Mission and Vision
Westminster Theological Seminary exists to train specialists in the Bible to proclaim the whole counsel of God for Christ and his global church. Committed to extending the knowledge of the glory of God in Christ until that knowledge covers the earth as the waters cover the sea (see Habakkuk 2:14), and with a vision to serve with excellence in global Reformed theological education, we offer graduate-level theological education in both onsite and online formats.
Specifically, Westminster pursues this mission and vision in three ways. First, we seek to form men and women for Gospel service. Second, we seek to teach the whole counsel of God in order to shepherd Christ’s church. Third, we seek to engage a changing world with God’s unchanging Word through Reformed scholarship.
In the pursuit of our mission and vision we hold to the following core values:
- The triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is worthy of the worship of all people in all places of his dominion, and this fact must be the fundamental motive for every human activity.
- Scripture, as the very Word of God written, is absolutely authoritative and without error. The Bible-centered curriculum is developed on the basis of our motto, “the whole counsel of God.”
- Reformed orthodoxy, as informed by the system of doctrine contained in the Westminster Standards, and secondarily in other Reformed confessions, represents faithfully and accurately what Scripture teaches.
- Biblical exegesis and biblical theology (in the tradition of Geerhardus Vos) in harmony with systematic theology and presuppositional apologetics (in the tradition of Cornelius Van Til) are among the crucial methods to be used in interpreting and applying the teaching of Scripture and in developing a biblical worldview.
- A learned ministry set in the lifestyle of humble and holy affection for Jesus Christ is essential in today’s church and world and must be modeled by the board, administration, faculty, and students.
- A fundamental mandate of the church, discipling the nations for the glory of Christ, requires culturally sensitive, theologically competent ministers who have both the ability and the passion to apply the eternal word of Scripture to the changing world in which God has placed us.
- Because there is one body and one Spirit, all who would build up the whole body of Christ must make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Westminster is committed to Scripture and to the systematic exposition of biblical truth known as the Reformed faith. In addition to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, the Seminary treasures the rich and harmonious diversity of creeds and confessions within the historic Reformed tradition. In particular, it recognizes that the system of doctrine contained in Scripture is also confessed in the Three Forms of Unity (the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort). Westminster desires to be used in the training of ministers of the gospel and others for service in churches committed to the Three Forms of Unity as subordinate standards.
Based on our core values, the curriculum of the Seminary includes Westminster’s distinctives:
- Exegetical theology and covenantal hermeneutics
- Systematic theology grounded in biblical theology
- Presuppositional apologetics
- Reformed confessionalism
- Biblical counseling
- Spiritual formation for ministry in the church
History and Government
Theological education in the United States was originally available only to students who were tutored and mentored by able ministers. In the eighteenth century, a number of pastors were widely known for their willingness to take students under their oversight and guide their reading. A single minister often mentored many students at a time.
When formal theological seminaries were organized, one of the first was the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church at Princeton, New Jersey, where instruction began in 1812. Founded by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, the seminary held to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms as its doctrinal standards.
Princeton excelled under the leadership of distinguished teachers who devoted themselves vigorously and effectively to the development, propagation, and maintenance of the Reformed faith. Among those best known as teachers of the great scriptural system of theology set forth by Princeton’s first professor, Archibald Alexander, were Charles Hodge, J. A. Alexander, B. B. Warfield, Geerhardus Vos, and J. Gresham Machen. But eventually a movement surfaced to end Princeton’s adherence to scriptural theology, and in 1929 Princeton Theological Seminary was reorganized under modernist influences.
Among the Princeton faculty who loved the Reformed faith were Robert Dick Wilson, J. Gresham Machen, Oswald T. Allis, and Cornelius Van Til. Almost immediately after Princeton’s reorganization, these four men founded Westminster Theological Seminary, and, with others who were invited to join the teaching staff, continued the exposition and defense of the Reformed faith. Over the years, Westminster has prospered as we have maintained the infallible Scripture as our foundation.
The Seminary is governed by a self-perpetuating board consisting of at least fifteen but not more than thirty trustees, of whom at least one-half but not more than three-fifths must be ministers of the gospel. Each member of the board is required by the charter to subscribe to a pledge of a character similar to that required of the Faculty, and is required to be a ruling or teaching elder in a church that shares the Seminary’s commitments and Presbyterian and Reformed heritage. The President of the Seminary is the chief executive officer, directly responsible to the board. Academic policies are established by the President and Provost, with advice from the Faculty, subject to review by the board. Current members of the Board of Trustees are listed on our website.
|President||Peter A. Lillback|
|Dean of Faculty||K. Scott Oliphint|
|General Counsel and Vice President||James Sweet|
|Vice President for Advancement||David Garner|
|Vice President of Campus Life and Dean of Students||Steve Carter|
|Vice President of Operations||Chun Lai|
|Dean of Distance Education||Iain Duguid|
Westminster is a school of theology at the graduate level. Under a charter from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania granted in 1930 and as subsequently amended, the Seminary has the power to grant the degrees of Master of Arts (Counseling). Degrees are granted upon recommendation of the Faculty and by the authority of the Board of Trustees.
Online learning at Westminster is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools and from Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Authorization to offer online learning in states other than Pennsylvania is approved by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.
Westminster admits students of any race, color, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally made available to students at the Seminary. The Seminary does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, or scholarship and loan programs.