for school.
    9. I would receive the SBC cooperative fund discount (SBTS: $288/credit hour; SEBTS: $276/credit hour). I don't know of anything else at this time.
    10. Right. My elders and I have talked a lot about theological education, calling, and more. They acknowledge gifts, and they are stewarding to me opportunities to serve. Both are partial to SBTS, but have been open with me looking at other schools (Beeson, Fuller, etc). I should be more clear that this particular school has not been a topic of conversation yet (I hope I was not misleading). I want to get info that they will ask before I suggest this as an option.
  4. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    I guess I could understand the appeal of Beeson due to the presence of Timothy George and several other faculty. But Fuller is not even really conservative, much less Reformed even though some of their faculty is *very* broadly speaking. I know it isn't an option, but by basis of comparison, you'd be better off going to Liberty's Seminary than Fuller, in my opinion, especially for the M.Div. At least the Liberty faculty is supposed to affirm inerrancy. Fuller ditched that decades ago and has also been the HQ of some of the wildest charismanic teaching and influence along with some of the more deleterious church growth methods. That Fuller would even come up indicates that something is off with one or more of your elders or with your knowledge of the landscape, if not both.

    The only way I could see someone justifying going to Fuller would be for a Ph.D. with some kind of narrow focus that is the specialty of one of their professors.
  5. AlchemyTim

    AlchemyTim Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for that, Pilgrim.

    Please know that the only two options that I am entertaining are SEBTS and SBTS. Can you weigh in on either one of those options?
  6. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    I can't really weigh in on one of those with the degree of intimate knowledge that some would be able to. But if you can get what is ostensibly the same degree from SEBTS that you can from SBTS with less credit hours, (if I understand correctly) I'd ask myself what is missing from the SEBTS curicullum. (Similiarly with the MBTS M.Div of 86 hours or whatever it is that they are advertising.)

    I will weigh in on the definition of "Reformed" though. There's more to it than TULIP. With the retirement of Dr. Nettles, I don't know how many professors at SBTS are reformed if by that you mean someone who subscribes to the 1689 London Baptist Confession that you indicated you affirmed when you joined the board. Many times we get folks joining here thinking that if you can affirm TULIP you can affirm the 1689 or the WCF. The Progressive Covenantalism that is taught at SBTS (which is avowedly a middle way between covenant theology and dispensationalism) and which is apparently increasingly becoming a distinctive of theirs is NOT confessional. They disagree with the confession on the 4th commandment and most of them likely disagree with it on the 2nd. Most of them probably reject the regulative principle of worship if they are familiar with it at all. There is also a distressing trend of Baptists (along with many Presbyterians) observing Lent and various things that would have been unthinkable in previous ages. (I'm not sure how prevalent that is at Southern, but I have seen it among some Calvinistic Southern Baptists.)

    In some ways, these brothers aren't any more "Reformed" than John MacArthur is, and are arguably less so in practice on some issues.

    SEBTS has a good many Calvinistic faculty, but I think they probably have more dispensationalists (Akin is one, and also a 4 pointer) and they also have one of the leading Molinists, etc. So there is likely more diversity there, although it is certainly more Calvinist-friendly than SWBTS or NOBTS.

    I'm not saying that SBTS (or SEBTS) is a bad school. I'm saying that you're going to run into things there that seem more "dispensational" than you'll find represented here and at confessional Reformed Baptist churches. Don't expect to find teaching that is fully in accord with the 1689.
  7. AlchemyTim

    AlchemyTim Puritan Board Freshman

    Right. I would taste this progressive covenentalism in virtually every subject-- NT, OT, even Greek. Some friends who have graduated from SBTS lamented the fact that if you do not fit the mold, you would be met with headaches, at the very least, and opposition (even in grading), at the most.

    Speaking of Lent, Sojourn Community Church has some influence on the campus; it is a large, active church with an incredible seminary following. All campuses practice Lent and Ash Wednesday.

    I have no illusions in finding the perfect seminary. I do expected to find a healthy, confessional church that I can train at wherever I go to seminary. I appreciate care for precision, Pilgrim.
  8. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    That Progressive Covenantalism is becoming as pervasive there as you described is what I've suspected might happen, but I don't know that I've had anyone confirm it in this way before. But it is becoming as associated with SBTS as dispensationalism was with DTS even though a lot of people have never heard of the term.

    The people who are going to tend to be the most disappointed will be the ones who don't have this kind of information going in.

    Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
  9. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

  10. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Senior

    The real advantage of the AMDiv is that it allows you to forego entry level theology and biblical studies courses and instead take some meatier electives. The shorter duration is also a positive, but when it comes to theological education, time shouldn't really be a factor. All things considered, I would choose the program at SEBTS.
  11. AlchemyTim

    AlchemyTim Puritan Board Freshman

    Helpful assessment, Bill. I'm grateful for your contribution!
  12. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    Given Tim's responses thus far, I concur. I'm an SBTS grad. Southern is soteriologically Calvinistic, but PC is the name of the game there. There are a few dispensationalists as well. Drs. Haykin, Hamilton, and Whitney (and perhaps Dr. Wright) are covenantal men. Dr. Mohler affirms the covenant of grace as well, but covenantalism hasn't been much of a focus of his.

    Tim, when I pastored in NC, the state Baptist Convention offered a pretty substantial scholarship to SEBTS (on top of the SBC rate) for ministers serving SBC congregations. Might be something to look into if you go that route.

    Prayed for you tonight, brother.

    Grace to you.
  13. AlchemyTim

    AlchemyTim Puritan Board Freshman

    Reagan, thanks so much for weighing in here.
  14. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    You're welcome. Please feel free to post or PM any other questions which may arise.

    Have a great Lord's Day!

    Grace to you.
  15. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

    61 Credits? Wow. My MDiv at Covenant (96-2000) was 104 Credits. I think it's now approximately 93 or so. Oh, and 20% was languages (I enjoyed Greek much more than Hebrew!). And I'll be honest, that 104 felt like the tip of the iceberg. It's just the beginning. You've got to commit years of preparation for this. And that will not prepare you for the plethora of ministerial situations you'll encounter. Nor the panoply of emotions you'll feel. Start hitting the Psalms now because you're going to need their comfort. Best of providence.
  16. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    If Hamilton (I assume you refer to Dr. James Hamilton) ever was covenantal, he isn't now. He teaches that the OT saints were not indwelt with the Holy Spirit. In his book on the subject published ca 2006, he says that his views on the subject are substantially the same as Ryrie's. If I recall correctly in the intro he says that he anticipated coming to similar conclusions as several Reformed theologians but that he ended up taking a different path. (So perhaps he was more or less covenantal until the middle of the last decade?) His position on the OT Saints and the Spirit would generally be thought of as inconsistent with any form of CT but it is commonly held among dispensationalists and adherents of New Covenant Theology. So if Hamilton ever was a covenantalist, based on this I wouldn't be surprised if he has moved toward Progressive Covenantalism.

    EDIT: Indeed, I see that he endorsed the recent book Progressive Covenantalism:

    "I am convinced that the bull's-eye sits somewhere between covenant theology and dispensationalism and the contributors to this volume aim sure shots at it."
  17. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    Very helpful, brother. Thank you.
  18. Held Fast

    Held Fast Puritan Board Freshman

    As an alum of SEBTS I will state my bias up front - I think its an even better school now than it was when I went, just shortly after the "resurgence." I suggest you stay intentional in connection to confessing Baptist life (i.e. Founders) because you will not be saturated with it on a regular basis. I opted to do a ThM at a different institution, with intention - to broaden my academic exposure and reading. Seminary ought not to be indoctrination, and should be the most "liberal" (in the classical sense) of educations, equipping Ministers of the Word to stand strong not in the safety of an evangelical ghetto, but alone and unafraid behind enemy lines shepherding the flock of God. I'll be praying for you!
  19. Rafe Andersen

    Rafe Andersen Puritan Board Freshman

    I have decided to go with the advanced Mdiv at SEBTS thanks to your post making me aware of it.
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