Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Dawn of the First Bible College

By Tiffany Amber Stockton

Last month, I shared about my family's ties to Washington, D.C., as well as some of the elite, including several presidents. If you missed that post, you can read it here: https://www.hhhistory.com/2019/02/the-first-states-first-state-fair-book.html.

A few days ago, I was chatting with various members in my family about higher education and how much change there has been from the original intent of instruction compared to the indoctrination we see today. So, for this month's post, I decided to showcase a few folks who felt the same way in the 19th century.

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Faith, Love, and a Simple Message 

In the United States and Canada, the origins of the Bible college movement are in the late 19th century. The first Bible schools in North America were founded by A. B. Simpson (Nyack College in 1882) of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and D. L. Moody (Moody Bible Institute in 1887). Many were established as a reaction against established theological colleges and seminaries, which conservatives believed were becoming increasingly liberal and undermining traditional Christian teachings, such as Biblical inerrancy.

Albert Benjamin Simpson
When you start to question the validity of the Bible and present the possibility of parts being untrue, you call into question the accuracy of Bible and create the challenge of which parts to believe or which parts ARE true. As a result, the very foundation of the evangelical or Christian faith is shattered.

Albert Benjamin Simpson (A. B. Simpson) was a Canadian preacher, theologian, author, and founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. He had a passion for global evangelism and reaching what he considered to be the "neglected masses" through the spreading of the gospel message. After being inspired at age 16 by a visiting evangelist from Ireland in 1859, Simpson pursued theological training, graduating in 1865 and becoming ordained.

The students of 1894–95 (Missionary Training Institute)
Fifteen years later, after preaching in Canada and the United States, he was called to New York City, and two years after that, he resigned in order to begin an independent gospel ministry to the immigrants. By 1883, a formal training program was in place, and ministers and missionaries were being trained in a multi-cultural context. This school was the beginning of Nyack College, with a mission of reaching "the neglected peoples of the world with the neglected resources of the church."

Dwight Lyman Moody (D. L. Moody) was an American evangelist and publisher who founded the Moody Church, Northfield School and Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, Moody Bible Institute, and Moody Publishers. One of his most famous quotes was, "Faith makes all things possible...Love makes all things easy."

Dwight Lyman Moody
After being raised primarily Unitarian, at age 18, he was converted to evangelical Christianity in his uncle's shoe store, latching onto the message of how much God loved him. Although the established churches weren't too eager to receive him for formal training, Moody continued in his unorthodox manner to spread the gospel to everyone and anyone he met. His easy-going manner appealed to a great majority, and he quickly rose to international popularity. He frequently spoke to crowds of up to 30,000 people, all of them drawn to Moody by his simple approach to the gospel and his compassion for the average individual.

Using "The Wordless Book"
in China
The famous London Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, invited him to speak, and together they promoted "The Wordless Book," with Moody adding a 4th color in 1875. It began with black, red, and white, and Moody added gold to represent heaven. This "book" has been and is still used to teach uncounted thousands of illiterate people, young and old, around the globe about the gospel message. In honor to his evangelistic endeavors, the Chicago Bible Institute was founded, and he was installed as the leader, even though he spent his time preaching around the United States and the world. After his death in 1899, the Institute was renamed the Moody Bible Institute and continues today in the same tradition as when it was founded.

Moody Bible Institute (Chicago)
The American Bible college movement developed in reaction to the secularization of U.S. higher education. The "Bible institute/college movement" has been described as "a protest to the inroads of secularization in higher education and as a base for the education of lay workers and full-time Bible teachers, evangelists, and pastors". As one historian put it, "It is not a coincidence that the Bible institute movement grew up during the very period when the philosophy of naturalism became prevalent in American education." Between 1882 and 1920, 39 Bible schools were founded in the United States, all of them attempting to keep U.S. citizens grounded in faith and the gospel.

Today, the separation between the secular higher education institutions and the Bible colleges has grown only wider. It makes me wonder what it would look like to have someone like A. B. Simpson or D. L. Moody alive today and preaching against the cultural "norms." Would they attract the masses and crowds the same way today as when they were alive in the 19th century? Would the hope and love presented in the simple gospel message appeal to as many today as it did over 100 years ago? What do you think?

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* Did you go to a college or university? What was your motivation? What did you study?

* What do you feel should be the responsibility of the higher education institutions? What should they teach, and what should they NOT teach?

* Would you encourage a teenager today to pursue higher education immediately after or during high school, or would you recommend they wait until they are a little older? Why or why not?

* What was your favorite part about today's post?


Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those childhood skills to become an award-winning and best-selling author and speaker who is also an advocate for literacy as an educational consultant with Usborne Books. On the side, she dabbles in the health & wellness and personal development industry, helping others become their best from the inside out.

She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, along with their two children and two dogs in Colorado. She has sold twenty (21) books so far and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can find her on FacebookTwitterGoodReads, and LinkedIn

1 comment:

  1. My grandson is about to graduate high school. I can see the wisdom in him not going to college immediately because he has no idea what he wants to do with his life at this point. It's silly to waste thousands of dollars paying for the years of indecision. Plus secular colleges put him up close and personal with the whole drinking scene, etc. On the other hand, if he doesn't go to college, life tends to happen when you are trying to decide what to do and he may end up in situations that would delay him getting to college if he decides to! It's such a tough road, but I definitely don't think an 18 year old really knows what they are going to do for life. And I do know that older students are much more settled and determined. How's that for a non-answer?? Haha!