From SBTS to Covenant?

Discussion in 'Seminaries, Colleges & Education' started by dsa03cjj, May 18, 2017.

Should we move to Covenant?

Poll closed May 23, 2017.
  1. Yes!

    4 vote(s)
  2. No!

    14 vote(s)
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. dsa03cjj

    dsa03cjj Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi all!

    I'm a super new member. My wife and 2 kids (1 more coming) are currently at Southern Seminary.

    We've been here 2 years, but I've been at SBTS just 1. My wife thought she might like to do the counseling, but we've recently seen the benefits of a more integrated/reformational counseling program rather than just getting some ACBC accreditation.

    We also realized while we were here that we have become PCA. We actually had been fighting for a while internally with baptism, cov theo, Presbyterian government, etc. but not reformed theology...but we have fallen hard for where the Lord wants us. That's why we initially chose SBTS, to avoid the fight ;) We thought it would satisfy.

    With professors like Bruce Ware, Gregg Allison, etc. I have come to find that we somewhat agree with them, but we are not in line with a lot of the profs here.

    So, we applied to Covenant in St. Louis. They have a good counseling program as well as a great hands-on program with a great community of people. SBTS is SO BIG! We have found a family here, but there's very little community happening because there are so many in the seminary setting. It's difficult.

    Staying at SBTS though we would have a tuition paid for (by an outside funder). I am currently working 40 hours/week while taking 3-4 classes a term. I have a full load with 2 kids and 1 on the way.

    Going to CTS, we would have to pay and possibly take out loans. I would still work to pay them down quicker. We just don't want to walk out of seminary (SEMINARY!) with debt...but if the Lord is calling us, we should go. And go to be with a family that holds to where we hold most of our structure.

    We have 4 weeks to decide. Crazy, right??

    My wife would get her education free at Cov though. Spouses go free. She would wait until after SBTS to go to another school if I remained here.

    What are your thoughts? We have also thought about going back home to RTS Charlotte to get help with the kids from our parents.

    We just don't want it to be about money over God, but maybe God is saying money is a big deal in this situation too?

    Too much in the mix? Sorry for the overload. Be gracious to me :)
  2. Beezer

    Beezer Puritan Board Freshman


    You certainly have a lot to pray and reflect on. As difficult as it might be I would try and not let your financial considerations play too big a role in your discerning the Lord's will in the matter. If you are still wrestling over the theological issues you raised I would proceed very slowly and not rush a decision. If that means one more year at SBTS so be it. Have you discussed the change of heart with your faculty advisor at SBTS? I'm sure your credits from SBTS will transfer to Covenant if you stayed one more year.

    Do you currently attend a PCA church? If so, have you discussed any of this with your elders? If you are currently at a SBC church I would look for a NAPARC church in your area to attend first and come under the care of a presbytery before heading off to Covenant.
  3. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    I've only got a brief moment bit will try to write more later. Speaking as an SBTS grad, and SBC minister, you should also factor in to your equation that non-SBC students pay double tuition...

    Welcome to the PB, either way!
  4. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritanboard Softy

    Speaking as an SBTS grad who is a PCA pastor... who while at SBTS considered transferring to CTS... but who subsequent to my graduation (in '06) have met many CTS grads, and almost to the man those I've met are on the left of our denomination... I say, stay at SBTS. Or at least don't go to CTS.
  5. dsa03cjj

    dsa03cjj Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Beezer,

    So, yes I've talked to both SBTS and CTS. The classes would all transfer well but 2 I believe. Those would end up being electives.

    And we have been back and forth with a PCA church. It's very small and very new. It's actually the re-beginning of a PCA church that fell apart a while back, then was re-commissioned. There are only 2 PCA churches in the area. One is heavily FV. Not going there!

    And we've talked with our pastors. They are for the move simply because it's a good program.

    Thanks, reaganmarsh! I actually have a scholarship (outside of the school) that is paying. So, the rate doesn't change too much.

    Thanks for the reply, SolaScriptura! I've actually NEVER heard that about Cov. I've heard the opposite. My problems with SBTS are views like compatabalistic middle knowledge, disowning limited atonement, more heavy dispensationalism than you'd think, and overall a VERY congregational heavy school. I recently wrote a paper about church government and sided with presbyterianism. The comments were "You wrote a great paper! I do, however, disagree with your position. For that, you get a 92. Otherwise, it would have been higher."

    Trust me when I say that students have taken things like that before to the dean of the school of theology. It matters not.

    At SBTS, we are merely numbers. At least, for classes that start at 60-70 people. My largest class was 250 last semester. Great class with Dr. Haykin. Loved it!

    I just don't agree with the positions either. And there isn't a stuper healthy PCA church around here to help with that either.

    Would you suggest going to RTS Charlotte? We would then be home (for our parents to help with the kids) and I'd get a seminary degree.

    RTS's counseling program, though, is solely nouthetic like SBTS's. Not ideal for my wife. She's not fully nouthetic in her views.

    What do you suggest outside of SBTS? I am willing to stay, we just haven't felt the Lord wanting us to stay. We also haven't had any doors fully open elsewhere.

    Oh the discernment! It's killer :)

    Thank you all for your help! Truly, brothers. This is why we need each other.
  6. dsa03cjj

    dsa03cjj Puritan Board Freshman

    Also, all, I meant to say that if I leave SBTS, the scholarship does not follow.
  7. dsa03cjj

    dsa03cjj Puritan Board Freshman

    Ben, where did you go to church while in Louisville? I'd love to talk more.
  8. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm a bit out of touch, but RTS Jackson used to have a good counseling program. I'd put RTS ahead of Covenant.
  9. jwithnell

    jwithnell Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    You are considering a path that will put you in a leadership position in a church and your wife is considering counselling other people. That sounds to me like you need to be solidly on your feet. I see a few possibilities.

    1. Stay where you are. I've known folks who's education in a broadly evangelical seminary turned them solidly reformed. Their schools didn't slow them down in presbyterian circles. (Knowing; the entire Shorter Catechism before examination by Presbytary didn't hurt either.) Experience at a church plant could give you a solid education in both the theology and the "workings" of presbyterianism.
    2. Take a gap year, do extensive reading and become more familiar with Presbyerian theology, history, and the current issues affecting the seminaries. Yes, it's tough with a family.
    3. Find an outstanding church near a solid reformed seminary first, then choose your school accordingly.

    ~ Signed,
    A pew-dweller, but one who's been around awhile
  10. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Senior

    While I disagree with your wife I am pretty certain RTS is not nouthetic. At least RTS Jackson and Orlando are not. Plus, isn't there online....
  11. dsa03cjj

    dsa03cjj Puritan Board Freshman

    You are correct that Jackson and Orlando are anti-nouthetic. Charlotte and the others are nouthetic.

    Covenant has what is called Reformational. It is like integration. So, nouthetic but with physiological classes as well to understand from the outsider perspective. It's intriguing.

    Great advice! Truly great. We will chew and pray on that. Thank you!
    You are correct, Edward. Jackson does have a good program. Charlotte, however, is new to the game and solely nouthetic. I've had quite a few friends say RTS.

    I've also had roughly 20 friends go to Cov and they loved it and they are great friends and pastors. Reliable. Solid.

    Such a crossroads.

    Thanks for being gracious, all!
  12. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Are you hoping to be a pastor in a Presbyterian church? If so, and if you don't already have contacts or a church/presbytery that's behind you, graduating from a Presbyterian seminary could make it easier to find and get your first ministry position. That's a factor to consider.

    I like how you're considering your wife's interests.
  13. dsa03cjj

    dsa03cjj Puritan Board Freshman

    Hey Jack! Yes, we want to be in the PCA. I think my wife is pretty awesome... she's definitely gotta be at the forefront :)

    Thanks for your input!
  14. Jacob Sweeney

    Jacob Sweeney Puritan Board Freshman

    As a graduate of SBTS and a pastor in the PCA, let me say a few things:

    1) If your goal is to go to a seminary where you can agree with everything your professors say, then do not go to seminary. The purpose of seminary is not to give you "the right answers" but to learn how to think biblically and theologically. Being at a school that is still conservative Evangelical - just not your type - can actually benefit you because it will force you to think through your convictions for yourself. And that is invaluable training for the pastorate. More often than not you have to stand alone with your convictions. It's best to learn that now in a friendly environment.

    2) Getting your seminary education paid for at SBTS will be more important in the long run than going to the school you prefer. I graduated from both Moody Bible Institute (BA) and SBTS (MDiv) and have no school debt. That has been a lifesaver.

    3) My wife, too, desired to get her MA in Counseling. We are both advocates of the integrated approach. But getting the degree is just the beginning. Depending on your state, you have to log somewhere around 3,000 hours. Few places pay for that work and it can take longer than earning the degree. With little ones at home, you have to prayerfully consider whether this is the right time for her to begin that long journey towards licensure. We opted to wait until our boys are older.

    My best piece of advice is to pray hard. Get as many people as you can to pray with you and for you. Take a few days to pray and fast. And then take some more. God will confirm what he wants you to do. It may not be what you would prefer, but it will be the best for you and your family.

    Hopefully, that helps you.
  15. bened

    bened Puritan Board Freshman

    Good word, Jacob.
  16. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Senior

    One question, is the funding you are receiving for your education at SBTS being provided under the assumption that you will become a Baptist pastor? If so, then you must decline if you in fact are planning to be a Presbyterian pastor.
  17. Parakaleo

    Parakaleo Puritan Board Sophomore

    Here's my advice (for whatever it's worth). Ensure that you can provide for your family at a basic level (food, clothing, shelter, health care), instruct your wife to stay home full-time and care for the children, and pursue seminary training under the care of a good presbytery. If the Lord has indeed called you to ordained ministry in the church, that certainly takes precedence over your wife's desire to pursue work in counseling outside the home.

    May I ask why you have listed the care of the children as part of your personal responsibilities?

    I attended RTS Charlotte and believe it is a good school for the most part. If I were to do it again, I would be at PRTS. I would not recommend Covenant.
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
  18. Parakaleo

    Parakaleo Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think I may have misread your post the first time through. I had thought you were saying your wife is currently taking counseling courses. I now see that you said this:

    Still, I guess I'm wondering why your wife's desire to work in counseling (I'm presuming outside the home) is such a factor here? Let her raise the children in the home while you labor/study for ministry. You also mentioned you might move to Charlotte to have parents "help out with kids". Would this be so that you and your wife can both study/work outside the home?

    I really hope you don't mind me trying to sort all this out concerning your situation, brother. You have asked for counsel. I would commend to you the virtues Paul speaks about in Titus 2 as worthy of implementation in your home, since this is the Lord's revealed will.
  19. dsa03cjj

    dsa03cjj Puritan Board Freshman

    So glad to hear. Great great word. My wife also loved the advice.

    Bill, at this time, no. That could change though. It has no movement to the Baptist pulpit.

    Hi Blake, we believe that if we can both get the degrees we want from the same place, especially a good seminary, then we would cut costs. That's a win win.

    And child care itself anywhere is quite expensive for 2-3 kids. It is $1k per kid/month. So, I'm working through seminary. I wasn't meaning to just say it was my responsibility only. I only meant that I go to school, work, and come home to a wife and 2.5 kids. It's a tough schedule already and that's with school paid for. Does that help?
  20. SolamVeritatem

    SolamVeritatem Puritan Board Freshman


    Sent you a PM brother.

    In Him,

  21. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    If you like the theology on this board, avoid CTS. If you think many of the posters here are extremists in some way, maybe you'll fit right in.

    If you don't know what the Federal Vision or the NPP is, educate yourself before really considering CTS. Many come out of there with those views. (If you do go, avoid the church pastored by Jeff Meyers, which is apparently where a lot of it comes from.) I've also heard that there are not many confessional churches in the St.L area, although maybe there are one or two. I could be wrong.

    As mentioned earlier, others from CTS are part of the "progressive" wing of the PCA. (By progressive, think more progressive than anything you've ever seen in the SBC unless you've known some of the old liberals.)

    Consider carefully the fact that you have people on a Reformed board, including two graduates of the institution, telling you that you might well be better off at SBTS than CTS.

    I wonder how many confessional churches throw all resumes from CTS in the trash (especially from those they don't know) the way that anti-Calvinist SBC churches throw resumes from SBTS and SEBTS in the trash.
    Last edited: May 20, 2017
  22. dsa03cjj

    dsa03cjj Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks, Chris! Yes, most SBC churches throw SBTS grads' resumes in the trash. We've been told that often here.

    What are your thoughts about RTS Charlotte, then?

    Thanks so much for your help and advice!
  23. dsa03cjj

    dsa03cjj Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks, Craig!
  24. Beezer

    Beezer Puritan Board Freshman

    Hmm. I didn't realize that was the case. I would have thought SBTS was held in the highest regard among SBC churches. Out of curiousity, which seminaries do most SBC churches like to draw from?
  25. dsa03cjj

    dsa03cjj Puritan Board Freshman

    SEBTS and NOBTS are the two bigger. Unless you are very SBC (old school), then they choose from SWBTS. SBTS is heavy for the reformed side which is gaining. SBTS is reformed. SWBTS is completely anti-reformed. SEBTS and NOBTS are in the middle.

    I'm from SC. The churches in my area did not support me going to SBTS. I was told often to go to SEBTS. I went to an arminian-ish SBC college. I had a few reformed professors (don't know how they remained working there) who implored me to go to Southern. I took their advice. It's a good school for sure. Churches are just selective once you graduate.

    Most of the churches I grew up working in carried a few thousand members. All SBC churches. None would hire from SBTS. One of my previous pastors even warned me about that devilish Calvinism. He said he wouldn't hire an SBTS grad.

    We didn't plan on going back to SC though. No worries there :)
  26. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Unless there has been a massive change in the past half decade, there are many more Calvinistic men (i.e. 4 points +) at Southeastern than New Orleans. (That's why I lumped SBTS and SEBTS together. NOBTS is closer to SWBTS with regard to Calvinism. NOBTS did have a bit more Calvinists (such as Jim Shaddix) before Hurricane Katrina, from what I understand. And at least some at NOBTS who some would consider to be Calvinistic are enamored with things like the NPP and contemplative spirituality.

    Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
  27. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    It is indeed true that many SBC churches discard SBTS résumés. Hopefully, not as many do that now as they did a few years back...but I had a drawer full of letters from churches and associations saying they had no interest in an SBTS grad.

    This is where you learn to walk out practically what you confess doctrinally. If you're reformed in your theology, trust that the same God who predestined your salvation also has a providential plan for your ministry.

    To our OP: brother, you may desire to boost your PCA credibility by transferring to a more PCA-friendly school, and that is fine. It appears that you've come to affirm paedobaptism; a difficult and dense course of theological inquiry indeed (and one I've walked). I'm not here to debate your conclusion. I wish only to speak practically to the seminary matter.

    Your situation may be very different than mine was, but let me encourage you: if you have your tuition paid at SBTS, that is a gift of the highest order. Do not be quick to walk away from it. Churches of all sizes are struggling financially, salary cuts (on already minimal levels) are the reality, and student loans can follow you for decades. Finish your MDiv, learn the Catechism well, and then enter the denomination of your conviction. Your convictions re: baptism and polity may run counter to what SBTS teaches, but you should use the time to learn and test the best arguments against your position. Then you'll be able to stand on your own feet when you stand alone -- and those days will frequently be more common than you ever dream.

    Put your family in the best position possible for the future, seek to learn a robust, humble irenicism, and praise God for a one-in-a-million providence toward you.

    Have a great Sabbath tomorrow, brother. If I may be of service, please feel free to contact me.

    Grace to you.
  28. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    This seems like a strange point to me. Why should we bother to have confessional seminaries if it's more beneficial to learn from a seminary where anti-confessional theology is taught? Shouldn't we seek to learn at the feet of wise men who teach God's truth most clearly?

    If someone is going to challenge themselves theologically, perhaps it would be best to challenge themselves from a place that is more strictly confessional than they are currently rather than less.
  29. jwithnell

    jwithnell Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The ideal situation would be to have been reared with Presbyterian convictions, with a chance to exercise your gifts as a young man, and to go to a solidly reformed church while attending a similar seminary while under the care of a presbytery. Those elements don't always align themselves. The first is not so for the OP and likely the three latter items would be unavailable in St. Louis. (Though I understand there's a good OPC church there now.)
  30. Beezer

    Beezer Puritan Board Freshman

    I have been thinking about the opinions expressed here about CTS, particularly about it producing pastors who fall left of center, and interestingly enough the more progressive PCA pastors in my area have all come out of there. I didn't make that connection before, but there might be something to be said about that.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page