Serving students in the southwestern United States, Bethel Seminary San Diego is situated on a beautiful campus in Southern California. Its 300 students represent a wide diversity of ages, cultures, vocations, and denominations, making the seminary experience valuable in ways beyond the classroom. For detailed academic information and a list of degrees, please see the "San Diego" section of the Academic Information portion of this catalog.
Campus & Community Resources
In 1977, Bethel Seminary broadened its ministry and opened a campus in San Diego, California. Using the facilities at College Avenue Baptist Church, Bethel Seminary San Diego began offering courses that would eventually lead students to degrees in the Master of Arts (Theological Studies), the Master of Arts in Ministry, the Master of Divinity, the Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy, and the Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling.
San Diego was chosen as the seminary’s location because it is a community of ethnic diversity, burgeoning growth, enormous spiritual need, a large concentration of military personnel, and proximity to Mexico – factors offering unlimited opportunities for cross-cultural ministry experiences.
Increasing enrollment over the years resulted in the need to expand Bethel Seminary San Diego’s original 20,000-square-foot campus facilities. Construction on a 14,000-square-foot addition began in 2012 and was completed in December of that year. This expansion included a new 380-seat auditorium, additional classrooms, offices, a larger student center, and the ability to offer more diverse programming.
Currently, 300 women and men study at the San Diego campus. These students represent a wide range of ages, ministry and vocational experience, cultural and denominational backgrounds, with undergraduate degrees from colleges and universities across the country and around the world. While some students enter seminary immediately following college graduation, others come to seminary in the midst of a career change, sensing God’s call to ministry later in life. Bethel Seminary San Diego welcomes such differences and the enrichment they bring to the community.
Southern California is a unique place, offering wonderful climate and geography as well as many enviable recreational opportunities. It is a region characterized by energetic innovation, frequently giving birth to trends that preview the future of the country and the world.
Bethel Seminary San Diego is geographically and spiritually positioned to touch the hearts of a diverse population. With its proximity to Mexico, San Diego provides a vigorous Hispanic-American community. The South and Southeast Asian influence can be felt in nearly every neighborhood as San Diego is becoming an increasingly strategic partner with Asian countries on the dynamic Pacific Rim. The seminary’s student body, faculty, and staff represent this rich ethnic and cultural diversity.
Since many graduate students juggle career, ministry, family life, and studies, classes at the San Diego campus are conveniently scheduled during afternoons and evenings.
Contextualization is the process of communicating the meaning of the Word of God in terms that are maximally relevant for each of the cultures of today’s world. It answers this question: How do we transfer what was said by “holy people of old” who lived in ancient cultural contexts, through our own cultural understandings as modern students, into the languages and worldviews of peoples who live in different contexts? We ask this question in our classes while remaining committed to the position that biblical truth is absolute and must not be compromised. Animated by the Spirit of God, we are energized to obey our Lord Jesus Christ’s command to communicate His Gospel to all peoples everywhere.
Each student at Bethel Seminary San Diego, therefore, is embraced as a unique gift from God. All members of the community of scholars are appreciated for the context from which they have come and in which they thrive. We attempt to make the student’s learning relevant to thier situation and calling. Each learner’s family and community background, language of preference, traditions of worship, and vision of life are taken seriously as arenas for theological contextualization.
Philosophy of Learning
Theological teaching and learning at Bethel Seminary San Diego are designed to reach the highest standards of biblical scholarship, personal devotion, and community relevance. The process of interpreting Holy Scripture is informed by the most proven methods of research. The meanings of the Word of God are derived and applied using context-sensitive, grammatical and historical exegesis, and contemporary theological methodology. Time-honored strategies for understanding the Bible are combined with field-proven, social scientific models to conceptualize the Gospel message in the cultures and maximize its impact in the lives of those who seek God’s truth in contemporary societies.
Training for evangelism and mission at Bethel Seminary San Diego emphasizes the indigenization of methods for outreach and the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Language and culture learning are valued and emphasized as appropriate for cross-cultural ministries. Church-planting techniques and the dynamics of church leadership and management are communicated in ways that respect the ethos and worldviews of the people we serve. At Bethel Seminary San Diego, the training of pastoral counselors and professional therapists is based on the holistic truths of the evangelical Christian faith. As Christ heals the whole person, our students receive professional counseling preparation that integrates the spiritual, psychological, biological, and social domains of human experience. Focusing on marriage and family relationships equips our students to bring the grace of God to despairing people within the contexts of their internal confusion and relational disarray.
Bethel Seminary San Diego is dedicated to providing outstanding theological education in an environment that embraces human diversity and celebrates godly wholeness. Biblical studies, theological learning, ministry preparation, and personal discipleship are all embraced by a commitment of strategic contextualization for life in every society. A graduate of Bethel is prepared to understand the many historical traditions of applied and situative faith and to incarnate the Gospel of Christ in any environment to which God may call him or her.
All Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Ministry students are required to participate in a supervised ministry sequence during their degree programs.
This course engages the application of ministry skills and personal developmental goals in a context that considers the individual’s design for ministry vocational direction. Accountability relationships, regular reflection, and degree-specific outcomes are woven into the practical ministry experiences. Course credit is only granted for internship experiences that have received pre-approval from the Office of Supervised Ministry. Upon completion of the prerequisites, contact the Office of Supervised Ministry to begin the internship process.