Seminary Preview on November 9

Comments Off Written on October 23rd, 2015 by
Categories: Events, Seminary

Connect the Word to the world

Your calling is unique, but the call to Christian leadership in every field requires biblical wisdom, spiritual maturity and cultural awareness. Those are the qualities you'll develop at Multnomah Biblical Seminary. Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. Metzger introduces latest book, announces public reading at Powell’s

Comments Off Written on October 8th, 2015 by
Categories: Books, Press Releases, Seminary, Students, Theology

Dr. Paul Louis Metzger — Professor of Christian Theology and Theology of Culture and Director of New Wine, New Wineskins — has released his latest book, “Evangelical Zen: A Christian’s Spiritual Travels with a Buddhist Friend” (Patheos Press, August 2015). The work features Metzger’s late friend, Zen Buddhist Priest Kyogen Carlson, who wrote the foreword and responded to Metzger’s essays.

A book reading for “Evangelical Zen” is set for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, at Powell’s City of Books. The event will include readings from Metzger and Sallie (Jiko) Tisdale, who will be reading one or two reflections from Abbot Kyogen Carlson’s contributions in the volume.

Until then, Metzger answers our questions about “Evangelical Zen” and the unique vision behind it.


Can you give us a brief synopsis of the book?

“Evangelical Zen” is part Augustine’s “Confessions” and part Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” As an Evangelical Christian theologian, I reflect on my spiritual journey — an inner pilgrimage of sorts that weaves through a physical 40-day journey with my family in Japan.

The experiences of that journey, the beauties of Japan, its culture, and its religion become for me a lens on a deeper quest: I am searching for and, I believe, finding a global humanity in conversation with my friend and literary traveling companion, Abbot Kyogen Carlson, a Zen Buddhist Priest.

Can you define what you mean by “spiritual travels”?

Our travels through life as Christians are ultimately spiritual, not secular. We should never compartmentalize our faith, even in seemingly secular and pluralistic cultural settings.

Moreover, our faith is not static. While our eternal destination as Christians is secure through personal faith in Jesus Christ, our faith is an ongoing journey. Thus, our encounters with various people, places and things in life can serve as sign posts of faith as we seek to love God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves.

What compelled you to write this book?

I felt compelled to write this book because my spiritual journey has taken me to Japan over the years through marriage to my wife Mariko, a Japanese national. Our children Christopher and Julianne have joined us on that journey. I have come to deeply love Japanese culture. Through my experiences in Japan, I have come to love Jesus more while also loving people across the globe. My travels there have helped me in my endeavors to become more sensitive to people of various cultures here and abroad.

Such growth here has been enhanced through my friendship over the years with Zen Buddhist Priest, Kyogen Carlson, who founded Dharma Rain Zen Center in Portland with his fellow abbot and spouse, Gyokuko. Since we first met in 2003, and until his sudden passing from a massive heart attack in September 2014, Kyogen and I developed a deep, abiding friendship. He agreed to write responses to the various essays, as well as a foreword to the whole book. For all our theological and philosophical differences from one another revealed in the book, Kyogen’s thoughts complete mine in this volume as we seek to understand life and humanity better.

How might reading this book be beneficial for a Christ-follower?

Evangelical Zen will help Christians navigate life and our increasingly diverse and multi-faith culture in such a manner that we can love God through Jesus more without having to love our diverse neighbors less. In fact, I believe our Christian faith, if cultivated well, makes it possible for us to love people of diverse paths better and with more sensitivity here and abroad.

Why is it important to build friendships with people of other religions?

I believe God’s love has been on display over the years with my Buddhist friends here in Portland, as my students and other Christians have joined the Carlsons, Dharma Rain Zen Center parishioners, and me for potluck meals and dialogues where we discuss key aspects of our respective faiths, including what divides us. We don’t sweep our differences under the table, nor do we stop short of engaging one another relationally. Instead, we go through our differences to build bridges of authentic trust that bind us together in the midst of culture wars that could easily divide us.

My students value such opportunities to engage people of diverse faiths. After all, they also live in an increasingly religiously diverse society. Like all of us, they need to learn how to engage their multi-faith society well in grace and truth. Their neighborhoods, the marketplace and ministry contexts (such as in the various spheres of chaplaincy and pastoral visitation) require that they become sensitive and adept at presenting biblical truth in a truly meaningful and gracious way. As our former MU president Dr. Joe Aldrich used to say, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  That is equally true here in the States, Japan, and anywhere else in the world.

Students experience the power of service, prayer

The sky was blue and full of sunshine on September 29 as the busyness of the day unfolded. On Multnomah’s campus, about 30 graduate and seminary students were gathering for Day of Prayer. Off campus, 150 undergraduate students were serving the neighboring community for Day of Outreach.


'A great connector'

Once every fall and spring, undergraduate students volunteer at several locations in the Portland community. A volunteer site can be anywhere: a nonprofit, a community center, a school. Even a MAX station. MU cancels classes for the day so students can devote their whole morning to service.

The commuters waiting to ride the nearby MAX Light Rail brightened up as Multnomah students offered them steaming cups of coffee and fresh donuts. Freshman Megan Flikkema loved the opportunity to brush shoulders with people she wouldn’t normally meet.

“It’s a great connector,” she said. “It’s an easy way to pass out breakfast and talk about Jesus.” Flikkema was right: Many students took time to engage in meaningful conversations with people they encountered, listening intently to their life stories.

Summit student Trevor Grant saw Day of Outreach as a way to respond: “In the last three months, I’ve really been convicted about how much we’re called to help out in the community,” said the freshman. “So [Day of Outreach] is good timing.”


'Faith without works is nothing'

Not far down the road from the MAX station, another group of students wandered through the Montavilla neighborhood, praying for their neighbors while they searched for trash littering the yards, gutters and sidewalks. Although a seemingly small act, the residents responded positively. One man even hollered his sincere thanks from his car before turning onto the busy street.

“It’s important, especially at Multnomah, to get out into the community,” said Brittany Bowling, a business and organizational psychology major.

Hebrew major Darren Warren stuffed some litter from the street gutter into a large plastic bag. “Faith without works is nothing,” said the freshman. “Being the hands and feet of God is precisely what God is all about.” You could tell Warren meant every word — he looked eager to support the event’s mission.


'God weaves our stories'

Back on campus, graduate and seminary students were gathered together for a morning of prayer and fellowship. Daytime classes were cancelled so students could step back from studies and set aside time dedicated to seeking God. The quaint and quiet prayer chapel proved to be the perfect setting for the event.

Master of Divinity student Aimee Pahl was the organizer for Day of Prayer. She was deeply encouraged by what took place during the prayer time, and was especially impressed by students’ vulnerability as they lifted each other’s requests to the Lord. “[God] weaves our stories so that we understand each other, especially when we’re praying for one another,” she said.

The three-hour prayer session brought Kā‘ili Wells some much needed peace. “I just needed to reconnect with God,” said the seminary student. “I needed worshipful, prayerful rest.” Wells also mentioned the importance of creating a time and a place for seminary and graduate students to come together; with their schedules, it can be easy for them to become exclusive.

Although there has been a lot going on in Wells' life, he left Day of Prayer feeling refreshed. “It’s funny, because I’m tired,” he said, chuckling. “But I also feel rejuvenated.” The power of prayer does some amazing things.

MU is hosting this free event in June. Register today.


We're sponsoring an opportunity to hear from some well-respected speakers MU has brought in for its Doctor of Ministry and Master of Arts in Applied Theology programs.

This free lectureship series is open to the general public and geared toward ministry practitioners.

Guest speakers will share about their unique ministries and what they see as relevant for the local church in our current culture and context. Space is still available. Register today.


The JCA Student Center on Multnomah University's campus

When and Who

Tuesday, June 2

Dr. Ron Frost is presenting on “A Love-Centered Approach to Cultural Engagement.” Frost serves missionaries and ministries across the globe through Barnabas International as a pastoral care consultant. He also taught historical theology and ethics at Multnomah Biblical Seminary for several years.

Thursday, June 4

Dr. Kumar Abraham will discuss bearing witness as a Christian in majority Hindu, Muslim or restricted access countries. Abraham has served as a missionary in the Philippines for twenty-one years. Today he equips Christ-followers, trains evangelists and lectures.

Tuesday, June 9

Andrea Smith will speak on “Gospel Witness: Beyond Colonialism.” Smith is Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at University of California at Riverside. She is also co-founder of Incite! Women of Color Against Violence.

Wednesday, June 10

Dr. Mark DeYmaz will talk about “Real Community Transformation: From Rhetoric to Results for the Glory of God.” DeYmaz is the founding pastor of Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas. He is passionate about catalyzing the movement toward multi-ethnic churches throughout North America and beyond.

Thursday, June 11

John Stewart will talk about what apologetics looks like in a multi-faith environment and seek to answer the question: In a relational dialogue with our neighbors, how is apologetics expressed and lived out? Stewart is a practicing attorney in Southern California and the international director at Ratio Christi, an apologetics ministry.


Each lecture will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Register today.

Highlighting God’s blessings

"Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world." Isaiah 12:4-5

Why are we praising God and proclaiming his glory over the whole earth? Why are we rejoicing at Multnomah? There are a host of reasons! God has had his hand of blessing upon us this year, and I want to share some highlights with you. You can also get more details at

Accounting concentration

studying_featureimageIn fall 2015, MU will launch an accounting concentration under its business program that will prepare students for employment in the field of accounting as well as ready them for the Certified Management Accountant Exam and the Certified Fraud Examiner Exam.

Business & Organizational Psychology degree

MU will launch a business & organizational psychology degree in fall 2015. Graduates will utilize their training to create business policies and methodologies with the goal of improving an organization’s ability to better meet the expectations of its customers and stakeholders.

Biology degree

MU plans to offer a biology degree in fall 2016. More details to come.

Global Studies degree

MU’s intercultural studies program was recently renamed the global studies program. Students will specialize in one of four new concentrations:

  • Applied Linguistics
  • Children at Risk
  • Culture & Diversity
  • Global Ministry

Summit (a five-year B.A./M.Div. program)

Multnomah is launching Summit, a five-year Bachelor of Arts/Master of Divinity program. Summit students will save more than $41,000 in tuition, cut their time in school by two years and receive a Summit Scholarship.

Fully online undergraduate and seminary degrees

Starting in fall 2015, MU will be offering the following programs fully online:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Theology
  • Master of Arts in Biblical Studies
  • Master of Arts in Theological Studies

AAOT acceptance

The Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree now satisfies all MU freshman and sophomore general education requirements.

NAIA approval

The Lions have joined the Cascade Collegiate Conference (CCC), which is considered to be one of the top small-college athletic associations in the country. The CCC is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Each year, more than 60,000 student-athletes in the NAIA compete in 13 sports and 23 national championships.

Track and field

Multnomah will launch a track and field program in spring of 2016. More details to come.

Thank you

We couldn’t have done any of these things without you. I want to personally thank you for your generous support. Your prayers, service and offerings strengthen Multnomah’s impact every day.

Matching gift

Multnomah was blessed by an anonymous friend wanting to broaden our support base by matching $2 for every $1 given by first-time givers or lapsed givers (those who have not given in over a year). Our friend will donate up to $400,000.

We’ve almost met our match

Today we are shy of this goal by just $41,896. We are calling everyone to pray and seek God’s will for what their gift of participation could be. Will you join us?

A gift of any size, according to your ability, is all God asks of you. Every gift matters. We invite you to share in this joy of giving to God’s exciting work at Multnomah!

I hope you have a blessed summer.


Rev. G. Craig Williford, Ph.D.

Four seminary students selected for two-week internship in Oxford

If studying ancient manuscripts is a dream come true, then studying ancient manuscripts at one of the world’s best universities must be paradise.

Four seminary students from MU have been selected to attend the Logos Conference, a two-week internship at Oxford sponsored by the Green Scholars Initiative (GSI). Only students working on GSI projects were invited to apply for the summer conference, where world-renowned academic experts will teach them history, theology and textual studies.


Haley Kirkpatrick (pictured) is studying in Oxford with classmates Becca McMartin, Daniel Somboonsiri and David Tucker.

Students from more than 60 schools across North America applied, but only 30 people were selected. Five additional students who participated in the 2014 internship were chosen to attend as second-year fellows. David Tucker and Becca McMartin will be attending the conference for the first time. Haley Kirkpatrick and Daniel Somboonsiri will be joining as second-year fellows.

Biblical Languages Chair Dr. Karl Kutz told his Hebrew students about the opportunity this winter and encouraged them to apply. McMartin, Kirkpatrick and Somboonsiri have assisted Kutz with two GSI projects, and Tucker has helped with one. Both projects focused on analyzing a never-before-seen Dead Sea Scroll fragment loaned to them from the Green Collection.

“These four are some of our best students, and I am delighted they have been selected,” says Kutz. “The invitation for them to participate speaks very highly of their skills and the quality of our program.”

McMartin says she waited on pins and needles to find out if she was chosen for the trip. When she heard the good news, she called Kirkpatrick, who had just received confirmation of her own acceptance. They screamed together in glee over the phone.

“This is almost unbelievable,” says McMartin. “Studying a Dead Sea Scroll fragment is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And everything we do in Oxford will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity too! It’s humbling, and it’s an honor.”

Kutz, who was invited to lead three sessions of a Logos Hebrew language seminar, will join his students in Oxford for five days. 


Daniel Somboonsiri (pictured) and Haley Kirkpatrick will attend the Logos Conference as second-year fellows.

“I am excited for them to have the opportunity to learn from other leading scholars in the field of textual research,” he says. “I am also glad they get to rub shoulders with other junior scholars from around the world who will become their peers as they continue in their studies and careers.”

As second-year fellows, Kirkpatrick and Somboonsiri will give presentations on the two GSI projects they have tackled. They’ll discuss the particular fragments they studied, how they analyzed them, processes in research they took and more. In addition to presenting their findings, fellows will also lead small group discussions. “Our schedule in Oxford is packed!” says Kirkpatrick. “Group discussions are a way for us to process the experience as it’s happening.”

Although the internship is a flurry of chapels, lectures, tours, discussions and tea times, Kirkpatrick hopes McMartin and Tucker can slow down to soak it all in. “My hope is that their experience in Oxford affirms for them how well God knows them and what he’s called them to do,” she says.

McMartin says they wouldn’t be going to Oxford if it weren’t for their teachers. “Our professors have accepted a huge responsibility by taking on GSI projects so that we could have this opportunity,” she says. “I’m so thankful for their investment in us.”

Kirkpatrick agrees. “I appreciate their emphasis on teamwork, and I appreciate recognizing and encouraging strengths in your teammates,” she says. “Our professors have a keen understanding of the language complimented by curiosity. They invite their students into the process. I still think we have the best Hebrew program in the country.”

Learn more about MU's Hebrew program.

Students in MU’s Summit program can earn a B.A. and M.Div. in five years

Multnomah University is launching Summit, a five-year Bachelor of Arts/Master of Divinity program that reduces the time and cost traditionally spent on the individual degrees. “Summit is an opportunity for people to get into ministry sooner,” says Roy Andrews, dean of Multnomah Biblical Seminary. “It’s five years of your time — not seven — and costs about 30 percent less than it would to take the programs separately.” The savings amount to $41,000, and that’s before scholarships are added.

Summit will target high-achieving high school seniors who aspire to be church leaders. Some students will receive full-tuition scholarships covering the undergraduate portion of the program. The scholarships are primarily designed for recent high school graduates, although transfer students with a minimum 3.0 GPA will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Additional scholarships are available for Summit students who don’t receive full-tuition scholarships.


Andrews says anyone may join the program as long as they’re prepared for the academic rigor and intensive training. “Summit’s program director will help potential students figure out if they’re called to pursue ministry,” says Andrews. “Then they’ll discern if students are ready for the program. Some students might not have thought about it and just need to be exposed to it. But it’s not about arm wrestling them into it; it’s about introducing ideas.”

Besides MU’s standard admission requirements, eligible students will need a minimum 3.5 high school GPA and an additional reference letter from a church leader. “We want to affirm from their church’s perspective that they’re a good candidate,” Andrews says.

Once students jump into the program, they’ll be immersed in classes, service learning, mentored ministry and internships. “All these things are ingredients in the recipe for making people prepared for full-time ministry,” says Andrews. “Our students will get a lot of guided practical application. Though we’re condensing two programs, we won’t sacrifice the quality of either.”
Summit students will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Theology before earning a Master of Divinity. To remain enrolled, they must maintain a 3.0 GPA and meet all character and activity requirements for the program.


Andrews is confident Multnomah’s option will stand out from other five-year B.A./M.Div. programs. “Some products look the same on the shelf, but when you see how they’re produced, you realize they’re different,” he says. “The other programs do a fine job educating people. But we give great attention to the Word of God, and it’s part of MU’s ethos to hold in tension the two commandments of Christ: loving God and loving your neighbor. With a thankful heart, we think we’re the best at doing that.”

Summit will launch in fall 2015 thanks to a $565,000 grant from The Kern Family Foundation, an independent grant-making organization based in Waukesha, Wis. The foundation, which funds broad-impact, long-term programs, is committed to promoting strong pastoral leadership and educational excellence.

The grant will be used to support a program director, student scholarships and marketing efforts.

“The Kerns are passionate about getting young people into ministry faster with little to no debt,” says Andrews. “Summit graduates won’t be bound to the indebtedness that prevents many from getting into vocational ministry. We do have a responsibility to help these students, so this is a great gift.”

Learn more about Summit.

Chaplain and seminary graduate Emil Khooda: ‘New Wine, New Wineskins is a hidden gem’

When Emil Khooda decided to earn his M.Div., a friend recommended Multnomah for its out-of-the-box thinking and cultural engagement program — New Wine, New Wineskins. That program had a lasting impact on Khooda’s life.

“Christians can get insular and forget to engage with people outside their faith,” he says. “New Wine is a hidden gem — it paints a vivid reflection of who Christ is and how he interacted with people.”

The seminary graduate says the program equipped him to meet his calling as a hospital chaplain. “Now I can meaningfully speak into peoples’ lives,” he says. Read Emil’s story.


Geneva Arnold: Finding a balance in Reno-Tahoe

Comments Off Written on December 1st, 2014 by
Categories: Seminary, Students

I’m too old. I don’t like school. It’s too much money. Geneva Arnold thought 2aup several excuses when she felt a pull toward seminary. “I’d had no vision for nine months,” she says. “But one day I was praying, and God told me to get a ministerial degree.”

Arnold was appalled. She came up with every reason not to go. Finally, thinking she’d found a way out, she decided to cut a deal. “I told God, ‘If you want me to go, then my husband has to be on board,’” she says. But when she told him, he surprised her. “Of course,” he said. “What else would you do?” And that was that. Arnold was going to seminary.

After spending the next four years earning her bachelor’s degree at local colleges, the time came to look for a seminary. Arnold was struck by the polar opposites she encountered. “There were some seminaries that made me wonder if they were Christian at all, while others were rigid and patriarchal,” she says. “When I settled in at MU, I found a balance. It has a good, scholarly environment that’s challenging. At the same time, there’s openness to innovation.”

Arnold was the first woman to attend the seminary at MU’s Reno-Tahoe campus. But rather than feel intimidated, she was empowered by the academic quality and close-knit community she found. “I felt respected in all the classes,” she says. “I’m impressed by the quality of the professors; they’re knowledgeable, and they sincerely love the Lord and the spiritual formation of their students. That is meaningful to me.”

Three years deep into the M.Div. program, Arnold is appreciating the depth of study she’s investing in the Scriptures. “I’m a better student of God’s Word,” she says. “I know how to read it better, ask questions of the text, mine out what God is saying and see it as an integrated whole. I loved the Bible before, but now I have expertise, confidence and the tools to find meaning and communicate it.”

But is biblical expertise important in a world that constantly questions the value of a seminary education? Arnold, who’s been attending churches for the past 30 years, says yes. “I do see a difference,” she says. “None of the pastors at the churches I attended had seminary degrees. I grew spiritually, but there was also damage, setbacks, mishandling and misunderstandings. None of those churches remain today. Those problems would have been settled if their leaders had a well-rounded education. They had the passion — but not the knowledge and wisdom.”

Although Arnold isn’t sure where God will lead her after graduation, she plans on diving into Christian conference and seminar work so she can travel nationally and internationally for speaking engagements. Wherever she ends up going, she’s confident that her education will have thoroughly equipped her for her calling. “You have to have something of everything,” she says. “And a seminary education gives people the broad-based education that they need for ministry today.”

Ruben Alvarado: Striving to Serve

Comments Off Written on November 17th, 2014 by
Categories: Seminary, Students

Ruben Alvarado remembers when he told God “no.” The native Californian had been feeling a pull toward seminary, but he couldn’t bring himself to enroll. Higher education would demand countless hours of studying and class time, and Alvarado couldn't imagine fitting the obligation into life with his wife and son.

“I told God I couldn’t do it with my family,” he said. But he still felt God calling him. Half-heartedly, he began visiting seminaries. One in particular stood out to him. “Multnomah was the friendliest and the most inviting to families,” he says.

When Alvarado sat in on a class, he was impressed by how vulnerable the professor was. “He cared about his students beyond their grades — he cared about their spiritual wellbeing,” he says. “The faculty here really stood out to me.”

Alvarado’s family decided they would go for it. They packed their things and moved from California into campus housing. They have been thriving ever since. Both Alvarado and his wife landed part-time jobs at the university. Their home is only steps from the seminary. And they’re loving the vibrant neighborhood of believers they're a part of. “I’m living next to the people I study with,” Alvarado says. “Our kids play together. We’re all making life-long friends.”

'The professors give so much of themselves'ruben_main

Alvarado had always loved studying God’s Word, but MU’s Masters in Divinity program gave him a heightened appreciation for the Scriptures. “I’m growing more and more in love with the Bible,” he says. “And I get to learn from men and women who have dedicated their lives to studying the Word; they’re a model we all can strive to be like.”

Multnomah’s emphasis on strong student-faculty connections has meant a lot to Alvarado, who completes his M.Div. this December. “No matter how experienced the professors are, they’re still vulnerable enough to learn right alongside you,” he says. “They give their students opportunities to write with them, serve with them, study with them, travel with them. They give so much of themselves, and there’s no competition between any of them.”

Alvarado has had to wrestle with several challenges since becoming a seminary student, and the faculty’s support has helped him tremendously. “I’ve had almost all of my beliefs shaken,” he says. “I realized that many of my assumptions were ones I got because I read something or I was told something. But now I know why I believe the things I do, and I’m prepared to answer tough questions and handle hard times.”

'What we’re learning shouldn’t puff us up'

Being a full-time student, an employee, a father and a husband are significant roles for anyone, and Alvarado is committed to balancing his life in the best way possible. “It is hard to go through seminary when you have a family,” he says. “But I don’t think I’d learn as much or grow as much without coming home to my wife and son every night. I have a place where I can live out what I’m learning.”

Many seminary students have a hard time fitting their family and academic life together. Alvarado says it’s doable, but you have to be intentional.  “The key isn’t just prioritizing time with them — it’s also being 100 percent present when you’re next to them,” he says. “Don’t be with them physically, but be somewhere else in your mind.”

Alvarado used to be involved in several ministry projects outside of school, but he dropped most of them so he could be with his family more. For him, it’s just another way he’s applying his classroom lessons to real life. “I know a lot more now than I used to know, but I understand that it’s still only a fraction of what God knows,” he says. “Think about all the knowledge Jesus had and how he handled it. What we’re learning shouldn’t puff us up; it should make us want to serve more.”

And Alvarado will be serving more: He just started a job as executive assistant for Rick McKinley, MU professor and lead pastor at Imago Dei Community. “I'm excited to learn from and work with Rick,” Alvarado says. “I believe that the education I received — as well as the experiences I’ve had as a teacher’s assistant, tutor and student leader — have prepared me to step confidently into this new stage of my life.”