I get asked quite frequently which seminaries I would recommend; in fact, someone asked me earlier today. It seemed like it might be helpful to post my list with some comment here. This isn’t an official ranking and is almost exclusively evangelical seminaries (no Princetons or Dukes), though not all on the list would like that label. Here they are:
1. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Chicago area, Evangelical Free Church)
Ok, so this one is near and dear to my heart. Honestly, I’m not joking. The three years I spent there were incredible. I loved the friends, the classes, the environment and the faculty (though the campus leaves a lot to be desired). It is a very strong academic institution but has a very strong emphasis on practical ministry experience and personal spiritual development. Some of their big gun profs are DA Carson, Kevin Vanhoozer, Doug Sweeney, Grant Osborne, Herold Netland, and John Woodbridge. It’s conservative but not fundi, it’s largely reformed, but has a healthy dose or Arminian/Wesleyan profs and really does ‘major on the major’ stuff. There’s a wealth of seminars and other talks from the Henry Center available for download.
2. Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia area, Orthodox Presbyterian)
Academically, this may be the strongest on the list, but its staunch Presbyterianism may not be for everyone. In addition, I think its reputation is for turning out great profs but for not being as strong on the practical ministry side of things. If I had my druthers, I’d do a PhD there. Their big guns are Vern Poythress, Peter Lillback, and Scott Oliphant. It’s got a great history to add. There’s lots of video and audio at the Media Center to help give you a feel for the institution.
3. Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (Boston area, Non Denominational)
When I was choosing a seminary, it came down to Gordon Conwell and Trinity. I obviously chose Trinity but did so mostly based on location. I, meaning my wife, liked Chicago more than Boston. I’ve had friends graduate from Gordon and loved it. It’s in a beautiful area, is strong academically and practically. They most well know profs include Robert Coleman, Scott Hafeman, Walter Kaiser, Richard Lints, Haddon Robinson, and David Wells.
4. Southern (Louisville, Southern Baptist)
Since it’s turn around in the mid to late 90’s, Southern has established itself as the conservative and reformed baptist seminary. Since I’m not really a Baptist I wouldn’t agree with all of their theology, but wow, they’ve got some stud profs, including Bruce Ware, Thom Schreiner, Al Mohler, and Donald Whitney. Want more info, ask Joel Neise. There is a huge cache of great audio stuff here.
5. Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando, Jackson and Charlotte, Reformed)
There are at least three campuses to choose from: Jackson, Charlotte and Orlando. so if the south is where ya want to be, RTS is for you. Actually, they have an outstanding faculty, including Bruce Waltke, John Frame, and Reggie Kidd. Again, I have a friend who graduated from RTS in Charlotte and loved his time there. It is reformed and holds to the Westminster Standards, but isn’t, as far as I know, tied to a specific reformed denomination. There is a fairly extensive catalog of chapel services, classes and seminars available on iTunes.
6. Covenant Theological Seminary (St. Louis, Presbyterian Church of America)
Again, this is one I have personal experience with as I’m currently working on a ThM through Covenant. I’ve only taken two classes on campus so far and am working on a third independent study. So far I’ve been very impressed with the faculty. It is the seminary of the Presbyterian Church of America – a very conservative and evangelical branch of the Presbyterian church. Some of the well known profs include: Michael Williams, Jerram Barrs, Bryan Chapell. The campus also hosts the Francis Schaeffer Institute and has a huge number of classes and other resources available for download at Covenant Worldwide.
7. Calvin Theological Seminary (Grand Rapids, Christian Reformed Church)
I’ve only been to the campus once for a conference, but was very impressed with the faculty who I was able to learn from. Cornelius Plantiga Jr. is definitely the best known prof.
8. Bethel (Minneapolis, Baptist General Conference)
This was another seminary I looked into for a time, though it doesn’t have the same academic reputation as many of the others. David Howard is the only scholar on faculty I recognize. The school is Baptist and has Reformed and very Arminian faculty. In fact, one of the reasons I didn’t pick this school is that is was struggling with one prof, Greg Boyd and his Open Theology. He was later let go because of his rather unorthodox understanding of God’s foreknowledge.
9. Wheaton Graduate School (Chicago Area, Non Denom but doesn’t offer MDiv)
Wheaton’s Graduate School isn’t technically a seminar as it doesn’t offer the MDiv (I should note that most, if not all of the other schools have Graduate Schools in addition to there seminaries. Just look on the website). It is an academic rock with guys like Doug Moo (brilliant former Trinity prof who is quite the crumugin), Greg Beale, Daniel Block, and Hassel Bullock leading the way. It seems especially strong in Biblical Studies.
10. Regent (Vancouver, BC)
The only thing that puts this seminary on my list is JI Packer used to teach there. Other than that, I don’t know much about it. John Stackhouse is a familiar name on their faculty, but I really don’t know much about this one.
11. Biola/Talbot (Southern California, non denominational)
William Lane Craig, Douglas Geivett, and JP Moreland are all very well know philosophers and apologists. It seems very strong in this area, but those are the only three names I recognize on their faculty.
12. Fuller (California, non denominational)
This is a school with an excellent reputation for scholarship and for training pastors. It’s only this low because of its questionable stance on Scripture. The senior pastor at Lynn’s home church, a man I love and respect, did a DMin at Fuller and spoke highly of the experience. Among their faculty, Leslie Allen, James Bradley, Colin Brown, William Dyrness, John Goldingay, and Richard Mouw are names I know.
This is only a partial list and based only on my limited knowledge and experience. Then again, what else do I have to go on. I hope it’s helpful. I’m open to additions if anyone thinks they are needed.
3 thoughts on “Recommended Seminaries”
WTS’s reputation may be “not being as strong on the practical ministry side of things”, but I think the work that Tim Witmer is doing in WTS’s Practical Theology department will change that. Check it out!
M.Div. Pastoral student
People should check out Westminster Seminary California. Mike Horton (White Horse Inn, Modern Reformation) teaches systematic theology. Our president, Bob Godfrey, is a first-rate scholar and frequent speaker at PCRT and Ligionier conferences. Steve Baugh is a leading Greek/NT scholar (he’s in new ESV study Bible as is Dennis Johnson, one of our Practical Theology profs). David VanDrunen is doing ground-breaking work in ethics and Hywel Jones (Practical Theology) was assistant to D. Martyn Lloyd Jones and is a great model for preachers. The rest of us muddle through.
R. Scott Clark
Anonymous, thanks for the comment. I’m glad to hear it. I didn’t mean my comment to be dispariging in any way. I hope it wasn’t taken that way.
R. Scott Clark, thanks for pointing out that huge oversight. I love WTS California and the work ALL of you guys are doing and am a subsciber to Modern Reformantion myself.
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