As I announced last month, my family and I are moving to Wheaton so I can take up a position there. That means we’re looking at a couple of transitions here at Western Seminary, one of which involves our Th.M. program. I’ve been directing the ThM at Western for the last six years, and it’s been an incredible experience. So I’m pleased to announce that Western has selected a new program director for the Th.M., and it’s someone who will do a great job leading the program forward.
Todd Miles has been teaching at Western for 10 years now, focusing mostly on theology, ethics, and hermeneutics. Not only is he well respected by both students and faculty, but he is an outstanding academic supervisor. As program director, I’ve always known that if I assign a student to Todd, that student is going to get quality time and attention at every stage of the program. And students routinely express great appreciation for the time and effort that Todd puts into reading and commenting on their research projects. So, if you’re looking for a Th.M. program with program director who will really invest himself in you, your research, and your future, Todd’s the guy.
To introduce him, I asked Todd to answer a few quick questions about himself and the program.
1. What is it about the ThM program that interests you?
I think that anytime you have an opportunity to work with students and scholars who want to dig deeper into biblical and theological studies you ought to be excited. But I especially like the multi-discipline emphasis that characterizes Western Seminary’s ThM program. We look for an integration of systematic theology, biblical theology, NT and OT, and church history. Students who are interested in that kind of integration are a joy to work with.
2. Tell us a little about your ministry background and research interests.
I am a member at Hinson Baptist Church, where I have served as an elder and also the lead preaching elder for over two years. I used to be an engineer at a National Laboratory, but have been teaching theology, hermeneutics, and ethics at Western Seminary for the last 10 years. My primary research interests are Biblical Theology, the Kingdom of God, pneumatology, theology of religions, and the exclusivity of Christ. Honestly, anything that has to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ is of interest to me.
3. Most ThM programs in the country are shrinking. Why do you think Western’s ThM program is growing?
The real answer is the blessing of our sovereign God. I suspect that he specifically worked through the decisions and leadership of the previous ThM director (I forget his name just now), the willingness of the faculty to work closely with the students, our commitment to the gospel and faith once for all delivered to the saints, and the multi-disciplinary approach that we take. The ThM is a fun degree. It is great preparation for the PhD, allowing the student to intentionally fill in the gaps in his training and get some much needed experience in writing an academic thesis. It is also an excellent opportunity for pastors to explore some areas in theology and biblical studies that they want to get shored up for the sake of their congregations. You get to tailor the program specifically to what you want to do. Assuming available time and financial resources, who wouldn’t want to do that?
4. Does the ThM work for students who don’t live in the Portland area?
Absolutely. Although the ThM requires the student to take some classes in Portland, we routinely offer ThM classes as 1-week intensives, making it easy to fly in for a week, meet with other ThM students, spend time on campus, and then head back to your family, work, and ministry. Other classes can be taken through individualized studies, and I routinely teach in the classroom with students from all over the country “attending” the class through electronic media. I think that we have been ahead of the field in accommodating students who are not located in the Portland area, and we are getting better and better at it. Living at a distance does not have to be remote in terms of personal contact and learning. Western Seminary is not a degree mill. We will work closely with any of the students who are admitted to the program.
5. What research areas can someone pursue in Western’s ThM?
At Western Seminary, “Gospel-Centered Transformation” is not just a slogan (now I am sounding like a bad recruiter!). If you have a research area that has something to do with the gospel of Christ or its implications, then you would be most welcome. If you cannot figure out how your area of interest relates to the gospel, we can help you think it through. And, if we can’t come up with a connection together, then why would you want to waste your time? Also, I am really looking for students who are prepared to pursue their research interests in an integrative and multi-discipline manner. You would be expected to bring to bear biblical theology, systematic theology, church history, and biblical studies. If you are a morphology geek interested in a study on the anarthrous use of the predicate adjective in John 27:93, then you better be prepared to explain how that project can integrate the other areas that I listed in order to gain approval. (Good luck with that).
As I said, Todd is a great guy who will serve the program well. And, as you can see, he has a real vision for supporting students wherever they live through a Th.M. program that emphasizes the gospel, integration, and personal contact. If that’s sounds interesting, check out the Th.M. program page for more information. And, if you’re wondering whether this program is a good fit for you, check out Do I Need a Master of Theology (Th.M.)?