I would be remiss to talk about the academic piece of Sovereign Grace’s PC.
The emphasis for the PC became evident during orientation. We did not attend it alone, but with our wives (where applicable). This was no mere formality, but an expression of SGM’s commitment to care for pastors by caring for their marriages. After all a college for pastors must emphasize his primary pastoral responsibility.
Here’s an annotated and sampled list of our classes:
Systematic Theology 1-7: Yeah, you read that right. SEVEN. Beginning with the doctrine of Scripture. THE appropriate place to begin any systematic theological endeavor. (Of course, I am biased considering my dissertation is entitled “The Self-Authentication of Scripture as the Proper Ground for Systematic Theology”!). We were taken up into the glory of God’s condescension in a book. Theology Proper. Christology. Pneumatology (with Grudem!). Ecclesiology. Eschatology.
Biblical Theology: How does the entire biblical narrative fit together? Yep, that’s something theologians have been discussing for centuries and we tackle in a week!
Hermeneutics: Mark Mullery did an excellent job of helping us connect dots and read genres.
Pastoral Theology: Ken Mellinger, Andy Farmer, Rob Flood, Warren Boettcher, John Loftness. These are men who are pastors. They love theology and they love people and they love God. We could ask them questions about bugbear issues as theology works itself out in the context of a local church.
Preaching 1 & 2: How do you preach an OT narrative without making it merely moral? Can you preach about Rahab’s scarlet cord? How about the five smooth stones David picked up? How do you simplify and drive a point home (a question I am still trying to answer!)?
Apologetics: We give a worldview when we speak of Christianity. Take your time to enumerate and to demolish other fine-sounding arguments. Be gentle, but direct and gracious when trusting the Spirit of God to bring light to blind eyes.
Galatians: (with Tom Schreiner). Need I say more than a parenthetical statement?
Spiritual Disciplines: Mike Bullmore modeled such a life as much as he talked about it.
Sanctification: Jerry Bridges stood up the whole time! And as he was standing he convicted me of my lack of the grasp of grace and offered me grace to assuage my guilt.
Okay. There are many more classes, but I won’t enumerate them here. Can I just say that the bent towards being a pastor was palpable? Every class had numerous take-aways for how it applied to pastoring people. How does the Spirit empower you in preaching and shepherding and integrated into counseling? How should eschatology affect our fervency in pleading with men and comforting the suffering? Having lunch with professors each week was pretty sweet–especially if pizza was ordered. I remember being able to take Bridges to the airport with my family and my girls giving him hugs as he boarded his plane. I remember eating at Chipotle with Craig Cabaniss and talking about church planting. I remember taking John Woodbridge to Chuck Colson’s memorial service in D.C. with Andrew and Jeff and eating at Burger King afterward. What a memory as we spoke about the development of doctrine in France and the need to defend the Christian worldview in an accessible way. . .over a double Whopper with cheese.