“Why I Went to (and Came back to) RTS” – A guest post by Dr. Scott Redd

Let me introduce Dr. Scott Redd, Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Dean of Students at RTS-Orlando and the President-Elect, RTS-Washington, D.C. Below is a recent and insightful post he wrote that I wanted to pass along. Enjoy and be challenged.

I came to RTS thirteen years ago to learn how to be a pastor. I knew about the seminary’s reputation of academic excellence, but that wasn’t what drew me. I wanted to learn how to read the Bible and preach it to others.

I wasn’t quite ready, however, for what I experienced during my time here.  For one thing, on my way to pastoral ministry, the Lord gave me a deep enjoyment of the study of the Old Testament through the teaching of Mark Futato, Richard Pratt, and Bruce Waltke. He then provided a way for me to pursue a doctoral degree in Semitic Languages and Literatures, so that I could be paid to do what I already love to do.

But there was something else that struck me about RTS that was just as unexpected but much more profound. It had to do with the role of the gospel in the life of the Christian leader.

First, I learned that the gospel is central. The system of doctrine espoused by RTS is the one clearly outlined in the Westminster Standards, which refers cumulatively to Westminster Confession, and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. I have found these documents to be an incredibly eloquent statement of faith that encouraged me with its clear description of Christian faith found in the Holy Scriptures.

The Westminster Standards are also explicit in their statement about the purpose of life, for humanity to glorify God, and that goal is only possible through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. That is the message to which the whole Bible speaks, the redemption and the unmatched lordship of Jesus Christ, just as he himself taught those broke-down disciples on the road to Emmaus.

It follows that the proclamation of that good news, that Jesus is victorious and that his redemption is accomplished, is central to the Christian life. There is nothing beside it in our lives. There should be no other goal that vies for our attention. This is our unifying vision.

In addition to learning that the gospel is central, at RTS I learned how the gospel is global. The scope of the gospel is global in an interesting way. The gospel crosses boundaries. It crosses geographical boundaries, cultural boundaries, linguistic boundaries, ethnic boundaries, and socio-economic boundaries, which means that if we participate in this project as we are called by Jesus Christ himself, then there is no aspect, no niche, no compartmentalized sector of the Christian life which escapes the call to proclaim Christ crucified.

Thirdly, I learned about how the gospel is transformative. I believe that, in my more cynical moments, I give in to what seems like the hard truth, and that is: “People don’t change.” I hear people talk about character and personal piety, and I realize how masterful I am at falling short of the mark. I am masterful at failure. I fail well. And it is hard to believe that people really do change.

But I have also had the experience of working in the church and seeing how the Holy Spirit attends to the proclamation of the gospel, and lives begin to change. It can be a painfully slow process, but it can also be blindingly fast. I think about our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, North Africa, Sudan, China, North Korea, and in so many other places, and how they worship Jesus even though their whole worlds tell them not to. I realize that what looked like healthy cynicism to me is a lie that leads to death, because our King is a king who will not settle for the status quo in our lives or in our world.

Do we proclaim the gospel because we are being obedient to our Lord? Absolutely. But we also do it because it is the only diagnosis that fits our own disease, and it is the only prescription for real change in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

I found out that this belief in the gospel, that is central, global, and transformative, is built into the DNA of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando and across the institution. Each professor that I have met, no matter what subject he or she teaches, exudes these deeply held beliefs.

RTS has shaped me profoundly, and I feel like I am walking in a dream because I now get to call these professors my colleagues, and I get to join them in the work they have already been doing for a long time. Thanks be to God.