Western Seminary

Discussion in 'Seminaries, Colleges & Education' started by lenflack, May 8, 2008.

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  1. lenflack

    lenflack Puritan Board Freshman

    Does anyone have thoughts regarding Western Seminary in Portland, OR? I realize it isn't specifically a Reformed or Confessional institution, but I was curious to know if anyone here has had any experience with them?
  2. tellville

    tellville Puritan Board Junior

    I thought this was going to be a thread about seminaries in the West :p

    Sorry, I don't know anything about Western Seminary :(
  3. N. Eshelman

    N. Eshelman Puritan Board Senior

    I thought that it was going to be a thread on the RCA seminary in Holland, MI! :(
  4. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Western Seminary is as liberal as they come. The only experience I have with them is the writings of their professors, and they are liberal.
  5. ADKing

    ADKing Puritan Board Junior

    I did my undergraduate studies in Portland, OR so I have had some contact with Western. You are correct that they are not reformed or confessional and tend to be arminian/dispensational. There are many better schools I would commend.

    Their library isn't bad, though :book2:
  6. jawyman

    jawyman Puritan Board Junior

    Ha! So is the RCA one in Holland, Michigan.
  7. raekwon

    raekwon Puritan Board Junior

    Huh. That really surprises me, as their affiliation is with the Conservative Baptist Association. One of their most prominent students, Pastor Mark Driscoll, is certainly no liberal, and the writings and lectures I've taken in from Dr. Gerry Breshears (Western's chair of theology) have been solidly orthodox.

    Which professors have you read, Lane?
  8. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member


    I think I was snookered here. :oops:

    I was talking about the one in Holland MI. I have no idea what the one is Portland is like.
  9. lenflack

    lenflack Puritan Board Freshman

    That's why I was asking... I have a lot of respect for Driscoll and Breshears, and serve in a Conservative Baptist church. But as greenbaggins mentioned, he had the wrong Western in mind. :)
  10. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    Don't say that you weren't warned.

    I studied there for two years before transferring to Westminster in California - I wouldn't waste my time. In fact if I could get my money back and start over again by heading straight to WSC I would do so without hesitation.

    While it used to be known in the 70's (during the time in which one of my uncles took his degree) as a seminary for putting ministers into CBA pulpits, it is now primarily an institution for cranking out Christian (more or less) counselors. Things may have changed in the four years since I last attended, but when I was there I was one of six M.Div students who were seeking preparation for regular pastoral ministry. All the rest were either in counseling, youth ministries, whatever. Their counseling program is fully integrative, and hopelessly compromised. The counseling students regularly got into debates with the M.Div. students in class, because the presuppositions being taught in those two tracks regarding the nature and use of Scripture and the importance of applied theology were so radically different.

    Western is by no means Reformed, although they have hired on a few Reformed-ish Baptists such as Todd Miles and Art Arzurdia. Breshears actually enjoys his attempts to undermine and caricature Reformed theology. It was this habit of his that caused me to actually read Reformed theologians after my first semester of classes, and to realize that a) most of the time he didn't know what he was talking about (he's a Baptist for crying out loud :lol: ), and b) when he did know what he was talking about he failed to ever come up with an effective counter argument, except by way of caricature. Gerry began as a strongly Calvinistic baptist before taking his Ph.D. at Fuller, and, well, you can probably guess the rest...

    Gerry is a strong, though guarded, proponent of Egalitarianism, and he pushes the Charismatic cause at times as well. In some issues he can be difficult to read, because he will push the stuff, and then at an unexpected moment actually give a good Reformed/biblical critique of particular elements. Over all their theological department is unstable however, and you will be wading through a lot of lightweight and/or unhelpful material that will set you back in your studies. I have jettisoned almost all of the books that I had picked up while attending there.

    Their language program leaves much to be desired, and even though I had taken a full year of both Greek and Hebrew while there, it didn't even scratch the surface of what I was able to learn in this area at WSC. Part of the problem is the students, and not just the faculty. I believe that the language instructors would truly liked to have gone further, but many of the students are part-time commuters with a low view of serious study, and they practically necessitated the approach that had to be taken. In fact, right after I began courses there, they had to make the "classical track" of learning optional (since hardly anyone was taking it), and offer a second option of language study which basically just taught the students to figure out how to run Bibleworks for themselves. There was no vocab memorization, no understanding of grammar (which BW cannot give you), no understanding of linguistics or how to engage in word studies, no required proficiency in sight-reading, etc. YOU WILL NOT REALLY UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGES AFTER COMPLETING YOUR STUDIES THERE. I place that in caps, because the languages are one of the most important things that you will take into your pastoral studies and pulpit preparation from your days at seminary. If you do not get them there, I doubt that you will ever have the opportunity to pick them up again.

    Their chapels were mostly a mix of motivational lightweight speakers, and popular/charismatic worship times. No weekly preaching from the profs to set you an example and to edify in sound doctrine, no outstanding guest ministers for lecture series; I stopped going after about three or four months. Why waste your time when you could be reading Luther or Turretin, or playing with your kids?

    They did have a few good profs there when I began, such as Drs. Greg Allison and Bob Vogel, but those men left to begin teaching at Southern Seminary about six months after I began my stay at Western. It was a real loss, and in at least one case it was due to that prof's serious disappointment with the direction that the seminary had taken.

    The bottom line is this: if you are serious about advancing your studies in the languages of Scripture, in deepening your understanding of Reformed theology, in really understanding the task and objectives of Christ-centered preaching, of being in an environment where you will be sharpened by other men of similar conviction, and of not having to endure the constant clashes with numerous students of deficient theology and low personal standards - go elsewhere. It is just a run of the mill, broad evangelical, academically sub-standard institution.

    Man, you're thinking about coming all the way out to the West coast for that? Why not just bear a little due South and wind up at WSC?
  11. lenflack

    lenflack Puritan Board Freshman

    Archlute, I appreciate your detailed response; I'm glad to have found some input from someone who actually spent time as a student there.

    That said, you (or others here) will probably want to shoot me at the following statements for a variety of reasons... :smug:

    I'm not actually thinking about going all the way out to the west coast, at least not as a residential student. I am actually considering being one of those horrible part-time commuters you mentioned. :um:

    Long story short, my timeline for plans of attending seminary after bible college was not God's timeline. The way God has ordered things has us anchored, at least for the time being, in a rural area, far from any decent evangelical (reformed or otherwise) seminary. Western has some newer options for external and on-campus intensive studies. I'm not into "online degrees" but I am interested in hybrid and innovative options like Western's and other options at other schools.

    I should note that I wasn't reformed when I graduated bible college, so God is still growing and changing me, despite no graduate schooling. I just desire to go deeper; much deeper, than I am now, and I think seminary would be the best tool for that. That said, it may be that God doesn't have seminary in my future. Or perhaps it is, but not right now, and when I do go it will be a more traditional program of study.

    Regardless, I'm just being open to all options.
  12. jaybird0827

    jaybird0827 PuritanBoard Honor Roll

    We knew a prof and his wife for awhile when we were living out in the PDX area.

    Western Seminary? Don't go there.
  13. Sydnorphyn

    Sydnorphyn Puritan Board Freshman


    Liberal? Did you go to Western? It was top on my list in 92...please explain.
  14. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    I'd certainly agree with Lane. Western is really quite far out there on the left edge of the RCA. I'm not sure I could say they're any more confessional (or Scriptural) than Princeton, Union or Yale.
  15. raekwon

    raekwon Puritan Board Junior

    Lane was mistakenly talking about a different Western Seminary, folks.

    This thread is about the CBAmerica-affliated seminary in Portland.
  16. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    OK, Adam, now tell us what you really think! :lol:
  17. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    It's good to hear of the good that God has brought in your life, Len. It is also great to hear of your desire to continue your growth in the knowledge of the Word and of the ministry.

    Have you looked into the online program with RTS? Someone more familiar with it than I on this board should be able to give you a rundown of its benefits and drawbacks. Just another option that may be a little bit more in line with what you are looking for, if you are shooting for some online progress.

    Blessings on your ministry and your future studies.
  18. ReformedSinner

    ReformedSinner Puritan Board Freshman

    From my experience with Western, it seems that they are overall Conservative but they do have a mixed faculty. I would say anyone is stand out liberal but you will get a full spectrum of Protestantism there (from Charismatics to Baptists to some Reformed minded). Their Biblical languages are superficial and that's putting it in friendly terms. Overall, just your typical seminary that aims to train "pastors" instead of "theologians" and really the end result is the former is inadequate and they definitely succeeded in not training for the latter.
  19. ReformedSinner

    ReformedSinner Puritan Board Freshman

    I meant to say "I would NOT say anyone is stand out liberal..." there are no liberals there (but then again my experience with them is 6 years ago so things might have changed.)
  20. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    Well, I was attempting to limit my response to the size of a small and somewhat disorganized novel. :)
  21. lenflack

    lenflack Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for he kind words. I haven't looked at RTS yet... I should, and will, this evening. Seminary selection has been an ongoing thought process since before I even identified as reformed, so I probably haven't found all the options yet. Thanks for the heads-up!
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