The South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies is an institute for postgraduate theological studies and research in Bangalore, India. SAIACS strives for biblical and contextually relevant theological studies so that students can make a meaningful and significant impact in their diverse ministries—including churches, NGOs, Christian organisations, Bible colleges, and seminaries—for the glory of God.
SAIACS began with the conviction that churches in India needed something more than just another Bible college or seminary. India needed a reputable evangelical ministry-focused centre that held on to the centrality of the Christian gospel, as well as pursued reputable higher theological learning to equip people to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. In the summer of 1981 in Kodaikanal, Dr Bruce Nicholls and Dr Graham Houghton shared their dreams. Like-minded people in Madras agreed on the need for an MTh in missiology. As there was no real infrastructure within which to do this, it was suggested that the degree be offered by the newly formed Association of Evangelical Theological Education in India (AETEI). Dr Houghton, then the dean, set up a two-year course, and classes began in June 1982 amid enthusiastic support from church leaders and prospective students.
As applications continued to come in, it was decided to repeat the course of studies and that the program would be moved from Madras to Bangalore. In 1984, the programme disengaged from the AETEI, and in 1985 SAIACS was registered separately as an Educational Trust in Bangalore with Dr Houghton as the principal.
Classes were held in several houses until suitable land was located near Kothanur, on the northern side of Bangalore. The present property was purchased in 1987 and construction began in 1988.
SAIACS now spreads over 11.5 acres of beautifully landscaped campus. Its architecture won acclaim in the Architecture and Design journal (September/October 1996).
Following Founding Principal Dr Graham Houghton’s 20 years, Dr Ashish Chrispal and Dr Fanai Hrangkhuma served consecutively as principal. Dr Ian Payne took up this position in March 2008, leading the institute until April 2018, at which time Dr Prabhu Singh was installed as SAIACS’ fifth principal.
Why SAIACS Exists
Three concerns prompted the founding of SAIACS:
- Indian students studying in Western countries too often do not return.
- Western education is understandably irrelevant to the Indian context in some areas, while SAIACS can address the issues and needs of South Asia.
- Offering postgraduate education in India rather than in the West allows for more prudent financial stewardship at about one-tenth the cost per student.
What Makes Us Distinct
SAIACS gives priority to the spiritual nurturing and development of the whole campus community.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays we hold chapel led by members of the faculty, senior administrative staff, and students. Tuesday and Thursday mornings are aimed at prayer in cell groups and faculty-student mentoring. Friday evenings offer a community dinner, recreation, and fellowship in cell groups.
Students attend classes on spiritual formation to enlarge their prayer life and examine their accountability to God and others. They also form prayer partners or prayer groups to inspire each other in their spiritual growth.
We encourage students to contribute to the ministry of local churches. Our MA studies include context-based learning so students can see the relevance of biblical answers to classroom questions in practice.
Our living credentials are our graduates and resident and visiting faculty. Now serving the Lord Jesus and his church in Asia and beyond, hundreds of our graduates are faculty of theological institutions. In fact, SAIACS is the largest provider of faculty in different disciplines to evangelical theological institutions in India. Many more are pastors and leaders in Christian organizations.
People from all over India and other countries have studied at SAIACS, including Australia, Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, China, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kenya, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, and the United States. They return to their home areas or other lands as leaders in churches, theological education, and key Christian organizations.
SAIACS’s MA and MTh degree-holders have been given entry into PhD programmes in the UK and the US.