According to the latest report from the Association of Theological Schools, 19 of the 20 largest seminaries in the U.S. are affiliated with evangelical denominations or churches. Largest among the group is Liberty University's Rawlings School of Divinity, with the equivalent of 3,755 full-time students enrolled. All of the Southern Baptist seminaries are in the top ten, along with Dallas Theological Seminary, Asbury Theological Seminary, and Fuller Theological Seminary.
At #17, Duke University School of Divinity represents the only mainline seminary on the list. It's aligned with the United Methodist Church. Apologist Dr. Alex McFarland says there's a reason for that. "Liberal theology and liberal schools that teach it succeed in making themselves irrelevant – hence the decreased enrollment," he offers.
But while he is encouraged to see that the largest seminaries have an evangelical heritage, he warns that doesn't mean it hasn't "gone woke" and compromised in some areas of theology. For example, he points out the pressure on schools to accommodate gay and lesbian students is enormous – and that even the Southern Baptist Convention seems to be drifting left.
Just this summer, an SBC church in Alaska left the denomination, its pastor accusing the denomination of being "beholden to the world rather than the Word." McFarland admitted in an earlier interview with AFN that he was pessimistic about the future of the SBC, saying that "ego and politics and posturing" has rendered the denomination "all but irrelevant."
As for seminaries drifting from scripture, he offers wise advice to those students.
"The cultural pressure toward wokeness is so intense these days that it really behooves every student to be diligent to know what is being taught," says McFarland, himself a former president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and College in North Carolina.
It's important to turn out pastors and Christian workers, he says, who are ready to engage the culture with the gospel and godliness. "We need pastors who are willing to speak about morals, social, political, cultural issues because we are at an inflection point. We're at a crossroad," he concludes.