This study traces the development of the Baptist Theological College of Queensland up to 1982, the final year of Dr. E.G. Gibson's principalship. The purpose of the research is to delineate the evolution of the college, including the forces that shaped it, and in so doing contribute to an understanding of the role of theological education in Australia's history. There is a great paucity of historical research into the place of theological colleges in Australia's development, and this dissertation seeks to help fill the gap by describing the establishment, growth, and function of one evangelical institution for training clergy.
Attention is given to the detail of the college's evolution with respect to all major aspects including its physical development, staff, students, library, courses, educational processes, and differing theological emphases. At the same time there is an attempt to identify broad trends, developmental phases, causal factors impinging on the college's growth, and the relation of the college to the overall life of the Baptist denomination in Queensland and society at large.
The dissertation asserts that the college went through four developmental phases that largely corresponded to the four Principal's successive terms of office. They were, respectively, a foundational phase, a transition period, years of advance, and a period of transformation.
There are two preliminary chapters outlining Baptist ministerial training antecedent to the establishment of the Queensland college in 1904. The first traces the place of Baptist colleges in England with particular reference to nineteenth century developments and the models of training that Baptists brought with them to Queensland. The second delineates the various attempts of Queensland Baptists to produce a home-grown ministry before 1904.
Chapters 3-5 cover Principal Malyon's term, 1904-21, which embraced most of the foundation years. During this time the young college survived various vicissitudes and became entrenched as a necessary part of Queensland Baptist life. When William Bell was in office, 1921-40, the college went through a transition phase from about 1925, described in Chapters 6-7: the Principal was appointed full time, educational standards were raised, a college building was acquired, and Bell promoted a more liberal theological emphasis. T.C. Warriner's principalship from 1941 to 1966 is addressed in Chapters 8-9, and saw a number of advances from 1945 in terms of increased enrolments, building programmes, property acquisitions, rising educational standards, new courses, and the addition of a second lecturer. Chapter 10 analyses the new era under Principal E.G. Gibson, 1967-82, when the college was transformed from about 1969 in that enrolments greatly increased, the college was relocated to Brookfield, the number of full-time staff grew to five, and Gibson insisted on a conservative evangelical stance.
After succinctly reviewing the overall evolution of the college, the "Summary and Conclusion" draws three broad conclusions: that the Principals were the major contributors to the college's development; that the college had a minimal impact on the prevailing ethos of the denomination; and that the controversies involving the college reflect the nature of, and changes in, Australian fundamentalism as portrayed in Dr. D. Parker's study of conservative evangelicalism in Australia from 1920 to 1980. A "Postscript" sketches six of the college's main lines of development, providing a convenient, thematic overview.