Presbyterian Theological Seminary Dehradun India: A Retrospective



WRF Board Member Dr. Matthew Ebenezer

NOTE: A .pdf chronicle of this essay is attached.

We usually finished a smashing graduation and invocation use (May 4, 2019) attended by friends of Presbyterian Theological Seminary (PTS) from a US, a Netherlands, Australia, and from several states of India.  The graduation use was sanctified by a special orator a Rev. Dr. Davi Charles Gomes, Chancellor of a Mackenzie University, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and International Director of World Reformed Fellowship.  Our Strom Missions Lecturer was Rev. Dr. Idicheria Ninan, Professor of New Testament, SAIACS, Bangalore.  Friends from India and abroad participated in a module and rejoiced with us during what a Lord had done.

The 50th Jubilee Celebration is a time for celebration, though it should also be an arise for introspection and reflection.  What has PTS finished in these final 50 years?  Have we used a resources God gave us as true stewards? Does it clear a existence and a good enterprise to take stairs into an opposite future?  In a following article, we wish to yield a brief chronological overview of PTS to snippet a enlargement of a seminary over a past 50 years; to weigh a strengths and weaknesses; and to map out a pathway amidst a missional hurdles of a 21st century.

Preamble: The Beginnings: On Feb 1, 1969 dual Presbyteries came together to make a ancestral preference and an act of faith – to settle a seminary that was to mount on a certain and inerrant Word of God, to evangelise a gospel of beauty suggested by a Lord Jesus Christ, and to sight immature group to offer a church in India.    The prior day there was a outrageous discuss either a seminary should be in New Delhi, a collateral of India, or in Roorkee, a city famous for a Engineering University, though some-more importantly, that already had a simple infrastructure to start operations. 

Eye witnesses tell us that Christian graces seemed to be absent in a debate, and some even feared that a whole suspicion of a seminary competence come to nothing.  Wisdom prevailed and a boss called for an demurral of a assembly to urge for concord to confirm a plcae of a seminary.  The assembly sealed during 11 pm that night and reconvened during 11 am a subsequent day.  By daybreak, a Holy Spirit had answered their prayers – a brethren were assimilated in their enterprise that this new seminary – Presbyterian Theological Seminary (PTS) would be located in Roorkee, in a state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), a rest is history.  Classes started on Jul 23, 1969, with 7 students and 9 teachers, and from these common beginnings PTS grew to what it is currently – an normal of about 90 students and 12 expertise members, that has impacted all states of India, and a adjacent countries of Nepal, Myanmar, Bangla Desh, and Bhutan.

It can be safely argued that a initial fathers of PTS were essentially focused on a autarchic management of a Word of God, for all of life and ministry.  Without regulating a word ‘Reformed’ they were reformed in any aspect of being and belonging.  What did this mean?  It meant a fasten to a certain and inerrant Word of God and a truths as epitomised in a Westminster Standards.  Any deviance from this law met with despotic condemnation from a missionaries when they felt that a any partial of a gospel was compromised.  These regressive missionaries were peaceful to bear a taunts and gibe of associate missionaries as they dared to be opposite from those whose missional viewpoint had undergone some radical change.

The Contribution of Conservative Presbyterian Missionaries in North India   In a 1960s, post-Independent India was confronting a time of ongoing challenges.  Apart from a reconstruction of Hinduism and flourishing nationalism there were also attacks on a church from within, quite a appearance of liberalism and modernism on a goal field, that by this time, had infiltrated American Presbyterian Missions and missionaries in India.  The change was obvious, from priesthood of a gospel they incited essentially to amicable uplift of a poor.  One can't censure these missionaries who were drawn to assistance a bad and downtrodden in an economically challenged India.  The companion fervour in this instruction birthed some worthy institutions in a areas of medicine, agriculture, education, and vocational ability building.  

The devout tussles of a 1920s in America.  The New Testament academician and Princeton professor, J Gresham Machen, challenged a flourishing modernism in a ranks of Princeton Theological Seminary – a citadel of Presbyterian habit – that shortly led to a arrangement of a Westminster Theological Seminary (1929).  When Machen began a Independent Board of Presbyterian Foreign Missions (IBPFM) in 1933 it was seen as a hazard to a determined Board of Missions of a Presbyterian Church (USA).  This led to his exit from a PCUSA, and a substantiating of Presbyterian Church of America (later re-named a Orthodox Presbyterian Church) in 1934.  A offer separate occurred when Rev. Carl McIntyre, shaped a Bible Presbyterian Church (BPC).  This was church shortly represented in India when several immature missionaries came underneath a auspices of a BPC/IBPFM.  The colonize was positively Miss Louisa Lee, who after 22 years of operative with a American Presbyterians, quiescent from that Board in 1935 and became an IBPFM companion and began her work in Kannauj, UP, tighten to a industrial city of Kanpur. 

Several younger missionaries followed a instance of Miss Lee and assimilated a IPBFM.  Among these were: Rev. and Mrs. Frank L. Fiol (Kanpur, 1936); Rev. Mrs. Ralph Cunnigham (Darjeeling, 1938); Miss Elsie Hudec (Uttar Pradesh, 1945); Rev. Mrs. Richard B Strom (Darjeeling, after Kanpur, 1949); Rev. and Mrs. William Mahlow (Kanpur/Kannauj, 1950); Rev. John L. Dorsey (Kanpur, after Delhi, 1952); and Rev. and Mrs. Bruce R. Fiol (Kanpur, 1966). The North India Presbytery of a BPC was determined in a early 1950s and a initial Indian priest to be consecrated was Rev. Benjamin Prasad. On Jan 6, 1965, a NI Presbytery of a BPC seated as analogous members a following members of a Reformed Presbyterian Church and Mission: Dr. John Taylor, Rev. Gordon Taylor, Rev. Johnson Dean, Rev Stanley Ramsey, and Mr. David Fiol.  The purpose was to try how a BPC and a RPC could turn closer in fellowship.  No doubt this was to assistance in a arrangement of PTS.  These missionaries would shortly come together in 1969 to form PTS.  They banded themselves together and fought any pointer of apostasy – or what they viewed as such.  These resources hastened a arrangement of PTS in 1969 (the above information from a Indian margin is from Dr. Richard Strom’s paper presented in Nov 1987 for a RPC church workers’ family conference.)

The Contribution of Evangelical Indian Presbyterians in North India For about 25 years given a pregnancy of a seminary, a missionaries, generally Dr. Mrs. Richard B Strom, continued to yield a care for a seminary.   Dr. Strom served as a initial Principal and others served on a Board of a seminary.  Though they had hoped for a group of Faculty members lerned in ‘rightly dividing a Word,’ it was a delayed process.  Finding devout Presbyterians was difficult, an occasional difference would be devout missionaries and internal pastors in a American Presbyterian Mission.  PTS had a goal to fulfil: to sight a era of pastors with devout Reformed philosophy to take adult a care of a RP churches.  From a mid-1970s, a tiny iota of devout Indian teachers began to addition a early companion pioneers like Dr. Strom and Dr. Bruce Fiol.  By a mid-1980s it seemed that an inland Reformed expertise was solemnly holding figure with people like Rev. Isaac Kumar, Matthew Ebenezer and Mohan Chacko fasten a ranks.

Challenges in a Early Decades during PTS.  To be partial of a seminary meant to be partial of a RPC.  The seminary’s prophesy stretched from training students for a Presbyterian churches in North India, to training students from Presbyterian and other denominations in India and a adjacent countries. This change in prophesy brought about an liquid of students.  In a late 1970s a seminary buildings in Roorkee collapsed and PTS was means to pierce to a campus in circuitously Dehradun. In 1987, a Bachelor of Theology (BTh) was accredited by a Asia Theological Association (ATA).  This meant that a bar was lifted aloft in an already heated march of study. Typically, a expertise member would start his day whenever his initial category began (usually 8 or 9 am) and he would finish a day about 9 or 10 pm or later.   In those days, a usually articles that a expertise contributed were to a annually/ spasmodic published ‘Koinonia’.

One poignant enlargement in a 1980s was a reintroduction of women students to PTS, instituted by Mrs. Strom who saw a intensity that women had to offer. (It is critical to note that women’s ordination was never ever a ground for training of women during PTS.  Training women in India is necessary given in farming India – that is 70% of a population- usually women are available to proceed women when a group folk are in a fields.  This creates it not usually necessary, though imperative, for women to be trained.)  Subsequently, a Board built a pleasing Strom Women’s hostel on campus with accommodation for 24 women students.

In 1986-87, Dr. David G. Fiol was allocated Principal; a subsequent year Dr. Mohan Chacko was commissioned as a initial Indian Principal.  During a latter’s tenure, many buildings were assembled on campus, The Strom women’s hostel (1990); a Academic Centre (1994); a Young-Strom Chapel/Auditorium (1997); a Administrative Block (2000) and a John Calvin Residential Building (2009).  Dr. Chacko late in 2014.  The Faculty Office prolongation was finished in 2016.

Wider Horizons and Greater Responsibilities In a 2000s there seemed to be a flourishing enterprise to tell books and benefaction papers during conferences on invitation.  This coincided with a seminary receiving accreditation for a Master of Divinity in 2000.

PTS has common a prophesy of Reformed preparation by being concerned in substantiating schools.  Board members Rev. John L. Dorsey and Dr. David G Fiol determined Faith Academy, New Delhi, and Grace Academy, Dehradun, respectively.

In a 2000s a PTS expertise published several books and articles, among these are: An Asian Catechism; The Westminster Confession of Faith: In Simple English; What a Apostles’ Believed: A Devotional Commentary; they also contributed to The ESV Global Study Bible; the Oxford Encyclopaeida of South Asian Christianity; and Christian Muslim Relations 1900 (CMR1900) – an online apparatus jointly published by E. J. Brill and a University of Birmingham.  The expertise also concerned themselves in a International Council of Reformed Churches (ICRC), and a World Reformed Fellowship (WRF).  Faculty members also offer on a editorial cabinet of Doon Theological Journal (DTJ), given a pregnancy in 2004. Several expertise members offer on a Boards of several Christian organizations.

Contributing Towards a Reformed Witness in India One of a pivotal roles that PTS has played in new years is reaching out to Presbyterian and Reformed Churches in India and a adjacent countries.  PTS played a poignant purpose in organizing a Reformed Presbyterian Fellowship (RPF) in 2001.  In 2005, a initial RPF discussion was hold in South India in 2005.  Today a RPF brings together all Reformed and Presbyterian churches and institutions any dual years for mutual brotherhood and learning.  The membership has now grown to about 16 opposite Reformed and Presbyterian denominations and institutions.  A standard discussion draws tighten to 100 delegates.

Another pivotal grant of PTS has been a strengthening of a Reformed and Presbyterian churches all opposite India and also a adjacent countries, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangla Desh, and Bhutan. PTS has helped sight pastors of a Reformed Presbyterian Church of India (RPCI) widespread over a northern areas. In a North East, ever given a coronation of a Reformed Presbyterian Church of North East India (RPCNEI) in 1979, PTS has helped sight a pastors and evangelists, and a pivotal leaders are PTS alumni. In West Bengal, a United Church of Northern India (UCNI) has been partnering with PTS for over 20 years.  The Presbyterian Free Church-Kalimpong, with dependent church councils in Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan, has been promulgation students for training in PTS for decades.  The Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Sikkim (EPCS), given a EPCS detected PTS they have been promulgation their students to a seminary. The infancy of EPCS pastors are lerned during PTS. The Presbyterian Church of India (Reformed) – PCI (R) was determined in 1984 and bears a clever Reformed declare in a state of Manipur today. PTS trains a care and has helped a church over a years.

In other tools of India too PTS has been actively concerned with training.  The Presbyterian Free Church-Central India (PFC-CI) has qualifications in a Free Church of Scotland. Placed in one of a many severe situations in India, PFC-CI sends a possibilities for training to PTS.   The Christian Reformed Fellowship of India (CRFI) works in a accumulation of fields in a nation such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Orissa, and Madhya Pradesh. Their work started usually about 10 years ago; their workers are lerned essentially by PTS’s Hindi prolongation program. It is a humbling fulfilment that a series of pastors and evangelists lerned by PTS over a past 50 years is a really vast number, moreover, their altogether subdivision is widespread all over India would sum an total series of several thousands.

Playing an Important Role in Training Grass-roots Level Evangelists One of a sparkling happenings in a final 7 years is a enlargement and enlargement of a Hindi Extension Program.  This modular module takes about 2-3 years to complete.  Teachers from a seminary, and other hand-picked internal pastors, learn these group who are ministering in villages and tiny towns with small or no training.  The testimonies of these group inspire us.  Since a module was begun in 2011, over 200 group have been trained.  In a year 2018-2019, 44 have finished a program.  The stream enrolment stands during 117.  Enquiries have now come as apart as Assam for a same module to be offering in English to their evangelists.  We Praise a Lord!

Impacting Society by Christian Values Several PTS graduates have determined colonize ministries to uplift a bad and needy by that a gospel is communicated.  A few of a alumni contributions are: a children’s home providing board, accommodation, and preparation for children who differently would be exploited for child-labour in Dehradun; a home and propagandize for bad children in Nepal; a children’s home in Himachal Pradesh founded by dual women graduates of a seminary; and a pioneering work among visually disabled persons in Kolkatta (Calcutta).

In shutting let me outline some of a concerns that we combat with as we demeanour during a future.  What is a biggest plea that faces a Indian Church?  The flourishing series of girl in India. Fifty percent of India’s girl are next 25 years of age; Sixty-five percent of a country’s girl are next 35 years of age.  How can PTS make a gospel applicable to these immature people?

Being Faithful When a Temptation is to be Successful.  Success, totalled in tellurian terms, for a seminary could be good simple infrastructure, reasonable tyro intake, not lacking funds, a pool of glorious teachers, etc., etc.  We humour in all a areas mentioned.  We onslaught to know what should be finished to attract some-more students.  Should we change a name?  We suspicion of this severely given there was an regard that a word “Presbyterian” would put off intensity students.  After some concern we deserted a suspicion given a word ‘Presbyterian’ says who we are and what we trust in.  We are really clever in selecting a faculty.  Though we infrequently accept applications from rarely competent teachers, we ask ourselves, “Would they be means to dedicate themselves to what we need from a teachers – an formidable mount on a Word, a fasten to evangelise and learn a gospel of grace, and to be a indication of servanthood and service?”     

Keeping a Balance Between Academics and Spirituality It is always a enticement to deposit divided from a essential qualities of a Christian apportion when we are held adult with academics for a consequence of conduct knowledge.  We should review a Apostle Paul’s censure new ‘knowledge puffs up.’ Our aim and enterprise should be that a students grow both in heart and mind and in a beauty of a Lord Jesus Christ.  There is no approach that this can be finished solely by a clergyman apropos a indication who could be emulated.  Any highbrow who can't arrangement a adore of Christ and can usually arrangement knowledge, falls brief of what a Lord wants of His church.  This does not meant that we run divided from those subjects and ideas that are totally controversial and are opposite to a gospel, rather, we investigate them delicately to uncover where they deviating from a truth,  For the weapons of our crusade are not of a strength though have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion lifted opposite a believe of God, and take any suspicion serf to obey Christ ‘ 2 Cor 10:4,5 (ESV). 

Serving a Lord, Despite all Odds Our standards are constantly improving: expertise members have begun edition their educational work.  Our many new expertise educational announcement was an MTh thesis: Corinthian Prophecy. Several glorious dissertations are approaching to be published in a not too apart future.  It is not odd for us to get discouraged.  We are faced with antithesis from but and vigour from within.  Last year a state in that we are located upheld a ‘Freedom of Religion’ Bill. In hint it means that no conversions should take place from one sacrament to another.  As good adults of a nation we have to belong to whatever a state final of us. However, a ultimate devotion is to Our Sovereign King and to Him we oath a obedience.  He calls us to conform Him.  Due to a terms of a Bill we need to advise a students of what they might or might not do during their unsentimental assignments. 

Aiming towards Financial Self Sufficiency One of a hurdles is financial stability.  If we do not have a clever support bottom a charge before us will turn some-more difficult.  We need to creatively consider how we can build adult a pot with sufficient safeguards that would forestall removal of a most indispensable resources.  Perhaps a redevelopment of Lowriston might assistance towards substantiating a sincerely clever financial bottom that would assistance us in a entrance years.  With flourishing restrictions in a setting this might be a priority that needs to be pushed adult front.  Perhaps we also need to try any approach that we can urge seminary giving, both locally and from abroad.    

Our work has been probable given of a true partnership of several establishment and individuals. We appreciate a Lord for any of them.  MTW and ARMA in a US, DVN in a Netherlands, and a Presbyterian Church of Australia. Pray with us for PTS.  We consider we have invested good what a Lord entrusted to us; we wish that we have been faithful.  Thank we for your partnership in a method of PTS!

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