By J. Oliver Jones
To be quite honest, this is a legitimate question, a question that I have also asked myself. But before I answer let me first cite a brief statement from a Southern Methodist College (College) brochure:
The Southern Methodist Church holds that the Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation. We believe the Holy Spirit superintended the human authors so that they were preserved from error as they faithfully recorded God’s revelation to man, making it the infallible Word of God. We submit to this infallible Word as our final authority for faith and conduct.
For this reason, in 1956 Southern Methodist College was established to train men and women for Christian ministry and service in an environment where the Scripture is upheld and not undermined.
For some 55 years Southern Methodist College has done just that, it has trained men and women for Christian ministry and service. But note the final statement, “in an environment where the Scripture is upheld and not undermined.” In order for me to answer the proposed question, you must fully understand what this statement means.
Sound Doctrine is a crucial issue. The Bible has numerous warnings about those who will turn away from the truth unto fables (2 Tim 4:4), who will depart from the faith (1 Tim 4:1), and who will not endure sound doctrine (2 Tim 4:3).
Almost without exception the first “turning from truth” that any person or group will experience is the questioning of the Bible as the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God.” When this historic and orthodox doctrine falls, it is followed rapidly by the forsaking of other sound doctrine. After all, if the Bible is not true, on what do you base the truth of other doctrines?
Let me put this another way. Do you recall the “deception” of the serpent in the Garden? Notice what Satan said to Eve, “Did God surely say…?” Satan began with the questioning of the reliability of God’s Word. Once Eve doubted that, she was free to choose her own path. That path always leads to sin and death!
Now, please listen to these statements carefully. The overwhelming majority of major universities that began as Christian Institutions are now apostate as it concerns sound Biblical doctrine. Most major seminaries have now departed from the truth in a majority of Biblical Doctrines. Many Bible Colleges now question the inspiration and inerrancy of God’s Word, some having already made the decision to deny scriptural authority, leading to the eventual departure from other orthodox doctrine. Several professors in well known historically sound Bible Colleges have recently begun to openly deny the full inerrancy and authority of Scripture. Within a generation their institutions will likely follow.
Back to the question – “Do we need Southern Methodist College?” There is now no doubt in my mind that the answer is YES! In fact, the question of need is the wrong question. A similar question is much more appropriate, “Can a small denomination afford to support a Bible College?” This question is one that can be discussed and even debated. The issue is finances, not need. But let me ask another question; “Considering the information above, can we afford not to have our own Bible College?”
If I may, let me shift our focus for just a moment. What is your vision for the future? Is it a positive vision for a victorious church, or a negative vision for a defeated church? This is very important, because your vision will affect your beliefs, and your beliefs will determine your actions. Now, I admit that only God knows the outcome for our individual situations. Success as the world views it may not come to us individually or even corporately. But we are not called to be successful. We are called to be faithful. We are called to stand. We are called to press toward the mark.
When Jesus comes we should be found fighting the good fight. I believe strongly that the good fight is fought by those who have been given a solid foundation. It is fought by those who are grounded in sound doctrine. It is fought by those who have been trained in Bible and ministry. Our college provides this training, both on and off campus. It is now providing not only under-graduate degrees in Bible and Ministry, but offers a graduate degree as well. For those not able to take classes on campus, it also provides off campus Christian education through distance learning and The Wesley Institute. Through these combined venues over 200 students are involved in Bible and ministry training. Not many you say? I believe it is just the beginning!
As I stated, I believe we are called to be faithful. According to Matthew 25, Jesus stated that those who are faithful in a few things will be made to rule over many things. Jesus also promised an open door to that Philadelphia Church in Revelation 3 that had only a little strength, but had been faithful.
Since 1956, there have been many faithful men and women who were called to serve through SM College. There are many of our pastors, educators, and missionaries who received their training at SM College. There are still faithful men and women serving there, and I believe God will continue to send those who need to be trained for Christian ministry and service to an institution where His Word is “upheld and not undermined.” Yes, this is perhaps a statement of faith, but it is faith in a faithful God!