History & Heritage

The Biola Hour radio hosts On February 25, 1908, Biola University was founded to equip men and women to be effective ministers of the gospel in a world that was becoming increasingly secular.

Formed by the Rev. T.C. Horton and Lyman Stewart, founder of Union Oil Company, the non-denominational school offered degrees in Bible training, hosted the nation's largest Christian magazine, The King's Business, and aired the first Christian radio program west of the Mississippi, which later became known as The Biola Hour.

Enrollment grew rapidly under the direction of Biola's first dean, R.A. Torrey (1911–1925). By 1915, the school had more than 1,000 students and was housed in a building hosting two 13-story twin towers in downtown Los Angeles. At the time, this was the tallest building in the city. Biola's growth also included the establishment of a sister school in China called the Hunan Bible Institute. By the late 1920s, Biola had already graduated many influential Christian leaders such as author and pastor Donald Grey Barnhouse and Charles Fuller, who later founded Fuller Theological Seminary.

portrait of Louis Talbot

But even with the steady growth of Christian schools like Biola, the 1920s and 30s were a time when many of the nation's leading seminaries began to take a "liberal" stand on the basic doctrines of the faith. The leadership of Biola decided in 1936 that it was time to expand the school's curriculum to include a Bachelor of Theology degree. In 1943, Biola established the Bible Theological Seminary of Los Angeles to recognize those students doing seminary level work.

During this time, Dr. Louis T. Talbot (1932-1935, 1938-1952), then pastor of the Church of the Open Door, was serving his second tenure as Biola's president. He saw the increasing need for Biola to offer a three-year seminary degree if they were to effectively breech the gap left by the liberal seminaries.

The Biola Hour radio hosts

In 1952, during his last year as Biola's president, Talbot worked to establish a fully accredited theological seminary. The seminary's first dean was noted Christian scholar Charles Feinberg, who, along with his colleagues, unanimously voted to name the seminary "Talbot Theological Seminary." In 1981, the seminary's name was changed to "Talbot School of Theology" when Biola moved from college to university status.

Today, Talbot School of Theology is one of the nation's leading evangelical seminaries and continues to grow with the needs of Christian leaders. Talbot has more than 1200 students, 70 full-time faculty members, 50 part time faculty, and offers six master's degrees and three doctoral degrees. Clinton E. Arnold, a Talbot alumnus, is the seminary’s sixth and current dean, serving since 2012.

Biola University
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