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Introduction to the MA (Historical Theology)

The M.A. Historical Theology is designed to enable students to learn the history of Christian theology, to learn to teach the history of theology, and to learn how the history of theology has been written. This program will also provide students with the necessary skills for evaluating the various approaches to history (historiography).

M.A. Historical Theology students at Westminster Seminary California read representative theologians and primary texts from throughout the history of Christianity. We also give attention to the history of biblical exegesis and we do so while paying attention to the social context in which Christian theology has developed.

In the last semester of their program, students are given the opportunity to test their methodological theory and historical studies by writing an M.A. thesis.

Our graduates report that Westminster Seminary California's combination of seminars and lecture courses together with the M.A. thesis project has prepared them well for advanced study and for fulfilling other vocations.

In just a few years, our M.A. (Historical Theology) program has earned a reputation for producing graduates who are well prepared for further study and well prepared to fulfill other vocations. Of our 30 graduates, seven have been accepted into prestigious programs such as Oxford University, the University of St. Andrews, the University of Virginia, the University of Aberdeen, and the University of Arizona among others. Two of our graduates have won Fulbright Awards and another has been accepted into a highly rated law school. Still others have taken teaching positions or entered missions work. Two of our graduates have been appointed to tenure-track teaching positions at accredited colleges and seminaries and one is completing a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University.

Here is what a few of our graduates are saying about our program:

Westminster Seminary California's Historical Theology program provided me with the necessary technical and methodological tools for my ongoing work as an historian of religion in early modern Europe. The broad trajectory of the program gave me a comprehensive vision of the development of theological thought and controversy from the early church to the present that would be difficult to rival. The excellent and committed faculty provided helpful guidance throughout my coursework and encouragement as I applied for and transitioned into a doctoral program. Finally, the scholarly community that I interacted with remains a model of camaraderie and a source of ongoing fruitful discussions.
—Patrick O'Banion
M.A. (Historical Theology) Westminster Seminary California;
Ph.D. St Louis University
Fulbright Fellowship winner for 2006–07
Assistant Professor of History
Lindenwood, University


The Historical Theology program at Westminster Theological Seminary in California provides an effective link with which one can pull together the benefits of theology and history. In my case, it served as a bridge that allowed me take an understanding of theology and cross over to a state university where I could explore how cultural factors influenced religious ideas and how these ideas spread throughout social groups. By mining the relationship between beliefs, their roots, and their impact, a method that I practiced in the Historical Theology seminars, I've been fortunate enough win grants such as the Fulbright that allowed me to undertake extensive  research in European archives and work with previously undiscovered hand-written documents from the Reformation era.

The Historical Theology program offers students excellent opportunities to build relationships with faculty....  Westminster professors took a personal interest in my goals, putting me in contact with leaders in my field, such as Heiko A. Oberman.....

—Joshua Rosenthal
M.A. Concordia University (Irvine);
M.A. (Historical Theology) Westminster Seminary California
Fulbright Fellowship winner
Ph.D., University of Arizona.

The first lesson I learned in the M.A. Historical Theology program at Westminster Seminary California was that historical theology must serve the church by telling the truth about the past. Many tools are required to prepare graduates to carry out this important task. Among those is first hand knowledge of primary source material, which I gained in seminars and lectures at Westminster Seminary California. There I learned to integrate social, philosophical, and doctrinal history. I also learned the methodologies of historical research and enjoyed guidance in thesis writing, introduction to academic discussion, and a mentoring relationship with the faculty. The M.A. Historical Theology offers all of these tools and more. This is the finest such program anywhere in the country. I cannot imagine doctoral studies without the training and preparation that I received at Westminster Seminary California. 
—Ryan Dale Glomsrud
M.A. (Historical Theology) Westminster Seminary California
D.Phil., University of Oxford
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Harvard University
Editor, Modern Reformation Magazine
Visiting Lecturer in Historical Theology, Westminster Seminary California (2010–11)
Associate Professor of Historical Theology, Westminster Seminary California (2011&ndash).

Westminster Seminary California's Historical Theology program challenged us to read carefully and write thoughtfully about a wide selection of the best theologians Christianity has produced. Education like that is humbling, ennobling, and rare.
—Richard Bishop
M.A. (Historical Theology) Westminster Seminary California
Ph.D. University of Virginia
Visiting Lecturer in Church History, Westminster Seminary California

Several of our faculty teach in the Historical Theology program.

Dr. W. Robert Godfrey is a leading scholar of the Reformation and post-Reformation periods. He also has interests in the history of modern evangelicalism. M.A. Historical Theology students will study early and modern church history with Dr Godfrey and they are eligible to take directed study courses with him.

Dr. Michael Horton, well known as one of the world's leading Reformed systematic theologians is also a scholar of contemporary theology and 17th century English Puritanism. He also has interests patristic theology and leads our Patristics and Modern Theology seminars.

Dr. R. Scott Clark is the program director and a noted scholar of Reformed orthodoxy and covenant theology. He also has interests in medieval theology and the methods of historical theology. He teaches the introductory course and courses in medieval theology, Reformation theology, Reformed orthodoxy, Reformed confessions, and theological Latin. Contact Dr. Clark here.

Dr. David VanDrunen is systematic theologian, ethicist, and a scholar of Thomas Aquinas. He has written on a number of topics including natural law, ethics, and the Christian doctrine of salvation. M.A. Historical Theology students will study systematic theology with Dr VanDrunen. He also teaches a course on Thomas Aquinas.

Our M.A. Historical Theology students will also spend time studying Scripture in the original languages with our Biblical Studies faculty and in Systematic Theology courses. Our graduates report that this background of biblical study has aided them in their preparation for graduate school and other vocations.

Westminster Seminary California provides a unique opportunity to study with excellent scholars united in its commitment to Christ and his Gospel as recorded in the Scriptures and expressed in our confessions of faith. Please contact us if you have specific questions regarding our program.