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Ligonier Academy Bible College: An Interview with Michael Morales

Michael Morales serves as Dean of Admissions and Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Great Works in the Undergraduate Program and Certificate Program at Ligonier Academy. Some of our readers may not be familiar with Michael's work, so we thought we would take a moment to introduce him and his work at Ligonier Academy to you. Michael Dewalt has recently interviewed Michael about the Undergratuate Program at the Ligonier Academy. You can find other helpful questions and answers here. If you have not taken the time to consider Ligonier Academy for yourself, your friends or your children, please take a moment to read this interview and the school catalogue.

Michael, as an introduction to this interview, would you be open to include a brief explanation of the subject upon which you are doing your Ph.D.? I believe that you can discover something of what you can learn from a Professor by the subject of the dissertation he worked on; and I'd love to introduce you, and your work, to our readers? I love the Scriptures and am particularly fascinated with Hebrew narrative. My dissertation, supervised by Gordon J. Wenham (Trinity College, Bristol U.K.), develops and examines the pattern of going through the waters to the mountain of God for worship in the Pentateuch (in the Creation, Deluge, and Sea Crossing narratives). The thesis had begun as a study of Old Testament “baptism†(the first part of the pattern just mentioned) but has now developed into something of a narrative theology on worship. Readers can get something of a “taste†of the topic in a series of three blog-posts, with a fourth to come, on Ligonier’s website under the title “Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the LORD?†The mountain of God motif (also known as “cosmic mountain ideologyâ€) is pervasive in biblical literature as well as in the ancient Near East in general, and served as the archetype for temples. I am also trying to demonstrate, then, that these early narratives in Genesis prefigured the tabernacle cultus—demonstrating its logic and necessity (a point which accords well, incidentally, with the wilderness generation’s being the original audience). By God’s grace, I’d like eventually to develop this work into a complete biblical theology.
Could you explain what, if any, unique role Ligonier Academy seeks to play in the preparation of men and women for Christian service?
R.C. Sproul said, “My dream is that Ligonier Academy will supply this nation with an entire generation of articulate Christians who understand the Bible and their faith deeply, and that those individuals will then live out their faith in every nook and cranny of the world in which we live.†When we consider the general decline in biblical knowledge, both in our society and in our churches, as well as the decline in morality that inevitably follows, it becomes clear that something must be done. Convinced the prophetic warning “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge†(Hosea 4.6) remains truer than it has ever been, a solid Bible college—not simply a Christian “liberal artsâ€Â college, but a college focused upon biblical and theological studies—is, we believe, a strong step toward the true remedy. There are, to be sure, many Bible colleges around—so why another? Our answer is that, while most Bible colleges teach from a baptistic and fundamentalist perspective, Ligonier Academy’s college is a specifically Reformed Bible college, committed to teaching the riches of the historic Christian faith. For understanding the vision of the school better, I would really commend the two videos, one on the consequences of ideas and the other with R.C. Sproul introducing the school, on the homepage of our website.

Is the Academy accredited?
No academic institution is “born†accredited, because the process takes a couple years (and usually only after its graduates can be assessed)—thus we are not accredited, although the discussion is on the table for prayerful consideration. To be sure, we want to prioritize the integrity of the curriculum. However, it’s important to know that accredited, graduate-level institutions are allowed to accept some 10% of their incoming students from non-accredited schools. Also, Ligonier has longstanding relationships with the presidents and faculty of various seminaries, for example, many of which have already endorsed our programs. Sincere recommendations of top students to our seminary “friends†will likely prove more valuable to a student than a transcript from one of the thousands of accredited Bible colleges around the country. Perhaps the chief issue with accreditation is that being accredited allows students to apply for government financial aid. In the meantime, however, we hope to be able to offer qualified students comparable financial help.

What degrees and programs are offered at the Academy?
The Academy offers two four-year Bachelor of Arts and one two-year Associate of Arts:

Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies—focuses on the history and background of Scripture, the theology of Paul, and the original languages of Hebrew and Greek.

Bachelor of Arts in Theological Studies—focuses on the history of theology, philosophy, and apologetics, and on the historic ecclesiastical language of Latin.

Associate of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies—offers a foundation in Scripture and theology.

What is the difference between the B.A. in Biblical Studies and the B.A. in Theological Studies?
The B.A. in Biblical Studies includes more courses in the Bible and its background like the History of Israel, the Intertestamental Period, the Greco-Roman World, and the Theology of Paul. Also, students will take Greek I-IV and Hebrew I-IV, enabling them to exegete the Scriptures in their original languages. The B.A. in Theological Studies focuses more on historical theology and philosophy, with courses like the Theology of the Reformation, Christian Apologetics I-II, and includes Ecclesiastical Latin I-II since many of the great documents throughout church history, including the Reformation period, were originally written in Latin (many of which are not even translated yet).
What is the projected student to teacher ratio? Based on this, how closely will students be able to work with Professors?
We have aimed for a very low student to faculty ratio. While eventually reaching a student body of 250 or so, the opening window for the inaugural semester is 20-50 students. This will allow for a personal, close-knit environment in which to study and learn, where the professors and students get to know each other very well, meet together regularly for prayer, and have an opportunity to worship together as well.
How many hours constitute full-time enrollment? Are the spouses of full-time students permitted to audit courses?
Full-time enrollment is 12-18 credit hours (that’s 4 to 6 classes). Spouses of full-time students may audit courses (space permitting) without charge except for audit application and student activity fees.
Will there be any biblical or foreign language classes offered in the Undergraduate Program?
Yes, there will be two years each of Greek and Hebrew in the Biblical Studies B.A., and one year of Ecclesiastical Latin in the Theological Studies B.A.
Can a student expect to find the theological discipline of Biblical Theology (i.e. redemptive history) integrated into the theological programs?
Yes! In all three degree programs, including the two year A.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies, there are two required courses in Biblical Theology (BT 101 and 102).
Where do the students enrolled in the Undergraduate program live throughout the year?
Aside from the several students from the Central Florida area who will be commuting, other students, coming from around the country, may room together in local affordable apartments or condos, and some may stay with various members of St. Andrew’s (the church where R.C Sproul preaches regularly) who have agreed to serve as “host familiesâ€Â to incoming students. The particulars (such as amount of rent, etc.) of this last housing option are left for the family and student to work out. Some families happen to have “in-laws quarters†on their property with a kitchenette, for example, while others offer a spare room in their home and dinner with their family once a week—each is a unique situation. We are so thankful for the gracious hospitality of these St. Andrew’s members.
Are all classes "on campus"?
All classes will be taught on campus. However, the on-line course discussion is on the table with this likely scenario: after courses have been taught a first round, we will begin taping them to be offered on-line—so check in about this again next year or so!

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