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Our Schools in History: Our Protestant Reformed Seminary

If you cruise the streets of Grand Rapids, you will not find it.  For it has no building of its own, but is buried in the basement of the First Church edifice.  In fact, you will not even discover a sign pointing to its existence.  But when schools throughout our land open this fall, the Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches will also begin a new term, D.V.

This institution is in several ways unique among educational institutions.

In the first place, it is extremely small.  As already indicated, it has no home of its own, but functions in one room in the basement of First Church in Grand Rapids.  This one room serves as class room, library room, office, and work room.  In the second place, the pupil-teacher ratio is very low.  This year there will be three students and two instructors.  There have been years when there was one student and two instructors.  In the third place, although this school has been in existence for some forty years, – much longer than any other educational institution in our Protestant Reformed circle, –  this year for the first time it will have two full-time instructors, Prof. H. Hanko and the undersigned.  Moreover, among our Protestant Reformed schools our seminary is unique in various other respects.  For one thing, it is not a co-educational institution, but open to male students only.  For another, it is not a parentally operated school, but a denominationally owned and controlled school.  Besides, it offers not a general, but a very limited curriculum, designed strictly to prepare ministers of the gospel.  In a way it might be called a graduate school; for while our seminary confers no degree, it nevertheless purposes to train those who have completed their college work and to do so in the limited field of theology.

Let me assure you, however, that the above information does not tell the whole story.

For, in the first place, while our seminary confers no degree, it offers, upon completion of the three-year curriculum, a valuable and well-earned little document: a diploma which only a very limited number of men have earned.  And that diploma entitles the young man who owns it to enter a most glorious field of labor, the gospel ministry in the Protestant Reformed Churches.  You may expect, too, that there will be a place of labor for you.  As I have written recently at length in the Standard Bearer, our churches are suffering from a severe shortage of ministers.  Besides, there has never been a time in our history when there was no place for our graduates.

In the second place, a student who has earned his diploma from our school will go forth well-equipped.  He will certainly have a thorough and strictly Reformed theological education.  But he will also have a complete theological education.  I do not have sufficient space here to present the entire curriculum of our seminary in this article.  Permit me, however, to mention the following: 1. A student at our school will average between fifteen and twenty hours of credit per semester.  2. His course will include six semesters of Reformed dogmatics; a total of eight semesters of New Testament and Old Testament  exegesis; four semesters of church history; six semesters of Old Testament and New Testament history; instruction in Greek and Hebrew; training in the principles and practice of preaching; and training in various practical subjects necessary for the ministry. 3. In general, our curriculum is about equally divided between Prof. Hanko and myself.  Prof Hanko will handle especially church history and the New Testament branches; my subjects are dogmatics and Old Testament branches; and the various other branches are divided between us.  Any young man interested in our seminary and its requirements and advantages can send for a catalog.  The old edition will be helpful; but since Prof. Hanko has joined our faculty, we hope to publish a new edition in the not too distant future.

In the third place, while the smallness of our seminary has its limitations and while indeed if you look forward to a place in our Protestant Reformed ministry, you must not have your eye on fame and fortune, nevertheless that same smallness has its educational and social advantages.  A student at our seminary receives the educational advantage of personal attention which is possible only in a small student body.  And there is an intimacy in our school which is possible only in a small institution.

I conclude this brief article with an appeal.  Young men, consider seriously whether perhaps the Lord wants you to attend our seminary and to prepare for a place among our Protestant Reformed ministers. Young people, remember our seminary and its needs in your prayers.