NEW ORLEANS (BP)–New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, in partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources, recently launched the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry to help bridge the gap between the academy and the local church.
“Theology should energize the ministries of our churches,” said Stan Norman, associate professor of theology at New Orleans Seminary and director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry (BCTM). “The BCTM is devoted to making theology live within the practice of ministry.”
Norman, author of “More Than Just a Name: Preserving Our Baptist Identity,” is the driving force behind the Baptist Center which launched its website on April 18. The center was created as a vehicle to bring the theology taught in Baptist seminaries and colleges to the local church.
“What we do flows out of what we believe,” seminary president Chuck Kelley said. “The Southern Baptist Convention was formed to enhance the ability of Baptist churches to do world missions and evangelism. That priority emerged out of our theological conviction that Christ alone can save the human soul.”
“Our seminary is passionately committed to keeping Southern Baptist’s aware of Baptist doctrinal heritage, for in so doing, we keep attention on fulfilling the Great Commission.”
BCTM’s online journal, the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry, will be published bi-annually and address key issues in Baptist theology and polity. The first issue covers a range of topics including evangelism, divorce and Cooperative Program issues.
The great Baptist thinkers of the past have been pastor-theologians, Norman said. They did not “do theology” to “feed” the academy. Their theology was aimed at the local church, because they had spent many years in local church ministry. These pastor-theologians preserved the Baptist distinctives in the churches they served.
“You see our (Southern Baptists) theology is best seen, not in a book, but in our churches,” Norman explained. “Baptist efforts and energy have not been in writing about theology, but actually embedding theology in our churches.”
“I don’t want to discount the importance of writing, but I don’t want to do theology simply for the purpose of writing,” said Norman, who has over 10 years of pastoral experience. “I want the Baptist Center to facilitate taking theology all the way to the church.”
Drawing from this rich heritage, Norman wants to recover and communicate the Baptist distinctives that are on the decline in some churches today. He believes that a renewed emphasis on distinctive Baptist theology not only will shape the beliefs of churches, but also will invigorate their missions and ministries.
While BCTM was started at New Orleans Seminary, Norman hopes that Southern Baptist college professors, seminary professors and pastors will embrace this idea and help the center to become a “converging point” for the development of theology.
“I want this to be a network of all our denominational resources … drawing them all together for this collaborative effort of doing theology for the church,” Norman said. “I want us to address issues that really matter and can really change the local church.”
Contact Norman by phone, (504) 282-4455, ext. 8011, to learn more about the work of the Baptist Center. The link to the Baptist Center website is www.baptistcenter.com, the email address is [email protected].