I attended a “preacher’s college.” There is a difference between a preacher’s college and a Bible college. The intended outcome of a Bible college is that students will emerge with a basic, freshman, knowledge of the Bible, both Old and New Testament. To be honest, a graduate of a Bible college has merely an introduction to the sacred text. It is frightening to me that so many ministers of churches are alums of only Bible colleges. Not only do they have a basic, rudimentary, knowledge of the Bible and the history of the church, they have nearly no education in the art of pastoral care or management fundamentals, let alone conflict management.
The same can be said of preacher’s colleges, to a certain degree. The difference is that a preacher’s college intends to graduate, well, preachers. The Biblical content is similar but nuanced to serve students well in the pulpit. In this case students from Bible colleges frequently refer to students from preacher’s colleges as Biblical lightweights. I knew several students at my college who transferred to a well-known Bible college, even though it was unaccredited, because the emphasis at my college was not strict enough to suit them regarding Biblical education. It was presumed that graduates from both types of colleges would move directly into serving churches as fully ordained ministers.
Once I was walking to class through the administrative hall towards the stairway to the second and third floor classrooms when the dean of students and the academic dean stopped me. The dean of students said, “Do you suppose we may graduate a blond Greek preacher some day?” (referring to me.) The academic dean, in my presence, said, “Well, we have some rough edges to wear down but I suppose we will.” The message to me was crystal clear. I was not socially OK enough to be a preacher unless I changed my behavior and, probably, my appearance. Another clear message was that there was some sort of “cookie cutter” notion in their minds about what it meant to be a preacher. In the end the message to me was “I am not good enough.”
Nevertheless, my mind was good enough such that the following year the dean of students became dreadfully ill and was not expected to be able to meet his class. (He taught one in addition to his administrative duties.) The academic dean then called me in and asked me to instruct the Introduction to the History of Western Philosophy for all three quarters. It was a junior level course. Many of my students were, of course, my class-mates. I was able to negotiate this complex set of circumstances but, overall, I was not “good enough” to serve churches. I was not the product of a Sunday School but I did know my way around the streets pretty well.