Hello Friends of The New England School of Theology:
With the announcement of our school’s launch, excitement is beginning to stir. Many have expressed an interest in our upcoming fall course to be given on Monday nights 6:30-8:30 pm beginning September 13th.
We would like to offer some general information about the course here, but of course encourage those interested to call or write for further details.
Our first team taught course is called An Introduction to Christian Apologetics which focuses on a vital area of Christian studies.
What is apologetics?
Most people recognize the word apology embedded in the word apologetics. Great observation! People commonly use the word apology to offer an excuse for a misdeed, injury or insult toward someone. If we strictly follow this meaning, it might be assumed that “Christian Apologetics” is offering an excuse for Christianity! This is not at all the case. There is second, lesser used variation of the word that we call into service.
Apologetics is derived from the Greek word “apologia” (απολογία-don’t worry we can teach you how to read Greek!), which means in defense of or a verbal defense. The Koine or common Greek word appears in the New Testament. A sampling of verses follow:
Brethren and fathers, hear my defense (ἀπολογίας) which I now offer to you. (Acts 22:1)
But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense (ἀπολογίαν) to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15)
In light of the many places where apologia is mentioned, one possible definition for apologetics might be “the work of convincing people to change their views.” Even more succinctly, Dr. Thomas Woodward, Professor of Bible and Theology at Trinity College, Trinity, Florida, defines apologetics in the nutshell: “truth that transforms.”
Thus, Christians offer reasons for the views that they hold in an effort to change the views of others. Students will be taught to defend the Christian worldview against claims counter to its doctrines, history or propositions. We offer throughout the course both defensive and offensive arguments against critics bringing untrue claims ranging from unintentional inaccuracies to false objections regarding the faith. Armed with this knowledge students are prepared to bring “truth that transforms” into their communities.
Our syllabus or teaching plan for the fall course, describes a number of the important contemporary issues and questions people are asking. We plan to tackle questions like: How do you know God exists? Are there many gods? Does evil have a purpose? Are miracles possible? Who was Jesus? Where did the Bible come from? Has science disproven the Bible? Is truth relative or absolute? We plan to look at many more questions besides these and hope to engage and prepare our students to answer questions they face in their workplaces, schools and relationships.
Who should attend our course?
Anyone. Our goal is to begin an interactive dialogue with those who seek to deepen their understanding of the Christian faith and wish to provide answers to others. We also joyfully invite those who have been puzzled by these questions and are seeking answers themselves. Bible teachers and pastors might also consider joining our classes to sharpen and refresh their knowledge.
What should you expect?
Our team of seminary-trained teachers will provide a challenging course complete with reading assignments, examinations, and projects. We feel that students derive the best experience if challenged to wrestle with, question and use the material. Active-student engagement and teacher-assessment is one way to ensure comprehension and mastery of the topics. While we invite anyone to attend, we also expect that potential students consider the course load which involves weekly reading, handing in assignments and periodic quizzes.
We wish to emphasize that our course is not a Sunday morning Bible study, as perhaps some may expect. Contemporary Bible study typically demands little of the student except attendance, voluntary oral participation in class and sometimes homework. While this model of education has its place, all churches offer some type of Bible study group or class. We are not duplicating this model or competing with established efforts.
Our model is the traditional class which requires students to fully participate in assignments, ask questions and grasp the material as measured with tests, assignments and projects such as debates. We offer world-class answers to the hardest questions challenging every culture and thoughtful individual. Our hope is to produce students who can intelligently share and defend their knowledge earned through the rigor of a challenging educational experience.
What is the cost of the course?
The cost of the course for a regular student is $250.00. As a special offer, $100 of this tuition may be applied towards any future course at NEST.
What if I choose to sit through (audit) the course?
You may wish to simply sit through the course and not participate in assignments. This option is known as an audit. The student is not responsible for handing in any assignments, taking tests or completing any assigned projects. They can attend each class and participate in the class discussion alone. In this case a Certificate of Completion will not be awarded upon completion of the course. The cost of the course for those auditing is $225.00. Just as with our regular students, $100 of this tuition may be applied towards any future course at NEST.
Does the New England School of Theology offer a degree program? Not yet. The short answer is that the founders of the school wish to be a fully accredited degree-granting institution, but a number of important steps must be completed before that can be achieved. We are a new institution, founded this year (2010) and governed by a board of directors; our officers are working through the many details necessary to acquire recognized status with the State of Connecticut.
Does the New England School of Theology formally recognize completed courses? Yes. We realize that many hours of reading and hard work will be poured into our courses. A Certificate of Completion is awarded after the student has successfully completed all of the assignments for each course. Certificates of Completion will be available for other non-accredited, non-transferable courses including New Testament Introduction, New Testament Theology, Old Testament Introduction, Old Testament Theology, Introduction to Missions, Church History I and II, Evangelism, Greek Tools, Hebrew Tools and Introduction to Christian Apologetics.
If you have any questions about enrolling as a student or supporting our school, or if you have more general questions about the school, please do not hesitate to call me directly.
God bless you,
Dr. John M. DeMassa
The New England School of Theology