[Editor's note: Michael Morales, the Dean of Admissions for Ligonier Academy, recently took time to answer a few questions from Christianity.com about Ligonier Academy, including the role that Dr. R.C. Sproul had in shaping its vision and what his ongoing involvement will be at the Academy.]
Christianity.com: Thank you, Professor Morales, for taking time to answer a few questions today. Starting with the basics, what can you tell us about the Academy and its purpose? Michael Morales: Ligonier Academy is a Bible college offering two four-year Bachelor of Arts programs, one in Biblical Studies and the other in Theological Studies, as well as a two-year Associate of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies. Encapsulating everything Ligonier Ministries stands for, the Academy's purpose is to equip the next generation of Christians to be leaders in the church and in the world—discerning, gracious, and bold leaders who are grounded in the truths of Scripture and able to defend the faith once delivered for all. As R.C. Sproul has 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."
MM: 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 arts" 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 video with R.C. Sproul on the homepage of our website.
(Photo: Ligonier Academy's idyllic campus in Sanford, FL)
Ccom: In what ways does it differ from a seminary? MM: This is a good question, and there has been some confusion on just this point. While Ligonier Academy does offer a solid Doctor of Ministry program with world-class professors (and a DMin is typical of some seminaries), the Bible college itself is not a seminary. Seminaries offer Masters level programs, typically the Master of Divinity degree, while the Academy's programs, as mentioned above, are undergraduate level. While our student body will be comprised of young men and women with various goals, Ligonier Academy does aspire to be a piece in the puzzle of a pastor's training as well, but a piece that fits in before seminary through our undergraduate Bible college, and after seminary via our Doctor of Ministry program. By attending our college before seminary, a future pastor will be all the more grounded and ready to excel in the biblical languages, systematic theology, apologetics, and church history.
Ccom: Who is teaching? MM: We are still, excitedly, putting together the faculty, but already have Dr. Fowler White, the Vice President of the Academy, slated for courses in New Testament; R.C. Sproul, Jr. will be teaching in the Great Works department, which includes courses in literature and philosophy, as well as in the area of apologetics; I am looking forward to teaching on the Old Testament, and some of the Great Works, too; Keith Mathison will probably do some teaching in church history and historical theology as an adjunct. We are in the process of interviewing some robust theologians for the systematic theology courses. In addition, Ligonier Ministries has developed a good relationship over the years with reputable professors around the country, and will likely have some adjunct teaching from among these. We are, not surprisingly, often asked: "Will R.C. Sproul be teaching?" Happily, the answer is yes, although these will likely be in the form of guest lectures within a course taught by another professor. For example, one of R.C.'s favorite novels is Melville's Moby Dick, so he will probably be giving that specific lecture. We could also see him teaching on justification by faith either in the Romans course or in the systematic theology course that covers salvation.
Ccom: What are some of the courses? MM: In biblical studies, there are classes on the gospels, Paul's epistles (focusing primarily on Romans), the Pentateuch, the prophets, two courses covering the Old and New Testaments under biblical theology; we offer eight courses through systematic theology; eight classes going through the Great Works of philosophy, literature, and music; and classes in the biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek, as well as in ecclesiastical Latin. These are just some of the offerings we are eagerly looking forward to teaching.
(Photo below: Dr. R.C. Sproul in the early 1970s
at The Ligonier Valley Study Center)
The Ligonier Valley Study Center began in 1971 in the mountains of western Pennsylvania, where students came for the clear biblical instruction of Dr. R.C. Sproul. Since then, Ligonier ministries has expanded and moved, but never wavered from its founding vision.
Ccom: The Academy is hosting a special preview event coming up in January (21st 12-2pm)… what can you tell us about this event? http://studyatligonier.org/sign-up-for-campus-visit/
MM: Yes, we are very excited about this event. To begin with the larger picture, there is an Academy Conference scheduled for January 21-22: History. Truth. Faith. -Pillars of Christian Orthodoxy, with speakers Stephen Nichols, R.C. Sproul, and Carl Trueman. Before the conference begins, we are having a campus preview luncheon at the Academy building here in Sanford, FL. In addition to providing lunch, we will offer an overview of the Academy programs, have a time of Q&A, and give a walking tour of the stunning campus. Also, everyone who attends the preview luncheon gets free admission to the following conference—how's that sound?
Ccom: Who can study at the Academy? MM: Generally speaking, we are looking for students from a broad range of evangelical affiliations who desire to engage in the rigorous study of Scripture in the context of historic Christian orthodoxy. Some of our students will enter one of the Academy's programs with the goal of pursuing further graduate studies, in seminary or otherwise. Others will come for the two-year AA degree to get a solid foundation and biblical worldview before going on elsewhere to become doctors or homeschooling housewives. Some will come with a two-year degree from another institution and, by adding two years at our college, will earn a BA of Biblical and Theological Studies from Ligonier. Finally, there will be those who simply want to take a course or two at a time for personal enrichment.
Ccom: What are mentoring relationships like at the Academy? MM: We have aimed for a very low student to faculty ratio. While eventually reaching a student body of a couple hundred, the opening window for the inaugural semester, for example, 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.
Ccom: What are the deadlines for application that a prospective student needs to know? MM: The early application deadline, almost upon us, is January 1, 2011. The regular application deadline is February 15, 2011 and the late application deadline is April 1st.
Ccom: Thank you again, Michael, for taking time to share about Ligonier Academy. MM: Thanks for this time with you. We are prayerfully looking forward to being a part of the LORD's hand in the lives of many of His young people, equipping them to exalt Christ and glorify His good Name.
To learn more about Ligonier Academy, visit their website: http://StudyAtLigonier.org
Michael Morales serves as the Dean of Admissions and Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Great Works at Ligonier Academy. He is a Teaching Elder in the PCA, and, before coming to Ligonier, taught for three years at an evangelical seminary. He has an M.A. in Religion (with concentration in Doctrine); an M.Div. with awards in Old Testament, New Testament, Systematic Theology, Church History, Christianity & Culture, and Pastoral Promise; is currently pursuing the completion of his Ph.D. in the Pentateuch under renowned Old Testament scholar Gordon J. Wenham at Trinity College, U.K.
Michael is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Dante Society of America. He and his wife Elise have four sons, Armando, Augustine (Diego), Alejandro, and Andres. Having served as a senior pastor for four years, Michael joins a pastoral heart to his commitment for high academic standards in his role at Ligonier Academy.