Reason #1. Theological Orthodoxy
The proper emphasis in theological education is orthodoxy (meaning “correct teaching”). Heidelberg Theological Seminary (HTS) is committed to the Bible as the infallible and inerrant word of God, and to the Three Forms of Unity (the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession of Faith, and the Canons of Dordt) as being accurate summaries of the true teachings of the Bible. These creeds do not declare teachings that are peripheral to biblical Christianity, but are lists and summaries of the teachings that are central to real Christianity. The Westminster Standards are held as parallel Reformed creeds.
Heidelberg Theological Seminary is so named to reinforce the fact that historic Reformed and Presbyterian creeds determine the curriculum and the content of classroom teaching.
One of the most outstanding benefits of being a student at Heidelberg Theological Seminary is observing the love and passion demonstrated by the professors for the truth of God’s Word. It has a profound impact on a student when he recognizes that the one overarching emphasis demonstrated by his professors is the glory of God in all things!
It has been a great joy for me over the past three years to witness the professors’ belief in and love for the truth of Jesus Christ as they zealously stand against the heresies of our day while teaching the curriculum at HTS. As one professor never tires of saying, “It’s all about Jesus Christ!”
I also praise God for the commitment of the professors at HTS to study and teach theology exegetically. This will surely have a profound impact on the Church of Jesus Christ as the men who are trained at HTS faithfully preach and teach the text of Scripture to the congregations in which God calls them to serve.
One of the greatest needs for the people of God today are faithful pastors who will never tire of teaching and preaching to their congregation all things Christ has commanded us in His Word (Matthew 28:20). As Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep” (John 21:17). And the only food given to the pastor to feed the beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ is the Word of God! It’s this Word that is faithfully and zealously taught to the men who are trained at Heidelberg Theological Seminary.
– Scott Henry
Reason #2. Theological Responsibility
Teaching of the Bible often comes in conflict with philosophical and religious ideas of an unbelieving world. At these points, the Bible calls Christians to be the “salt of the earth,” by holding to biblical teaching, while rejecting the ungodly ideas of the world as “the leaven of unrighteousness.”
Christians have often taken a number of unpopular stands against the ideas and practices of the world. These stands include the creation of the heavens and earth in six days, male leadership in family and church, abortion as infanticide, and sanctity of marriage. In these and a vast majority of similar issues, the Christian Church has been correct in its understanding and teaching of Scripture.
Heidelberg Theological Seminary is committed to biblical standards of application of God’s laws in human conduct, and teaches them as a better way of life compared to the ungodly ways of the unbelieving world. This holds true for biblical counsel as the answer to human problems.
Reason #3. Ecclesiastical Responsibility
Heidelberg Theological Seminary is firmly bound to the idea that theological education is the business of the Church (2 Tim. 2:2), local as well as broader, but seeks to be subservient to the church. Therefore, our Board bound the seminary to labor under the direct supervision of the ruling council of the elders of Zion Reformed Church of Menno, South Dakota, a congregation of the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS). Founded in 1725, the RCUS is a long time conservative Reformed denomination in North America.
Connection with a local board of elders provides:
- Direct local oversight of our finances, activities and teaching; and
- An opportunity for students to serve in an actual church situation.
Reason #4. Concept of Pastoral Training
A competent seminary provides three critical parts in its educational curriculum:
- Graduate school quality academic standards,
- Vocational technical training in ministry, and
- Advanced catechization to help students grow into mature Christian men able to lead in the Church of Jesus Christ in accordance with the requirements of 1 Timothy 3.
Professors at Heidelberg Theological Seminary are men who excelled at academically sound seminaries during their training, and demonstrated sound abilities as scholars. Dr. Warren Embree and Dr. Robert Grossmann, the founding professors, are both graduates of thoroughly Reformed and academically sound theological seminaries. They subsequently pursued graduate degrees after graduating from seminary.
Heidelberg Theological Seminary professors are required to experience lengthy and successful pastoral assignments including a great zeal for the preaching ministry. By example, the first two professors of the seminary enjoy a combined total of 55 years of pastoral experience and extensive teaching experience in college and seminary settings.
As a part in catechizing students into mature Christian men, HTS professors must exemplify such behavior and teach the principles of Christian manhood. Teaching at Heidelberg Theological Seminary emphasizes pastoral, manly and leadership by using biblical examples of such living standards. Traits of courage and self-sacrifice are taught to students by biblical example and numerous instances observed in the experience of HTS professors.
Heidelberg Theological Seminary distinguishes herself from many other divinity schools because it is committed to being faithful to the Scriptures and to training ministers to apprehend God’s Word and to proclaim it boldly.
Many seminaries today set out to produce theologians and not necessarily pastors. At HTS, the professors train men to be theologically sound but also to be pastoral and solid communicators of the gospel. The seminary employs working pastors as its instructors of homiletics, and the students benefit from these pastors’ experiences.
The seminary community is an intimate one in which the professors and board members take an active role in nurturing the students and showing interest in their lives. I am grateful to God for the training I have received at Heidelberg.
– Chuck Muether
Reason #5. Training to Preach
Apostle Paul declares Christ sent him “not to baptize, but to preach the gospel … lest the cross of Christ should become vain” (1 Cor. 1:17). Central emphasis in a competent theological education must be how to preach this doctrine. Professors must be excellent preachers and know how to inculcate an organized and sound method of exegeting biblical text and sermon preparation. Every theology course, New Testament course, and Old Testament course is taught with a view of enabling students to preach the riches of biblical text before him.
At Heidelberg Theological Seminary, hermeneutics and homiletics courses present step-by-step methods of exegesis and sermon preparation. Graduates are encouraged to develop and improve upon methods they have been taught while being closely mentored in these critical areas of the preaching ministry.
Reason #6. Location and Cost
The items of location and cost are closely related. Institutional costs at Heidelberg Seminary are carefully managed as faithful stewards of the Lord’s funding.
The seminary uses the facilities of Trinity Reformed Church located in Sioux Falls, SD, a growing city of nearly 200,000 people. There is ample opportunity for part time work. The congregation provides excellent support and great facilities.
Tuition costs are less than average for seminaries in the U.S.
Reason #7. Practical Class Schedule
Classes at Heidelberg Theological Seminary are conducted from 8 to 11 a.m. Tuesday through Fridays and lead to a M.Div. degree in four years. This schedule allows students to consider a part-time job for funding support (if required) and include time for family and seminary work. Heidelberg Seminary provides the training excellence of larger institutions in a reasonable package to meet needs of students married or unmarried and students with families.