Did Dale Partridge Go To Seminary?

by Dale Partridge

Over the years, people have questioned the validity of my Seminary training. Did I graduate from a Seminary? Do I have a degree? How extensive was my theological training? Why did I go to so many different schools? For that reason, I thought it would be helpful to offer a complete review of my Seminary training, including specific classes, credits, and grades.

Is Seminary a Requirement?

To be clear, I do not believe Seminary or a degree is a qualification for pastoral ministry. Charles Spurgeon did not have a degree and neither do good modern men like Tim Challies and Joel Webbon. The qualifications for pastoral ministry are listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. That said, education and training (formal or informal) are very helpful. In fact, I do not believe you will find a great pastor who is not rigorously committed to ongoing education.

Western Seminary

In the Summer of 2018, I decided to enroll at Western Seminary. Because I didn’t have an undergrad degree, I was required to pass the Graduate Readiness Exam (GRE). I studied and passed. To get my feet wet, I audited (for no credit) a class on hermeneutics. I enjoyed the experience so much that I enrolled in their Graduate Studies Program. This was a 16-credit program (about half of a light master’s program). The program included the following courses:

ClassCredit HoursMy Grade
BL501: Interpreting Genesis to Song of Solomon4B-
BL502: Interpreting Prophets & Gospels Survey4A
BL503: Interpreting Acts to Revelation4B+
BT502: Understanding Biblical Theology2B
BT501: Hermeneutics2B+

The program I participated in was both rigorous and fruitful. Throughout the course, I had the privilege of writing 2-4 page summaries for each book in the Old Testament and the Gospels. In addition, I focused on studying specific sections of the epistles within the New Testament. With over 200 lectures, challenging exercises, and quizzes, this program was very informative.

The required reading for this program included the following:

Because I was a husband, father, pastor, and full-time employee here at Relearn, I could only take 1-2 classes per semester. After nearly two years, I graduated from Western Seminary with a graduate studies certificate.

The Master’s Seminary

After finishing the program at Western Seminary, I enthusiastically pursued further education by enrolling in The Master’s Seminary for their M.Div program in the Fall of 2020. The Master’s Seminary proved to be even more rigorous than Western. Although only approximately 20 credits were available for online study at the time of my enrollment, the Seminary assured me that a complete online version of the M.Div program would be offered the following year. With that in mind, I successfully completed the 20 online credits available. I took the following classes:

ClassCredit HoursMy Grade
51505: Hermeneutics3A
PM501: Fundamentals of Expository Preaching1A-
PM505: English Grammar, Research, and Writing2A
TH507: Historical Theology 13A
TH508: Historical Theology 23A
PM512A: Pastoral Counseling3A-
PM602: Mechanics of Expository Preaching 2A
TH602: Apologetics and Evangelism3A

The workload at The Master’s Seminary was demanding, consisting of numerous assignments, quizzes, and extensive reading. Throughout my studies, I completed between 30+ papers, engaged with more than a hundred lectures, and delved into a substantial amount of required reading. Here is a list of the required reading:

Greek and Hebrew

In addition to my Seminary studies, I independently pursued the study of Greek and Hebrew through Dr. William Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek and a portion of Gary Pratico’s Basics of Biblical Hebrew program. This involved completing 50+ video lectures, reading the accompanying textbooks, completing hundreds of workbook exercises, and engaging in translation work. The depth and breadth of this self-directed study were equivalent to Greek 1-2 and Hebrew 1 courses at a typical Seminary.

My motivation for undertaking these independent courses was to test out of these language courses and thus save approximately $5,000 in tuition expenses.

More Training

During the Spring of 2021, I experienced a severe illness caused by mold toxicity, which resulted in a range of debilitating symptoms such as seizures, kidney failure, gastritis, intestinal bleeding, dyspnea, and many others. My immune system was greatly compromised, requiring us to relocate and necessitating a modification in my Seminary training. With the aim of pursuing a more manageable Master’s program consisting of around 30-40 credits (TMS did not offer such a program), I decided to transfer my credits to another small, unaccredited Seminary in the Spring of 2022. Unfortunately, due to various reasons, my time there was short, ending in January 2023.

However, I did complete three additional classes:

ClassCredit HoursGrade
Directed Study in Readings in Systematic Theology: Prolegomena3A
Early Church History3B-

The required reading for these classes included the following:

Where Now?

My Seminary journey is certainly unconventional. We’ve moved from Oregon to Arizona, I fought through a debilitating illness, and I’ve had significant theological changes (Arminian to Calvinist, Premil to Postmil, Reformed Baptist to Presbyterian, etc.). At this point, I have 45 seminary credits and no degree. This is unfortunate because several seminaries offer Master’s Degrees for less than 45 credits. At this point (May 2023), I plan to return to Western Seminary to complete a MA program by 2024.

Questions Around Seminary and Overstatements of Education

Q. Did you ever say that you had a degree?

A: No, I said I was a graduate of Western Seminary. However, in my bios on my books, I have said things like “I conducted my graduate studies at The Master’s Seminary…” which led some people to believe I completed a degree at that school. This was misleading language and wrong to use. I apologize if it confused anyone. I have since updated that wording to be more clear. That said, those words do appear on the backs of past books, which I cannot change.

Q: Did you tell people you finished a two-year graduate studies program?

A: Yes. But only because my program at Western Seminary took me two years to complete. However, I understand how this could imply a two-year Masters’s Program. For that reason, I apologize for the carelessness in my communication and I have committed to being more clear with my language to avoid any confusion.

Q: Did you tell people you took full-time Seminary for five years?

A: In a comment to an individual on social media, I did. I meant that I was in Seminary for five consecutive years (2018-2023), not that I was taking 12 credits per semester for five consecutive years. However, this was a poor way to communicate that point. I have apologized for that language and have made a point not to use it again.

Q: Do you lead a Seminary without a Seminary degree?

A: I am the President of Reformation Seminary, which is a one-year graduate-level diploma (not degree) program for men. Our aim is to provide fundamental theological and pastoral training for new pastors. Personally, I handle the business side of the organization as well as some instruction while our Academic Dean, Dr. Jason Barker, oversees the curriculum, grading, and transcripts of our students.

Q: How did you enroll in a graduate program without an undergrad?

My understanding is that certain accrediting institutions allow individuals to proceed without an undergraduate degree if they pass the GRE or have equivalent educational qualifications. In my case, TMS permitted me to enroll because I was already in a graduate program at Western, where I passed the GRE. The specifics for why they permitted me to enroll were never formally discussed with TMS but were my natural assumption during my enrollment. Here is a copy of my acceptance letter to the TMS Master of Divinity program.

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Dale Partridge is the President of Relearn.org and holds a Graduate Certificate from Western Seminary. He is the author of several Christian books, including “The Manliness of Christ” and the bestselling children’s book “Jesus and My Gender.” He is also the host of the Real Christianity podcast and the lead pastor at King's Way Bible Church in Prescott, Arizona.

More by Dale

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