One aspiring pastor writes in to ask: Pastor John, what would you look for in deciding on a seminary?
First, don’t look for a building. Don’t look for a campus. Don’t look for a library. Don’t look for a location. Look for a faculty. That is my advice. If you ask me what I am looking for in a faculty, I would say look for a faculty who reveres the Bible as God’s inerrant word, which may be easier to sniff out than whether they love God. Loving God is a little more personal and abstract, but you can begin to detect whether their relationship with the Bible is one of amazing, deep, controlling-reverence for God’s inerrant word in the way a person teaches and writes.
“Look for a faculty who reveres the Bible as God’s inerrant word.”
Second, look for rigor in their exegetical labors. Specifically, that they are drawing out truth from the word more than they are drawing out truth from systems and books. When you go to their classes or when you read their books or when you talk to students about them, ask, “Are they biblically saturated? Are they bent on proving their points not by saying Luther said it or Wesley said it or Calvin said it, but Paul said it and Jesus said it and here is the verse and here is the logic of the verse. And that is why we stand on it. Are they that kind of Bible people rather than system people?”
Third, look for a solid, coherent biblical theology with the gospel at the center, the sovereignty of God underneath, and the glory of God at the top. Look for a God-centered, gospel-permeated theology with the glory of God and the sovereignty of God as very prominent.
“Look for a God-centered, gospel-permeated theology with the glory of God and the sovereignty of God as prominent.”
Fourth, look for people. Look for a faculty who feel and believe in the lostness of human beings and the uniqueness of Christ as their only hope of salvation. Men who weep that people are going to hell. They believe in hell. They think people are going there without Jesus. Look for people who believe Jesus is the stunningly, all sufficient, all satisfying, unique and only way of salvation so that there is an urgency about what they teach.
Finally, fifth, look for a love for the church. Look for a passion to be connected with the church not loaners off doing their own academic thing, but people who are part of the church. They love the church. They want to feed the church and provide leaders for the church. Visit classes, talk to students, and correspond with faculty. Do what you need to do to find out what kinds of people are going to be teaching you. That is my way of doing it.