Marc Cortez

I’m the Th.M. program director and academic dean at Western Seminary (Portland, OR), and I enjoy writing about the Gospel, theology, the Bible, history, ministry, culture, technology, books, big ideas, hard questions, and pretty much anything that seems interesting, insightful, or just plain weird. If you’d like to get in touch with me, please feel free to send me an email at mcortez (at) westernseminary (dot) edu.


This Blog

I originally started this blog to be a resource for the Th.M. students at Western Seminary. But, it’s grown and evolved a bit since then. You’ll still hear from my students occasionally, especially in the comments, but it’s an open forum. So, please feel free to join the fun.

Although I have pretty eclectic interests, this blog focuses on several main areas. And, to help you get a feel for what this blog is about, here are some of my more popular posts in each of my main content areas. (Don’t get me wrong. I’m much more random than this list suggests. But, it’s still a good sampling of what we post here.)

The Gospel:


Church History:


Western Seminary’s Th.M. Program

Western Seminary’s Master of Theology program is an exciting program well suited for anyone wishing to advance further in his or her understanding of biblical, theological, or pastoral studies. More information about the program can be found on the program overview page or on the Western Seminary web site. If you have any questions about the program or how it might fit your needs and interests, please feel free to leave a comment below.

  1. This is awesome! I am glad to see we have this.

  2. Hi Marc,

    Great blog, thank you! I’m from the “competitor” school, Multnomah Seminary 😉 . . . but I guess I’ll still talk to you. Western has a great program, and I have often considered the ThM program there (I have the MA Biblical Studies from Multn.). I worked for Ray Lubeck as his TA for awhile, do you know him?

    Anyway, I am going to be pursuing a PhD in historical theology/Systematic (working, hopefully with Calvin and my favorite TF Torrance); it looks like you appreciate Barth (me too), I’m wondering what your PhD diss was on? I hoping to avoid a ThM, and jump straight into a PhD. I once was accepted to Fuller’s PhD track, but they wanted me to do a “bridge” MA (two semesters) to “jump me in” to the PhD program. Again, I’m hoping to avoid that and go straight into a PhD program (finances are always an issue). How likely do you think getting into a PhD program with just an MA is — in general?

    • Hey, Bobby, thanks for checking in. I think we can still talk as long as we don’t tell anyone. And, we’ll probably need to use a secret code too. 🙂 Actually, I did my BA at Multnomah and I know several of the faculty quite well. And, yes, I’m pleased to say that I had Ray as a student and have gotten to know him since then as well.

      My doctoral work focused on the intersection of Christology and anthropology, drawing on the theology of Karl Barth to understand the significance that the person and work of Jesus Christ has for understanding what it means to be authentically human. And, I then applied that christological framework to contemporary debates in philosophy of mind surrounding the mind/body relationship. (By the way, I also got to learn quite a bit about TF Torrance in the process as I studied with Alan Torrance at St. Andrews.)

      I can’t give an easy answer to your ThM/PhD question without talking more about what you’ve done in your previous studies and what you want to do in the future (post-PhD). The short answer is that there are PhD programs that will let you enter their programs directly (if you’ve done enough work in the relevant areas), but Fuller’s request to have you start out in their MA is not unusual. Some of the more competitive schools will basically require you to complete one of their MAs, others will let you get away with starting out in an MA program and then moving into the PhD after a while. Again, though, it really depends on what you’ve done previously and what you’re proposing to do in the program. (I also strongly recommend considering what you want to do after the Ph.D. as a factor in whether you should do a ThM.)

      I’d be happy to talk about this some more if you’d like. I spend a lot of time with the ThM students talking about their doctoral plans, and I’m always happy to pass along what little information I have. Just let me know, and we’ll set something up.

      • Marc, thanks for the response.

        Great, we are fellow alum then 🙂 ! I’m feeling more comfortable now 😉 . Ray is a great guy, as are many of the profs at Multnomah (although they are starting to lose a lot of the guys they had when I was there, I don’t know a lot of them now).

        Your PhD sounds really interesting; in fact it sounds like something that TF Torrance was interested in dealing with as well (given his theology of vicariousness). My friend, Dr Myk Habets has written on this issue as well, have you read his book from Ashgate: Theosis in the Theology of Thomas Torrance; it is quite good! Did you have your diss published? If not, do you have an electronic copy I could get my hands on?

        My future goal, and present one, is to be a professor. I’ve done adjunct at Multnomah, and really believe this is the direction the Lord has me heading vocationally. Of course w/o a PhD people won’t even talk to you — even “people” at Multnomah 😉 (accreditation changes everything, I suppose). I am looking into the Princeton program (I have friends there); I’ve spoken to Treier at Wheaton, recently (but I’m not sure, between him and Vanhoozer, that they would be the perfect fit for my desired area of research. I need to find some place that offers “funded” PhD’s (both Wheaton and Princeton do). I don’t know, I need to broaden my search, probably. I have friends over at Aberdeen who are studying under Webster; I would love to go over to the UK and study (I see you did, how did you fund that?). One of my friends is actually using loans; he’ll be coming back with major major major debt (yikes!).

        Anyway, it would be great to set something up, at some point . . . I’ll be in touch, and thanks for the offer!

      • That sounds great, let’s definitely talk sometime. As I’m sure you’re aware, funded PhDs are much more competitive. That may increase the possibility that you’d need to do some additional work to increase your chances of getting in. I was able to afford St. Andrews largely through money that my wife and I were able to save before we started and because I received an ORSAS while I was there. Unfortunately, those are pretty competitive grants, so you can’t really count on them.

        My dissertation was published as Embodied Souls, Ensouled Bodies with T&T Clark (2009). It’s pretty expensive, so I’d suggest going through a library if you’re interested. I presented the theological heart of the argument as an ETS paper last spring: An Empty Cipher? Christology and the Mind/Body Debate. You may find that more helpful as a starting point. Let me know what you think.

  3. Marc,

    Thank you! When I get the chance I’ll be reading your diss, until then I’ll check out your paper (thanks for the link).

    Do you have any money left over? Aberdeen sounds pretty good to me, or even St. Andrews 🙂 . Yeah, lets touch base some time that would be great! Btw, say hi to Ron Marrs for me and my wife (Angela) he was my wife’s youth pastor.

  4. Marc – e-mail me: derevth [at] gmail [dot] com

  5. Marc,

    In one of your blogs about N.T. Wright from the ETS Meeting you stated that you wished he (or all three speakers) would have spoken more on learning within community. I believe you related that with not discounting tradition altogether. If you are interested N.T. Wright has spoken on this. You can find it his little book “The Last Word” under the heading “The Place of Tradition: Living in Dialogue with Previous Readings.” (117-19).


    • Thanks, Chris. I remember reading that when it first came out. So I have to go back and check that section. All of the speakers have pretty well developed views of the role of tradition in theology, and I just wish it had played a larger part in this particular discussion. But, I suppose they can’t covering everything at one time.

  6. Marc,
    Hope all is well.

    Zondervan tasked me with lining up some reviews of Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James, and I was wondering if you would be interested in hosting a review / giveaway on your blog.

    Half the Church addresses the Global issues facing women and how the Church can best tackle these challenges.

    If you’d like to hear more details please let me know and we’ll work out the logistics.
    Thanks for your time!

    Mason Slater
    Zondervan Academic

    – feel free to delete this comment, wasn’t sure how else to contact you.

  7. Need blog – look forward to checking out more of it.

  8. Wanted to let you know that I think your blog is a great and enjoy reading your articles.
    I also wanted to invite you to ping and tweet your blog for free with my website BlogBuzzer.com

    Craig Thompson

  9. Glad you were Freshly Pressed, I may never have stumbled upon your blog otherwise. As a Bible College graduate, Pastor’s wife, and Oregonian I will certainly be back to read more. Very thought provoking!


  10. I’ve recently become the admin of a blog that may be of interest to many of you and would be especially honored if you’d consider 1) including it on your blogroll and 2) consider making submissions as guest contributors. The blog currently has three regular contributors, myself being one. We do not share perfectly matched spiritual perspectives, practices or personalities but we bring a nice balance and stimulating variety to the blog. Readers here would likely enjoy the posts of “mojedapoet” best. Also, as I am a new admin, I welcome general feedback on the site as well. Thank you. PS. I’m adding this site to my blogroll.

  11. Just came across this blog and I must say, I really love it! I am excited to become a subscriber. 🙂

  12. I really enjoy this blog and find its contents both fun and challenging. I would note that some of the sites linked in the “just for fun” section of “Flotsam and jetsam” have questionable material along with the cited information, so would advise others to be cautious in clicking on the links.

  13. Thanks Joe, I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. And yes, the “just for fun links” come from all over the place. And, I tend not to notice what’s in the sidebars. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of that material was questionable. Thanks for the heads up.

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