Free Church College re-launches as the Edinburgh Theological Seminary

Edinburgh Theological Seminary officially launched at the Free Church of Scotland with leading Presbyterian theologian Rev Dr Sinclair giving a special guest address.

Dr Ferguson took his text from 2 Timothy 2:2 (ESV), and the significance of training and teaching others to go out with the Gospel.

He said he wanted the Seminary to fulfil its latin meaning – a place where seeds are planted and where they grow, which he added: “that clearly is the model of training in the gospel that has been characteristic of the tradition of the Free Church College”.

Dr Ferguson used his address not only to challenge those called to the ministry of the Gospel, but also gave principles for the believer to put at the heart of their lives.

His first point was the spiritual reality that Paul sees in Timothy as a young trainee of the Gospel and commends this.

Dr Ferguson said in the Gospel profession there had to be a deep-seated spiritual reality, and went onto say that Christian men and women should have faith without a mask.

He lamented that so much of Christianity in the past had simply been makeup, but in 21st century needy Scotland faith in Christ had to be a reality.
Dr Ferguson’s second point was a devotion to ministry.

He added it was one thing to be gifted, another thing for that gift to be recognised, but another thing to have a devotion to ministry for others – Christ gives no gift for the sake of individuals.

His third point was an unashamed fidelity and that Christians cannot me ashamed of the Gospel and the lifestyle of holiness.

Dr Ferguson acknowledged many of us shrink back by nature, because we fear being shamed.

However Paul did not swallow a prosperity Gospel, but one that had the reality of Stephen being martyred.

He added that ministry was not about being photographed with the great and the good, but responding to the poor and the marginalised and the lowly and the difficult.

Dr Ferguson said believers must chose the life that reflects the holiness of God, and that Christians are “keeping step of the beat of an entirely different drummer, the Lord Jesus Christ, instead of going with the flow floating down the river”.

His fourth point was a love for apostolic orthodoxy because keeping in touch with sound teaching with faith and love in Christ Jesus gives health to people’s spiritual lives.

Dr Ferguson used the example of an American wedding in Ohio, where there were 16 bridesmaids all with sparkling white teeth.

Every one had been at the orthodontist – the dentist would have said some of them needed braces on their teeth so their bite would be perfect and their mouth healthy.

But the girls were not looking 40 years forward and hoping to bite on ice cream at the age of 65, they are interested in the beauty of the smile.

And so Dr Ferguson praised the double function of making teeth straight, and giving great bite, as well as making them more attractive than they otherwise would be.

He said this is what orthodoxy does – it straightens our view of God, and the view of the majesty of Christ, and sees beauty in people coming out of the darkness and growing into believers.

In the world we are to be salt that preserves and gets into wounds, sometimes causing pain and irritation.

Dr Ferguson said that the Christian Gospel rightly appreciated makes individual lives beautiful, makes family life wonderful and makes vocations purposeful and glorious.

He said the Gospel was the only thing to stop the extraordinary collapse in society, and warned Scotland was heading for a day where Christian families could be approached by dysfunctional parents asking how they had such a complete family life.

Dr Ferguson concluded by saying that he had benefitted from the writings of those who had served the Free Church College in the past, and hoped that its future may be even brighter.

He said: “May God richly bless its board, faculty, students, the denomination, men, women, and young people to the ends of the earth.

“He did so in Ephesus, in Geneva, did once in Edinburgh – our prayer is Lord, do it again.”

Dr Ferguson was thanked by the Moderator Rev David Miller for “taking us to the spiritual heights”.

Earlier in the evening College Board chairman Rev Dr Malcolm Maclean commended Principal Iver Martin for his great work, and that the launch was “an outcome of his vision and labours”.

Dr Maclean also thanked the Stornoway Free Church congregation for the services of Mr Martin over the past year, and also for over the coming year.

The chairman also revealed his dream that civic leaders of the future could be grounded in the reformed faith in the seminary and equipped to lead the nation in paths of righteousness.

But Dr Maclean said this would only be possible if there partnerships at different levels with likeminded theological institutions, people making the Seminary a matter of daily prayer, and also expecting God to use it to bring great glory to Himself.

Principal Iver Martin also spoke briefly, and revealed that Professor Donald Macleod would help teach the systematic theology course at the Seminary next session.

• Full story at the Free Church of Scotland.