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Josh Dinale, Senior Pastor at St Stephen’s Anglican Church Coorparoo, Queensland, reviewed the Ridley Online sample lesson on Isaiah. He shares his thoughts on the experience here.
A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of doing one of the Ridley Online courses. I have studied various theological courses with 4 different theological institutions across Australia, three of which were by distance. I must say I was pleasantly surprised and am really excited to see how this course will help the Australian Church to grow Disciples of Christ in the various contexts in which it will be used.
A couple of things that stood out for me:
THE ONLINE SIMPLICITY
Ridley Online has in my opinion managed to develop an online education system that is accessible to those with minimal internet knowledge without losing any technological edge.
I think this is a definite advantage that the Ridley Online courses have over other providers in Australia, that in the past have tended to swing to extremes of either being too complex and not intuitive or those that have refused to embrace all the advantages and advances that the internet has to offer.
A PROFESSIONAL FEEL
Not only have the developers of Ridley Online managed to develop a course that is technically accessible to all, but they have produced a course that looks and feels professional. I realize this may not be an important factor to some, but I believe it speaks to Ridley’s determination to engage with a younger generation for whom presentation is very important.
Ridley’s willingness to properly invest in a high standard for the look and feel of this course in my opinion also reflects the fact that their theology is holistic. ‘We are who we are and we do what we do, based on what we know to be true about God’. Brian Rosner and Tim Foster truly believe in the Lordship of Christ and have wanted to honour Him not just with a rigorously Bible-based course, but by doing their best possible effort in the delivery of it.
ACADEMICALLY RIGOROUS, YET APPROACHABLE
This point is based upon what I experienced in the sample class plus the fact that I have either sat under the teaching or interacted with many of those involved with the course. Content presenters Brian Rosner, Michael Bird, Tim Foster and Mike Raiter are respected academics in their own right with many years’ experience in mentoring people and training church planters, ministers, pastoral workers and missionaries. I love the fact that in what I have seen they have taken their many years of scholarly research and academic skills and made them available to all.
The online classes are structured in such a way that they give you time to reflect on and process the areas raised in the video. Further, at the end of the class there is a short multiple choice test where you can revise the topics covered in the class and make sure that you have understood them correctly.
Ridley has a reputation for being unapologetically orthodox when it comes to its theology. There are few colleges within Australia that have what I would call a ‘stottian’ approach to evangelical theology (read John Stott ‘Evangelical Truth’ if you don’t know what I mean). Ridley submits to the authority of the Bible in issues of life and faith whilst understanding the breadth of the Theologically Orthodox Church.
WHY I’M EXCITED ABOUT RIDLEY ONLINE
Not all areas around Australia and not all Anglican Dioceses are blessed with bible colleges of the same calibre as Ridley. With this new approach to distance learning, they have brought a stream of water to the dryer parts of the church. I now have a course I can confidently recommend to people in our church who are wanting to dive a bit deeper, and I also have a very solid and reliable course that my interns can choose to do whilst they do their internship with us.
We are also looking at starting our own school of theology as an evening course at church using these resources. This will not only lighten my load as we try and equip people further but it will deepen their training as we will be able to provide people with a world class course.
This is probably one of the best courses I have seen developed in the Australian theological scene over the last 20 years. As one who works in a corner of the church that is running dry very quickly I am thankful to Ridley for their vision and dedication to help train people around Australia.
Rev. Josh Dinale
St Stephen’s Anglican Church Coorparoo
Loving God, Embracing His Beauty, Growing Disciples
You can do the sample lesson too: Ridley Online Sample Lesson