The Changing of the Guard

This week, I am taking a break from our “Unspeakable Sins” series to highlight our mission of the month, Western Theological Seminary.


Earlier this week, Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI announced the appointment of Dr. Felix Theonugraha as it’s next president. Dr. Theonugraha comes to Western Theological Seminary (WTS) from Trinity International University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS). Dr. Theonugraha was born in Indonesia and came to the United States at the age of twelve. He graduated from the University of California at Berkley and received his MDiv and Ph.D from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He will be replacing Dr. Timothy Brown who after 11 years at the presidency is retiring and returning to the classroom.


            As a graduate of Western Theological Seminary in 2010 and as the chair of our classis Seminary Student Care team, I continue to monitor the status of what is happening at our seminary. Our seminary, in some ways largely reflects the greater debate over what is happening within other denominations and our society. For those who do not know, the Reformed Church in America is currently struggling to find a way forward considering the deep divide over the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals. This debate also takes place at the seminary level where conservatives in our denomination question the theology of our professors. Within the last twenty or so years, we have seen a seminary president removed from office for officiating at his daughters marriage to another woman, have seen the MFCA (a board which awards fitness for ministry certificates to prospective ministers who did not attend an RCA seminary) award and revoke a certificate, a WTS professor write two books (and teach a class) which seemed to promote same-sex marriage. As pastors and as a church, our desire should be to protect the church from heresy which, begins with assessing and evaluating what is being taught at the seminary.  


            When WTS announced they were looking for their next seminary president, many (myself included) were anxiously awaiting the appointment of the new president. We were fearful of the implications of whom would be nominated. Would this individual remain neutral, steer the ship to the theological left, or bring it towards the theological right.


            I praise God for Dr. Theonugraha’s appointment to the presidency. I feel he will lead the seminary into a place where it will be a center for both learning and orthodoxy. I feel he is the perfect fit for our current situation and in the years ahead.


Friends, this however is a task he cannot accomplish on his own. Let us be his allies and prayer warriors. Consider making a donation to the seminary which shows your support for this hiring, but more importantly, let us heed the words of 2 Timothy 2:1-2. Paul says to Timothy, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men,[a] who will be able to teach others also.” Pray for Felix, his wife Esther, and their children. Pray protection from the devil and his schemes. May God bless WTS in the years ahead.