Why I Chose Westminster with a Family
by Matthew Patton, M.Div. 2009
Matthew Patton is now Visiting Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, and he and his wife have had their fifth child!
Westminster, more than any other influence on my life, has profoundly shaped my understanding of the Gospel and of the Word of God. I became a Christian in college, and rapidly gained a deep hunger for knowing God through his Word. I was (and still am) mesmerized by the complexity, power, and epic grandeur of the Bible and the God it reveals. This fascination with the Word, combined with a growing desire to see the glories of Christ made known, were the initial premonitions I had of God’s calling on my life. My sense of God’s calling was then further confirmed after college when my pastor (a Westminster graduate) urged me to go to seminary to develop my gifts for the service of the church.
While I did not understand the differences between various seminaries at the time, my pastor urged me to go to Westminster. I have since come to see its distinctiveness. I know of few other places where the redemptive-historical hermeneutics of Geerhardus Vos and the presuppositional apologetics of Cornelius Van Til are synthesized into a holistic framework for understanding all of life. Everything from the basics of Hebrew syntax to the complexities of Biblical interpretation and systematics to the nuances of heart-changing counseling are covered here with excellence. I have also found numerous brothers here whose passion for Gospel ministry has served as an invaluable sharpening iron for me. I am grateful that God used my pastor to lead me to these treasures.
God also has taken care of me and my family since our arrival here some four years ago. My wife and I presently have four children (ages five and under). Since my wife is fully occupied with our children, it was a great blessing to our family that our home church and numerous other individuals have come alongside us to support us financially during our time at Westminster. Their support, along with my part-time work (I am a computer consultant and telecommute an average of 10–15 hours a week) have made it possible for me to complete my Masters of Divinity degree in four years. Although these circumstances have required me to be very diligent with my time, I have found it possible to complete all of my coursework, put in the necessary hours on my job, and still have time to sanctify the Lord’s day entirely and spend time with my family throughout the week. Such is the good provision of our Chief Shepherd.
My sense of calling to the office of pastor in particular has arisen in my time here at Westminster. I have felt a growing sense of urgency that the people of God know the full counsel of God’s Word. My summer internship in 2007 enabled me to preach eleven times, which also served to confirm that the pastorate is a good fit for my gifts. I am now a licentiate in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and intend to pursue a call in the OPC when my schooling is complete.
However, I also have been encouraged to continue my education by pursuing a doctorate in Old Testament. I am especially interested in understanding how the prophets point to Christ, and now have my applications out to four different doctoral programs (one of which is Westminster). Lord willing, this extra education will not only enhance my pastoral ministry, but also open other avenues in the long-term as well. My long-term goal is then to take both my academic training and my pastoral experience overseas to a country where there is a need for training indigenous pastors for Gospel ministry. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church has one such mission-seminary in Uganda that is a possibility for me. It would be my delight to see future pastors gain a passion for preaching God’s Word, and be solidly equipped to do so.