3.14.2006

Talbot School of Theology (Biola)

Tell us about any experiences you might have had at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola.

17 comments:

Rachael & Caleb said...

BIOLA (aka Talbot School of Theology):

This might be the best program in the world for anyone desiring to learn things you NEVER learned at IWU and grow a ton in self awareness before going into ministry, which is something I think you desperately need. I truly think the website will entice you enough...if living close to the ocean in California doesn't. You can get an MA or MDIV in spiritual formation... My only caution is to say that the Spiritual Formation track is the only track I'd advise anyone to take at Talbot. It is led by separate faculty who are amazing, the regular Talbot faculty are way too conservative and will definately bother a Wesleyan!

http://www.biola.edu/spiritualformation/

Hope this helps! Rachael (Wiest) Lund

16.3.06

Scott said...

I thought I might add a few comments here.

In my observation, the Spiritual Formation program definitely has a separate identity and feeling. Both students and faculty in the program seem to cultivate the "separateness" They are even housed in a little cloister of modular buildings located at the very edge of campus. Their general attitude is that regular Talbot students just don't "get it."

Institutionally Talbot appears committed to what they do in Spiritual Formation since it requires all Talbot students to take two courses from the program in their first year.

Regular Talbot students seem evenly split over the usefulness of the Spiritual Formation classes that are required. Those that don't like them seem to do so with passion. Interestingly, it seems that those who like it often switch, so that these early courses are something of a recruiting tool. Those that I have met in Spiritual Formation program (not that many) seem to have a near cult-like devotion to the program and what it teaches. [I say this not as a knock but to suggest that they all seem to really like it--see rachael's comments].

The guru of the program is a Dr. John Coe here is a link to his CV. If you want to get a real snapshot of where he comes from check out the section on what he does at the Rosemead School of Pschology.

John Coe CV

As for the regular Talbot programs. If you are intellectually curious and don't mind the Calvinist flavor (I can't imagine it would more than Gordon Conwell). I'm sure you will like it fine especially if you have Baptist or EV Free background (since these are the two largest bites of the Talbot demographic pie).

Some issues that may be of interest include:

1) The application requires a student to adopt Talbot's doctrinal statement, including eschatology. I recently heard a Talbot professor amusingly talk about the ways students finesse this "problem." The bottom line, many students choose a principled ignorance to Biola's brand of dispensationalism so that they can honestly say they don't disagree w/ the statement. If eschatology is important to you--you might check it out--or maybe not :-)

2) As for politics, if you happen to be a conservative Republican, you won't feel uncomfortable at Talbot; however that wouldn't be true for all schools at Biola (e.g. School of Intercultural Studies--which is much more "liberal" as neo-cons would judge it) So don't think your experiences at Biola would be immune from "liberal" political influences and an occassional rant from a discontented academic who can't stand our current president. (for example, Missiology is offered through ICS not Talbot directly, so there is overlap in who you would get in the classroom).

3) Adam's desire for "community" may be accurate in comparison to Fuller, however, I have heard many Talbot folks comment on its notorious lack of community. Whether that is a real or perceived problem is another issue. The reasons cited were similar--many married students, many commuters etc... Just a thought.

4) Adam's desire for a wife--well, I looked at his photo and I may have a few prospects for him both in and out of Talbot. See me. ;-)

5) Adam's belief that IWU has a better campus---Hmmm unless they've got the new Wesley Dome in Marion, Biola's got it beat from Nov. to April--hands down--the rest of the year may be a toss up to some.

6) Housing--west coast expensive unless you are single and can share with four or five others. La Mirada and neighbors have median homes that runs around $500,000+

7) Freeway access--moderate. Not as good as APU or Fuller. Parking, as with most places, can be a pain.

I hope this is helpful.

Scott said...

adam??

If this isn't really you, let me know, so I can stop linking girls to your page. Considering the number and quality of your posts on your personal blog, I've been describing you as the blogger equivalent to the strong silent type. ;-)

Seriously, I'm not sure I'm tracking with rachael or adam's notions of "conservative" or "liberal" but I think it is unfair to describe Spiritual Formation as "liberal" I hope my previous post didn't give that impression. There is no question that it pushes the boundaries of what would be traditional at Talbot but that has to do with their agressive approach to integrating other disciplines (in particular psychology) into spirituality and character development--not their approach to the Bible.

Talbot's own studies show that Spiritual Formation, in general, addresses a critical (and historic) spiritual development flaw in their traditional program-which is why a basic Spiritual Formation course is required of all students in any program. If anything, my outsider impression is that Spiritual Formation is deeply interested in personal holiness. From that perspective it probably has a much more "Wesleyan" feel to it than traditional Talbot. I would also say that there is no question that if I was struggling with a real, personal spiritual problem, I would much more readily seek out the Spiritual Formation folks than I would the traditional Talbot people I know. In that sense, if a person's goal is come out of seminary equipped for the practical ministry of dealing/counseling people where they are at spiritually, he/she should take Rachael's invitation seriously.

Of course some Baptists (and Wesleyans) I have known believe that psychology is "of the Devil" If that's where you are coming from--I'm sure anything Spiritual Formation does will seem "liberal."

Rachael & Caleb said...

Since I wrote such a short summary of why I love BIOLA I thought I would respond to some of the others comments.

I agree w/ Scott that the Spiritual FOrmation Dept. is very separate from the rest of Talbot. The focus of the classes is extremely different, being much more psychologically and experientially focused. It is the perception of my fellow students that the 2 classes required of all Talbot students in spiritual formation are not a clear indication AT ALL of what the program is like. They are rarely led by the spiritual formation teachers and from what I understand are a little notorious for being disorganized. Though the occasional person has a good experience and transfers to the dept. my understanding is that they kind of give our dept. a bad name. Just my thought.

The formation department is very concerned with fostering community so it only accepts 25 students a year who go through the program as a cohort, experiencing everything together. This is why Talbot probably views us a a cult because truthfully we are a small bunch, and very close. On top of school courses we are required to do a 48 hour silent/solitude retreat every semster, 25 hours of psychotherapy, and 10 hours of Spiritual Direction. Depending on the program you choose one may also be required to go on a 3 week isolation retreat as well (I am scheduled in less than a month to do mine.)

Though spiritual formation is academic my Talbot classes have felt very 'heady' compared to my spiritual formation classes. In my personal journey I have found 'heady' things to lead me toward cynicism rather than faith and so I have had a difficult time in such classes (this would probably be true of any school). The emphasis on sharing our spiritual journey with others in honesty has been monumental in the life of every spiritual formation student.

Finally, the comment I made about Talbot being way too conservative was in reference to my experience in a theology of gender class. I am an ordained minister in the Wesleyan church and am used to experiencing great encouragement from my peers and mentors in my ministry. I was shocked by the attitudes of my classmates toward women--it was like going back to the days of patriarchy. Even the faculty's views on women in ministry seemed very condescending. I greatly struggled with this class. Talbot felt extremely conservative, from the perspective of a woman, compared to the Wesleyan church. This was one of only 3 classes I have taken at Talbot so you can imagine how much it poisoned my view of the program. From a male perspective I am sure Talbot feels different.

Hope this helps anyone interested in attending BIOLA to understand all the angles before you decide to move. I know there is a wide range of experiences at BIOLA, just like there are at IWU.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know/have any insight on Talbot's MA in Philosophy program? I know the Faculty is well-respected, and I like the idea of receiving training in philosophy co-mingled with a theological foundation. Otherwise, what seminaries are recommended as a "stepping stone" for a PhD- not as a fomal minister? Reformed does not bother me and is in fact preferred. Thanks! -clo

Anonymous said...

Yes. It is positioned as a stepping stone to a PhD.

Anonymous said...

I am a graduating student at Talbot who is a bit more of the Arminian Wesleyan persuaision. I can tell you that even though I am not a Calvinist, I have appreciated the high view of God that the Calvinist has. I have learned a lot from Talbot.

Also, the guy that said that the faculty are way too conservative (rachel and caleb) has no idea what he is talking about... if you want conservative, go to Westminster Seminary, The Master's Seminary, etc.

Anonymous said...

To the poster who asked about the philosophy of religion program at Talbot: I earned both the MA in philosophy and MA in theology at Talbot. I don't have anything to compare either program to; I've never taken classes at any other graduate school and I studied a different subject as an undergrad at a secular university.

I can say, however, that the intellectual and spiritual growth I experienced through my philosophical studies have revolutionized my life. I can't imagine even attempting to think Christianly without what I learned in the philosophy program.

The program itself is quite rigorous. It is, frankly, hard and is not something that you will find at most evangelical seminaries. The theology program, on the other hand, is serious but not quite so rigorous. Anyway, my philosophical training so informed and prepared me for theological study that I found that my understanding of most topics was well beyond my non-philosophically trained classmates.

I should also voice my own opinion that Talbot cannot be considered Calvinistic. I don't think most serious Calvinists would recommend Talbot as a place to get a reformed education. A few of the theology faculty members evangelize on behalf of Reformed theology and others strongly lean toward Calvinism. In the philosophy program, however, I don't think there's one Calvinist. That program is overwhelmingly Molinistic. (I personally think that Molinism may prove to be the only true middle ground between Calvinism and Arminianism but most consider it to be a sophisticated brand of Arminianism.)

There is somewhat of a battle (and I don't mean to make that sound more aggressive than it is--battle is too strong a word, but there is some tension) between elements of theology faculty and philosophy faculty over this issue. In truth, there are really just a couple of theology profs who have gone, somewhat, on the offensive against Molinism. I think that they grossly misunderstand the view. (And I've spoke to them about it... after talking to them the only conclusion I could draw is that they're Calvinists and they're not about to be informed by a Jesuit doctrine!)

Anyway, Wesleyans may feel more at home at Talbot than you expect.

Also, regarding the comment about most Talbot students signing off on the doctrinal statement without understanding dispensationalism... guilty as charged. I think that's probably true of most students. They care about the core, sine qua non doctrines of the Christian faith about are seeking spiritual and apologetic training to employ in their ministries. They aren't concerned to divide over an eschatological doctrine that was considered essential during the modernist controversy but is hardly understood among evangelicals anymore.

One faculty member described dispensationalism so broadly and so generally that I doubt any evangelical of any sort couldn't claim to be a dispensationalist in that sense. In the end, I don't think anyone on the faculty on among the students actually care that much about your eschatological view so long as it is plausibly biblical.

Ken Schenck said...

Most traditions have their Shibboleths, some of which are pretty important, other of which don't really matter to anyone anymore it seems...

Thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

[This was originally the second post]

While I am a current student at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, I will be transferring to Biola (Bible Institute of Los Angeles)University's Talbot School of Theology next fall. Biola is located in La Mirada, a suburb of Anaheim, about 30 minutes south of L.A., near the L.A./O.C. border. If you want my perspective on Fuller, check out my comments on it. In summary, I'm leaving Fuller because it is too liberal, too expensive, and has no sense of community. Biola improves tremendously upon each of these areas. While I believe that God sent me to Fuller for a reason this year, I know that He is leading me to Biola.

I don't know what Rachael's statement that the Talbot faculty is "way too conservative" means - in what sense? Is she saying that IWU is liberal? Both IWU and Biola subscribe to Biblical innerancy. IWU is a conservative school, and I don't see Biola as any more theologically conservative as Indiana Wesleyan. Perhaps what she meant to say was that Talbot is not Wesleyan and the faculty teach from a conservative evangelical, modified Calvinist perspective, which is true. However, I grew up Baptist and was a Christian Ministries major at Indiana Wesleyan, yet I loved my time there and learned loads, even though I didn't become a Wesleyan! That said, being a graduate who was heavily influenced at IWU, I have absolutely no problem attending Talbot.

I had heard of Biola last year at IWU through "Christianity Today" and knew that they held to the key doctrine of Biblical innerancy, but I really didn't look into it very much because I had already committed to Fuller - in hindsight I wish I would have.

I absolutely love living in Southern California and know that God wants me here, so when I decided to leave Fuller, I immediately checked out Biola and visited in early January, over the student's Christmas break. Yet even without many students there, I felt the unmistakeable presence of God and immediately knew that He was leading me there, similar to what I felt when I first visited IWU in high school.

While no college can compete with Indiana Wesleyan in my mind (especially in regards to its campus), I see a striking similarity between IWU and Biola. They are 2 of the largest evangelical Christian universities in the U.S. (IWU 3,000/Biola 3,500)and are both solid, conservative schools. While I knew that I would miss IWU, I had no idea how much I would miss the whole college experience - Biola offers me that again.

While I know that Talbot is a much better fit for me theologically than Fuller, Biola also offers me everything I miss at IWU and am lacking here at Fuller - a genuine sense of community, friends my own age, soccer and basketball games, having a meal plan (hey, you try eating Easy Mac every day!), etc. -plus, I plan on meeting my future wife at Biola, God-willing!

And hey, while Talbot might not have a world famous faculty like Fuller, we do have probably the most famous seminary student in America, former tennis star, Michael Chang!

Biola is a non-denominational, conservative evangelical university, with no ties to any denominations. It is very unique in that sense. While Fuller is an inter-denominational school, Biola is a genuine non-denominational school. Before coming to Fuller, I thought inter and non-denominational were the same - now I know they are not. Inter-denominational conveys a much more liberal mindset, joining together all denominations, regardless of how liberal or unbiblical they are. Non-denominational is in a sense, a type of denomination - usually consisting of conservative evangelical churches who have moved away from their respective denominations (Baptist, Pentecostal, etc.) for the sake of evangelism. Most conservative, seeker-sensitive churches, such as Willow Creek, characterize this movement.

As I already stated, I will be transferring to Biola next fall and will pursue my Master of Arts in Christian Education degree (MACE), specializing in youth ministy. I plan on graduating summer of 2008, with the goal of becoming a high school youth pastor, hopefully in Southern California, God-willing!

In closing, if you are set on living in Southern California like I was, I strongly encourage you to check out Biola yourself (www.biola.edu). I hope that these statements were helpful and I pray that you will seek God's guidance in deciding where you will pursue your seminary education.

Take care and God bless!

Anonymous said...

[This was third]

While I am a current student at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, I will be transferring to Biola (Bible Institute of Los Angeles)University's Talbot School of Theology next fall. Biola is located in La Mirada, a suburb of Anaheim, about 30 minutes south of L.A., near the L.A./O.C. border. If you want my perspective on Fuller, check out my comments on it. In summary, I'm leaving Fuller because it is too liberal, too expensive, and has no sense of community. Biola improves tremendously upon each of these areas. While I believe that God sent me to Fuller for a reason this year, I know that He is leading me to Biola.

I don't know what Rachael's statement that the Talbot faculty is "way too conservative" means - in what sense? Is she saying that IWU is liberal? Both IWU and Biola subscribe to Biblical innerancy. IWU is a conservative school, and I don't see Biola as any more theologically conservative as Indiana Wesleyan. Perhaps what she meant to say was that Talbot is not Wesleyan and the faculty teach from a conservative evangelical, modified Calvinist perspective, which is true. However, I grew up Baptist and was a Christian Ministries major at Indiana Wesleyan, yet I loved my time there and learned loads, even though I didn't become a Wesleyan! That said, being a graduate who was heavily influenced at IWU, I have absolutely no problem attending Talbot.

I had heard of Biola last year at IWU through "Christianity Today" and knew that they held to the key doctrine of Biblical innerancy, but I really didn't look into it very much because I had already committed to Fuller - in hindsight I wish I would have.

I absolutely love living in Southern California and know that God wants me here, so when I decided to leave Fuller, I immediately checked out Biola and visited in early January, over the student's Christmas break. Yet even without many students there, I felt the unmistakeable presence of God and immediately knew that He was leading me there, similar to what I felt when I first visited IWU in high school.

While no college can compete with Indiana Wesleyan in my mind (especially in regards to its campus), I see a striking similarity between IWU and Biola. They are 2 of the largest evangelical Christian universities in the U.S. (IWU 3,000/Biola 3,500)and are both solid, conservative schools. While I knew that I would miss IWU, I had no idea how much I would miss the whole college experience - Biola offers me that again.

While I know that Talbot is a much better fit for me theologically than Fuller, Biola also offers me everything I miss at IWU and am lacking here at Fuller - a genuine sense of community, friends my own age, soccer and basketball games, having a meal plan (hey, you try eating Easy Mac every day!), etc. -plus, I plan on meeting my future wife at Biola, God-willing!

And hey, while Talbot might not have a world famous faculty like Fuller, we do have probably the most famous seminary student in America, former tennis star, Michael Chang!

Biola is a non-denominational, conservative evangelical university, with no ties to any denominations. It is very unique in that sense. While Fuller is an inter-denominational school, Biola is a genuine non-denominational school. Before coming to Fuller, I thought inter and non-denominational were the same - now I know they are not. Inter-denominational conveys a much more liberal mindset, joining together all denominations, regardless of how liberal or unbiblical they are. Non-denominational is in a sense, a type of denomination - usually consisting of conservative evangelical churches who have moved away from their respective denominations (Baptist, Pentecostal, etc.) for the sake of evangelism. Most conservative, seeker-sensitive churches, such as Willow Creek, characterize this movement.

As I already stated, I will be transferring to Biola next fall and will pursue my Master of Arts in Christian Education degree (MACE), specializing in youth ministy. I plan on graduating summer of 2008, with the goal of becoming a high school youth pastor, hopefully in Southern California, God-willing!

In closing, if you are set on living in Southern California like I was, I strongly encourage you to check out Biola yourself (www.biola.edu). I hope that these statements were helpful and I pray that you will seek God's guidance in deciding where you will pursue your seminary education.

Take care and God bless!

Anonymous said...

I think Talbot does have a famous and up and coming faculty:

-JP Moreland
-William Lane Craig
-Michael Wilkins
-Clinton Arnold
-Robert Saucy
-Gary MacIntosh
-Doug Geivett
-Scott Rae
-Don Sunukjian

...and some new faculty that will be making their mark: Rob Price, Mark Saucy, Doug Geringer, Ashish Naidu... etc.

Talbot will soon be one of THE places to go to...

manutdglory said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
manutdglory said...

And Talbot is building a brand-new, state-of-the-art, $60 million complex on Biola's campus, consisting of 3 buildings, which will be completed in the next few years. Check out the website: http://connect.biola.edu/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=211&srcid=209

William Rowley said...

I'm a graduate of the MA Phil program at Talbot. I'm willing to answer questions about my experience in the program from prospective students or to forward them onto current students I know.

william 'dot' rowley 'at' biola 'dot' edu

Funding Your Ministry - Scott Morton said...

Is the dispensational theology as harsh and rigid as the typical Dallas Sem folks - Also, in real numbers, how much percentage cheaper is BIOLA from Fuller, please?
Thanks.n.may.God.bless,
D.

manutdglory said...

Hey Darrin,

Great questions - as a current Talbot student I can definitely help you out. Regarding your question on the dispensational theology at Talbot, while the seminary is officially premillenial dispensationalist and states this clearly in the doctrinal statement, it is a more progressive form of dispensationalism that is more moderate than Dallas Seminary.

The same goes towards Biola's Calvinism - while the school definitely leans towards Calvinism, it holds a moderate view, rather than the hyper-Calvinism found at schools like Dallas (which I've actually heard is beginning to change a bit). For instance, last month in my theology class at Talbot, we discussed Calvinism and Arminianism and my Talbot prof was very respectful and knowledgeable in his comments regarding Arminianism. The IWU theology profs definitely would have been comfortable sitting in that class. And I did an objective research paper on Calvinism and Arminianism for that prof and got an "A".

As to your question regarding tuition, it is important to remember that neither Fuller nor Biola is cheap, since they are both located in L.A. For instance, while a current IWU undergrad can expect to pay around $25,000 per year in tuition and room/board, Biola undergrads pay almost $40,000 total - for a similar evangelical education at a similar-sized university! Hey, we Californians justify it by stating "You get what you pay for" - perfect weather, the beach, mountains, entertainment, culture, etc. If all that doesn't sound worth the price, then Cali isn't for you.

Obviously a graduate student at Biola pays less, but it's still expensive. I'm graduating in May and my 3 year M.A. degree from Talbot cost about $25,000 in tuition. Of course, living expenses in Southern California are very high, so expect to pay at least $1,000 per month to rent an apartment. Fuller is on the quarter system so it's a bit hard to directly compare tuition with Biola, which is on the semester system, but I found that Fuller's tuition was a bit higher. And for what you get for your money, there's no comparision because Talbot students benefit from being part of a major evangelical university campus while Fuller is just a small, dull seminary campus.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions about Talbot.

Soli Dei Gloria!