Why Is Accreditation So Important?
One of the questions most often asked about Independent Baptist Online College deals with the subject of accreditation? I marvel at that because it reveals a misunderstanding about the very nature of education. People who are enamored by accreditation put a great deal of emphasis on the value of a degree. Accreditation apparently validates a degree. However, a degree is not an education. A degree is a byproduct of an education. You can fail easier with a degree and an inferior education then you will with a good education and an inferior degree.
I have heard it said that a degree from Hyles-Anderson College is “not worth the paper it is printed on.” Dr. Hyles never intended for the degree to be of value. His goal was to provide an education training preachers to build great churches not to present validated degrees. The error is in the priority. The purpose of going to college should be to get an education not to get a degree. Getting a degree should merely be the byproduct of getting an education.
Education is what brings success
I did not say a college education. I did not even say a high school education. I said education. Education comes in many forms. Some are educated by experience. Some are educated by afflictions. Some are educated sitting at the feet of wise individuals outside of an educational facility. Some are educated by studying on their own. There was a time in America when getting an education was more important than getting a degree.
Another person commented that their degree from a certain Christian college prohibited them from getting a masters or a doctorate from another college. Once again we are talking about degrees. We are failing to consider education. Do not misunderstand me. A degree is a wonderful thing as long as it represents an education as a priority. When they hand you that piece of paper you are not going to be successful because of that piece of paper. It does not matter where it’s from. It does not matter who accredited it. It does not matter what degree is listed on it. What matters is the education that it represents.
Some of the best pastors I have known had no degree, but they were educated
Some of the best missionaries had no degree but they were educated. Some of the best writers had no degree but they were educated. Some of the most successful businessmen have no degree but they are educated. You see we have placed so much emphasis on the byproduct that we have lost sight of the end which is to get an education. Because we have made degrees the end we have negated other means to the true end of being educated. Let me give you an example.
Consider for example a young man who has decided that he wants to be a general contractor in the construction industry. Rather than going off to college to get a degree in construction he begins to work for an experienced carpenter and successful general contractor. He starts at the bottom and works every job, mastering each one. Several years later he starts the process of becoming a general contractor, using the skills and knowledge he has learned. After several more years he is a successful general contractor. Is he any less educated because he has no degree? In fact he is probably more successful because he received an education not merely a degree.
This can be applied to almost any field of endeavor
There was a time in America when we placed a greater emphasis on the education than we did on the degree. That was when accreditation had very little influence. When we became enamored by degrees we had to put some kind of credibility behind that degree so we started accreditation. That’s a sorry substitute for an education. Christians have become totally haywire in this matter, more concerned about what people think of their degree than the education needed to do what they are going to do. Who cares what people think? The purpose of education is to pursue that which you feel God has led you to do. Why do you need a sanctioned degree if you have a good education? You don’t.
Founding father, Alexander Hamilton did not finish college. In 1773, at the age of sixteen he enrolled in King’s College, now known as Columbia University, however, he left school after one year to begin his political career. Benjamin Franklin did not attend college and in fact had no formal higher education. Likewise George Washington never attended college. Twenty-seven of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence had no college degree. These were educated men yet they had no degree.
America was much better off when we understood the importance of education over degrees
We were also better off when we respected education for what it was. It is not to get a degree but to prepare for a work. Some of the most educated people I have ever met had no degrees. Some of the most ignorant people I have ever met had multiple degrees. It is not about the degree. It is about the knowledge and education. Many famous people in all walks of life have become successful sans a college degree.
God’s people must forsake the foolish teachings of this world in which we live. We must return to realizing that accreditation is merely allowing someone to place a value on your degrees at the expense of giving the education you feel is necessary for what you want to accomplish in the lives of others.
Let me close by sharing this. In 1972 Dr. Jack, Hyles founded Hyles-Anderson College
. The purpose was not to give degrees. The purpose was to train preachers, Christian school teachers and full-time workers. Degrees were given as a byproduct of the training given. As long as Hyles Anderson College
knew its purpose there was no need for accreditation. It was not about the degree to Dr. Hyles. It was about the education.
In 1982 God led me to found Texas Baptist College with the purpose of training God’s people for full time service as servants as well as leaders in service. We graduated preachers, Christian school teachers, Administrators, missionaries. secretaries, music coordinators, etc. We knew our purpose and those who subscribed to that purpose had absolutely no need for accreditation by those who have no idea of the requirements by God of those who were called of God.
In 2015 God led me to found Independent Baptist Online College (ibaptistcollege.org) for those who could not pack up and move for their education. This was done to supplement not substitute. Our first year God gave us 750 students. To God be the glory.
I brought on board men and women with no less than 20 years of experience in the ministry. Men of God like Dr. Tom Wallace, Dr. Wendell Evans, Dr. Les Hobbins, Dr. Tom Vogel, etc. Ladies with no less than 20 years of ministry experience have come on board. The objective is to educate. The degree has no more value than the education does and no non-Christian can properly evaluate the academia from a Fundamentalist perspective.
Some graduates left Hyles-Anderson College and wandered away from their original purpose of being in ministry. Rather than accepting responsibility for their own choices they criticized Hyles-Anderson College for their “inferior” degree. That is like saying I went to college and got a degree in medicine and it’s the school’s fault but I can’t be an attorney. You knew what was there when you went and it was your choice. If the degree does not suit what you now want to do then bite the bullet and go get a different degree. Do not blame the college for giving you the education that they intended to give you. That’s what their purpose was. To criticize the institution for your decision is lunacy.
Here is the sad part
Schools like Hyles-Anderson College listen and respond to what these people say, and that is what makes them change. They begin putting a higher credibility on their degrees because they have forgotten the purpose of their education. When you place a higher value on the degree you need accreditation to validate it even more. Men like Bob Jones Sr. did not start Bob Jones College which later became Bob Jones University merely to hand out degrees. He started it to train preachers. Men like Dr. Lee Roberson, Dr. Tom Malone, Dr. Jack Hyles did not start their colleges to hand out degrees. They started them to train preachers. Every time they awarded a degree it represented an education with a purpose. Over time others took over, responded to the critics and the purpose changed. Getting an education became secondary to getting a degree.
I am in no way suggesting that no one should attend an accredited college. There are situations where a person must take that into consideration. My argument is this. Why do we need accreditation if our purpose is different from theirs? Don’t be critical of those of us who says that our purpose is more important than submitting to the world’s standards for accreditation. It’s not necessary. Why does a pastor need an accredited degree? Why does a church music director need an accredited degree? Stop making accreditation the litmus test for every college. Stop considering unaccredited colleges as being inferior. Afterall it is the product that matters most.