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What it Takes to Lead a Seminary



I wrote this as the introductory chapter in the book Priorities for Evangelical Theological Education published by SATS Press in 2020


The Lord led me to establish the South African Theological Seminary after I had been pastoring the Lonehill Village Church in Sandton for nine years. For the first four years of its existence, my small team and I set in place the legal, institutional, and biblical foundations for the seminary. In August of 2,000 Reuben van Rensburg joined us and six years later took over from me as the Principal. I continued for another nine years as Chairman of the Board until June 2015. Therefore, I have had about twenty years either doing the job of Principal or working closely with Reuben – so I feel reasonably qualified to comment on ‘what it takes to lead a seminary’.


HERE is the full article

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Address at the 2012 Graduation of SATS

If I asked you why you enrolled with SATS in the first place most of you would mention such things as; the convenience of being able to study at a distance, the excellent quality of the accreditation, or the fine curriculum and coursework. Some might even mention the fact that the academic faculty are so good looking. However, most of you would probably say that it was because we are theologically evangelical.

When SATS was founded, it was clear what the word ‘evangelical’ meant, but recently it has become so broadly defined that it no longer means what it used to. It no longer adequately defines our theological blood type. However, if you look at our website you will see that we define ourselves with the words; ‘We are Bible-based, Christ-centred, Spirit-led, distance and online learning specialists, accredited to the PhD level. The last part of that statement speaks to what we do, but the first part speaks to who we are; Bible-based, Christ-centred, and Spirit-led. These are the three foundational principles on which we build SATS some 16 years ago; the unique authority of the Word of God the Father, the lordship and centrality of Jesus Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We have tried to incorporate these three principles into the structure and content of our courses and assessment criteria.


Click here for the full speech


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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.