Choosing the right learning environment is an important decision. After all, ideas do have consequences. As a fully accredited, independent, private Christian university VIU (www.ves.edu) strives to offer a well-rounded educational and spiritual experience that emerges from reliance on the time-tested approach, immersion in curriculum centered in Christ and His Word. Recently, The Best Schools have ranked VIU as having the sixth best graduate program in Christian apologetics in the United States.
A VIU education focuses on five distinctive areas:
1. Uncompromising view of the inerrant Word of God.
While many Christian universities say they believe in the inspired and inerrant Scriptures, it may be completely different when you get into the classroom. It all depends on the professors view of the Bible, which may be different in each course. Some Christian professors have a nuanced view of inerrancy that allows legend and embellishment into the Bible, especially the gospels. They often defend their position by asserting that "the gospels are Greco-Roman Bios (biography) literature, and as such the authors of the gospels have flexibility and license to use legend, embellishment, and invented speeches that never took place, just as the Greco-Roman pagan writers did."
At VIU, not only do the faculty reject this logic, every faculty member must sign the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (CSBI) statement which affirms the Bible is without error, legend, or fabrication in any sense, before they step foot in the classroom! You never have to worry about what your professor believes in this regard. VIU believes the logic of inerrancy is clear:
1. God cannot err or lie.
2. The Bible is God's Word.
3. Therefore, the Bible cannot err or lie.
2. VIU advocates Christo-centric classical theology.
Don't be fooled by some promises on the website as to doctrinal integrity. It is common place nowadays that conservative Christian theologians and professors reject the classical attributes of God, including but not limited to rejecting His immutability (unchanging), timeless eternity, infinity, simplicity (unity, no parts), and omniscience (all-knowing). Instead, they either reject or significantly alter them and adopt a more "modern" approach to these attributes. The consequences can be devastating for the rest of your theology, since all theology either directly or indirectly flows from your doctrine of God.
As A.W. Tozer insightfully declares the importance of a correct understanding of the nature of God in his Knowledge of the Holy (New York: HarperCollins, 1961):
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing
about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen
above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no
religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the
worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.
For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself,
and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say
or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret
law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the
individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church.
Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God. (pg. 1)
Many Christian universities give lip-service to holding "conservative" theological perspectives. "What is classical theology?" you might ask. This understanding of theology views doctrine, especially the doctrine of God and his attributes, and the doctrine of Christ, as it has been articulated in the Scriptures and through the early centuries of church in the tradition of Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas. Not only does VIU affirm these classical attributes of God, they teach you how to defend them!
3. VIU teaches classical/evidential apologetics.
As more and more apologetics programs spring up, there are many methods being put forth to defend the faith. Several of these methods have there advantages and positive aspects, however VIU affirms a classical approach. What does this mean? It means that Classical apologists recognizes the importance of how individuals view the world (worldview). It is crucial to how they understand and decide whether or not to receive the evidence presented to them. In other words, the classical approach addresses the individual's worldview since it "colors" the way they view the data/reality. For example, if an atheist does not believe in the existence of God, how is it possible for the atheist to believe in the Son of God. If God doesn't exist, he cannot possibly have a "Son". In this case, classical apologists would do as Francis Schaeffer suggested, pre-evangelism!
In addition, if necessary, classical apologists draw upon Greek classical philosophy, (that is consistent with Scripture, Col 2:8) to address one's worldview and defend the truths of the Bible. This is because "facts" and "data" don't come with instruction manuals on how to interpret the data. Philosophical and logical reasoning can help someone view things in a different way, thus enabling them to understand and interpret the data clearly. Since all truth is God's truth, if a statement is true, it will never contradict the Bible.
4. VIU offers an opportunity for debt-free education.
Many institutions offer Federal Financial Aid (FSA), which can be helpful to some if used responsibly. However, all to often, the student graduates with considerable debt which often can take many years, or even a lifetime to pay back. Currently, student loan debt, and delinquent status, has reached dangerous levels in the United States. Today, according to Forbes, student borrowers in the U.S. are burdened with $1.52 Trillion, nearly 11% of the 44.2 million American borrowers with student loan debt are delinquent by 90+ days. This debt often ranges from $45K to $200K and takes decades or even a lifetime to pay-off.
VIU decided not to participate in the FSA programs for many reasons, though primarily to avoid saddling students with debt they may never be able to pay-off and hamper their ability to minister. In addition, the federal government and state legislatures can at any time pass anti-biblical laws that mandate all schools that receive government aid to comply. When this legislative shoe drops, Christian schools that have become dependent upon the federal aid will be tempted to compromise their doctrinal statements to continue to receive federal funds.
VIU offers several ways to stay debt free:
Low Tuition Costs: VIU has one of the affordable tuition costs of any accredited university or seminary. It is often a fraction of the amount of other schools.
Veterans' Benefits: Veterans may utilize their benefits at VIU.
VIU Tuition Waivers: VIU offers 30% waivers off tuition costs if you are in ministry or missions. Also, waivers are offered to students with financial need.
Pay-As-You-Go Program: The PAYG program offers students a method to pay tuition costs at four scheduled times, which the student decides, during the semester.
Spousal Discount: If the spouse of a current student desires to take courses, their tuition is discounted by 50%.
5. VIU is one of just a few evangelical universities that offers an accredited MA/PhD program in biblical archaeology.
The VIU archaeology program is a vital part of apologetic training, emphasizing the tangible evidence that supports the philosophical arguments for a Christian worldview. Not only is Veritas unique in this regard, the university is currently excavating (with TSU) the biblical city of Sodom (Tall el-Hammam) in Jordan (see 'Sodom Excavation' menu) and offers students hands-on experience. This excavation has contributed volumes of new information about the southern Levant and Jordan Valley, often leading to new publications and documentaries.