Penpoint Vol. VI:9 (September, 1995) © Covenant Media Foundation, 800/553-3938
Training for All Believers
By Dr. Greg Bahnsen
Growth and Discipleship
Even as newborn babies are eager for milk, so all believers yearn for the spiritual nourishment of God's word to grow up thereby (1 Peter 2:2). Jesus said that genuine disciples will abide in His word, thereby knowing the truth that sets men free (John 8:31-32). The believer's deep desire is to grow in understanding and submission to God's holy, infallible word.
That is why the Southern California Center for Christian Studies came into existence, setting its eyes on equipping God's people (and challenging the surrounding world as well) to know the Lord better - offering competent and convenient training in Scripture, theology, ethics, and apologetics.
This month marks the study center's fifth anniversary in the ministry of Christian education. From our hearts we all offer great and grateful praise to the Lord for His blessings through this tremendous time of growth.
Students At All Levels
SCCCS has not worked from an expensive campus of bricks and mortar, but offers "external" programs of study which do not require students to relocate to use our services. The study center "opened its doors" in September of 1990, and since that time has served nearly 150 students.
Making use of the extensive taped lectures and sermons by Dr. Bahnsen which are distributed by Covenant Tape Ministry, SCCCS offers correspondence courses which introduce or pursue a wide variety of topics in apologetics, theology, ethics and Biblical studies for any and all believers. These are listed in our catalog (which includes tapes and publications from CTM) - first issued in the summer of 1992, and supplemented in the fall of 1994.
Each course is divided into four sections and offers two hours of personal, one-on-one tutoring in the course material, allowing students to get questions answered and to have their understanding of readings and lectures checked. Students work at their own pace, and the level of instruction is adjusted to each student's needs.
We have graduate students as well as high school students - and everything in between. No college degree is required to take these courses for your own personal benefit. We encourage you to try one and see how much better you can understand your Christian faith and defend it.
Beyond individual correspondence courses for all believers, the study center offers a Masters Degree in Christian Studies - which is the equivalent of the academic work (M.A.R.) offered at most seminaries. Many students have entered this program, whether their aim was the pastoral ministry or other lines of work for which a deeper understanding of Christian faith is useful.
It is no surprise to observe the poor theological and academic quality of seminaries in our day (even some whose histories may have been much stronger). It is also obvious that many men who might like advanced training in theology cannot afford to leave their jobs and move their families, or do not wish to disrupt their current church fellowship. The program at SCCCS is the ideal solution to both of these kinds of drawbacks.
SCCCS is the only Reformed institution offering seminary training which requires the reading of Calvin's Institutes and a mastery of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. We feature thorough and practical training in the presuppositional method of apologetics as taught by Cornelius Van Til. Students are drilled in sound hermeneutics, detailed exegesis, and relevant application of Scripture to the ethical issues of the Christian's daily walk and contemporary culture. Unlike other schools, students are not under pressure to "take shortcuts" on their work to finish on time, but move on only when they have been able to pay attention to all their assignments at their own pace. And the financial cost of courses is remarkably lower than what can be found elsewhere.
Expansion and Spreading the Word
Both our staff and our program offerings have expanded over the last year. SCCCS now offers two further masters degrees (philosophy, apologetics), and in addition to our resident scholar, we now benefit from the services of three adjunct faculty members, a salaried program coordinator, administrative assistant and mailing list manager.
Dr. Bahnsen has been able to teach philosophy courses at Christ College, participate in debates and dialogs (God's existence, Roman Catholicism, gun control), do extensive conference speaking at churches and universities all over this nation and internationally (including two weeks in Moscow), publish numerous articles, finish two full books (with two more at hand), as well as research and produce position papers for a variety of organizations during the five years the study center has been in operation. God has truly blessed our outreach for Reformed theology and challenging apologetics.
In addition, our affiliated distributor of materials, Covenant Tape Ministry, has grown so significantly (22,000 tapes projected in 1995, as well as hundreds of copies of articles and books) that a manager and other part-time help have been brought in to keep up with the work.
The Lord be praised. We sincerely ask for your prayers and donations to continue faithful and strong in this work of "theological training for all believers." We trust our first five years are only the beginning of a good work in the Lord's kingdom, and by God's grace we may have even more reason to thank and glorify His name.