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Princeton: An Education


It was the first day of Summer Intensive Greek (a ten week course where they expected us to have all the basics of Koine Greek down pat, good one Princeton Theological Seminary) and I remember thinking “I don’t belong here.” Everyone looked so proper, like a group of valedictorians sitting shoulder to shoulder with their thinking caps always on. Princeton was an intimidating place. After all this is where Alexander, Hodge, Metzer and Warfield changed the landscape of theological studies forever. Some of the greatest professors to ever educate in theological studies taught here, in this classroom. I don’t belong. But then in walked my first professor at PTS, Dr. Parsenios. He walked into the room panting and sweaty. My fears subsided and I realized that my professors are human, just like me. Plus I was also panting and sweating from the dang Jersey humidity. We don’t have the proper vocabulary for describing humidity in Seattle. Dr. Parsenios’ passion for education and the Greek language over the course of the Summer earned him a place with the great professors of PTS. He was my first professor and one of my favorites. I owe him great gratitude for his nurturing spirit and humble demeanor during those ten weeks. And wouldn’t you know, I learned Greek and have come to love the language. There is something exhilarating about reading the New Testament in it’s main original language; God feels a bit closer.

Over the next three years I engaged in a heated process of discerning my call to ministry. I had come with the intent of my M.Div. being a stepping stone towards Doctoral work in Systematic Theology. God had other plans. Instead I fell in love with preaching and the local church. I am now a candidate for ordination in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church finishing my ordination requirements to preach and teach in the local church for the rest of the foreseeable future. The courses at PTS were a great help to discerning this call. Perhaps I owe the liberal (compared to my conservative stance 😉 though this term would be unfit for many of my courses) education a great deal of thanks for helping me navigate my own views. The liberal-conservative framework played out in many ways for me at Princeton, chief among them helping me to discern a call as a pastor. But perhaps the greatest educational gift PTS gave me was an ability and an understanding to see both sides of the aisle and to appreciate their intent. If I had gone to Westminster Theological Seminary (as was an option) I would not have left with such a knowledge of  liberal doctrine as I now have and I most certainly would not have become as loving of my brothers and sisters on the other side of the aisle from me. Sitting in classes with people who view Scripture and God vastly different than me enabled me to look beyond the stereotypes and disdain for their views and to embrace them as people who are still trying to understand this Christianity thing (even if I think they are at times misguided). I wouldn’t call it a tolerance, but instead a brotherly love for the people themselves. Without the help of close friends who were vastly different from me, I would still be walking in darkness as one who thinks every liberal leaning Christian is an idiot. They are far from idiots, indeed I was the idiot with my ivory chair conservative theological standards who thought anyone different from me was less than human. At PTS the Lord has thankfully corrected my view, He has called me to know the liberals whom I feared and gave me a heart to love them as fellow sojourners. This is in my opinion the greatest thing I learned at Princeton besides discerning my vocational trajectory into the pastorate.

It is for this Lord that I praise your name. In hindsight I would not have chosen this path, but your ways are greater than my understanding. Thanks for calling me to Princeton and I praise you for your wonderful guidance. Lead on Lord.

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