Historical church leaders like Martin Luther and John Calvin desperately wanted to reform pastoral ministry. Luther was grieved by the condition of the church in which monks and priests taught out of ignorance. Calvin shared his sentiments saying, “Those who were regarded as the leaders of faith neither understood Thy Word, nor greatly cared for it. They drove unhappy people to and fro with strange doctrines, and deluded them with I know not what follies.”
It needed men who could understand the depth of doctrine and then effectively communicate it. The Magisterial Reformers were motivated by the conviction that pastors needed to be continuously trained in the gospel and sharpened in their preaching.
No longer do we need pastors abdicating their responsibilities as theologians or theologians isolating themselves in ivory towers of academia. We need to recover the Reformers’ model of Christian ministry with a new generation of pastor-scholars. We need to return to a form of ecclesial theology where churchmen plumb the depths of God’s word and teach theological truth to God’s people.
So in what context are church leaders like this raised up? How can God’s people learn to study the Scriptures with a scholarly approach while still delivering biblical truth in practical and edifying ways? The church should be the fertile soil in which ecclesial theologians grow.
However, the current context of Salt Lake City makes this difficult. With no on-site evangelical seminary within 300 miles, those who want to stay closely connected to the church but also receive formal theological training are forced to take online classes from institutions outside of the unique context of SLC.
Burdened to see ecclesial theologians developed in the churches of Utah, it is our vision to teach theology in the context of the local church. We create an environment in which students can study theological truth in the classroom and translate their learning directly to their ministry context, thereby closing the gap between academia and application.
Most classes are taught by pastor-theologians who live in the Salt Lake Valley, which means students are able to learn how God’s Word addresses a unique culture. As a result, local students are better equipped to minister to Utahns.
Perhaps Calvin’s words summarize our vision best, “God will not have us trained in the gospel for two or three years only, but he will have us go through with it, so that if we lived a hundred years or more in this world yet we must remain scholars, and know that we have not yet approached our perfection, but have need to go forward still.” We want to help students take their next step toward being spiritually, theologically, and missionally equipped to serve and lead the church for the glory of God.
“God will not have us trained in the gospel for two or three years only, but he will have us go through with it, so that if we lived a hundred years or more in this world yet we must remain scholars, and know that we have not yet approached our perfection, but have need to go forward still.” - John Calvin