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A tribute to L. Russ Bush


JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–Yesterday, Jan. 22, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s L. Russ Bush III was ushered into glory. After an intense two-year battle with cancer, the Lord has called Russ home.

Russ Bush was a man who deeply loved Christ and honored His Word. I will always remember the young, dedicated philosophy professor who constantly challenged his students to do their very best.

For those who looked on from a distance, Russ Bush often seemed aloof and overly concerned with the minutia of philosophical arguments. Some thought of him as more interested in his subject matter than in his students. But for those who knew him well, this was hardly the case. His friends knew him as a soft spoken, genuinely kind, Southern gentleman, but most of all, we thought of Russ Bush as a committed Christ-follower.

Russ Bush was a faithful friend to many, a dedicated husband to Cindy and a person who deeply loved the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. His life and work were deeply rooted in “the faith, once for all delivered to all the saints” (Jude 3). He understood his calling in light of the apostolic exhortation to always be ready to provide a reason for the hope that shaped his life (1 Peter 3:15).

His lasting contribution will be the significant work on “Baptists and the Bible” (co-authored with Tom Nettles). His commitment to the truthfulness and the authority of God’s Word was a hallmark of all that he was and all that he did. He served as an editor over the past 20 years for the “New American Commentary.” Russ was honored by his colleagues across the evangelical world who elected him as president of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Moreover, the administration and board of trustees at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary have provided a lasting tribute with the naming of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture at the seminary.

No one will ever fully know all that Russ Bush did to keep the doors of Southeastern Seminary open during the turbulent years of transition in the late 1980s and early 1990s in his capacity as chief academic officer of the seminary. Southern Baptists will always owe him a great debt for his service in this key role.


I was privileged to sit in his philosophy of religion class during my first year at Southwestern Seminary. It was there that I was introduced to one of the truly fine Southern Baptist thinkers for this generation.

For the past 30 years it has been an honor to call him my friend. We have worked together on various projects through the years. Russ was a constant source of encouragement for me and countless others.

For years I always looked forward to sharing a meal with him at the Southern Baptist Convention each year. While his life has seemingly ended before we were ready, we trust God’s providence and rejoice that Russ’ suffering has ceased. Moreover, we give thanks that he has entered the presence of our Lord, where I am sure that he heard the words “well done, good and faithful servant.”

My life, along with hundreds of others, has been blessed by knowing and learning from our dear friend. On this day, we give thanks for the life and work of L. Russ Bush III.
David S. Dockery is president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn.