PCA Digest
Position Papers: 1973 - 1993
 

7th General Assembly, 1979

GUIDELINES FOR THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION

IV. THEOLOGICAL SUB-COMMITTEE
In accordance with the instructions of the 1978 General Assembly on page 219 of the Assembly Minutes the Committee sent the following letter to all presbyteries in March:

"The purpose of this letter is to elicit a written response from each presbytery in the matter of its plans and intentions with regard to implementing the Uniform Curriculum adopted by the Sixth General Assembly as a part of its obligations in preparing candidates for the Gospel ministry for ordination. Specifically, the material requested is needed in order that this Sub-Committee may carry out the injunction to give preliminary approval to presbytery training programs so that the presbyteries may be able to elect representatives to the certification committees (Minutes of the Sixth General Assembly, Item III, 13, 61, p. 87).
"Please review actions taken by the Sixth General Assembly which are pertinent to this matter: Minutes, Appendix G, Section IV. Theological SubCommittee on Uniform Curriculum (pp. 214-217); the Report on the Committee of Commissioners, Recommendations III, 9 - 13 (pp. 86-87). Part IV of the Report of the Committee of Commissioners on Judicial Business contains material regarding necessary changes to the Book of Church Order to implement a mandatory year of licensure and probation before ordination (pp. 115-119). This material should also be studied as it is integrally related to the concept of ministerial training.
"As you study the Uniform Curriculum which has been adopted and compare it with the stipulated course requirements set forth by any of the four recognized seminaries, you will observe that the Uniform Curriculum is broader in scope than the graduation requirements of these seminaries. In addition, upon examination, many seminary graduates are found to be weak in some particulars to such a degree that remedial studies are indicated. These two conditions illuminate the fact that each presbytery is going to have to plan for some academic instruction, as well as practical instruction, to be carried out during the period of supervised probation.
"Another factor to be considered is that the Uniform Curriculum must now be met unless an individual is to be ordained under the extraordinary clause (cf. Minutes, Item III, 13.4, p. 87). However, a presbytery cannot certify that a candidate has met the Uniform Curriculum requirements until the presbytery program itself has been approved by the Certification (Accrediting) Committee. Presbytery programs will initially gain certification by the 22-man Theological Education Sub-Committee. This preliminary approval will give the presbytery the right to place a man on the Certification (Accrediting) Committee, which becomes the permanent overseer of quality and uniformity in regard to each presbytery's program.
"To gain this initial approval, presbytery must present a written plan to this Sub-Committee. To assist you in drafting this preliminary plan, some guidelines have been approved by this Sub-Committee. These are designed to help you understand your options and to indicate some of the categories to which consideration must be given in preparing your plan. These guidelines include typical models of the 3 + 1 and 2 + 2 plans, as well as some planning criteria. Enough detail should be included in your submittal to allow this SubCommittee to determine the adequacy and the quality of your activities in the preparation of probationers for ordination."

The Committee also recommends that each presbytery supervise this program through joint efforts of the Christian Education Committee and a membership/candidates committee.
The introductory portion has explained the direction and purpose of this suggested guideline paper. It is suggested only because each presbytery may wish to include a different type plan altogether which would then be submitted to the 22-man Sub-Committee for tentative approval or the Certification (Accrediting) Committee which will finally replace the 22-man Sub-Committee.
The Sub-Committee has suggested three possible models for each presbytery to consider in developing its own program: If the Book of Church Order is changed to require the one-year mandatory training period of probation then every presbytery will be required to have its particular plan.

A. Model One - Three plus One.
The first suggestion of a model will deal with the 3 + 1 plan. This indicates that a candidate has received his M.Div. from a particular seminary but then is required to have one year of probationary training under the presbytery that would seek to ordain him at the end of that period or at some later period.
The presbytery would have the responsibility to examine the candidate in the required areas of training. If he is found to be deficient in any area, e.g. English Bible, then during that year the presbytery would have the responsibility to work with him in that particular area as well as in the pastoral areas.
The candidate could be assigned to a supervising pastor or pastors having expertise in certain'areas. Remuneration for this year of probation is left to the discretion of the presbytery and candidate. He could work as a licentiate in serving pastorless churches, or as an assistant to another pastor.
During this year there are eight areas that would need particular attention from the presbytery. They are:
1) English Bible. He would be given opportunities to apply his knowledge in supervised, live teaching situations. Knowledge of the original languages is assumed because of his M.Div. degree.
2) Devotional Life. The licentiate should have regular times of prayer with his supervising pastor/pastors. The pastors should disciple the licentiate in his personal devotional life and his family's as well.
3) Worship. The licentiate should have training in leading and preaching in worship services. He should be critiqued by the supervising pastor. Instruction in baptism, Lord's supper, weddings and funerals must be given.
4) Evangelism. The candidate should have an opportunity to observe supervising pastors in personal evangelism and be given opportunities to participate in personal evangelism and other expressive methods of evangelism.
5) Missiology. He should study the area of church growth both at home and throughout the world. He should demonstrate a working knowledge of the mission programs of the PCA.
6) Presbyterian Polity. The candidate should be given opportunity to sit in on major committees of Presbytery, and attend General Assembly. He should be developing a working knowledge of the Book of Church Order as he attends the meetings of the courts of the Church. Robert's Rules is another area in which the licentiate is to demonstrate a working knowledge. He is to be exposed to good church administration during this year and take responsibility in developing administrative abilities.
7) Counseling. He should be given opportunities to sit in on counseling situations and given some opportunity under direction to do some actual counseling.
8) Christian Education. The candidate should during this year also have an opportunity to work with the Sunday School program, to participate in teaching training courses, in instructing the youth in catechism and having some input with the youth work.

B. Model Two - Two Extensions plus Two Serving.
If the Presbytery has allowed a man to go the 2 + 2 route, i.e. two years of academic training at an established institution, then he would receive two years of tutorial training. We suggest one of two methods in fulfilling the 2 + 2 program. First:
The presbytery may allow a candidate first to attend an extension seminary in his area or some other approved area. During this time he remains closely connected to the local church and could even continue employment in other areas. Then after two years, he would attend a resident seminary.
Those already using this method do something like this:

YEAR ONE
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter

Bible Content

Bible Content

Bible Content

Greek Grammar

Greek Grammar

Greek

Church History

Church History

Church History

Reformed Theology

Reformed Evangelism

Personal Life

 
   
YEAR TWO
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter

Bible Content

Bible Content

Bible Content

NT Interpretation

History of Reformation

Teaching Bible Courses

Polity

Principles of Preaching

Pastoral Administration

Pastoral Care

Hebrew

Hebrew

Hebrew

 
 

The last two years of resident training would follow this general course direction, as adapted from the 1977-78 Catalogue of Reformed Theological Seminary. Courses listed in the RTS Catalogue in Junior Year.

YEAR THREE
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter

Hebrew Exegesis

Hebrew Exegesis

Old Testament Theology I

Advanced New Testament Inter-

Prophets

New Testament History

pretation

NT Introduction Missions

Church History

Educational Ministry

Ministry of Teaching

Evangelism Clinic

Preaching Clinic

Pastoral Counseling Clinic

     
YEAR FOUR
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter

Old Testament Theology Intro-

Old Testament Introduction I

Old Testament

duction II

Poets

Theology II

Systematic Theology

NT Theology

Systematic Theology

History of Christianity in America

Systematic Theology

Ethics II

 

Ethics I

 
     

C. Model three - Two Seminary plus Two Tutorial.
This approach would allow a man to attend a resident seminary for the first two years and possible work towards a Master of Religious Arts, such as is available at Westminster Theological Seminary, or the Master of Theological Study at CTS, or equivalent at RTS or TPTS. The Presbytery would then pick up the third and fourth years of tutorial training.
It would work like this. On page 215 of the 1978 Minutes of the Sixth General Assembly, where the approved curriculum is located:

  To be taught by:
Under Scripture:  

I. Bible Content

Presbytery

II. Languages

Seminary

III. Methods of Interpretation

Seminary

IV. Supervised Practical Opportunities

Presbytery
Under Doctrine:  

I. Church History

 

A. Survey of Church History

Seminary

B. American Church History

Presbytery

C. History of Reformation

Seminary

D. Presbyterian Church History

Presbytery

II. Apologetics

Seminary
III. Theology and Ethics  

A. Systematics

Seminary

B. Ethics

Seminary

IV. Polity

Presbytery

V. Practical Theology

Presbytery
 

(Except possibly Christian Education and Missiology)

As the presbytery picks up the third and fourth years of tutorial training it would follow this progression:

Third Year
Fourth Year
Prophetic Books Bible Content (English)
General Epistles & Revelation Supervised Practical Opportunities
The Reformation American Church History
Doctrine of the Holy Spirit Presbyterian Church History
Sermon Content Theology of the Church
Pastoral Theology Theology of Westminster Standards
Poetic Books Polity and Parliamentary Procedure
Modern Age Practical Theology
Doctrine of Christian Life Personal Theology
Church Mission and Ministry Pastoral Administration
Sermon Delivery  

The Sub-Committee has met with the presidents of the above four seminaries and reviewed these plans. A general spirit of cooperation and encouragement was given to the Committee in its assignment and execution of it.
Not only do the seminaries have the regular three-year M. Div. degree program that would continue to be used, but several of them have a two-year degree program that would meet the 2 + 2 approach, if that is the method desired. The Committee offers as its recommendations the following: see numbers 16- 21.