I have a couple of degrees from the Central Baptist Seminary of Minneapolis. I have a few friends there still, so the news that it was merging with another seminary in Iowa (known as Faith in Ankeny) was of interest to me because, among other things, it may provide some of my friends a ticket out of fundamentalism while there is still time.
It has been important for fundamentalism to have various and sundry institutions because, after all, not everybody has the correct nuance on standards. I’ve been to a fundamentalist institution where the girls were allowed to wear jeans (the place has since folded, not surprisingly) and so, you see, there has to be an option for persons with standards which might be . . . more in line with the teaching of Scripture.
I am pretty sure that the merger will not result in anybody wearing jeans to anything but neo-evangelical debates attended out of curiosity, though occasionally on a weekend you may see persons in such habiliment because they’re in a great hurry. But I think it is interesting that the options are narrowing. I remember when the BJU representative came to our high school chapel and pretty much demonstrated by Scripture and reason how it was not God’s will for anybody to go to college at an institution he did not represent. In those days there were a few daring souls who went to a college in Florida called Clearwater (I understand it still exists), but the majority went to the BJU unless they came from neo-evangelical backgrounds and ended up going to Cedarville which resided under a black cloud somewhere in southern Ohio. All this, of course, has been changing, and people have been sending their children to elect universities less and less, it seemed, and more and more to community colleges, State universities, and even to Catholic universities, though I have not heard of any of them attending the BYU. And today, I can’t think any of my friends who would send their children to any of the universities of fundamentalism—and I can think of at least one who is rather baffled at the thought of sending his children to any university, something which ought to be taken into consideration (you might also consider that my friends are also people that frequently come across as a wad of eccentrics).
So the situation has improved. And of course, we are talking about seminaries here, not colleges, which is a different thing. I’m glad they’re merging, if nothing else for the sake of the faculty they can have and what these can provide to the students. At one point at Central we had three faculty with terminal degrees in OT and none with a terminal degree or even an advanced degree in NT, though I believe there were a few students in the ThM program with NT concentrations.
I do wonder what advantage the two campus system gives them: two libraries when the opportunity arises to perhaps achieve one good one? (The glory of Central Seminary—the local youth pastor told me once—is its library. One of the faculty happened to be nearby and he emended the statement to: the glory of Central Seminary is its faculty. He knew that when we had to write a paper we ended up going to Bethel’s library.) The nice thing about getting rid of some administration and perhaps some of the faculty will be the extra office and classroom space, but if you end up with a lot of space you might start thinking . . . two campuses? One of the best things that could happen would be if they put Bauder (now, alas, the president of Central Seminary, but cunning enough to use the opportunity to abolish the role) in the classroom more, especially in the post-graduate classroom.
Well, we alumni will speculate, of course, especially if in our lives we ever want to use our degree for anything else, though it should still count (if you haven’t lost it in the Colombian postal system like I did!). I mean, what if they want to know the standards of the place and they think the looser standards of Faith in Ankeny were those you attended under? That could look bad.
My penetrating question is, however, will the new conglomerate still allow women to pursue and achieve an MDiv? We had girls at Central (not the kind that wore jeans to school, I hasten to add) but I’ve never heard of a girl with an MDiv from Faith in Ankeny.
Oh, I almost forgot! What about the radio station? Will this mean the prolonged death agonies of that venerable institution will finally culminate?