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 yourÂ 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. MyÂ dissertation, supervised by Gordon J. Wenham (Trinity College, Bristol U.K.), developsÂ and examines the pattern of going through the waters to the mountain of God forÂ worship in the Pentateuch (in the Creation, Deluge, and Sea Crossing narratives). TheÂ thesis had begun as a study of Old Testament â€œbaptismâ€ (the first part of the pattern justÂ mentioned) but has now developed into something of a narrative theology on worship.Â Readers can get something of a â€œtasteâ€ of the topic in a series of three blog-posts,Â with a fourth to come, on Ligonierâ€™s website under the title â€œWhoÂ Shall Ascend the Mountain of the LORD?â€
The mountain of God motif (also knownÂ as â€œcosmic mountain ideologyâ€) is pervasive in biblical literature as well as in theÂ ancient Near East in general, and served as the archetype for temples. I am also tryingÂ to demonstrate, then, that these early narratives in Genesis prefigured the tabernacleÂ cultusâ€”demonstrating its logic and necessity (a point which accords well, incidentally,Â with the wilderness generationâ€™s being the original audience). By Godâ€™s grace, Iâ€™d likeÂ eventually to develop this work into a complete biblical theology.
Could you explain what, if any, unique role Ligonier Academy seeks to play in theÂ preparation of men and women for Christian service?
R.C. Sproul said, â€œMy dream is that Ligonier Academy will supply this nation withÂ an entire generation of articulate Christians who understand the Bible and their faithÂ deeply, and that those individuals will then live out their faith in every nook and crannyÂ of the world in which we live.â€ When we consider the general decline in biblicalÂ knowledge, both in our society and in our churches, as well as the decline in moralityÂ that inevitably follows, it becomes clear that something must be done. Convinced theÂ prophetic warning â€œMy people are destroyed for lack of knowledgeâ€ (Hosea 4.6) remainsÂ truer than it has ever been, a solid Bible collegeâ€”not simply a Christian â€œliberal artsâ€Â college, but a college focused upon biblical and theological studiesâ€”is, we believe, aÂ strong step toward the true remedy. There are, to be sure, many Bible colleges aroundâ€”so why another? Our answer is that, while most Bible colleges teach from a baptisticÂ and fundamentalist perspective, Ligonier Academyâ€™s college is a specifically ReformedÂ Bible college, committed to teaching the riches of the historic Christian faith. ForÂ understanding the vision of the school better, I would really commend the two videos,Â one on the consequences of ideas and the other with R.C. Sproul introducing the school,Â on the homepage of our website
Is the Academy accredited?
No academic institution is â€œbornâ€ accredited, because the process takes a couple yearsÂ (and usually only after its graduates can be assessed)â€”thus we are not accredited,Â although the discussion is on the table for prayerful consideration. To be sure, weÂ want to prioritize the integrity of the curriculum. However, itâ€™s important to know thatÂ accredited, graduate-level institutions are allowed to accept some 10% of their incomingÂ students from non-accredited schools. Also, Ligonier has longstanding relationshipsÂ with the presidents and faculty of various seminaries, for example, many of whichÂ have already endorsed our programs. Sincere recommendations of top students to ourÂ seminary â€œfriendsâ€ will likely prove more valuable to a student than a transcript fromÂ one of the thousands of accredited Bible colleges around the country. Perhaps the chiefÂ issue with accreditation is that being accredited allows students to apply for governmentÂ financial aid. In the meantime, however, we hope to be able to offer qualified studentsÂ 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 Studiesâ€”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 Studiesâ€”focuses on the history of theology, philosophy, and apologetics, and on the historic ecclesiastical language of Latin.
Associate of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studiesâ€”offers a foundation in Scripture and theology.
What is the difference between the B.A. in Biblical Studies and the B.A. in TheologicalÂ Studies?
The B.A. in Biblical Studies includes more courses in the Bible and its backgroundÂ like the History of Israel, the Intertestamental Period, the Greco-Roman World, and theÂ 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 StudiesÂ focuses more on historical theology and philosophy, with courses like the Theology ofÂ the Reformation, Christian Apologetics I-II, and includes Ecclesiastical Latin I-II sinceÂ many of the great documents throughout church history, including the ReformationÂ 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 beÂ able to work with Professors?
We have aimed for a very low student to faculty ratio. While eventually reaching aÂ student body of 250 or so, the opening window for the inaugural semester is 20-50Â students. This will allow for a personal, close-knit environment in which to study andÂ learn, where the professors and students get to know each other very well, meet togetherÂ 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 studentsÂ permitted to audit courses?
Full-time enrollment is 12-18 credit hours (thatâ€™s 4 to 6 classes). Spouses of full-timeÂ students may audit courses (space permitting) without charge except for audit applicationÂ and student activity fees.
Will there be any biblical or foreign language classes offered in the UndergraduateÂ Program?
Yes, there will be two years each of Greek and Hebrew in the Biblical Studies B.A., andÂ 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. redemptiveÂ history) integrated into the theological programs?
Yes! In all three degree programs, including the two year A.A. in Biblical andÂ Theological Studies, there are two required courses in Biblical Theology (BT 101 andÂ 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,Â other students, coming from around the country, may room together in local affordableÂ apartments or condos, and some may stay with various members of St. Andrewâ€™s (theÂ church where R.C Sproul preaches regularly) who have agreed to serve as â€œhost familiesâ€Â to incoming students. The particulars (such as amount of rent, etc.) of this last housingÂ option are left for the family and student to work out. Some families happen to have â€œin-laws quartersâ€ on their property with a kitchenette, for example, while others offer aÂ spare room in their home and dinner with their family once a weekâ€”each is a uniqueÂ situation. We are so thankful for the gracious hospitality of these St. Andrewâ€™s members.
Are all classes "on campus"?
All classes will be taught on campus. However, the on-line course discussion is on theÂ table with this likely scenario: after courses have been taught a first round, we will beginÂ taping them to be offered on-lineâ€”so check in about this again next year or so!