Asia Biblical Theological Seminary (ABTS) exists to further the mission of Cornerstone University by providing graduate-level theological education and contributing to evangelical scholarship for Asian contexts. Our vision is to produce global theologians and practitioners who are growing spiritually, thinking creatively, teaching biblically and serving contextually. Since 1983, this program has provided the opportunity to earn master's degrees from Cornerstone while remaining in Asia.
ABTS, an associate member of the Asia Theological Association (ATA), aims to accomplish its mission through an integrated program of biblical, theological and professional studies delivered through a combination of distance education courses and residence seminars offered in selected cities in Asia. Educational activities endeavor to provide training within the context of students' life, work and ministry. Tuition levels for all ABTS courses have been adjusted to fit the varied economies of Asian countries.
History of ABTS
Filipino missionaries to Thailand in 1982 recognized the need to establish a Bible school to train pastors for local churches, but how could they teach on an undergraduate level, without master's degrees? Asia Biblical Theological Seminary founder Dr. John Lillis, working with Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, brought the accredited In-Ministry Master of Religious Education degree to them in 1983. Both Thais and missionaries welcomed the Extension Program: "All we were asking for was a Piper Cub—you brought us a 747."
From the beginning, ABTS has been a mission enterprise fielding quality master's level education at subsidized prices. The administrators and professors in Asia are missionaries supported by churches and friends and serve with mission agencies such as ABWE International. Professors from Grand Rapids and adjunct faculty volunteer their time to teach and mentor.
With no physical buildings or residential campus, the Regional Office first located in Thailand, then operated from the Philippines and in 1992 from Singapore. As of July 2008, the ABTS Regional Office has returned "home" to Thailand, this time to Chiang Mai.
In alignment with our mission and vision, Asia Biblical Theological Seminary promotes and adheres to these five educational values:
- Centrality of the text
- Importance of theology
- Critical thinking
- Cultural sensitivity
Student Learning Objectives
Students of Asia Biblical Theological Seminary will demonstrate competence in the areas of specialized knowledge, applied knowledge and collaborative learning, intellectual skills, global and civic engagement and biblical worldview integration and action. Student learning will target the following sub-outcomes:
- Appreciate the centrality of the Biblical text; demonstrate competence in exegeting, interpreting and applying Scripture in personal and ministry situations.
- Develop theological convictions and philosophies of ministry; integrate these principles into personal life, ministry settings and cultural milieu.
- Synthesize new insights from seminars, reading and analysis into ministry contexts; trace the end results of ministry innovations, either verification of methods applied or analysis of failure and lessons learned.
- Apply critical thinking in reading, writing and discussion; evaluate relevant data and make decisions consistent with the truth of Scripture.
- Evaluate concepts of leadership utilizing effective organizational and group communication skills; network with colleagues who can support one another in the ministry.
- Analyze culture from a distinctly Christian worldview; develop methodologies for and deepen commitments to building Christ's church worldwide.
Asia Biblical Theological Seminary operations in Singapore and Thailand are supported by local sponsors who represent the organization before the government. These individuals provide counsel, promote the program in the community and facilitate the continued presence of the school in the respective country.