Hello and welcome to Columbia Evangelical Seminary. Here at CES, our mission is to offer students an affordable,
high-quality Christian education that is flexible with regard to location and schedule.
One of the first things people ask about is our theological persuasion or denominational affiliation. As you can tell from looking at our statement of beliefs, we are a conservative Christian school that embraces unity in essential fundamentals while encouraging academic excellence, understanding, reason, and respectful discourse in the non-essentials.
With regard to denominational affiliation, we have a diverse faculty representing many denominations. Our faculty consists of both Pentecostal and Reformed church members. We have Independent Baptist, Reformed Baptist, Methodist, Assemblies of God, Presbyterian USA, Christian & Missionary Alliance, Jewish-Messianic believers, and many more expressions of the Christian faith represented at our school.
Why does the CES faculty represent a wide variety of denominational positions? We believe that an institution of higher learning should teach its students how to think and not simply how to memorize and repeat. We do have a fundamental statement of faith to which all faculty and students agree and adhere. Beyond these basic and essential points of the Christian faith, however, we leave room for discussion and debate. It is not our goal to make students think alike or to believe the same exact thing. It is our goal to help them to learn how to think critically, evaluate varying theological and philosophical perspectives, and communicate with integrity and clarity regarding differing points of view.
Inevitably, the next question is, "As the president, what is your personal theological persuasion or denominational preference?" First, let me say that CES is not built upon its president. The next president of CES (whoever that may be) might be a person with differing theological leanings (in the non-essentials). Having said that, I have a varied background. I was initially raised and baptized in the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod), but later in my childhood I began to attend a non-denominational Pentecostal church that eventually became a Foursquare church. After moving during my high school years, I began to attend an Assemblies of God church where I met my wife and continued to attend for about ten years in total before moving out of the area. After moving to our current community, we ended up as members in an Evangelical Free Church where I have served under the senior leadership of Rev. Ross Holtz since 2003. My family has pastored, served, or been active members in a variety of church types, including Lutheran, Nazarene, Foursquare, Assemblies of God, Dutch Reformed, Methodist, and more. My education varied from classes in anthropology at a secular state university to a Ph.D. from a school originally founded to support Reformed church members in South Africa. My closest friends, mentors, and confidants embrace views spanning the entire gamut of non-essentials.
This is the bottom line: I am an unashamed Christian who believes everything the Bible teaches. With regard to education, I am not as concerned with one's denominational affiliation so much as I am a Christian student's ability to think, analyze, reason, and communicate effectively regarding "the way, the truth, and the life." This matches the philosophy of Columbia Evangelical Seminary and the diversity of our faculty and students reflects this.
We hope you will further your education journey with us and experience the richness offered by Christian fellowship in education.
Eric Odell-Hein, Ph.D.