I am very grateful for the seminary where I sought training for pastoral ministry; Westminster Theological Seminary. I graduated in 1999 as green as any new minister would be. I could find my way around the Bible in the original languages, had a better than average grasp of church history, could hold my own apologetically and had been run through the ringer in my preaching classes.
I graduated loving both systematic theology and biblical theology.
Upon graduating I didn't leave WTS but joined the administration for a short time as the Director of Admissions. I got to be a cheerleader for what I still believe is the best seminary in the world where one can be trained for pastoral ministry. I also got to serve incoming students in their first year of study.
These years of my direct connection with WTS, roughly 1995-2000, years as a student, an administrator and a friend to new students; there were things bubbling under the surface. A controversy was brewing. Unbeknownst to me, the faculty was already addressing the controversy when it had initially reached my ears. An Old Testament professor, Peter Enns, had published a book, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament which was making waves. The content of the book lined up fairly well with what students heard from Pete in his Old Testament Introduction class. The book went into more detail, but it was no secret that Pete struggled with God's Word as God's Word in a way that made students and faculty uncomfortable.
After I took a pastoral call in Florida in 2000, the controversy heated up. Sides were drawn and it got ugly. Now, as an outsider looking in, I could tell things were bad. In God's merciful providence, the President of the seminary and the Board of Trustees led the seminary through this challenge. Pete resigned. Many of the board members left in a not-so-subtle protest of how things were handled and some left in support of Pete. (Interestingly many of these former WTS board members found similar board positions on the board of a newly established seminary in Dallas, Texas, Redeemer Seminary.)
Now in the closing months of 2013 as I write this, a good bit of time has passed. I wanted to write this brief blog post because I was struck again by the faithfulness of my alma mater, WTS and those who serve her. The leadership; the President, Board and Faculty, all of them worked faithfully through a very challenging time, making difficult but necessary decisions, many that came at a high cost for the seminary on a number of levels. The seminary has been blessed with the acquisition of high caliber and very faithful faculty members and equally faithful men willing to serve on the Board of Trustees.
A fruit of this faithfulness is the recently published work, Thy Word is Still Truth: Essential Writings on the Doctrine of Scripture from the Reformation to Today. This is a massive book and a necessary resource for anyone who takes seriously God's Word as God's Word. Both Dr. Lillback and Dr. Gaffin have done a great service for the church in providing this book.
Controversy has a way of solidifying truth. But it takes God raising up those who will champion the truth being challenged in order for it to be reclaimed or made more solid. God raised up Dr. Lillback, other administrators, many board members and faculty to fight for the truth of God's Word at WTS. Praise Him for a seminary that is profoundly faithful and committed to the inerrant and infallible truth of God's Word written.
Let me encourage you to consider doing four things. First, order the book, Thy Word is Still Truth: Essential Writings on the Doctrine of Scripture from the Reformation to Today. You will be blessed to see how many have treasured God's Word against those who have challenged it.
Second, consider WTS in your year end giving. The seminary exists because of faithful partners financially supporting the mission of training pastors and others who desire to be trained to be ministers of God's Word.
Third, if you know of someone who is considering attending seminary, please do what you can to get them to visit the campus of WTS. There is not a better way to prepare for full-time vocational ministry.
And finally, when you are shopping this Christmas, the WTS Bookstore has many great gift options, and I am not only talking about books.