ABHE Announces Newly Accredited Christian Colleges

( [email protected] ) Feb 26, 2009 08:13 AM EST

The Association for Biblical Higher Education, an accrediting agency for Christian colleges, welcomed two universities as members during its annual meeting last week.

At the conclusion of a Feb.19-21 convention in Orlando, Fla., the North American agency announced accreditation to Selma University of Selma, Ala., and Olivet University of San Francisco, Calif.

The universities join other Christian colleges, including Moody Bible Institute, Columbia International University and The King's College and Seminary, in becoming an ABHE member institution.

Dr. Randall Bell, director of the ABHE Commission, shared with The Christian Post that each of the new schools bring their own strengths to the organization.

Selma University, a historically a black, liberal arts schools, helps bring diversity to ABHE, which represents over 130 Christian Bible colleges.

The school is located in "Selma, Alabama, at the heart of the movement securing equal rights for minorities and black community," said Bell, associate director of ABHE.

He praised Olivet University for having both young and old leaders who provide a nice balance to the development of the university.

"They have senior people in leadership and enthusiastic young people in leadership. We very much enjoy what both sides bring to the table," said Bell.

He added that the topic of raising a younger generation of evangelical leaders has often been brought up during meetings by the National Association of Evangelicals, where he serves as a board member.

ABHE, which represents over 35,000 students, is committed to advancing and assuring quality in biblical higher education.

Bell, who has worked with ABHE for over 35 years, said the accreditation holds schools accountable in keeping the Bible as the unifying core of the university.

He lamented that many universities, like Harvard and Yale, start out as Bible colleges but give up their religious roots under the mounting pressure to raise funds and attract students.

"In American higher education, there has been a pattern of secularizing that is pretty healthy these days," observed Bell.

Christian universities also have their own challenges.

Despite starting out with the purpose of training ministers for Christianity, said Bell, some Christian colleges eventually relax admission standards that call for students to have strong Christian beliefs. As the student body diversifies so does the faculty, resulting in a decline in the influence of Bible-based faculty.

"I think our accreditation process is part of the safeguard. We hold schools accountable in keeping the Bible core in their offerings," said Bell.

He added that Bible-based colleges will become increasingly important as the American culture undergoes secularization.

"I think that our contribution is becoming more distinctive than secular education …. This gives us a very important role as serving as salt and light in American culture."

At the ABHE annual meeting, attendants had the opportunity to join several workshops, which addressed different areas of development in the university. Topics covered included fundraising, developing personal leadership, worldview issues, library resources and technology education.

The Orlando-based accrediting agency celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2007.