To grasp the magnitude of gradual, steady change, glance back over a quarter century.

One of the brightest spots on the evangelical scene is seminary education. The old adage is true: As goes the seminary today, so goes the church tomorrow. And today seminary education is going exceedingly well for evangelicalism.

Because growth has been so steady and spread over several decades, few realize the dramatic shift that has taken place in the theological direction of seminary education. I began my own advanced study for the ministry when I graduated from college in the 1930s. I sought an accredited school committed to a consistent biblical theology, with a scholarly faculty, a large library, and a disciplined intellectual atmosphere. I couldn’t find any. The nonevangelical schools had great libraries, strong scholarly faculties, and impressive reputations as accredited centers of learning. The evangelical schools had no libraries to speak of, unknown faculty (J. Gresham Machen, the last evangelical scholar, had just died), and no tradition of high scholarship. So I chose two schools: the first, a rather typical fundamentalist school so new the ink was barely dry on its articles of incorporation; and the second, a liberal school with a solid reputation for academic excellence. By tapping into the two extremes, I hoped to gain the best of both worlds. As it turned out, I could have done worse.

Even by 1956 the situation had changed only a little. At that time the 10 largest accredited seminaries (in order of student body size) were:

1. Southern

2. Southwestern

3. Concordia

4. Union (N.Y.)

5. Garrett-Evangelical

6. Yale

7. Luther

8. Princeton

9. New Orleans

10. Candler

We can estimate the changes taking place by examining that list ...

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