Conservative, Yet Progressive
Palmer Theological Seminary was founded on March 19, 1925 as Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The founders were motivated by the desire to provide another option for graduate-level theological training in the Baptist context. Along with other conservative seminaries of that time, the Seminary held to a high view of Scripture. But the founders maintained that the agendas of conservative institutions were too narrow, particularly with regards to the prohibition of women in ministry and the absence of concern for social justice. Thus, in its early days the seminary was widely described as being “conservative, yet progressive,” a designation that still applies today.
For the first 15 years of its existence, the seminary was located on Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. In 1940, it relocated to Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, on the edge of the city. From the beginning the Seminary was committed to providing remedial educational programs for people who felt called to Christian ministry but who lacked the educational credentials required to qualify for graduate-level training. This commitment planted the seeds for Eastern University, which was founded as Eastern Baptist College in 1952, changed its name to Eastern College in 1972, and became Eastern University in 2001. The two institutions reunited in 2003, and in 2005 Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary was renamed Palmer Theological Seminary, the Seminary of Eastern University. In 2012, the Seminary moved from its Wynnewood campus to an interim location at the American Baptist Missions Center in nearby King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. In June 2016, the Seminary returned to the main campus of Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania.
We believe that the Bible, composed of Old and New Testaments, is inspired by God and serves as the rule of faith and practice, being the authoritative witness to the truth of God embodied in Jesus Christ.
We believe in one God eternally existing as three persons. We believe in God the Creator, author of all life and our salvation.
We believe that God created human beings, male and female, in the image of God as an expression of God's eternal love, to live in God's perfect will. As such, human beings are called to be faithful stewards of God's creation and to live in relations with God, each other, and the created world. We believe in God the Spirit, Lord and giver of life, who reveals Jesus Christ to human beings to transform them through conversion and sanctification to full humanity as willed by the Creator.
We believe that Jesus Christ was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, and is truly God and truly human. We believe that he lived a fully human life as Jesus of Nazareth, who walked with us, ministered to us, and proclaimed the Reign of God.
Because human beings sinned and suffered the penalty of death, we further believe in the life and death of our Lord for our sins, in the resurrection of his body, in his ascension to heaven, and in his personal and visible future return to the earth. We believe that our salvation is received through faith by grace through Jesus Christ, the only and sufficient mediator between God and humanity.
We believe that Jesus Christ commanded us to be baptized and to partake of the Supper in his name. We believe that baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, signifying redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ together with the believer's death to sin and resurrection to newness of life. We believe that the Lord's Supper is the commemoration of the Lord's death until he returns.
We believe that the Church is Jesus Christ's body on earth, called to witness and proclaim the good news of God's Reign and salvation to the world. The Church consists of believers, called by Jesus Christ to worship God, serve one another in a spirit of love and truth, and to proclaim God's Reign; not only through word, but also through deeds of love and justice. As a witness to the Reign of God, the Church embodies God's will to be one in diversity, to care for the least of these, and to proclaim hope. Therefore, the Church is a light unto the world at all times and in all places.