In an age where every seminary seems to be corrupt at its core, perhaps the solution to the future of training discerning pastors is not seminary. I have certainly been wondering about this for a while. I have patently waited to watch what opportunities open up. Dr. Russell Fuller, after being fired from Southern Baptist Theologocal Seminary has since opened up his own classroom to teach ancient Hebrew and Old Testament survey courses. This was a positive development in light of what seems to be a market of discerning Christians called to ministry with no institution to provide formal training. While other options exist like Expositors, they are on campus with few locations in the country.
The seminaries of the future will need to be discerning, doctrinally sound, online, and perhaps unaccredited. Founders Ministry has unveiled the Institute of Public Theology. Founders Ministry has been one of the most vocal opponents of Critical Race Theory in the Southern Baptist Convention. They produced the By What Standard documentary. They represent a wing of discerning reformed Baptists.
The founding faculty of the IOPT include Tom Ascol, Voddie Baucham, Jared Longshore, and Tom Nettles. The institution seeks to train pastors and aspiring pastors to be able to proclaim the gospel and influence culture as opposed to letting the culture influence them.
The Christian ministry was never meant to be carried out in a corner. But, the modern world has sought to put it there. Not very long ago, it became common to speak of the freedom of worship rather than the full exercise of religion. Christians may do whatever they would like within the four walls of their church or home, the thought goes, but they may not bring their faith out into the public square.
There has been a great attempt to cutoff various areas of life from the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word. Perhaps there is a sacred place for Christ and His Word, but civil and cultural life must be thoroughly secular. The modern world advocates a pragmatic approach to life, with no sense of or apparent need for transcendent truth. Christians have been far too accommodating. As David Wells has said, “evangelicals believe in the innocence of modern culture and for that reason exploit it and are exploited by it.”
According to their website, they will offer courses in offer course in biblical languages, systematic theology, ethics, philosophy, historical theology, exegesis, cultural apologetics, logic/rhetoric, public theology, and pastoral ministry. From the appearance, it looks like they will forgo New and Old Testament survey courses as well as church management courses in favor of a heavier focus on apologetics.
Founders Ministry noticed the mounting demand for a quality seminary education and decided to fill it by pursuing a less academic approach. This will cut down on cost and provide more targeted training. I certainly approve of this venture and will be monitoring it closely.