R.C. Sproul Announces A New Bible College in Central Florida

Orlando, Fla. July 19, 2010 Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul are pleased to announce the undergraduate programs at Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies in Sanford, Florida. The founding of this Bible college establishes a premier center for discipleship and for in‐depth instruction and fellowship in central Florida, united around Ligonier’s core ministry commitments. Applications are being accepted now for Fall 2011 enrollment.

“Ligonier Academy is a Bible college for the next generation that offers a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies, a Bachelor of Arts in Theological Studies, and an Associate of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies,” says founder and president, R.C. Sproul. “I am convinced that if you ground students in biblical truth at the college level, it will capture their thinking for the rest of their lives and enrich the church, and enrich the culture in which we live.”

Ligonier Academy will welcome students with a range of educational goals. Some will lay a foundation for seminary or graduate school. Others will prepare for further undergraduate work by first laying a foundation in biblical and theological studies, while some will complete their college education begun at another institution. Still others will seek personal enrichment and development through structured learning opportunities.

Dr. Fowler White, vice president for academic affairs, explains the academic focus. “Our degree programs are designed to give graduates a thorough knowledge of the Bible, a firm grounding in theology, and a conversance with the classic works of literature, philosophy, and music that shaped the intellectual world within which the great theologians of the church lived and wrote.”

The Academy is now accepting applications for its first two‐ and four‐year undergraduate degree programs, beginning Fall 2011. Faculty includes Dr. R.C. Sproul, Dr. Fowler White, Dr. Keith Mathison, Rev. Michael Morales, and other outstanding teachers such as Dr. Paul Helm, Dr. Stephen Nichols, Dr. Duncan Rankin, and Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr..

Ligonier Academy is committed to the historic Reformed faith as expressed in the solas of the Reformation and in the consensus of confessional standards from the Reformation era. The institution’s doctrinal commitments also include endorsements of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and the Cambridge Declaration of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. The student body of the Academy will represent a broad range of evangelical affiliations. Ligonier Academy is a natural expansion from the ministry’s nearly four decades of teaching Christians to think deeply, critically, and obediently about every aspect of their faith.

About Ligonier Academy
Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies was established in 2009 to provide a destination for in‐depth teaching and learning essential to Ligonier Ministries’ purpose to equip Christians to know what they believe and why they believe it. Founded by Dr. R.C. Sproul, the school offers a Doctor of Ministry program, two‐ and four‐year undergraduate programs, and a distance education Certificate Program. Ligonier Academy is located in Sanford, FL.

Ligonier Academy can be found on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, and Flickr. Follow LigonierAcademy on Twitter or become a fan of Ligonier Academy on Facebook.

About Ligonier
Ligonier Ministries is an international Christian education organization established in 1971 to equip Christians to articulate what they believe and why they believe it. The ministry is home to the Renewing Your Mind with R.C. Sproul radio program, broadcast internationally; Tabletalk devotional magazine, read internationally; The Reformation Study Bible with R.C. Sproul as general editor; Reformation Trust Publishing, the publisher of new titles by Dr. Sproul and other contemporary authors and theologians; numerous teaching series, sacred music, national and regional conferences, an extensive catalog with more than 3,000 unique resources online at Ligonier.org and the Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies, an institution focused on instilling rigorous biblical knowledge in its students.

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31 Comments

  1. D.Philip Veitch said,

    July 21, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    A place where the next generation of leaders will start.

    Hopefully, a return to the Reformed Confessions with a reformation in worship, music, and Psalmified-piety.

  2. rfwhite said,

    July 21, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    1 DPV: A B.A. in Sacred Music is in the pipeline for launch too in the not too distant future.

  3. jeffhutchinson said,

    July 21, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Duncan Rankin is a great addition!

  4. Stephen Welch said,

    July 21, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    I am excited about the future of Ligonier Academy. This is something that the church has needed for a long time. I sat under Dr. Fowler White’s teaching, when I was a seminary student at Knox, and I know that this will be a first rate Academy. May the Lord bless this new work and establish the labour of these men’s hands.

  5. Reformed Sinner said,

    July 24, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Hi, sorry to rob this thread, but since someone talked about a place to learn Sacred Music.

    RFWhite, may I ask you keep me posted on this? I know many church leaders in China that are desperate to send their people out to US to learn about Sacred Music in the Reformed Tradition, this is great news.

  6. rfwhite said,

    July 24, 2010 at 11:20 am

    5 RefSin: sure; will do.

  7. GLW Johnson said,

    July 25, 2010 at 7:37 am

    I do hope that the Dean of this school will not be demonstrating how to do ‘Reformed Rap’.

  8. Richard D. Chelvan said,

    July 25, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Whatever you do, don’t recommend graduates to RTS Orlando! Point them to Westminster, California.

  9. Reformed Sinner said,

    July 26, 2010 at 4:48 am

    #8 Richard,

    Curious…. why not RTS Orlando?

  10. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    July 26, 2010 at 8:58 am

    ..and why WSC?

  11. Tom Albrecht said,

    July 26, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    No comments about RC Jr’s affiliation?

  12. rfwhite said,

    July 26, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    11 Tom A.: In the press release above, R. C. Jr. is briefly identified as one of the teachers in the Bible college programs. On the StudyAtLigonier.org website, he is more fully identified as an adjunct professor of philosophy and apologetics.

  13. Tom Albrecht said,

    July 27, 2010 at 8:22 am

    I meant no comments on this blog regarding RC Jr’s affiliation. Seems that would have raied some eyebrows in certain quarters.

  14. Chris Zodrow said,

    July 27, 2010 at 10:20 am

    An undergraduate seminary? What about learning the liberal arts before launching into a Bible degree? Odd.

  15. Stephen Welch said,

    July 27, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Chris, Ligonier Academy is not a seminary. I understand that the vision was to create a undergraduate program with a Reformed worldview. This is not odd at all. There are a number of good liberal arts college like Covennat College or Geneva College, but Ligonier would be unique in that it is more of a Bible College within the Reformed tradition. There are not many of those out there, so this will be a great resource for the church.

  16. rfwhite said,

    July 27, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    14 Chris Z.: Stephen has it right in 15. This is a Bible college, not a seminary or a liberal arts college.

  17. Chris Zodrow said,

    July 27, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Stephen and RF,
    I get it. You are both sort of repeating my point. And it is still odd, as this runs contrary to the kind of education that those in the reformed tradition have normally pursued. A “bible college” is a, well, fundamentalist approach to education.

    Covenant College is a liberal arts college as is Geneva. The comparison to Ligonier does not hold.

    Just what is Ligonier Academy supposed to be? It will not prepare anyone for any vocation outside of being a Bible teacher or some kind of minister. Lawyers, professionals? Hardly.

  18. rfwhite said,

    July 27, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    17 Chris Z.: Your questions about the vision and mission of the Academy and the goals served by its programs and curriculum can be answered by reading the information on the Academy website and in the downloadable literature provided there. Your comments suggest that you have not yet read that material, and I invite you to do so. If you have additional questions after reading the material, please contact the Academy using the contact information on the website and in the literature. Thanks.

  19. Tom Albrecht said,

    July 28, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Re: #18

    Regarding the mission (to aspiring pastors, missionaries, etc), if I compare the 4 year course for study for the BA in Biblical Studies against, e.g., the 4 year course of study for Covenant Seminary’s M.Div program, I see remarkable similarity (just mask Covenant’s homiletics/counseling courses and your “Great works seminars” and they look almost identical).

    What do you see as the advantage with your Bible school approach to an aspiring pastor looking for a call in the PCA or OPC?

  20. rfwhite said,

    July 28, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    19 Tom A: To be sure that we’re not talking past each other, let me point out that the BA programs of Ligonier Academy’s Bible college provide instruction at an undergraduate level, while the MDiv programs at Covenant Seminary and other seminaries provide instruction at a graduate level. The Academy’s BA programs, then, are intended to be preparation for an MDiv program, not a substitute for it. As preparation for an MDiv program, the Academy’s Bible college approach is advantageous in that the fourfold core of its undergraduate curriculum (Scripture, doctrine, church history, and great works) anticipates critical departments in the graduate curriculum of our seminaries and thus affords students additional opportunities to grow still more in knowledge and wisdom in those areas as they move through college and seminary. The Academy’s approach is also advantageous in that it deliberately integrates the study of the great works of literature, philosophy, and music with the study of Scripture, doctrine, and church history. This is done because, though the study of the great works has largely disappeared from undergraduate education today, it was presumed to be part of pre-seminary education in generations gone by (for example, see Archibald Alexander’s curriculum plans for old Princeton). This presumption was rooted in a conviction that the church’s apologetic engagement with the philosophies of man required both a discerning knowledge of Scripture and theology and a maturing knowledge of the history of ideas.

  21. Reformed Sinner said,

    July 28, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Thanks Dr. White:

    As more and more people going into the M.Div. program as a “blank piece of paper” as they say, I wonder if it would be advantageous for them to go through a program such as Ligonier Academy first…..

    Of course that would be mean it’s 8 years of study and nobody has time for that….

  22. Tom Albrecht said,

    July 29, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Dr. White,

    While I’m not an academic (although I played one once in college), my understanding of the main difference between undergraduate and graduate programs is the degree of specialization in the overall program, rather than a significant distinction between individual courses in one over the other.

    E.g., looking at the Ligonier catalog, I would expect that the Greek I-III course content would not be significantly different from that offered by CTS for their M.Div program. What would justify taking the three semesters of Greek at CTS after taking three semester at Ligonier?

    In a traditional undergraduate program, you have a large group of (truly) general requirements and a smaller group of specialization requirements related to your degree area. Once you progress to a graduate level program, you are entirely involved in specialization courses in your area.

    The Ligonier program seems to more closely model the graduate program where you are almost exclusively specialized. While the catalog makes a distinction between core curriculum and specialization curriculum for the BA degrees, the distinction seems artificial in many places. Why, for example, is a course on the Book of Romans in the core curriculum while one on the Theology of Paul is in the specialized? In a traditional undergraduate program, such distinctions are usually quite intuitive.

    The bottom line is that the Ligonier program looks like a graduate (specialized) program for aspiring ministers, rather than a traditional undergraduate program with a broader appeal. At minimum what Ligonier is offering looks like a Bachelors of Divinity degree rather than a BA degree.

  23. D. T. King said,

    July 29, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    E.g., looking at the Ligonier catalog, I would expect that the Greek I-III course content would not be significantly different from that offered by CTS for their M.Div program.

    I’m not sure you understand the difference between College and Seminary level courses, but seminaries presuppose a knowledge of NT Greek at the graduate level. Seminaries do not teach beginning Greek, unless it is offered to new students for remedial purposes or introduction to the language, but credit is not given for it, unless CTS is unique in that respect. Again, a knowledge of Greek is presupposed at the seminary level.

  24. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    July 29, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    I understand Tom Albrecht’s confusion. The M. Div, once upon a time, used to be a B. Div.. Or so I have heard. The classes and difficulty were the same. And Tom is right in other academic areas the basics are covered in the Bachelors and the other more specialized courses in the Masters. I think a part of this is the degraded education in the grade schools. One should get an excellent liberal arts education by the time they leave High School at least. That is they should know Greek, Latin, Logic, Rhetoric and the other usual subjects.

  25. Kurt A. Scharping said,

    July 29, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    My comment is not entirely accurate. See this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bachelor_of_Divinity

  26. rfwhite said,

    July 29, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    22 Tom A.: I share your understanding: specialization is the main difference between undergrad and grad coursework. The Academy is not a traditional university or liberal arts college, but a Bible college focused on biblical and theological studies. This focus is what gives the Academy its similarities to other Bible colleges. The college’s undergraduate instruction will lay a general foundation on which the seminary will build with more specialized instruction.

    You ask about language study at the Academy and a seminary. Bear in mind that it is common practice for those who have taken biblical languages in college to be granted credit in seminary for some or all of their undergrad language coursework. To your question, overall, we anticipate there will be similarities in year one, differences in the breadth and depth of instruction in year two. The differences will ordinarily lead to a student having to take at least one more course in each language in seminary.

    As far as the distinction between core and specializations, the program is in the mold of a Bible college curriculum, which is often preparatory to seminary. The specializations are distinguished very simply by the fact that biblical studies emphasizes biblical-historical background and biblical language study, while theological studies emphasizes historical theology and the relation of philosophy and theology. Romans was made a focus in the core curriculum because of its importance in the formulation of Reformed theology.

    Overall, the Ligonier program is not conceived as, and does not purport to be, a traditional undergrad program with broad appeal. Instead it is a Bible college program with an appeal to four groups: those preparing for graduate education in seminary or otherwise; those desiring a solid foundation in biblical and theological studies before further undergraduate education; those completing an undergraduate education begun elsewhere; and those seeking personal enrichment and development. To those folks, we offer BA and AA degrees with specializations in Biblical Studies and Theological Studies.

  27. Tom Albrecht said,

    July 29, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    RE: #23

    Your point is well taken on that matter of Greek. Perhaps that was a bad example, although I note that beginning Greek is part of the regular 4 year curriculum at CTS. If I had used Hebrew as my example, that might be more apropos.

    I think my other observations are valid, re: specialization vs. general (broader) education. And that Ligonier’s BA program looks more like a B.Div program.

  28. Cris D. said,

    July 30, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Well, I never thought this news would generate so many comments. To the other Chris, as for sequence of programs. Allegedly once upon a time many took the divinity degree prior to the liberal arts degree. This is the stance of the Reformed Episcopal Seminary (formerly in Philadelphia, now in the suburbs of Montgomery County outside Phila). Perhaps most noted graduate of Ref Episcopal Seminary: Jay Adams.

    Not to speak against the new Academy and Mr White, but I would think the BA in Bible at LA would be better suited for folks not planning to go to seminary. It just might be all the post-high school education many need; or it might be the launching pad for those doing further study in Humanities (History, Linguistics etc) or performing arts.

    I think the BA in Bible would be less suitable for pre-seminary students. In fact, many years ago (prior to our lowered expectatins, grade-inflation, etc.) a friend with a BA in Bible from BIOLA was asked by WTS to take the GRE before they would consider his application. I had no such request with a BA in History/Linguistics from a Cal State University.

    Also, without really knocking any of the reformed seminaries, I would have to assert there is no graduate level work done in Greek of Hebrew in order to get the basic M.Div. degree.

    Bottom line- every student gets out of a program relational to what he or she puts into it. Although some may think about the “prestige” of a school or program, in the end, you have to prove yourself with results and a good interview to get the next job or the next school’s admission.

    So I wish the new Academy, its students and faculty well!

  29. rfwhite said,

    July 30, 2010 at 9:03 am

    28 Tom A.: Thanks. Since we’re tracking each other on specialization and generalization, let me add this to clarify: I don’t disagree with you that the Academy’s BA program has much in common with a BDiv program. My point was that the similarities you’ve noticed are generally what distinguishes Bible college programs from what you have described as a traditional undergrad. As a side note, another factor to keep in mind is that there is less and less that is “traditional” about undergrad education these days and less and less that is preparatory to seminary. As a result, time is taken up in seminary to adjust coursework to fit the decline of undergrad education. On Hebrew, I would apply what I said about Greek to Hebrew: there will be similarities in year one, differences in the breadth and depth of instruction in year two. Those differences will usually require a student to take at least one more course in Hebrew in seminary. As always, it depends on a seminary’s Greek and Hebrew requirements.

  30. rfwhite said,

    July 30, 2010 at 9:44 am

    29: Chris D.: thanks very much for your good wishes, and, yes, a student’s undergrad education is one among several factors in preparation for the future. As you suggest, graduates from newer schools such as ours will, generally, have more to prove; hence, additional requirements may come their way. Meanwhile, though commendations of our school are not endorsements of given students, we’re happy to have endorsements from men such as (alphabetically) Dr. Joel Beeke of PRTS, Dr. Bryan Chapell of CTS, and Dr. Joey Pipa of GPTS. Like other schools, we’ll be praying and laboring to do a good work for Christ and His church.


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