Mission Focus for September



HISTORY (part one)

Stirling has a history of deep and wide roots which are firmly grounded in the Christian story. Our roots come from the early vision and commitment of men and women from the Churches of Christ movement. Even before the establishment of the College the need to train people involved in preaching and evangelism was recognised.

In 1871 one of the early advocates for founding the College wrote that no one   “can dispute the propriety and imperative necessity of our preachers being fully instructed in the sacred Word, and this is the prime object of the Bible College”.

The College of the Bible (COB), as it was first named, began with sixteen students under the tutelage of  Principal H.G. Harward on 19th February 1907. For a brief time, lectures were held in the Lygon Street Church of Christ at Carlton and then in a building on Rathdowne Street. With the assistance of a generous benefactor, the College moved in early 1910, to a four acre property at Glen Iris which at the time was an undeveloped  area south-east of Melbourne.

A year later, the second principal, A.R. Main, clarified the College’s reason for being.
The chief purpose of the College is to provide Biblical instruction and to furnish ample facilities in education for Christian ministry… to encourage an impartial and unbiased investigation of the Christian Scriptures, and in the spirit of devout faith in the Divine Word, freely to lay under tribute every source of light and truth available to modern scholarship.

The goal was the intellectually rigorous study of Scriptures and the equipping of men (and women since 1912) for mission and ministry.  Interestingly, the ‘modern scholarship’ of 1911, referred to by A.R. Main, was very much focussed on ‘the historical Jesus’.

Reflecting this interest, the subjects on offer were Bible Geography, the History of the Old and New Testaments, Biblical languages, homiletics, psychology and logic.  As the century went on, the initial focus on the history of the Bible developed into a concern for, and acknowledgement of, its interpretation as a living text.  This awareness of interpretation led into a growing maturity and richness of Christian understanding within the College and within Churches of Christ across Australia.

It also opened the way for the College leadership to participate deeply in the ecumenical
community and in wider Christian scholarship.  E.L. Williams was particularly influential in these areas through the middle decades of the twentieth century.

For further reading, go to their website here.