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Akin says evangelism course to be required at Southern

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Every student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will soon be required to take a course in personal evangelism, Danny Akin told the seminary community March 11.

“I believe every seminary ought to equip every student for engagement in personal evangelism. I say this morning to our shame that we are a seminary that not yet requires personal evangelism for every single student,” the vice president of academic administration said in a chapel address.

“But I want to tell you something: that day will change,” said Akin, who also serves as dean of the school of theology. “I have … a mandate placed by our president who says in the near future that will not be an option. That will not be negotiable.”

Although curriculum changes will not affect students already enrolled, Akin challenged seminarians to structure their schedules to take a personal evangelism course while in seminary.

Quoting a recent survey by pollster George Barna, Akin listed six problems common to evangelistic efforts today: ignorance of other faiths, a lukewarm passion for souls, ignorance about Jesus, bad salvation theology, misplaced trust and insufficient motivation for evangelism.

Evangelical Christians are faced with “a church where there is confusion about the doctrine of salvation and confusion about the issue of evangelism,” Akin said. The “flowering” of the seeds of such doctrinal confusion was “planted many years ago,” he asserted.

Akin cited a report produced by seven American Protestant denominations in 1932 which called for a change in the missionary task from evangelism to finding positive features in other religions.

Quoting missions historian Stephen Neill, Akin said the report argued, “The aim (of missionaries) should not be conversion, an attempt to establish a Christian monopoly. The ultimate aim is the emergence of the various religions out of their isolation, into a world fellowship in which each finds its appropriate place.”

Such a mind-set, according to Akin, “is totally foreign to the New Testament. And it is one that has paralyzed, in many quarters, the church’s ability to fulfill the commission of its Lord.

“I believe as we approach the dawn of a new millennium,” Akin continued, “we need again a renewed commitment to our Master and his mandate to share the gospel with the whole world.”

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  • James A. Smith
  • James A. Smith, Sr.
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