External -vs- Residence

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Are external studies equivalent to resident classes? Is it possible to learn as much at home as it is being in the classroom? For the students of Bethany, what could be done to make the external studies better than resident classes?

-- Steve Shuemake (SportronAL@aol.com), September 14, 1998


At my age (50), I am able to pursue seminary education without the need for my teachers to "motivate" me. And I am thankful to God and to Bethany for making it possible for me to train for the ministry while supporting my most important ministry fulltime-- my family. But I think Bethany could make distance education more equal with residence schooling by providing email contact to mentors or advisors, so students can get help with the many details involved in starting up and completing coursework/programs. (Dr. Luke does a great job. Yet I imagine he's overloaded, doing all he does as academic dean.) If you put my idea into practice, I'd be glad to be a mentor/advisor once my Ph.D. program is done (or at least farther along). Thanks for the forum. I'm loving my studies at Bethany!

-- Phil Templeton (pxist@aol.com), September 19, 1998.

I believe that for the motivated adult learner, external studies can be far superior to residential classes. I have worked in adminstration of large, traditional universities for almost fourteen years, and I have studied non-traditional and distance education as an interested observer for most of that time. Large traditional institutions are only now beginning to realize the power (and profit potential) of the "university without walls". Of course, Bethany has been pioneering this movement all along! I thank God for the opportunity to work towards a seminary degree where I can support my family and work in my church, while obtaining some of the best conservative Christian scholarship available.

External studies require both discipline on the part of the student (there's no hand-holding by an instructor) and a well-designed program of study on the part of the institution. I believe if a student applies himself, external study can be a far more enriching experience than simply showing up for class, and regurgitating facts.

I am very pleased and satisfied with Bethany's program, but I would agree with the brother who suggested more communication and contact with professors. I would also suggest for the graduate classes, more research-based coursework. For instance, instead of simply looking up and regurgitating answers to 30 questions posed from a textbook chapter, I would be challenged more by doing a creative project such as developing two or three robust outlines or teachings/sermons on several themes from the lesson. This would actually be more work and much more time-consuming than doing study questions. It would not only be a way to put into practice what was learned, but would also put in the student's hand a timeless resource to preach and teach from throughout one's ministry. A real-life example is from the Hebrews Course BI 531. The requirements included writing five 8-10 page papers on the great themes of the book. In effect, these are potential sermons and teachings. I have referred to my notes many times since writing those papers. Study questions are of no benefit whatsoever, except to verify that the student read, and can look up certain information. They have no lasting benefit to the student, unlike research material.

I think one of the innovative approaches Bethany is taking is the on-line class concept. I am currently involved in one, and I believe it is a definite step in the right direction, and as one who works in Information Technology at a major state-supported urban university, I can say that it is on the cutting edge of what schools are doing as far as distance education.

Thanks, Bethany. Keep up the good work...you are pioneers.

-- Mark Jones (mark_jones@peachnet.campus.mci.net), September 24, 1998.

I have found that the method of study used by Bethany Bible College is perfect for my needs. Some may think that merely reading a text and answering questions on what one has studied is not high-quality learning, but I have found that by answering the questions, the things I have read are reinforced, and I remember them much better. Thanks, Bethany, for providing distance education for those of us who did not feel particularly led to attend a college or university away from home. I have learned so much more than I would have away from home!

-- Tiffany Cornish (tweety1998@juno.com), September 27, 1998.

This question of residence vs. distance learning is a good one. Having attended a college in New England esteemed for it's secular intellectual character, I've found it a challenge to adjust to distance learning. There's just something you pick up by being present before your teacher. People just learn in different ways. Some are visual learners, others learn the most by hearing, and some people have to just get right in there and do things and learn from their experiences. My wife learns better by hearing. But I am a more visual learner. I learn by READING my Bible.

So taking a correspondence course, for me, is kind of like listening to tapes instead of going to church. I miss the classroom. I miss the personal interaction with the teacher and fellow students.

It's a shame that local New Testament churches today are not training their own pastors. I think the place for you to go to get your Bible education should be your local church. We've been seduced by the world to think we should go off to seminary somewhere. But I'm still thankful for Bethany because even though most local churches have failed, we can still get a Bible education. Amen?

My church has a Bible college program but I sense that I can learn more with Bethany than with my church's program which does not include tapes, classroom lectures, or even seminars. It too is a distance learning program.

We, as students and pastors, are rich because of what Christ has done for us but many of us are, well, poor financially. Many do not have computers. So I think this on-line stuff is neat, the technology is amazing and all that but the fact of the matter is that we cannot all afford $1,000 for a computer and $19.95 a month for local internet access. So the real solution to make Bethany more personal is to use what most of us already have, A TELEPHONE. Let's have a weekly conference call. And if you miss the call then you can go and replay it at your own convenience. There is an affordable way for up to 500 students to all be on the phone at the same time hearing a lecture LIVE and then having a question and answer session. A 30 minute lecture would cost us only $3.00! Can we afford $12.00 a month? Is it worth it? I think so.

-- Rev. David S. Rogol (tremcom@hotmail.com), September 30, 1998.

October 16, 1998

Greetings everyone!

I am finishing up my last course (typing up the answers), and I have already been doing quite a lot of research and writing on my thesis.

I have found, since I entered the program, that I have been very much encouraged to do considerable outside reading. In addition to the regular course work, I have "consumed" literally hundreds of books and pamphlets. My home is beginning to look like a book warehouse. In addition, the InterNet has opened new learning opportunities, not only from the posted articles, but also the RealTime audio lectures and sermons, which are also available on inexpensive CD-ROMs, see:


In addition, I stumbled upon the I.C.E. FreeBooks site at


and ordered their Acrobat Reader CD-ROM (Beta version) for $25.00 with 84 books and 800 newsletters (estimated 30,000 pages). The CD-ROM sure saves on book shelf space!! These books and articles have certainly been of great help in understanding the "culture wars", even though I am not a dominion theology believer.

Dr. Phil Fernandes (D.Min., Bethany), President of the Institute of Biblical Defense (idb@sinclair.net), has tape lecture sets on many different subjects, from books of the Bible to Roman Catholicism, to Cults, Philosophy of Religion, World Religions, etc., etc. These are very helpful supplementary lectures, whether a person is taking a course in that area or not. The student can use the tapes and the text book relevant to the tapes to supplement his regular course of study, whether he is taking that particular course at Bethany or not.

Recently, I ordered tapes at $1.00 each from Mt. Hope Tapes Ministry (av1611@fuse.net). Now, I have over 100 tapes, mostly on books of the Bible and defense of the King James Bible. Since I spend a lot of time in the car driving back and forth to work, I can "attend lectures" every day. For people who need to drive a lot, these tapes are really helpful, and you can play them again and again to reinforce the information.

I hope this information is useful.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

L. J. Lamb J.D., University of Iowa Ph.D. (Religion) Candidate, Bethany Taipei, Taiwan

-- L. J. Lamb (ljlamb@ficnet.net), October 16, 1998.

Hmmm. I would have thought that this subject would not be up to debate, but I guess I was wrong. There are pros and cons to both sides. Having personally taught in formal classrooms, I know that there are certain "pluses" that only a classroom can have. However, reality must also be taken into consideration. My personal situation is a case in point. Many of us, while called to the ministry, also have other responsibilities (marriage, families, and it must be admitted, debts) that cannot be set aside so college or seminary can be attended. Until recently, I was a soldier in the regular Army. This was my God-led career, and also where I was called to minister. It was almost impossible for me to attend Bible college or seminary while on active duty. Bethany for me was a Godsend and a blessing. I have been able to not only complete Bible college, but also seminary to the doctoral level. It took me over 10 years, but I was at least able to do so.

I would have loved to have had the fellowship and mentorship of the faculty in a classroom and social setting. In some ways, I think I missed something. But in other ways, it didnt matter. I still have been able to receive a high quality education...and do what I was called to do simultaneously.

With the constant mobility in America today, and the urgency of the need for trained Christians, I really think that extension training needs to be expanded. If Bethany would allow me to, I'd start a satellite campus here in my home town! That's how sold I am on what they do.

Jon F. Dewey B.B.S, M.Min, D.Min (all Bethany) Pilgrim's Way Ministries http://members.xoom.com/xenos_min/index.htm

-- Dr. Jon F. Dewey (jdewey6299@aol.com), October 14, 1999.

I was re-reading these posts and want to offer something that didnt exist when I first put on my post.

In reference to internet learning, it is now within the grasp of anyone, minus the expense of the computer. There are two very good FREE internet services available to anyone with a computer that runs Windows 95 as an operating system. They are:

Altavista FreeAccess www.microav.com

FreeI Net www.freei.net

Both require Windows 95 (specifically Dial-Up Networking 1.1 or higher) and unique software to connect. The Altavista software will fit on a single 1.44 floppy. It can be downloaded from their web site. If someone is really desperate, I can email or snail mail it to them; contact me at my email address. Unfortunately, the FreeI Net software is 5.2 MB in size, and must be downloaded from their web site, or ordered on a CD-ROM (Call them at 253-796-6592). Windows Dial-Up Networking version 1.3 can be downloaded from the Microsoft Web Site or from other download pages.

Both services use advertising to support their businesses. A "banner" appears on the screen flashing advertisements. Otherwise, it is exactly like any other ISP connection. I use Altavista regularly, and have no problems with it.

I hope this helps to take away one more barrier for someone who wants to get a theological education.

-- Dr. Jon Dewey (jdewey6299@aol.com), November 30, 1999.

Here is another free resource for those who need it. Sun Microsystems is offering their Star Office 5.0 software suite for free download. Basically, it is a full-featured set of office software, which includes a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation program. It is comparable to Microsoft Office, and its files are supposed to be interchangeable with MS Office.

The download is free, but large: 65 mb. It can also be ordered from them on CD-ROM for $9.95. The url address is:


Hope this is helpful.

-- Dr. Jon F. Dewey (jdewey6299@aol.com), December 01, 1999.

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