Preparation for Ministry
Comparing catalogs of various seminaries is a helpful way to learn in what ways a seminary is distinct: where its focus lies and what its goals are. The academic catalog gives you a snapshot of the priorities of each degree program.
So, what does Westminster emphasize and will those emphases train you for doing ministry both while you’re in seminary and once you graduate? Westminster’s philosophy of education is to ensure that, upon your graduation, you are as competent as you possibly can be in the areas of Biblical Studies (Old Testament and New Testament), Apologetics, Systematic Theology, Church History, and Practical Theology. In our M.Div. program, for example, you won’t see Systematic Theology I and II; you will see Prolegomena (Intro. to Systematic Theology), Doctrine of God, Doctrine of Man, Doctrine of Christ, Doctrine of the Church, and Doctrine of Salvation – SIX classes on doctrine. We take no shortcuts in our curriculum because we want you to leave here with no regrets. For a lifetime of ministry, you want your money’s worth — and you will get that at Westminster.
Content over Location
Philadelphia is an incredibly diverse location that offers you almost any choice of ministry opportunity. Many people come to Westminster for that very reason. What we prioritize, however, is not the geographical location of our institution but the content and quality of our teaching. If Westminster were located in a remote region of a Midwest state, we believe it would still be the best seminary in the world because of what is taught, not where it is taught. You will have the rest of your ministry life to hone what God desires and what you prefer for your geographical location. Your time in seminary is a time that prepares you to take the content of your education to an urban setting, a suburban setting, an international setting, a college campus setting, or a completely rural setting. Fortunately, the Philadelphia area offers all of the above!
One very important question to ask any seminary is, “What is your view of Scripture, and how is that view applied consistently within every department?” In other words, does Scripture ultimately inform and ground every discipline and the content of every class that is offered? At Westminster, we believe that Scripture actually has a lot to say about itself — its God-breathed character (2 Tim 3:16), its ultimate authority over all of life and experience (2 Pet 1:16–21), even the Christ-centered nature of the entire Old Testament (Luke 24:44f). These truths are woven into our disciplines and expanded upon in the coursework.
Does the seminary’s counseling program teach that Scripture is the ultimate authority on who people are, how our behavior works, what our relationships are supposed to look like under God, etc.? Does the seminary’s apologetics department take seriously what Paul says in Romans 1 — that all men know God, that they are in a relationship with God (either in Christ or in Adam), that God’s invisible attributes are clearly perceived but that sin causes us to suppress knowledge of those attributes? Even seminaries that fly the “Reformed” banner can disagree on core disciplines. It is one thing to be Gospel-centered and Bible-centered, or even Reformed, but it is quite another thing to apply that consistently through every single class in every single department. Westminster can confidently affirm that it does so.
More Than a Transfer of Information
The current age is one in which a vast amount of information is customized and delivered right to your desk on a screen. Whether it’s driving directions, the news, or the weather, computers and their associated devices have become the place we go in order to seek information, but not necessarily knowledge—and certainly not wisdom. Knowledge, wisdom, and most training are delivered face-to-face, where people interact with each other and ask personal questions. The trend in distance education can be helpful to some, especially at an undergraduate level, but Westminster’s philosophy of education sees the irreplaceable value of not mere information-transfer, but genuine mentoring. So a physical presence in a classroom, asking questions, discussing classes within the seminary community, developing relationships with a world-class faculty – these are priceless facets of education that become impossible to replicate through a computer screen. Having said that, we do recognize that non-credit education is also crucial for the church’s growth, and not taking advantage of the ease and inexpensive benefits of online education would be simply irresponsible to the church throughout the world. So we have offered a number of free lectures and full classes through iTunesU.
Connecting with Us
Whether you are already in ministry and want to brush up on certain topics, or you are a potential student wanting to know something of the unique character of Westminster, we invite you to discover a small taste of campus through iTunesU, our YouTube channel, our Facebook page, and our Twitter posts. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to experience even more! We look forward to seeing you on campus.