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  25th Anniversary Feature  
  Training for Ministry in the School of the Prophets

Part 1 in a Series

By Dr. Joseph A. Pipa Jr.

We live in a time of knowledge overload, a time when many people in their fields are highly skilled and educated, a time of advanced degrees above the baccalaureate level. We come out of a church tradition in which our ministers were normally the best educated of anybody in the culture, but today we have the worst generation of ministers in the history of American Presbyterianism.


I am involved in theological education at the seminary level because I believe that to a large degree the future of the Reformed seminary is the future of the Reformed church. If we are to see a blessing from God, there are certain things that we ought to be doing out of the necessity for a well-trained ministry. The Bible clearly establishes the importance of ministerial training. For some examples look at 1 Timothy 4:11-16 and 2 Timothy 2:1,2,15.


We need to begin with the biblical and historical background for ministerial training. Why do we use seminaries? Is there a biblical base for doing so? How did the whole idea of seminaries develop? Look up seminary in the encyclopedia, and do you know what it is going to tell you? The seminary is a place basically where Roman Catholic priests are trained for the priesthood. So how in the world did seminaries develop in the Protestant tradition, and why do we use them?


Let’s begin to answer our questions with an overview of the history of the training of ministers. When did this training begin? Apparently theological training schools were begun under Samuel. We find the first mention of the group or the company of the prophets in I Samuel 10:5,10 (see also 1 Samuel 19:19,20). 1 Kings 20:35; 2 Kings 2:3,5,15; 4:1,38; 5:22; 6:1 refer to the men involved as "sons of the prophets." Under Samuel, the prophetic office developed in Israel. Men studied in these schools and prepared to serve as prophets. The fact that most prophets came from these schools is seen further in Amos’ claim that he was not a prophet. When he was rebuked by Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, for prophesying at Bethel, Amos responded, "’I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs’" (Amos 7:14 NASB). Amos is saying, "I am not a regular prophet nor have I been trained at the school of the prophets." The fact that he would emphasize this suggests that he was the exception and not the rule. God called Amos in an extraordinary way, but normally the prophets came from the schools.


The prophetic schools continued through the divided kingdom. These schools of prophets would have been similar to our theological schools. The men probably would have studied the law of God, since part of the prophetic office was to teach the law and interpret it in the context of the covenant and theocratic life of their day. So they would have been trained in the Scriptures and the interpretation of the Scriptures. Their training would have included history and historical writing, since they were the historians of the Old Covenant church (2 Chron. 12:15; 20:34 cf. 19:2). The training evidentially included musical and poetical training, as they made use of musical instruments and songs in their ministry. They also employed elaborate literary structure, suggesting poetical training.


Now it is interesting to note that when a prophet preached or wrote he enjoyed the special work of the Holy Spirit. The prophets wrote many books of the Old Testament. In addition to the books bearing their names, they wrote the history books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. Since they had the Holy Spirit, why did they need to go to school? God used prepared men, men who studied for their task. We conclude, therefore, that the "school of the prophets" was basically an Old Covenant Seminary.


In the New Testament, we continue to find an emphasis on training. Christ chose the Twelve that they might be with Him (Mark 3:14). Paul himself spent three years in the desert in preparation (Gal. 1:17,18); Paul taught his young assistants and commanded Timothy to do the same (2 Tim. 2:1,2).


Note as well that within the "schools of the prophets" mentoring and discipleship played a very important role in the development of these men. God used mentoring relationships throughout biblical history to train men for ministry. Just consider Moses and Joshua; Elijah and Elisha; Christ and the Twelve; Paul and his young men who traveled with him. The concept of mentoring shows why those studying in the school of the prophets are called the "sons of the prophets." The prophets-in-training were in a father-son relationship with their teachers. Such relationships are essential to spiritual and ministerial formation and should be practiced in the church: pastors with elders, elders with other men in the church, women with other women in the church, parents with our children. One of our particular goals at Greenville Seminary is to keep the student body small so that we will never lose the mentoring relationship. We recognize that we cannot accomplish our goals only in the classroom. Mentoring relationships must be developed and sustained.


To be continued: The early church, the Middle Ages and the Reformation


(The above article was adapted from one originally published in The Chalcedon Report)



  Last Call: The 2012 GPTS Spring Theology Conference Begins March 13th  

Two hundred years ago, God raised up a pioneering institution in American theological education, Princeton Theological Seminary. A quarter of a century ago, a new school modeled after Old Princeton was born — Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. On March 13-15, the history and work of these two institutions come together in a unique theological conference at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, S.C.


From 1812 to 1929, Princeton Seminary towered above the world of theological education as a powerful advocate for historic Christianity, the Reformed Faith, and confessional Presbyterianism. The founders of Greenville Seminary consciously sought to revive the distinctives of Old Princeton when this school was established in 1987. The 2012 GPTS Spring Theology Conference will assess this landmark institution and consider the implications of its teachings for today’s church.


For complete information and registration, visit the conference pages of the GPTS web site. Register now or at the door for the regular price of $95. Special low rates are available for students. A special luncheon for prospective GPTS students will be held March 13 at the Seminary.


Dr. Paul Helseth and Dr. Joseph Pipa Jr. will be the featured speakers at the Tuesday and Wednesday evening services that are open to the public without conference registration. The services begin at 7 p.m. (See below for evening service subjects.)


Topics and speakers for the conference include:

  • Princeton: A Brief History of Origin and Contributions of Archibald Alexander – Dr. James Garretson

  • Samuel Miller’s Pastoral Theology – Pastor Andrew Webb

  • Scripture, Inerrancy, and the Role of Reason at Princeton – Dr. Paul K. Helseth (Tuesday evening)

  • Princeton and the Old Testament – Dr. Benjamin Shaw

  • Princeton and Missions – Dr. Tony Curto

  • Ecclesiology: The Hodge/Thornwell Exchange – Dr. Nick Willborn

  • Princeton and 19th Century Crosscurrents: Hodge, Finney, and Nevin – Dr. Darryl G. Hart

  • Biblical Rationale for a Reformed Seminary – Dr. Joseph Pipa Jr. (Wednesday evening)

  • Princeton and Evolution/Creation – Dr. Fred Zaspel

  • Theological Assessment of Warfield (with brief biographical sketch) – Dr. Carl Trueman

  • Machen and the End of Old Princeton – Dr. Darryl G. Hart


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25th Anniversary Gala  

A Night of Remembrance and Hope: The GPTS Silver Anniversary Dinner and Silent Auction. Auction items include diamond rings, original artwork, custom furniture, unique books, an antique Persian rug, services, a vacation week, a golf outing, hand-crafted pottery, and much more. Special music by recording artist Judy Rogers, classical guitarist William Dale Smith, and mezzo-soprano Celanie Martin. Beginning at 6:30 p.m. with a reception and fellowship time at the prestigious historic Poinsett Club, 807 East Washington St., downtown Greenville, S.C. Dinner begins at 7:15 p.m. Reservation deadline: March 5th.


  Blessing and Beautification: The GPTS Campus Gets a New Face  

For nearly four years, Greenville Seminary students, faculty and staff have been blessed to pursue their vocations in a distinguished campus home wonderfully suited to our endeavors. Now God has further blessed us with campus improvements that, we trust, bring glory to Him and reflect His good providence. A new signboard highlights our identity along Main Street, Taylors, S.C., and a new lawn and landscaping with hundreds of plants and trees grace our edifice.


Sign of the Times

Thanks to  generous donations from a supporting church and alumni of the old Taylors High School, GPTS  finally has a new signboard to grace our campus.

Watch Us Grow!

Right and below: Workers prepare the grounds for an irrigation system and sod.

"He makes grass to grow...and plants for man to cultivate...."

Right: Landscaping is nearly complete according to a long-standing scheme shown in this plan.

Right: Flowering myrtles line the grounds along the front, sides and back (shown here) of the GPTS building.

Special thanks to the youth group at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, S.C. for their volunteer service project work spreading mulch on Saturday March 10.



GPTS Begins Weekly Web-based Radio Broadcasts

A long-envisioned enhancement to the broader ministry of Greenville Seminary is now a reality — the "Confessing Our Hope" podcast. Several new programs have already been posted, including a kick-off interview with President Joseph A. Pipa Jr. concerning the history and work of GPTS; an interview with two students sharing their reasons for choosing GPTS; an interview with Pastor Paul Settle, one of the founders of Greenville Seminary, discussing the decline of the liberal Presbyterian Church U.S. and formation of the Presbyterian Church of America, a movement of which he was a part; and an interview with Dr. Benjamin Shaw, previewing his upcoming Spring Theology Conference lecture on Old Testament theology as taught at Old Princeton Seminary.


The podcast, using donated equipment and hosted by GPTS student and information technology director William Hill (left), can be accessed from the seminary web site. Click the "Confessing our Hope" image (like the one above) on the right side of the home page screen. Thanks also go to our web administrator, student Christopher Campbell, for his part in launching and maintaining this broadcast.


  Library News  


James and Jane Eshelman of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, present GPTS Librarian Andy Wortman with a complete bound collection of Banner of Truth magazines. Mr. Eshelman is the retired manager of Banner of Truth USA, where he served for 35 years.


  Book Sale Scheduled for April 28, Donations Welcomed  

Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is now receiving donations of books for a sale that it plans to hold at the seminary on Saturday, April 28th from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Donations that include theological literature as well as general literature (including children's books, home-school materials, coffee table books, etc.) are all welcome. We do not, however, have space for donations of magazines.


Donations will be received until Wednesday, April 25th. All proceeds will benefit the seminary’s Smith/Singer Library. The Seminary’s address is: 200 E. Main St., Taylors, SC 29687. Volunteers are also needed to help with the sale. Please call 864-322-2717 ext. 308 or e-mail for more details.


Surf's Up! Pacific Coast Property Available From Estate Bequest to GPTS


Greenville Seminary is the beneficiary of a Southern California estate bequest that  includes a townhouse/condo in an upscale gated golf community in the Pacific Coast city of Oceanside. The seminary is attempting to sell this property to help amortize our building mortgage. This lovely coastal Mediterranean-style home includes two bedrooms and two baths and a two-car garage. It is located 100 yards from the community's clubhouse. The city of Oceanside is a delightful beach community with close ties to Camp Pendleton Marine Base. If you are interested in this property or know someone who might be interested, contact President Joseph A. Pipa Jr.  Make an Offer!  •   MORE INFORMATION HERE, INCLUDING PHOTOS AND LISTING AGENT

κατέχω - Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.... Hebrews 10:23

Check out the many scholarly articles and book reviews at our online journal Katekōmen.

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GPTS Alumnus Editor of New Book on the Authority and Inerrancy of Scripture


Solid Ground: The Inerrant Word of God in an Errant World.


Many evangelicals are questioning the authority of the Bible and the glory of its Author. In this new book edited by GPTS Alumnus Gabriel N.E. Fluhrer, eight leading pastor-scholars seek to restore that glory by arguing for the inspiration and inerrancy of the Word. (From P&R Publishing) Order at right:




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The tables below show our General Fund and Capital Fund financial condition as of the end of February 2012. Special thanks to one supporting couple who blessed us with a $20,000 general gift received on that rare special day, Feb. 29th.

General Fund for February 2012
  February Budget February Actual February Actual v. Budget
Expenses $80,252  $74,978  -$5,274 
$62,134  $46,956   -$15,178 
Other Income $18,189  $25,890  +$7,701 
Total Income $80,323 $72,846  -$7,477 
Net Income $71  -$2,132  -$2,203 
  Fiscal Year to Date Budget Fiscal Year to Date Actual Fiscal Year to Date Actual v. Budget
Expenses $ 642,027  $765,721  -$123,694 
$497,067  $704,009  +$206,942 
Other Income $145,512  $176,164  +$30,652 
Total Income $642,579  $880,173  +$237,594 
Net Income $552  $114,452  +$113,900 
Capital Fund Update
Goal $3,500,000
Received $2,788,377
Long-term Pledges Outstanding $613,252
Total Received and Pledged $3,401,629
Additional Income Needed $98,371
Outstanding Obligations $37,000
Monthly Note $6,600
Remaining Mortgage $1,021,794

If you would like to make a convenient online donation to Greenville Seminary, click the  "Donate" button below. Whether or not you can contribute financially, here is another way you can help the seminary: Do you know someone that would be interested in learning more about our organization or supporting us? If so, fill out the form here and an e-mail message with a link to our website will be sent to them. Thank you for your continued support for Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.



Soli Deo Gloria!


Sharing in the Advancement of GPTS

Visit the GPTS Development Office web site for information on ways to support and spread the word about Greenville Seminary:

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For books related to the Princeton Seminary Commemoration, go here.



Visit our online Gift Shop to purchase GPTS golf shirts, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, and travel mugs. All net proceeds help support the seminary.


The family film More than Diamonds is now being offered on DVD to friends of the seminary. By special arrangement with the producers, each purchase made online through a special web page will generate a donation to GPTS. More info here.

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Earn money for GPTS while you shop or search the web. Make "GoodSearch" your Internet search engine and shop through "GoodShop" at thousands of online stores that give a portion of purchase proceeds to GPTS: More Here. There are currently 40 people registered as GPTS supporters with GoodSearch. We need hundreds more! Begin shopping or searching now by using the device in the right column above.


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