Issues of the Separation of Church and State and How Our Beliefs Impact the Type of Accreditation We Pursue
Many legitimate institutions of higher education operate without accreditation by recognized bodies, for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the education they provide. Institutions of religious education such as Bible schools and seminaries frequently do not pursue accreditation from the most widely acknowledged accrediting agencies, largely revolving around the issue of separation of church and state. Religious beliefs impact the type of accreditation that is pursued. For more on information regarding accreditation, please visit www.joinitaa.com.
Regional and national accrediting bodies provide accreditation to schools according to the type of school being accredited. Secular schools seek non-religious accreditation, and religious schools seek religious accreditation. Unless they offer secular degrees, religious colleges and seminaries do not need accreditation by secular bodies, and they are not required to have such oversight in order to confer their degrees.
Secular accreditation associations are recognized by governmental agencies. Their authority is traced back to federal government, e.g., Washington, D.C., in the United States. Religious accrediting associations draw their recognition from the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, which has no absolute seat of power on earth. Authority is derived directly from Heaven.
Theological institutions reasonably argue that they do not need to be, and indeed should not be, accredited by accrediting entities that are approved by an agency of the federal government, such as the United States Department of Education. Such governmental approval is contrary to the Biblical principle of "separation of church and state," as indicated by Christ when He said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:17). II Corinthians 6:14 plainly instructs, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship does righteousness have with unrighteousness?" Secular agencies do not have the wisdom or authority to speak to standards of Christian education according to Biblical principles; therefore Christian educators have no business seeking approval from unbelievers. Church history is replete with examples of fellowship of church and state which results in violation of conscience and corruption of founding beliefs.
Nevertheless, because of unprincipled practices of "diploma mills" and "accreditation mills," theological schools that wish be viewed as above-board are wise to consider pursuing well thought-of accreditation. There are organizations which have formed in order to provide continuing guidance and support toward improving the quality of Christian education and the integrity of the offering institutions. However, these accrediting agencies do not submit themselves for review by the federal government or those agencies that the government deems qualified to grant “legitimate sanctioning.” Those seeking a quality religious education can be assured that the quality of education reviewed by these sacred accrediting agencies is as fine as the quality of education evaluated by secular accrediting agencies. The same care taken to evaluate secular programs and universities can be taken when evaluating religious education, including scrutinizing the accrediting body, regardless of a governmental stamp of approval.
For additional consideration of the separation of church and state in regard to how beliefs impact the type of accreditation that religious schools and seminaries pursue, please visit www.joinitaa.com.