Which Seminary to attend? Why is it so difficult?

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CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Brothers and sisters,

By the grace of God, I have been called to ministry. As a member of the PCA, I will be "coming under care" of my local presbytery soon - Central Carolina Presbytery. My plan was to attend Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in my hometown of Charlotte, NC. Although, I'm not sure if this will be wise or not considering the astronomical cost of attending RTS and other accredited seminaries.

I have to admit, during the past few years on this journey to ordination, I've become jaded. Why is it so hard for a man that has a genuine calling from God to receive proper biblical training in order to serve the body of Christ? Seriously, the M. Div. at RTS will cost well over $50,000! My church and session may or may not help finance this. There is some good news: apparently, RTS has agreements with many PCA churches that they agree to cover 33% and the local church cover 33%, and finally the candidate covers the remaining %33. Even so, the remainder is still very high for a one-income family with four children.

My wife and I are expecting our fourth child next week. I don't believe it is right that I should pile financial burden upon burden on my family and I. I don't recall one of the qualifications for Elders to be "burden you and your family with massive debt."

Our local churches spend money on stupid programs, picnics, and other useless activities any heathen YMCA could provide. What suffers? The training of men for the ministry! As you may have guessed, I believe the priorities are a little out of whack. It vexes me to know many qualified men have abandoned this process because of Christian educational institutions financial demands are too high.

Forgive the rant. Anyway, I was thinking of non-accredited seminaries. There are a few out other that have good reputations. I was thinking of taking this training which is a fraction of the cost of RTS and others. Then taking the Presbyteries "ordination / theological" test. If I were to pass it, they would ordain me.

Any advice? Suggestions? Thoughts or comments?

I greatly appreciate good, Christian counsel. This has been troubling me and I better stop now before the post becomes an essay.


To God be the glory,
Chris Mangum

[Edited on 1-11-2006 by mangum]
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I'm a graduate of GPTS, down the road about 1.5 hours. I am a minister in good standing of my denomination. I might easily have been ordained in the OPC as well, had I been called to one of their congregations. Accreditation has some value, but not (I'd say) as much as many people attribute to it. Few presbyteries want to know if you have an "accredited degree"; they want to know what you know and believe. I would recommend as many reformed seminaries that aren't accredited (is MARS accredited? is Puritan?) as are (e.g. RTS Jackson, WTS either).

Who teaches? What kind of reputation? What churches are accepting their graduates? What sort of confessional basis do they have? What are you going to school to do? Do you want to preach? Do you want a "higher degree" from a "big-name-school" run by unbelievers afterwards?
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Chris,

I heartily agree with you. Seminary should not be an expensive proposition. I don't see anywhere in the Bible that it suggests you should have to pay high costs to receive sound Biblical training for the ministry. The path to ordination should not cost a worldly fortune.

Nevertheless, here I am going to Westminster Theological Seminary. And I am thankful to God that I am able to take a couple classes each semester. May He continue to bless!

:pray2: Lord, please richly provide for Chris in this situation. Please provide all the necessary means for him to be able to serve You, and please provide for him in such a way that he will not be tempted to take massive amounts of time away from the family with which You have blessed him. In Christ's holy Name I pray, :amen:.
 

Casey

Puritan Board Junior
(is MARS accredited? is Puritan?)
MARS just became accredited since I've been here. Chris, you have some PCA brethren here at MARS -- you may want to consider the school. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. :handshake:
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by biblelighthouse
Chris,

I heartily agree with you. Seminary should not be an expensive proposition. I don't see anywhere in the Bible that it suggests you should have to pay high costs to receive sound Biblical training for the ministry. The path to ordination should not cost a worldly fortune.

Nevertheless, here I am going to Westminster Theological Seminary. And I am thankful to God that I am able to take a couple classes each semester. May He continue to bless!

:pray2: Lord, please richly provide for Chris in this situation. Please provide all the necessary means for him to be able to serve You, and please provide for him in such a way that he will not be tempted to take massive amounts of time away from the family with which You have blessed him. In Christ's holy Name I pray, :amen:.

:amen:

Thank you, brother. May God continue to bless you.
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by StaunchPresbyterian
(is MARS accredited? is Puritan?)
MARS just became accredited since I've been here. Chris, you have some PCA brethren here at MARS -- you may want to consider the school. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. :handshake:

Thank you, brother. For a minute there, I thought you meant Mars Hill Graduate School! :lol: When I saw Brian McLaren on the site, I about died. :lol:

You do mean Mid-America Reformed Seminary right? I am not familiar with them. I do have a few questions though. About how much is it per credit hour? As I do not live near the campus, can I assume that there is online/distance schooling? What about Puritan's cost and online options?

On a related note, has anyone ever tried to study Greek and Hebrew online? I have not. Is it like this? --> :banghead:

[Edited on 1-11-2006 by mangum]
 

Plimoth Thom

Puritan Board Freshman
Puritan Reformed is accredited and I believe just received permission from MI to confer degrees. I don't know about their online options but they have many of their classes on tape, which can also be ordered through Reformation Heritage Books. But why not just move to the Holy Land... I mean Grand Rapids :p I know several Puritan Reformed students who have moved from other countries to attend. ;)

http://www.puritanseminary.org/
 

Casey

Puritan Board Junior
You do mean Mid-America Reformed Seminary right? I am not familiar with them. I do have a few questions though. About how much is it per credit hour? As I do not live near the campus, can I assume that there is online/distance schooling?
Yes, that is the school. Each semester is $2,000 (for 12 or more credits; the price doesn't increase). Otherwise, for under 11 credits, it is $175/credit hour. It is a three year program (factor in $100-400/semester for books, too). There is no online program, and I doubt they have a very detailed distance program (they record their classes, but not for distance purposes). Most people simply move here to attend (like I have; though at the moment we have a student from India, Mexico, and New Zealand!). The school has around 30 full-time students and 5 professors, so you get to know everyone pretty well!
On a related note, has anyone ever tried to study Greek and Hebrew online? I have not.
Before coming to seminary, my former pastor provided Greek lessons (you may want to ask your pastor about this!). Order a copy of Machen's grammar and have at it. :)

[Edited on 1-11-2006 by StaunchPresbyterian]
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by mangum
On a related note, has anyone ever tried to study Greek and Hebrew online? I have not. Is it like this? --> :banghead:

I'm beginning to learn Hebrew. I'm using the Pratico & Van Pelt Grammar, Wk.book etc. Gordon Conwell's Distance program has a CD with Pratico teaching Hebrew I (includes lecture and video) for $45
check it out here
Mine is on order and I will let you know how it turns out.

They are in the process of finishing up Hebrew II in the same format also by Pratico as well as Greek I and II by...the name escapes me. He will be teaching out of Mounce's grammar.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Here is an excerpt from GPTS's catalog (available online @ http://www.gpts.edu
ACCREDITATION

In order to guarantee complete freedom for Greenville Seminary to operate under the Lord of the Church, without subjection to outside influences, the Seminary does not plan to apply for accreditation with any of the regional or national agencies. The Seminary is committed to operate on academic standards equal to or higher than those set by accrediting agencies.

Accreditation cannot guarantee that any school indeed provides a quality education. To a great extent, the quality of education delivered by a school depends on intangibles"”such things that cannot be measured, the real teaching ability of the professors, their dedication to their task, and the commitment of the students to take advantage of the education they are offered. But accreditation depends on measurability"”such things as the percentage of professors with an earned doctorate in their field; the number of books and journals housed in the library; the availability of computers to the students.

After reviewing the academic programs of Greenville Seminary, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) has recognized its M.Div. curriculum as being in compliance with the PCA´s Uniform Curriculum without exception, and at least one Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) presbytery has consented to enter into an oversight relationship with the Seminary. After several campus visits by a reviewing committee, the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS) denomination has put Greenville Seminary on its list of approved seminaries. It is the conviction of the Seminary that, as her graduates receive acceptance with the Church, this is the ultimate accreditation for a seminary.

The Seminary will receive regular accrediting visits by Ruling and Teaching Elders sent by their presbyteries and sessions. The purpose of the visitation is to examine the Seminary as to how faithful she has been in achieving her stated goals. The visitation committees have full access to all Seminary records and may interview any member of the faculty, staff, or student body.

ASSOCIATION OF REFORMED THEOLOGICAL SEMINARIES

Greenville Seminary is a charter member of the Association of Reformed Theological Seminaries (A.R.T.S.), a private association of Reformed schools of theology. The purpose of this organization is to provide for the kind of mutual accountability that Christian brethren ought properly to provide one another. That is, the association serves to make sure that each member school continues to accomplish what it promises.

For more information about A.R.T.S., please visit their web site: http://www.artseminaries.org

VETERANS AID, INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS & CHAPLAINCY

The Seminary is approved by the US Government to receive veterans´ aid and to enroll international students.

Our students have been able to pursue the Chaplain ministry in the US Military by following the rules established for seminaries that do not meet the government´s accreditation requirements. It is important that if you desire the Chaplain ministry that you contact a Chaplain recruiter to discuss the requirements. The Chaplain Candidate Program is not available to students at GPTS.

Chris,
I hope you will at least consider Greenville Seminary, as close as it is to you presently. Puritan Seminary's accreditation/accontability I believe comes through the same organization, ARTS, mentioned in the excerpt above. Puritan Seminary's degrees (until MI granted them that status mentioned above) were conferred through a relationship with Greenville Seminary. These schools clearly share a common philosophy.

[Edited on 1-11-2006 by Contra_Mundum]
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Chris,
I hope you will at least consider Greenville Seminary, as close as it is to you presently. Puritan Seminary's accreditation/accontability I believe comes through the same organization, ARTS, mentioned in the excerpt above. Puritan Seminary's degrees (until MI granted them that status mentioned above) were conferred through a relationship with Greenville Seminary. These schools clearly share a common philosophy.

I just read through Greenville Seminary's catalog. I am very impressed. If I lived around there, I would definitely attend. It is about 100 miles away from me though. I just moved my family from D.C. to Charlotte, NC 8 months ago. I am not sure if it is feasible to move them again. Especially considering child #4 will arrive this very week! God willing. Wow, this looks like a great school. You are blessed indeed.

I'm beginning to learn Hebrew. I'm using the Pratico & Van Pelt Grammar, Wk.book etc. Gordon Conwell's Distance program has a CD with Pratico teaching Hebrew I (includes lecture and video) for $45
check it out here Mine is on order and I will let you know how it turns out.

They are in the process of finishing up Hebrew II in the same format also by Pratico as well as Greek I and II by...the name escapes me. He will be teaching out of Mounce's grammar.

Thanks, Chris. I am trying to find good Greek and Hebrew materials before Seminary. Anyone else have their favorites? What are the best ones for people that have NO previous experience with Greek and Hebrew other than a lexicon?

Before coming to seminary, my former pastor provided Greek lessons (you may want to ask your pastor about this!). Order a copy of Machen's grammar and have at it.

This is a great idea. Unfortunately, my pastor, after 28 years of service (as long as I've been alive!), has been called to teach in Seminary and left at the first of this year. :(

At this point, I'm considering online / distance learning and not moving to the institution itself.

There is good news. I have been corresponding with my Pastor, and he has been telling me our church often pays up to 50% for their interns. This would be excellent.

One more question about tuition cost. On RTS (Charlotte) tuition page it states the following:

[align=center]M.DIV AND M.A. DEGREE PROGRAMS
Tuition per semester hour $295.00
Auditing fee, per semester hour $150.00[/align]

Does this mean that the cost is $445.00 per semester hour? ($295 + 150 = $445) What is an auditing fee?

I hope its not $445.00 per semester hour. There is no school, in the history of the world that is this good. :eek:
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Chris,

The RTS cost is $295 per hour. The other fee is just for auditing. The key for RTS is to have a Church Partnership. That makes attendance more reasonable. The cost works out to basically $1400 a semester. I highly suggest taking as many credits as possible per term. RTS also has a "Full Time Student" scholarship that makes credits from 13-17 free (i.e. the cost is the same for 17 credits as 12). In my opinion, a slightly lower grade is less important than $1500 per semester (the cost of those 5 credits per term).

So it is critical to obtain church support, since that actually gives you about $3000 for each semester.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Auditing means taking a course but not for the purpose of getting any credit (and not taking the exam, etc.). Audit=listen. So, you pay less, you pay for the privilege of instruction, but don't pay for the additional time for treating you like a student. Sometimes your class participation might be likewise limited (i.e listening = not talking either).

Most schools everywhere do this, some do not charge. So, the price above for 1 seminary credit is $295, plus books, and fees if applicable.
 
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