“Do not feel that you are alone…We as a faculty shall continue to bear witness with you, as we have in these few years borne witness to you.”
- Cornelius Van Til, in the 1953 Westminster Commencement.
It is clear that Westminster seeks to train men and women for ministry, but so do many other institutions all over the world. What is it about Westminster that has drawn students from over 40 countries and over 100 denominations? What makes someone leave their home, opt not to attend the seminary down the road, and sacrifice their time, their money and their convenience, often doing so with their family?
As I sat in “Doctrine of Man”, Dr. Lane Tipton had us open our Hebrew text to Genesis 3:8,
Genesis 3:8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
The late Westminster professor of Old Testament, Meredith Kline, discusses this verse in his book, Images of the Spirit, and Dr. Tipton was drawing from this rich material. He demonstrated how a seemingly simple phrase, “the sound of the LORD God”, means something very significant and particular throughout the Old Testament. Some interpretations have understood the imagery in this verse as reflecting a peaceful, serene picture of God’s fellowship with Adam and Eve, while Adam and Eve shamefully hide in spite of this otherwise pleasant scene.
Kline points out that this scene is anything but pleasant. The phrase, “the sound of the LORD God” is actually used throughout the Old Testament (Exodus 19:19, Deut. 4:11, Ezekiel 1:24) to describe the frightening sound of God before His impending judgment. As we weaved through various Old Testament passages, Dr. Tipton demonstrated by example the fundamental importance of learning the original biblical languages for biblical interpretation. At the same time, he was also demonstrating how crucial a proper, Reformed biblical theology is when speaking of the Old Testament as a whole. He then went on to explain the systematic theological implications of a proper eschatology - how this first sound of judgment in Genesis 3 serves as the prototypical pattern for the judgments that are to follow throughout the life of God’s people, including the last and final judgment when Christ comes again.
Within one small section of one class, the coherence between the biblical languages, biblical theology and systematic theology was seamlessly demonstrated by a current Westminster professor of Systematic Theology using a former Westminster professor of Old Testament’s writing. And the most remarkable and encouraging aspect of this is that it happens throughout your entire Westminster education. As students listen to their apologetics professors discuss the problem of evil and the noetic effects of sin, their biblical counseling professors echo those same discussions but with a counseling emphasis. The systematic theology classes read Murray’s “The Imputation of Adam’s Sin” while the doctrine of sin throughout redemptive history is traced through the ages in the church history classes. The result is a full, holistic education that will prepare you for ministry, scholarship and your Christian life.
There is a consistency and coherence to Westminster’s programs that make our graduates an incredibly rich resource of ministry. The way our faculty exhibit that coherence in the classroom is just one of the many reasons why students from all over the world converge here on Westminster’s campus every year.
Jared Oliphint, ‘05
Director of Admissions