Should I study at the Bible Institute?
Thank you for your interest in the Bible Institute of South Africa.
Whether you are attracted to our LTh, our Christian Leadership part time programme or our Gap-year Christian Foundations programme, our desire for you as a student is the same - To Know Christ and to Make Him Known. With this in mind, BI has four commitments which pulse through the veins of this institution.
First, BI is committed to the authority and inspiration of the Bible. The Bible is not just a helpful book sent by God, but is the standard by which we measure all our belief, practice, ministry principles and kingdom usefulness. This is the heartbeat of every lecture, chapel session, prayer meeting, and decision at BI.
Second, BI is committed to training men and women for Christian ministry. Students leave our campus to serve as pastors, missionaries, evangelists, lecturers, or just active church members. Every class is a grooming opportunity for servants willing to minister in Christ’s church. We maintain a strong link with the church by encouraging our students to be involved in its various ministries for the duration of their time at the Institute. At BI, the Ivory Tower of theology meets the streets of Africa.
Third, BI is dedicated to high academic standards. In our days, educational standards are weakening, curricula are being “dumbed down,” and many institutions hand out almost free qualifications - but not at BI. The rigours of Christian ministry in the real world require men and women who are trained to read and think. Our students get this. (Please note that our one-year Christian Foundation Certificate Course is less intense academically than the LTh, though well-rounded in its overall scope.)
Fourth, this institution is not just an institution; it’s a family. We highly value personal discipleship and mentoring at BI. A godly life is crucial to a sound theological education. BI takes seriously the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy, “train yourself in godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7).
If you are as committed to these our ideals as we are, please get in touch with our registrar, Ms Lorna Bucklow contact us and let’s pray about the Lord’s leading in your ministry career as a student at the Bible Institute of South Africa. You can call +27 (0)21 7884116 to arrange for a coffee visit to the college, we'd love to meet with you.
Dr Karl Peterson, lecturer (pictured above right).
This article was written many years ago but is still relevant:
Am I ready for Theological Training? By Dr. Ernest F. Kevan
“This is a question which everyone ought to ask himself before applying for admission to a training college in connection with Christian service. Perhaps your immediate inward response is, "Do I not go to the college or institute to be prepared? Have I not just to present myself, and then like a piece of soft clay offer myself to be shaped and moulded?" The answer to your question is "No!" Training is not passive but active. You will receive from a training course only as much benefit as you have fitted yourself to take. The value of entering into full-time training is not merely in what the tutors are able to do for you, but what they are able to help you to do for yourself. It will not do, therefore, just to fill in a form of application, and then come 'to be trained'. You need to prepare yourself for entry into a college, whether the academic standards of that college be high or low; whether there be a preliminary entrance examination or not.
I propose to mention six specific points in connection with which you should begin to prepare yourself if you desire to em¬bark upon full-time training.
1. Spiritual preparation
By spiritual preparation I mean that you should know that you are doing God's will. There is no advantage in doing anything, however good in itself, unless you are in the line of God's purpose
for your life. Ask yourself this question: "Why am I proposing to enter upon full-time training?" No college exists just to give 'luxury cruises in learning' to men and women who think they can afford it. Such students are capable of becoming a real hindrance in the life of a college. Before you think of applying for admission to a Bible or missionary college, be sure that you know something of God's will for you. You may not know just where He wants you to serve Him; but you must have the Holy Spirit's conviction wrought within you that, like Paul of old, you have been 'separated unto the gospel' (Romans 1:1).
It is important, however, to remember that having failed in business life does not constitute a qualification for entering the ministry! There are some who, because they have made a bad job of everything else, feel that the Lord is calling them into the ministry. You may take it as a fairly safe rule that if you are no good at your present employment you will be no good in the ministry. Try to read C. H. Spurgeon's lecture to his students on 'The Call to the Ministry'.
2. Mental preparation
How long is it since you left school? How have you been occupied since you left school? These are important questions for you to consider. I know a young man who had been serving in a draper's shop for ten years after he left school, and then God led him to prepare for the ministry. He was truly called of God to this; but, owing to the habits of mind which he had formed dur¬ing ten years behind the draper's counter, he found it very hard going for the first two terms in the college. He had a perpetual headache for nearly six months. It is highly important that, if you have been accepted by a college, you should prepare yourself by gradual increase of mental effort beforehand. This is neces¬sary, whatever may be the academic standards of the college that you propose to enter. Some colleges have an entrance examina¬tion for which you must work. This is useful in giving guidance to the college, but it is even more valuable for your own mind. You should have enough respect for learning, and for the college, to compel you to make yourself as worthy as possible for the trouble that the principal and tutors will take over you.
To be concrete, if you desire to present yourself as an applicant for admission to a college, you must make yourself familiar with the general contents of the Bible. The least you must do is to read the Bible through. If you will not study at home, you certainly will not study at college. Character and mental discipline are the things that count in training.
3. Theological preparation
An even balance is required in regard to theological opinions. The mind needs to be established in the foundational things, but to be nicely poised with regard to those aspects of doctrine upon which legitimate difference of judgment exists. Your theological preparation should therefore be of the sort that inquires. You will need to acquire the open mind for truth, even if it happens to be different from the ideas that you may have previously conceived. Theological bigotry is the greatest handicap from which you can possibly suffer. I think it was Oliver Wendell Holmes who said the mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye: the greater the light shining upon it the more it closes up. Your theological preparation for entry into a Bible college is not that of fixed and immovable opinions or prejudices, but that of general familiarity with the field of theological thought.
No better preparation in this connection can be provided than by reading through some book of systematic theology. Never mind if you do not grasp everything there: indeed, it will be as well to reserve judgment on all controversial subjects at this preliminary stage of your studies. You are just opening your eyes and looking at the delectable country through which you will later have to travel with much labour. As a suggestion, I would recommend you to read Rev. T. C. Hammond's handbook, In Understanding Be Men.
4. Practical preparation
One of the first questions you will be asked by an interviewing committee when you apply to enter a training college will be, "What Christian service are you now rendering?" We learn by doing; and it is in the practical work of Sunday school or mission that most of our lessons are learned. Those desiring to enter the preaching ministry must prove themselves in acceptable preaching. Colleges have no use for ornaments: and it is the men and women who by consistent and continued service can show that they mean business who are most likely to gain admission. If you have never done any Sunday school teaching, or open-air preach¬ing, or some other similar form of gospel service you are not properly 'prepared' for entry into a training institution.
Do all that you can, but be careful not to attempt forms of service for which you are obviously not fitted. Use your judg¬ment in these matters. If you find you do not 'get on' at all in either preaching or teaching then you will be well advised to stop and think again before you enter a Bible or missionary college. This practical preparation is all-important.
Remember, too, in this respect, that the consensus of opinion among the people of God is one of the best forms of guidance concerning your practical fitness for special training. Seek the counsel of your minister in this matter: he will very largely be able to present to you the mind of the church concerning your practical abilities.
5. Financial preparation
Little need be said about this, for it is so obvious. You must be in a position to pay whatever fees are required by the authorities of the college you desire to enter. You should find out exactly what is involved in this way. Financial embarrassment can be a great mental burden. While it is true that God calls upon us to live a life of faith, He has also given us sound judgment, and we must exercise this. All this means in brief that if you really feel called to full-time training you will save up for it.
6. Devotional preparation
This is not last because it is least important: nor yet is it last because it is more important. It is here just because something had to be last. All the aspects of preparation of which we have been thinking must be borne in mind proportionately and according to your individual needs. If you are more particularly deficient on any one point, then it may be you must pay special attention in that direction. Keep a balanced view of life all through.
Devotional preparation is extremely important, however, and by this I mean the maintenance of your own spiritual glow. Even in a preparatory period it is so easy to become absorbed in theology or in practical service that you leave the soil of your own soul unfilled and dry. The wise preparation for entry into a Bible or missionary college is to foster your own spiritual life. Those learn most who love most: and the more we love God and His Truth the more apt we shall become in studying it, and the more sensitive we shall be to what the Spirit is teaching us in the Holy Scripture. Remember that intellectual insight depends very largely upon spiritual perception.”
For furthur questions as to your readiness read this article, penned many years ago but still relevant:
Dr. Ernest F. Kevan, a Ph.D. graduate of the University of London, was a Baptist minister from 1924 to 1946 before being called to be Principal of London Bible College, where he labored until his death in 1965