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EDUCATION BRIEFS: GGBTS celebrates ethnic diversity, unity in Christ; SWBTS students host forum on homosexuality; …

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–At a time when an understanding of diversity has become essential in today’s society, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary hosted “Intersect,” a week-long event on the seminary’s Mill Valley, Calif., campus.

“It’s an opportunity to celebrate our unity in Christ despite our cultural differences,” said Garth Clayborn, program coordinator at Golden Gate’s David and Faith Kim School of Global Missions, which sponsored the fourth annual event in early November.

This year’s theme, “The Evangel and the Ethnopolis,” explored what it means to engage the culture of the world’s increasingly diverse urban centers through worship, workshops, brown bag lunch dialogues, a coffee house and a cross-cultural meal.

“Churches are struggling to adapt to the world around us, which is becoming more intercultural,” said Eric Bryant, a guest speaker who oversees the leadership team at Mosaic Church in Los Angeles. Bryant also teaches at the seminary’s Southern California campus and is the author of “Peppermint-Filled Piñatas: Breaking Through Tolerance and Embracing Love.”

During one of three chapel services at which Bryant spoke, he reminded students that the Apostle Paul encouraged Christians to spend time with people who are different than them.

“The cause of Christ creates community,” he said, adding that when Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” it was an invitation to change the world.

“Intersect’s purpose is to inspire and celebrate God’s creative activities, which honor diversity and unity,” said Faith Kim, founder of Intersect and chair of the seminary’s intercultural education department. “This year’s theme reminds us that cities gather scattered peoples, but only the Gospel makes them one.”

Shane Tanigawa, a staff member who coordinated the cross-cultural meal, said he thought of it as a multicultural Thanksgiving feast.

“Any time we break bread, there is going to be fellowship,” he said, noting that eating together is an opportunity to know people better.

Golden Gate’s student population is 54 percent non-Anglo, so embracing diversity is essential for creating cohesion on the seminary campus.

“The Intersect conference is like a farmers market for the faith,” said Rick Durst, professor of historical theology. “We all look forward to it.”

STUDENTS HOST FORUM ON HOMOSEXUALITY — Less than a week after the homosexual activist group Soulforce visited Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s campus in October, the school’s Student Theological Fellowship hosted a forum on the issue of homosexuality.

Zach Bowden, a master of divinity student and president of the Student Theological Fellowship, said the purpose of the forum is closely related to the goals of the fellowship.

“I would like to see the theological fellowship essentially show that theology matters for all facets of life,” Bowden said.

The forum raised questions concerning the biblical stance on homosexuality and the significance of the issue within the political sphere and within the church. The event featured three scholars from Southwestern: Craig Mitchell, assistant professor of ethics; Adam Groza, a Ph.D. student and director of admissions; and John Taylor, assistant professor of New Testament.

Taylor opened the discussion by answering a question about the interpretation of Paul’s discussion of homosexuality in Romans 1:26-27. Some have attempted to bypass the implications of the passage by appealing to ancient Roman culture or asserting that Paul was writing about people acting against their own sexual orientation or nature. Taylor disagreed.

“Paul actually addresses this issue of orientation,” he said. “He calls it desire. And not all desires are good. Just because you desire something and you’ve desired something for a long time doesn’t make it right.”

Groza noted that homosexual activists have “created this distinction between who someone is and what someone does.” As such, homosexuality becomes who someone is, rather than what he does.

“This is very dangerous because it eliminates any possibility of repentance,” he said.

Mitchell touched on pastoral concerns.

“The one thing we have to show to individual homosexuals is the love of Christ,” he said. “We should help them to change their lives so that they can overcome this sin by the power of Christ.”

SWBTS FILLS BIBLICAL COUNSELING CHAIR — “Training men and women to provide the healing Word to a hurting world” is the focus of the new Hope for the Heart Chair of Biblical Counseling at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Southwestern inaugurated the position Nov. 12 by installing Elias Moitinho, assistant professor of psychology and counseling, during a chapel service.

The faculty position was endowed by June Hunt, CEO and founder of Hope for the Heart Ministries, a biblical counseling ministry that includes a radio broadcast heard daily in 26 different countries. Hunt said the evangelistic opportunities that arise in counseling sessions present excellent opportunities to reach people for Christ.

Moitinho, a licensed Christian counselor, marriage and family therapist, holds three degrees from Southwestern, a Ph.D. in psychology and counseling, master of arts in marriage and family counseling and a master of arts in religious education, along with a bachelor of theology from South Brazil Baptist Theological Seminary in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

STUDENTS WALK TO SUPPORT PROFESSOR — Students, faculty and staff from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary took part in the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Walk at Victory Park in Dallas at the end of October to benefit one of their own.

Robert Mathis, professor of administration, battles ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Family and friends walked together as “Bob’s Mob” in support of him as he fights the illness.

“I have known Bob and Odene Mathis for a number of years, and they are both fighters,” said Wes Black, acting dean of Southwestern’s school of educational ministries. “Bob never gives up. He and Odene approach every day with assurance of God’s provision to face the challenges that day brings, never complaining, always encouraging…. He and Odene are both models of how to live in God’s grace.”

The three-mile walk was intended to support the nearly 30,000 Americans with ALS and raise awareness for the needed treatments and cure.

SCHOLAR LOOKS AT LITERARY ASPECTS OF BIBLE — The Bible’s message is better understood when the literary aspect of the text is appreciated alongside its theological dimensions, an English professor told students and faculty at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Oct. 21-22.

Leland Ryken, professor of English at Wheaton College in Chicago, talked about literary analysis of the Bible during the annual Page Lecture Series at the Wake Forest, N.C., seminary. Ryken called on Bible scholars to make a point of thinking about the Bible in literary terms when they try to understand and explain a passage of Scripture.

Bible students “flatten” the Scripture when they think of it as made up of only one type of material, Ryken said. In fact, the diverse genres of material found in the Bible — including poetry, narrative, epistles, historical and theological — are all literary techniques that God employed to impart truth.

Besides being a treasure trove of theological truth, the Bible also “is a beautiful work of literature,” Ryken said. “Our understanding and enjoyment of it is enhanced when we see it as such.”

“We pay lip-service to the beauty of the Bible but rarely understand it,” Ryken said. “To speak of the Bible as a literary classic is to speak accurately of the form God chose to present His truth.”
Adapted from reports by Phyllis Evans of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary; Benjamin Hawkins, Keith Collier & Michelle Myers of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Lauren Crane of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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