The new school year has been underway for just over a month. So far it’s been a good year for Central Seminary. The Lord has been meeting the seminary’s needs in unexpected ways. He has also been opening doors of ministry in front of us.
New Provost. Our new provost is Brett Williams. Brett comes to Central Seminary from a pastorate in Austin, Minnesota. He is finishing his Ph.D. dissertation and expects to have the degree in hand at the end of this academic year. This combination of real pastoral experience and serious learning is exactly what Central Seminary values in its faculty. As provost, Brett will coordinate most aspects of the seminary’s work. He is well equipped for the task.
ATS Accreditation. All personnel are working hard as the seminary presses to gain accreditation with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). We were recently granted standing as a candidate institution. So far we are very pleased with the sort of help that ATS provides. Our goal is to achieve accredited status as quickly as possible—and this is the year that most of the work will be done. Of course, we already have accreditation with the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS), but we believe that ATS accreditation will strengthen Central Seminary in multiple ways.
Logos Initiative. New M.Div. students at Central Seminary are being given the Logos Platinum package. Other students have the opportunity to purchase the program at reduced rates. The tools in the Logos package do more than to help with the study of biblical languages. The electronic library is just as important. It provides students with thousands of books on their laptops and tablets, available for reading and research anywhere in the world. After their graduation, our students will carry these tools into ministry and (we hope) use them the rest of their lives.
Classroom Video Feed. We are also in the process of experimenting with a classroom video feed. In the long run, we hope to be able to allow a certain number of students to attend seminary remotely by using their computers’ video capabilities. For now, we are getting the technology running and learning to operate it seamlessly. Our ideal will be to have both local and remote students interacting with the professor in real time during the same class.
Theology Central. Several years ago the seminary faculty operated a weblog known as Theology Central. At the time it was viewed as a supplement to In the Nick of Time, which is not a blog but a peer-reviewed electronic journal. As schedules grew hectic, our professors posted less and less to the blog, which has now been dormant for some years. We have recently reactivated Theology Central. It will contain some short, original posts, some excerpts from professors’ reading, and regular links to articles or other features of interest on the Internet. We would like to help you find the things that you might like to read, if only you knew they existed. Take a look, chase what you like, ignore what you don’t.
Largest D.Min. Enrollment. We’ve recently completed our largest D.Min. course in the history of the seminary. We are a small school, and to have fifteen doctoral students in the room at once was quite an experience. The course, entitled Hermeneutics and Homiletics, was taught by Kevin Bauder. The course focused on the hermeneutics of the evangelical debate over homosexuality. It was structured as a seminar, with different students reading material in specialized areas and then guiding the class through a discussion of those materials.
Future D.Min. Courses. The next D.Min. course is Preaching Narrative and will be taught by Dr. Steve Thomas on January 23-27. Future courses include Shepherding the People of God with Dr. Greg Stiekes and Preaching Poems, Proverbs, and Parables with Dr. Bryan Augsburger. Qualified applicants who want to “try it before they buy it” can take their first course for free.
China Vision. Central Seminary’s fall conference focused on “China Vision.” Unusually for a seminary conference, these sessions were not recorded. The reason is because China is a limited access country. We wanted our students and guests to hear a frank presentation both of the challenges that this field presents and of the work that God is doing. Some of the speakers were people who work in China; some travel to China periodically; others are Chinese nationals. Surprisingly, they said that within two decades China will have the largest Christian population of any nation on earth.
WCTS Sharathon. One of the ministries of Central Seminary is WCTS 1030-AM. Each fall WCTS conducts its “Sharathon” to raise cash and pledges to keep the station on the air. This year’s goal was $120,000. General Manager Steve Davis added one day to Sharathon, extending the appeal into Saturday morning. The goal was met—one of the many ways in which God has provided for the needs of the seminary and its ministries.
Reformation Studies Tour. Beginning in late March, President Matt Morrell and Professor Jeff Straub will be hosting a Reformation Studies Tour. The tour will feature stops at Wittenburg, Erfurt, Eisenach, Worms, Strasbourg, Constance, Zurich, and Geneva. An optional extension will add a trip to Rome. It is not too late to join the tour. Contact Jeff Straub to get more details.
Besides all of that, the Central Seminary faculty has actually found time to teach their regular classes. If you have the impression that there’s a lot going on here, you’re right. The campus is buzzing with activity. This is a good year for Central Seminary.
How Oft Have Sin and Satan Strove
Isaac Watts (1674–1748)
How oft have sin and Satan strove
To rend my soul from thee, my God!
But everlasting is thy love,
And Jesus seals it with his blood.
The oath and promise of the Lord
Join to confirm the wondrous grace;
Eternal power performs the word,
And fills all heav’n with endless praise.
Amidst temptations sharp and long,
My soul to this dear refuge flies;
Hope is my anchor, firm and strong,
While tempests blow and billows rise.
The gospel bears my spirit up;
A faithful and unchanging God
Lays the foundation for my hope
In oaths, and promises, and blood.