Multnomah School of the Bible sits on a 17-acre campus in a blue-collar residential neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Whoever designed the buildings (some of which orginally housed the Oregon State School for the Blind) clearly believed in the superiority of function over form and, accordingly, created an architectural paean to painted bricks and flat, warehouse-style roofs.

The students who enroll at Multnomah, however, care little about architectural niceties. They come to study the Bible.

“I think that we do Bible better than most places,” Ronald Frost, who teaches in the youth-ministry program, declared. “That’s the genius of the Bible school.”

The school’s motto, repeated often in promotional materials, reads: “If it’s Bible you want, then you want Multnomah.”

The school stipulates that 52 credits out of a total of 96 required for an associate degree or 128 for a bachelor’s degree fall in the area of biblical literature and theology. Every student majors in Bible at Multnomah, and each may choose to specialize in one of the following fields: Christian education, music, missions, journalism, pastoral youth ministry, biblical languages, or women’s ministries.

The curriculum emphasizes basic biblical literacy, but it also offers an interpretive template through which to view the Bible. Duane Hallof, an upperclassman who also works part-time in the school’s development department, characterizes Multnomah’s theology as “very conservative, but not limiting God. It’s definitely not a charismatic school. They don’t encourage the controversial gifts.”

Biblical inerrancy, he said, is “very high” on Multnomah’s list of theological priorities, as is dispensationalism. Multnomah’s theological pedigree, like that of many other Bible institutes ...

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