News Articles

BP Ledger, Feb. 2, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each week from various Southern Baptist-related entities and news releases of interest from other sources. The items are published as received.

Today’s BP Ledger contains items from:
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Oklahoma Baptist Messenger
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Joni and Friends International
WORLD News Service

SWBTS prof Robert Mathis dies at age 67
By Staff

FORT WORTH, Texas (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) — Robert Mathis, professor of administration at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, died Jan. 25 after roughly a decade-long battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He was 67.

The day after Mathis’ death, Southwestern President Paige Patterson said in a statement to the campus, “It is with a combination of regret and joy that I must inform you that Dr. Robert Mathis has gone to dwell in the presence of our Lord. I say ‘joy’ because Dr. Mathis was irrepressibly joyful. Some of you remember him sitting at the side of Truett Auditorium in his wheelchair during chapel. Dr. Mathis lived with Lou Gehrig’s disease, a disease that is slowly debilitating to the muscular system, for more than a decade. In all that time, he never gave in to the disease, nor did he complain. We give thanks for his life and for his time with us. He prayed for and supported Southwestern right up until his death.”

Waylan Owens, dean of Southwestern’s Jack D. Terry School of Church and Family Ministries, says, “Bob Mathis was one of the most energetic and encouraging men I have known. As my professor, his encouragement came to me at a pivotal time in life. As his colleague, I was always encouraged to be a better man and professor by his life.”

Mathis earned both his master’s in religious education and his doctor of philosophy from Southwestern (in 1978 and 1984, respectively). He later earned his doctor of education in higher education administration from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1995. Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, Mathis served as minister of education at various churches in Texas and Louisiana.

In 1986, Mathis joined the faculty of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. There, he occupied the John T. Sizemore Chair of Christian Education and served as director of research doctoral programs. In 1998, Mathis brought his nearly 30 years of experience in education and ministry to Southwestern, where he served as professor of administration for the next 12 years.

Roughly a decade ago, Mathis was diagnosed with ALS, a disease that affects nearly 30,000 Americans, with approximately 5,600 people diagnosed every year. In the ensuing years, in honor of Mathis, Southwestern faculty and students participated in ALS walks in Dallas in order to raise money for the ALS foundation. In 2009, Southwestern organized a walk on the seminary campus in order to allow more people to participate.

Also in 2009, Southwestern held a ribbon cutting in honor of Mathis to mark the newest wheelchair accessibility ramp to Price Hall, where Mathis worked. Due to his ALS, Mathis used a wheelchair for his primary mobility, thus necessitating the new ramp on the west side of Price Hall, the closest entrance to the parking lot. At the brief ceremony, Mathis became the first person to ride up and down the ramp. He jokingly asked for it to be named the “Mathis Tollway,” with all the proceeds going toward his retirement fund.

Mathis is survived by his wife of 46 years, Odene, who also served at Southwestern for many years; his daughter, Karissa Luckett, and her husband, Peter Luckett; his granddaughter, Hallie Luckett; his mother, Faye Mathis; and his brother, Dean Mathis, and sister-in-law, Betty Sue.

Mathis’ funeral was held in Southwestern’s Truett Auditorium on Thursday, Jan. 29. In lieu of flowers, the Mathis family requests that contributions be made to the Robert Mathis Scholarship for Christian Education. Contributions can be made to SWBTS with notation of the Robert Mathis Scholarship for Christian Education and either mailed to P.O. Box 22500, Fort Worth, TX, 76122 or online ats wbts.edu/give.
Partnership missions: Porter
to speak at tornado summit
By Bob Nigh

OKLAHOMA CITY (Baptist Messenger) — Sam Porter, disaster relief director for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO), is on an impressive list of national experts who will speak at the Fourth Annual National Tornado Summit, Feb. 23-25 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

The National Tornado Summit improves disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery to save lives and property in the United States. In addition, the summit serves as a national forum for insurance professionals and regulators as well as international, national and state experts to exchange ideas and recommend new policies to improve emergency management. More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the event.

Porter’s presentation, titled “Faith Based Organizations in Disaster Response and What They Can Do to Help,” is scheduled from 3:45-4:30 p.m., Tues., Feb. 24.

The Summit’s printed description of the session says, “During this session, we will take a look at aid provided by the Baptist disaster relief organization and how they can assist immediately following catastrophes from feeding those displaced and responders to debris removal.”

Porter, who was invited to speak by Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak, said, “The coastal states have had an annual Hurricane summit for many years, but Commissioner Doak has had the wisdom to establish the National Tornado Summit in Oklahoma, which is known for tornadoes and tornado response. Commissioner Doak understands the role Southern Baptist Disaster Relief plays across the nation and especially in Oklahoma. He has been active in the Baptist church since he was a small child.

“He is very supportive of and encouraging to our ministry. I consider it a great honor to be asked to lead a seminar at this conference. Doak’s motive is that he wants the insurance industry and emergency management officials from across the nation to know how important a faith-based organization like ours is to the nation and even to the insurance industry.

“For instance, when Baptist volunteer teams did debris removal in cleaning 1,200 home sites in a 42-day period following the May 2013 tornadoes in Oklahoma, it is estimated they saved Oklahoma homeowners between $5 million and $8 million dollars in wrecking/salvage costs.”

During that time, Porter coordinated disaster relief teams from 13 states who came in with heavy equipment run by Baptist volunteers to assist at no charge.

Doak, a member of Tulsa, South Tulsa, said, “Sam has been a part of our Summits from the very first one we put together four years ago. It was a natural fit, given his world-wide view and leadership role, expertise in training in disaster, motivation for volunteers and his organizational skills. I think it is a great place for him this year to highlight and really share his message, share what motivates the Baptist organization and challenge other faith-based organizations who do a great job.

“To watch Sam work (with) those men and women in leadership with other denominations, it really works very, very smoothly. Whether it be coordination with Catholic Charities or coordination with another denomination, Sam has that unique ability to cross those lines with the ultimate goal of serving his fellow man at a time of great need, and that is a very admirable quality.

“He is a great resource here, with people coming in from most every state and from around the world to learn how we can coordinate and work better to assist folks at a time of a natural catastrophe.”

“Sam is absolutely first class in everything he touches and having that servant’s heart and that caring attitude with the leadership skills to implement large numbers of volunteers is just remarkable, and it’s something we’re very proud of for Sam and the Southern Baptist organization.”

Doak said he believes faith-based organizations have a huge role in disaster relief and recovery.

“It is absolutely critical that we have faith-based organizations involved (after) natural catastrophes, such as the ones we have experienced in Oklahoma, around the United States and really outside of the U.S., he said. “In particular, the programs that the Southern Baptists have are really the highest quality programs, and the training that the individuals receive who participate in the Baptist programs—whether it be the mud-out program, the feeding program, or the chain saw program—all of these programs have been well-designed and they’re probably one of the most well-thought-out programs any of us have seen.

“Again, there are many faith-based programs, but being a Southern Baptist, it’s something that I’m very, very proud of to have a part of, and to see work behind the scenes. These men and women who volunteer and give their hearts and hands are really putting their faith into action at a very difficult time for Oklahomans and the nation.”

Highlights of the summit include:
— A two-day trade show that connects attendees to valuable resources, services, and products.
— General sessions with presentations on Crisis & Disaster Communications, Business & Home Safety, Disaster Stress, and Reinsurance.
— More than 25 breakout sessions featuring international, national, and state experts.
— Continuing education credits for insurance professionals.
— A tour of the National Weather Center in Norman.

For more information, visit www.tornadosummit.org.
Professors trace the importance of biblical theology
By Andrew J.W. Smith

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) — Biblical theology is the means of church unity and the foundation for careful theological interpretation, according to professors of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at an Alumni Academy at the Louisville, Ky., campus, Jan. 8-9.

Using the text of Ephesians 4:11-14, James M. Hamilton Jr., professor of biblical theology at Southern Seminary, argued that doctrinal agreement, unity and Christ-likeness are accomplished through understanding the work of God throughout salvation history.

Namely, “unity of the faith” and attaining “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” is possible through a robust biblical theology. The proper understanding of the Bible’s unfolding story unifies the church and ultimately makes us mature in Christ, he said.

Hamilton also demonstrated that biblical theology is understood when readers view Scripture through the lens of the “interpretive perspective,” or worldview, of the biblical authors.

The idea of worldview is central to proper experience of the Bible, Hamilton said. A worldview is not only a comprehensive story within which believers fit, he said — it also offers a pattern of living through mastering and transforming Christians’ affections. While other stories compete for attention and devotion, believers must fight to make the biblical story the exclusive story in their lives.

“The narratives in the Bible,” Hamilton said, “are in the Bible to shape our desires, to cause us to want to be certain kinds of people. What they give us is a vision of what the good life looks like.”

Biblical theology also involves typology and symbols, Hamilton said, or ways the biblical authors “summarize and interpret” earlier stories in the biblical canon through various linguistic connections between texts.
For example, he argued that Psalm 8 is a later interpretation of Genesis 3 — “out of the mouths of babies and infants” is a reference to the “seed” of the woman in Gen. 3:15, and the list of animals under man’s authority reflect the dominion given to man in Gen. 1.

Finally, Hamilton said that biblical theology shapes the church’s identity as the people of God. The Bible’s metanarrative becomes the believer’s story.

“My identity is not, ‘I’m a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,’” Hamilton said. “My identity is, ‘I’m a Gentile, who was a stranger and alien … and God mercifully included me on this new Exodus salvation that God has accomplished.’ … My identity is, ‘I am a liberated slave.’”

Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, gave a case study in biblical theology by focusing on what the Bible’s storyline teaches about sexual orientation. “Is same-sex orientation sinful?” he asked.

Burk suggested the question relates to biblical theology, and showed through Jesus’ teaching on adultery in the Sermon on the Mount how the New Testament is dependent on the narrative flow in the Old Testament.

When Jesus prohibits adultery in Matthew 5:27, the author quotes directly from the seventh commandment in Exodus 20:14. However, Burk said, Jesus goes one step further than the original commandment and points to the lustful heart as the source of the sin.

Burk argued that Jesus’ extension of the commandment to include inward lust is actually a pairing of the seventh commandment with the tenth commandment (“You shall not covet”), since the word employed by Matthew for “lust” is the same as the one used for “covet” in the Septuagint.

“All that Jesus is doing is reading the Ten Commandments,” Burk said.
Burk also noted that the word itself, often translated “desire,” is either morally negative or neutral depending on the object desired. If one desires “another man’s wife,” Burk said, the desire is clearly wrong. Because same-sex desire focuses on non-marital erotic desire, it necessarily cannot be glorifying to God.

“The only sex desire that glorifies God is that desire that is ordered to the covenant of marriage,” he said.

Stephen J. Wellum, professor of Christian theology, approached the topic of biblical theology as a systematic theologian, noting the ways biblical theology complements the work of systematic theology.

While systematic theology applies the Bible to all of life, Wellum said, biblical theology ensures that Christians are properly interpreting the Bible in the first place. While systematic theology assumes the reader is properly interpreting Scripture before applying it to life, biblical theology first reads the Bible on its own terms. One can’t apply the Bible unless it’s rightly understood, Wellum said.

“Systematic theology is the queen … in our reading and application of Scripture,” he said. “Biblical theology is hermeneutical discipline that is a means to an end — and the end ultimately is a theological reading of the Bible that is faithful to it, applied properly and driven home to our lives.”

The two-day conference also featured additional lectures from Hamilton and one from Robert L. Plummer, professor of New Testament interpretation, as well as panel contributions from Greg Gilbert, preaching pastor at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., and Brian Payne, associate professor of Christian theology and expository preaching. Alumni Academy provides free ongoing instruction for alumni and prospective students of Southern Seminary.

More information and audio from the Alumni Academy lectures are available at www.sbts.edu/resources.
Global Access Conference presented by
Joni and Friends to promote disability ministry
By Staff

AGOURA HILLS, Calif. (Joni and Friends) — Joni and Friends International Disability Center is announcing the first-of-its-kind Global Access Conference, inviting individuals from across the U.S. and around the world to be trained and to network in the area of ministry to those with disabilities.

The conference — scheduled for Feb. 17-20 — in Southern California – will bring together disability leaders, ministers, educators and practitioners to share experiences, forge relationships and learn how to practically and effectively promote disability ministry in the Christian community.

Conference speakers include Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends; Doug Mazza, President and Chief Operating Officer of Joni and Friends; Nick Vujicic, international speaker and founder of Life without Limbs; Dr. Charles Ware, President of Crossroads Bible College; Dr. Joseph D’Souza, International President of the Dalit Freedom Network; Dr. Eddy Bazin, pastor of Delmas Christian Church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Lon Solomon, senior pastor at McLean Bible Church; international missionary and speaker Bernadette Todd; and full-time painter and speaker Hyatt Moore, former president of Wycliffe Bible Translators

“We are so excited about this world-class lineup of speakers whose life experiences have uniquely qualified them to understand the challenges facing individuals with disabilities, as well as what it takes to successfully reach out and minister to the disability community,” conference organizer and Joni and Friends vice president Steve Bundy said. “They will be sharing from their wisdom and their hearts as we all learn together how to better respond to God’s command to bring the poor, crippled, blind and lame into His house.”

Four thought-provoking tracks will be offered during the conference:
— Leadership development and biblical counseling
— Ministry in sensitive cultural contexts
— Mission and disability ministry
— Technology and disability

In order to achieve its three objects of equipping, engaging and encouraging attendees in the area of disability ministry, Global Access will explore three central themes to create a more unified understanding of the goal of global disability ministry. These are:

— Christ: understanding His person and work in historical context, considering the implications of His ministry as it applies to evangelizing people affected by disability.
— Church: exploring its responsibilities in this area
— Community: understanding the Church’s role as a leader in disability advocacy and empowerment in the wider cultural and social community

“We know these are weighty topics, but there is no doubt this is an area in which we need much more discussion, study and understanding, as well as getting people on the ground doing the work of ministry,” Tada said. “I am so excited that we’ve been able to see this conference come to life around our theme – ‘Where disabilities and possibilities meet’ — and I can’t wait to see how God is going to use this.”

The conference will begin Tuesday evening, Feb. 17, and run through Friday evening, June 20, at Calvary Community Church, 5495 Via Rocas, Westlake Village, Calif. Registration is $299, which includes all sessions as well as lunch, dinner, snacks and beverages during the conference and transportation from pre-arranged hotels. More information is available online at www.globalaccessconference.org.

For more than 35 years, Joni and Friends has worked to accelerate ministry to the disability community around the world, offering a wide array of life-affirming ministries, including the Christian Institute on Disability; the International Disability Center; international radio and television programs filled with inspirational stories; Wheels for the World, which every year gives thousands of individuals wheelchairs and the life-giving message of the Gospel; and Family Retreats, where families affected by disability learn they are not alone.
Evangelical Press Assoc.
names new exec
By Staff

EL CAJON, Calif. (WORLD News Service) — The Evangelical Press Association Board of Directors has announced the appointment of the organization’s Chief Financial Officer Lamar Keener as the new Executive Director of the association, effective Jan. 15.

The action follows the resignation of current Executive Director D’Arcy Maher, who informed the Board in December that she was stepping down in light of new opportunities for a joint ministry with her husband.

“In the final months of 2014, my husband and I received an invitation to work together as a team in an international capacity,” Maher said. “After prayerful consideration, we are walking through the steps to finalize this significant decision. Releasing the role at EPA is certainly bittersweet, but it’s the right time in order for the association to continue moving forward.”

“D’Arcy has served the association well, and while we will miss her, we celebrate this new opportunity with her,” said President-elect Mark Winz, who presided over the discussion and voting.
After considering several options, the EPA Board voted unanimously to offer the position to Keener, who has been serving in a part-time business management role for EPA since 2012. His role will now expand to include Executive Director.

“Lamar’s wealth of industry knowledge, professionalism and marketing expertise make him a great fit,” said Winz. “Since he’s already on staff, he will be able to seamlessly step in to keep the work of the association moving forward.”

Keener has been an active member of EPA for more than 25 years. He was the publisher of the award-winning Christian Examiner newspaper group from 1988 to 2014, and he is the current publisher of Refreshed magazine, launched last year. He previously served as Treasurer and President of the EPA Board.

The Evangelical Press Association is a professional association of Christian publications — magazines, newspapers and newsletters — and content-rich websites. Founded in 1948, the association includes 300 members in the U.S., Canada, Israel and India.

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