One of the great joys and disappointments of directing the Th.M. program at Western Seminary is watching our students graduate. It’s always a joy to see them make it over the finish line and reflect on what God has done in their lives during the course of their program. But it’s also a disappointment because I know that it’s time for them to move on, and I won’t be able to connect with them as often. Though growing rapidly, our program is still small enough that I get to work closely with all of my students. Once graduation hits, though, the lunches, coffees, and office visits are somewhat more challenging – especially when they move overseas!
But that’s what happens when you have great students. And this year’s graduates are no exception. Between them, I think they really demonstrate the breadth and diversity of our program. In their coursework and theses, you can see their interests in Old Testament, New Testament, historical theology, and systematic theology. I’m always pleased to see the integrative nature of our students’ work. And they also exemplify the two main vocational trajectories of our students: teaching and pastoring. In general, half of our students plan to pursue doctoral programs and academic teaching, while the other half are using the program to provide more biblical/theological depth for their pastoral work. I love having that mix because it’s what helps our program maintain its emphasis on being rigorously academic while always keeping everything focused on the needs and purposes of the church. And that’s exactly what you see in this year’s graduates.
Technically Brian focused on New Testament studies, which is his primary interest. But he’s a bit of a polymath. So Brian also pursued interests in philosophy, theology, and historical theology. Brian’s thesis focused on the importance of eschatology for understanding Paul’s argument in
Brian has also received the William F. Kerr award for outstanding performance in the Th.M. program. Nicely done, Brian!Romans 8. But he also argued that you can’t understand Romans without hearing the echoes of Genesis all the way through. So his argument really was that you need both Genesis and Revelation to understand what Paul is saying about creation in Romans 8.
Brian would like to pursue doctoral studies so he can continue his work in New Testament studies. Though his immediate plans are still a little uncertain, he’s looking closely at the University of Bristol. In the meantime, he’s taking more classes at Western Seminary and he blogs regularly at NearEmmaus.
Brian’s Thesis: “Creation Waits: An Examination of The Epistle to the Romans 8.18-25 in Relation to Pauline Eschatology”
Brian: “I received from the Th.M. exactly what I wanted: more education, deeper studies, more breadth, connections, a second graduate degree with thesis experience, the beginning of a network in the field, and the opportunity to prepare for doctoral work.”
Andrew loves church history. It’s as simple as that. And his thesis helped him press into early church history and the development of the doctrine of the Trinity. Andrew studied several early “heretics” (e.g. Paul of Samosata and Noetus), people who developed views of the Trinity that were determined by the church to be inadequate for some reason. And he argued that these early heretics form a necessary part of the story that leads to Nicea.
Andrew also received the Church History award for his outstanding work in early church history. Nicely done Andrew!
Andrew’s definitely not done with school since he plans to do more work in church history (especially focusing on Novatian) and eventually teach somewhere. He’s already been accepted into programs at Wheaton and Southern Seminary. So now he just needs to decide which of two excellent options he’ll pursue!
Andrew’s Thesis: “Monarchianism: A Failed Understanding of the One True God”
Andrew: “I believe that the ThM has prepared me to pursue further education in the PhD but not only that I feel it has prepared me to be involved in the church in more active role.”
Like many of our ThM students, Ross has a passion for biblical theology and working across the canonical seams. So, though his coursework focused on Old Testament studies, his thesis was on Acts 15 and analyzed the bridge between Old Testament law and New Testament practice.
Ross is still figuring out what he’ll be doing next. He already teaches Hebrew and Greek in Sacramento, CA, and he hopes to add some more NT and OT classes soon. Ross also preaches and teaches regularly in his local church and plans to get even more involved now that he’s done with his program. So he should have plenty to keep himself busy!
Ross’s Thesis: “Understanding the Council’s Decision in Acts 15 in Light of Old Testament Theology”
Ross: “The Th.M. program at Western was perfectly suited for my families changing needs.”
Orleum faced a unique challenge when he needed to return to Korea for a couple of years right in the middle of his program! But he managed to work through that and completed his ThM with a strong focus on Old Testament studies. Orleum’s thesis looked at the life of Moses through the lens of Moses as a “bicultural” person: Hebrew and Egyptian (though he also did some work on the Moses’ Midianite cultural context). Orleum borrowed some of the insights developed by modern sociologists for understanding biculturalism and argued that this perspective helps us see the biblical narratives in new and important ways.
Like the other students, Orleum is still working through his immediate options. But his strongest desire is to enter the Doctor of Ministry program at Western Seminary and continue working with his church here in Portland.
Orleum’s Thesis: “Moses the Bicultural: Exegesis with Bicultural Emphasis on Mose’s Life in the Book of Exodus”
So congratulations to all of our graduates. You’ve done outstanding work and I’m looking forward to seeing what God has in store for you next!
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. (2 Thess 3:16)