Can evolution be reconciled to the Christian creation story in Genesis? How should our Christianity influence the way we approach politics in an election year? How are we supposed to think through gender and sexuality issues as Christians? My neighbor said he’s too much of a skeptic to believe in the resurrection. What should I say to him? Can you help me think through the refugee crisis biblically? What in the world does the Book of Leviticus have to do with anything?
Each one of the above questions was dropped in my inbox sometime during the month of August. They’re fairly representative of the kinds of questions I receive over the course of a year. These questions reflect a basic human curiosity to learn as well as the desire Christians have to connect their theology, beliefs, and practices to their everyday lives as well as their wider social contexts. The Ridley Institute, a school of theology based out of St. Andrew’s, exists to satisfy the intellectual curiosity behind these questions as well as to help Christians apply theology practically to their day-to-day lives.
Since its inception in 2012 the Ridley Institute has trained over 3500 students in fully accredited and credentialed courses in Christian theology. Our courses draw students from a variety of denominational as well as faith backgrounds. It’s not uncommon for agnostics and atheists to participate in our courses simply to learn more about a faith they may have heard about, but have never seriously studied. Our livestreaming option means our reach is extended well beyond the South Carolina lowcountry. Since 2012 we’ve had Ridley students from six different continents participate in courses through our livestreaming service. In at least one instance, we were able to provide training to students in “closed countries,” that is, countries where religious intolerance prohibits Christians from safely gathering in groups to pray and study.
Our main purpose is to provide training in Christian theology for lay people. We offer four courses on a rotating basis. These are Biblical Theology, Systematic Theology, Evangelism and Apologetics, and Christian Spirituality. In addition to these, we offer special one-off courses such as Tim Maurer’s upcoming course: In Search of the Good Life: The Intersection of Christian Spirituality and Personal Finance (begins Sept 20). In addition to these non-accredited courses, we’re pleased to offer a fully accredited Master of Arts in Religion through a partnership with Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania.
The governing conviction behind our project is twofold.
- Christians should take a serious interest in their own theological education. The era where the dominant culture shared aspirations, morality, and foundational beliefs with the church is long over. The world has questions of the church and Christians should be trained to give coherent, faithful answers.
- Christian theology should not be the private reserve of the professional Christian class. We think all Christians with the inclination and time should be able to pursue advanced training in Christian theology at low cost and through the local church. I’m pleased we can offer such a unique equipping opportunity right here at St. Andrew’s.
For more information or to register for classes, visit TheRidleyInstitute.com.