The Form of Government 21:5 requires "an essay on a theological theme" (theological paper) from candidates for licensure. The committee endeavors to work with candidates with their papers so to not overburden them. If a candidate is presently in seminary, the committee is willing to work with the candidate to accept a paper submitted for a class. The committee is also willing to work with a seminary professor so that a paper might satisfy both the requirements of a class as well as the presbytery.
If a candidate is presently in seminary, it is helpful to submit papers you have written for class work, even if they are not suitable for the presbytery requirements. Such papers will help the committee to see your progress and to see your gifts in action. In addition, it may be possible to amend such a paper to meet our requirements. In the past, we have worked with a professor so that a seminarian received credit for papers amended in this way.
If a candidate recently graduated from seminary, it is helpful to submit seminary papers. Even if they are not suitable for the presbytery requirements they will still allow the committee get to know the candidate better.
If the candidate is not a recent seminary graduate, the committee may require a new paper. The committee has the greatest interest in the candidate's current ability to think and write theologically.
The committee does not have a list of topics for theological papers. Each candidate should work with their committee advisor to select a topic for their paper. In general a more narrow topic is better than an excessively broad topic. Candidates are reminded of John W. Gardner's dictum, "Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well." (It is better to polish a well-worn theological stone than to plumb the depths searching for hidden gems, at least for the fulfillment of the requirements for licensure.)
Candidates are encouraged to submit unfinished papers to their committee advisor for critique if needed. It is better to re-write portions of an unfinished paper than to start over on a new one.
What the committee is looking for:
(a) Clear organization and setting forth of truth.
(b) Development by sound exegesis of the relevant passages of Scripture, of the teaching of God's Word on the assigned subject.
(c) Demonstrated ability to exegete Scripture and develop doctrine, with proper attention to progressive revelation and redemptive history.
(d) Confessional soundness and integrity in relationship to the assigned topic.
(e) Demonstrated familiarity with important books on the subject.
(f) Adequate refutation of significant heterodox views.
(g) Essays on a theological theme must contain a bibliography, interact with sources, and state how the church has historically dealt with the topic. The paper should be 8-10 pages in length (double-spaced, not including bibliography).
The committee prefers that papers be submitted in electronic format, either as Word documents (.doc or .docx) or as Adobe Acrobat files (.pdf). Care should be taken that Greek and Hebrew text is legible and runs in the proper direction. If candidates submit papers in printed form, the committee prefers that the Greek and Hebrew text be clearly legible in Greek and Hebrew fonts.
The Teknia fonts seem to work well in Word documents for Greek and Hebrew: http://www.teknia.com/free_fonts .
English Bible Examination
About the Church History Exam