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Last week at the end of our trip to the U.S., Shannon and I had the opportunity to visit Princeton Theological Seminary. Many readers of my blog are already well aware that I’ve been talking about applying to this school for some time, but for those who did not – here’s me going public with our future plans. After our visit, both of us felt sure that PTS is where we want to be for the next three (plus?) years. As this school may very well have a huge impact on the course of my life from here on out (if I’m accepted!), I figured a brief introductory post would be in order.

Princeton Theological Seminary, the oldest Presbyterian seminary in the U.S., is located in New Jersey, about an hour north of Philadelphia in the same town as Princeton University. However, it is and always has been a completely separate institution. Though I (and other folks) will commonly refer to the seminary simply as “Princeton,” it is probably not the Princeton you are thinking of. It’s a common misperception (or at least one recently held by me), that PTS split off from the University at some pont in the past. Not so. Their relationship is only geographical.

When I’ve mentioned Princeton, several friends have asked, sometimes with uneasy concern, “Isn’t it pretty liberal?” (Or as my good friend Kerry said, tongue-not-quite-in-cheek, “You know they don’t believe believe anything there, right?”) Well, first of all, I don’t know. I have liberal friends and aquaintances who seem to think of PTS as conservative. It is a PC(USA) seminary, which is generally a liberal denomination. So if there was some hypothetically objective liberal-conservative theological center point, I suppose Princeton would be to the “left” of it. But second of all, I don’t care. I’m really weary of the liberal-conservative dichotomy. I don’t find thinking that way helpful to faithfully following Jesus. And inasmuch as I feel more and more discouraged when I hear conservative people say the word “liberal” as if it was synonymous with “evil”, I’m inclined to welcome some “liberal” influence in my life.

What I do know is that the PTS grads I’ve personally known (three of them, from three different decades) are thoughtful, intelligent, joyful, fair-minded people who are passionate about following Jesus. (And if matters to you, all theologically conservative too!) Yeah, that’s a pretty small sample set, but Princeton seems to be a place where we would be surrounded by people who are commited to Christ and committed to academic scholarship. I’m excited about that. There’s more I can say about why PTS for us, but that will have to wait for another post.

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