NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A student-initiated Spiritual Renewal Week at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary afforded opportunities to draw closer to God.
“If we’re not praying and communing with the Lord, we’re missing a huge part of who we are with the Lord and we are living a dead orthodoxy,” said Tana Inskeep, student ministry director of the seminary’s Campus Life Association. “We alone have no power. Apart from Him we can do nothing.”
During the week set aside in April, students led chapel services demonstrating various models of prayer.
“In addition to the traditional posture of sitting with eyes closed and head bowed, we wanted people to try out other methods such as a prayer response of calling out through songs or singing out the prayer,” Inskeep said.
Dave Robinson, a seminary student and artist, demonstrated how the visual arts can be incorporated in prayer. He created a large oil painting within about 15 minutes as he led students through a Scripture story.
The seminary’s Northern California Campus staff, faculty and commuter students received a daily e-mail prayer reminder, and residential students received the same daily reminders as notes posted on their doors.
Scripture verses about prayer were placed in the halls throughout the academic building, and several students said they’d like to see the verses remain posted for further encouragement.
“We wanted to know what it would be like if the entire campus prayed non-stop for 24 hours,” Sara Heck, CLA’s president, noted. To that end, students, staff and faculty were encouraged to sign up for 30-minute time slots for a prayer vigil, whether individually or with friends or family. A newly renovated prayer room was stocked with items to facilitate prayer.
“Last year I was burdened to revamp the prayer room. I wanted a space that was comfortable — a warm, safe place,” Inskeep said.
The room, which has become a popular spot, has a large window overlooking the San Francisco skyline. It is segmented into spaces for intercessory prayer, group prayer, prayer for the lost, a private prayer space and an area encouraging prayer through art.
The interactive art area includes crayons, markers, oil-based chalk and a canvas. The original sketch book for drawings and written prayer was completely filled during the first month the room was open. There are prayer journals where others can pray for those who have written in the journals, as well as a journal for anonymous prayer requests.
Note cards are provided for those inspired to write an apology, an encouraging note or a thank you. Music is playing softly and unique lighting is offered in different parts of the room. New furnishings including chairs, pillows and a couch were provided by a student donor.
CHEVRON EXECUTIVE RECEIVES GGBTS AWARD — Charles and Dorothy Boyd received Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing their longtime support of the institution.
“Charlie and Dottie Boyd are staunch supporters of Golden Gate Seminary,” Jeff Iorg, the school’s president, said as he presented the award in April.
Boyd is a retired executive of Chevron, and his wife is an avid supporter of Southern Baptist missions. In 1996, Charlie established a fund in honor of Dorothy and her mother, Naomi Graves, to acknowledge their efforts in promoting missions. The endowment provides scholarships for Golden Gate students committed to service as fulltime missionaries with the International Mission Board.
“You cannot imagine our complete surprise and shock at receiving this award,” Dottie said. “It is nice to be recognized, but honestly, we are so pleased that the Lord has blessed us for so many years and allowed us to give.”
Charlie added, “Our purpose is to aid students who are in need of financial help so that they can finish their studies and in turn, work for the Lord.”
Iorg said the Boyds participated in a tour of Israel last year that the seminary cosponsored with the California Baptist Foundation.
“It was a pleasure to travel with such energetic and enthusiastic people,” he said, adding, “Charlie Boyd has become a bit of an expert in taking advantage of the recent legislation allowing generous gifts from individual retirement accounts.”
The law enables tax-free distributions to charitable institutions from IRAs owned by people 70 years or older and allows up to a maximum of $100,000 in distributions per year. The Boyds were able to maximize additional gifts to the Graves-Boyd Missions Fund through benefits provided by the tax law.
Also during the seminary’s annual spring banquet, several other individuals and churches were recognized for their financial support and numerous employees received appreciation for their years of service. E.W. McCall, outgoing chairman of the seminary’s board of trustees, presented Iorg with a plaque acknowledging the president’s five years of service at Golden Gate.
KELLEY ADDRESSES THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION’S FUTURE — In an annual “state of the seminary” address, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley cast a vision for an innovative, accessible and technology-driven future of theological education at NOBTS. The seminary’s trustees, during their April 14-15 meeting, and NOBTS administrators explored the seminary’s future in light of both current economic conditions and trends in higher education. In his address, Kelley highlighted both the cost of education and technology as transforming factors for the seminary.
The ever-increasing cost of traditional approaches to education and the preparation of ministers “has put enormous pressure on seminaries and colleges to change in order to find some new models for equipping the next generation of leaders,” Kelley said, while technology is pushing the limits of the traditional classroom. “A physical classroom is still useful but not necessary for professors and students to interact,” Kelley noted. “They can come together in physical space, media space or the virtual world of Internet space.”
Describing the impact of technology on education as sweeping, Kelley said it is “the golden thread binding all of these spaces together and making a ‘one size fits all’ approach to ministerial training no longer necessary, possible or even desirable.”
His conclusion: “To fail to explore new paths for theological education will further unmake our identity as Southern Baptists when students have to look outside the SBC for the training they desire.”
This shift in educational models coincides with what Kelley described as a crisis in the Southern Baptist Convention. “Our churches are struggling,” he said in reference to a study published in 2004 by the NOBTS Leavell Center for Evangelism and Church Health. “Only 11 percent of our churches are experiencing healthy, evangelistic growth.”
A corollary of the church health issue, Kelley said, is giving to the Cooperative Program, which provides funding to missionaries and SBC entities. “The Cooperative Program is slowly losing strength. Its growth is not keeping up with the needs of the ministries it supports, much less their opportunities,” he said. “This trend started well before the current recession.”
New Orleans Seminary is especially sensitive to Cooperative Program trends because of how the funds are distributed among the seminaries, Kelley said. While traditional, on-campus students receive the most funding from the Cooperative Program, Kelley pointed out extension centers and distance learning programs, though not as well funded by the Cooperative Program, are nonetheless a crucial part of New Orleans Seminary’s strength and strategic vision.
The situation is urgent and the road ahead is uncertain, Kelley said, noting that uncertainty does not equal impossibility.
Of utmost importance to New Orleans Seminary, then, is not the presence of uncertainty but the response to that uncertainty. “All that has unfolded in our 91-year history, including Hurricane Katrina, has been preparing us for such a time as this,” Kelley said.
A “cafeteria” for ministry training, Kelley noted, is “the path we are choosing for our future,” entailing accessibility for students, academic credibility and economic efficiency.
Students will be able to choose from a variety of approaches to ministry training. The first, a traditional immersion approach, involves moving to the New Orleans area and becoming a full-time student.
“This is the fastest, broadest and deepest [approach] to preparing for any form of ministry,” Kelley said. “Students who are making the transition from another vocation into the ministry, who have had little ministry experience, or who have an interest in advanced study programs often find this approach particularly helpful.”
This approach often requires the largest lifestyle change and financial commitment from the student, while also offering especially intense and in-depth training as well as deeper relationships with faculty and other students.
A second approach available to students is the marathon approach, which most often involves studying via a seminary extension center. Kelley said it may take longer and offer fewer specialization choices, but it also brings ministry training to students who are not able to relocate.
“This path is most popular with those who are in a full-time ministry position they believe God wants them to maintain while they get seminary training,” Kelley said.
The third approach to ministry training, Kelley said, is the “as needed” approach made possible by both the Internet and the seminary’s ever-growing certificate programs. The Internet offers students increased flexibility with regard to scheduling and location, while certificate programs applicable to baccalaureate and master’s degrees allow students to build focused knowledge in a specific area of interest.
Kelley said many students will take advantage of all three approaches according to their needs and interests; the result is a ministry cafeteria made as accessible as possible.
One of the most exciting facts about the ministry cafeteria is that many of the pieces are already in place, Kelley said, but he also named some challenges he foresees, such as identifying the best possible faculty who are both vigorous scholars and innovative teachers.
A second challenge, Kelley said, is funding. While Internet, extension center and certificate classes potentially can be more efficient than traditional models of education, those avenues are not currently well-funded by the Cooperative Program, Kelley said in proposing four ways of giving to help prevent costs from being passed on to students.
The first option is giving to the Annual Fund, which goes directly to the seminary’s operating budget; the second, providing a scholarship for an individual student; third, interest-bearing endowment gifts that have a perpetuating impact on the seminary; and fourth, a gift given to support specific one-time projects.
“All four of these kinds of gifts are, and ever will be, important,” Kelley said.
The vision for an innovative “ministry cafeteria” demands both faith and determination, Kelley said. “We are going to reinvent seminary in light of the needs, opportunities and mission facing Southern Baptists in the 21st century,” he said. Movement toward the ministry cafeteria began when Landrum Leavell, Kelley’s predecessor, launched the seminary’s first distance learning programs, and Kelley has continued that movement in his 13 years as president. Then Hurricane Katrina became “an affirmation of where we are headed, not a detour,” he said, referencing the faculty’s innovative use of the Internet following the hurricane.
Now, with the support of the trustees, the seminary is moving forward as it makes its ministry cafeteria available to students. And though the path forward may not be crystal clear, Kelley said, “Growing clarity always follows bold obedience.”
SHEPHERDING & THEOLOGY INTERSECT — Being an effective pastor — standing faithfully at the intersection of shepherding and good theology — was the focus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s spring 2009 board of visitors meeting.
The advisory group heard from four Southeastern alumni representative of the seminary’s efforts “to find men that are good shepherds, and then to combine that with men who know the reality of Christian doctrine,” said Dennis Darville, SEBTS vice president of institutional advancement.
“The future of the Southern Baptist Convention largely depends on the health of her pulpit,” Darville said of topic addressed during the board of visitors’ April 19-21 sessions at the seminary’s Wake Forest, N.C., campus.
Seth Polk, pastor of Cross Lanes (Va.) Baptist Church and a 2000 SEBTS grad, said faithful shepherding is “not a job. It’s not a career. It’s a calling of God.” Polk described pride as “one of the great dangers in the ministry … because we’re in the public eye. Shepherds must submit to the will of God, which takes humility.” Polk also noted that pastors must not focus on “just being [a shepherd] ourselves, but passing it on to those who want to serve God.”
Josh Smith, lead pastor of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, Texas, noted how the Apostle Paul addressed the church at Corinth with “godly jealousy … not because he was concerned with his own reputation, but because he was concerned with the reputation of Christ.”
“There must be a deep concern and jealousy for the church that flows out of an affectionate mind” for the body of Christ, Smith said. But, he warned, “There are a lot of pastors who will love their people straight to hell because they’re not theologically discerning. There is nothing on earth more powerful than a pastor who loves his church and faithfully preaches the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., and two-time SEBTS graduate, spoke about how Southeastern trained him to be a good shepherd and theologian, and what to look for in order to find a similar education.
“Look for a place that teaches you to be a preacher and a pastor,” Greear said. “Learn how to take apart the incredibly rich book of God and teach it to His people. …
“The training of the pastor to lead the church is one of the most important and crucial tasks in moving the Kingdom forward,” Greear said. “Jesus did not commission the disciples to build the Kingdom themselves, but to be a witness to the King, a verbal testament, a proclamation that the Gospel has come. The way the Gospel was to go forward was through the body of believers.
“As goes the pastor, so goes the church,” Greear said.
Nathan Lino, pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, and a 2002 SEBTS grad, said pastors must be concerned with preaching and teaching God’s Word as well as building authentic relationships with people in the church.
“If you’re going to help people, reach the lost and confront unbiblical thinking, it’s dirty and messy,” Lino said. “… If you channel the real truths of Scripture through a pipeline of a real and authentic relationship, then people will accept the hard truths of Scripture. … [T]o think you can go and pastor without getting into the depths of God’s Word means you will … never deliver the living water.”
BEWARE THE SNARES, AKIN SAYS — As students from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary pour into ministries over the summer and for the rest of their lives, SEBTS President Daniel Akin urged them to beware of the snares that often plague ministers of the Gospel.
“In His amazing grace, God called us to salvation,” Akin said during the final chapel service of the spring semester. “In His amazing mercy, He has called us to service. To be a servant of King Jesus is a high and awesome calling. It is one filled with dangers, snares and quicksand … many of our own making.”
Teaching from 1 Timothy 6:3-10, Akin focused on such problems as pride, quarreling, ambition and greed that reveal themselves in both words and actions.
“You must be alert and on guard against these particular snares which will destroy your ministry,” Akin said.
Ungodly pride, for example, is a snare in which, instead of seeing oneself as unable to offer anything good to God, the misconception is that “he actually thinks he is something, when in reality, he is nothing.”
Such wrong thinking will lead to wrong living, Akin said, describing pride as “a sickness that affects every cell.”
Citing the Apostle Paul’s warning about personal ambition, Akin said, “Few things contribute [as much] to ministerial demise … . If you’re lifting yourself up from the pulpit, week after week, you’re inevitably putting Jesus down. …
“We need to have such a confidence in God that no matter where we are or what we have, we are and we have all we need in Jesus,” Akin said.
Being content with what God gives is vital to avoiding the sin of unbridled greed, another snare for ministers, Akin said. Just as Paul warned against the love of money in the passage, Akin said it is important for ministers of the Gospel to not love anything more than the Lord and to not serve anything but God.
“Greed will destroy you. Those who desire to be rich will be snared and drowned in the waters of foolish lusts,” Akin said. “I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count my friends who have lost their ministries because they became ensnared by love of money or sex or both. … Sin always makes us stupid. We deceive ourselves and find ourselves tragically disappointed.”
SOUTHEASTERN TO HOST ETHNODOXOLOGY SEMINAR — Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary will host a seminar on multicultural worship and global Christian music July 20-29.
The seminar is a collaborative effort involving a team from the International Council of Ethnodoxologists (ICE) and the seminary for church musicians, students, pastors, missionaries and local church members interested in missions, from multicultural congregations in North America to church planting among unreached people groups.
In addition to interactive media-rich learning sessions, participants will take part in group projects and participate in a global hymn festival featuring music from several Raleigh-area churches that represent cultures from around the world.
The seminar is part of the study called ethnodoxology, which involves the theological and anthropological study of culturally relevant worship and aims toward practical application by which every cultural group can use its unique artistic expressions to worship the God of the Bible.
The ICE team, coordinated by Robin Harris, crafted the seminar in consultation with John Boozer, professor of church music at Southeastern.
“Praising God with music and arts from cultures around the world is an innovative vision and yet so natural,” said Boozer, who has led several musical mission trips.
Paul Neeley, president of ICE who teaches classes in multicultural worship and ethnomusicology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and other schools, noted, “Worship intersects with culture constantly: in congregational life, in our individual lives and in the way we live in our social settings.”
More information about the workshop and seminar can be obtained by contacting Boozer at [email protected]
ACADEMY OF SACRED MUSIC OPENS AT SOUTHERN — An Academy of Sacred Music has been launched at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to sponsor concerts, lectures and conferences with the goals of more broadly educating and engaging the seminary community.
Approved by trustees in April, the academy will promote musical excellence across styles and genres and stimulate scholarly discussion on issues of music in culture, theological reflection on music and music and the arts in worship.
“This new program will honor the rich musical traditions of the Christian church and assist our students to understand the place of music within the culture, the church and the Christian worldview,” R. Albert Mohler Jr., the seminary’s president, said.
Esther Crookshank, a professor of church music at Southern, will lead the academy. Mohler described her as “a brilliant musicologist [wjho is] gifted with an infectious love of music. Expect great things from this program.”
Crookshank noted that the seminary exists to serve churches through training ministers, and she thinks that means developing the whole person.
“I want our students to understand why Bach’s music is great and how a fugue works, but also to be able to unpack the theology in a country music song and even study voice or perform in an ensemble for a few semesters,” she said.
“My goal is that the Academy of Sacred Music will dramatically enrich and enliven our whole campus life and culture and the broader community. The Academy of Sacred Music is about excellence in every musical tradition and about seeing the glory of God in it,” Crookshank said.
JOURNAL EXAMINES SBTS HISTORY — Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, by God’s grace, has maintained both orthodox theology and missionary passion for 150 years, according to essayists in the latest edition of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology.
Six writers, all on the SBTS faculty, unpack Southern’s history and cast a vision for its future in a special commemorative issue celebrating the seminary’s sesquicentennial.
Journal editor Stephen J. Wellum, professor of Christian theology, writes in his editorial that Southern Seminary is a demonstration of God’s faithfulness as He pulled it back from the brink of theological compromise.
“Specifically, God’s faithfulness may be uniquely witnessed in how the Lord has preserved Southern Seminary over the years both in terms of her commitment to historic Christianity and to fulfilling her calling in training God-called individuals for gospel ministry,” he writes.
Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. writes in his essay that successful theological education requires a confession of faith and a willingness to hold professors accountable to the confession.
Seminary founder James P. Boyce knew this reality, Mohler writes, noting, “Boyce’s point was elegant and simple: Theological institutions that do not hold themselves and their professors accountable to a confession of faith will eventually compromise or abandon the faith.
“Over the course of the past 150 years, the history of Southern Seminary reveals that a regulative confession, though essential, is not sufficient in itself to prevent theological defection,” Mohler writes. “The other essential element is the determination of the seminary’s leadership and governing board to enforce the regulative nature of the confession of faith.”
The journal also features articles by professors Thomas J. Nettles (“James Petigru Boyce: For Christ and His Church”); Michael A.G. Haykin (“‘Soldiers of Christ, in Truth Arrayed’: The Ministry and Piety of Basil Manly Jr.”); Joshua W. Powell (“‘We Cannot Sit in Judgment’: William Whitsitt and the Future of the Seminary”); Gregory A. Wills (“A Review of James H. Slatton’s W.H. Whitsitt: The Man and the Controversy” and “Southern Seminary and Progressive Religion 1870-1940”); and Russell D. Moore (“Southern Seminary and the Reshaping of American Culture: Retrospect and Prospect”).
A forum featuring several Southern Baptist leaders discusses Southern’s past, present and future. Forum participants include Daniel L. Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.; Thom S. Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; and David S. Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn.
SWBTS NAMES NEW VP & DEAN — The executive committee of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of trustees approved the election of Kevin Ensley as the new vice president for business administration and Waylan Owens as the new dean of the school of educational ministries during a special, called meeting June 10. They will begin their new duties Aug. 1.
Ensley has served as chief financial officer and vice president of business at Criswell College in Dallas since 2005, overseeing the financial affairs of the institution such as accounting, human resources, information technology, facilities and maintenance, risk management, and security.
Ensley previously was senior financial analyst for Electronic Data Systems, Inc., in Plano, Texas. He holds a master of business administration from Southern Methodist University and a bachelor of business administration from Texas A&M University-Commerce.
Southwestern President Paige Patterson said of Ensley, “With the invaluable experience he has already had in both the corporate world and Christian higher education, he will be able to move us ahead in these troubled financial times.”
Waylan Owens has been associate professor of pastoral ministry at Southwestern since 2008. He previously served in various capacities at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., including vice president for planning and communication (2000-06) and associate professor of pastoral ministry (1998-2006). Owens was special assistant to the president (1998-2000) under Paige Patterson, when Patterson was president of Southeastern Seminary and serving as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Owens served as an adjunct professor at Southeastern Seminary from 2006-07 while also serving as pastor of Good Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, N.C. Additionally, he has held pastorates at First Baptist Church in Soldotna, Alaska, and Crosby (Miss.) Baptist Church.
Owens holds a Ph.D. and M.Div. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a bachelor of arts in middle school math and science education from the University of West Florida. His Ph.D. was in Old Testament and Hebrew, with a minor in education.
Patterson, regarding Owens’ new position, recounted, “Some years ago, I was serving as president of Southeastern Seminary and was simultaneously elected for two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. All of this occurred during the time when we were also beginning our annual accreditation review process. During those extremely busy times, God was gracious enough to me to allow Dr. Owens to leave his pastorate in Alaska and assist us in all of those enterprises. Consequently, he comes to his position with a thorough knowledge of accreditation, a full understanding of church life in America today and a grasp of the new directions that must be taken in the area of Christian education in the days that lie ahead.”
In an announcement to faculty, staff and students on June 10, Patterson thanked Greg Kingry and Wes Black for their service to the institution. Kingry has served as vice president for business administration at Southwestern since 2004 and has been named president of the The Headrick Companies in Laurel, Miss. Black has served as acting dean of the school of educational ministries since the fall 2008 semester and will continue in his role as associate dean for the research doctoral program and professor of student ministry.
HOMEMAKING HOUSE OPENS AT SOUTHWESTERN — The Sarah Horner Homemaking House has opened at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, named in honor of the mother of Andy Horner, who with his wife Joan donated money for its construction.
The house, complete with a kitchen and textile lab as well as a large library of resources for classroom lectures, will serve as an educational building for the seminary’s homemaking program. Upstairs, two rooms house students in the homemaking concentration and another room is available for guest housing.
“It’s been on my heart for a long time that some of our schools, somewhere, … would teach women who are married to pastors to have a home that would honor God,” Joan Horner said at the dedication ceremony in April. “We don’t want to have any honor or praise for the Horner family. This is all done for God’s glory.”
Sarah Horner was a 47-year-old single mother of 13 when she left her homeland of Ireland with her four youngest children and moved to Canada, where she cleaned hospitals and office buildings for a living. It was her faith in Jesus that enabled her to live so capably, Andy Horner said.
“She’s always talking about Jesus. She’s always reading her Bible. She’s always praying. She’s always giving away everything we have,” Andy Horner said. “I think of my mom and what she did for me. … She was a homemaker.”
Terri Stovall, dean of women’s programs at Southwestern, explained the homemaking program and its roots in the history of Southwestern.
“From the 1909 academic catalogue, 100 years ago from this year, we find the first courses and programs of study listed that intentionally trained women heading for the mission field in the art and skill of homemaking,” Stovall said.
“Over these past 100 years, God has brought to Southwestern women who have taken up the mantle to continue that legacy of the primary place of the home in ministry.”
Stovall referred to Titus 2 to address what would take place in the homemaking house.
“We will have older women who are of reverent behavior … teaching the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discrete, chaste homemakers, to be good, to be obedient to their own husbands. And why do we do that? So that the Word of God will not be slandered,” Stovall said.
Making up only 23 hours of a 131-hour bachelor’s program, the homemaking concentration complements a well-rounded educational program. In addition to homemaking skills, students study Greek or Latin as well as biblical and theological studies. The program also requires them to read many of the world’s greatest philosophers and primary classical sources.
SWBTS RELEASES 2 THEOLOGY JOURNALS — The latest edition of the Southwestern Journal of Theology explores Baptist views of unity and cooperation in the words of L.R. Scarborough, W.T. Conner and other historic Baptist figures.
The issue was released alongside another edition of the journal that examines the biblical doctrine and practice of Christian discipleship.
The “Baptists and Unity” issue draws upon articles from past editions of the journal written by Baptist leaders and scholars who served at Southwestern. It also contains corporate declarations on unity and cooperation from Texas Baptists and Southern Baptists.
Articles by Scarborough, second president of Southwestern Seminary, form “the standard theological basis for explaining the goal and limits of Southern Baptist Cooperation,” writes Malcolm Yarnell, managing editor of the journal and associate professor of systematic theology.
Other giants of Southwestern history contribute to the journal: Conner, “Southwestern’s premier systematic theologian,” who served from 1910-49; Charles Bray Williams, a dean and professor of Greek from 1908-19; J.B. Gambrell, an ecclesiology professor from 1912-14 and 1917-21; H.E. Dana, a professor of New Testament from 1919-38; and Franz Marshall McConnell, the superintendent of evangelism from 1914-16.
In the conclusion to the issue, current seminary faculty members review volumes in Southwestern’s Library of Centennial Classics. This 10-book set is written by B.H. Carroll, Scarborough, Conner and A.H. Newman.
The other Southwestern Journal of Theology released this summer highlights the theme of discipleship in preaching, church history, theology and church practice.
The journal features an article by Steven W. Smith, assistant professor of preaching at Southwestern. Smith upholds the exposition of Scripture, which reveals God’s ultimate act, means and end of communication — Jesus Christ. As such, Christ is the hermeneutical key to Scripture. “In his humanity,” Smith writes, “Christ decoded the God who was beyond our comprehension.”
“The plan was for the preacher to reveal God’s Son by preaching God’s Word,” he adds. “Therefore, while the impetus for exposition surely merges from a commitment to the sufficiency of Scripture, clearly a commitment to exposition is also borne on the shoulders of a salient Christology.”
Benjamin B. Phillips, assistant professor of systematic theology at Southwestern’s Havard School for Theological Studies, explores the relationship between evangelism and discipleship. Considering this relationship in terms of sin’s ugliness and Christ’s beauty, he writes, “The Christlikeness of Christians … provides a powerful apologetic that enhances the success of the preaching of the Gospel.
“The beauty of Christ seen in the lives of those who reflect His character is attractive, especially in contrast to the ugliness of a sin-scarred world,” Phillips writes.
This edition of the journal also features articles by Edward L. Smither, assistant professor of church history and intercultural studies at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, and Timothy K. Christian, professor of theology at the Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Smither examines an ancient biography of Augustine of Hippo, written by his colleague Possidius, as a fifth-century discipleship tool, while Christian writes a biographical essay on the theological development of Augustus Hopkins Strong, examining the relationship between Strong’s personal discipleship and his theological views.
In the concluding article to this edition of the journal, Chris Shirley, assistant professor of adult ministry in Southwestern’s school of educational ministries, argues that Christ has delegated the work of discipleship to the local church. “While this maxim may be obvious,” Shirley writes, “the reality is that far too many churches have abandoned intentional discipleship. Instead, the church must reclaim her role as a disciple-maker.”
UNIV. OF MOBILE PARTNERS WITH CHINA — The University of Mobile is developing a partnership with China’s Linyi Normal University that will bring Chinese students to the UM campus, the school’s president, Mark Foley, said.
The partnership, UM Connect, includes opportunities for Chinese students to study three years at Linyi and one year at the Mobile, Ala., campus and earn undergraduate dual degrees in the areas of business administration, accounting, communication, English and literature, computer information sciences or history.
A master of business administration will be available with Chinese students completing one-third of their courses online and two-thirds in residence at UM.
Foley said there will be opportunities for student and faculty exchanges, including UM professors teaching courses at Linyi. He said visiting scholars from China may teach courses on Chinese language and culture on the UM campus and will work with UM professors to develop courses Chinese students will take at Linyi as part of UM Connect.
“With the 3+1 undergraduate program, it will be three years before we see a significant enrollment of undergraduate students from China on our campus,” Foley said. “With the MBA program, we could have graduate students enrolled in the distance learning component as soon as this fall. We expect Linyi students to enroll this fall in China in the undergraduate UM Connect tracks.”
The university’s degree requirements include a course on Christian worldview and another on the mission and message of Jesus or on Christian theology. Foley said the academic courses may be refined to provide additional information for Chinese students who may not have any experience with or understanding of Christianity.
Foley noted that globalization and Mobile’s location as a port city may provide unique career opportunities for both Chinese and American MBA students at UM.
The process of developing the Chinese market for the university began with Foley’s trip to Linyi with a consultant last December. Linyi is a state-run university with approximately 37,000 fulltime students and 1,575 faculty located in Linyi City, Shandong province, China.
For more information on UM Connect, visit umobile.edu/umconnect.
Based on reports by Phyllis Evans of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Michael McCormack of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Lauren Crane of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, David Roach of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Keith Collier and Benjamin Hawkins of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the communications staff at the University of Mobile.