YTI holds to a generous, yet orthodox and evangelical, theology. This is a theology that affirms the authority of Scripture as the ‘norming norm’ and primary source of Christian theology, yet continuously explores the relationships of community, culture, and Christian experience to theology. YTI affirms the very nature of Scripture as authored by the Holy Spirit through human beings and authoritative for the life of the church. It is a theology that holds in great esteem the teachings and traditions of the historical Christian church. It is a theology that is distinctly evangelical in the sense that it is oriented to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) and Great Commandments (Luke 10:25-28). Additionally, theological generosity means to be willing to examine the influence of other religious and philosophical movements upon Christian faith. To be theologically generous also suggests that theological orthodoxy is not purely born out of doctrinal assertion and adherence, but the cultivation of practical Christian character. Thus to be theologically generous is also to be ethically virtuous.
YTI is intentionally nondenominational and students are prepared to minister in any setting. Students from a variety of denominational backgrounds will have the opportunity for mentoring in their own theological tradition with pastors and ministers from that tradition. Students simply seeking to ‘sample’ from the many denominational and non-denominational varieties of the church in the Bozeman area will find that they have chosen well by enrolling at YTI.
To be ‘ecumenical’ is to strive for Christian unity. The word is derived from the Greek οἰκουμένη (oikoumene), which means “the whole inhabited world.” The ecumenical vision encompasses the search for the visible unity of the Church as the concern of all Christians. The challenge for YTI is to strive for unity in the Christian church, while respecting the diversity of traditions and their theologies. The ecumenical vision is a Trinitarian vision at its heart, striving for unity while acknowledging great variety.
The term postmodern, and its variations, is being used to describe much of Western culture-at-large, as well as culture in the United States in particular. The term itself describes a philosophical outlook as well as the mosaic of cultural movements that defines where we live today. Nevertheless, ‘postmodern’ does not fully describe our culture; indeed, the United States is without question also a ‘modern’ culture. Thus, the church in our culture exists in a transitional time, where we experience the modern and the postmodern simultaneously, creating both unprecedented anxiety and opportunity for the church. YTI is sensitive to this situation and seeks to equip ministers to navigate this complex culture.
Additionally, our culture is defined by its local settings – urban and rural – with different sets of values and expectations in each. YTI seeks to equip ministers for both settings and their variations.
Finally, we also live in a global culture, with exposure to many different cultures being only a mouse-click or airline flight away. With an evangelical and thus a missional focus, the study of the various cultures in our world is a given at YTI.
Worship, in all of its expressions, is one of the main concerns of the gathered church today. Specific areas of concern include what and how we sing, the use of instruments, spoken liturgies, how we practice Holy Communion/The Lord’s Supper/Eucharist, the use of symbols, architectural theology, stained glass, ‘smells and bells’, and, of course, the art of proclamation. All of these areas are of major concern at YTI.
Environmentally and Recreationally Engaged
YTI engages the environment in two respects. First, we are aware that we live in a world where our natural resources are finite and that we must be good stewards of these resources. Thus, quality theological education addresses the issue of environmental stewardship.
Second, more and more people in Western culture are participating in outdoor recreation. As we learn to appreciate the environment in which we live, a desire is birthed to experience this environment in a more holistic—even spiritual—fashion. Indeed, John Calvin referred to the created order as ‘The Theater of God’s Glory” and many people in Western culture, the United States in particular, are beginning to substitute the quasi-spiritual environmental experience they have for actual worship with the church! In light of this development, the concept of recreational ministry is born, and YTI is strategically located to facilitate such study.