At the heart of the Reformation and at the center of Reformed Theological Seminary is the Word of God for the people of God. The Biblical Exegesis emphasis will provide students with additional training in both the theoretical and the practical aspects of biblical interpretation.
For the biblical pastor, no other skill is more fundamental or practical than the ability to interpret and apply Scripture accurately. This is, in fact, the very heart of pastoral ministry. Such skill, however, is often marginalized in favor of cliché or managerial technique, masking our shameful inability to handle the Word of God correctly. From such a perspective, it is no exaggeration that Satan delights in many seminary curricula and pastoral job descriptions. Rather, "Biblical exegesis should be the intellectual enzyme that transforms the stupor of our worldly and futile affections into a deep and glad and living hope . . . [It is] the cognitive catalyst that triggers a combustion of divine joy in the human heart" (John Piper, Biblical Exegesis: Discovering the Meaning of Scriptural Texts, 4-5).
Within the MDiv curriculum, the Biblical Exegesis emphasis includes additional coursework in biblical theology and biblical hermeneutics, expanding the student's framework for exegetical interpretation. Students in this emphasis will also take four additional exegesis courses, two in Old Testament and two in New Testament, where exegetical skills are developed by working in the biblical text together with the faculty.
The Missions Emphasis at RTS trains and equips competent missional-minded pastors and Christian workers to serve the Church in North America and overseas to fulfill our calling to make disciples of all nations. Our MDiv with a Missions Emphasis offers training for pastoral/missional ministry with an intercultural emphasis which enables you to extend your local pastoral ministries through evangelism, effective preaching and church planting at home and cross-culturally. Missions courses focus our attention on the work of God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in the sending of every member of the body of Christ as servants through whom others may believe (1 Corinthians 3:5) in the world that God has given us as our “mission field.”
After all, the Scriptures are all about Jesus, his redemptive work, and the preaching of “repentance and remissions of sins...in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). At RTS Jackson we prepare international and American students together to take the gospel across the street and around the world.
If you are heading into pastoral ministry, you are going to be pastoring people. Your people will wrestle with grief, depression, and anxiety. They will face parenting issues, marital struggles, and vocational difficulties. They will come to you with all sorts of crises: addictions, pornography, spousal abuse, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts, to name a few. How will you bring all that you know about the Scriptures and the Christian life to bear as you deal with God’s hurting people?
In the Master of Divinity program you will receive 17 hours in biblical languages, 24 hours in Old and New Testament, 23 hours in systematic theology, and 10 hours in preaching, but only 3 hours in counseling. The Counseling Emphasis in the MDiv program focuses your electives to add another 12 Counseling hours so that you will be better equipped as you pastor God’s people.
The Counseling Emphasis gives you vital categories for understanding people, giving you the skills to listen carefully and to speak to their hearts. It will prepare you to understand how addiction works, to recognize the effects of abuse, and to minister to someone in crisis while teaching you the limits of pastoral counseling and when you need to refer to a licensed counselor. At the end of the counseling emphasis you will understand people better, and that will benefit you and the people God has called you to serve.
For those who wish to pursue the Master of Arts in Marriage & Family Therapy and Counseling (MFTC) in addition to the MDiv degree, the two degrees can be done together in 147 credit hours. That’s an additional 41 hours over the 106-hour MDiv degree with a counseling emphasis. These two programs can be done together over the span of four years.
The addition of the MFTC degree enables you to hone your counseling skills—you complete 500 hours of actual face-to-face counseling and 100 hours of professional supervision of your counseling—and it also equips you to be licensed as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). Adding the MFTC degree provides a more thoroughgoing understanding of how people work and the opportunity to put that understanding into practice. These additional tools will give you greater confidence as you engage in counseling in pastoral ministry.
As a side benefit, we have found that our dual degree graduates are often our best preachers upon graduation. Why? They have spent 500 hours in clinic coming alongside the downcast and brokenhearted and gently and lovingly applying Scripture for growth in grace. It is a powerful environment for learning sermon application.