What are the Needs of Society We Seek to Address?
(1) The Need for Substantive Biblical Education
Americans do not value reading the Bible because they do not really understand it.
We praise the Reformation for making the Bible accessible to the masses in the vernacular, but most Americans are not reading the Bible anymore. For example, Pam, a tour guide we work with in Israel, said that she couldn’t believe the dramatic decrease in the biblical awareness of Americans over the past 20 years.
If most American Christians aren’t reading the Bible, this suggests they no longer see the value in reading it. This in turn raises the question of why. We suggest that the modern Church has simply not been successful in teaching them how to understand it. Truly understanding the Bible would have led them to value it.
Substantive biblical education is not available to most Americans.
Just as our modern trend toward specialization has relegated the study of law or of medicine to the “experts” in those fields, so too has it almost entirely relegated in-depth Bible study to pastors, as the modern “experts” of the Bible. This has had devastating consequences. Bible study is not the same as the study of law. God’s people are no longer being given the education necessary for them to understand and interpret the Bible for themselves in their daily walk with the Lord.
Indeed, serious biblical education today is locked up in seminaries that are largely exclusive and prohibitively expensive. Meanwhile, many of the pastors who have actually had this training incorrectly assume that their congregations are incapable of engaging in deep biblical learning simply because they are not experts in the field. As a result, in-depth Bible teaching is rarely coming from our pulpits, and God’s people are not really being taught how to understand the Bible.
The Alexandrian Forum will make substantive biblical education available to all.
We want to take serious biblical education out of the confines of the seminary and make it available to the masses. We are convinced that substantive biblical education does not belong to an exclusive elite; it belongs to the “priesthood of all believers.”
Most seminaries today are not teaching a literary approach to Scripture.
God has chosen to reveal himself to us through a Bible that is not a list of theological propositions but a collection of literature of varying genres. Although a sound systematic theology is necessary, so too is a literary understanding of the Bible. Yet most seminary students are not exposed to this method of biblical interpretation.
Consider one of our students, who described going home after every Bible class and weeping over the literary beauty of Scripture and its portrayal of Christ as the central figure of the Bible. She told us that she kept asking herself, “Why has this been kept from me until now?”
Seminaries are still under the influence of the Enlightenment, a secular intellectual movement which did not value a literary approach to Scripture.
Because seminaries are institutions of higher learning that are not ordained, they are by nature susceptible to the intellectual whims of the era and of the progressive academy. In fact, the Reformation was infiltrated early on by the ideas of the Enlightenment—a secular intellectual movement which emphasized rationalism and reason above all else. As a result of its impact, most seminaries today are bogged down in rationalistic text critical studies. Meanwhile, the few conservative seminaries that exist remain focused on rationalistic systematics, which is valuable intellectually, but problematic when the schools refuse to teach a literary approach to the Bible which moves the heart by showing Christ at its center.
By bringing theological education back to the church, the Alexandrian Forum
will make training in a literary approach to Scripture available to all.
The church is not nearly as susceptible as the seminary to the secular whims of the era. By bringing serious biblical education back to the church, we will be able to unlock the literary approach to Scripture that allows people to see Christ but that rationalistic seminaries have denied to ordained ministers and therefore to the people of God.
(3) The Need for Classically Trained Leaders
We are suffering from a lack of genuine leaders in our society and in our churches.
In teaching this biblical content, we want to create capable leaders who will carry this message forth into the daily contexts of their personal lives, whether it be the classroom, the workplace, the church or political community. To do this, we want to raise up leaders of a different caliber than the ones we see today, leaders like the ones who gave us our political and religious liberty.
Our society's leading institutions of higher learning have rejected the Classics of the Western Tradition.
Why do we no longer have leaders like George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, or Abraham Lincoln? All the difference is education. The Founding Fathers had a classical and Christian education. However, starting in the 1920s, the Ivy League schools were the first American universities to discard the Classics of the Western Tradition and to no longer require them for a degree. Gradually, other universities throughout the country followed their lead so that, by the 1960s, there was almost a complete rejection of the classical heritage of Athens and the Christian inheritance of Jerusalem.
The Alexandrian Forum will make the wisdom of the Classics widely available to all.
We are not satisfied with the mediocre leadership we have experienced in our country and in many of our pulpits as a result of discarding the Classics. We want to equip our students with what for centuries has been regarded as the best in leadership training. This is the education that taught kings and princes how to govern entire nations, but it is also the education that taught our Founding Fathers how to govern themselves. We want to give this education back to the people and to the church.
Why Focus on Education?
Everyone from antiquity to modernity, from Plato to Nelson Mandela, recognizes that education is the political key to capturing the culture. More importantly, the Bible itself tells us that the key to the culture is education (Deuteronomy 6; Proverbs). We believe that God has intentionally placed us in an unprecedented position. He has given us the keys to unlock the best of secular and of biblical education for the masses, which has been denied to them for far too long. We know of no one who is poised as we are to accomplish this mission, but we need your help.
We would like to ask you to partner with us to make substantive biblical and classical education available to the people and to the church.