In the first post in this short series I acknowledged that we are spending a good bit of time, effort, and money to achieve accreditation with the Association of Reformed Theological Seminaries. When I was asked why this matter of accreditation was so important to CBTS, I thought that was a natural, legitimate, and important question. Having briefly mentioned what the reasons for accreditation are not, I now come to speak to what they are.
What the Reasons Are: As I see it, there are three reasons for CBTS to pursue accreditation. Before I state those reasons, let me say that we would not pursue such accreditation if we were shut up to the traditional accrediting agencies. Being accredited by such agencies would entangle us in trying to meet merely traditional, highly complicated, and likely unattainable standards which would distract us from our mission. It is only because an agency like the Association of Reformed Theological Seminaries exists that we are able pursue accreditation. It caters to smaller, conservative, confessionally Reformed seminaries like our own. But given the existence of such an accrediting agency, we are happy to pursue accreditation for the following reasons.
Academic Accountability—Every institution (including both churches and seminaries) is in danger of becoming narrow, provincial, and complacent. Unless institutions make themselves accountable to other like institutions, they may not live up to reasonable operating standards. While CBTS is more than an academic institution, it is nevertheless an academic institution and ought to hold itself to reasonable and accepted standards for such institutions. ARTS’ standards, in our experience and estimation, represent reasonable and accepted academic standards for institutions like ourselves. Thus, accreditation by ARTS is a way of holding ourselves accountable to high but reasonable academic standards and preventing CBTS from becoming complacent, provincial, and thus sub-standard in our practices.
Financial Development—Holding ourselves to customary academic standards provides verification and confirmation to potential donors. This makes CBTS an attractive recipient of their charitable giving. This is not a mere theory. It is, in fact, the strong encouragement we have received from major donors to the seminary which have been an important incentive for us to pursue accreditation.
Student Recruitment—Accreditation is also important for student recruitment. Of course, such accreditation is not important to all of our students, but it is important to a significant number of the students who we recruit. So much is this the case that our plans are to make a major push for student recruitment after we are accredited (as we hope to be) in the fall of 2019. Accreditation by ARTS also provides a further assurance to our students that their degree from CBTS would be accepted for doctoral studies should they wish to pursue such studies.
Conclusion: This is why we are pursuing accreditation at Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary. It is important for ourselves as an institution to hold ourselves to appropriately high academic standards. It is important for the financial development of the seminary in order to provide credibility to present and potential donors. It is important for student recruitment. It provides a proof of academic credibility to potential students.
Dr. Sam Waldron is the Academic Dean of CBTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response.