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Bible-centered convocation opens Southeastern’s 52nd academic year

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary celebrated the gospel as its calling and the Bible as its foundation in a convocation service Aug. 20 launching its 52nd academic year.

From reports on student mission work to the signing of the Abstract of Principles and Baptist Faith and Message 2000 by the faculty and Dallas pastor Mac Brunson’s message on God’s revelation, the theme of the day was commitment to sound biblical scholarship and reaching the world for Jesus Christ.

Calling Southeastern “the most exciting place on earth,” President Paige Patterson underscored the importance of the steady defense of God’s truth. He also praised the faculty of the Wake Forest, N.C., seminary for their commitment to the school’s two confessional statements, and presided as Robert Cole, assistant professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages, signed the documents and took his place among the seminary’s elected faculty.

“This is one institution that will stand for the great truths of God’s Word,” Patterson said.

Southeastern Seminary, said Brunson, a former North Carolina pastor who now leads First Baptist Church of Dallas, is a stronghold of truth and biblical inerrancy for Southern Baptists along the eastern seaboard.

Brunson, whom Patterson called “one of the greatest preachers in our denomination,” drew on the legacy of his predecessors at First Baptist of Dallas to motivate students to stay close to God and his revealed Word.

George Truett and W.A. Criswell, both longtime pastors at the Dallas church, were men who upheld the highest standards of commitment to the gospel and the Word of God.

Both men preached the message of God’s revelation in the world of men, both in his creation and in the Bible, Brunson said in a sermon based on Psalm 19.

“We take the Word of God to the ends of the earth, and we discover that God is already there, and he already has a witness — his creation,” Brunson said. “It isn’t that man doesn’t know [God]; it’s that man in his flesh doesn’t want to know God.”

But creation does not tell everything there is to know about God, Brunson added. It does not tell of the potential for a personal relationship with God, a relationship that is outlined in the inerrant Scriptures.

“This is what Dr. Truett gave his life to, this is what Dr. Criswell gave his life to,” Brunson said. “The preaching of [special] revelation.”

In relating the great preachers’ views on Scripture, Brunson quoted each one.

From Truett: “The Word incarnate and the Word written stand or fall together.”

From Criswell: “The old citadel stands though every stone in the wall has been attacked. Like Gibraltar it stands, while the wreck of uncounted hostile fleets lies shivered around its base. The empire of Caesar is gone, the legions of Rome are moldering in the dust, the avalanches that Napoleon hurled upon Europe have passed away, the pride of the pharaohs has fallen, the pyramids they have raised to their tombs are sinking every day into the desert sand. Tyre is a rock for spreading fishermen’s nets, Sidon is scarcely remembered but the Word of God still stands. All things that threaten to extinguish it have only aided it and it proves every day how transient is the noble monument that man can build but how enduring is the least word that God has spoken. Tradition has dug for it many a grave, intolerance has lighted for it many a faggot, many a Judas has betrayed it with a kiss, many a Peter has denied it with an oath, many a demon has forsaken it. But the Word of God still survives.”

Brunson noted how forceful the author of Psalm 19 was in describing the Word of the Lord: It is perfect, sure, right and pure. It is not Scripture that saves, Brunson said, but it is Scripture that makes men realize their sin and points them to Jesus Christ.

Those who hold to the inerrancy of Scripture are not “bibliolaters,” Brunson said.

“We believe Jesus Christ saves,” he said. “But only the Christ of [the Bible] saves.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at https://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: MAC BRUNSON and CONVOCATION GUEST.

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  • Jason Hall