Why did I choose Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary?

When I began to feel God pressing the need for my completion of formal theological education, I began the process of determining which seminary was right for me. In doing so, I considered multiple factors and sought the comfort of the Holy Spirit as I explored my options. I considered several solid, worthwhile schools that I would definitely recommend to others that in the end, I did not opt for. While my choice certainly is not the result of any failures or shortcomings of the schools themselves, I do think that it speaks highly of Southwestern.

What schools did I consider?

I looked at several schools, including:

Why didn’t I look at more? Honestly, I began with several convictions up front.

  • I am a theological conservative. I would have considered myself to be rather progressive in the past, but as I continue to study God’s Word, I have become increasingly conservative in my theology and in my methodology.
  • I am a Baptist. I know they (we, I guess) have their (our) issues, but no other denominational set of beliefs parallels my own more than that of the good ol’ SBC. That should be expected. I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church. I graduated from a Texas Baptist University. I have served in other denominations and movements (United Methodist, Evangelical Free, and Evangelical Friends), and have celebrated the commonality as we unite to spread the Gospel and preach Christ, but ultimately, I am Southern Baptist at the core. As the hymn has been re-written before, “My faith is built on nothing less than Lottie Moon and Broadman Press.
  • I am Reformed. Several years ago, I never would have thought I would have said that up front. And there are plenty of friends and family who would wish that I wouldn’t say it now. But I certainly fit more in the Calvinist theological tradition than I do in the Arminian tradition. For that reason, my search was narrowed down to schools that if not primarily Reformed, were at the minimum balanced in their view. Southwestern has garnered a reputation of late of being somewhat antagonistic towards Reformed teaching. I spoke with Dr. Patterson regarding this matter, and while he himself hopes to change my mind in this regard (and recommended that I spend time studying the Anabaptists), he stated that no student (however Arminian or Calvinist) would suffer persecution or embarrassment at the hands of the faculty of Southwestern. After speaking with several past and present students, and researching several faculty members, Southwestern appears to be very balanced in their teachings.

What about Southwestern stood out?

With that many great schools – and again, I think they’re all great schools – it was a more difficult decision than I expected. Each school has a great legacy and great alumni. I have a lot of respect for the faculty at all of these institutions.

They value preaching

In my experience, a high view of preaching is the direct result of a high view of Scripture – and the contrary is true as well. To hold a low view of preaching is the result of a low view of Scripture. Preaching is the most visible, and in my opinion, the most important aspect of pastoral ministry. Southwestern holds the pastor’s pulpit ministry in high regard, and that value is evident in everything they do – from their motto to their M.Div. requirements (the M.Div. requires 12 hours of Greek and 9 hours of Hebrew).

They strongly support global evangelism

In the end, it’s all about the Great Commission

One cannot escape the importance of global evangelism when walking around the Fort Worth campus. They are on prominent display around the campus as a reminder to students that the intention of the school is to develop ministers who will bring the gospel to the world. Theological academia that does not lead to a passion for sharing the gospel is hollow and no better than a white-washed tomb.

They value and train the family

I value my family, so I appreciate it when others do as well!

Southwestern prides themselves in training more than the pastor, but training the entire family. One of the things that solidified our decision to attend Southwestern was it’s offering of courses for seminary wives. They belive that ministry is more than just the responsibility of the pastor, but of the entire family. So wives are offered a pared-down version of the courses that their husbands are taking, as well as courses such as The Wife of the Equipping Minister.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is the premiere Texas Baptist Seminary

My understanding of God’s call upon my life is to pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention and my hope is that would be within the state of Texas. Seminaries tend to brand their graduates. And while schools such as Truett or Logsdon are officially the two “Texas Baptist” seminaries, both come with their share of baggage after the split of the Texas Baptist State Convention. Ultimately, however the political wind may blow in Southern Baptist Churches in the state of Texas, Southwestern opens the door. Statistically, 40% of international missionaries serving with the Southern Baptist Convention are Southwestern graduates. 60% of pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention are Southwestern graduates. Southwestern has a rich history of training Word-centered, Christ-exalting ministers who carry the gospel to the ends of the earth.

For the reasons above, once I began to research my options, Southwestern became the most obvious choice.

[This post is the third post in my “Why I’m going back to Seminary” series. Click here to see the whole series!]

  12 comments for “Why did I choose Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary?

  1. Becky Jackson
    20 July 2011 at 3:44 pm

    “My faith is built on nothing less than Lottie Moon and Broadman Press.“
    Sadly, if Lottie applied today to attend Southwestern, that application would be immediately denied.

    I am glad you are continuing your seminary education and wish you well.
    Becky

    • 7 September 2011 at 10:48 am

      Thanks Becky…

  2. Thomas White
    22 July 2011 at 10:15 pm

    David, I am thrilled that you are coming to Southwestern. I look forward to getting to know you. Let me know if I can be of any help along the way.

    Becky, I can assure you that Lottie Moon would not be immediately denied. We have made extensive efforts to recover Lottie Moon’s artifacts that remained in China. Additionally, Southwestern has over 25% women among the student body and some of the most robust women’s studies programs in existence.

    • 22 July 2011 at 10:35 pm

      Thanks! I’m looking forward to getting back to it!

  3. Tommy Kiker
    17 August 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Enjoyed reading your post. Seminary is such a wonderful time of training, refining, making life-long friendships. It is such an important decision. I’m glad you will be joining us here at Southwestern.

    • 17 August 2011 at 3:37 pm

      Thanks for welcoming me! I’m excited to be here and look forward to meeting you.

  4. Bac rattler
    7 September 2011 at 10:24 am

    Well i have chose to return to training as well and have been strongly urged to attend southwestern but have chose southern seminary because they are reformed in many aspects, and non antagonistic towards calvinism, and because of the inevitable that acknowledged calvinism will spread to the many sbc seminaries its just a matter of time. Southern is the tip of the spear of the SBC. And the leadership here is evidently making large strides for the kingdom as southern sends more missionaries to the field thru the IMB then any other sbc seminary and the graduation rate and enrollment rate is twice or even more of that of all other sbc seminaries and the cost is far below other sbc seminaries and the campus and spirit of the people is really welcoming. i need not mention the faculty because they are in the class of their own. 🙂

    • 7 September 2011 at 10:46 am

      I have nothing but respect for Southern. In fact it was Dr. Mohler’s comments to really prompted me to return to school.

      Good on your for obeying God’s call and finishing.

  5. Nina Gatlin
    8 November 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Good luck on your newest venture.

    • 11 November 2011 at 8:06 am

      Thanks Nina!

  6. Corey Stroeder
    19 February 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Hey i’m at Trinity Western University in British Columbia Canada. in my fourth year though i`ve struggled hear and found it difficult to engage at times because of my own struggles in effort but also in doctrinal diffrences it`s a big part of putting your full effort into learning is trust that what these teachers are teaching you is truth and will be benifical and bring me towards God. I consider myself reformed and very much focused on world mission and global unity of the Church bost most importantly i care about God`s glory and the Gospel being preached. I have been impacted by preachers such as Francis Chan, Paul Washer, Voddie Baucham, and Matt Chandler. Would you have any encouragment or advice for me, as South Western has been brought to my attention

    Thanks a lot

    Corey

    • 20 February 2012 at 10:07 pm

      Take a look at SWBTS. It’s definitely worth checking out.

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