Last November we renewed our acquaintance with Columbia University’s Randall Balmer over red beans and rice in New Orleans’s Vieux Carré. Balmer was adapting and expanding materials in Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory, his book-length portrait of American evangelicalism, in preparation for a PBS television series. The great omission from the book, critics had noted, was Christian higher education, and thus he had recently made a pilgrimage to Multnomah School of the Bible, one of the last three-year Bible school programs.

What were his impressions? The biggest surprise, Balmer said, was student attitudes. Anyone who deals with college students knows their habitual complaints about their chosen institutions. But, Balmer said, the comments he heard from students were eerily like public-relations copy, yet transparently genuine. These students actually liked their school.

Faculty and administrators were less sanguine. They know who holds tomorrow, but few know what tomorrow holds for Bible colleges/schools/institutes. Are these venerable institutions anachronistic in a day when a liberal-arts degree is the “union card” for most jobs?

In this issue, Balmer (a Bible-school outsider) reports on his field trip to Multnomah, while Robert C. Kallgren, executive assistant to the president of Columbia Bible College and Seminary (and the epitome of an insider), shares the results of his doctoral study of 42 Bible colleges and how they are coping with the pressures.

DAVID NEFF, Managing Editor

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