No Small Miracle

June 13, 2016

by David Garner

Below Dr. Garner reflects on how he came to Westminster and how it has impacted his life. As you read, please consider giving to Westminster before June 30th. Our Board of Trustees has generously extended a matching gift challenge of $235,000 to meet our fiscal year end goal of $470,000. Visit to support us and read John Piper’s four reasons why he is thankful for Westminster.


The fact that I ended up attending and teaching at Westminster Theological Seminary is no small miracle. When I first began considering a seminary degree, in 1986, I made a list of options—Westminster was at the end of the alphabetical list—and visited a local pastor to get his feedback. I don’t remember everything that he said in that conversation, but I scribbled down a few notes, along with a verbatim quote: “Don’t go to Westminster, they teach covenant theology there.”

I took his feedback seriously—I did not go to Westminster for my M.Div. degree. But as I began to delve more deeply into Scripture and study more theologians, I kept finding myself moving toward Reformed theology. It was here that I discovered some of the richest, most significant treatments of Scripture—and not just in the theology of the Reformation age, but in modern reformed theology, such as that advanced by Westminster faculty.

When I began applying to Ph.D. programs in the mid-1990s, Westminster was my first choice, primarily because of its strong focus on systematic theology. Providentially, I was accepted and began my studies at Westminster under the tutelage of Dr. Richard Gaffin. I found that my study at Westminster deepened my understanding of the connectedness of Scripture—particularly the Old and New Testaments—and my view of what Scripture is, and what it means to have a high view of the Bible’s authority. This was cathartic for me and, on a personal level, developed my relationship with God in a way that was truly life changing, growing my appreciation for his majestic and gracious work of salvation.

This firm grounding in Scripture propelled me into international missions after completing my Ph.D. program. Our family lived abroad for many years before returning to the U.S. in 2007. It was at this time that I began working at Westminster as an adjunct professor and administrator. I have been here ever since, though my roles have changed throughout the years—especially when I joined the voting faculty in 2009.

One of the aspects of Westminster that I most appreciate is our diversity. As we’re seeking to bring the gospel to the world, the world is coming to us, and we have the privilege of training people who can effectively minister in their home countries. Another aspect of Westminster that I greatly enjoy is the sweet blend of systematic and biblical theology and apologetics, and how the institution integrates them in a rich, organic way throughout all of its programs.

I have had the unique and enriching experience of being not only a professor and administrator at Westminster but also, in a way, a product of Westminster. Both my graduate and professional experience at Westminster have been deeply enriching and life changing, especially in terms of my own study of Scripture. I would say that my time at Westminster has been the single greatest influence on my life, hands down.

David Garner

Dr. Garner (PhD, Westminster) is associate professor of systematic theology and vice president for advancement at WTS.

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