We talked to our Dean of Theology, Dr Victor Matthews, about the online theology programs that we have just launched. As always, he offered us his candid answers. Read on and scroll below for some videos.
Q: What is the rationale behind our theological offerings?
Warnborough has long been a leader in modern content delivery systems and as one might imagine, the world of theologians and seminaries has remained antiquated longer than other fields. There is a need worldwide for updated content, 21st century systems, and a broadminded ecumenical approach not bound to a specific denomination. Warnborough could not be situated in two more ideal locations for theological exploration. Canterbury is the home of the world’s first Protestant Cathedral and the deep history and culture is ripe for theological studies. Dublin is the capital of a country that was not only one of the first places to receive major missionary attention, but as everyone knows, has seen its share of conflict over religion. The Warnborough Theology Department is founded on the Biblical principles of love, faith, and peace and as such intends to build bridges not walls. Warnborough, in all ways, including technically, historically, philosophically, and geographically could not be better suited to lead a worldwide theological education revolution.
Q: Why should students actually consider Warnborough College?
This department is unique in several fundamental ways. First, the majority of seminaries and biblical studies departments worldwide are attached to certain denominations. This is easier for those operations because it is possible to stabilize their doctrine and pull instructors from within the ranks of their clergy. However, this does not address the complexity and plural nature of modern Christianity. In addition, public university religion departments are not allowed to address specific religions or claim that God is real, being bound by the concept of division of church and state. So, deep theological education is not possible in these major universities. As an independent elite institution, Warnborough can make its own rules. This means that deep theological education is possible, BUT, without bias, with a true openness and non-denominational core. This combination is rare, and when other qualities such as our commitment to high academic standards and a truly international DNA are incorporated, a unique and groundbreaking educational model is created. Imagine the standards and attention to detail of an Ivy League School, delivered through a modern online format, and full of the Holy Spirit as an international non-denominational seminary. That certainly seems to be one of a kind.
Q: What are the benefits of doing this program, and does one need to know much about the history of theology?
Well, for starters this is just the very beginning. History is built into the very fiber of all of it. Biblical History, the Church Fathers, and Bible Authority are cores of the entire system, so there is a heavy historical element already built in. History is perhaps one of my very top specialties, so it runs through everything. In this case, specifically, the Apologetics and Continuity Module is basically all Theological History. But also, we must remember that the MA and PhD are built around Leadership….and this is going to be a draw. People that want to build their leadership and authority will attend this program. It is not general theology or overarching theology or specific biblical studies, it is Practical Theology and Biblical Leadership. So, that is the focus. There are more programs to come. The benefits of the current programs are vast. Practical applicability is almost unheard of out there. The idea of an MA that focuses on raising up strong leaders on purpose, not just intellectual academic pursuits but pragmatic real world programming is fascinating. This underpins the theological prowess of a student but also directs them toward being a better leader and discipling future leaders themselves. Now, the PhD is a different beast. There are only one or two options in the world and with this level of academic rigour mixed with the flexibility and of course the cost, well, there is nothing out there even close. A non-residential serious PhD in Theology is like a unicorn in 2017, and we have about the only one…if you add in non-denominational and all that, well, there just isn’t another one. So, that is huge. But, the Advanced Masters, well, that is a final game changer. No one has even heard of anything like that. It completes the picture.
Q: There’s a rise in atheism, monasteries are closing worldwide, priest-training schools are dwindling. Why now for a theology program?
Exactly that reason. You don’t train soldiers if there is no battle. Why are those things happening? Well, a big reason is a loss of faith because of so-called Christians that espouse hate and divisiveness. Something like the young-earth movement makes the world think that most Christians hold that view and therefore most Christians are ignorant morons. The same goes for race and sex relations as well as politics and so many other fields. The fact is that the majority of Christians are rational, loving people, but that is not what people see. There could be no better time than now for a bridge-building, Spirit-seeking, compassion-filled seminary to take root. Another interesting fact is that although overall numbers of people identifying as Christian has decreased, it is fascinating who those people are. They are the marginal cultural christians, with the lower-case ‘c’…they are indeed dropping off and overall numbers decreasing….BUT….the numbers of hardcore, Spirit-filled, serious Christians is actually rising. For instance, the number of charismatic Christians (those who really feel as though the Holy Spirit operates in power in our time) as an example, has gone from about 100 in 1900 to about 600 million today, and within Catholicism alone, the numbers of those charismatics has gone from maybe twenty in 1950 to 150 million today. So, there is a MASSIVE revolution going on worldwide and it is huge. Sure, the half-hearted folks are falling by the wayside, but the hardcore believers, our potential students? They are growing rapidly worldwide.