Monday, May 14, 2007

Finally to Fuller

I have heard about Fuller Theologial Seminary ever since I entered North Park Theological Seminary in 1976. Fuller was where all the guys to came to North Park for only a year primarily came from. They were usually tanned and blond. Most could play the guitar and they really hated the Chicago winters. Fuller was where people went who were not really really loyal to the Covenant. A former Dean would refer to Fuller students who came for their compulsory year of orientation as "outsiders." There was a different standard if you came from Princeton, or Luther or Gordon-Conwell. You were considered theologically sophisticated and worthy of admission to North Park. But if you came from Fuller, we all knew that your were here for a year, and then you would go right back to California to get a Covenant Church pastoral position and never care about the rest of us. Fuller students were at North Park seminary to "steal" jobs from the rest of us.
Now this is a bit over-the-top, but not by too much. I was not aware of regional animosity and suspicion until I moved to California and became "one of them." But Fuller kept producing and challenging us, with great scholarship and cutting-edge missiology. Fuller embraced psychology as part of the pastoral arts and launched the Brehn school of worship arts, leading Todd Johnson away from North Park. Fuller is always reaching out to Covenant churches in the Twin Cities and especially in Santa Barbara. They regularly use a room at Montecito Covenant to offer night courses for students, employing Westmont faculty at time to be their adjunct staff. The long and the short of it?? They do really good work that cannot be ignored. Last Saturday night I spoke at a Fuller Theolgical Seminary capital campaign dinner on behalf of an Egyptian pastor friend of mine in Cairo who earned his DMin at Fuller under Dr. Dallas Willard. They did not seem to care that I was not a graduate of Fuller or had ever been to Pasadena. They were all about the mission. When Dr Richard Mouw spoke, it was prophetic for me why Fuller is the largest seminary in the world, at 5,000 students all across the globe. They are not caught up in or impressed by regional location. They exist to equip world leaders with an exciting vision of ministry that is anything but embattled. So today, after making our regular pilgrimage to the IKEA store in downtown Burbank, we set the GPS for Fuller Seminary and I visited it for the first time. It was not as big and grand as I imagined, but their book store was worth the price of the gas to get there. I finally made it.


At 12:21 AM , Blogger Andy Larsen said...


Great post. I was one of those long time loyal Covenanters who chose to go to Fuller because I had been to North Park College, had even sat in on some seminary classes in my undergraduate studies [took some Greek with Klyne] but decided I needed a broader perspective. I also, as you mention in your post, was drawn to Fuller's excellence in missiology. I was not disappointed. I felt early in my call to ministry that I would serve in the Covenant, my native Christian home, but also wanted to explore and sharpen my mind and heart for ministry.

I remember feeling the "other status" of Fuller people when I was there. I said to myself, "what is your problem dude." Why do you judge me? I really do love the Covenant, but get uncomfortable when it gets too cozy for the good of the Kingdom of God, which does not happen very often anymore.

On the other side, I liked the community more at North Park. It truly integrated life with learning and community better than Fuller did. At Fuller you had to make community a priority if you wanted it. Pasadena Covenant provided that for us in a remarkable way for 2 wonderful years in a young adults group. My wife and I still consider those years some of our best.

Anyway, from one Covenanter to another...lets not be snobs about our tradition and common life.

At 12:23 AM , Blogger Andy Larsen said...

A small edit to my comment....

In the 2nd paragraph i should add

"I remember feeling the "other status" of Fuller people when I was there...at NPTS.

At 12:29 AM , Blogger Andy Larsen said...

Also, I am/was from Seattle [now in Barcelona] where we don't tan but rust. Washingtonians don't worship California but we do like to escape to the sun occasionally. We don't surf because the water is too cold up north. But we are West coast folk who sometimes prefer innovation to tradition for tradition's sake.

Andy E. Larsen
Mosaics Project / Europe
Email: prayformosaics@yahoo.com
Blog: www.andresjourney.info/andres
Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/papalars

At 7:07 AM , Blogger Brad Boydston said...

No wonder I was picking up weird vibes during my year at North Park. I thought the cold was messing with my mind. :)


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