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Colleagues affirm selection of Roberts as new president of Midwestern Seminary

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Southern Baptists across the country have affirmed the unanimous selection of North American Mission Board Vice President R. Philip Roberts to serve as the fourth president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.

In recommending Roberts, Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler wrote, “He is a theologian of keen conviction and biblical passion.” He commended Roberts’ experience in the denomination and in ministry, noting his “impeccable academic credentials and considerable experience in scholarship and academic institutions.”

A former deacon of a Belgium church where Roberts served told of the congregation’s spiritual and numerical growth during his tenure. With 34 nationalities represented and 22 language groups, Terrance A. Smith said, “Phil provided skilled leadership and vision as we became a church ministering to many needy people in Brussels as well as in the East Bloc during their difficult years.”

Pastor Johnny Hunt of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga., related his association with Roberts who served as resident scholar for the church. “He is a man of incredible, impeccable character. He is a man of scholarship, integrity, passion and deep conviction. Place him in the position,” he urged, adding, “It is the right thing.”

SBC President James Merritt described Roberts as “a scholar, an apologist, a soul-winner and a man of the highest integrity.” He added that Roberts understands the culture of the Midwest, having been raised in that setting.

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson said Roberts is recognized as “a published authority on Mormonism and has been the pivotal figure in the Baptist dialogue with Roman Catholicism, which has resulted in clarifying for our Roman friends the fact that no ecumenical movement is possible.”

Former Midwestern Seminary President Mark Coppenger, now serving as a church planter in Evanston, Ill., responded, “I thank God for Phil Roberts. We’ve been colleagues in ministry in a variety of settings from Moscow to Bucharest to Salt Lake City to the conversations with Roman Catholics. He’s a Southern Baptist treasure. Upon hearing of the nomination of Roberts, I e-mailed him the message, ‘Godspeed,’ and I repeat that today.”

In addition to pastoring several international churches in England, Germany and Belgium, Roberts taught evangelism and discipleship for the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Belgium with continued ties to the school, and served as dean of theology for the Institute of Biblical Studies in Oradea, Romania. He has maintained his ties with the practical theology division of that school since 1994.

From 1992-94 he served as dean of theology at International Academy of Modern Knowledge in Obninsk, Russia. He also served as dean of the Young Itinerant Evangelist’s Institute as a part of Leighton Ford Ministries in Moscow and Romania. Roberts also taught evangelism at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Early missions experiences included serving in Rhodesia, Israel and Maryland.

Roberts received his Ph.D. from Free University of Amsterdam, did post-graduate research at Oxford University, received the M.Div. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the B.A. from Georgetown College.

He is the author of several books, including “Mormonism Unmasked” and “The Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism,” as well as having contributed to numerous theological journals, opinion pages and Christian publications.

Midwestern was founded in 1957 as a means of bringing theological education to the Midwest region. A Florida pastor, Millard J. Berquist, served as the first president. After meeting in a local church during the first year, the seminary moved to its current setting on the former Vivion Farm in northern Kansas City. Berquist was followed by Milton Ferguson, a Southwestern Seminary professor who became president in 1972. Former SBC Executive Committee Vice President Mark Coppenger served as president from 1995-99.

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