The Value of a Master of Theology (ThM) Degree for Pastors

November 07, 2014

by Scott Oliphint

When I came to Westminster as a student, I had already developed a significant interest in Van Til’s apologetic. That interest began as I was involved in a ministry of evangelism. What attracted me to Van Til’s approach to defending Christianity was that it had the singular advantage of being thoroughly grounded in Scripture and the Reformed theology that comes from Scripture.

After earning my initial Masters degree from Westminster, I wanted to dig more deeply into apologetics, to think in a more focused way about a biblical and Reformed defense of Christianity. There was no Ph.D. in apologetics available to me, so I entered and completed the Th.M. in apologetics.

 There is no question that the work I was able to do in my Th.M. became invaluable for my teaching and pastoral ministry in the church.

I did not know when I came to Westminster what my future would be. As it turned out, in the providence of God, I was ordained to the gospel ministry a year after leaving Westminster. My initial duties in the local church included, primarily, teaching bible studies and various courses in the community, and to some extent in the church as well. Eventually, as our pastor took another call, my duties also included the pastoral and preaching ministries of the church in which I was involved. In all of those duties, two things were apparent to me. (1) The Th.M. degree provided enriched help, beyond my first degree, for those, both inside and outside the church, who were curious about what Christians believed and why. (2) Because I had gone through the rigors of my Th.M. courses, and of writing a thesis, I was better equipped to study, and dig deeply, into the Scriptures, and into matters that were of concern to those to whom I ministered.

The M.Div. degree at Westminster is the best preparation available for anyone wanting to be involved in full-time ministry. The Th.M., however, provides the opportunity for a person to focus more deeply on those aspects of ministry that are of particular interest. There is no question that the work I was able to do in my Th.M. became invaluable for my teaching and pastoral ministry in the church. The M.Div. at Westminster is a full meal, and no one leaves that program theologically or biblically starved. The Th.M. is the perfect dessert, complementing the M.Div. in a way that will provide richness, depth and focus in a way the full meal is not able to do.

 

Read more about our available ThM modular courses and our new modular ThM program restructured for pastors and those unable to relocate full-time to Philadelphia.

Scott Oliphint

Dr. Oliphint (PhD, Westminster) is professor of apologetics and systematic theology at WTS.

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