EBC is committed to a training which is available to anyone and for which the only entrance requirement for full-time study is a clear and credible Christian testimony
The stark reality is that some of the most effective Christian workers of past generations wouldn’t get through the doors of many Bible Colleges today, either because the academic bar for entrance has been raised too high, or the entrance has been narrowed to restrict a great number of people with questionable pasts.
Let me give you three actual examples of the current problem. We’ll call them Steven, Brian and Andrew, though those are not their real names.
Steven has a very chequered past and no academic qualifications to speak of. He left school at the first possible opportunity, and before long developed a substance dependency problem which he still struggles with from time to time, although he is undoubtedly and gloriously saved, with a real passion to reach the lost and marginalised for Christ. However, because the entrance requirements for the Bible College he was interested in were ultimately determined by their secular accrediting university, and he did not have have what was required, he was refused the opportunity of training.
When Brian got converted he wasn’t prepared for the reaction of his wife. ‘You’re not the man I married’, she said and promptly left and divorced him. Andrew has a burden to preach the gospel and disciple believers but was told that because he was divorced, innocent as he was of any sin, there was no way God was going to use him and therefore he couldn’t be accepted for Bible training. I have known others, who, because of divorce or other morally related issues in their past, have been refused admission to Bible College.
Andrew is a quiet, thoughtful person who has no ambitions to be a preacher, missionary or evangelist. He just wants to quietly serve the Lord in his own church, community and place of work. He applied for Bible College and was called for interview but because he made it very clear that he had no call to so-called Christian ministry he was turned down on the basis that Bible College was for those who were called.
Personally I see no biblical warrant whatever for declining any of those men the opportunity to learn and train and yet, for various reasons, the way some Colleges operate today makes such situations all too common.
We live in a broken world and all of us are broken until restored and healed by the Christ of the gospel, and we have no right to sit in judgement on brothers and sisters in whose lives grace is equally – and sometimes more – at work, and deny them such privileges and opportunities.
Edinburgh Bible College has no academic entrance requirements. What we want to see in our full-time students, is a heart for God, for spiritual growth and development and for the lost. However we develop in the future, we will not allow an external body to determine who we accept for training.
Edinburgh Bible College has no legalistic barriers based on a person’s past life. Someone like Steven, to whom I referred above, is going to be able to reach and engage with people I will never easily identify with and if we can help him be more effective in doing so then surely that’s what we exist for.
We want to be accessible as possible. Indeed, so accessible that while students applying for the full on-site training, with all the integrated aspects of community, interactive and intentional mentoring that are involved, will require the commendation and support of their home church, there is no application process for any other course we run – just a registration form that tells us who they are.
Let me give you another, more positive example. Edward applied to join a part-time course on preaching, making it very clear that he had no desire or ambition to ever stand at the front and lead a meeting, let alone preach, but he wanted to benefit from the biblical and doctrinal elements of the course. We were glad to accept him – after all, why would we refuse anyone the opportunity to study the Scriptures? After a while, we gently encouraged Edward to take a turn at leading a short devotional meeting of students and bringing a brief message from the Bible. To cut a long story short, Edward has now given up the business he was running and is Associate Minister in his own church. He is a gifted teacher and preacher.