How has God used your experiences at Westminster to bring you closer to him?
In 1981, Sam Logan monitored chapel attendance as dean of students.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY WESTMINSTER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
A good friend and counselor once told me that he thought I had made Westminster "an idol of the heart." That is, I had come so to desire the prospering of the Lord's ministry here that I had failed adequately to trust him to provide all that is needed in order for the work here to move forward as he wants it to move forward. It is, of course, an extremely fine line to walk -- we know that God is the one who provides, but at the same time he expects us to be energetic and faithful servants. Particularly in the past couple of years, I believe the Lord has been moving me closer to him in correcting an imbalance that had developed in my Christian service. Though there is clearly a long, long way to go (just ask my wife!), I have been slowly learning what it means really to trust him for the seminary's "daily bread."
What would you identify as Westminster's most significant milestones achieved during your presidency?
The Lord brought me to Westminster in 1979 just as Westminster in California was developing. I remember talking with Bob Den Dulk (who was part of the startup effort in California) about our dream that, someday, there would be 500 students between the two Westminsters. Last year, the Lord brought 836 students to the Westminster where I work and another 300 students to the Westminster where Bob is still involved (now as chairman of the board of trustees). I look at what the Lord has done for us in our Seoul and London and New York programs, and especially in our Texas campus, and I see the spirits of Ed Clowney and Jonathan Edwards, and I rejoice!
Of all your travels as president of Westminster, which has been the most significant and why?
This is a terribly hard one. But if I had to choose just one "most significant" travel experience, it would have to be a composite of several of my trips to South Korea. The leadership provided for Christ's church by so many of our Korean alumni and the sheer passion for Christ that exists in so many of their churches is simply extraordinary. Though I struggle terribly with jet lag when I go to South Korea, I return from every trip refreshed in the gospel because what is happening in the churches of many of our alumni there is really what Westminster is all about!
What has been one of the most rewarding aspects of being a seminary president?
I have already hinted at this. More than perhaps any other seminary employee, I have had the privilege of spending time with our alumni all around the world. I have seen firsthand how the Lord is using the training provided at Westminster to grow his church and extend his kingdom. In a sense, I have been able to witness the most important form of "outcomes assessment" and this just makes me ever more thankful to have been part of the life of this institution.
What has been one of the hardest aspects of being a seminary president?
Again, the answer is easy. The hardest thing is dealing with the never-ending intrusion of financial constraints on the ministry opportunities that lie before the seminary and, correlatively, handling the internal sense that, if I were just doing a better job raising money, those constraints would not be as severe. Actually, I love fundraising because that gives me the opportunity to share with "investors" some of the "outcomes" of a Westminster education. But when the results of those fundraising efforts are not what we had hoped and when we have to cut already lean budgets or when we are unable to pay our faculty and staff what we should, or when we have to decline new ministry opportunities because of the lack of financial resources, that is really quite discouraging.
|Dr. Sam Logan was president of Westminster Theological Seminary from 1991 to 2005 and now serves as chancellor of the school, which has campuses in Pennsylvania and Texas.
What challenges do you believe Westminster will face in the future?
Financial challenges will always be there, as they are for almost every other seminary in the world. But beyond those concerns, I believe that Westminster faces some unique challenges in the area of governance. The governance structure with which we are now working is essentially what was established for the seminary in 1929, and I am not sure that that structure would work well in 2005 even if we were still an institution with 50 students and just one campus. This past September, Dr. Dan Aleshire, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), addressed a joint meeting of the board and faculty about these issues and strongly urged us to consider making some changes. With all that has been happening this year, we simply have not had the time to work on Dr. Aleshire's suggestions. But I think the institution will need to do so fairly soon.
What are your goals for Westminster's future? How will you continue to pursue those as chancellor?
Please excuse me if I duck the first question. As I understand it, one of the essential differences between the job of a president and the job of a chancellor is that the role of "vision-setter" for the institution belongs to the president. It is not that I don't have hopes and dreams for Westminster. As long as I have breath, I will have those. But my task as chancellor will be to give myself 100 percent to supporting the vision the new president brings to the institution. Therefore, what matters are his goals. As chancellor, I will, again as I currently understand it, spend a good bit of time raising money for the seminary. I will also be able to do more teaching and writing than has been possible recently, and I will have the opportunity to work directly with the seminary's accreditation agencies. In these specific ways, my goal will be to see that the new president's vision receives all the support possible.
What advice do you have for your successor?
Learn from my mistakes but don't "over-correct." Avoid making Westminster an "idol of the heart," but don't retreat into a kind of spiritual passivity. At a meeting of evangelical seminary presidents this past January, Dr. Aleshire told the 60 of us gathered in Arizona that the seminary presidency today is "an all-consuming job." His point was not to suggest that we try to make it anything less than that. His point was to remind us that, when one is confronted by an all-consuming job, there are certain temptations against which one must be constantly on guard. And one of those temptations is to think that I must do it all myself, that if I don't do it myself and do it right now, the seminary will fail. That's simply not the way the Lord would have us work if we are to honor him. We are to live in obedience to him even when we think that some other course of action would be more likely to produce the results we want. In other words, we simply live out our conviction that he really is sovereign and will use obedience to him to bring blessings we cannot even imagine. They may not be the blessings we think we want, but they are the blessings which will, in the end, produce the greatest honor for his name. And that is what we really are all about.
|In a photo taken in front of the seminary library with fellow members of the class of 1968, Logan stands at front and center, in a white open-collar shirt, with books tucked under his left arm.
The complete interview is available at the Westminster Web site.