We often have conversations along the following lines…
“I’m not a Baptist, can I study at a Baptist College?”
The answer is of course! We welcome people from all backgrounds and Christian denominations (or no denomination!) One of the most wonderful things about SBC is the rich variety of people that make up our learning community meaning that we can learn from one another by sharing about our different experiences. In practice, most of the time we reach a place of shared understanding, and on the rare occasions we don’t, we think the best way to learn is to listen to one another and in doing so learn how to respect our differences. Often understanding where another person is coming from helps us to understand our own position better and also opens up another way of seeing the issue. So we’re more than happy to welcome Baptists and non-Baptists alike as we seek to enrich our community further.
“What do Baptists believe and will you force me to believe that?”
This is a tricky question that probably can’t be fully explored here, but one of the interesting aspects about Baptists is the diversity of approaches that are found under the Baptist umbrella. One of the great things about aligning with the Baptist tradition is that we believe “the Lord Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour, is the sole and absolute Authority in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and that each Church has liberty, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to interpret and administer His laws.” As a Baptist College, in our approach to learning, we respect the liberty of believing communities to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Our job, therefore, is not to force anyone to believe any particular interpretation, but rather equip students to be discerning believers, presenting a variety of views, and helping students to come to informed conclusions about matters of faith as guided by the Holy Spirit. In light of this, we hope you see it’s not within our baptistic convictions to force any one to believe one particular interpretation and, furthermore, we think this approach makes for a rich learning environment.
“What can I expect when I study at SBC?”
In purely academic terms, we hope studying at SBC is thought-provoking and stimulating. We believe learning in community and learning from one another is the best way to learn. Yes, there’s reading books and writing essays (although we don’t have exams!!) but what makes the most impact are the discussions we have in class (and sometimes as they spill outside of the classroom too!) Many classes make ample room for discussion rather than being lecture-based and often you’ll read about the topic beforehand meaning you can be ready to ask questions and discuss the ideas together once in class. Again, we lean on the idea that we’re trying to equip students to be discerning believers guided by the Holy Spirit rather than just vessels to fill with information!
On another level we hope that you’ll find a welcoming and accepting community. We strive to cultivate a safe learning environment where ideas are respected as much as they are challenged. We want people to feel safe to explore their difficult questions. We don’t want to tear down people’s faith but rather build it up stronger – sometimes this looks like robust challenge and other times it will look like gentle affirmation, but we can only do any of this in a safe learning environment where we treat each other hospitably. So our theological convictions are matched to our pedagogical preferences – the best way to learn is to do so in an environment informed by our theological commitment to hospitality and welcome.
We hope this encourages you to think about studying at SBC – why not come along to our next Open Day?