Below is Dr. Howard's article on Accreditation preceeded by remarks from the Editors of the Pulpit Helps publication.

We Respond

An Old Controversy Revisited- From the Editors [of Pulpit Helps]
We opened "a can of worms" a few months ago when we printed an article on accreditation and followed it the next month with an editorial on distance learning.

Obviously, no genuine man of God called to preach wants a certificate from a diploma mill. Diploma mills sell pretty pieces of paper, not education. Pulpit Helps does not want to accept advertising from diploma mills.

Now, please reason with us a bit: How do you distinguish a diploma mill from a legitimate institution of higher learning?

Are all distance learning centers diploma mills? Perhaps some of you who went off to college several years might think so, but this is hardly fair. There is no intrinsic reason why a good education cannot be obtained in the comfort of your own study. Furthermore, a number of distance learning centers (DLCs) come well-reputed and highly recommended. So we do not believe mere distance is a good ground for deciding.

How about accreditation as a standard? As Dr. Chand's article noted, anybody- literally anybody- can set up an accreditation agency. And the individual/group/agency which sets up the accreditation agency sets up its rules and standards.

Does government recognition of the accrediting agency guarantee you a good education? Well, not really. Government approved agencies do not have to meet some tough standards, such as adequate libraries and faculty degree status. However, no school on earth can guarantee that a student will get better instruction from a professor with an earned doctorate than from a divinely-gifted teacher with a lesser degree- or even no degree.

Furthermore, some very good schools believe it is wrong to submit to the control of any outside accrediting agency. (Bob Jones University comes to mind.)

If you can't trust accreditation, what can you trust? Try common sense, for a starter. If something seems too good to be true, it very likely is. There are some elementary checks you can apply yourself: Send for a catalog. Read what the school says about itself. Is it accredited, and if so by whom? Look closely at the course offerings. How large is the faculty? What is required for the degrees offered (besides money?) Speaking of money, what does the school's literature tell you about costs? (While significant savings can be achieved by eliminating a campus and traditional trappings of higher education, too cheap is still too cheap.) Most importantly, check out their references. Ask them who in your area graduated from their school. Then talk to those individuals.

We would love to have a sure-fire yardstick to sort the "diploma mills"- where you basically buy a piece of paper- from the legitimate schools. We don't have one that is fair to everybody. What's more, we are not a detective agency. Therefore let every potential student be wary, be careful and (most of all) be prayerful.

-From the editors of Pulpit Helps

Accreditation for Bible Colleges and Seminaries
by Harley Howard

The entire issue of accredited vs. non-accredited schools will be discussed until Jesus comes, with both sides giving many legitimate pros and cons on the subject.

Many people assume wrongfully that an accredited school is superior to those which are not accredited and vice versa. That is simply not the case at all, when many schools on both sides are compared to each other. For example, I attended a well-known Baptist college in Virginia in the late 70s, and I can assure you that I would not recommend a single soul enroll in that university today. They have lowered their so-called biblical and Christians standards to the degree that accreditation means nothing. I can make that case for many well-known Christian schools today.

On the other hand, there are many people who simply do not want to have secular minds deciding their Christian education, which makes all the sense in the world to me since the carnal mind knows nothing about the things of the Spirit anyway. Why should Christian educators allow the lost world to determine what is acceptable to the saint?

However, there are many shams in education, as Bob Dasal rightfully pointed out when he wrote:

"My own personal concern about diploma mill schools is that churches may call a pastor they've been lead to believe has an earned degree, but does not. In my editorial I defined a 'mill school' as one that provides a piece of paper but not an education."

I concur.

The entire accreditation process is itself a topic that can also be debated. One of the best-known critics of non-accredited schools is an avowed homosexual and atheist and, sad to say, has a so-called "Christian" educator in full support of his so-called expertise. (Who accredits the one doing the accreditation, my friends?)

My contention is that the issue is not whether an accredited school is better than one that is not. The issue is which school offers you the best education in God's Word- if that is what you define a Christian education to be, as I do.

With this thought in mind I must mention that it seems to me that many people are not using the brains that God gave them when it comes to considering a Christian college or seminary. Prospective students should investigate everything there is to know about whatever school(s) they are interested in and ask themselves

"What is the purpose of my education? Do I want a Bible education alone? Do I want to know more about science, biology or other liberal arts?"

Yes, you can get a piece of paper from any college or seminary and you may think that you are getting your money's worth and transferable credits, when in fact all you are getting is ripped-off. You need to be discerning about where you are going and what you want and what you are getting yourself into. You need to investigate, pray, pray some more and pray even more. Seek the Lord's will above all in this matter.

Many fine schools, both accredited and non-accredited, offer distance education. Many will not have the funds or the time to uproot their lives to go to a college or seminary (nor should they unless led of the Lord to do so). In such a case, distance education is the way to go. But investigate. If accreditation is not a concern, then at least go to the best quality school you can find that will teach you God's Word.

In closing: Bob Dasal has no ax to grind with any school nor malice in his heart. He did not write this article with any anger or as an attempt to start some heated controversy. His heart is concerned for the quality of the education of the saints and as an educator myself, I am thankful for him and to him. Instead of criticism he should be praised and supported. He certainly has both from me.

Foundation of Truth Bible Church
Whittier, California