Do you have any stories that illustrate the impact that WSC has made on your life and work? Please share one or two with our readers.
Little did I know back in 1981 when I enrolled in the fledgling Reformed seminary in Escondido, California, that my life would change in so many ways. I had always assumed that I would run the family business – our Christian bookstore at Knott’s Berry Farm. But I was already beginning to question my own theological convictions (I was an ardent dispensationalist with Arminian leanings), I was reading Reformed theologians for the first time, and listening to taped lectures from people like R. C. Sproul and Donald Grey Barnhouse. I had completed an M.A. in Christian Apologetics at the Simon Greenleaf School of Law (now the Trinity Law School in Santa Ana, CA), and was invited by Dr. John Warwick Montgomery to come back to Greenleaf as a professor–provided I complete a seminary education and consider Ph.D. work. So, based upon Montgomery’s recommendation, I enrolled at Westminster Seminary California (WSC) and began my course of study. I was not really Reformed in my thinking yet–although I was certainly heading that way. It never once crossed my mind that one day I would entertain a call to the pastoral ministry.
I know it sounds cliché, but my studies at WSC changed my life. Those poor professors back in the seminary’s early days (Drs. Godfrey, Frame, Strimple, Kline, Mawhinney, and Johnson) patiently endured my questions and put up with my struggles to learn the doctrines they held dear. I emerged from my time at WSC as a confessional Reformed Christian headed toward Ph.D. work, and what I thought would be a part-time career teaching Reformed theology and apologetics in a broadly evangelical setting (at Simon Greenleaf).
Eventually, I did complete Ph.D. studies and in the mysterious providence of God, met up with a young Biola student who obviously had an exceptional future ahead of him (Michael Horton). Together we started a church, and as part of that process I was called (more like “summoned”) to the pastoral ministry. Slowly but surely, I began to grow into my calling and found that my own gifts and abilities fit comfortably into that pastoral ministry which I had never considered. God had rather remarkable plans for Michael and for me.
The White Horse Inn radio program went on the air in 1990, and along with one of my former professors and then compatriot at Simon Greenleaf, Rod Rosenbladt, the three of us have been doing the broadcast together ever since. By 1995, it was clear that the White Horse Inn was generating a large group of folks looking for Reformed and Presbyterian churches which emphasized the things we discussed on the radio broadcast. Many folks attending evangelical mega-churches were becoming interested in Reformed doctrine, catechism, creeds and confessions, expositional preaching, and the sacraments. Because of this burgeoning need to provide a local church for these people, Michael Horton and I worked together to plant Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim (URCNA), which is now beginning its seventeenth year, and which I now serve as senior pastor.
As you have labored in ministry and experienced personal growth as a person and pastor over the past few years, what role does your education at Westminster Seminary California play in your life?
Little did I know when I enrolled at that fledgling seminary in Escondido the direction my life would subsequently take. I am now a pastor of a Reformed church and the co-host of the White Horse Inn. As a proud alum of WSC, I have been privileged to serve on the seminary’s Board, I have served several stints as visiting professor, and I have even been an employee of the seminary–when the White Horse Inn was under the seminary’s auspices.
What, in your opinion, makes WSC a unique and important institution?
Promotional literature for seminaries informs interested parties that a seminary education is designed to equip men for the ministry–to help them sharpen and enhance their natural abilities, as well as to help them recognize and utilize the gifts given them by the Holy Spirit. When it comes to WSC, this is not false advertising! WSC equipped me for pastoral ministry in ways I did not even realize at the time. I expected WSC to give me the theological background and skills to prepare me for a Ph.D. program. But I was also trained to rightly divide God’s Word and proclaim it to God’s people–a rather providential if unexpected benefit of my seminary education. This is what WSC does, and does well.