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5 new professors join Southeastern faculty

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Five new professors are joining the faculty at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary this fall, bringing the total number of full- and part-time faculty positions to more than 70.
Four new seminary professors and a college professor will help Southeastern keep pace with the school’s flourishing enrollment over the last decade. During the 1998-99 academic year, Southeastern enrolled 1,826 students. As many as 500 new students are expected to enroll this fall at the Wake Forest, N.C., seminary. Southeastern’s 1999 fall semester begins Aug. 23, with Mark Coppenger, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo., scheduled to deliver the convocation address in Binkley Chapel.
Southeastern’s newest faculty members, appointed to the faculty by seminary President Paige Patterson, are:
— Emir F. Caner, a 1995 Southeastern alumnus, returning to his alma mater as assistant professor of church history and Anabaptist studies.
Caner, 29, earned his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Texas at Arlington, where his research focused on the life and writings of Balthasar Hubmaier, an Anabaptist theologian. Caner received a master of divinity from Southeastern and a bachelor of arts in biblical studies from Criswell College in Dallas.
Caner served as co-pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Texas prior to being called to Southeastern. He also was a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Texas at Arlington in 1998-99.
Raised in a Muslim family, Caner said he desires to “invigorate the way students think about things such as church history, Reformation studies or my specialty, Anabaptist studies.” He said he believes his upbringing has prepared him to present a balanced and informative study of church history to explore “how people of faith from the past were held together by the Word of God.”
About his return to Southeastern, the Texas native said: “They ought to rename Wake Forest, N.C., the New Jerusalem. The revival feeling on campus, students who are hungry for the Word, professors who are winning souls and doing mission trips, it’s just the perfect place to be at this time.”
L. Russ Bush III, academic vice president and dean of faculty at Southeastern, said Caner may be the only Anabaptist scholar in a teaching position in the Southern Baptist Convention.
“The opportunity to find a young scholar who has special expertise in the study of Anabaptist theology and the early historical roots of the free church movement is rare indeed,” Bush said.
— Jason K. Lee, a native of Mobile, Ala., assistant professor of church history, coming to Southeastern from Stonehaven Baptist Church in Stonehaven, Scotland, where he has pastored since 1997.
Lee, 28, earned his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, where his research focused on the early English Baptists, especially the theology of John Smyth. Lee received a master of divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and has a bachelor of arts in religion from the University of Mobile, Mobile, Ala.
“He is not only one of the finest minds in historical theology among younger scholars today,” Bush said, “but his proven love for the local church and his experience in local church ministries gives him a unique perspective.”
Lee was also a guest lecturer and a member of the teaching staff at the University of Aberdeen during his time in Scotland. Prior to his sojourn overseas, Lee served as minister of youth in Louisville, Miss., and minister of students in Grand Bay, Ala.
Lee said he hopes to bring his passion for the Christian heritage to the classroom. “The weakness in church history is when people approach it a bit too dryly and don’t add any life to it,” he said. “I want to help students prepare for practical ministry, as well as develop scholars.”
Lee and his wife, Kimberly, have a newborn daughter, McKayla.
— Phyllis M. McCraw, instructor of English composition, who formerly was a part-time instructor of English at Southeastern.
McCraw, 50, a native of Mt. Airy, N.C., most recently served as a part-time instructor of English composition and literature at Campbell University, Raleigh Center, Morrisville, N.C., as well as a Latin teacher at Trinity Academy, Raleigh, N.C. She has been a teacher’s aide in the Durham Public Schools, where she taught students with learning disabilities and behavioral/emotional problems, and a teaching assistant in linguistics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
McCraw received a master of arts in linguistics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C., and her bachelor of science in English and education from Radford University, Radford, Va.
McCraw, who has studied seven languages, including Greek and Hebrew, said a knowledge of the biblical languages provides an edge over other English instructors. “I feel that I can approach English in a way that will prepare these young men and women to study Greek and Hebrew,” she said.
Bush said McCraw “loves the Christian gospel so much that she simply insists that we all learn to speak, read and write proper English in order to glorify the God of all grace who communicates with us through the language of the Bible.”
McCraw said she is delighted about the opportunity to teach at Southeastern. “I’m excited about touching lives that will go out and touch many more,” she said. “The exponential possibilities are beyond my imagination.”
McCraw, her husband, Roger, and their two children, Jonathon, 19, and Jennifer, 17.
— David Nelson, instructor of systematic theology who already is familiar face to those attending Southeastern chapel services, having served as an adjunctive instructor and chapel worship leader since 1998.
Nelson, 35, completed his doctorate of philosophy in systematic theology at Southeastern in May where he also earned a master of divinity with languages. He received the master of music and bachelor of music degrees from Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, Texas, and he also completed additional music studies in conducting at the University of North Texas, Denton.
Nelson currently is serving as interim pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, Rocky Mount, N.C. Previously, he was minister of worship at Central Baptist Church, Henderson, N.C., and associate pastor at Gracemont Baptist Church, Tulsa, Okla., and First Baptist Church, Claremore, Okla. He has served as minister of music to university students at Grace Temple Baptist Church, Denton, Texas, as well.
“His ability and expertise in music has given him a natural outlet for the study of worship and praise as a natural concomitant to the study of doctrine,” Bush said.
Nelson said his 15 years of service in the local church has given him a unique perspective from which to teach. “To me, doing theology, which is my specialty, is something that should be done from the church and for the church,” he said.
Nelson said theology should be married to worship and that’s why he will keep his hand in both while at Southeastern.
Bush added Nelson is “one of the most talented men I have ever known. David Nelson is also one of the keenest thinkers. He is not only an expert in systematic theology, but he understands the practical application of doctrine.”
Nelson, his wife, Kathleen, have two daughters, Caitlin and Hannah.
— John H. Sailhamer, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, who formerly was the Author B. Whiting Professor of Hebrew Scriptures at Western Seminary, Portland, Ore.
Sailhamer served as scholar in residence at Northwestern College, St. Paul, Minn., from 1995-98. Since 1975, he has taught Old Testament, Hebrew, Semitic languages and theology as associate professor at five theological institutions including Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield Ill.; Bethel Theological Seminary, St. Paul; Bethel College, St. Paul; Biola College (University), La Mirada, Calif.; and Los Angeles Baptist College, Newhall, Calif.
Sailhamer earned a doctorate in philosophy in ancient Near East languages and literature (Northwest Semitics) from the University of California at Los Angeles. He also received his master of arts degree in Semitic languages from UCLA and a master of theology in Old Testament from Dallas Theological Seminary.
Southeastern President Patterson described Sailhamer as “deeply devotionally minded” and “one fabulous scholar” who is universally respected in the field of theological education for his expertise in the Semitic languages, including Arabic.
A prolific author, Sailhamer has written nearly 20 books. In 1998, Zondervan published a Quick Reference Library series written by Sailhamer on the following subjects: the books of the Bible, Christian theology, biblical prophecy, How We Got our Bible, Old Testament history, biblical archaeology and the life of Christ.
Sailhamer said he was attracted to Southeastern by its commitment to Scripture and clear understanding of the nature of the Gospel. “It stands out in how it’s represented in the president and the students,” he said.
Having taught Hebrew to more than 1,000 students, Sailhamer remains passionate about teaching. “This is God’s Word,” he said. “You can read the Bible in any translation, but there is something about evangelicals taking seriously the fact that these are the inspired words of God.” He said to read the words of God in the original languages is a rare privilege.
Sailhamer said he looks forward to teaching students how to focus on the centrality of God’s Word and the gospel by showing how the Bible fits together from Genesis to Revelation.
“The Old Testament is saying the same thing everywhere you look,” he said. “The identity of Christ as the Messiah promised beforehand in the Hebrew Scriptures is central to the gospel.”
Sailhamer and his wife, Patty, have four children: David, 23; Elizabeth, 21; John, 19; and Peter, 17.

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  • Byron McMillan