In September of 1956, Central Seminary began training a small group of men who desired to invest their lives in gospel ministry through the local church. For more than fifty years, the faculty and staff have remained passionately dedicated to that vision. During those years, hundreds of men have gone forth from the seminary to serve the church and advance the gospel around the world—literally.
Half a century is a long time to remain committed to the mission of training tomorrow’s Christian leaders—especially in view of the significant investment of time, energy, and resources required to accomplish this mission. By God’s grace, we intend to remain committed to this vision in the years to come.
Changing theological landscapes, the proliferation of good conservative evangelical seminary programs, a weakened economy, and the rising cost of providing quality ministerial training present new challenges for seminaries, especially local-church-based institutions. Seminaries wishing to navigate these challenges successfully are realizing that ministerial training tomorrow demands thoughtful adjustments today. Central Seminary is no exception.
For us, the road ahead involves a renewed dedication to the original vision and mission of our seminary—to train Christian leaders for service to the church for the advancement of the gospel. In short, Central Seminary exists for the church and for the gospel.
Our unchanging allegiance to this mission has led us to consider a series of thoughtful changes we believe will enhance our ability to fulfill our mission for many years to come. These changes, to be finalized and announced this fall, are driven by our belief that the primary mission of a seminary is to prepare capable, faithful men to exposit God’s Word accurately, attractively, and authoritatively so that the church of God may be equipped to do the work of the ministry (Eph 4:11-12). We continue to believe the best training for this task is a robust Master of Divinity program. This belief has compelled us to narrow our focus and commit ourselves to strengthening and building our Master of Divinity program.
In light of our rich heritage of training men for ministry, we are acting now to make the best use of the resources God has graciously provided so that we may continue fulfilling this mission well into the future.
The road ahead will not be easy for any seminary, including our own. But it is an exciting journey and one we intend to make with the Lord’s help. So, if you are looking for a place that takes ministerial training seriously, we would love to travel the road with you!
To paraphrase Les Ollila, "Wisdom is gained from the furnace of life not from the sandbox in the playground." Correspondingly, when life gets hard I want to hear from the “furnace man” over the “sandbox guy” any day!
In the fire I need more than platitudes, poems, and a song or two from the “sandbox guys.” I need wisdom from God and His Word, and in some way, it helps when it comes from the mouth of a fire-tested individual. You instinctively know whether you are hearing a “sandbox guy,” who spouts platitudes and truisms about the furnace he has never been through, or a “furnace man,” who has had the truth seared into his soul by the fire of suffering, trial, disappointment, and affliction.
So I say to the “sandbox guy,” “Please pipe down so we can hear the “furnace man” when he talks.” They generally speak soft, but their message is always worth hearing.
There is much that is beyond the control of church leadership—the quality of spiritual food coming from the pulpit is not one of them. Pithy sayings, platitudes, and poetry is snack food at best. We can't live on snack food in real life and we can't in our spiritual lives either.
Consequently, if a church's leadership trots out snacks and trail mix week after week and another church is dishing up steak—I know where I would be eating!
When the pulpit of a church dispenses trail mix as regular fare, it should come as no surprise when the people in the pews head for other churches—where solid spiritual food is being served. Adding a prize at the bottom of the box won't fool wise parishioners for long. Trail mix isn't steak no matter how much steak sauce you pour on it or how much you praise the cook. Trail mix is trail mix no matter what you call it or regardless of who dispenses it!
The deepest and most refining work of God in our lives happens in the furnace and not the sandbox. God never sends us into the furnace alone, for He goes with us and stays for the duration. On the other hand, my impoverished soul would do almost anything to avoid the fire by which God intends to accomplish His refining work. This may be why He usually doesn't leave the choice with us. We would prefer making our castles in the sandbox; God is fitting us for greater things and greater ends.
Nothing reveals just how much we are like or unlike Jesus than how we respond to those who fail or disappoint us. Peter failed Jesus. Badly. Repeatedly. He lied. He denied. He cursed. All of this happened after Jesus had elevated him and entrusted him with great authority and leadership among his peers and in the future Church—the Church that Jesus had promised to establish and build.
If Jesus were like me, Peter would have been done. He would be out on his own—without even a two week notice! In fact, Peter would have been done much earlier than the event that occasioned these sinful responses from him. He would have been done after opening his mouth and issuing the uninformed, controlling and manipulative retort that Jesus said smelled of the sulfur of this World's system and the god who controls it! And I would have felt righteously justified in doing so!Read more: Like Jesus or Like Me? Part 1: Peter