By Gary D. Meyers, NOBTS Communications
NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees approved three major curriculum initiatives – a doctor of philosophy degree in biblical interpretation, a master of arts degree in apologetics and a bachelor of arts in music degree with an emphasis in worship – during their spring meeting April 11.
Also approved was the expansion of the doctor of philosophy major in preaching by adding three areas of specialization that students can choose – biblical exposition, pastoral theology and homiletics, and two certificates in missions to assist International Mission Board apprentice missionaries to complete the theological requirements. In other actions, the board also approved a $21.6 million budget, other degree revisions and new teaching sites.
Rather than focusing on either the Old Testament or New Testament, like other Ph.D. majors in biblical studies, the new Ph.D. in biblical interpretation major emphasizes exposition of both testaments.
The new biblical interpretation major utilizes a modified scheduling/residency plan, making it possible for students to earn this rigorous, academic degree without relocating to campus. Lemke said the development of the modified scheduling plan is especially important for NOBTS because of the relatively small number of Southern Baptist churches within a 50-mile drive of the school. Most Ph.D. students, he said, serve on a church staff while earning their degree. Modified scheduling gives students from further away the opportunity to earn a Ph.D.
The trustees also approved revisions to the Ph.D. preaching major to offer three specialized areas of study: biblical exposition, pastoral theology and homiletics.
“Newly approved changes in our NOBTS research doctoral program reflect the continuing development of a more flexible yet rigorous and student-friendly Ph.D. degree, said Jerry Barlow, dean of graduate studies.
“The addition of a Ph.D. biblical interpretation major and the establishment of three concentrations in the preaching major provide more opportunities for students to gain advanced preparation for ministry and teaching than ever before.”
Both the Ph.D. major in biblical interpretation and the major in preaching require 64 hours of post-master’s level study to complete.
Responding to interest from current and potential students, the board approved the launch of a new 48-hour master of arts degree in apologetics. The degree is designed to equip pastors, student ministers, missionaries, evangelists and interfaith witness specialists to offer a reasoned defense of the Christian faith.
“Apologetics is one of the hottest areas of interest in our students, and an important skill in serving the Lord in our multicultural, multifaith world,” said Steve Lemke, NOBTS provost. “We need an army of well-prepared apologists to address the onslaught of our secular culture and other faiths, and this degree prepares students to do just that.”
The trustees also approved a graduate certificate in foundations for mission service. The certificate is designed to help International Mission Board (IMB) apprentice missionary applicants meet the theological training requirements for service. In other action the board:
n activated the James D. and Rose Ramsey Chair of Psychology and Counseling. The chair is the result of a $416,880 gift given by Rose Ramsey in February, and
n approved a $21.6 million budget. Trustees were able to pass a balanced budget with only minor increases to student tuition and housing rates.