What’s in a name?
I am often asked why Moore College is called a “Theological College” rather than a “Bible College”. Because the word “theological” sounds rather obscure to many Christians today, some people refer to Moore College as a “Bible College”.
They are not wrong. The foundation and centre of all that we do at Moore College is the study of God’s written word, the Bible. All that is taught and leant is measured by this standard. At Moore College we are firmly convinced of the authority of Scripture, the clarity of Scripture and the sufficiency of Scripture. The ministry for which our students are preparing is a ministry of God’s Word. People become Christians, grow into mature believers, and learn to live a godly life as the Holy Spirit applies God’s Word to human minds and hearts. Christian pastors lovingly and clearly bring God’s Word to people. Those who study at Moore College are therefore thoroughly soaked in the Bible. This is intentional, important and one of the distinctive marks of Moore College. I am not surprised than some call Moore College a “Bible College”. Of course it is!
However when we call the College a “Theological College”, we are drawing attention to the purpose of our study of God’s Word. We do not study the Bible in order to know the Bible. We study the Bible in order to know God. The Bible is not just any book. It is God’s own Word about his Son, the Lord Jesus. The Living God has spoken the words of the Bible (cf. 2 Pet 1:21), and he speaks those words today by the power of his Spirit (e.g. Heb 3:7). What the Bible says, God says. To hear the Bible is to hear God’s voice. To believe the Bible is to believe God. We therefore study the Bible in a particular way and for a very special purpose. We study prayerfully in order to know, love, trust and obey our wonderful, gracious and holy God through faith in Jesus Christ.
It is possible to study the Bible differently. In universities the Bible can be studied as a collection of merely human documents. Many students who study the Bible in that way certainly get to know the Bible (in one sense), but unless they receive God’s Word as it actually is, the Word of God, they will not know God (cf. 1 Thess 2:13).
When we call Moore College a “Theological College”, we are emphasising the purpose and goal of our studies: knowing God (Greek, theos).
Furthermore as a “theological” college Moore College is concerned that knowing God shapes and illuminates all of our thinking and living. A person who knows God sees all of life differently from a person who does not know God. Of course our knowledge of God is always (in this world) limited (1 Cor 13:12). Neither do we find it easy and natural for our thinking, understanding and living to be godly. At our theological college we work hard at growing in godly thinking, understanding and living.
This, of course, drives us back to the Bible. How do people who know God think about marriage? How does knowing God help us to understand politics? Does our knowledge of God guide our approach to relationships? The Bible often addresses our questions directly. Sometimes it does not. How do people who know God view technological developments in our world – medical and biological advances as well as the iPad? All these and many others are theological questions. Theology is what we know when we know God. We only know God by receiving and believing his Word about our Lord and Saviour, Jesus. As a “theological” college Moore College is committed to the hard work of what we know when we know God.
Even this, of course, is not an end in itself. Our churches (and our world) need evangelists and pastor-teachers who are godly, humble, loving, and hard working. We need such ministers to help us to grow in knowing God, to find the comfort of knowing God in the tragedies of life, to have our desires and behaviour shaped by our knowing God. We want ministers who will help us find godly wisdom in the complexities of modern life. All of this comes from the Bible, by the work of God’s Spirit. But it is more than “knowing the Bible”. It involves learning to “think theologically”, which is jargon for thinking that has God in it.
This is where Moore College’s reputation for what is (a bit misleadingly) called “academic rigor” comes from. We take thinking seriously. That is not because we are “academic”, but because thinking is an important part of being Christian. God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). “The truth” is the reality of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, the one mediator between God and men (1 Tim 2:5). He is the truth. By understanding something of God’s grace towards us in Jesus, we are humbled. By learning something of what Christ has done, we begin to take life seriously. By comprehending that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, we are turned away from our sinfulness. By grasping the faithfulness of God, faithfulness matters to us. And so on. The heart of such godliness is thinking – because the power that produces such godliness is the truth.
That is why Moore College is a Bible College and a Theological College.