The Protestant Reformation
The sixteenth-century Reformation was a time of great spiritual growth and renewal in the Church. While the forces of Roman Catholicism regrouped during the counter-Reformation, cities and nations went over en masse to the simpler and purer practices of the "reformed" church. The basic principles of the Reformation were summarized in the refrain, "Sola Fides, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, Sola Scriptura"—Faith alone, Grace alone, Christ alone, Scripture alone.
The Reformers appealed to the authority of Scripture rather than to the traditions of men. They saw Christ alone as their Mediator, not any earthly priesthood. They affirmed salvation by grace, through faith, and denied the prevailing doctrine of works salvation. For centuries, these fundamental doctrines characterized the confession of most Protestants.
This original "reformed" church, however, soon began to splinter into the denominational mosaic we see today. Some branches began to identify themselves with individual Reformers, e.g. Luther. Others emphasized forms of government, e.g. the "presbytery" or "episcopacy." Yet others took their name from distinctive practices, e.g. the mode of administering baptism.
City Seminary of Sacramento traces its lineage to the "trunk" of the Reformation and, as such, is in a unique position to sponsor the opportunity for theological education to all the many branches of Protestantism by emphasizing foundational principles. After securing a solid basic theological education, some students may wish to complete their preparation to serve in a particular ecclesiastical body by spending a short time at a denominational seminary. This may, in fact, be required in some denominational bodies.
To the extent that particular practices and doctrinal emphases are distinctively "Reformed," they will be identified with Casimir College, a college within City Seminary of Sacramento that takes its name from the Duke of Neustadt, who founded a theological institute in sixteenth-century Germany as a refuge for students and faculty who were forbidden to preach and teach these Reformation principles in other parts of Europe due to vigorous persecution.
It is our hope that the "city system" which sprang up in Reformation times, in which godly men strove to establish centers for theological education in the various cities of Europe, might once again prove useful and efficacious in our own times. One such city seminary founded in the relatively small city of Geneva, sent out so many young preachers that the kings of Europe threatened to close their borders to stem the flood of the Gospel into their truth-starved regions. It is our prayer that God would use City Seminary of Sacramento in this way.
Theological education in the United States was originally available, in any systematic way, only to students who studied under the tutelage and guidance of individual ministers. Prior to that time, candidates for the ministry often had to travel to Europe for training and ordination. In the eighteenth century there were a number of pastors who were widely known for their willingness to take students under their oversight and guide their reading. Often a single minister was engaged in discipling and preparing a sizable group of students, even from other church bodies.
It is this same spirit of cooperation, combined with an urgent desire that the Gospel ministry might flourish in our own city, that serves as the wellspring of City Seminary of Sacramento's mission. The seminary is under the oversight of a Board of Governors who share the commitment to godly ecumenicity and fellowship, articulated in this introduction, to the end that God's people in our midst may be ably served by an abundance of faithful and dedicated Gospel ministers. The faculty also may sit with the board in an advisory capacity.