South African Theological Seminary

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by Disciple, Oct 7, 2003.

  1. Disciple

    Disciple New Member

    Does anyone have some experience with "South African Theological Seminary". Will a degree earned there be recognized in the US?

    Thanks for your time.

    A. Harten
  2. AlnEstn

    AlnEstn New Member

    Some on this board may be able to be more help than I can, but I will pass along my 2 cents (Canadian cents at that, so about 1 - 1 1/2 cents US :) ).
    I am currently a SATS student (M.Th.) so have not yet tested how it will be accepted as far as getting one into a NA doctorate. I did discuss this issue with a few accredited US schools before I began my M.Th (including one with a Ph.D. in Biblical studies), and they said they would evaluate it as they would any other international degree. That is, they would be looking at the "accreditational" standards of the country, the academics of the institution, and the content of the program.
    It also appears to me that in the field of Biblical/Theological studies, SA degrees are becoming a lot more accepted in Canada at least (for academic positions) , especially from many of the SA universities. Because private theological education offered independent of the SA universities (like SATS) is a new thing, it is my guess that such education will take a little longer to find acceptance.
    Hope this helps!
  3. flipkid

    flipkid New Member

    You will get a mixed review on the acceptability factor depending on who you ask. In addition the strict academic answer (Yes it is GAAP equvalent therefore anyone who does not accept it is totally oblivious and ignorant to Distance Learning...If we could shut down all these degree mills, then they would take it seriously)may be totally different from the answer from those that actually work in the field of Theology and Ministry. (if it works for you personally, professionally, and financially then go for it... be willing to take heat for not graduating from a mainline United States RA university. Let your proof be in your work...after all we have a lot of Pastor's with plenty of Sheep skins...but no sheep.) The program looks fine and challenging. Everyone that has posted on their actual coursework agree it is no easy degree by any stretch on the imagination.

    The majority of the reviews on this forum of SATS are positive. This prompted me to request their informatio to review. Yet in a phone conversation with Rick Walston who has written specifically about Christian Distance Education he does not reccommend them over other foreign options.

    I do not recall hearing of anyone who has actually used their degree from SATS for employment purposes. Specifically for a job they did not have prior to going to SATS and if their degree from SATS was evaulated by their employer/church/ministry as being equivalent to a RA degree and acceptable to that employer for the purposes of employment. If it is to enhance what you are already doing, this may not be an issue. If it is to gain employment or entrance to a RA school in the U.S. ask, and get it in writing before investing your money.
  4. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Which brings to mind a subject previously discussed on this forum, i.e., personal utility of a degree. Several observations regarding degrees in religion/theology/ministry:

    1) What does one wish to do with the degree? If one's objective is to teach at an RA (AABC/TRACS/ATS/etc.) institution, then one would certainly want to purse RA degrees.

    2) If one is seeking to use the credential to gain admission into a higher (e.g., BA to MA or MA to PhD) RA program, then one would want to pursue the RA degree.

    3) If one is pursuing ordination in a denomination/fellowship which requires an RA MDiv, then one would need the RA degree.

    4) If, however, one never intends to use the degree for the above purposes and is cognizant that the utility of an unaccredited degree is less than an accredited one, then a non-RA degree may well meet one's need. Many in ecclesiastical circles have gone the non-RA route, earned degrees from substantive non-RA Bible Colleges/Seminaries, and are pleased with their academic studies. Their life's call is not academia, but the parish or para-church ministry.
  5. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member

    I'm not sure this thread has addressed one of my principal concerns which is academic credibility . SATS as I understand it has submitted its program to the agency ordained by the SA government to evaluate the quality of independent schools. That agency has looked at the qualifications of the professors, the curricula etc and it did require SATS to give up its doc program. But, SATS is accredited through the masters. Were one to think SATS is inconsistent with quality, then one is questioning the decision of that governmental office which says it is. Were one to pursue that claim, then give proof! That is, the Government of SA says SATS is credible. As I understand, it the SA government University , Unizul, accepts SATS graduates into the Unizul higher degree programs. If one thinks SATS lacks quality, then one needs to counter that phenomenon too. Why would the UZ Dept of Theology accept SATS programs were SATS not credible? That is Unizul, says SATS is credible. Were one to argue that SATS lacks quality , then needs to provide proof! SATS , therefore, is GAAP. SATS has submitted itself to evaluation and has passed muster. Many Others have not.

    EG, loads of USA unaccredited theological schools do not do this. They do not submit themselves to academic evaluation. They do not seek accreditation from a US recognized agency. They rather claim phony accreditation , that is, they often misrepresent! Very Christian, isn't it? Or say they do not want accreditation (ha,ha) at all , that is, often they lie. Very Christian, isn't it? Does that mean all US nonaccredited theology schools have no academic credibility? Not at all. A few do.

    Credibility can be measured by comparing that school's program to an accredited school's program: qualifications of professors, teaching strategies and materials, rigor, duration , expectations, and transferability of the program. I understand one unaccredited seminary regularly gets its MDivers into the DTS PhD program! Credibility can oft be measured by how many from any unaccredited school are accepted into accredited grad programs elsewhere. If accredited Christian seminaries will not accept a millish "Christian" seminary grad into its program, then on what basis is credibility determined? If a millish seminary offers degrees for work far substandard to that required in accredited seminaries, then on what basis is quality determined?

    Re SATS, it is my hunch that were one applicant to present a master's degree from SATS to a USA accredited seminary ,wrapping said degree in the SA document evincing SATS governmentally approved accreditor granting SATS accreditation , and another applicant to present a master's from "Bemuddled Baptist Seminary" , self accredited, whose faculty consists of 12 profs all with ThDs gotten from Bemuddled Baptist Seminary or other of like ilk by taking four classes and writing a 15 page dissertation , then the SATS applicant would be accepted, other conditions being equal, but the grad from "Bemuddled" would not! If one thinks the opposite, then one needs to show how many Bemuddled MDivers or its real counterpart have enrolled in RA/ATS accredited doc programs.

    That brings us to utility. It is credibility on which utility is based. It is the SA Gov and a SA state university which gives SATS credibility and therefore SATS will enjoy a wider utility than "Bemuddled Seminary." Oh to be sure, if "Bemuddled Seminary" is the organ of the Bemuddled Baptist denomination, then within that denomination one's Bemuddled degree has utility. One with the ThD, then, from Bemuddled will be fawned over and admired as a great scholar by all those Bemuddled Baptists regardless of whether that ThD holder can contrast Rahner from Aquinas on the trinal Persons or apply the Colwell rule to Greek substantives or deal with the hapaxes in the Pastorals. Such a "scholar" can feel proud that he or she is called "Dr." for that piddling, unchallenging, rigorless Bemuddled "graduate" work, just as all those Drs are so called who actually did it the credible way. Such vain and deceitful uneveness is oft sanctioned by many "Christian" churches , denominations or schools.

    The credible way? What is that? That usually is when it is done in a manner which has the approval of those responsible for evaluating academic programs or done in a manner that would be so approved. Credibility in academics is not the function of a particular , as the Bemuddled Baptist, denomination. Credibility in academics generally is based on accreditation which provides some demonstrable standards. God has given that accreditational function to government approved accreditors as AABC, RA, ATS, TRACS etc or in the case of SA SAQA!

    But what of those who succeed more broadly, but have only unaccredited degrees? Of course there are these success stories. Tim LaHaye was my pastor for years in San Diego and only had then a BA from Bob Jones. Yet Tim worked hard in his ministry--though he and I may have disagreements on eschatology and cessationism- and became a huge success. Of course it can be done. James White did it with an unaccredited doc. But these are much succeeding not because of, but in spite of, their unaccredited education. And some of that school education still is not at times widely accepted. I think , EG, it would be illegal for White to use his CES doc in secular contexts in one state that actually borders CES itself! And their success does not in academia change the status of a school's credibility. BJU was already well recognized and would be regardless of La Haye. And CES, as far as I know, has gained no wider acceptance from academia because of White [ I do NOT compare the better CES or the genuinely qualified Walston and his faculty of 'mentors' with Bemuddled Baptist and its Bemuddled profs].

    Frankly, I think it improper to justify one's choice of unaccredited schools , which generally are very substandard, or on this board to encourage an inquirerer to do so, on the basis of what one intends to do with that degree, particularly if one is Christian. IMO, "Christianity" should not be an excuse for substandard and even at times deceitful degrees regardless of the application or purpose of that education. Further, unless one's name is Juanita, and therefore knows the future, how can one rule out the possible need to have a recognized degree or the possible hurt of having not an unrecognized degree? And frankly ,again, it would appear to me unseemly to in the interest of God or His Church or Higher Education or of the individual himself either to encourage on this board enquirers to consider enrolling in [most] unaccredited schools on the basis that some few graduates of unaccredited schools have "made it" big time in spite of having unaccredited degrees! The future is not known for these inquirers and the exception of a few big timers proves no rule.

    Of course higher ed should also be done for oneself too. In a way one accredits for himself his own work. Self satisfaction is much my goal. My dissertation topic is of great interest to me , and I think the church dogma on it is wrong. Were I desiring to in the USA RA seminary teach, then RA or even the UK would be the better way to go for a terminal degree. But BTW, connections and reputation, not degrees, are equally important to get a position and the positions for teaching theology are flooded with qualified applicants. So, since I'm just an old guy who is isn't much looking to change careers and since I do it much only for myself anyway, why not go unaccredited? What's the diff?

    The diff is that my product, ie, dissertation, is going to be read by four very theologically qualified profs on my committee, two from Unizul a government university and two from other SA government universities, not by a Bemuddled prof with a Bemuddled degree. The diff is acknowledged theological experts are going to evaluate whether or not my product equals that expected of a genuine doctor of theology. The difference is credibility! If they approve it, then my product and my degree is credible to more than just to those Bemuddled Baptists. Also, only then is my work credible to me too, ie, for the purpose of getting a doctorate.

    I distinguish between doctrinal and educational truth. When it comes to religious faith I look toward God. When it comes to quality in education, I look toward US government approved accreditation or outside the US the equivalent, GAAP or to the rigorous equivalent of these. These, not the Church or any part of it , most clearly and certainly establish credibility in higher ed. "Render unto Caesar..."
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 8, 2003
  6. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member


    [1] rather, "inquirer"

    [2] rather, "recognized"

    [3] yes, we often hear the argument "render rather unto the denominations."

    If the Bemuddled Baptists like my unaccredited degree, then that should be sufficent. Perhaps it would be if that denomination understood higher theological education and the rigor of that.

    If the denomination does not and instead rather accepts and encourages theological degrees which are far inferior in expections and educational effects to the rigor and results of accredited degrees [and AGAIN not all un accredited schools are inferior, simply most !] , then I suggest one is really pleasing men, not God. It is not truthful to claim degrees when those degrees are earned for work which bears little resemblance to work done in rigorous schools. Such contradicts the graduate's probable proposition that his God is a God who loves truth. Right, serve that God who loves truth with fraudulent qualifications and false vanity! Be both a master of divinty and a master of deceit.

    Far better is it to serve substantially with no degrees than to serve with degrees of no substance.
  7. Guest

    Guest Guest


    Please don't bemuddle the good Baptists! ;)
  8. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member


    I like the good Baptists;)
  9. mikeguest

    mikeguest New Member

    They surely are fully accredited in the US!
    "Evaluation of SATS postgraduate qualifications per USA equivalence SATS transcripts were submitted to the following two organizations (which are two of the most frequently used and highly recommended USA evaluators) for evaluation per their USA equivalence:
    International Education Research Foundation, Inc. (IERF - International Education Research Foundation, Inc.) American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers’ International Education Services (AACRAO International Education Services: Welcome)
    ERF evaluated the SATS degrees as being equivalent to regionally accredited degrees in the USA. The AACRAO has evaluated SATS as follows:

    Per the MTh, the AACRAO evaluation states: The master’s degree from the South African Theological Seminary represents attainment of a level of education comparable to a master’s degree in theology from a regionally accredited university in the United States."
    Please note that the URL has changed to: South African Theological Seminary | Bible College and Study Program

    Mike Guest

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