A Word from the President
There is no occupation with greater consequence than the gospel ministry, and there is no greater folly than entering the ministry unprepared. Ministers cannot afford to do shoddy work, and time for ministry is too precious to waste. Too much is at stake, and time flees too quickly. Training time, however, is not wasted time.
Geneva Reformed Seminary is a place where prospective preachers can train for the ministry of the gospel—where they can discover and hone their skills in using their spiritual gifts efficiently and effectively for God’s glory and the good of the church. Realizing that only God can call a man to preach and equip him with all the necessary gifts and that only the Holy Spirit can empower a man for a spiritually successful ministry, GRS is committed to cultivating those divinely distributed gifts and to keeping before students the need for their absolute dependency on the Holy Spirit for the execution of their calling. Connecting the head and the heart—the intellect and devotion—is a major concern in every aspect of the seminary’s course. Knowledge without zeal is always dangerous; zeal without knowledge is potentially destructive.
GRS is committed as well to connecting orthodoxy and practice. Our motto is “Separated unto the Gospel.” We believe that evangelical separation must pervade every sphere of ministry and life. Affirming the biblical, historic, Reformed, and Protestant faith, we believe that ecclesiastical separation from all forms of unbiblical ecumenism and personal separation from the vices of the world are the logical and necessary consequences of true Reformed theology. Given that so much of modern Christianity—even fundamental and evangelical segments—is either aberrant or eccentric, GRS with its unapologetic and uncompromising commitment to a Reformed theology that is Christ-centered, biblical, evangelistic, and separatist is crucial. It is our prayer that those who study at GRS will have a firsthand knowledge of God and the gospel coupled with a burning zeal for the glory of Christ and the advance of His kingdom.
In service to Christ,
Michael P. V. Barrett
Statement of Philosophy
In keeping with the Reformed and Presbyterian tradition of requiring the education of ministers, the primary goal of Geneva Reformed Seminary is to prepare men to be preachers. It is our desire to produce preachers who know God and His word, and who can passionately, effectively, and accurately communicate the word of God to others. Getting from the text of Scripture to the pulpit is the target of the entire curriculum. Consequently, special weight is given to the mastery of the English Bible. Achieving that mastery includes instruction in necessary ancillary hermeneutic, apologetic, and practical courses.
Significant emphasis is placed on learning the original biblical languages and using them as essential tools in the exegetical and expositional process. A thoroughly biblical and historically Reformed systematic theology forms the unifying framework and bedrock for the whole program.
The Holy Spirit sovereignly distributes the calling and gifts necessary for the ministry. The function of the seminary is to cultivate those God-given gifts for the glory of God and for the good of the church. If that cultivation is to be successful, the seminary must address the needs of the heart, head, and hands. Devotion to God, academic excellence, and service experience must fuse for effective ministerial training. To that end, GRS is committed to providing an education that is spiritual, academic, and practical.
Recognizing and seeking to avoid the lamentable abuses and unfortunate caricatures of Reformed and covenant theology, the seminary stands without apology for the historic Reformed faith and pursues a strongly fervent evangelistic mission. GRS is pledged to a biblical, fundamental, separatist, evangelistic, and Reformed ministry. We believe that this combination makes Geneva Reformed Seminary unique.
Statement of Purpose
In an address to Princeton Theological Seminary, Benjamin B. Warfield made this statement: “It is customary to say that the theological seminaries are training-schools for the ministry. Properly understood, that is the right thing to say. But it is not very difficult, and it is very common, seriously to exaggerate the function of the seminary under this definition. It is not the function of the seminary to give young men their entire training for the ministry. That is the concern of the presbytery; and no other organization can supersede the presbytery in this business. The seminary is only an instrument which the presbytery uses in training young men for the ministry. An instrument, not the instrument.” (The Presbyterian, November 22, 1917, 8–9).
We concur with Warfield that the purpose of the seminary is to serve the presbytery in fulfilling its responsibility to train those under its care. To that end, the seminary’s purpose equates to that of the presbytery’s and dictates its emphasis. The purpose of the Free Presbyterian Church of North America, and, therefore, the purpose of its educational arm, Geneva Reformed Seminary, is as follows:
- To glorify God in the Trinity of His sacred persons, according to the Scriptures;
- To declare the whole counsel of God and remain faithful to His inspired and infallible Word, the Bible, with particular emphasis on the following truths: the total depravity of man as fallen in Adam; the three-fold function of the law as a mirror to expose and condemn sin, thus shutting men up to Christ as their only hope of gaining acceptance with God, as a curb to deter and restrain the unconverted, and as a rule of life for the regenerate; the limitations of the law, in that it can neither effect justification in an unsaved person nor sanctification in a saved person; the sole mediation and saving merits of the Lord Jesus Christ; and His atoning death, bodily resurrection and ascension into heaven to be the advocate and great high priest of His people;
- To labor for the salvation of the lost by the preaching of the gospel of Christ and calling them to repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ;
- To seek the edification of Christians by teaching them the Scriptures and by pointing them continually to the all-sufficient Christ, the author and finisher of their faith;
- To oppose all expressions of human self-righteousness and to give prominence to the glorious truth of justification by faith in the merits of Christ’s righteousness, which God freely imputes to His people through faith alone;
- To promote and participate in worldwide evangelism through biblically sound and separated mission activity;
- To promote scriptural and godly worship, with special emphasis on prayer, sound biblical preaching, the right administration of the sacraments, and a proper keeping of the Sabbath;
- To contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), opposing the enemies of the gospel, especially the antichristian system of Roman Catholicism and the unscriptural Ecumenical and Charismatic movements, thus rejecting the compromising policy of neo-evangelicalism in favor of biblical separation;
- To stimulate fellowship with Bible-believing men and churches who are separated unto the gospel of God;
- To surrender the entire work of the ministry to God for the work of the gospel, looking to Him to revive His work in this age of apostasy and to maintain the witness of this church until the glorious personal return of the Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ.
History of the Free Presbyterian Church of North America
Since Geneva Reformed Seminary is an agency of the Free Presbyterian Church of North America, a historical survey of the denomination is in order. From its inception, the Free Presbyterian Church has been Protestant in its convictions, Presbyterian in its government, Reformed in its theology, separ-atist (that is, anti-ecumenical) in its stand, and fervently evangelistic in its outreach.
The Free Presbyterian Church of North America is the fruit of the vision and ministry of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster (Northern Ireland). That church was formed in 1951 as a testimony to the historic faith of Presbyterians, a faith that emphasized the inspiration and authority of Scripture against the liberal, rationalist infidelity that had made serious inroads into Presbyterianism in Ireland and most other places.
Against all such unscriptural ecumenism, the Free Presbyterian Church has taken a determined stand, maintaining the distinctive solas of the Reformation: sola Scriptura, the Bible as our sole authority in all matters of faith and practice; sola gratia, sola fide, solo Christo, justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone; and soli Deo gloria, all to the glory of God alone.
While maintaining strict separation from false ecumenism and all who support it—and therefore opposing the inclusivist policies of those who under the guise of evangelism enter into fellowship or cooperation with Roman Catholics, liberals, and other Bible deniers—the Free Presbyterian Church has sought to stand together with all who stand for the historic Protestant faith. It has recognized that Bible-believing men whose theological positions would prevent them from becoming Free Presbyterian ministers yet exercise a ministry that is faithful to the cardinal essentials of the gospel. To the extent that cooperation and fellowship do not weaken its adherence to its own doctrinal standards or testimony, the Free Presbyterian Church has sought to strengthen the hands of those who stand for Christ and His gospel.
In its evangelism, the Free Presbyterian Church has always taken its stand for the free offer of the gospel and has never seen the doctrines of election and particular redemption as taught in Scripture and as set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith as any barrier to this position. It has sought to keep its Calvinistic theology Christ-centered.
Throughout its history, the Free Presbyterian Church has given itself to prayer and has made its progress on its knees. The presbytery has held frequent days of prayer, has called on all the churches under its care to observe days of prayer and fasting, has inquired into the prayer life of each congregation, and has sought to encourage a fervent commitment to the place of prayer among all its people. While repudiating man-made and man-centered revivalism, the Free Presbyterian Church has sought for and received a measure of genuine revival blessing. It recognizes that true revival is a sovereign act of God, whose Spirit moves when, where, and as He wills, but it also believes that God has promised to visit His people and to attend to their cry. Thus, it earnestly gives itself to prayer for a spiritual awakening both in its congregations and much farther afield.
The Free Presbyterian Church has always had some distinctive characteristics that make its fellowship unusual. One such issue was baptism, and another was eschatology; on both it adopted an innovative policy. On baptism, the Free Presbyterian Church admitted that centuries of debate and discussion since the Reformation had not brought us any nearer a resolution of the questions that divided baptists from paedobaptists. Therefore, to provide for a continuing discussion of their differences within the fellowship of the gospel, the Free Presbyterian Church adopted a position similar to that taken by the Calvinistic Methodists in 1874 whereby it embraced both paedobaptists and believers’-baptists in its communion. In other words, the Free Presbyterian Church did not see paedobaptism, as many Presbyterians do, as essential to the system of covenant theology set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith. Repudiating the theory of baptismal regeneration, it allowed brethren to worship and serve together in mutual respect even though they differed on the mode of baptism and on the relation of believers’ children to baptism.
The same attitude has prevailed on the controversial issue of eschatology, the doctrine of last things. In the Free Presbyterian Church belief in the orthodox statements of what may be termed personal or individual eschatology (death, the state of the soul after death, a bodily resurrection, heaven, and hell) is unwavering and united. But on the issues as to whether the second coming of Christ will be pre-, post-, or a-millennial and whether, if it is premillennial, it will be pre-, mid-, or post-tribulational, there is liberty of opinion. This liberty does not extend to peculiar views of prophecy that weaken or contradict the exposition of the plan of salvation set forth in our confession and catechisms.
The Free Presbyterian Church has from its inception maintained the use of the Authorized Version of the Bible for all its public worship. It recognized the unique place of the autographs of Scripture and refused to countenance the error of the Church of Rome in elevating a translation to the authority of the original manuscripts. It also recognized that though other translations might faithfully reflect the original text, there were many that were untrustworthy. Avoiding the confusion that it saw in other churches where people frequently found it difficult to follow a preacher using another translation, it uniformly employed the Authorized Version as the standard version for its worship and service.
The Free Presbyterian Church has always been a singing church. Being Presbyterian, it has always afforded the Psalter a special place in its worship. However, it has never restricted its praise and worship to the use of psalms but has used the great hymns of the church. In its ministry of praise it has employed suitable instrumental music.
After its formation in 1951 the Free Presbyterian Church grew steadily. Today it comprises about one hundred congregations in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales. In 1976 it commenced its witness in North America, first in Toronto, Canada, then in Greenville, South Carolina, and in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. In each of these places, a congregation of believers who wished to be associated with the Free Presbyterian Church’s stand for Christ petitioned the presbytery to be taken under its care. At that time, it formed the ministers and elders of the North American churches into a standing commission, charged with the oversight and development of the work in Canada and the United States but answerable to the presbytery. The presbytery of Ulster looked on this arrangement as temporary and frequently exhorted the North American brethren to move toward the formation of an autonomous presbytery for the better government of the churches under its care.
In May 2000 the North American Commission made the decision to begin steps toward the formation of the Free Presbyterian Church of North America, and in May 2004 it formally presented a unanimous petition to the presbytery for the formation of its North American churches into a new presbytery. In pursuance of these decisions, the officers of the Presbytery of Ulster met the North American Commission in Toronto in May 2005, at which time the Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church of North America was inaugurated. While maintaining a close fraternal relationship, the two churches regard themselves as self-governing parts of the single Free Presbyterian family, separated by distance but united in faith, stand, and vision.
History of the Seminary
The Presbytery of Ulster operates the Whitefield College of the Bible and Theological Hall for the training of missionaries and ministers. With the establishing of the Free Presbyterian Church in Canada and the United States, there was a need to train prospective ministers for the work of pioneering Free Presbyterian congregations in North America. In order to address that need, the presbytery established a branch of its theological seminary in Greenville in 1982 for the training of young men from the United States who felt called to the Free Presbyterian ministry. Dr. Alan Cairns, the first minister of the Greenville church, had for years served as the professor of Systematic Theology in Northern Ireland, and he assumed the lion’s share of the instruction in the North American extension of the Theological Hall. Various professors from Ulster taught on an adjunct basis. After some years, Dr. Mark Allison assumed the position of academic dean and taught various classes along with select and qualified ministers from the North American churches who taught on a adjunct basis. During this entire period, training was limited to men preparing to minister in the Free Presbyterian Church.
In 2000 the Presbytery Com-mission appointed Dr. Michael Barrett as the vice president for academic affairs and then as president of the institution in 2001. At the same time, the presbytery took the decision to matriculate students from outside the denomination. Once the doors were open to men outside the denomination, it was necessary to eliminate some of the confusion resulting from the name of the institution carried over from Northern Ireland, the Whitefield College of the Bible. In 2002 the presbytery authorized the change of name to Geneva Reformed Seminary (GRS). GRS continues to exist principally for the training of men called by God to the ministry of the Free Presbyterian Church, but those not called to this specific ministry are admitted with the understanding that GRS is a denominational institution that will operate without compromise within its denominational distinctives.
Since GRS now desires to minister to those outside the denomination, the administration felt it important to be accountable to an outside educational agency to establish credibility to those who are not a part of the Free Presbyterian Church. In 2003 the Presbytery authorized GRS to apply for membership in the Association of Reformed Theological Seminaries (ARTS). The policies of ARTS provide the kind of academic accountability desired without infringing on the seminary’s primary accountability to presbytery in regard to standards of both faith and practice. In November of 2004 GRS was granted provisional accreditation in ARTS and earned full membership in the organization in November 2005. GRS also enjoys fellowship with institutions in the American Association of Christian Colleges and Seminaries (AACCS), a separatist organization.
Doctrinal Statement of the Free Presbyterian Church
Our subordinate standards
The statement of faith of the Free Presbyterian Church of North America and Geneva Reformed Seminary is contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism, along with the Declaratory and Explanatory Statements adopted by the North American Presbytery. The Westminster Standards set forth a detailed statement and exposition of the Reformed theology, which we believe the Bible teaches. The Declaratory and Explanatory Statements are meant as summary points of particular emphasis. For instance, they modify the Confession in that (1) they make room in the fellowship of the Free Presbyterian Church for those who hold differing interpretations regarding the mode and subjects of baptism, and (2) they allow divergent views of eschatology. Although the FPC is tolerant regarding the administration of baptism, it dogmatically repudiates the notion of baptismal regeneration. This openness regarding baptism does not equate to indifference regarding its importance as a Christ-instituted sacrament of the church. The differing views of eschatology are restricted to those historically associated with and compatible with Reformed and covenant theology and presuppositions rather than those associated with dispensational theology and presuppositions.
Fees are subject to change.
- Tuition fees per credit hour
for students not under care ………………………….$150
for students under care ………………………………$125
- Audit fees per hour ……………………………………$75
- Graduation and diploma fee……………………..……$50
Students should plan on full payment of all fees at the beginning of each term or in equal installments by the end of the term. Requests for alternative payment arrangements must be approved by the treasurer of the seminary. The seminary does not desire that any student be forced to interrupt his study for financial reasons and will do what is possible in terms of payment schedules. From time to time, funds are available for student assistance. Inquiries for financial assistance should be made directly to the president of the seminary.
Tuition fees will be refunded to those who withdraw from a course as follows:
1st week……………………………….full refund
2nd week………………………………90% of tuition
3rd week……………………………….75% of tuition
4th week………………………….……50% of tuition
5th week………………………….……25% of tuition
After 5th week…………………………no refund
Geneva Reformed Seminary currently holds full membership in the Association of Reformed Theological Seminaries (ARTS). ARTS is a private association of Reformed schools of theology whose mission “is to bring glory to God, to contribute to the building-up of His Body and the progress of His Kingdom, and to preserve and advance the reformed tradition by providing a context where member institutions can hold one another accountable for fulfilling their individual stated purposes” (Handbook for Accreditation). For more information about ARTS, visit their web site: www.artseminaries.org.
The grading system
|Letter Grade||Percentile||Quality Points||Significance
Incomplete work: A temporary grade of “Incomplete” will be given at the professor’s discretion when the student’s situation warrants it. An “I” may not be given if the student simply fails to complete assignments due to negligence. The student must complete the work by the midway point of the next academic term or the “I” will be changed to “F.”
Withdrawal: Withdrawal from a course can only be by permission of the seminary president. Withdrawals before the midway point in the term incur no academic penalty and are subject to a prorated refund. Withdrawals after the midway point in the term will not be refundable.
Pass: This grade is assigned to satisfactory work in non-credit deficiency or remedial courses.
Unacceptable: This grade is assigned to unsatisfactory work in non-credit deficiency or remedial courses.
Audit: This grade is assigned for non-credit enrollment in a credit class. Attendance in class is the only requirement. Note that once audited, a class cannot be taken for credit.
Candidates for both the B.D. and M.Div. must have a 2.00 GPA for
graduation. Failure to maintain that overall GPA at any point during the program will place the student under academic probation for the following term. If the GPA is not raised to the minimum after the next term, the student’s candidacy will be terminated.
Grade reports and transcripts
Students will receive a printed report of grades at the end of each academic term. Grade reports will be withheld from students whose accounts are not in order. Arrangements can be made with the treasurer to establish an orderly payment schedule and thus insure the release of grade reports. Transcripts will be released upon request by the student to another institution at no charge, provided the student’s account with the seminary is settled. Diplomas will be issued when all academic requirements have been satisfied and when the student’s account with the seminary is settled.
To receive either the Master of Divinity degree or the Bachelor of Divinity degree the student must complete 96 credits of work while maintaining a 2.00 grade-point average based on a four-point scale. The 96 credits translate into 128 clock hours of class time.
Upon completing the Master of Divinity or Bachelor of Divinity, candidates for ministry in the Free Presbyterian Church will be required to complete a year’s internship in a local congregation. The presbytery retains the right to assign the candidate to the particular place of service.
General Course Requirements
The typical school year operates on a trimester schedule, consisting of three ten-week terms with a three-week modular course after the fall term. Not every course will be offered every year, but a schedule of classes will be offered each term to accommodate as many students in each class as possible. However, classes will be offered on such a cycle as to insure each student a full load every term and to insure every student the means of fulfilling degree requirements within three years.
The academic program consists of studies in four major departments. Each department has core, required classes as well as electives. Elementary Greek is offered on a non-credit basis for students deficient in basic Greek. Advanced Greek and Hebrew exegesis courses are available for qualified students. Remedial English is available on a non-credit basis and may be required for students who are deficient in writing skills.
Depending on student needs and special course offerings, substitutions are possible, but a typical course would follow this pattern:
Old Testament, 21 credits
Core Courses (12 credits)
Old Testament Introduction (3)
Elementary Hebrew (6)
Hebrew Exegesis (3)
Electives (9 credits)
Old Testament English Bible
(6 credit minimum)
Biblical Aramaic (2)
Advanced Hebrew Exegesis (3)
New Testament, 18 credits
Core Courses (9 credits)
New Testament Introduction (3)
Greek Exegesis (6)
Electives (9 credits)
New Testament English Bible
(6 credit minimum)
Advanced Greek (3)
Theology, 24 credits
Core Courses (22 credits)
Systematic Theology (12)
Biblical Theology (3)
Westminster Standards (2)
Electives (2 credits)
Contemporary Theology (2)
Theological Systems (2)
Church History, 16 credits
Core Courses (14 credits)
Church History (12)
Presbyterian History (2)
Electives (2 credits)
History of Revivals (2)
History of Fundamentalism (2)
Practical Theology, 17 credits
Core Courses (15 credits)
Pastoral Theology (3)
Theory/Methods of Counseling (3)
Electives (2 credits)
Practical Ecclesiology (2)
Reformed Worship (2)
Each trimester includes 10 weeks of classes followed by a week of exams. A full-time load for a trimester would consist of 9–12 credit hours. A credit hour consists of 80 minutes of class time per week for the 10-week session. Modular courses involve an equal amount of class time even though they do not extend for the 10-week period. In order to meet course objectives, students should expect to spend on average a minimum of two hours outside the classroom for every hour spent in the classroom.
GRS has a continually expanding library, consisting currently of
over 6,500 volumes. In addition, a local university with approximately 300,000 volumes has extended GRS students full library privileges. GRS also has computer stations with Internet access available for student use.
Chapel meets at 8:00 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Attendance is required, and tardiness is to be avoided. Unexcused absences and habitual tardiness are subject to reprimand. This is a vital part of the day, during which faculty and students meet for a time of preaching and prayer. It is, in fact, primarily a prayer meeting. Since the focus of the prayer time is for the Lord’s presence and power to be displayed in the day’s activities, it is crucial for all to be present.
Unless hindered by illness or personal crisis, students are expected to attend all class sessions. Students are expected to call the seminary office to give notice of necessary absences.
During an academic term, a student is allowed one credit hour (80 minutes) of unexcused absence per credit. The student must attend class a minimum of 80% of the time to receive credit for the course.
Three tardies in a class will constitute one absence. Tardiness exceeding fifteen minutes will constitute an absence.
General conduct requirements
Since Geneva Reformed Seminary is under the direction of the Free Presbyterian Church of North America, and since students of GRS are prospective ministers and servants of the gospel, retention in the institution for those under care of presbytery requires compliance with both the doctrinal creed and moral stand of the Free Presbyterian Church of North America. Although students who are not under the care of presbytery are not required to affirm every distinctive of the Free Presbyterian creed, they must abide by the same standards of moral conduct, which are set forth in the Scripture. If questions arise concerning what is acceptable conduct, the administration reserves the right to mandate the ethic required for students.
A more detailed statement of the seminary’s expectations for students is in the booklet Student Guidelines. Every student will receive a copy of these guidelines.
If for whatever reason a student is dismissed by the institution or withdraws and subsequently desires to reenter the seminary, he must resubmit his application to GRS. Students seeking ministry in the Free Presbyterian Church must resubmit applications to the presbytery as well as to the seminary.