Christ above all earthly powers

The Institute of Public Theology was established to help equip pastors and Christian leaders to wield the sword of the Spirit effectively in the world which God has created.

The call to make disciples requires both an understanding of the gospel that saves sinners and the conviction to proclaim, defend, and apply that gospel to every person, at every opportunity, and in every place. To call Jesus Christ, Lord, is to live joyfully for Him, carrying out His assignments in every sphere of our lives. The professors and instructors who teach through the Institute understand this and are committed to teaching each course with a view not only to academic excellence but also to faithful, Christian living in the world.

Founding Faculty

Dr. Voddie
Baucham, Jr.

Dr. Jared

Dr. Tom

Adjunct Faculty


Dr. Mark

Dr. James

Dr. Jim

Initial Courses

Pillar and Buttress (Church History 1)

Tom Nettles
August 23-27, 2021
(Cape Coral)

The Pastor and The Public Square

Tom Ascol
Aug. 30-Sept. 3, 2021
(Cape Coral)

Cultural Apologetics

Voddie Baucham
January 24-28, 2022
(Cape Coral)

That The World May Know (Preaching)

Jared Longshore
February 7-11, 2022
(Cape Coral)

Philosophy Meets The Road: Maps and Cases

Mark Coppenger
February 14-18, 2022
(Cape Coral)

Why Public Theology?

Christianity is not a private religion.

Our Lord’s Virgin Birth was heralded on earth by heavenly beings. Christ was baptized out in the open. He testified in broad daylight that He was the Son of God. He was crucified before the eyes of a watching world. He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven in the presence of many witnesses. Upon His ascension to the right hand of the Father, Christ’s followers have carried on His public witness by His Spirit down to this day. The apostle Paul, for example, testified before one Roman official, saying,

“To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner.” (Acts 26:22-26)

The Christian ministry was never meant to be carried out in a corner. But, the modern world has sought to put it there. Not very long ago, it became common to speak of the freedom of worship rather than the full exercise of religion. Christians may do whatever they would like within the four walls of their church or home, the thought goes, but they may not bring their faith out into the public square.

There has been a great attempt to cutoff various areas of life from the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word. Perhaps there is a sacred place for Christ and His Word, but civil and cultural life must be thoroughly secular. The modern world advocates a pragmatic approach to life, with no sense of or apparent need for transcendent truth. Christians have been far too accommodating. As David Wells has said, “evangelicals believe in the innocence of modern culture and for that reason exploit it and are exploited by it.”

Pastors and ministerial training have been guilty of exploiting modern culture and being exploited by it. Wells continues,

Pastors once believed that they were called to think about life, to think in ways that were centered in and disciplined by the truth of God’s Word, although, as Tocqueville observed, there has always been a tendency latent in the American soul to think of religion in terms of its utility rather than its truth. Modernity has now exaggerated this tendency to the extent that the older ways of understanding the pastor’s responsibilities are disappearing, along with the older ideas about training pastors for their work. As the technological world has encroached upon the pastorate, management by technique has come to replace management by truth… And so the professionalized pastor has often reduced the uncontrollable world of God’s truth by procedure… Rough truth gives way to smooth practice, the transcendent gives way to the procedural, the jerks and moments of discovery when God’s world illumines our own give way to moments in which our world brings his into tame submission.

The result of all of this is a pragmatism that denies the first verse in the Bible, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

The Institute of Public Theology exists to help equip pastors and Christian leaders to wield the sword of the Spirit effectively in the world which God has created. As Abraham Kuyper has said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” The inerrant Word sits encased in glass on the mantel, well-lit and plenty sharp. But must not only admire that sword, they must lay hold of it and employ it in the battle as God commands. Doing so is costly. Doing so hurts. Doing so is dangerous. And courage is required.

The sons of Issachar lived in tumultuous times. They knew two things. They understood the times and they knew what Israel ought to do (1 Chronicles 12:32). The Institute of Public Theology aims to train a coming generation of pastors and Christians to know the times, preach the Word, believe the Word, and do the Word.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why did Founders start this project?

From its inception in 1983, Founders has been committed to the recovery of the gospel and the reformation of local churches. Today, the great challenge facing gospel ministers and the churches they serve is carrying out the great commission and the great commandment in the face of increasingly hostile worldviews without being intimidated, indoctrinated, or inhibited. The Institute of Public Theology aims to train a coming generation of pastors and Christians to know the times, preach the Word, believe the Word, and do the Word. Click here to stay up-to-date.

Is this a seminary?

It is similar in some ways but has been designed without many of the limitations that tend to govern the modern seminary approach to theological education. We are committed to academic excellence, theological integrity, and to teaching the core curriculum that is common to the best seminaries. We will not, however, teach classes that are not germane to rigorous, Christian living and ministry. Nor have we built the scope and sequence of our classes to satisfy any secular accrediting agency. Our goal is excellent, God-honoring instruction by godly, qualified men who have blood mixed with their convictions. That is, their lives and ministries demonstrate that they have more than a theoretical commitment to the truth that they teach. They are unapologetically committed to a biblical worldview and will teach their subject in a way that encourages faithful Christian living and ministry in a pagan society. Click here to stay up-to-date.

When do classes start?

Fall 2021 is our targeted date for starting classes. Click here to stay up-to-date.

How much will this cost?

We intend to offer classes at the rate of $300 per credit hour. The Institute is a three-year program, carefully focused track of study that can be completed with 63 credit hours. This is 20-30 less than more traditional seminary courses which will result in less expense than most three-year MDiv plans. Click here to stay up-to-date.

What types of degrees will you offer?

We are not offering formal degrees. Our goal is excellent training, not official recognition by any accrediting agency. Our graduates will receive a certificate declaring the completion of the course of study. Click here to stay up-to-date.

What types of classes will you offer?

We will offer course in biblical languages, systematic theology, ethics, philosophy, historical theology, exegesis, cultural apologetics, logic/rhetoric, political theology, and pastoral ministry. Click here to stay up-to-date. 

Are these classes going to be transferrable?

From the earliest years of the Founders Online Training Center (which began offering courses more than twenty years ago) various seminaries have granted credit to students who have taken courses with us. These seminaries have sought us out based on the quality of instruction received by our students. We will provide proper documentation for courses completed to any student who seeks to transfer them to another institution. Click here to stay up-to-date.

Will this be online or in-person training?

Courses will be taught both in person and via electronic transmission. Students who enroll to complete the full coursework will be expected to attend two in-person, week-long courses per year in Cape Coral, Fla. Click here to stay up-to-date.

Is this only available for prospective pastors?

No. The curriculum is designed for pastors and pastoral candidates, but classes will be available for other serious-minded Christians who are accepted into the Institute. Click here to stay up-to-date.

Want to learn more?

Thank you for your interest in The Institute of Public Theology. Sign up here to receive updates about attending or supporting the institute.

About Tom Ascol

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.

Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry and Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous.

Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website. He and Donna have six children along with three sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have fourteen grandchildren. 

About Voddie Baucham

Voddie Baucham wears many hats. He is a husband, father, former pastor, author, professor, conference speaker, church planter, and a board member for Founders Ministries. He currently serves as Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia.

Dr. Baucham’s area of emphasis is Cultural Apologetics. Whether teaching on classical apologetic issues like the validity and historicity of the Bible, or the resurrection of Christ; or teaching on biblical manhood/womanhood, marriage and family, he helps ordinary people understand the significance of thinking and living biblically in every area of life.

It is impossible to understand his approach to the Bible without first understanding the path he has walked. Raised in a non-Christian, single-parent home, he did not hear the gospel until he was in college. His journey to faith was a very unusual and intellectual one. Consequently, he understands what it means to be a skeptic, and knows what it’s like to try to figure out the Christian life without relying on the traditions of men. As a result, he speaks to ‘outsiders’ in ways few Bible teachers can.

Dr. Baucham holds degrees from Houston Baptist University (BA in Christianity/BA in Sociology), Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (D.Min.), an honorary degree from Southern California Seminary (D.D.), and additional post-graduate study at the University of Oxford, England (Regent’s Park College).

Dr. Baucham and his wife, Bridget, have been married since 1989, have nine children and are committed home educators.

About Jared Longshore

Jared Longshore was born in Central Florida and grew up in a Christian home and church. He received the blessing of hearing the gospel of Jesus many times, trusting Christ at a young age. In college, the Lord worked in him a desire to preach and shepherd God’s people. Dr. Longshore is a graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University (BA) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv and PhD).

Dr. Longshore has served multiple churches in Florida and is currently serving as the Associate Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla. In addition to his pastoral role, Dr. Longshore has spoken at multiple conferences across the country on the topic of Manhood and Womanhood. He has taught multiple courses through the Founders Study Center on a variety of topics, including his current courses on Christian Maturity and Christian Leadership.

Along with many online articles, Dr. Longshore has authored, edited, and contributed to multiple books, including By What Standard?, Wisdom for Kings and Queens, and Strong and Courageous. He serves as a board member and Vice President of Founders Ministries.

Dr. Longshore and his wife, Heather, have seven children.

About Tom Nettles

Tom Nettles was born in Brandon, Mississippi to a loving, Christian family. He was raised in a godly church throughout his entire life. Although he had an earlier profession of faith, Tom came to Christ during his first year of seminary while leading singing during a revival meeting in Perrin, Texas.

Dr. Nettles is a graduate of Mississippi College (BA) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv and PhD). He is widely regarded as one of the foremost Baptist historical theologians in America.

Dr. Nettles has served on staff at four churches starting in 1965 and has taught seminary since January 1976. Tom has most recently served as the Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was Professor of Church History and Chair of the Department of Church History. Prior to that, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.

Along with numerous journal articles and scholarly papers, Dr. Nettles is the author or editor of fifteen books. Among his books are By His Grace and For His Glory; Baptists and the Bible; James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman; and Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles H. Spurgeon.

Dr. Nettles and his wife, Margaret, have three children and five grandchildren.

About Travis Allen

Raised in Golden, Colo., Travis joined the military in 1988, where God regenerated him to new life and faith in Christ. Travis was educated for pastoral ministry (The College at Southeastern, B.A.; The Master’s Seminary, M.Div.), and further prepared by working at Grace to You and ministering at Grace Community Church.

Travis is now the teaching pastor at Grace Church, where he equips the saints for the work of ministry. His aim is to proclaim Jesus Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so he may do his part in presenting everyone mature in Christ.

He met and married Melinda in 1993, and God has given them five wonderful children.

About Dr. Mark Coppenger

Mark Coppenger is a former professor of Christian Apologetics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, senior pastor of Evanston Baptist Church in Illinois, director of Baptist Collegiate Ministries at Chicago’s Northwestern University, and managing editor of Kairos Journal.

He holds degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Vanderbilt University (Ph.D.).

About Dr. Jim Orrick

Jim Orrick, Ph.D., is pastor of the Bullitt Lick Baptist Church, author of Mere Calvinism and Seven Thoughts that Every Christian Ought to Think Every Day: Laying a Foundation for a Life of Prayer.

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