Asia Biblical Theological SeminaryContextual Training
for a Lifetime of Ministry
About Asia Biblical Theological Seminary
Asia Biblical Theological Seminary has trained church leaders in Southeast Asia for nearly 40 years. With a priority given to the authority of Scripture, our experienced faculty creates a challenging and interactive class atmosphere that combines the best of contemporary scholarship with a heart for God’s mission.
Overview of ABTS
ABTS exists to further the mission of Cornerstone University by providing graduate-level theological education and contributing to evangelical scholarship for Asian contexts. Our vision is to produce global theologians and practitioners who are growing spiritually, thinking creatively, teaching biblically and serving contextually. Since 1983, this program has provided the opportunity to earn master’s degrees from Cornerstone while remaining in Asia.
ABTS, an associate member of the Asia Theological Association (ATA), aims to accomplish its mission through an integrated program of biblical, theological and professional studies delivered through a combination of distance education courses and residence seminars offered in selected cities in Asia. Educational activities endeavor to provide training within the context of students’ life, work and ministry. Tuition levels for all ABTS courses have been adjusted to fit the varied economies of Asian countries.
We are committed to making our education affordable by automatically granting a 75% discount off the tuition rates of our sister school in the United States. In addition, most students receive significant scholarships that make our tuition rates among the most affordable in Asia.
All of our degree programs are part-time, consisting of two-week modules in selected cities throughout Asia. Without a residency requirement, students already in ministry are able to earn their master’s degree without leaving their ministries or, in many cases, their home countries.
ABTS offers U.S.-accredited degrees through Cornerstone University located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States of America. At the same time, ABTS is firmly planted in Southeast Asia with our office in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This combination of East Meets West, with professors from around the world, brings a truly global perspective to the classroom.
One hallmark of ABTS classes is relevance. Each class is specially tuned to both the cultural and ministerial needs of the local context. Seminars at ABTS are never merely a theoretical exercise but integrate theory and practice in ways that are relevant to the real-life situations of our students.
History and Values
Confession of Faith
We worship the one, true God, almighty Creator and Ruler of all things, who has revealed Himself as spirit and eternally triune: three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, co-extensive in essence and character. Having boundless knowledge and power, God acts with absolute freedom in accordance with His perfect holiness, love, goodness, justice, wisdom, and faithfulness.
We believe that while God has revealed Himself in many ways and most fully in Jesus Christ, the Bible is God’s unique, written self-disclosure to humanity, fully human and divine in its authorship. Scripture is as true as its divine Author, clear and uniquely powerful in its message, sufficient for all of our deepest needs, and our only infallible guide and final authority for faith and life.
We believe that God created angels as immaterial and holy beings who are unique in their ministry of worship and service to God. Satan is a fallen angel who, along with his demons, rebels against God’s sovereignty in active opposition to God and His plan of redemption until the time of their ultimate doom.
We believe that God created Adam and Eve in His image as His perfect representatives on earth. Through an act of willful disobedience, Adam sinned, resulting in the depravity of the human race and the corruption of all creation. Consequently, humans are now imperfect representatives, sinners by nature and by choice, alienated from God and under His wrath, subjects of the kingdom of Satan, and utterly unable to remedy their lost condition.
We believe that our Lord Jesus Christ is God incarnate, the fully divine Son of the Father who added to Himself a full human nature; two natures united in one Person. He is the Agent and Sustainer of creation who was sent by the Father for our redemption; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, Mary; who lived a sinless life as the perfect image of God; and who was crucified and died as our representative and substitutionary sacrifice, and bodily rose again defeating sin, Satan, and death. As our ascended Lord, Jesus now intercedes on behalf of His people and rules over His Church until the time of His triumphant return as King of creation.
We believe that the Holy Spirit, as the fully divine, third Person of the triune God, is involved in all the works of God and was sent to apply the redemption accomplished in Christ. The Spirit brings new life to God’s people through His works of conviction, illumination, regeneration, and baptism into union with Christ. At salvation, the Spirit permanently indwells believers, guiding, equipping, and empowering us for Christ-like service in and through the Body of Christ, and sealing us as the Guarantor of our inheritance.
We believe that all those who, by God’s grace, through faith and repentance have responded to His call are justified, adopted, and made members of the Body of Christ, the universal Church. This Church is made visible in local congregations which advance God’s kingdom by making disciples who increasingly image Jesus Christ throughout creation. Jesus commanded His Church to observe two sacred practices: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
We believe in the blessed hope of the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ, the bodily resurrection and reward of the just unto everlasting life, and the raising of the unjust unto final judgment and punishment. He will fully establish His kingdom on the earth, destroy all His enemies, make all things new, and submit all things to the Father; and God will make His dwelling with mankind forever.
Filipino missionaries to Thailand in 1982 recognized the need to establish a Bible school to train pastors for local churches, but how could they teach on an undergraduate level, without master’s degrees? ABTS founder Dr. John Lillis, working with Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, brought the accredited In-Ministry Master of Religious Education degree to them in 1983. Both Thais and missionaries welcomed the Extension Program: “All we were asking for was a Piper Cub—you brought us a 747.”
From the beginning, ABTS has been a mission enterprise fielding quality master’s level education at subsidized prices. The administrators and professors in Asia are missionaries supported by churches and friends and serve with mission agencies such as ABWE International. Professors from Grand Rapids and adjunct faculty volunteer their time to teach and mentor.
With no physical buildings or residential campus, the Regional Office first located in Thailand, then operated from the Philippines and in 1992 from Singapore. As of July 2008, the ABTS Regional Office has returned “home” to Thailand, this time to Chiang Mai.
In alignment with our mission and vision, ABTS promotes and adheres to these five educational values:
- Centrality of the text.
- Importance of theology.
- Critical thinking.
- Cultural sensitivity.
ABTS operations in Singapore and Thailand are supported by local sponsors who represent the organization before the government. These individuals provide counsel, promote the program in the community and facilitate the continued presence of the school in the respective country.
Cornerstone University is a Christ-centered university in Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States, with a passion for global influence through the transforming power of the gospel. Cornerstone is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and provides academic oversight for ABTS.
In addition to being an associate member of the Asia Theological Association (ATA), ABTS operates in partnership with mission organizations that share our values and vision. Mission partners recommend qualified, full-time personnel to serve with ABTS, provide consultation through participation on the advisory board and recommend students to ABTS programs.
ABTS serves its partners through offering quality theological education for national leaders and foreign workers throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Become a Partner
We welcome your participation in this unique master’s program. To learn more about the ministry of Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, contact us and see how you can help.