Forged in Seminary

March 01, 2014

Alumnus Rev. John Larson (M.Div. '99)

Rev. John Larson recently took the time to answer a few questions about his memories of seminary and his current role as associate pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Athens, GA. Rev. Larson also serves the seminary as a Regional Alumni Representative, recruiting new students and connecting with fellow alumni.

Why did you choose Westminster?

I began to consider attending seminary when I was a junior at the University of Georgia. By that time I had become aware of Westminster through two friends, and over the next 18 months or so did some reading in order to understand more about the Westminster Confession of Faith and the distinctives of Westminster. As little as I knew at the time, I had two criteria for a seminary:

  • An unwavering commitment to the Bible as the word of God
  • A rigorous, confessional reformed theological education

It seemed to me from what I had read that Westminster was the place for me to receive this kind of biblical and theological education.

What are some memories you have of your time at Westminster?

There were a handful of classes that were especially instrumental in my life and preparation for ministry. Dr. Gaffin’s Acts & Paul class continues to be a blessing to me. Dr. Ferguson’s lectures on Theology, Pneumatology, and the Westminster Standards were (and are) life-changing. I could go on.

My closest friendships in the world are those forged and nurtured relationships during my three years at Westminster. Rob Edwards and Kyle Oliphint and I graduated together in 1999, and we continue to see one another regularly. 

But most significantly, I met and married my wife, Alicia, during my Westminster days. She was working in the old media office in Van Til Hall, and I began to walk down that hall very regularly.

What were some of the important things you learned at seminary that have carried over to your current role?

I am simply not able to express how grateful I am for my Westminster education. It was there that I learned to listen carefully and reverently to the text of Scripture. It was at Westminster that I learned to read and interpret and teach and preach the Bible as the unified, progressively unfolding revelation of the gospel of God’s Son. It was there that I learned that a right understanding of Scripture and reformed theology leads us necessarily to a covenantal apologetic. It was through Westminster that I experienced the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF) and learned an approach to pastoral counseling that honors the depth and breadth of Scripture. And throughout my time at Westminster, I witnessed the pervasive Christ-centeredness of the curriculum. These things are prized possessions, and they continue to equip and sustain me in the whole scope of pastoral ministry as well as my own life as a Christian.

I am still learning to preach, teach, and counsel the Word. Westminster gave me an excellent toolbox, but even so, all of it must be worked out on the ground in the context of ministry to the people of God.

What is your role as a Regional Alumni Representative for the seminary?

Over the last couple of years we have met together once a year, along with some Westminster faculty & staff, to brainstorm about our role and about how we can best serve the school, including its financial needs. Personally, this role means that I am available to meet with prospective students in my area and talk with them about Westminster, to do what I can to promote the resources and needs of the school, and to coordinate any special events in this region.

I love Westminster and believe I owe a debt of gratitude to her because of the inestimable value of my education, so I was glad to serve in any way I could.

How can the Seminary community pray for you?

I would be very grateful if you would pray for my faithfulness in doctrine and life, and for the faithful and fruitful life and witness of Redeemer PCA in Athens, GA.