History of Mid-America Theological Baptist Seminary
A New Seminary Is Born
The direction and character of seminaries are often determined by their presidencies, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary is no exception. Mid-America’s founder and first president, Dr. B. Gray Allison, possessed a commitment to biblical inerrancy, expository preaching, and the Great Commission that continues to permeate the school today.
In 1941 at age 18, Dr. Allison felt God calling him to preach. He did not, however, fully submit to that call until eight years later when he shared the tug upon his heart with his pastor. “God broke me that day in little, bitty pieces and ground me up and began to remodel and reshape my life to make it again another vessel as seemed good to God to make,” Dr. Allison would later recall of the conversation with his pastor. Dr. Allison soon became licensed in his local church and would later go on to study at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS), where he earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1952. That same year, Dr. Allison and his wife Voncille moved back to Louisiana where he assumed the pastorate of Temple Baptist Church, and she became its director of music. Dr. Allison began a doctoral program at NOBTS that same year and completed it two years later. It was during his time at NOBTS that Dr. Allison became aware of and concerned about the encroachment of neo-orthodoxy and liberal views within Southern Baptist Cooperative Program seminaries.
“God would give Southern Baptists a seminary where every professor would believe all the Bible all the way through without any question, where every professor would be a soul winner, every professor would hold an earned doctorate, every professor would be available for counseling with students, and every professor would be an active member of a local, cooperating, Southern Baptist church.”
In 1971, in response to growing concern over neo-orthodoxy encroachment, Dr. Allison was given the green light to organize “The School of the Prophets.” With a budget of $125,000, no money, and 28 students from seven states; The School of the Prophets (now Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary) opened its doors in August 1972 at Olivet Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The Growth of the Seminary
In 1997, the Board of Directors unanimously elected Dr. Michael Spradlin, a two-time graduate of Mid-America and Director of its Northeast branch, to succeed the retiring Dr. Allison. Upon retiring, Dr. Allison’s final charge to the Board of Directors was, “Be sure that Mid-America is true to Jesus Christ the Lord and to His holy inerrant, Word. Be sure the Seminary stays true to her commitment to the local church. Be sure that always when people hear the name of the school that they will think, ‘Bible preaching, missions, evangelism.’ These things are of vital importance.”
Under Dr. Spradlin’s leadership, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary has grown from a small institution to an institution with an average enrollment of 500 students across its educational programs. It offers more than twenty degree programs, including urban church planting and biblical counseling, and has a library with more than 200,000 titles to support its students. In 2017, under the leadership of 20-year professor Dr. Brad Thompson, Mid-America launched The College at Mid-America and began offering bachelor’s degrees in order to prepare Christian leaders for ministry in the marketplace. Mid-America also began online learning and now offers all of its degree programs 100 percent online and fully accredited. Perhaps most notable is that since its founding, Mid-America has seen more than 166,000 professions of faith through student, faculty, and staff evangelistic efforts.
Mid-America is growing its influence as well. In 2019, together with Bellevue Baptist Church, it hosted the annual Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) conference. Additionally, in 2019, Dr. Jay E. Adams, the father of the modern-day biblical counseling movement, entrusted his Institute for Nouthetic Studies (INS) to Mid-America, which includes all of his published works and the INS publishing company.
Mid-America also established a partnership with the Arkansas Department of Corrections to offer bachelor degrees to inmates in the Varner maximum-security prison.
In 2020, the Mid-America took a bold and public stance in a growing debate and published the Sufficiency of Scripture Series, a four-part series designed to help its constituents understand the theological and doctrinal dangers of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. It went on to host the Conservative Baptist Bible Conference as a way to equip Christians to better understand these issues.
Mid-America is staying true to its mission and is eager to welcome donors, partners, students, and friends who share our mission to Light the Way.