Monday, January 2, 2012

Accreditation- Some problems I see.

In the last post, I presented a modest proposal for you to consider.  Here, I have outlined a few reasons as to why I am against accreditation.

It is not Scriptural.  The Bible says, “So then every one of us shall give an account of himself before God.”  Putting an intervening layer of bureaucracy between us and God makes it far too easy for us believe that because we have satisfied the accrediting organization, we have satisfied God. Not only that, but it makes it easy for the accrediting body to slip in requirements - seemingly innocuous at first - which may subtly but certainly steer us away from the will of God for our ministry.

It is not Baptist.  A Baptist believes - or should believe - in the autonomy of the local church.  Many of us have long taken issue with the General Association of Regular Baptists for their custom of approving Christian colleges. Who are we to approve or disapprove of one another?  We can counsel, we can advise, we can recommend or fail to recommend; but to get a “stamp of approval” bespeaks a hierarchy that is contrary to the Scripture and to the word “Baptist.”

It is not local church.  Our church spent several years and $250,000 in the early 1980’s defending the right of our Christian school and others in our state to operate without coercion fro the government. They wanted to certify our teachers, approve our curriculum, and oversee our educational process. We replied that the children at Bridgeport Baptist Academy did not belong to the government, they belonged to God. We further said that it was not the business of government to govern the ministry of a local church. We ultimately reached an accommodation with the state by which we report to a third party the number of students in each grade, the fact that we teach the basic subjects and the fact that we give a certain number of hours and days of instruction. Of course, this is information we would give to anyone. It requires no oversight, no change in what we were already doing, and gives the government no ability to expand in any way any control over our ministry. Why would we invite people to do far more in our colleges than we are willing to permit in our churches or our church schools?

It is almost invariably done with the wrong motives.  In the article to which I earlier referred, the author explained that many financial benefits became available to the students because the institution was accredited. He remarked that this was an area where his tax dollars went for a good purpose. God help us if our ministries start lining up to feed at the government trough! Money never comes from the government without there ultimately being some control. It is my contention that those institutions which submit to accreditation have signed their own death warrant. They may exist with relatively little interference for many years but they are sitting on death row, waiting for the day of their execution.

Years ago, I preached at a church in Massachusetts. The pastor was a good man and there was a good spirit. The church operated a small ACE school. On the wall of their auditorium, I saw hanging a certificate of accreditation from the American Association of Christian Schools. The preacher was pleased that his school had been recognized by the AACS and was using their approval as an advertising tool to his people and perhaps to people in the community. He had willingly attached significance to the approval of an outside body. I thought to myself as I looked at the certificate, “One day, the AACS may suggest that to have full accreditation, a school should teach a foreign language, or perhaps have a certain amount of math required. When they do, this man would likely do what they suggested so that he could maintain the accreditation which had become important to him. Now, the suggestion would probably be valid. The action would probably strengthen his school. But the moment that preacher changes something in his school in order to keep his accreditation, he’ll lose his autonomy. No longer is he acting under God. Now he is trying to keep the approval of man."

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