The name of Mid-America Reformed Seminary says a great deal about the Seminary. Centrally-located on the southern side of the Chicago area, Mid-America benefits from the convenience and resources of a major metropolitan area while remaining closely connected to its Midwestern rural roots.
Location and background are important aspects of the Seminary's name, but far more important is the Seminary's unashamed commitment to being distinctively Reformed. Accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Mid-America's theological perspective is firmly rooted in the historic truths of the Reformed faith. Instructors do not shy away from acquainting students with modern controversies blown by changing winds of the age. The instructors' thorough knowledge of Reformation history and thought, however, is the solid ground that anchors all discussion and nurtures development of thought toward a mature understanding of the historic Reformed faith.
Within this solidly Reformed environment, Mid-America has one primary purpose: training men for the gospel ministry of Jesus Christ. Mid-America is a seminary that does not fragment its resources or strain its faculty by offering a plethora of degree programs. Because Mid-America concentrates on doing this one thing, it does it well.
Mid-America Reformed Seminary glorifies God by training godly men to serve in the ministry of the Word and sacraments and by training others to serve in various Christian venues. The health of the church and society depends particularly upon the faithful ministry of the Word of God. Mid-America's primary purpose is training men to serve the church as knowledgeable pastors with servants' hearts.
Knowledge and compassion are equally important in the ministry of a pastor. To foster intellectual and spiritual development, the Seminary offers courses in biblical, theological, ecclesiastical, and ministerial disciplines. But knowledge is not enough to effectively reach our neighbors and the nations with the gospel. A solid grounding in essential biblical doctrines must always be accompanied by humble submission to God's Word. Both are indispensable elements of a servant ministry that glorifies God.
We place primary emphasis on training in the high calling of preaching the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mid-America self-consciously stresses the ministry of Christ through the appointed means: the faithful ministry of the Word and sacraments. Christian fellowship and interpersonal relationships are important features of a healthy congregation, however, the vitality of the church is rooted in the faithful proclamation of the gospel. This is the principal means of grace for the conversion of sinners and the edification of saints.
We are also convinced that principles must guide practice and that study must be translated into service. With this secondary emphasis in mind, the Seminary provides "hands-on" pastoral experience to each student. Throughout a student's entire seminary career, he participates in Mid-America's comprehensive Ministerial Apprenticeship Program.
These convictions give form to Mid-America's curricular focus, and they shape the training which students receive. We believe that to be faithful to the gospel a seminary must prepare its students to proclaim that gospel fearlessly and faithfully. This preparation must include all aspects of preaching, from sound exegesis to effective pulpit style. This preparation is the focus of all courses taught at the school, not just something covered in a few preaching classes.
Our focus on revitalizing the pulpit does not permit us to ignore either our confessional heritage or the spirits of the present age. We believe that ministerial students must be well versed in the history and doctrinal developments of the church throughout the centuries, including a thorough knowledge of the breadth and diversity of Reformed thinking. Continental, British, and North American Reformed thought all deserve in-depth analysis and study.
In addition, we believe that our students must be trained to perceive the pervasive worldviews that shape our world. This requires a familiarity with the philosophies of the Western world and an awareness of how those philosophies penetrate and affect the church of Christ. The many varieties of modern theology also require close scrutiny, so that students are prepared to sound the clear and ringing tones of the gospel amid the din of competing counterfeits.
This sharpness of focus and breadth of training are not contradictory. Faithful and useful seminary training requires both for a healthy balance. A seminary education without this balance risks falling into one of either two extremes. A lack of breadth bogs one down in the quagmire of legalism, while a lack of focus opens the floodgates of liberalism. We are committed to a balance of focus and breadth for the sake of the kingdom of God.
Our primary task is to train men to be ministers of the Word and sacraments. All other pastoral duties flow from this central focus on the preaching of the Word. We want to equip men for the ordained ministry as pastors and teachers who shepherd the flock of God.
Since the Seminary's beginning, we have been encouraged to make instruction available for the broader church public. Mid-America regularly provides evening classes that are profitable for church members, lay leaders, and Bible teachers. Faculty members provide seminars, workshops, and field training for a variety of educational and church groups.
The Board and Faculty believe that the biblical content and confessional commitment of the curriculum can, with certain restrictions, benefit non-ordained teachers and church leaders for the coming generations. We are, therefore, committed to maintaining the curriculum's distinctive focus and content, while welcoming those who seek training in Reformed theology for service in Christian education or church instruction.
All members of the faculty, the Association, and of the Board of Trustees (which governs the Seminary) are wholeheartedly committed to the Holy Scriptures as the infallible and inerrant Word of God, and affirm that the Reformed Confessions faithfully set forth the system of truth taught in Scripture. In conformity with the Word, they are committed to the ecumenical creeds of Christendom (the Apostles', Athanasian, and Nicene Creeds); and to the following Reformation Confessions: the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Canons of Dort, and the Westminster Confession of Faith. View a more expansive doctrinal statement.
Relationship to the Church
As an academic institution whose primary activity is preparing men for the ministry of the gospel, Mid-America Reformed Seminary implements its vision for the pulpit among a variety of church communions. The school is closely associated with confessional Reformed and Presbyterian churches, however, it is not governed by the rules of any denomination. This enables it to more effectively serve several affiliations with sound training for a solid pulpit. Mid-America's commitment to theological education is based on confessional allegiance rather than denominational affiliation. Allegiance to our confessional standards (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dort, and Westminster Confession of Faith) permits genuine theological vigor.
Students seeking ordination in a particular denomination must coordinate their study at Mid-America Reformed Seminary with that denomination's eligibility requirements for ministerial candidacy. Although historic presbyterial church polity dictates that these requirements be applied by a classis or presbytery, some churches grant oversight to a denominational committee or board. Some affiliations require additional study beyond the stipulations for the Master of Divinity degree. Mid-America makes every effort to incorporate these additional courses and practical exercises into the curriculum, so that students can maximize their study in the degree program. The Ministerial Apprenticeship Program can also be creatively shaped to meet the requirements of the degree program and the student's church.
Mid-America supports the biblical principle that candidates for office in Christ's church should be supervised, examined and approved by other office bearers, especially elders. Nevertheless, Mid-America understands that faculty should be involved in a student's spiritual development and formation.