Currently, Forge Theological Seminary (FTS) is not accredited by any accreditation agency recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). That does not mean, however, that the educational programs offered by FTS are inferior to those institutions that have chosen either regional or national accreditation. According to the USDE,
Unaccredited institutions are not reviewed against a set of standards to determine the quality of their education and training. This does not necessarily mean that an unaccredited institution is of poor quality, but earning a degree from an unaccredited institution may create problems for students.
Two qualifications must be made regarding the above statement by the USDE. First, while it is true that unaccredited institutions are not reviewed by USDE/CHEA accreditors, such institutions may be reviewed against another set of standards. In the case of FTS, the quality of our academics and degree programs is ensured by godly persons who possess a commitment to biblical fidelity and who are aware of what constitutes rigorous and effective curricula. The assumption in the USDE’s statement is that an education from an institution accredited by a USDE/CHEA recognized accreditor is necessarily of good quality. In light of the ungodly and unbiblical education offered by a legion of traditionally accredited institutions, this assumption is invalid. Second, whether a degree from an unaccredited institution will create problems for a graduate is dependent upon what one intends to accomplish with an unaccredited degree. Degrees obtained from FTS are intended only for service to Christ’s church, whether in the pulpit, on the mission field, or in other ministerial vocations. If a student intends to achieve a career in academia or another vocation that requires education from an institution with traditional accreditation, he or she ought to attend another institution.
Achieving regional or national accreditation is an expensive and lengthy process that requires an institution to meet a variety of criteria that may or may not be in the best interest of either the institution or its students. While there are several excellent national Christian accreditors (e.g., Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, or the Association for Biblical Higher Education), even these require a certain amount of involvement with the federal government. For instance, Title IV compliance is required by both the aforementioned accreditors. FTS has opted to refrain from such involvement with the federal government to maximize our religious and academic freedom. Moreover, given the recent trajectory of government-recognized accreditors in light of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), we believe it is unwise to yoke FTS with the government in any manner.
We believe the local church should not be concerned about secular or parachurch accreditation for theological education and pastoral formation. The church has its own authority from King Jesus. It doesn’t ultimately submit to the state for theological education. Further, the church doesn’t submit to colleges, seminaries, universities, accrediting agencies, or parachurch organizations. Because of these convictions, the leadership of Forge Theological Seminary has not sought accreditation with any accrediting institution affiliated with the federal government.
For further information on accreditation see the following resources:
Rick Walson, Walston's Guide to Christian Distance Learning, 5th Ed. (Maitland, FL: Xulon Press, 2007).
Lisa Parro, "Free from State Oversight," Christianity Today, 10/19/2007.
Ted Olson, "Accreditor Says Creationism Mandate Violates Academic Freedom," Christianity Today, 05/01/2002.
Michael R. Burgos, "On the Logic of the Biblical Counseling Movement & the Question of Accreditation" in Light Through the Spectrum: Essays on Biblical Counseling (Torrington, CT: Church Militant Pub., 2020), 46-57.
John Frame, "Seminaries and Academic Accreditation."
Religious Exemption From State Oversight
As an institution whose sole purpose is religious and theological training, Forge Theological Seminary is exempt from state oversight as per the South Carolina Code of Laws, Nonpublic Postsecondary Institution License Act, Section 59-58-30(4). Click here for more information on South Carolina's Religious Exemption policy.