Choosing the right learning environment is an important decision. After all, ideas do have consequences. As a fully accredited, independent, private Christian university VIU strives to offer a well-rounded educational and spiritual experience that emerges from reliance on the time-tested approach, immersion in curriculum centered in Christ and His Word. Recently, The Best Schools has ranked VIU as having the sixth best graduate program in Christian apologetics in the United States.
A VIU education focuses on several distinctive areas, here are a few:
1. Uncompromising view of the inerrant Word of God.
While many Christian universities advertise a belief in the inspired and inerrant Scriptures, it may be completely different when you get into the classroom. It all depends on the professor’s view of the Bible and what they mean by the word “inerrant”, which may be different from the school’s official doctrinal statement. Some Christian professors have a nuanced view of inerrancy that allows legend and embellishment into the Bible, especially the gospels. They often defend their position by asserting the gospel writers have flexibility and license to use legend, embellishment, and invented speeches that never took place just as other writers did in Greco-Roman culture. This way of thinking ultimately allows the conventions of extra-biblical literature to change the truth-value of what is written in the Bible.
At VIU, we have adopted the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (CSBI) as our definition of what we mean by the term “biblical inerrancy”. Each faculty member signs the CSBI and affirms the Bible is without error, legend, or fabrication in any sense, before they step foot in the classroom! You never have to worry about what your professor believes in this regard. VIU believes a thorough examination of the Bible makes clear the logic of inerrancy:
- God cannot err or lie.
- The Bible is God’s Word.
- Therefore, the Bible cannot err or lie.
2. VIU advocates Christo-centric classical theology.
Don’t be fooled by some promises on the website as to doctrinal integrity. It is common place nowadays that conservative theologians and professors reject the classical attributes of God, including but not limited to rejecting His immutability (unchanging), timeless eternity, infinity, simplicity (unity, no parts), and omniscience (all-knowing). Instead, they either reject or significantly alter these traditional attributes that have a firm place in the history of the church. Some have adopted a more “modern” and/or anthropomorphic approach to God’s nature. The consequences can be devastating for the rest of your theology, since all theology either directly or indirectly flows from your views on the nature of God.
As A.W. Tozer insightfully declares the importance of a correct understanding of the nature of God in his Knowledge of the Holy (New York: HarperCollins, 1961):
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason, the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God (p. 1).
For this reason, the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God (p. 1).
VIU places an emphasis on a classical understanding of the nature of God. A classical understanding of theology views doctrine, especially the doctrine of God and his attributes, and the doctrine of Christ, as it has been articulated in the Scriptures, and through the early centuries of church in the tradition of Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas. Not only does VIU affirm these attributes of God, they teach you how to defend them!
3. VIU teaches classical/evidential apologetics.
As more and more apologetic programs spring up, there aremany methods being put forth to defend the faith. Several of these methods have their advantages and positive aspects, however, VIU unequivocally affirms a classical approach to apologetics and draws upon material evidence. What does this mean? It means that classical apologist recognizes the importance of how individuals view the world (worldview). Classical apologetics help clear away bad ideas, which can hinder the receiving of truth, and influence the way one views the data of reality. One’s worldview is crucial to how he/she understand and decide whether or not to receive the evidence presented to them. In other words, the classical approach addresses the individual’s thinking since it “colors” the way one understands the world. That is, we recognize that ideas have consequences! For example, if an atheist does not believe in the existence of God, how is it possible for the atheist to believe in the Son of God. If God doesn’t exist, he cannot possibly have a “Son”. In this case, classical apologists would follow Francis Schaeffer’s wise advice, do pre-evangelism!
In addition, if necessary, classical apologists draw upon classical philosophical arguments (that are consistent with Scripture, Col 2:8) rooted in the Greek philosophical tradition and grounded in the laws of logic to address one’s worldview and to defend the truths of the Bible. This is because “facts” and “data” do not come with instruction manuals on how to interpret the data. Philosophical and logical reasoning in the power of the Holy Spirit can help someone view things in a different way, thus enabling them to understand and interpret the gospel clearly. Since all truth is God’s truth, if a statement is true, it will never contradict the Bible.
4. VIU offers an opportunity for debt-free education.
Many institutions offer Federal Financial Aid (FSA), which can be helpful to some if used responsibly. However, all-to-often, the student graduates with considerable debt which often can take many years, or even a lifetime to pay back. Currently, student loan debt, and delinquent status, has reached dangerous levels in the United States. Today, according to Forbes, student borrowers in the U.S. are burdened with $1.52 Trillion, nearly 11% of the 44.2 million American borrowers with student loan debt are delinquent by 90+ days. This debt often ranges from $30K to $200K and takes decades or even a lifetime to pay-off.
VIU decided not to participate in the FSA
programs for many reasons, though primarily to avoid saddling students with
debt they may never be able to pay-off and hamper their ability to minister.
In addition, the federal government and state legislatures can at any
time pass anti-biblical laws that mandate all schools (that receive government
aid) to comply. When this legislative shoe drops, Christian schools that have
become dependent upon the federal aid will be tempted to compromise their
doctrinal statements to continue to receive federal funds.
VIU offers several ways to stay debt free:
Low Tuition Costs: VIU has one of the affordable tuition costs of any accredited university or seminary. It is often a fraction of the amount of other schools.
Veterans’ Benefits: Veterans may utilize their benefits at VIU.
Waivers: VIU offers 30% waivers
off tuition costs if you are in ministry or missions. Also, waivers are offered
to students with financial need. Last year, VIU awarded nearly $44,000 in
financial assistance to students.
Pay-As-You-Go Program: The PAYG program offers students a method to pay tuition costs at four scheduled times, which the student decides, during the semester.
Spousal Discount: If the spouse of a current student desires to take courses, their tuition is discounted by 50%.
5. VIU is one of just a few U.S. evangelical universities that offer an accredited MA/PhD program in biblical archaeology.
The VIU School of Archaeology is a vital part of apologetic training, emphasizing the tangible evidence of material culture that supports the philosophical arguments for a Christian worldview and the Bible. Not only is VIU unique in this regard, the university is currently excavating (with Trinity Southwest University) the biblical city of Sodom (Tall el-Hammam) in Jordan and offers students hands-on experience. This excavation has contributed volumes of new information about the southern Levant (Canaan) and Jordan Valley, often leading to new publications and recent documentaries.