Let's Compare Some Seminaries!

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MattM14

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm looking at seminaries for when I pursue an M.Div, and have been reading a lot of posts the past couple of months. Since a lot of the posts are a bit old, I thought I'd ask for some new opinions in regards to my current list of seminary options. Don't worry about me in regards to the seminaries, I have so much to learn as a recent convert to reformed theology and I need to serve in a church for a while, so I'm just concerned more about the merits of the schools themselves. My criteria was for reformed, confessional schools that are cheaper and more pastoral while still being academic, hence no CTS, WTS, WSCal, or RTS. Would you rank these schools differently than I did, and why do you feel that way about them? What are the upsides and downsides to these schools that I might be missing?

1)Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
-The curriculum seems amazing to me, especially with the high emphasis on biblical languages and more than one apologetics course. Downside is, of course, the lack of accreditation, but as I'm called to ministry more than post-grad academics I don't think it is a big hold back. Just wary on whether the teaching is quality rather than quantity as far as course load.​

2)Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
-I've heard good things about the faculty, it's accredited, and it's still cheap. Curriculum seems to be solid and I like that they do address books of the Bible unlike GPTS. Downside, for me, is that it is way up North and I appreciate the southern warmth which applies to the next 2 also.​

3)Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary
-Right off the bat I see it is RPCNA, which is not a denomination that I'm very familiar with but I know that they might be more conservative than I'm willing to go without knowing too much yet. Other than that, the price is good, and the curriculum seems to cover everything that I'd want it to (with one that large it better!).
4)Mid-America Reformed Seminary
-Don't know too much about this place. It does seem to be of the same rigor as the others.​

I liked a thread I read earlier on what to look for in seminaries, but I was wondering, what are good questions to ask professors over email or in general and what are things to look for/ask when you visit a seminary? It's hard for someone who's younger and with less experience to know very much in regards to how to rank seminaries. What do y'all recommend looking at?
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
I'm a student in RPTS, starting my first courses next week. It is geared towards making Pastors first and foremost, and not necessarily scholars. So, most of the curriculum has a very pastoral bent (in fact the seminary's model is "Study under Pastors"). It is under the oversight of the Synod of the RPCNA - which is interesting in my particular case: since I am an elder in the RP church I get to also have some supervision of the school that I go to.

It was founded in 1810 and so has a 205 year history.

As it is an RP school, you will learn RP distinctives such as Exclusive Psalmody as an application of the Regulative Principle of Worship. The Mediatorial Kingship of Christ, and Covenanter History.

That said, I believe many of the active students are not RPCNA.

I am in the distance program, so I won't have to relocate to Pittsburgh until my final year or so. But, if you are looking for southern warmth (as in the weather) you definitely won't find it up there! Having lived in Southern California and now Texas for most of my life, I also have little love for colder climates. But, for the sake of "Christ's Crown and Covenant", people have endured far greater in His Service :)
 
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Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I think you should go visit places where you may end up spending countless focused hours, and invested years of life lived.

Unless you are sorta "buying in" to a one place, based on the advice of someone who knows you, who has already given such matters long thought, even before they had reason to counsel you--if you are doing as you seem to be, and weighing various options--if you have the ability to visit places, go.

Narrow your options (as you have): to two or four, or some other manageable quantity, and make a trip. Your decision will be much more satisfactory. Those who are commending themselves to you (and doing a reciprocal evaluation or sorts) will have the best pitches for their positives; and will also have the best answers to questions locally; and hopefully a fair and honest assessment of points of criticism leveled at them from other quarters.

Of course, I like and commend my own alma mater, GPTS. I liked the school when I matriculated (prior sight unseen); and it has only become better over the years since graduation.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
All the schools in your rank of 1-4 are good schools from my understanding. I know GPTS and PRTS have conferences, and I know especially GPTS has that week as a time that is great for prospective students to come and check out the seminary and community life. I'd assume the same would be the same for PRTS.

Bruce's advice is wise. I never visited my seminary before going, but it didn't hinder me (in my case). Thankfully.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
Greetings Matthew;

I note that you are a member of a CREC congregation. What program of study have the elders of your church recommended for you? What seminary are they recommending? I say this because theological education is properly a ecclesiastical function. The discernment of who should be an elder is also something more for the church then the individual.
I have heard good things about all of the seminaries you mention.
When I think about the recent seminary graduates I have heard preach; a few schools come to mind. 1. Puritan Reformed 2. Protestant Reformed 3. Canadian Reformed 4 Westminster West [which you already ruled out]
May I suggest you go to Sermon Audio and listen to a great many pastors preach. Then determine where the pastors that really impress you as preaching in a solid and engaging manner went to seminary.
 

MattM14

Puritan Board Freshman
As it is an RP school, you will learn RP distinctives such as Exclusive Psalmody as an application of the Regulative Principle of Worship. The Mediatorial Kingship of Christ, and Covenanter History.
Yea, that's something to keep in mind.

I note that you are a member of a CREC congregation. What program of study have the elders of your church recommended for you? What seminary are they recommending? I say this because theological education is properly a ecclesiastical function. The discernment of who should be an elder is also something more for the church then the individual.
That's a great thing to bring up, but I'm only at this church until I graduate in May and have only been attending there for a month as I've shifted into Presbyterian theology. I've brought it up with my pastor a little, but I'm more planning on waiting till I'm at a church back home and can be more involved. That being said, I've got at least a year before I actually commit to one of these schools so I'm focusing more on the merits right now.

May I suggest you go to Sermon Audio and listen to a great many pastors preach. Then determine where the pastors that really impress you as preaching in a solid and engaging manner went to seminary.
This is a very good tip! Looking at all these colleges from a distance, it's hard to see where one is different than the other.

Yea, I ruled out schools like WTS, even though they have great teachers, because I can't justify paying at least twice as much for a more prestigious degree.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
That's a great thing to bring up, but I'm only at this church until I graduate in May and have only been attending there for a month as I've shifted into Presbyterian theology.

Matt,

I would recommend getting plugged into a solidly reformed church for a couple of years before considering Seminary. Go somewhere where you can learn the Reformed faith in its purity, and soak it in a while. Once you're well grounded (i. e., you know the confessions, are familiar with some controverted issues in the Reformed world and know where you stand), then look into seminary.

What church do you plan on joining after you are home from school?
 

MattM14

Puritan Board Freshman
I would recommend getting plugged into a solidly reformed church for a couple of years before considering Seminary. Go somewhere where you can learn the Reformed faith in its purity, and soak it in a while. Once you're well grounded (i. e., you know the confessions, are familiar with some controverted issues in the Reformed world and know where you stand), then look into seminary.
I am planning on doing that. I'll be taking 2 years off, I think, to learn, hopefully start a career, and submit to a church. Right now I just was looking for people's opinions on the merits of the schools.

What church do you plan on joining after you are home from school?
I visited Parish Presbyterian Church (PCA) in TN this past Sunday and absolutely loved it! Coming from contemporary Methodist and Southern Baptist churches, I have really liked the emphasis on the liturgy.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I am planning on doing that. I'll be taking 2 years off, I think, to learn, hopefully start a career, and submit to a church. Right now I just was looking for people's opinions on the merits of the schools.

That is wonderful. I think you are really starting off on the right foot.

I visited Parish Presbyterian Church (PCA) in TN this past Sunday and absolutely loved it! Coming from contemporary Methodist and Southern Baptist churches, I have really liked the emphasis on the liturgy.

Dr. Grant is quite knowledgeable and very engaging. I enjoy listening to him. I don't know if I would want to endorse him wholeheartedly, but I have certainly found him helpful.

Your current pastor would probably encourage you to join the CREC church in the Nashville area. I would caution you to seriously examine the debates over Federal Vision theology before you consider sticking with the CREC. I joined a CREC church just after being convinced of paedobaptism, and it took me two years to learn that certain things that I was being taught by men in that denomination were serious departures from classic Reformed theology, and were not as scripturally defensible as they seemed at first.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
By the way, I think that each of the seminaries you've listed is really solid! I'd have a hard time choosing between them.
 
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MattM14

Puritan Board Freshman
Your current pastor would probably encourage you to join the CREC church in the Nashville area. I would caution you to seriously examine the debates over Federal Vision theology before you consider sticking with the CREC. I joined a CREC church just after being convinced of paedobaptism, and it took me two years to learn that certain things that I was being taught by men in that denomination were serious departures from classic Reformed theology, and were not as scripturally defensible as they seemed at first.
Yea, as I was first learning about reformed denominations I came across the CREC and FV controversies. While I still don't know very much about how to identify nuances of FV, I don't think my church is really beyond paedocommunion though I could be wrong. Right now we're going through the WCF and he supports my move to presbyterianism and knows that I intend to join the PCA once I graduate.
---All that being said, I go to a Church of Christ school and am a Bible Major so at this point I'm just glad to have reformed people to talk to!
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
All four certainly have good names, as far as I've seen.

If I were making the choice I'd go for Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. Beeke has a deep love for Puritan and experiential Reformed religion and, one would assume, that would come through in the teaching in the seminary. There are men teaching there who also exhibit this love for experiential religion.

Beeke's denomination also has a lot to commend itself in terms of its practice: headcoverings for women, singing the Psalms, the AV. Unfortunately they use the organ rather than singing unaccompanied. Of course there will be many students there from other denominations, but at least that is the context from which Beeke, himself, is coming from.

I would second the caution against attending seminary in the early days- of either one's own faith, or of a gaining of light in terms of doctrine and practice. The best learning any Christian will receive is in the preaching of the Word Sabbath after Sabbath and week day after week day, in a congregation, amongst the Lord's people in a congregation. When I moved to my current congregation and denomination, having grown up in a very liberal denomination (though in a congregation that was in opposition to a lot of what was going on in the wider denomination) some of the best advice I received was: spend time with the godly: in their homes, in conversation and fellowship; observe how they live their lives: that is how one learns Christian piety and practice.
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
I concur with Tyler's encouragement to involvement in a good local Reformed or Presbyterian Church as well as his warning about the CREC.

Let me also encourage you not to make the climate a major issue (I am a South Mississippi native who manages happily to live in the Chicago area) in your looking and determination. I would even urge you not to make the cost decisive: if the Lord's will for you is ministry, none of these sorts of things should be definitive. Until you've talked to a school, you don't know what sort of financial aid you may be able to get.

And, as one might expect, I would urge you to give Mid-America Reformed Seminary a serious look. You may PM if you wish to discuss this further and I will be praying for the Lord's guidance for and blessing upon you.

Peace,
Alan
 

Rafe Andersen

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm looking at seminaries for when I pursue an M.Div, and have been reading a lot of posts the past couple of months. Since a lot of the posts are a bit old, I thought I'd ask for some new opinions in regards to my current list of seminary options. Don't worry about me in regards to the seminaries, I have so much to learn as a recent convert to reformed theology and I need to serve in a church for a while, so I'm just concerned more about the merits of the schools themselves. My criteria was for reformed, confessional schools that are cheaper and more pastoral while still being academic, hence no CTS, WTS, WSCal, or RTS. Would you rank these schools differently than I did, and why do you feel that way about them? What are the upsides and downsides to these schools that I might be missing?

1)Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
-The curriculum seems amazing to me, especially with the high emphasis on biblical languages and more than one apologetics course. Downside is, of course, the lack of accreditation, but as I'm called to ministry more than post-grad academics I don't think it is a big hold back. Just wary on whether the teaching is quality rather than quantity as far as course load.​

2)Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
-I've heard good things about the faculty, it's accredited, and it's still cheap. Curriculum seems to be solid and I like that they do address books of the Bible unlike GPTS. Downside, for me, is that it is way up North and I appreciate the southern warmth which applies to the next 2 also.​

3)Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary
-Right off the bat I see it is RPCNA, which is not a denomination that I'm very familiar with but I know that they might be more conservative than I'm willing to go without knowing too much yet. Other than that, the price is good, and the curriculum seems to cover everything that I'd want it to (with one that large it better!).
4)Mid-America Reformed Seminary
-Don't know too much about this place. It does seem to be of the same rigor as the others.​

I liked a thread I read earlier on what to look for in seminaries, but I was wondering, what are good questions to ask professors over email or in general and what are things to look for/ask when you visit a seminary? It's hard for someone who's younger and with less experience to know very much in regards to how to rank seminaries. What do y'all recommend looking at?


Matt,

Those are wonderful schools that you mentioned. You really cannot go wrong with any of them. In addition, for your consideration, let me add Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.

Under the leadership of Dr. Jason Allen they have received much favor from the lord and their growth has been tremendous over the last two years. While not everyone who teaches there is totally reformed, most are reformed in their soteriology and probably other things as well.

It is a really good school located in a great city. They have a few different Mdiv concentrations and the professors are wonderful. They also have a nice online program.

And did I mention that they are one of the cheapest accredited seminaries one could attend? Right along with Mid America!

Not a big deal, but they even have on campus the beautiful and new "Spurgeon Library" which hosts all of Spurgeon's reamaning artifacts from his personal library.

I am getting a degree at MBTS so if you have any questions I can surely answer them.


Grace and Peace
 
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