Fuller Theological Seminary
Established1947; 77 years ago (1947)
PresidentDavid Emmanuel Goatley
United States
Payton Hall on the Pasadena Campus

Fuller Theological Seminary is an interdenominational Evangelical Christian seminary in Pasadena, California, with regional campuses in the western United States. It is egalitarian in nature.[1]

Fuller has a student body of approximately 2,300 students[2] from 90 countries and 110 denominations. There are over 41,000 alumni[3] Fuller is broadly evangelical among faculty and student body. Some hold conservative evangelical views such as unlimited inerrancy while others hold liberal evangelical sentiments such as limited inerrancy which views the Bible as true on matters of salvation but contains error in its recording of history and science.[4]


Fuller Theological Seminary was founded in 1947 by Charles E. Fuller, a radio evangelist known for his Old Fashioned Revival Hour show, and Harold Ockenga, the pastor of Park Street Church in Boston.[5] The seminary's founders sought to reform fundamentalism's separatist and sometimes anti-intellectual stance during the 1920s–1940s.[6] Fuller envisaged that the seminary would become "a Caltech of the evangelical world."[6] In the late 1940s, evangelical theologians from Fuller, championed the Christian importance of social activism.[7]

The earliest faculty held theologically and socially conservative views, though professors with liberal perspectives arrived in the 1960s and 1970s.[6] There were tensions in the late 1950s and early 1960s as some faculty members became uncomfortable with staff and students who did not agree with Biblical inerrancy.[6] This led to people associated with the seminary playing a role in the rise of neo-evangelicalism and progressive theology.[6][8]

David Hubbard recruited Donald McGavran to be the first dean of the newly created school of world mission in 1965.[9] McGavran was esteemed as perhaps the world's most prominent and influential missiologist of the 20th century.[10] McGavran recruited some of the greatest missiologist of the 20th century to serve as faculty of the school of world mission at Fuller Theological Seminary. This included Alan Tippett, Ralph Winter, C. Peter Wagner and many others.[11] These faculty would shape world missions for the ensuing decades. Fuller's School of World Mission became the largest missions training institution in the world.[12] The school of world mission also has the largest amount of missions faculty of any institution in the world as well as graduating the most missions students of any seminary.[13]

In 2022, it had 2,370 students enrolled.[2]


Fuller has had six presidents over its over 70-year history. The founding president, Harold Ockenga, remained in Boston and served as president in absentia from 1947 to 1954. He described his role to Charles Fuller as recruiting faculty and setting the curriculum, which did not require his active presence in Pasadena.[14] His successor and protege Edward John Carnell, a Baptist theologian and apologist, took over the post in 1954 but resigned in 1959 under failing health.[14] Ockenga resumed his in absentia leadership until 35-year-old David Allen Hubbard, a Baptist Old Testament scholar and member of Fuller's third entering class, became Fuller's third president in 1963.[15] Hubbard served for 30 years and led the seminary through both substantial growth and significant controversy.

Hubbard was succeeded by Reformed philosopher and theologian Richard Mouw, who served as president of Fuller from 1993 to 2013. In 2006, a Los Angeles Times article labeled him as "one of the nation's leading evangelicals".[16] In July 2013, Mark Labberton became the Clifford L. Penner Presidential Chair of Fuller. Labberton, a Presbyterian (USA) pastor, had previously served Fuller as director of the Lloyd John Ogilvie Institute of Preaching since 2009. He retains his position as Lloyd John Ogilvie Associate Professor of Preaching alongside the presidency.[17] Mouw remained at Fuller as Professor of Faith and Public Life until 2020.[18][19] In October 2021, Labberton announced his retirement.[20][21]

David Goatley became the sixth president in January 2023.[22] He is the first African American to occupy the role. David is a missions executive and former administrative executive at Duke University.[22]


Fuller is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Fuller's student body of 2,897 includes students from 90 countries and 110 denominational backgrounds.[23][2]

Fuller Theological Seminary is organized into schools of theology, psychology, and intercultural studies. The seminary emphasizes integration between the three schools and many students take courses in more than one school. The seminary offers 18 degree programs, including seven master's degrees and 11 advanced degrees.[24]


Fuller closed Fuller Northwest (Seattle), Fuller Bay Area (Menlo Park), and Fuller Orange County (Irvine). It also reduced degree programs offered in Fuller Colorado (Colorado Springs) and Fuller Arizona (Phoenix).[25] These closures and reductions took place before the 2019–20 academic year.

In May 2009, Fuller opened its 47,000-square-foot (4,400 m2) David Allan Hubbard Library that incorporated the former McAlister Library building at its main campus in Pasadena, California for a total of 90,000-square-foot (8,400 m2).[26]

In 2018, Fuller briefly planned to sell its main campus in Pasadena and move to Pomona.[27] In October 2019 the board of directors voted to cancel the move and remain in Pasadena, citing dramatically escalated costs of construction in Southern California and differences with the City of Pasadena, which affected the sale and sale price of the seminary's Pasadena campus.[28][29]

Fuller currently has campuses in Pasadena, California, Phoenix, Arizona, and Houston, Texas. The Phoenix and Houston campuses are called Fuller Arizona and Fuller Texas, respectively.

Social issues

While Fuller has established policies, the seminary is open to difference in opinion among students and faculty.[30] The seminary's former president, Mark Labberton, marched in favor of comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in 2013.[31] Others have expressed support in the Fuller forum for the Black Lives Matter movement as raising awareness for civil rights.[32] In 2015, some faculty at the seminary called on Christians to openly discuss, with respect, issues related to race, gender, sexual orientation, refugees, and immigrants.[33]

The student club OneTable is the first LGBTQ group organized within an evangelical seminary.[34] In 2021, three LGBTQ former Fuller students joined the class-action lawsuit Elizabeth Hunter et al. vs. U.S. Department of Education, arguing that religious exemptions that allow religious institutions of higher education to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity violate the Constitution.[35] According to Fuller's Community Standards, the seminary does not discriminate on the basis of gender identity and "Fuller Theological Seminary also does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. The seminary does lawfully discriminate on the basis of sexual conduct that violates its biblically based Community Standard Statement on Sexual Standards ... The seminary believes premarital, extramarital, and homosexual forms of explicit sexual conduct to be inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture."[36]

Awards and prizes

Fuller annually awards the David Allan Hubbard Achievement Award to a graduating student from each of Seminary's three schools, in recognition of outstanding work completed while at Fuller. The award was instituted in honor of David Allan Hubbard, an Old Testament scholar, and the third President of Fuller Theological Seminary.[37] Each recipient is chosen by the faculty of their respective school.[38]

See also


  1. ^ "Women in Ministry | Fuller Seminary". 5 July 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Fuller Theological Seminary | The Association of Theological Schools". www.ats.edu. Retrieved 2023-12-01.
  3. ^ Timothy, J. Demy PH D.; Paul, R. Shockley PH D. (21 September 2017). Evangelical America: An Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Religious Culture. Abc-Clio. ISBN 9781610697743.
  4. ^ David Farnell, F.; Geisler, Norman L.; Holden, Joseph M.; Roach, William C.; Fernandes, Phil (14 January 2016). Vital Issues in the Inerrancy Debate. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 9781498237253.
  5. ^ Randall Herbert Balmer, Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism: Revised and expanded edition, Baylor University Press, USA, 2004, p. 276
  6. ^ a b c d e Marsden, George M. (1987). Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8028-3642-7. Retrieved November 30, 2009.
  7. ^ David R. Swartz, Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism, University of Pennsylvania Press, USA, 2012, p. 18
  8. ^ George Thomas Kurian, Mark A. Lamport, Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States, Volume 5, Rowman & Littlefield, USA, 2016, p. 929
  9. ^ Fuller, Daniel P. (2 January 2015). Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: The Story of Charles e. Fuller. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 9781498207157.
  10. ^ Crawley, Winston (2001). World Christianity, 1970-2000: Toward a New Millennium. William Carey Library. ISBN 9780878085040.
  11. ^ Hogrefe, James (April 2021). The Far Side of the Sea: A Study of Church Growth in India. One Mission Society. ISBN 9781622457519.
  12. ^ Pratt, Zane; David Sills, M.; Walters, Jeff K. (July 2014). Introduction to Global Missions. B&H Publishing. ISBN 9781433678981.
  13. ^ Muller, Karl; Sundermeier, Theo; Bevans, Stephen B.; Bliese, Richard H. (30 January 2006). Dictionary of Mission: Theology, History, Perspectives. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 9781597525497.
  14. ^ a b Strachan, Owen. (2015). Awakening the evangelical mind : an intellectual history of the neo-evangelical movement. Grand Rapids, Michigan. ISBN 9780310520795. OCLC 907181035.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  15. ^ "COLLECTION 0150: David Allan Hubbard: Presidential Papers, 1947–1996". Fuller Seminary Archives and Special Collections. 2017.
  16. ^ Kang, K. Connie (December 2, 2006). "Aiming to Clarify the Meaning of a Loaded Word". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
  17. ^ "Mark Labberton Faculty Profile". Fuller Theological Seminary. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  18. ^ "Richard J. Mouw Faculty Profile". Fuller Theological Seminary. Archived from the original on November 27, 2013. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  19. ^ Kucinski, Matt (June 4, 2020). "Richard Mouw comes home to Calvin". Calvin University. Retrieved 2021-04-06.
  20. ^ NEWSWIRE), Fuller Seminary (GLOBE. "Fuller Seminary Begins Presidential Transition". The Bakersfield Californian. Retrieved 2021-10-23.
  21. ^ "Fuller Seminary Begins Presidential Transition". finance.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2021-10-23.
  22. ^ a b "Fuller Seminary Names David Emmanuel Goatley as Sixth President | Fuller Seminary". 12 September 2022.
  23. ^ "About Fuller". Fuller Theological Seminary. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  24. ^ "Facts and Figures :: Fuller". Fuller Theological Seminary. Archived from the original on June 14, 2014. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  25. ^ "Fuller Theological Seminary closes some campuses". Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  26. ^ Williams, Janette (May 18, 2009). "Fuller Theological Seminary celebrates new library". Los Angeles Daily News. Archived from the original on August 31, 2018. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  27. ^ Vincent, Roger (May 23, 2018). "Fuller Theological Seminary leaving Pasadena and putting campus up for sale". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  28. ^ "The Future of Fuller Seminary | Fuller Seminary". 2019-06-01. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  29. ^ Fowler, Megan. "Fuller Seminary Won't Leave Pasadena After All". News & Reporting. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  30. ^ "Institutional Commitments". fuller.edu. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  31. ^ "Fuller Seminary students, staff march on Pasadena City Hall for immigration reform". pasadenastarnews.com. 18 November 2013. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  32. ^ "A conversation on why Black Lives Matter to White churches". Fuller Studio. 30 March 2016. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  33. ^ "Conversations the Church needs to have in 2015". fuller.edu. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  34. ^ "LGBT group finds acceptance at evangelical college". USA TODAY. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  35. ^ Foley, Ryan (March 31, 2021). "LBGT Christian college students sue to block Title IX religious exemptions". www.christianpost.com. Retrieved 2021-04-06.
  36. ^ "Policy Against Unlawful Discrimination | Fuller Seminary". 2017-10-17. Retrieved 2021-10-23.
  37. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (June 16, 1996). "Obituary: David Allan Hubbard". New York Times.
  38. ^ "Article: Three Accomplished Graduates Given Prestigious Hubbard Achievement Award". July 6, 2017.

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