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Akin reflects on state of SBC, SEBTS in alumni address

GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)–Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin told alumni June 14 that he is “optimistic, encouraged and forward-looking” concerning both the results of the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Greensboro and the future of Southeastern Seminary in the days ahead.

Speaking at the school’s annual Alumni and Friends Luncheon, Akin said he decided to share his feelings about the developments of this year’s meeting given the number of important issues it addressed.

Praising the success of this year’s Pastors’ Conference, Akin highlighted the breakout session that featured a discussion on the doctrine of election by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. The two men, Akin said, despite their differences in belief on the issue, “demonstrated how brothers in Christ can have a healthy conversation” and “are united lock-step in sharing the Gospel.”

Similarly, Southeastern Seminary will continue to uphold the great truths of both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of Christians to take the Gospel to the lost, Akin said.

“Anything at all that challenges the sovereignty of God, we are going to oppose,” Akin said. “Anything that lessens your passion to get the Gospel to the ends of the earth –- we’re going to stand in the way of that as well. Every single person on planet earth ought to hear about the love of Jesus Christ for their soul. That is where we stand and will stand for the foreseeable future.”

Akin also commented on South Carolina pastor Frank Page’s election as the next president of the SBC, saying that he is “very happy Frank Page is going to be leading us.” Page, Akin said, is a man “absolutely committed” to the doctrines of the conservative resurgence and the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message and to the appointment only of those who affirm the inerrancy of Scripture.

“I am going to support him gladly, joyfully and enthusiastically,” Akin said. “We’re going to move forward with a wonderful man leading us, a man worthy of that position of leading Southern Baptists for the next year.”

Regarding Cooperative Program giving, Akin said approvingly that “we challenged our convention to do better; we challenged our churches to give more, but we stopped short of setting a litmus test.”

Akin said he believes that one way the national convention can and should receive more Cooperative Program funding is for the state conventions to pass along a greater percentage of their receipts.

“I believe the state conventions should be working more toward a 50-50 split,” Akin said. “I believe if our state conventions will do that, our churches will be mobilized and energized to give more and more.”

Akin also addressed a number of the motions that were made at this year’s convention, noting that in many instances Southern Baptists did well to “put the issues back in the hands of those closest to the issues, the trustees of our [entities].”

“I believe we can trust the trustee process to take care of things,” Akin said.

Acknowledging that he was aware that some motions challenged even the trustees of Southern Baptist entities, Akin made it clear where Southeastern Seminary stands.

“I am delighted for anybody, any place, any time to ask about what is going on at Southeastern Seminary,” Akin said. “I have no fear about what is going on…. Our approach to doing business is an open book.”

Noting that he would be happy to give an account for “what we’re doing with every dime -– no, every penny,” Akin told alumni that because of its commitment to integrity, Southeastern Seminary has “absolutely nothing to hide.”

“It is not our money that we are responsible for,” Akin said. “It is God’s money. We have a higher mandate to treat God’s money wisely and responsibly.”

Akin went on to mention several convictions he believes should be on the minds of Southern Baptists in the days ahead.

“We are still suffering badly in terms of biblical and theological awareness as a convention,” Akin said, adding that Southeastern Seminary is committed to help remedy this condition. “We’re going to continue to work harder and harder at Southeastern to make sure our seminary students know what they believe and why.”

Akin praised the vote of the convention to take “a very strong stand on the evil of alcohol.” Southeastern will join in that stand, he said, insisting on the highest degree of conduct from its students.

“This is not ever going to be a part on my watch at Southeastern Seminary and, folks, that’s not ever going to change” Akin said. “Southeastern is going to be at the forefront of maintaining this standard.”

Reflecting on the low number of baptisms among Southern Baptist churches this year, Akin pinpointed both the problem and Southeastern’s solution for it.

“The problem is not Calvinism,” Akin said. “The problem is, we’ve lost our heart for the lost, we’ve lost our focus and we have forgotten that we are a Great Commission denomination.”

Southeastern Seminary, for its part, will not “do anything but stoke that flame [of evangelism]” Akin said, noting that every class that is conducted, even those in the biblical languages, will have “a Great Commission focus.”

“If we’re known for anything, we’ll be known as the missions and evangelism seminary on the East Coast,” Akin said.

Pointing out that is has been 27 years since the start of the
conservative resurgence, Akin said Southeastern Seminary will ensure that its students “do not forget our heroes.” He listed such men as Jimmy Draper, Paige Patterson, Paul Pressler, Adrian Rogers, Bailey Smith, Jerry Vines as examples of those instrumental in returning Southern Baptists back to their biblical, historical roots.

“These men are heroes, great men and giants on whose shoulders we stand today,” Akin said. “Our students will engage the battle more effectively if they know where we came from.”

Akin concluded by saying that he is excited about both Southeastern Seminary and being a Southern Baptist, adding that he is “confident that our greatest days are right ahead of us if we will simply walk with the Lord every step of the way.”

Elected as national alumni officers for the coming year were Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., president; and Jarrod Scott, pastor of Green Pines Baptist Church in Knightdale N.C., secretary-treasurer; and Eric Estep, pastor of Village Church in Blythewood, S.C., member at large for Southeastern’s executive committee.

In addition, Southeastern recognized its Outstanding Alumnus of the year, Coy Privette, a 1958 graduate and former member of Southeastern’s board of trustees. Privette was presented with a shofar and plaque by Akin “for his saintly leadership and consistent example.”

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  • Kyle Smith