Intensive Theological Education
Intensive Education is that kind of knowledge that may be acquired in an abridged way, to save time for the student.
Intensive education has been controversial for many reasons, the main one being that many think that there are no shortcuts to acquire real knowledge. Knowledge comes with a learning process and people have to go through it in order to get real education.
Regular education is designed for regular people in normal situations. Regular education treats everybody in the same way while it is known that human beings are individuals, each one different from all the others in many ways. None is willing to disregard the importance and the necessity of regular or standard education -- it is the reasonable way to provide education for the majority of people, -- but, enforcing it to everybody without considering the particular conditions and needs of the individual is a brutal error.
The fact that standard education cannot be imposed to everybody is seen from the existence of the so-called “special programs” that are destined to attend the “special” conditions of “genius” and “slow” learners. Geniuses require an education that is compatible with their extraordinarily fast learning pace, while “slow” students need their education given to them in a pace compatible with their slow capacity of learning.
Not only I.Q. should be considered on determining the education method that a person may need, but two other factors too, among, perhaps, many others: context and experience. Context says that many people for diverse reasons lost their opportunity with standard education, and should be given another chance. G.E.D.-like programs are the answer to this kind of need, in which they restore this possibility to people.
Experience is irreplaceable in life. You either have it or no. Nobody can get experience by osmosis. You have to go through life and deal with facts and circumstances to get it. Another truth about experience is that formal education in the classroom is not the only way to acquire knowledge and that classroom learning is, so often, only partial, because it feeds your mind but it fails to give you the experiential practice. That is the reason why most professional degrees necessitate real practice afterwards, even certification, before the skills of that profession can be legally exercised.
What G.E.D. (General Education Development) does, other than recognize that the student has the necessary knowledge (experience) for high school? G.E.D. presupposes that some people are able to get knowledge outside of the school benches and gives them the opportunity to prove that. Programs like this do not presume that candidates manage all aspects of knowledge offered in four years of high school, but it assumes that is possible for some people to show that they have the minimum knowledge necessary to get their certification correspondent to high school diploma.
One cannot be naïve on these issues. Certainly, if would exist this kind of programs offered for those who want to be physicians or engineers, nobody would trust such professionals with such credentials, because many times, the minimum is not enough. It is clear, then, that this kind of education is neither for everybody nor for all careers.
Now, is the theological field one that would support this kind of abridged education? Does one which writings are the source of Christian theology in the New Testament, could not be classified as theologians because they never attended the rabbinic schools of their time, but they did sat at the feet of the greatest rabbi of all, Jesus Christ, himself. In their case, and many others after them, what did counted was their factual experience.
Intensive Education operates in two ways: it shortens the amount of knowledge offered (and doing it so, shortens the time spent in getting this knowledge), giving you only the least necessary, and, it tests you about this minimum necessary. Why theology cannot be submitted to this process? In fact, it can, has been and should be done in larger scale to augment the expansion of the kingdom of God. Bible colleges and several “minor” seminaries are nothing but good examples of intensive theological education.
Certainly the overall education acquired through intensive methods is not deep and exhaustive as it may be in universities and full-time schools, but it opens the doors for many people that, otherwise, because of missed opportunities or lack of financial means, would never cross its threshold.
The Intensive Theological Seminary was created having these people in mind. People that may already have the necessary knowledge and experience for working in the ministry field, but lack recognition of it. ITS applies to these students a comprehensive exam in several areas of theological and general subjects that will prove if they have what takes to be granted a particular acknowledged degree. After all, what are the honorary degrees other than the recognition of valuable experience in the life time of an individual? Scriptures say: “Honor to whom honor is due”. If you have the knowledge and experience necessary, we will honor them granting you a theological degree.
For more information, please go to:
Illinois Theological Seminary