The Recommended Curriculum for Ministerial Preparation in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church

This Recommended Curriculum was approved by the Fifty-fourth General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church to serve as a guideline to ministerial candidates, presbyteries, and seminaries (Form of Government, Chapter XXIII, Section 3). The elements in the Curriculum are not to be understood as additions to the constitutional requirements stated in the Form of Government (XXI, 3, 4; XXIII, 3, 6) regarding the preparation and evaluation of qualifications of candidates for the ministry of the Word. Seminary course work by itself may not ensure fulfillment of the Recommended Curriculum for candidates whose presbyteries use the Curriculum as a guideline; therefore presbyteries may expect supplementation of a candidate's seminary course work through individual guided study, supervised ministry experience, or other means.


  1. Bible Content
    1. Study of the English Bible
      1. The candidate should be required to read through the Bible in English.
      2. Course work should include areas such as archaeology, history and geography, emphasizing the significance of these disciplines for the grammatico-historical interpretation of Scripture.
    2. Required comprehensive examination on Bible content

      Goal: The candidate should have a thorough knowledge of the content of the English Bible and an ability to communicate it.
  2. Biblical Languages
    1. Hebrew
      1. Grammatical forms
      2. Syntactical principles
      3. Exegetical procedures
      4. Required readings in the Hebrew Scriptures
    2. Greek
      1. Grammatical forms
      2. Syntactical principles
      3. Exegetical procedures
      4. Required readings in the Greek New Testament

        Goal: The candidate should be able to exegete the Scriptures from the original languages in the preparation of sermons and Bible lessons, using lexical and grammatical tools.
  3. Hermeneutics (or, Principles and Methods of Interpretation)
    1. Principles of Interpretation
    2. Biblical Theology
    3. History of and Issues in Biblical Criticism (Higher and Textual)
    4. Special Hermeneutical Issues
      1. Old Testament
      2. New Testament

        Goal: The candidate should understand the principles, procedures and problems involved in the interpretation of God's Word, and should demonstrate a growing proficiency in the faithful exposition of Scripture. He shall be able to read the Bible as God intended it, in its organic unity and its historical diversity. The centrality of Christ, the covenant and the kingdom in the Scriptures determines our understanding of the Scriptures as a whole and as individual texts. The Bible is the progressively unfolding history of the redemptive acts and words of God, climaxing in the coming of Christ and his kingdom, ushering in the new age, the last days.

        Christ has accomplished this through his death and resurrection, and the sending of his Spirit to the church on the day of Pentecost. The Bible also holds out the blessed hope to Christ's church that this new covenant kingdom, which is not yet consummated, will appear in the fullness of God's glory with Christ's return on the last day.
  4. Use of the Bible in Ministry
    1. The candidate should be required to prepare advanced exegetical papers on assigned Old Testament and New Testament passages.
    2. The candidate should be required to use his interpretive skills and tools in the preparation of sermons and Bible lessons/courses.

      Goal: The candidate should be able to faithfully explain Scripture for the building up of God's people, moving from a careful study in the original languages through the interpretive process, and arriving at a clear exposition of the text's meaning and application for the church today.


  1. Church History
    A study of the history of the church since the New Testament period, in all eras, with particular emphasis on the heritage and uniqueness of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church

    Goal: The candidate should understand the flow of history, the historical development of Christian theology and the influence upon it of secular history and philosophy, and the progress of ecclesiastical development; and he should have an awareness of the relation of the cultural context to the history of the church.
  2. Apologetics
    1. Introduction to Apologetic Methodology and Practice including (1) the school of Van Tilian presuppositionalism as the most biblically faithful expression of Reformed apologetics, and (2) a survey of positions held by other Reformed apologists
    2. Survey of Non-Christian Thought (including the history of humanistic thought and its contemporary manifestation in various worldviews and spheres of intellectual and aesthetic activity—philosophy, literature, drama, popular arts, scientific methodology—as well as a survey of non-Christian religions and cults)
    3. Survey of Contemporary Theology (including the old liberalism, neoorthodoxy, liberation theology, etc.)

      Goal: The candidate should gain a sound intellectual basis for the positive presentation of the Christian faith from a Reformed perspective, and should be equipped to deal with anti-Christian systems of thought in their various contemporary manifestations.
  3. Theology and Ethics
    1. Systematic Theology: Study of the whole system of doctrine revealed in Scripture as one organic body of truth, basic to all theological disciplines, with emphasis upon the centrality of doctrine in the proclamation of the Word in all the witness and work of the church: prolegomena, theology proper, anthropology, Christology, soteriology, ecclesiology, and eschatology, including a specific study of the secondary doctrinal standards of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms
    2. Ethics: Study of the goal, motive and standard of the Christian way of life set forth in God's Word (the two "great commandments," the ten commandments, the sermon on the mount, etc.)

      Goal: The candidate should obtain a knowledge of and commitment to the Reformed faith (including such distinctives as the inerrancy of Scripture, the sovereignty of God, covenant theology, the five points of Calvinism, etc.); and he should become proficient in communicating this faith. He should manifest an understanding of and commitment to a biblical lifestyle in both personal and social ethics.
  4. Polity
    1. Biblical Church Government: Study of the biblical foundations of the principles and practice of presbyterian church government
    2. Church Order and Parliamentary Procedure in the OPC

      Goal: The candidate should gain an understanding of the biblical teaching on the nature and structure of the church, as well as a working knowledge of the contents and application of The Book of Church Order of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (containing the standards of government, discipline, and worship) and Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised.


  1. The Pastor's Personal Life
    1. Spiritual Life
      1. Growth in godliness
      2. Call to the ministry of the Word
    2. Communication and Interpersonal Relations
      1. With his family
      2. With the church
      3. With the community

        Goal: The candidate should learn how to develop his personal relationship to God through the study of Scripture and through prayer, and how to express his devotion to God through developing and maintaining godly relationships with those of his own household, with others in the household of faith and with those outside the faith. Growing out of this, the candidate should be guided in determining the genuineness of his sense of call to the gospel ministry.
  2. Worship
    1. Biblical Principles of Public Worship: Study of the biblical standards which should govern the public worship of God and of their implementation in the worship life of a congregation, including special attention to the OPC's Directory for the Public Worship of God
    2. The Preaching of God's Word
      1. Theology of preaching
      2. Principles and practices of preaching
    3. The Sacraments

      Goal: The candidate should understand the regulative principle of public worship and its application to the specific elements of a congregation's worship services, and the centrality of preaching within the biblical pattern of public worship. He should demonstrate increasing proficiency in preaching the Word and in leading a congregation in public worship.
  3. Evangelism
    1. Theology of Reformed Evangelism
    2. The Pastor's Role in the Practice of Evangelism

      Goal: The candidate should be able to express the bearing of the Reformed faith on the practice of announcing the gospel to non-Christians. He should develop methods for bringing the message of Christ to others and should implement those methods by engaging in evangelism and by training others to do so.
  4. Missiology
    1. Reformed Theology of Missions
    2. Strategy of Missions, both within one's own culture and cross-culturally

      Goal: The candidate should gain an understanding of the issues and practices involved in the planting and extension of the church both within a single culture and cross-culturally, including such areas as linguistics, indigenization, the use of anthropological perspectives, the use of printed and electronic media, and the relation of missions to political and social reforms.
  5. Pastoral Care
    1. Theology of Pastoral Care and Counseling
    2. Practice of Pastoral Counseling

      Goal: The candidate should understand the biblical principles which govern his shepherding of God's people and should gain practical experience in counseling (e.g., through the use of case studies and through the observation of and/or participation in actual counseling sessions).
  6. Christian Education
    1. Theology of Christian Education
    2. History of Christian Education
    3. Practice of Christian Education

      Goal: The candidate should understand the biblical basis of Christian education and its historical development. He should gain proficiency in the development of a plan for Christian education in the home and in the church, in the training of Bible teachers for church-related ministries, and in the discerning and developing of spiritual gifts within the church.
  7. Pastoral Administration
    1. Theology of Administration
    2. Practice of Administration

      Goal: The candidate should understand the biblical principles of administration and leadership, such as planning and evaluation, strategy and oversight, the stewardship of time, the delegation of authority/responsibility and the harmonious employment of the spiritual gifts of the members of Christ's body (Eph. 4:11-16).

This Recommended Curriculum may be amended by a majority vote of a general assembly.


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