Submission to Governing Authorities


When the Bethlehem College & Seminary Board of Trustees made the decision to pursue accreditation six years ago, it did so not because we felt that it was necessary (it wasn’t), but because we felt that it was the right thing to do with regard to validating the quality of the education received at our school. Accreditation is a concept that has a long history in the world of higher education in the United States. It is part of the currency of higher education that students and their families have come to expect.

We also felt that it was consistent with the biblical admonition to be in submission to governing authorities—as long as such submission did not require us to do anything contrary to biblical truth or to our calling and mission as a school. The Apostle Paul spells this out this principle in Romans 13 verse 1:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Granted, Paul is speaking to individuals here, but the same principle applies to ministries, churches, and schools as well. If we as individuals should be subject to governing authorities, it follows that the organizations we are part of should do the same. Therefore, we view accreditation as a form of obedience to this biblical principle.

I’m speaking of this because we have had a visiting team of scholars and educators from our accreditor—the Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)—here with us examining us to determine whether or not to extend our accreditation for the next ten years. We achieved initial accreditation in near record time back in 2015. That was good for five years. Now, we are seeking a ten-year accreditation period which is the highest level available.

It is a tremendous amount of work to prepare for accreditation. Schools must meet all of the standards for higher education set by the U.S. Department of Education, the State of Minnesota Office of Higher Education, as well as those standards added by ABHE. We must then document all of the evidence that demonstrates that we meet all of those standards. The visitors come on campus, after having read all of the documentation, in order to verify that we are actually accomplishing what we say we are accomplishing.

By the time you read this letter, the visiting team will have left and will spend the next couple of weeks writing up a report of its findings. We are trusting the Lord for His goodness and mercy through this process and pray that He will grant us the ten-year accreditation status that we are seeking.

We see this as a good process to go through, and we have willingly submitted our school to the standards set by the appropriate governing authorities as well as by our accrediting association. We desire to be accountable to the authorities the Lord has put over us. We desire to operate with the highest standard of integrity. We believe this will bring honor and glory to our great God. And, we believe it will benefit our students, faculty, and alumni, as what they are accomplishing here is confirmed and validated by these authorities over us.

It is sometimes intimidating, sometimes annoying, and sometimes satisfying to be in submission to the governing authorities around us. However, it is always right to be obedient to the Scriptures as the Lord means it for our good—and for His glory.

May He be glorified through our accreditation process!

So grateful for you,


Tim Tomlinson

Prayer Requests:

  1. So please be in prayer for the accreditation visit team as it compiles its report and recommendation for our school. Pray that the Lord would grant us favor in its eyes.
  2. Please be in prayer for our students and faculty as we’re now on the “back stretch” of the school year. Pray for stamina, health, and wisdom for all.
  3. Please also pray for some among our faculty and students who are dealing with serious health issues. Pray for healing!
  4. And, as always, continue to pray for our finances. Pray that the Lord would continue to raise up additional partners who will support the amazing work of this school.