For the past five years, Westminster Theological Seminary has held its Faith in the Public Square seminar at First Church during March. It is part of the Public Theology Initiative designed to “equip ministers, scholars, laymen, and laywomen for thinking, developing and engaging in matters of public faith and life.” Westminster seminary graciously offers us the opportunity to hear scholars of international reputation share insights, challenge our thinking, and give inspirational encouragement as we consider the cultural difficulties we face from a biblical perspective. This understanding is vital as we seek to impact future generations.

Theologian Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” Dr. Kuyper spoke these words in his inaugural address at the Free University of Amsterdam. Like so many others within the Reformed tradition, he hoped to articulate the Christian worldview on matters of faith, life, and practice and serve as integral to the Church’s voice toward public issues. Kuyper embodied faithful Christian living while rigorously engaging matters of public life. In other words, he was teaching “Public Theology.”

What is Public Theology?
As Westminster Seminary describes in its Public Theology Initiative statement:

Public theology is the application of a Christian community’s theological commitments to the cultural issues that confront the Public Square and the culture itself as well as the church. It is not political or partisan activity. Rather, it is the attempt to apply the fruits of Biblical thinking to the heartfelt concerns that shape the watching world and the life of those who walk with Christ so that both communities might be challenged, shaped, and blessed by the wisdom of God.

This work is essential to equip our future citizens and potential leaders with a Christ-centered worldview as they take the reins of responsibility and leadership. Just as 18th-century politician and philanthropist William Wilberforce led the charge to abolish slavery in England and Dr. Martin Luther King led the way of the civil rights movement, so our future leaders would do well to lead with a God-honoring foundation. Even John Calvin and Martin Luther wrote on civil authority and the relationship between church and state. All of this is part of Jesus’ call for us to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13).

Westminster’s Public Theology Initiative statement also offers clarity on the need for honest conversations concerning today’s volatile issues:

As the religious and political landscape poses new complexities in a secularizing America, the need for thoughtful, Christian dialogue on matters such as religious liberties, marriage equality, gender and race crises, and social and economic inequality is at a critical highpoint. The need to train pastors, preachers, leaders and scholars who can effectively serve in this context is becoming acute as western culture continues its rapid descent into overt opposition to the wisdom of the Judeo-Christian legacy that forged its institutions and built its foundations. Westminster is stepping into this arena because of its historic role of leading the Reformed world with theological clarity and creative application of God’s truth. Westminster seeks the common good of Christ’s church and the watching world by fostering non-partisan, biblical, clear communications on issues of Public Theology.

Our once-a-year seminar at First Church is just such an example of this mission. We hope that more young people will take advantage of this opportunity to hear excellent speakers articulate the hope for America’s future, historical precedent, and biblical truth in engaging and powerful ways.

He has told you, o man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 ESV). Our Faith in the Public Square seminar seeks to inspire just this call from God through the voice of the prophet.

Once we have details for the 2022 seminar, we will share them on our website and in First News. We hope to see you next time, together with our friends from Westminster Theological Seminary.

by Pastor Steven Grant


A Note from Westminster’s President

“It has been a great joy to me personally as well as to our Westminster community to co-minister with Dr. Steven Grant and the First Presbyterian family. What a privilege it is to join with you as a congregation to train members of the next generation of leaders for Christ’s Church! The impact that this program is making through your pastors and through you will last a lifetime for our students. Thank you for so generously sharing this ministry experience and its attending blessings with members of our Westminster Theological Seminary community. May the Lord continue to bless you all!”

In Christ’s service,
Dr. Peter Lillback
President, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia