BCC Staff Note: You’re reading the ninth in a multi-part BCC Grace & Truth blog series on Biblical Counseling Education and Equipping. These posts are written by leading biblical counseling equippers/educators. In today’s post, Ernie Baker of The Master’s College shares about Training with the Word for Worldwide Impact.
Our academic is practical and our practical is academic. Because of this desire we approach the Scriptures at The Master’s College seriously, but do so knowing we are training people to meet with other precious people who are struggling with life.
Therefore, the life-changing principles of Scripture must be made practical. Because of this high regard for the authority of Scripture and its life changing ramifications, our sovereign Lord has historically blessed our program with worldwide impact. Saying it succinctly, we are committed to Scripture and by the grace of God we are having a worldwide impact.
The Master’s College was one of the first Christian Liberal Arts colleges in world to offer a fully accredited undergraduate degree in biblical counseling. Because of our President’s high commitment to Scripture the Social Sciences degree was phased out in the early 1990’s and replaced by a biblical counseling degree.
Dr. MacArthur recruited Dr. Bob Smith of Faith Ministries in Lafayette Indiana to come to the school to launch the program. Soon after the first Master of Arts program in the history of the biblical counseling movement was started and has been blessed abundantly ever since.
Between the two programs, we consider it a tremendous blessing and a strategic opportunity to have influence on over 200 students. Between the undergrad and graduate program we are about 20% of The Master’s College student body.
We offer on-line courses both at the undergrad and graduate level and our graduate program can be done in two formats. Some move from all over the world to Southern California to study in our resident program including students recently from Russia, China, Brazil, Taiwan and Canada and many states.
But we have many students that study in our summer format predominantly. Between taking classes during our summer semester and on-line our counseling degree can be finished from the convenience of home having traveled to Southern Californian for a few weeks during the summer. These classes are offered in module format meaning that there is a “pre-session” phase where homework is done truly at home, an “in-session” phase where you are in class for lecture or practice counseling. These are followed by; you guessed it, a post-session timeframe to finish homework.
In recent years, students have traveled from all regions of the United States and the world to study during the summer. We have the blessing of getting to know, care for and train students from China, Russia, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Canada (to name a few). In recent years we have had pastors and pastor’s wives, missionaries, moms, teachers, lawyers, airline pilots, physicians, and others with advanced degrees in psychology.
Our Emphasis: Scripture and People
Because of our view of Scripture, we teach a worldview that tells us that Scripture is the best interpretive lens for life. We desire students to think biblically about the psychologies and be able to evaluate them from a biblical worldview. Therefore, we teach how to rightly interpret Scripture having a vigorous hermeneutics course as part of the foundation of our graduate program. Of course, our undergrads get a high view of Scripture by being part of the Bible department at the college.
We also are committed to understanding people properly. Our view of Scripture sees humans as worshipers that struggle with issues because of “worship disorders” that began in the garden (see Genesis 3).
Our Emphasis: Making Disciples of the Whole Person
Because we believe in the doctrine of progressive sanctification (2 Corinthians 3:18) we desire to help our students grow in their walks with the Lord as they are learning to be loving helpers of others. We emphasize not only academic content, keeping up with the latest literature and thinking in the biblical counseling world, but also require personal growth projects to work on inner person character issues. That still would not be enough to equip an equipper of others though so we also train our students in skills (competencies).
To help learn these skills we require practice counseling, an observation class and also an internship class where actual counseling is overseen by a professor. All of these counseling hours count toward ACBC (The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors) certification. The exams for ACBC certification are woven into the program so that by the time you graduate you are almost complete with ACBC certification as well.
Our Emphasis: The Church
The Lord’s local church (community) is of high importance to us since this is a main emphasis of Scripture. This suits our three main professors (Dr. Ernie Baker, Dr. Bob Somerville, and Dr. John Street) well since all three come from a pastoral ministry background having shepherded the Lord’s flock for about 100 years of combined pastoral ministry experience and many thousands of hours of discipleship counseling.
Because of Master’s College historic role in the biblical counseling movement we have been blessed to train many of the movement’s leaders including board members of The Biblical Counseling Coalition (Dr. Nicholas Ellen, Jonathan Holmes, Adrian Martinez, Shannon McCoy, Sacha Mendes, Dr. Lilly Park, Betty-Anne Van Rees, and Andrew Rogers). Other Biblical Counseling leaders have served as full-time or adjunct professors for us including (Elyse Fitzpatrick , Dr. Heath Lambert, Dr. Wayne Mack, Dr. Jim Newheiser, Martha Peace, Dr. Bob Smith, and Dr. Stuart Scott).
Many of our current students or grads are leading strategic counseling ministries in key churches and para-church ministries in the United States and around the world.
We have many requests for a D.Min. in Biblical counseling and hope for that to become a reality soon. We also see that a cutting-edge methodology is training conciliators to serve in church marriage and family interventions as mediators. It is our hope to see a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling degree with a concentration in biblical conciliation launched.
There has never been a better time to be a biblical counselor. The world obviously has needs. But the darker the night the brighter the light of God’s word shines with answers!
If you are considering furthering your foundational training received from your local church, ACBC on the road training, or CCEF (The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation), please prayerfully consider a degree at The Master’s College. We take the Word seriously and are training for worldwide impact.
Join the Conversation
Which components of the training at The Master’s College most excite you?