Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Why You Need Greenville Seminary

By Garry J. Moes
Director of Development and Recruiting

My initial impulse was to entitle this article "Why the World Needs Greenville Seminary." When that seemed excessively broad and suggested that it might be difficult to effectively challenge the whole world to respond to my intended rationale, it occurred to me that the title would better be "Why the Church Needs Greenville Seminary." But, again, since my purpose is to elicit a real response to this idea, I wondered whether a generalized appeal to "the Church" would be effectual. So I decided to address this to you who have taken this moment to read on. I have great hopes that once you see why you personally need GPTS, you will be led, with some urgency, to help ensure that it remains a viable force in the church and the world.

To be sure, the world badly needs a ministry like Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, which is relentlessly committed to the whole counsel of God's revelation to this world. And it is true that the obligation to proclaim that revelation of God's mighty and glorious work of salvation to the world belongs to the Church, the working, discipling, ministering Body of Christ. If you are a part of that Body, you need a Church that will succeed in its Great Commission to make disciples of all nations as it goes forth, teaches and baptizes in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. So here is why you need Greenville Seminary:

It is grievous to contemplate how much of the church that calls itself Christian has fallen into weakness, biblical ignorance, lawlessness, worldliness, ineffectiveness, idolatry and heresy, and has conformed to the spirit of the age rather than to the transforming spirit of the gospel. Your world is falling exponentially into godlessness, chaos, violence, mindless pleasure-seeking and every sort of triumphant evil, in part because a vast portion of the church has become all of the tragic things listed in the previous sentence. I dare say that, if you are like me in this regard, you do not want to live in such a world. Yet you and I will be threatened, stressed, harmed and tried sooner or later at the hands of an increasingly hostile world if the church does not begin to rediscover the world-changing truths once resurrected by the great Protestant Reformation. Much of the worldwide Church of Christ is already experiencing this.

And that's where Greenville Seminary comes in. I am not suggesting that GPTS is the only seminary in the world or in the church that has an exclusive grasp on a faithful understanding of God's Word or the powerful summations of that Word found in the historic confessions of the Reformation and early church. But it is counts itself among those faithful theological schools bound and determined to safeguard and advance that ancient faith.

It is axiomatic that the trends one sees in denominations almost invariably follow the earlier trends in the theological schools where its ministers and Christian workers are trained. Leadership may not be everything, but it is a powerful force in whatever cause or corporation or organization over which it stands. It has always been so. "'Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!' declares the LORD." (Jeremiah 23:1, NIV). The impact of that warning of "woe" is highlighted in a paraphrase of the verse in the NET Bible translation: "The LORD says, "The leaders of my people are sure to be judged. They were supposed to watch over my people like shepherds watch over their sheep. But they are causing my people to be destroyed and scattered."

Verse 2 follows with a stronger reiteration: "Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: 'You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,' declares the LORD.…"

This theme is rampant throughout the Old Testament prophecies, as Jesus the Good Shepherd recognized when he said, "All who have come before me are thieves and robbers..." (John 10:8):
Jeremiah 10:21 — The shepherds are senseless and do not inquire of the LORD; so they do not prosper and all their flock is scattered.
Jeremiah 12:10 — Many shepherds will ruin my vineyard and trample down my field; they will turn my pleasant field into a desolate wasteland.
Ezekiel 13:3 — This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!
Zechariah 11:17 — "Woe to the worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! May his arm be completely withered, his right eye totally blinded!"

The 18th-century Bible commentator John Gill saw the connection between the sins of the shepherds and the rulers of the nation: 
Woe be unto the pastors,... Or, "O ye shepherds" or "governors," as the Targum; the civil rulers and magistrates, kings and princes of the land of Israel; since ecclesiastical rulers, the priests and prophets, are mentioned as distinct from them in Jeremiah 23:9; whose business it was to rule and guide, protect and defend, the people: but, instead of that, they were such that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture, saith the Lord God; set them bad examples, led them into idolatry and other sins, which were the cause of their ruin, and of their being carried captive, and scattered in other countries; and their sin was the more aggravated, inasmuch as these people were the Lord's pasture sheep, whom he had an interest in, and a regard unto, and had committed them to the care and charge of these pastors or governors, to be particularly taken care of. 

Greenville Seminary is adamant about standing against a proliferation of the sins which called forth these woes. The landscape of theological education across America and all of Christendom is broad and highly varied. Sadly, too many seminaries have lost sight of the foundational truths revealed in God's Holy Word and, in the face of Scripture's clear warnings, have followed after false doctrines, abandoning the faith "once for all delivered to the saints." Some who give lip service to orthodoxy are prone to flirt with provocative but questionable new perspectives; some who make no pretense toward orthodoxy proudly embrace the most despicable heresies. Many, in the spirit of the age, have lost sight of the importance of common doctrine and opt for "cutting-edge" theological innovation or a sentimental, contentless religion.

By contrast, Greenville Seminary stands absolutely committed to the inerrant Word of God and the distinctive tenets of Christian truth derived from it distinctives so eloquently set forth in the confessional standards of the historic Reformed Faith.

This is why you, your church and your world need Greenville Seminary. But I must be candid here: Christians who understand this and share our vision are not a vast number. Those who oppose it are growing, and some have worked to undermine, through innuendo or slander or other means, our ability to do the task God has called us to do.

We are facing a critical situation in our support level, as the financial report elsewhere in this e-newsletter shows. We who labor here know how much the Church needs this ministry, and through the Church, how much the world needs it. We pray that you, as a member of the Church and a commissioned sojourner in this world, will see why you need Greenville Seminary and lend your support.