To know Grace Bible Theological Seminary (GBTS) you must understand the values that inform and shape our ministry. The following characteristics are not unique to GBTS as there are, thankfully, several seminaries that share these emphases or have even been exemplars to follow.
We do not desire to be unique for the sake of being unique, though I do think there are qualities that make us distinct. We simply want to be faithful in the calling that the Lord has given us. We seek to hold to the following values as we carry out the work the Lord has put in our hands.
Above all we seek to be biblical by submitting ourselves to the authority of God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible and sufficient Word. We confess, “The Holy Scriptures are the only sufficient, certain, and infallible standard of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.” Therefore our entire philosophy of education must be in submission to the Scriptures.
Our curriculum, pedagogy, governance, admissions policies, and everything else necessary to promote seminary education must be informed by Scripture. “A theological seminary cannot exempt itself from the protection and guidance of the regulative principle.” Additionally, the Bible must serve as our epistemological foundation. We are firmly with John Knox in saying, “The Scriptures of God are my only foundation and substance in all matters of weight and importance.”
We are a confessional seminary which means, while we first and foremost want to be biblical, our specific identity is in accordance with what we believe Scripture to teach. We are a Reformed Baptist seminary because we subscribe to the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith published in 1689. We subscribe to this confession because we believe it to be the most accurate representation of biblical doctrine.
Being a confessional seminary has many benefits. First, we are able to teach a unified theology. The faculty and lecturers complement one another as they provide instruction from the same theological foundations and commitments. Another benefit of being a confessional institution is that we are able to benefit from the fellowship and cooperation of others within the broader Reformed and Calvinistic tradition.
GBTS was founded as a local church ministry of Grace Bible Church of Conway as an informal pastoral mentoring class. Although the Lord has developed and matured the ministry significantly, we have not forgotten our roots. We are committed to the Church-Based seminary model and our continual development will be thoroughly grounded in the local church.
We are well aware of the weaknesses inherent in this model, but the strength is it allows us to provide seminary education with a razor-sharp focus on local church ministry. In addition to doing seminary in a church context, all current faculty and lecturers are either actively involved in pastoral ministry or have had extensive experience in it.
This results in seminary instruction from the front lines of pastoral ministry. Their teaching serves as an extension of their calling as a pastor. Our aim is to prepare men with eyes and hearts toward pastoral ministry, church-planting and missions. Our hope is that we are marked by an evident love for the local church.
William Aimes defined theology as the doctrine or teaching of living to God and we couldn’t agree more. Seminary Education must be more than just the transmission of knowledge. Our aim is to instruct the head, heart, and hands of our students.
Consider the qualifications for pastors in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-8. All but one, the ability to teach, are heart or character qualities. In addition to growing in knowledge and teaching skill, we must grow in love for Christ! (Matthew 11:25-27). We want to teach an experiential theology. One that is not only marked by academic rigor but also personal piety. We should not have doctrine without devotion. George Whitefield strikes the heart of the matter in saying “Study without prayer is atheism. Prayer without study is presumption.” We must be a seminary that believes “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10, NKJV)
We ask that you pray for us in our calling. “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” (Psalm 90:17, ESV)
For more information about GBTS, go to our About Us page.
 Stan Reeves, Confessing the Faith: The 1689 Baptist Confession for the 21st Century (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2012), 11.
 Tom J. Nettles, “A Vision of Theological Education,” The Founders Journal: Recovering Our Heritage of Theological Education, Spring, no. 32 (1998): 18.
 I found this quote in my son’s catechism, but I have not been able to find the original quote.
 William Ames, The Marrow of Theology, trans. And ed. John D. Eusden (1968; repr., Grand Rapids: Baker,1997), 77.
Danny Thursby is the Director of Administration for Grace Bible Theological Seminary. He was ordained as a pastor at Grace Bible Church of Conway in 2017 and has served as the Administrative Director of GBTS since 2016. He is a systematic theology student at Reformed Baptist Seminary and a Graduate of Central Baptist College.
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