Tuesday, August 04, 2009

How to choose your theological college?

Let's say you sensed a calling which requires you to go through theological studies, how would you choose which theological college or seminary to attend?

That's the question that I had.

There are about 5 to 7 or more theological studies institution in Singapore. The two biggest and most popular ones among the mainline churches are Trinity Theological College (TTC) and Singapore Bible College (SBC). And I am now at the former one. How did I chose?

(Assuming you had sort out the finances matters.)

Knowing what do you want to learn is a huge factor in determining which school you should go. For me, I know that I want to learn academic theology. So I looked through the faculty list of all the available institutions here. Then I started to browse through their qualifications and expertises to see any correspondence with what I want to learn.

Then I started to look out for opportunity to check out these teachers. Over the past 3 years before I entered into TTC, I have attended public lectures or seminars that had TTC's lecturers as speakers. The one that impresses me the most was Tan Kim Huat, the professor of New Testament studies at TTC. I remembered that one time that I heard him was at Kampong Kapor Methodist Church where he gave a 3 evenings lecture on Jesus' last days and his resurrection. I asked him about the weird passages found in Matthew 27.51-53. Subsequently I heard him spoke on other topics like the Bible's view on homosexuality, and others.

It is much easier to learn about TTC's faculty now as some of the lecturers are keeping blogs. The most avid one is of course our New Testament lecturer Tony Siew. The other one is our church historian and missiologist Andrew Peh. So far I know two who blog. I encourage lecturers to blog more so that potential students may find out more about the faculty while they are still choosing schools. And blogging is a great tool to communicate. I bet some of the readers of my blog now have a better picture of how's life in TTC is like.

Second, I'd check the facilities of the institution to see how good can my learning experience be facilitated. And I found out that TTC has the biggest theological library in town. A conducive environment for my desired pursuit.

Third, I asked around for opinions over the institution. And I've gathered many things about TTC. Some people warned me that TTC is a den for neo-orthodoxy. Others told me about the history of TTC that it was an institution of theological liberalism. And SBC was set up to counter TTC's liberalism. Another one asked me to be discerning should I chose to enroll into TTC. Another one told me that TTC's standard of biblical studies is not as good as SBC.

Each time I heard such remarks, I'll just put on a grin. All these comments are not conclusive and remained to be discovered.


Kar Yong said...

And Seminari Theoloji Malaysia, being the far more cheaper alternative across the causeway, misses the presence of Sze Zeng...

Sze Zeng said...

Hi KY,

I did consider STM, but due to logistic difficulties (to relocate across the causeway), I've chosen the less difficult one.

Anyway, I do hope to visit STM in the near future.

SHWong said...

Liberal means liberated. The "word of God" should be subjected to higher criticism and come back stronger.

Kar Yong said...

Hi Sze Zeng,
i understand the logistic involved. But we do miss you, and I have less 1 theological conversation partner... :-)

Hey, all the best for your studies! See you end of this month - whether you are sick or well - as I will be staying at TTC!!

Sze Zeng said...

Hi SHWong,

That's a good and confident way to put it :)

Sze Zeng said...

Hi KY,

Thank you for the blessings.

It's nice to know that STM misses me.
Lesser by 1 doesn't make much difference.

Look forward to your arrival at TTC!!


reasonable said...

My main criteria would be the place that is most conducive for the further development of an independent critical mind, where one is given freedom to explore all options and to make all conclusions, even conclusions that differs from standard orthodoxy, so long as one can defend his position with sound reasonings. Yes, a good library is needed to support such an exercise.

So when I compared between TTC and SBC, my choice was obvious.

And after almost a decade since my graducation from TTC, I still say my choice was correct.

But to each his own... one man's food can be another man's poison; one Adam likes Eve while another Adam likes Steve; sometimes some things are just a matter of differing taste/preferences/emotive appeal. And sometimes different objectives require different routes.