Association of Reformed Theological Seminaries: A Legit Attempt at Unrecognized Accreditation?

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by Michael Burgos, Aug 3, 2021.

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  1. A few legitimate institutions, albeit lacking recognized accreditation, claim accreditation from ARTS. These include Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and Birmingham Theological Seminary, Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, etc. I can attest that these are legitimate institutions that require substantial coursework that meets or exceeds what any ATS accredited institution would require (although I have not attended these schools but have collogues and close friends that have). Given the Reformed emphasis on education and work, institutions within the Reformed tradition typically do not lack rigor. ARTS seems to me to be a genuine and thought-through attempt at unrecognized accreditation. That is, I don't see any reason to view ARTS as an accreditation mill and I suspect the schools who have pursued accreditation with ARTS have reservations about recognized accreditation. Thoughts?
     
    Dustin likes this.
  2. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    This begets the question why these institutions wouldn't just apply to ATS.
     
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  3. Besides a general skepticism of any involvement with the federal government?
     
  4. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    ATS being recognized by NACIQI doesn't exactly make them seem like a tentacle of the Beast to me.

    But mine is not the only opinion, and especially if these seminaries are among those that seek religious exemptions from state approval, then okay, I could buy that.
     
  5. There have been a few significant and troubling events. E.g., Patrick Henry College's kerfuffle with the AALE; Master's College & Seminary's trouble with WASC; Westminster Theological Seminary's problems with MSACS; and Gordon College's issues with NEASC. While I don't necessarily agree with these institutions in the OP, I see their point. And yes, all of these have religious exemptions.
     
  6. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Wait, I'm not sure what schools having issues with AALE, WASC, MSACS, or NEASC has to do with ATS.
     
  7. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Fine. But being accredited by an unrecognized agency is the exact same thing as being unaccredited. This is true no matter why a school chooses such a route.

    (It's actually a little worse since most schools like that don't explain how their accreditation is from an unrecognized source, counting on applicants not knowing the difference.)
     
    Dustin likes this.
  8. My point was that there are reasons, should one desire them, to have distrust in recognized accreditation.
     
  9. I'm unpersuaded by that claim. Maybe substantiate it.
     
  10. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    There are reasons, should one desire them, to mistrust almost anything. But I'd rather judge ATS on its own actions, not those of other organizations over which it has no control.
     
  11. ATS is an accreditor. It is recognized by the USDE and CHEA. Let's not pretend accreditors don't have substantial involvement with the federal government. Accreditors, and by proxy the fed, are the gatekeepers of educational legitimacy, and very conservative Christians tend to have a healthy distrust of the federal government's involvement with anything related to the church (i.e., a parachurch ministry like a Bible college and seminary).
     
  12. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    You made that point already. But when your examples of objectionable behavior from accreditors all involved other accreditors than ATS... well, I made my point about that already as well.
     
    Dustin likes this.
  13. OldSage

    OldSage New Member

    In my circle I have a few connections to those that are in ARTS leadership. While government leeriness is a factor for some individuals in the organization, it isn't the chief reason for their existence. ATS had been very leering of distance and online programs. They used to only allow a small amount of distance courses, then they moved up to half a degree can be online, but that still meant a year and a half needed to be done in person. I don't know what ATS's stance on online education is now but most ARTS schools significantly utilize distance programs. Another is money, not just for the accreditation processes and fees, but also such things as a school having a physical library, ratio of full-time staff members etc. One ARTS school caps their tuition at $200 a class as a commitment to accessibility of education, so it's not a big money making endeavour and relies a lot on donors. Along with accessibility, many (but not all) ARTS schools are structured as graduate level only and accept a higher ratio of non-bachelor degree applicants than ATS would allow. This is usually due to those pursuing lay or career change ordination. Many of their programs are approved by major reformed and presbyterian denominations (such as the PCA) to qualify for the ordination process. I know from those involved that ARTS is considering pursuing CHEA recognition, but are also wrestling with fears of Title IX and thinking of not accepting federal aid money at all. That said, "considering pursuing CHEA recognition" is not CHEA recognition. These schools have a responsibility to clearly state what ARTS accreditation does and doesn't mean. To me, that responsibility also goes farther than just listing it on a website somewhere; each enrolling student needs to be made aware what their degree will and won't do for them. That may happen, I don't know, but I would go as far as saying a consent form signed by the student explaining ARTS and accreditation should be a required part of each enrollment packet. I'm not an accreditation expert, personally for my own degrees I simplistically just say "RA or nothing" but that's how I understand the ARTS situation.
     
    SteveFoerster and Michael Burgos like this.
  14. Do you know something about ATS that I don't?
    Super helpful. Thanks.
     
  15. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    I'm actually sympathetic to religious schools being "leery" of federally recognized accreditation. I think that the federal Department of Education should state clearly and unequivocally that it recognizes NO accreditation of religious training institutions or programs and that students at such institutions and in such programs are eligible for NO federal aid.
     
    Rich Douglas likes this.
  16. I'd be okay with that especially since accreditation cannot ensure the most important facet of theological education.
     
  17. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Yeah, sure. Just wait right there....
     
  18. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    You mean the fake sky-god thing? Yeah, that's hard to find primary and secondary evidence for.
     
  19. You mad bro? And I won't bother to overwhelm your quaint characterization of the religion that created Western civilization by noting that it is the only thing that accounts for the transcendentals you assume every moment of your life. This is a conversation about a particular topic and not a venue to voice puerile gripes about theism.
     
  20. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    As the beginning of Western civilization predates Christianity, perhaps it would be more accurate to reverse the order of which created which.
     
    Vonnegut likes this.

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