Wesley Biblical Seminary exists to advance Christ’s Kingdom through the Church and make disciples of Jesus by offering life-transforming theological education producing Spirit-filled shepherd-theologians and leaders for the 21st century, who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to trinitarian faith, Christ-centered holiness, biblical authority, and personal accountability.
Statement of Faith
The supreme authority of the Word of God which stands written in the sixty-six books of the Holy Bible, all therein being divinely inspired by Almighty God and therefore without error or defect in the autographs. Believing the Bible to be the Word of God written, the only infallible rule of faith and practice, Wesley Biblical Seminary asserts the authority of Scripture alone over the life of the Church and its individual members. We therefore believe that a reverent and loyal approach to the study of the Bible recognizes and affirms its full inspiration and its absolute trustworthiness as the divinely revealed and authoritative Word of God.
The one true God as Creator, Sustainer and Sovereign Ruler of the Universe, eternally existent in the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each with personality and deity.
The Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, as manifested in the flesh through a miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit and virgin birth, who lived a sinless life and then died on Calvary, making a full and satisfactory atonement for the sins of all men, rose bodily the third day, ascended into Heaven and is enthroned at God’s right hand as our abiding Intercessor.
The Holy Spirit as the Lord and Giver of life, taking the things of Jesus Christ and applying them to man and to his salvation and service. Assurance of personal salvation and the fruit of the Spirit are clearly distinguished from the gifts of the Spirit which are for the edification of the Church and which carry no guarantee of personal holiness or destiny.
The special original creation of man in God’s image and likeness and the willful disobedience through which man became deeply fallen and tragically lost apart from God’s redeeming grace.
The privilege and necessity of each person’s being made a new creature in Christ by the life-giving Holy Spirit, adopted into God’s family, and delivered from the penalty and practice of sinning. In this context sinning is regarded as known, willful violation of the will of God.
The second definite work of grace subsequent to regeneration, accomplished by the baptism with the Holy Spirit, thereby purifying the heart from original sin and empowering for continuous growth in grace, victorious living and fruitful service. The result of this epochal experience—termed perfect love and/or entire sanctification—is maintained by faith as expressed in continuous obedience to God’s revealed will, thus giving perfect cleansing moment by moment (Acts 15:8-9; I Thessalonians 5:23; I John 1:7-9, 4:13-21). Life in the Spirit is dynamically expressed in maturing and enabling grace to progress from glory to glory in personal holiness and Christian mission (II Corinthians 3:18).
The possibility of forfeiting divine grace and being lost since persons are Christians solely by their willing response to the gracious call and enabling of the Holy Spirit. However, backsliders may be restored to their forfeited state of grace if they truly repent and return to the Lord in obedient faith.
The Church as the living body of Christ, constituting all who are united by faith to Him as members of His body and who are under the commandment to love one another with pure and fervent hearts. While in its spiritual essence the Church is an organism created by the Holy Spirit, it is also a divine-human institution functioning visibly on earth. As an institution, its divinely assigned mission is the universal proclamation of the Gospel. Application of the Gospel in the political, social, and economic needs of mankind is inherently proper, but secondary and subservient to its primary spiritual commission.
At the end of this Age, the return of Jesus Christ to gather His Church, to judge the world and to rule over all in righteousness.
The everlasting blessedness of all who die in Christ and the everlasting pain and loss of all others.
The obligation of all who are truly Christ’s to live righteously, joyously, and sacrificially, to endeavor to bring salvation to all persons everywhere, and to express compassionate love in ministering to every kind of human need.
Ethos of the Seminary
All members of the seminary community are expected to have committed themselves to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord—a commitment evidenced by a life of personal integrity. This integrity is demonstrated through honesty, purity, and love. Members of the seminary community will, among other things, abstain from sexual relationships outside of marriage, from homosexual practices, and from the use of tobacco, alcoholic beverages, and illegal drugs. It is also expected that personal attire, appearance, and conversation will be examples of godliness in the Christian community and the world
It is assumed that all members of the seminary community will have respect for the institution and a willingness to participate enthusiastically in the life and program of the seminary. This includes a charitable attitude toward others and toward the theological distinctives. This enthusiasm will be further evidenced by an active sharing in the chapel program, prayer groups, and other scheduled activities of the seminary.
The seminary community consists of mature individuals representing a broad denominational, racial, and national spectrum. This rich diversity within the confessional framework of the seminary provides a wholesome environment in which the students explore God’s truth and equip themselves for ministering to the present world. Wesley is committed to academic freedom. Pursuant to this freedom of inquiry, the faculty encourages students to investigate significant theological traditions with respect and critical reason. The seminary respects the insights of any person who is seeking truth, while maintaining commitments to consensual Christianity. One will find that the atmosphere of study at Wesley is consistently challenging and edifying.
Wesley Biblical Seminary grew out of the need for adequately prepared pastors within the Methodist tradition in the Deep South. It has since become global in its perspective and mission. In 1974, after two years of study, the Association of Independent Methodists voted to establish an interdenominational seminary committed to historic Methodist theology, namely, the authoritative Word of God and the doctrine of transformation by His grace.
Dr. Ivan C. Howard became the seminary’s first president. The facilities of Wesley College in Florence, Mississippi, provided temporary housing for the seminary’s opening semester in September 1974. On July 22, 1975, Wesley Biblical Seminary was incorporated as an independent, non-denominational, non-profit educational institution with its charter, by-laws, and doctrinal statement duly adopted at the first board of trustees meeting on September 20, 1975. Subsequent to the death of Dr. Howard, Dr. Eldon R. Fuhrman was elected president in 1977. Dr. Fuhrman served the seminary as president for eight years, and returned to full-time teaching in 1985. Dr. Harold G. Spann assumed presidential leadership July 1, 1985. WBS became an accredited seminary through the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in 1991. Dr. Robert Lawrence succeeded Dr. Spann as president in 1996. On January 15, 1998, Dr. Ronald E. Smith was elected as the fifth president of Wesley Biblical Seminary. He was followed in July 2010 by Dr. James L. Porter. The current president, Dr. John E. Neihof, Jr. has served since July 2013.
The seminary is governed by a board of trustees composed of ministerial and lay leaders. Financially, the seminary depends primarily upon gifts and pledges of individuals, groups, and churches for operational capital and endowment funding. The generous giving of those aligned with the WBS mission allows the seminary to keep tuition affordable.