Controversy, Controversy, Controversy at

old lady

Update: The two posts mentioned in this article are now up. “Letting Seminary Doctrinally Change You” and “Seminaries & the Nature of Truth“.

Yep, it’s a double-post sort of day.  (let’s just say I’m making up for Labor Day.)  But this is a personal one.  I’m asking for some prayer.

At publication time for this post, the site is currently changing servers, so it’s down.  It was just bought by the somewhat Lutheran and fully online Rockbridge Seminary, sold by my good friend (and former campus minister) Ryan Burns of Design Simple.

As some of you know, I am a Contributor for the site, and my articles have tended to be pretty weighty.  I don’t know why.  It hasn’t been purposeful.  I suppose when I think of seminary it tugs at my urgent pastoral heart more than the light, fun, twentysomething heart; and this has been evident in the posts.  From what I can tell, my last article “Realizing Seminary’s Not For You” has received more comments than any other single article that I can find on the site, and those comments were fiery.  I got blasted from every side (and defended by many – thank you all, by the way).  A couple of people even compared me to an unfaithful Israelite who saw the giants in the Promised Land and got scared.  Another, in light of my severe disappointment in Westminster Theological Seminary as an institution, said that apparently I don’t know good doctrine when I see it.  In short, it caused some controversy.  I really try not to seek such controversy, and I never thought that post would spurn such heated discussion.

But –

Tomorrow’s another story.  Tomorrow my new article is going live on the site and I’m fairly sure this one will ruffle some feathers.  In fact, I’m shocked Rockbridge went ahead and decided to post it.  Kudos to them.  It will be very easy for this article to be misunderstood on both sides: those that think I go too far, and those that think I don’t go as far as I am in fact trying to go.

The article is a discussion of how to let seminary doctrinally change you.  To do this, I very consciously employ postmodern thought into my own thinking and advocate others do so as well.  It’s very touchy and I am not wholly confident that I phrased myself as articulately as a more experienced writer may have been able to.  I guess we’ll see over the next couple of days.

But, I’m actually not as concerned with this article as I am with the follow-up article I am about half-way through writing.  In the first article I lay out the responsibilities for the seminarian in this respect; in this second one, I talk about the responsibilities of the healthy seminary institution.  And in doing so I am directly taking Westminster to task for how they have abandoned the principles I lay out in this first article.  I’m sort of doubting Rockbridge would run it on the site, but who knows?  Westminster’s a competing institution and Rockbridge is marketing themselves as a seminary for the 21st century, so we’ll see.

All that to say, look for my article tomorrow at, and please pray for me if you could.  I’m still young and arrogant, and I need the spiritual support.  I’ll also link to the article tomorrow.  Until then . . .

8 thoughts on “Controversy, Controversy, Controversy at

  1. Wow, you are truly a pillar for your generation. Such courage in posting a preview of your ‘work’; the world will be waiting for this. And if anyone has the intellectual equipment, the sum of all relevant facts, and the life-experience to take to task one of the most well-known seminaries, it is certainly you. Brave on, soldier. Your words will ring out through post-modernity (circa 2005 – most informed readers saw post-modernity run its course a few years ago). If anyone pities you at the image of you sitting alone at your computer and spending hours of your time devoted to self-involved, self-fulfilling, sputtering spouts of drivel, just pull out your Google Analytics and shout the number of hits from the blog. And keep auto-sanctifying this with an appeal to prayer. We are witnessing something great unfold through these masterful works, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


  2. Press on, Paul. The truth about Westminster needs to be told, though you will indeed be hated by tons of “courageous” commenters like “Ed” above, who never seem to have the courage to sign their real or full names to their “love in Christ” vitriol. This is what places like WTS produces. They will hate you and swear they are doing God a favor.


  3. Wow. Wasn’t expecting that sort of comment. Can an institution ever go wrong? Can an individual at that institution notice how misguided it may be? Do the “little people” never have the ability to call out error and unbiblical behavior just because they are the “little people”? Is being “well-known” the new litmus test for being “biblically sound”? I’m sure many would have written the same comment to Luther (not to put me on par with him, but to state a principle of the individual calling out the institution).

    “Ed”, I appreciate you reading and I appreciate you commenting. But I doubt you’ll ever read this, as you probably just wanted to come in, throw some sarcastic lobs, and get out as fast as you can, ironically displaying the same cowardice you accuse me of: nameless, faceless, personal attacks while being the perfect display of the “image of you sitting alone at your computer and spending hours of your time devoted to self-involved, self-fulfilling, sputtering spouts of drivel”.

    Know that I’m still a student at WTS and I love it’s amazing tradition, and that’s why I hate so much that it’s leaving that great heritage. I am here on the ground engaging and talking with people and living in the midst of it, not just writing blogs and leaving anonymous comments.

    And lastly, I am not the first, nor will I be the last of the huge swathes of students seeing the error the seminary is falling into. Those that disagree with me are in the minority. So unless you have more direct exposure with the issues my seminary are going through, please refrain from personal, sarcastic, blanket statements and wasted words that do nothing for the body of Christ but divide and tear down. I pray you respond.

    And once again, thank you Mark. I love and miss you dearly. Chris/Lexie’s engagement party tonight felt a real lack without you/Karyn.


  4. Oh yeah, Mark, keep hanging your hat on the ‘lack of anonymity’ platform. Count on you to rush in on any blog and provide unfounded, ignorant comments. Such a sad, virtual existence.

    Paul, check the way you argue, it’s ridiculous. Did my comment even hint that institutions in general cannot err? No. You built up a straw man to make your case seem stronger. Honestly, have some integrity and cogency in your critiques. When did I equate well-known to biblically sound? It wasn’t even implied. The over-dramatization is so obvious and at worst flat-out irresponsible.

    Talk to the people who actually know the issues, not students who argue using your same methods and base opinions on guesswork. “The truth” is something that no faculty or administrator is even remotely ashamed of, so exposure is not even an issue (sorry Mark, I know you’d love to think you have a great ’cause’ you’re behind). And you’re completely dead wrong – your opinion is the vocal minority. The student body is, for the vast majority, happy that WTS is in fact standing firm in its biblical tradition and heritage. If you think otherwise, you’re clueless about the tradition. Read and cite if you think I’m wrong.

    If you’re going to be a self-proclaimed expert on something then up your game, man, honestly. It’s just embarrassing.


  5. Ugh, this is a conversation much better had over coffee. I hate comment wars. Ed, are you a student or faculty member up here? Or are you even in the area? I’d love to sit down and hear you out. Really, my apologies for the late night, knee jerk response. I usually never respond that way to personal critique, no matter how personal.

    You write like this issue strikes a very personal chord with you. Just know that I love the tradition that WTS found itself in. It definitely has been the top seminary in the world (I think) for decades. But they are making a conscious decision to change direction now. And THAT is what I disagree with. Sure there are plenty of students that see this change and think “well, if you’re going to err, you might as well err on over-conservative than over-liberal” and therefore don’t think it a big deal. I personally think (having come from a Dallas-Texas-Bible-Belt-Southern-Baptist background) that that ends up being just as damaging.

    Thoughts? Are there an specific issues that you have had in mind as you’ve left your comments? And once again, I really would love to buy you a coffee or beer and talk further about this. My email’s in the sidebar up top on this page.


  6. Pingback: uh…about that article I talked about yesterday… « the long way home

  7. A lot has been said about the change or new direction the seminary is headed towards – I’m actually curious as to what it is because I haven’t heard anything about it, even though I am a student there.


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