Reputation of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS)

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Ephrata

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi, Brothers and Sisters!

I'm currently in my second year at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, pursuing an MDiv* and an MA in Church History.

As we all know, the priorities, goals, and theologies of seminaries often shift-- sometimes for the worse (Fuller) or sometimes for the better (SBTS). Factored in with more logistical matters, such as methodology and funding, reputations can shift accordingly.

If you'll indulge my curiosity-- what is TEDS' reputation (historical, current, or both) among the members of this site? Has anyone's view changed over time?


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*if you feel concern, based on passages like 1 Timothy 2:8-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, that I'm pursuing an MDiv, I commend your caution in the name of love for the Word. Rest assured, my aims are in no conflict with such truths. Ask for any details you'd like to know!
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
Hi, there.

I graduated from TEDS with an MDiv in May 2018. I went to TEDS because I appreciated their strong evangelical stance on things like inerrancy and Christology, but also their more broad evangelicalism and strong scholarship. I went in Reformed, and didn’t think anyone there would sway me otherwise. (No one did; I came out more Reformed.) I was quite happy there.

However, toward the latter year or two of my studies, my feelings changed. I noticed an increased propagation of wokism, not only from the students, but from some of the faculty. Rank liberalism, though not endorsed openly, was tolerated. I was in classes with open supporters of liberation theology. What’s worse is that there grew there a seminary-supported and student-led organization called Mosaic that, in my estimation, only succeeded in furthering the purposes of wokism and growing the divide between white people and every other race, of course blaming all societal ills on whites, and demanding that they, when they come into their meetings, only to shut up and listen (or else). I found their “discussion panels” to be an occasion only for open slander accompanied by thunderous applause. On top of all this, TEDS was not successful in preparing me for practical ministry. I could sit and talk with anyone all day about JEDP theory, but I could not navigate the intricacies of day-to-day pastoral work.

Needless to say, I left there not too thrilled, and have only grown in my disappointment, having kept up with the goings on up there through friends who are still there. Sadly, I have to say that, although I am thankful for the time and I had there and the academic formation the Lord gave me through it, I cannot in good conscience recommend TEDS to anyone. I see it going down the road of Fuller Seminary in not too many years’ time. I pray that I’m wrong.
 
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Jake

Puritan Board Junior
I would consider going to somewhere like TEDS or GCTS for academic studies but not for an M.Div which I would consider a pastoral degree (not sure how you consider it).
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
While I'm partial to a more self-consciously Reformed or Presbyterian (and confessional) institution,
while I have no first hand knowledge (and cannot gainsay any knowing criticism) of TEDS...,

... I want to encourage you by saying that anywhere you go, the development you receive as a student of theology and the Word of God is primarily a factor of your determination to squeeze from your experience and your instructors (at least the best ones) a concentrated learning. Learn how to think, how to evaluate, how to judge all sides of a debate, rather than simply going along with the consensus to avoid conflict.

Maybe TEDS is becoming a "consensus" school, in the evangelical cultural stream. I hope you should be free to challenge that with good fruit of hard study, using the best of the past and the present. If you went to a school in a different stream, you might not feel the same pressure to challenge the consensus. Perhaps (for example) the smaller-consensus is correct in many ways. You could end up being not as good a student because of it, even if you ended up extremely well-versed in the strength of your tradition.

I'm trying to say that you don't have to be down on the school of your choice, even if over time you find some aspects of the place chafe. Not all of us can say we are happy with our undergraduate (college) education. But if we have it, we're glad for the diploma; and we tried to make a better choice with later endeavors. Make the most of your opportunity, and only transfer away if you are truly unhappy or your faith is being weakened rather than strengthened.

:2cents:
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
I'm not sure if TEDS is becoming any more "woke" than several of the Southern Baptist seminaries are, or than RTS is. Outside of The Masters Seminary and some of the smaller confessional Presbyterian seminaries, you are likely to encounter varying degrees of "wokeness" at all of the larger seminaries, including places like Dallas Theological Seminary and Moody.

I think TEDS gets high marks from an academic standpoint. From either a Reformed Baptist or Presbyterian perspective, it isn't confessional to be sure and would be considered "broad evangelical." If someone is looking for a confessional education, it may be best to get the M.Div. from a place that is more aligned with one's confession and then maybe do a PhD at TEDS or somewhere else more "academic" depending on what one is trying to accomplish. (Some seminaries have limited options for a doctorate and some have none at all.)

I remember D.A. Carson saying a few years ago that they get independent fundamentalist doctoral students (or maybe just students period) who don't usually cause a problem and that it is the Reformed Baptists who sometimes cause problems. By that I think he means complaining about the curriculum or policies being too "liberal" or too "dispensational" or whatever. I think the idea is that the indy fundys who wind up there know what to expect beforehand and know that the school isn't exactly going to come around to their way of thinking on the issues where they differ. They are there simply to get something they can't get at fundy seminaries or Bible colleges.

Historically, I understand that it was more narrowly focused on serving the needs of the Evangelical Free churches and would have been considered somewhat more fundamentalist. But I think that started changing in the 60s and has broadened since then.

I'm not sure what the Evangelical Free churches view on women in ministry is, but I suspect that there is a greater acceptance of women studying and teaching things there that would be frowned on at many Baptist and Reformed seminaries. I want to say that I saw something a while back about a woman teaching theology at TEDS. If that's the case, I don't think you'd see that happening at conservative Reformed seminaries or Southern Baptist seminaries. But who knows how it will look in a decade if we're still here.

Until recently, in keeping with the EFree policy, I understand that professors were required to be premil. But that policy was recently done away with.

When I see TEDS, I think $$$$. Is there any conservative evangelical seminary that is more expensive? Maybe they have a lot of scholarships, but the last time I checked, it was considerably more expensive than DTS (which is also pricey), RTS, TMS, and the Southern Baptist seminaries even when taking away the discount for SBC members.
 
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SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Snowflake
Having come up through the E-Free church I was well acquainted with TEDS. One of my best friends is a TEDS grad. While a student at Moody I worked up in Lincolnshire practically across the street from TEDS (at the former Hewitt Associates on Half Day Rd right on the other side of 94 ) and supervised many TEDS students.

I think that once upon a time in the mid-late 90s it probably was THE place to go - it was totally stacked with awesome scholars. They were friendly to Calvinistic theology - just as they were friendly to Arminian theology - and created a climate that was truly evangelically diverse. It was committed to being evangelical and reflecting the breadth of the evangelical movement. Thus they (at least formerly) gave its professors freedom to operate within very broad perimeters to include some being cessationist and others being continuationists, egalitarians and complementarians, Reformed (guys like Van Gemeren were PCA...) and Dispensationalist and Arminian... with everything in between.
But note: while they had token PCA guys, and were open to Calvinism... their statement of faith is decidedly premillennial and their heritage was dispensational, just as evangelicalism shares that as a common unifying factor... so they've always leaned toward the dispensational/premillennial side of things. As far as I'm aware it is still impermissible for a professor to be anything other than premillennial.

It is still rigorously academic (at least back in my time of acquaintance they proudly bore the distinction between Divinity School and Seminary). But that said, I think that by and large they are living on past glory: most of the professors who brought them to prominence have either moved on or retired or died. Further, the Calvinist resurgence has come into full bloom, and I think there are better places to go if one wants a decidedly committed Reformed education.
 
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Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
Until recently, in keeping with the EFree policy, I understand that professors were required to be premil. But that policy was recently done away with.
Where did you hear this? I never heard they lifted this policy. It was still a contentious issue even when I left there not even two years ago.

While a student at Moody I worked up in Lincolnshire practically across the street from TEDS (at the former Hewitt Associates on Half Day Rd right on the other side of 94)...
It's so crazy to read you write about this. I can literally see what you're talking about! I used to work at College Park Athletic Club right there beside I-94. I also lived on TEDS' campus for one year.
 

Filter

Puritan Board Freshman
Where did you hear this? I never heard they lifted this policy. It was still a contentious issue even when I left there not even two years ago.
Article 9 of the E-Free SoF was amended from 'pre-millenial return of our Lord Jesus Christ' to 'glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ'. The approval was on June 19, 2019 [Source: https://www.efca.org/resources/document/motion-amend-article-9-efca-statement-faith]

I currently attend an E-Free church and my pastor is a TEDS graduate. He was happy to see the change as his eschatology has leaned more and more towards amillenialism as of recent.
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
Article 9 of the E-Free SoF was amended from 'pre-millenial return of our Lord Jesus Christ' to 'glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ'. The approval was on June 19, 2019 [Source: https://www.efca.org/resources/document/motion-amend-article-9-efca-statement-faith]

I currently attend an E-Free church and my pastor is a TEDS graduate. He was happy to see the change as his eschatology has leaned more and more towards amillenialism as of recent.
So, it did finally happen! The last thing I heard was that that clause was up for debate at the next national meeting (or whatever they call it). I am thrilled to hear it was changed. This made my day, brother.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
As far as I'm aware it is still impermissible for a professor to be anything other than premillennial.
Ben, I am unaware if Dr. Van Gemeren's position on eschatology changed after he left RTS Jackson for TEDS, but he was not premillennial while at RTS.

He was my Hebrew professor at RTS. One of the courses I took from him was exegesis of the Torah. I'll never forget the final exam for that class/course. It was an oral exam, five students in his office at a time for each final. All we had was our Hebrew Bibles. The oral exam was to parse and translate on the spot any passage of his selection in Genesis chapters 1-11. It was truly a 'do or die' test to the finish!
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Snowflake
Ben, I am unaware if Dr. Van Gemeren's position on eschatology changed after he left RTS Jackson for TEDS, but he was not premillennial while at RTS.

He was my Hebrew professor at RTS. One of the courses I took from him was exegesis of the Torah. I'll never forget the final exam for that class/course. It was an oral exam, five students in his office at a time for each final. All we had was our Hebrew Bibles. The oral exam was to parse and translate on the spot any passage of his selection in Genesis chapters 1-11. It was truly a 'do or die' test to the finish!
He must have passed that testing model along to colleagues... shortly after Dr. Ware went from TEDS to SBTS he was doing oral exams for theology.
 
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