Posted Written by Academic Dean Stephen Hague
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere [pure] and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Phil 1:9-11
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. John 1:4
The tenets of our mission include a commitment to the ideals that govern our objectives. Our philosophy of education guides us towards the goal of preparing men and women towards the whole church proclaiming and demonstrating the whole Bible as revelation of the whole gospel of redemption for the whole person for the whole world. This is guided by our firm conviction that Christ calls us to live in this world as salt and light, as ambassadors of his righteousness, truth, and justice. We believe that Christ is King of all kings and Lord of all lords, and is presently reigning over his world and his church. In this regard, it is imperative that we attempt to redress our failures to practice in this world what he calls us to proclaim and demonstrate of his gospel of redemption.
We believe that the best context for such an education is one that is charitable and irenic in both classroom pedagogy and personal relationships. This necessitates academic freedom (see below) that includes free class-room discussion and debate wherein the Bible is acknowledged as the ultimate authority, and not any individual teacher or student. One of the unique aspects of FTS is its contemporary, evangelical, conservative ethos expressed in the context of a denominationally mixed faculty, staff, and student body. This creates a sometimes exciting atmosphere to adjust to, but we encourage this for the growth of all. Many students enter seminary studies without ever having had an opportunity to engage in open discussion about our various theological traditions and viewpoints done in the context of our acknowledged oneness in Christ.
Francis Schaeffer (class of FTS, 1938) wrote that there are four primary, corresponding ideals for the local church. We believe these are applicable to Christian higher education:
- Sound doctrine
- Honest answers for honest questions
- True spiritual reality
- Beautiful human relations
The institution must consciously develop its courses, curricula, and other education/research programs from a framework and perspective consistent with biblical and Christian purpose. A viable philosophy of Christian education must guide the teacher to teach in harmony with the Word of God, the Bible. Such a philosophy results in an integration of biblical principles throughout the institution’s curriculum course-by-course.
An institution is not fully Christian if it simply provides a program of instruction housed in a Christian environment. Courses and curricula must be designed and carried out within a framework of respect for biblical principles and practice. Indeed, this respect must result in an education process which is clearly Christian in philosophy and practice.
- FTS has a four-fold emphasis in the curriculum: biblical hermeneutics, biblical history, biblical theology, and biblical exegesis. See the statement “The Four-Fold Emphasis of the Seminary Curriculum,” p. 125.
- A thorough knowledge of the Bible (backgrounds, languages, contents) is requisite for Christian education in preparation for Christian ministry.
- A thorough knowledge of opposing viewpoints (within the secular, as well as within the Christian community) is requisite for Christian education in preparation for evangelism, apologetics, and practical ministry in our contemporary context. That is, knowledge of how the truth of scripture applies to all areas of human life is necessary for life-work and ministry callings.
- For these reasons, we believe it is necessary to emphasize skills in biblical languages, exegesis, theology, church history, and modern religious/social issues. Therefore, we encourage our faculty, while modeling a zealous love for Christ and his Word, to present a balanced approach in which students are guided to study critically all opposing viewpoints, while we “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5) through rigorous study of the scriptures.
 F.A. Schaeffer, Two Contents, Two Realities, Intervarsity Press, 1974.