Frequently Asked Questions
There are many fine academic institutions doing excellent work. But recent developments in educational administration, economics, and pedagogy have affected how much a single institution can do. Many have noted that educational standards have also slipped, not only in the widely recognized area of biblical language study but also in the overall expectations of serious biblical, theological, historical, and ethical study that serves the Church well. Properly theological thinking about the subject matter of the Christian faith has also thinned, having been co-opted in recent decades by peripheral disciplines and foreign questions which have inadvertently and subtly reshaped the task of Christian dogmatics and Scripture study. Greystone is committed to recovering and advancing truly "theological theology" as supportive of and extending from solid ministerial training and Christian formation. To that end, Greystone encourages seminaries and divinity schools to continue to focus their critically important energies on the training of pastors and church officers through the M.Div. and similar programs.
Of course, most seminaries often also have a vision for advancing the Reformed theological tradition beyond first-level ministerial training. They also desire to serve the rapidly growing Reformed churches of second- and third-world regions who desperately need highly qualified seminary teachers and theologians, but wrestle with well-founded concerns regarding typically disembodied and impersonal distance education models that uncritically embrace every new technology. But many seminaries are discovering that their proper commitment to training ministers at the M.Div. level means they are not able administratively and financially to dedicate the attention needed for high-quality postgraduate research training and continuing education.
This is a gap Greystone has been formed to help fill. Greystone has listened closely to our many seminary friends, and our mission has been shaped by those conversations. Greystone exists to fill such "gaps" in advanced Reformed theological training, in the United States and internationally, and also to cultivate (and privilege) in-person, regional theological communities where conversation and feasting yield fresh ministerial and neighborly faithfulness. Therefore, Greystone deliberately does not seek to duplicate or to compete with what any other institution is doing very well, but instead endeavors to complement the offerings of others, to raise the bar on theological education and research training, and to partner with institutions and initiatives that desire to find a new way to achieve their postgraduate goals in a challenging economic context. Greystone thus targets the Th.M. and Ph.D. level, and in a time when the Th.M. is disappearing rapidly due to rising costs and multiplying administrative responsibilities.
What is Greystone's mission?
Greystone has been formed to advance confessional Reformed catholicity (on which, see below) through rigorous scholarly training, focused student and clergy mentorship, and collaborative research at the postgraduate level. Believing the cooperation and the joining of resources is key to the advance of the Reformed theological tradition in our day, Greystone is a fellowship-oriented and collaborative effort in education and training in ministry and scholarship. With a focus on service in the region of western Pennsylvania, Greystone also operates at select satellite sites in the United States and internationally through a combination of regular intensive on-site courses and online courses and events. In short, Greystone seeks to enrich the educational mission of the Church in the tradition of confessional Reformed catholicity, foster theological collaboration, and share resources in order to advance learning; to strengthen teaching, learning and research; and to maximize the stewardship of scholarly resources for Church and academy.
What does Greystone do?
Greystone serves in two general areas: theological fellowship and theological study. To foster theological fellowship among area clergy, students, and other thoughtful Christians, Greystone holds a wide range of lecture and seminar events, a Greystone Roundtable book and discussion series, conferences, and symposia. Through the Greystone Wine Society, the historical, biblical, and theological relationship of Christianity and wine is explored in a relaxed and enjoyable way through quarterly wine education and enrichment events led by our sommelier. To advance theological understanding, Greystone publishes an annual journal (the Greystone Theological Review) as well as a Supplementum Series of monographs and primary texts; teaches regular postgraduate modules as part of degree partnerships with ATS accredited institutions; and organizes research, teaching, and training through two dedicated Centers: the Center for the Study of Ethics and Technology (CSET) and the Lydia Center for Women and Families. Through both theological fellowship and structured modules with research training, Greystone seeks to advance the Reformed theological tradition by taking full advantage of developments in scholarship with a persistent vision for what is good for the work of the Church throughout the world.
Is Greystone an online institution?
No. Greystone focuses teaching and research training at various physical sites in the United States and internationally. Greystone does offer online content through its online educational platform, Greystone Connect, but in "blended" ways that maintain Greystone's commitment to community and in-person education. Our creative hybrid of the "flipped classroom" approach with physical sites and personal mentorship is the result of collaboration with our experienced educational technology specialists and the Director of our Center for the Study of Ethics and Technology (CSET). The result is a distinctive model that is fairly unique in theological education for its combination of the strengths of traditional, pre- and early modern educational pedagogical commitments with new and emerging technologies in an increasingly digital and borderless world.
As a concrete example of Greystone's approach, no for-credit Greystone module is exclusively online. Instead, when a module is offered through Greystone Connect, recorded video lectures serve as the skeletal content "infrastructure" of a module that also includes several class-wide meetings for questions and answers, case studies, discussion, etc., as well as one-on-one personal research mentorship with the professor or instructor of record. In addition, alongside this commitment to a blended format for Greystone Connect modules, Greystone also charges a fee for online study that is not charged for residential study, thus privileging and incentivizing residential study.
Is Greystone tied to a church denomination?
The Institute is free from control by any particular denomination and is governed by a Board of Directors who are members in good and regular standing in various confessional Reformed congregations or communions. Greystone warmly welcomes students from many denominational affiliations and none, but it exists principally to assist churches and seminaries or divinity schools prepare students for scholarly or ministerial service within confessional Presbyterian and Reformed churches. Members of the Board, faculty, and administration are individually under the jurisdiction of the various church courts of the communions to which they belong.
What do you mean by Reformed Catholicity?
By Reformed Catholicity we refer to the classical mode of theological investigation and thinking that best reflects both the depth and breadth of traditional and faithful Reformed Christianity, a mode which is vital to the Church's continuing witness to Christ in the world. As an expression of the catholicity that was--and still is--at work in the confessions of the Reformed churches, Reformed Catholicity not only critically retrieves the riches of the patristic and medieval (as well as Reformation and post-Reformation) Christian tradition, but recovers the classic and theologically fruitful commitment of the Church to Holy Scripture as no ordinary word but as the Church's canonical, authoritative, "norming norm," to the end of greater faithfulness in the Church's witness to Christ in a rapidly changing world. At the heart of true catholicity is Christ himself, confessed and proclaimed by his Church, at work by Word and Spirit in the world. Receptively humble before the Christ of Scripture, charitably learning from biblically faithful teachers across the tradition, and joyfully hopeful in the relentless quest for greater light and understanding, Greystone seeks to model and to commend confessional Reformed catholicity as a mode for fruitful theological labor.
What ARE the Greystone ThM and PhD, and in what concentrations are they offered?
The Greystone ThM offered through academic partnerships provides a rigorous, fully accredited postgraduate degree to Greystone students who desire to deepen their training for ministry or prepare for further study at the doctoral level. The ThM is offered in three concentrations: Holy Scripture, Christian Tradition, and Christian Dogmatics...
For students in the United States and all international locations, Greystone is entering into a strategic partnership with Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, MI (PRTS) to provide up to half of the degree program (six modules) in the accredited PRTS ThM. To find out more, or to apply or register for the Greystone-PRTS ThM, please write Greystone today.
Greystone's partnership with PRTS will also include up to one half of the degree program in the accredited PRTS PhD. The Greystone-PRTS PhD includes customized research training, support, and supervision at Greystone; regular PhD seminars and other events in addition to full modules; and is also offered in three concentrations: Holy Scripture, Christian Tradition, and Christian Dogmatics. To find out more, or to apply or register for the Greystone-PRTS PhD, please write Greystone today.
Greystone students in any program and within any Greystone partnership are supported and integrated into the growing Greystone community. Greystone's Director of Research and Dean of Student Life leads students through the process of preparing the research proposal and progressing through Greystone's programs, the Dean of Spiritual Life orders the life of our communities in prayer and student counsel, and the Academic Dean directs the work of the Institute to match the highest standards of scholarship and education.
Additional academic and research partnerships are at various stages of development and will steadily increase the number of options and resources available to interested students.
Full information on the Greystone ThM and PhD programs may be found under the "Study" tab on our home page.
Is Greystone a school and is it accredited?
Greystone offers postgraduate modules that meet or exceed academic standards in other institutions, and offers options for students in various circumstances who are interested in either unaccredited or fully accredited programs. Greystone Theological Institute is not a school and does not confer degrees. However, Greystone partners with select ATS accredited institutions of higher learning in the USA and internationally for accredited degrees granted not by Greystone but by the accredited institution. Greystone is not itself an accredited institution. Instead, Greystone partners formally with accredited institutions of higher learning to run full course modules at a reduced tuition rate which are accepted and recognized (in various formats) by those institutions for credit within their accredited programs. The nature of Greystone's role in accredited postgraduate programs varies from partnership to partnership. To find out more, explore the options available at the "Study" tab on our website home page.
When operating independently of institutional partnerships, Greystone clusters various postgraduate modules into unaccredited certificates using the same modules and in the same three concentrations as in the accredited degree partnerships. The Greystone Certificate certifies the completion of one of its modular and training programs.
Unless otherwise indicated, Greystone modules are carried out at an advanced postgraduate level (advanced or second Master's degree or PhD) and focus on vocational training for ongoing research and scholarly productivity or ministerial development. Greystone also does not guarantee any vocational outcome upon completion of our programs.
What is the Greystone Theological Research Center?
In partnership with Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, MI (PRTS), Greystone is pleased to host the Greystone Theological Research Center at our primary site in Coraopolis/Pittsburgh, PA. The Center's activities revolve around an extraordinary collection of research databases accessible to our students and faculty through this strategically valuable collaboration. These databases include vast collections of primary texts from throughout the history of the Church, as well as academic journals and publication series in many fields of importance to scholarship. Greystone runs regular events, leads reading seminars, and guides research connected to these texts with a view to recovering long overlooked theological treasures, renewing classic reading and thinking practices, and advancing Reformed theological scholarship. Greystone members working at Greystone Coraopolis may access the Center's resources, and all patrons and members of the Greystone community may participate in the calendar of events.
Are Greystone lecturers Reformed scholars?
Assuming the foundation of a theologically and academically solid Reformed "first Master's" (ordinarily the M.A., M.Div., or a similar degree), Greystone builds upon that basis for the pursuit of true academic excellence. To that end, Greystone is committed to enlisting the top scholars in the world in their disciplines for Greystone postgraduate modules. Regardless of their personal church affiliation, all fellows and lecturers who teach Greystone modules must sign a Statement of Confessional Adherence pledging not to teach or insinuate, in their module, anything in contradiction to what is held in common by the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, the Three Forms of Unity, and the Anglican Formularies. As a theological fellowship of higher learning and research, all Greystone courses are taught by fellows and lecturers who have completed a terminal academic or research degree in their field (Ph.D., Th.D., D.Phil.) and are active in teaching or research. In the event a module is taught by a lecturer lacking the terminal degree (but holding, for example, the Th.M. or M.Phil.), and in various other special circumstances, the lecturer shall have expert knowledge of the subject matter and the module shall be co-taught with a lecturer holding the terminal degree qualification.
What is the story of Greystone's name and origins?
After several years of conversation with seminary and university personnel, as well as research into advanced theological education, the first steps were taken for Greystone in 2012 in the form of Wince+Sing Media. Wince+Sing, named after lines in a famous Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, organized talks and studies with a view to forming a new kind of theological community of churchly scholars dedicated to the ongoing constructive development of Reformed theology in light of new questions and scholarship. In 2014, Wince+Sing later became the focal point of further conversations about a postgraduate option in western Pennsylvania that would combine excellence in scholarship with unusually low cost to students, thus reaching more servants of the Church with opportunities for further education.
The next year, in 2015, Dr. Mark A. Garcia, a presbyterian pastor and long-time seminary teacher in various Reformed seminaries, led the formation of a Board of Directors, and that Board deployed the years of accumulated counsel and advice into the launch of the Institute. During the time the Institute was in formation, the generosity of a supporter of the Institute provided us with the opportunity to secure a large, majestic, and locally cherished old church building for the Institute's long-term service in Coraopolis, PA. Known locally as the "Greystone" church building, it is a fixture in the area where the Institute bases much of its regular activity, and its internal spaces and classic architecture fit the Institute's commitments to community, contemplation, and study remarkably well. And it was for sale.
After much negotiation with the sellers, and eventually with an official purchase agreement in hand, the Board determined to name the Institute after the property, and thus deliberately link ourselves with our local community. Greystone Theological Institute was born. However, the Greystone property was not to be. The Coraopolis Borough Council denied our application for a zoning permit on the grounds that the building had been vacant just over a year and was thus a candidate for their reclassification of the property away from its longstanding nonprofit religious-use status to a commercial-only status, ruling out our use of it. This was a mighty blow to the Institute, of course, and yet the Lord providentially, and perhaps somewhat ironically, provided a very suitable and sizable property for us only one block away from that Greystone building. Our present facility is more spacious and more suitable than we could have hoped for, in fact, and has served us wonderfully. The old Greystone building remains vacant, and it is likely to be demolished and replaced with a corner shop of some kind. For now, it stands--we like to think--quiet, hopeful, waiting, and whenever we walk by it, as we very often must, we are reminded of the mysteries of God's ways and eager to see how he will provide for and guide the Institute in the years to come.
What does Greystone need & WHAT DOES GREYSTONE WANT?
Greystone needs regular prayer by God's people, regular financial partners who believe in the importance of advanced and rigorous theological training in the mode of Reformed catholicity, creative volunteers who would like to join the many other volunteers who make Greystone work, and more physical space for students and fellows who study, converse, feast, and pray together. It is our prayer and desire that we will be able one day to secure a suitable and more permanent physical space in which our commitments to community, fellowship, and study may find fuller expression for the good of those around us.
To give one specific form of our vision, we hope to offer a regular and fully-funded 9-month Greystone Fellowship program. More than a traditional internship but less than a full-time vocation, this program will serve as a carefully structured transition year between completing the M.A. or M.Div. and entering a full-time vocation, providing an opportunity for focused inquiry, fruitful fellowship, and vocational mentorship. The Greystone Fellowship program will blend study and research on a specific question; an ordered communal life of prayers, conversation, and feasting in a residential context; regular weekly, sacramental, Reformed worship and in-week involvement in local congregational life; and practical labor and service in support of the Institute and its neighbors and friends.
Are donations to Greystone tax-deductible?
Greystone Theological Institute is a registered 501(c)c(3) charitable organization. Contributions to Greystone are deductible to the full limits allowed by law. Greystone's organizational and financial reports are accessible from our Guidestar profile.