Luther Rice Seminary

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Luther Rice Seminary

Postby dreamer » Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:15 pm

Hello all,
I am new here and found the forum by googling online seminary degrees. Here is the thing...I am researching distance education programs that are offering an M. Div. I have a year before I can begin, anyway, but would like to have the matter fully researched during that time.
A primary factor is cost. I have taken a couple distance learning classes from Columbia International University and loved them! Their standards are high and I believe it is a well respected degree, but tuition alone for the M. Div. is coming in somewhere around $40,000 for 90 cr. hrs. Plus, travel costs for required intensives, books, etc. In this economy and with my full time job a priority, and a bunch of lay ministry responsibilities, that just isn't going to happen.
I am wondering what you think about these two schools: Luther Rice Seminary and Bethany Divinity College and Seminary.
I did a search and found a lot of older stuff on these two that was not necessarily positive, most of that was five years ago, though. Have either of these improved? I have looked at the backgrounds of the faculty. The faculty at LRS seems to be more diverse educationally than Bethany and many of them hold undergraduate and upper level degrees from schools that I would call Biblically solid; such as CIU, DTS, Cedarville, etc.
There you have it. Could you provide some direction and up to date info on these schools, please? Thanks!
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Re: Luther Rice Seminary

Postby some gobbledygook » Tue Jun 07, 2011 5:27 pm

CIU is indeed respected, LRS less so. I'd encourage you not to think in terms of respectability, but instead of the quality of the education that has built that respect over time. How important is the subject matter to you?

To help with further advice, where do you live, and in which denomination do you plan to serve?
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Re: Luther Rice Seminary

Postby levicoff » Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:21 pm

Welcome to DD, dreamer.

somegobbledygook was spot on - to give you the best feedback, it would help to know your geographic location and denominational (if any) preference. But, based on what you've said about CIU, DTS, Cedarville, I can hazard a guess that you're on the Fundie side as opposed to the flail-around-wave-your-hands-talk-in-tongues Pentecostal side.

So . . .

Bethany? As mickey-mouse as they ever were. Not accredited, and not about to be. Disregard the statement about affiliate status with ABHE that's on their website - it means nothing, and does not constitute accreditation. I classified them as a degree mill years ago (keeping in mind that I differentiate a degree mill, which requires some work but less than legit schools, from a diploma mill, which requires no work at all). Come to think of it, I'm still waiting for the "Doctor of Hoaxology" degree that H.D. Shuemake, their chancellor, promised me some 20 years ago when we had a delightful correspondence debate about the (lack of) legitimacy re: Bethany.

Luther Rice? Not my cup of tea, but I've seen some outstanding scholarship come out of LRS over the years. They're accredited by TRACS - not as good as regional or ATS, but still a DOE/CHEA recognized agency. And if you're in the Cedarville "Sword of the Lord" camp, LRS has a great reputation in that corner of the world.

CIS? Naturally, they're top of the line, both regional and ATS last I checked. If you haven't yet done so, check out Liberty University - they've always had some of the best distance programs around and might be a tad cheaper than CIS. (Or, since it's a few years since I've checked, they might not be.)
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Re: Luther Rice Seminary

Postby dreamer » Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:42 pm

Thank you for your reply. I live in the U.S. (North East) Respectability isn't my ultimate criteria. A Biblically sound education is, though. Everything I read on the LRS website lends itself to the presumption that they are going to provide a quality educational experience through their distance learning option using blackboard. Their cost is about half of CIU. I realize that the two can't be lumped into the same category academically, but, as I said, cost is a factor for me. I will not go into debt to get the degree.
In regard to LRS, I guess that I am just asking does anyone know or have experience as to whether or not they have improved academically over the past 5 years. As I mentioned before, there were several older posts that were less than positive on this board.
My church is non-denominational. My ultimate interest/calling is to be part of the church leadership team bi-vocationally (for now) but after my retirement in 8-10 years to be in the ministry full time.
When I first took a distance education class at CIU I didn't know anything about them except that I liked how they explained their mission to "Know Him and Make Him Known" and that they seemed to take a very thorough approach to educating their students. It was after I began the first class that I grew in respect for the school and how much I learned from them. Much later, I found out that they were/are respected by many in their field.
Thanks for any information/assistance that you can provide!
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Re: Luther Rice Seminary

Postby dreamer » Tue Jun 07, 2011 8:09 pm

[quote="levicoff"]Welcome to DD, dreamer.
But, based on what you've said about CIU, DTS, Cedarville, I can hazard a guess that you're on the Fundie side as opposed to the flail-around-wave-your-hands-talk-in-tongues Pentecostal side. [quote]

Thanks for the welcome! Yes, I guess you would describe me as "fundie." Our church is non-denominational (raising your hand during worship music is not frowned upon, though) and I am still a relatively new beleiver, was saved in this church 12 yrs. ago, and had NO biblical upbringing as a child.

You confirmed that Bethany is not the place for me. I had pretty much decided that already due to what I said in my OP regarding their faculty members' educational background. Thanks for helping me shut that door!
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Re: Luther Rice Seminary

Postby levicoff » Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:55 pm

Okay, if you're a Fundie in the northeast U.S., here are a few more to check into . . .

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Boston area) had some external courses available in the early days of distance ed. Not sure of what they're doing in that realm these days, but it's another Cadillac-level school (and probably charges accordingly).

Don't forget the bastions of fundamentalism - Bob Jones University and Tennessee Temple University. They've also been involved in distance ed for the long haul, though I doubt you could do a totally online M.Div. through any of these.

If you haven't yet looked at it, go to bakersguide.com - After I decided not to revise Name It & Frame It? any more and left the field of Christian distance ed, Jason Baker took over and became a leading authority in evaluating programs. Don't let the fact that he's on faculty at Regent University (Pat Robertson's school) throw you; Jason is actually Reformed in his theology.

And if accreditation is not a major concern to you, check out the schools that advertise in The Sword of the lord, another bastion of fundie-ism. They traditionally ran less ads for degree mills than their Charismatic/Pentecostal counterparts.

Back to Luther Rice . . . I don't know if they are any different today than they were 20 years ago except, perhaps, in terms of available technologies. But when I wrote NIFI circa 1992, LRS was one of the very few unaccredited (at the time) schools that I recommended. They, like any school, will always have their detractors. But if you're not committed to the RA (regionally accredited) model, LRS is as good a way to go as any other, and a halibut better than Bethany.
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Re: Luther Rice Seminary

Postby levicoff » Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:08 pm

Ah, what the hell, since I have a few minutes (for a change), here's what I wrote on both schools in NIFI.

The usual disclaimer: These are from the 4th edition (1995), and the comments were current at the time of publication. I haven't looked at either school in detail since that time (and am not about to due to lack of interest), so I can't attest to their accuracy today, some 16 years later. But, for their historical value...

BETHANY BIBLE COLLEGE AND SEMINARY
2311 Hodgesville Road
P.O. Box 1944
Dothan, Alabama 36302
(206) 793-3189

Bethany's 82-page catalog, which lists a multitude of undergraduate and graduate degrees, initially makes them appear impressive. However, they show many signs of being a degree mill. Sources of faculty credentials are not listed, the chancellor and president appear to be father and son, and their degree requirements are far
short of those at accredited institutions. A listing of adjunct faculty includes, "via video," Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost of Dallas Theological Seminary and evangelist Zola Levitt. However, this is a technique one should be discerning about. I can buy a video cassette of Billy Graham, use it to teach a course, then claim that Billy Graham is on my "adjunct faculty." Definitely questionable. Their catalog also notes, "While Bethany is continuing to build its library, the Houston-Love Memorial Library, which is located in downtown Dothan and houses over 100,000 volumes of books, is available for Bethany students for research. The director of the library has given permission for Bethany students to use the library for their research projects." This claim has several fallacies that demonstrate the need for discernment. First, the Houston-Love Memorial Library is the public library for the city of Dothan. Second, as a public library, its 100,000-volume collection is general in nature and not geared toward the specific needs of theological students. Third, students don't need special permission to use public library facilities for research; by nature, a public library is open to anyone in the public. Finally, students in external programs normally don't use libraries located near the school in which they're enrolled, they use local libraries near their home. A Bethany student in Kansas, for example, might use a library in Wichita or Kansas City; there's no need to use the Dothan library at all, especially one that has a minimal amount of theological works. Bethany claims to be accredited by the American Educational Accrediting Association of Christian Schools (headquartered at the same address as the school itself), and, in an earlier catalog, the Southeast Accrediting Association of Christian Schools, Colleges, and Seminaries, Inc.; the school admits that neither agency is recognized by the Department of Education or CORPA. They note that they are "chartered under the laws of the State of Alabama as a degree granting institution" (which simply means that they're incorporated) and that they are "registered with the Alabama State Board of Education and operates under an exempt status for religious institutions in regards to State license." Other than being grammatically poor, the latter statement simply means that since they are a religious institution, they are exempt from other laws that impact educational institutions and can get away with more than secular schools. Bethany's chancellor, H.D. Shuemake, with whom I've enjoyed an ongoing and somewhat off-the-wall correspondence, notified me about three months after "Name It and Frame It" was released that his association, the American Educational Accrediting Association of Christian Schools, has changed its name to the American Educational Association of Non-Traditional Christian Schools. Shuemake wrote to assure me that the name change was not a result of this book, but because "the name would be more in keeping with their goals and objectives." As Dana Carvey would say as "The Church Lady" on "Saturday Night Live," "How conveeeenient." Bethany advertises or has advertised in Christianity Today, Pulpit Helps, The Biblical Evangelist (no longer published), The Searchlight (the newspaper of the Independent Baptist Fellowship International), and Target (a national newspaper published by Tim Lee Ministries in Garland, Texas, which replaced The Biblical Evangelist).
_______________________

LUTHER RICE BIBLE COLLEGE & SEMINARY
3038 Evans Mill Road
Lithonia, Georgia 30038
(404) 484-1204

One of the earliest Bible schools to enter the external degree market, Luther Rice is accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS), an accreditor recognized by the Department of Education but not by the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation (see discussion of TRACS in Chapter 3). Luther Rice Seminary offers extension programs through the doctoral level, and their graduates include Charles Stanley and Jerry Vines, former presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention. While doctrinally Southern Baptist (though not affiliated with the SBC as a denominational school per se), the school accepts students from any evangelical church. Their credentials have a higher degree of acceptance than other external programs, at least within conservative Christian churches, but students should keep in mind that they're not accredited by a regional association (which will impact whether their credits will be accepted in transfer by regionally accredited schools). Therefore, students should evaluate their career goals carefully and use discernment if considering a Luther Rice degree. Luther Rice appears unlikely to receive regional accreditation, and if the government does not continue to approve TRACS, the seminary will again be unaccredited. I've spoken with educators at accredited schools who believe that Luther Rice's academic standards are below par, but have also seen some credible preachers and scholars who are Luther Rice graduates. Thus, I'm not convinced that they're a blatant degree mill to the extent of many of the schools listed in Chapter 12, but they barely make it into this chapter. Use discernment. By the way, they have recently start ed advertising in the world's best guide to degree mills, Pulpit Helps. No accounting for taste . . .
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Re: Luther Rice Seminary

Postby Jimmy » Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:34 pm

I graduated from Bethany (M.Th. in 1984, Ph.D. in 1991). The school today is much more challenging now than it was then. It is not accredited so if accreditation is not an issue, I would recommend it.

Let me also add that I was able to do much more with my Bethany degree back then and a few years following graduation than I would be today. However, a much better option is the South African Theological Seminary which is very cheap and accredited. Take care.
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Re: Luther Rice Seminary

Postby levicoff » Tue Jun 07, 2011 11:07 pm

Jimmy wrote:I graduated from Bethany (M.Th. in 1984, Ph.D. in 1991). The school today is much more challenging now than it was then. It is not accredited so if accreditation is not an issue, I would recommend it.

Let me also add that I was able to do much more with my Bethany degree back then and a few years following graduation than I would be today. However, a much better option is the South African Theological Seminary which is very cheap and accredited. Take care.

A-ha! I knew that Jimmy was a Bethany grad, so I was curious to see what, if any, input he would have to this thread. :wink:

I must cordially disagree, however, with both of his statements here - Bethany is still a highly questionable school (obviously), so if you're going to go into pastoral ministry on the Fundie side (and, contrary to popular belief, Fundies ae both fun and mental), you'd probably want something that's not open to question. It can do a major number on your credibility.

I would also avoid SATS, for a few reasons: First, dreamer, you mentioned that you're looking for an M.Div. The African schools that have become somewhat popular with our forum denizens generally attract those who are going for theological doctorates, not practical or professional master's. Second, I have always held that graduate-level degrees in helping professions (which includes pastoral ministry) should have some residential component. It's a matter of both responsibility and accountability, and peer/faculty interaction in the course of your degree program is important if you are going to be in a profession in which you will have influence over others. Third, even in an age of distance education, you will never be asked where you "earned" your degree. You will be asked where you went to school. And if you do SATS (or any other totally online program, you will never in good conscience be able to say "I went to..." I'm not trying to be provincial or jingoistic here, but when it comes to a degree in pastoral ministries, if you are an American, stick with a U.S. school.

Just a thought before moving on . . . Check out the master's programs available through the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. I would imagine that they're available by total distance at this point, and the quality of education at Moody has always been top notch. With a stellar reputation. (Disclosure statement: One of my books was published by Moody Press.) They may not do a specific M.Div. externally, but at your age, and with your goals, don't neglect the M.A. option.

Oh, and Jimmy, I still love ya, man. You're warm and fuzzy, even if you are a religious chameleon. (Let the DLT folks have fun with this paragraph.) :mrgreen:
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Re: Luther Rice Seminary

Postby Jimmy » Tue Jun 07, 2011 11:23 pm

Good points, Steve, guess I didn't remember he wanted to earn an M.Div.

My chameleon days are over. Being a Christian Scientist is the most wonderful experience of my life. Too bad I wasn't more objective about the denomination when I would periodically investigate it during the past twenty or so years.
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Re: Luther Rice Seminary

Postby dreamer » Tue Jun 07, 2011 11:58 pm

levicoff wrote:
I would also avoid SATS, for a few reasons: First, dreamer, you mentioned that you're looking for an M.Div. The African schools that have become somewhat popular with our forum denizens generally attract those who are going for theological doctorates, not practical or professional master's. Second, I have always held that graduate-level degrees in helping professions (which includes pastoral ministry) should have some residential component. It's a matter of both responsibility and accountability, and peer/faculty interaction in the course of your degree program is important if you are going to be in a profession in which you will have influence over others. Third, even in an age of distance education, you will never be asked where you "earned" your degree. You will be asked where you went to school. And if you do SATS (or any other totally online program, you will never in good conscience be able to say "I went to..." I'm not trying to be provincial or jingoistic here, but when it comes to a degree in pastoral ministries, if you are an American, stick with a U.S. school.
Just a thought before moving on . . . Check out the master's programs available through the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. I would imagine that they're available by total distance at this point, and the quality of education at Moody has always been top notch. With a stellar reputation. (Disclosure statement: One of my books was published by Moody Press.) They may not do a specific M.Div. externally, but at your age, and with your goals, don't neglect the M.A. option.


While you were probably writing this I was checking out SATS and noticed that they don't offer the type of degree that I am looking for. By the time I got back here you confirmed for me some of the reluctance that I was encountering about pursuing a degree from another continent. I have never thought about an international school, and don't think there is anything wrong with it for someone else...but I always expected that my degree would be earned right here in the good old USA.

I did find a great article by Dr. van Rensburg. Not sure who he is but I loved his take on the opportunities that the Christian church has missed in regard to children. This is my heartcry! It doesn't change my mind about SATS, but it is a great article. You can see it here, if you are interested.
http://www.satsonline.org/content/4-14- ... 2000-years

I will check out Moody. But I almost hate to say this, the more I try NOT to go to CIU, the more my heart is telling me that I belong there. The more that I check out other opportunities, I see that I am likely already "home."

***click ruby red heels 3 times*** "There's no place like CIU, There's no place like CIU." :D

Perhaps, just perhaps, I better get out that Bible I so love to study and take my financial need to my Father who owns "the cattle on a thousand hills....[and] the world, and all its fullness." Ps. 50:10,12

Thanks for the clarification about Fundie's: "Fun and mental." That would be ME! LOL! Thanks so much for all of your input, folks, you are fun to hang around!
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Re: Luther Rice Seminary

Postby levicoff » Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:30 am

Well, then, all I can say is . . . Bravo!

It's refreshing to find someone around "this here joint" for whom cost is not the bottom line. Too many folks out there are looking for the cheapest program rather than focusing on what really counts - comfort with the program model and the institution.

If that's where you're being led, you can't do better than CIS - I've been a Robertson C. McQuilkin fan for years - he always had chutzpah and style. They have the triple crown of accreditation - regional, ABHE, and ATS, and they were an early leader in nontraditional education (read that, pre-online era).

If you go the CIU route for an M.Div., you'll have both a quality degree and a responsible one - the residency requirement, which can be accomplished through short modular courses, will also give you a feeling of actually being a part of the CIU community and ultimately make you a more responsible pastor.

Keep us informed about your journey . . .
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Re: Luther Rice Seminary

Postby dreamer » Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:27 am

Well, when I started out today, (vacation day), I didn't think that I would spend a good part of of it looking at seminaries. When I took my first course at CIU it was about 10 years ago. Online study hadn't hit the scene yet. All of it was done as correspondence. I was saved for only a couple of years at that time and basically learned my lessons and then broke them down to use the concepts to lead kids in a Sunday morning church class. I have always believed that the LORD led me to CIU and blessed me through those courses.
At the time, though, I did not have a B.A. and couldn't move (married with kids) to S.C to attend Columbia. At that time their undergraduate degrees were primarily completed through residency. So I completed my bachelor's locally through S.U.N.Y. Always with the intent that I would use it as a springboard to an M. Div.
The cost of CIU, quite honestly, has troubled me for quite some time. I know that I cannot take on debt to do this. Stupidly, though, I somehow lost trusting in the LORD for His provision in this situation and was leaning on my own understanding. Prov. 3:5-6
Thanks so much for your part in helping me refine this today! The journey is going to be AWESOME. Praise the Lord!!
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Re: Luther Rice Seminary

Postby Tark » Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:40 am

One point of possible interest regarding Columbia International: they currently hold full regional accreditation with SACS, but their accreditation was in a shaky "warning" status between 2008 and 2010, due to a number of issues -- one of which was financial stability. SACS only lifted the warning in December 2010.

In December 2008, SACS denied CIU's bid for 10-year re-accreditation, and placed them on warning. According to Wikipedia, the 2008 warning reflected the following issues:

The Commission determined that it [CIU] failed to demonstrate compliance with Core Requirement 2.11.1 (Financial Resources), Core Requirement 2.12 (Quality Enhancement Plan), Comprehensive Standard 3.2.8 (Qualified Academic/Administrative Officers), Comprehensive Standard 3.4.7 (Consortial Relationships), Comprehensive Standard 3.7.1 (Faculty Competence), and Comprehensive Standard 3.10.1 (Financial Stability) of the Principles of Accreditation."

The first four issues were apparently resolved by 2009. However, continuing issues with Comprehensive Standard 3.10.1 (Financial Stability) reportedly kept the warning in place until December 2010. Since the warning was lifted in December 2010, the issue has apparently been addressed to the satisfaction of SACS.

Given the apparent financial issues at CIU in recent years, the school may not be in a position to provide much financial assistance, even to well-qualified prospective students.
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Re: Luther Rice Seminary

Postby dreamer » Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:52 am

Tark wrote:Given the apparent financial issues at CIU in recent years, the school may not be in a position to provide much financial assistance, even to well-qualified prospective students.


I am glad that they got the issues resolved to the satisfaction of the accrediting agency. The possible lack of financial aid just gives me all the more reason to "dig in" and be determined to see the LORD's provision. "Is anything too hard for the LORD?'" Gen. 18:14 :D

Thanks and God Bless!
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