Category Archives: scripture

Planting a Seminary: Where to Start? — An Example from Ukraine

A few months ago, I took our blog to Spain to look at “How to Plant a Seminary in Four Steps.” I remembered a seminary professor who said, “Pity the man who tries to launch a full MDiv program all at once from scratch. Better to just start teaching one class. Then add another. And then another.”

But where would you start? Which class should you offer first?

Interview Greg White 2To answer that question, our blog goes to Germany and Ukraine. The Irpin Biblical Seminary was founded in 1991 near Kiev. The European Bible Training Centre was founded in Berlin in 2001. Both schools are members of The Master’s Academy International.

In the video below, EBTC director Christian Andresen interviews Greg White, dean of the theology department, at Irpin. Both are graduates of The Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley, California.

The main point of the five-minute interview is an apologetic for continuing education for pastors. Andresen observes that graduates from Iprin are teaching in EBTC’s Russian-language program, while they are also returning to Irpin to deepen their theological training. Andresen asks White, what vision does Irpin have for these continuing students.

Greg White summarizes the 23-year history of Irpin Biblical Seminary and its vision for its students in the space of little more than a minute.

Watch the video, and see if you can catch what class they taught first:

Hermeneutics. The first class they started to offer was “How to Study the Bible.”

[1:40] “We started off really at the basics, just like most of the training centers,
just giving them the foundation of Hermeneutics, or How to Study the Bible.”

From there, they taught how to put together a sermon, from the text in their own language. Then they developed a complete Master of Divinity, with study in the original languages. Then they offered specialization in Old Testament and in New Testament. Then the students began to take the place of the teachers, and Irpin offered a Masters of Theology to further equip the national faculty responsible for training up the next generation of pastors.

But it all started with a class on “How to Study the Bible”.

Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He [Jesus] explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. (Luke 24:27)

Could you explain the things concerning Jesus in all the Scriptures?
If not, where could you find a class on how to study the Bible? Maybe at your own church?
Then, whom could you could teach how to study God’s word?

Through the Bible in a …

I think the first time I read through the Bible cover to cover, I was in high school. I read in my NIV Student Bible.

The second time, I was nearly 30, living in Kazakhstan. I had my Logos Bible Software design a schedule for reading the whole Bible in a year, which I then read in the ESV using Laridian PocketBible on my Dell Axim Pocket PC.

A couple years ago, I tried to read through the Bible in a year using Crossway’s ESV Study Bible Reading Plan. I found the four book-marked groupings very agreeable, however, in August of that year I returned to finish my seminary studies and ditched the plan in favor of keeping up on seminary-related reading and study.

Now, out of seminary, it’s high time to develop a structured Bible reading plan again. For the OT, I’m still letting my Logos software give me a plan to read through the OT in a year. But for the NT I wanted to do something different.

In his sermon entitled “How to Study Scripture,” John MacArthur recommends reading the New Testament through by spending a month in each book, reading that book through in its entirety each day for 30 days. This way by the end of 30 days, you’ll really know the book. Larger books can be divided into sections, for example the Gospel of John, can be divided into three sections of seven chapters each. The Old Testament does not need to be read this way. Just read it straight through, and then start over.

I’ve tried this New Testament plan before. Usually what happens is I spend a very profitable first month in, e.g., Ephesians. Then, at the end of the month, I flounder because I don’t know where I’m going next.

So here I have developed a plan for reading the whole NT, reading each book or section daily for 30 days:

The books started more or less in canonical order and then I rearranged them to alternate short books with long books, which are divided up into groupings of five to eight chapters. I grouped Colossians and Philemon together as well as 2 Peter and Jude. Then I promoted the Pastorals and Philippians to the front end of my calendar just because I want to study them first.

It should take just under four years to read the whole NT this way. Seems daunting, but I make two observations: 1) Seminary was daunting–but profitable. This will be will be a cake walk compared to seminary–and most assuredly profitable. 2) Now I know what I’ll be reading for the next four years–no floundering at the end of the first month.

I will use a variety of print and online tools as I read and study each book, including my Logos software, and the ESV Study Bible online. I’m not opposed to occasionally doing a day’s reading in my Laridian PocketBible, now on my HTC Touch. But my “home base” for my reading will be my NASB UltraThin LeatherTex Bible. The idea being this will be the Bible that collects my margin notes and that will be “imprinted” on my mind’s eye when I want to go back and find that reference that is “on the left-hand page, right column, about half-way down.”

The Bible reading calendar above started as an Excel spreadsheet. If anyone would like to try something like this, I can e-mail you the spreadsheet for you to customize to your own needs.