While there is more than one online bible college to choose from, differentiating between the degrees they offer may be almost impossible at first glance. Looking at current trends, choosing the right online bible college may not be the question so much as choosing the right online degree strategy overall.
The best way to choose an online bible college MAY be to find one where your class work can transfer to existing, reputable online institutions that have actually had real graduates going on to get real online degrees for work or as the basis for future graduate study.
One secular college that offers a variety of online degrees is Thomas Edison State University of New Jersey. It’s the type of distance learning school people write about because it helps people get genuine degrees for much less than the cost of all the Ivy League schools. Joel McDurmon, for instance, writes about how he went from B.A. to Ph.D. for $15,000. He’s not alone. The head honcho for the American Enterprise Institute, Arthur Brooks, did something similar starting with a Thomas Edison degree.
A great online Bible college may be the best for you if it helps you earn a degree at one of these SECULAR schools.
For an online degree to pay off, it must have a great REPUTATION. Just search for the term “online bible college” and the first thing to come up may not be a real college at all.. just some studies that might, at best, be at “advanced Sunday School level”. Ask yourself, have I ever heard of these places before? Unless it’s some place like Liberty University, Moody Bible Institute or some other established school, it’s easy to choose an online bible college that has no real reputation.
In the college world a good reputation usually involves ACCREDITATION via a regional accrediting body just like a “state school” or the Association of Theological Seminaries. Because of the TREND for many “ministers” to be “bivocational” the reality is that your degree should be respectable (if possible) to a large range of potential “secular” employers and not be perceived as simply a “Bible” degree. Ideally your post secondary education will equip you to DO SOMETHING USEFUL and PROFITABLE.
The strategy you should be considering to save money and get a fast start in ministry (and getting or staying out of college debt) may be to plan on attending two schools. Here’s what that means. Take the essential training you need at an Online Bible College of your choice then plan on transferring them as your “electives” to a school like Thomas Edison, South New Hampshire University, or Western Governors’ University. These secular schools have credibility which many Bible colleges (online or offline) may not.
Most online bible colleges require you to take basically the same two year core curriculum as a secular college. While they may have some “Christian” flavor, most likely Algebra will be Algebra wherever one studies, for example! Students attending most graduate work simply repeat bible college course work so even other Christian schools may consider such classes fairly “useless”. So one strategy will be to use your online bible college budget for the BEST online classes for your future training. Discuss with a mentor the best classes for your own future ministry, but in general, the classes that are most essential for real ministry in the near future would focus on or at least include these topics…
Inductive Bible Study. Robert Traina’s updated classic on the topic of studying the Bible is a timeless classic. Asbury seminary’s free online podcast can give you a flavor of what you’re looking for in this field.
New Testament Miracles. The place where secularism and Christianity clash today, besides the content of ethics, is the area of science and miracle. Professor Craig Keener‘s study on Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (2 Volume Set) is the definitive study in this field.
Creation vs. Evolution. This field is explosive but for a Christian biochemical perspective it pays to read Dr. Michael Behe. For a doctrinal perspective one might read MIT grad and theologian C. John Collins’ Did Adam And Eve Really Exist?.
As it turns out, in choosing the best online bible college, you might do better choosing the best online college or distance learning program, taking key courses like the ones above for your future “electives” and selecting a recognized distance learning program that’s both respectable and affordable!