Bible colleges are well-established conservative chrisitan institutions of higher education now, but they haven’t always been around. Bible colleges in their current form trace their history back to the first bible institutes of the late 1800s.
The Bible Institute Movement of the Late 1800s
The bible institute movement began in the late 19th Century as a reaction to what conservatives perceived as a liberalizing trend in seminaries and theology schools. Scientific advancements had challenged some strongly held beliefs about what the bible said, and certain conservative groups had a difficult time reconciling the scientific theories with the biblical text. As a result, they developed their own bible institutes to counter the liberalizing of the established institutions.
At heart, the issue was over biblical inerrancy (cf. the later Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy from 1929). Conservatives prioritized a specific form of literal interpretation in reaction to the scientific discoveries, and they founded bible institutes where this worldview could be taught.
A.B. Simpson and D.L. Moody Founded the First Bible Institutes
The first two bible institutes were founded by A.B. Simpson of the Chrisitan Missionary Alliance and the well-known evangelist Dwight L. Moody. Simpson began Nyack College in 1882, and Nyack is still a Christian Missionary Alliance school in New York City. Moody began the Moody Bible Institute, which is now an undergraduate and graduate bible school.
Bible Colleges Grew in the Late 1800s and Early 1900s
As the fission between liberal and conservative Christians widened over scientific discoveries and biblical inerrancy, the bible institute movement continued to grow rapidly. Many institutes and bible colleges were founded over the next 50 years, with some 39 bible schools being established by 1920.
Many Bible Colleges Exist Today
The movement has continued since the early 1900s, and there are numerous bible colleges in the United States and Canada today. Many of these schools are conservative institutions, but there are also numerous moderate and liberal bible colleges and universities too. These schools offer undergraduate degrees in person and online to students throughout North America and the world.
Find a Bible College
If you’re interested in attending a bible college, peruse the many different bible colleges that offer degrees.