LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Christians have a responsibility to participate in the political process and express their views, although their foremost allegiance is to the Lord of the church rather than the state, according to authors in the most recent issue of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology.
Journal editor Stephen J. Wellum, in his editorial, writes that the topic was selected “given the fact that Christians have wrestled with these issues throughout the ages, and especially given the fact that 2008 is an election year in the United States.”
In the journal, four Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professors and three additional evangelical scholars address church-state issues from various perspectives.
Russell D. Moore, for example, SBTS senior vice president of academic administration and dean of the school of theology, surveys current evangelical positions on Israel’s future and argues that all Christians should both stand against violence directed toward the Jewish people and see Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel.
Other SBTS authors in the journal are Mark Coppenger, professor of Christian apologetics; Kenneth Magnuson, professor of Christian ethics; and Peter Judson Richards, associate professor of theology and law.
Richard Land and Barrett Duke of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission argue that God working through Christians is the only hope for America to reverse its current moral decline. Land is the ERLC’s president; Duke, vice president for public policy and research.
“… [T]he source of our nation’s decline,” Land and Duke write, “is not political or economic. It is moral relativism.”
Other essayists include James Hamilton, assistant professor of biblical studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Havard School for Theological Studies.
To subscribe to the SBJT or obtain further information, contact the journal office at 502-897-4413 or [email protected].
MAGAZINE MARKS SWBTS CENTENNIAL — A 144-page edition of the Southwestern News magazine has been released in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the seminary’s founding.
Southwestern’s history comes to life through the use of historical photography obtained from the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives and from the archives at the seminary’s A. Webb Roberts Library. Eight feature articles highlight Southwestern’s past growth and the legacies of the eight presidents who have led the seminary to become one of the world’s foremost Baptist schools for theological training. Since its founding, Southwestern has sent out more than 40,000 graduates to serve in local churches and mission fields around the world.
Of its eight presidents, B. H. Carroll (1908-14) was the visionary leader who founded the seminary on the campus of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, in 1908. Two years later, he moved the seminary to Fort Worth. Carroll’s successor, L.R. Scarborough (1914-42), kindled within the seminary a passion for evangelism at the seminary and provided it with stability during such trials as the Great Depression. E.D. Head (1942-53) promoted Christ-centered scholarship characterized by a continuing passion for evangelism. J. Howard Williams (1953-58) challenged the seminary to pursue God-sized dreams, and Robert E. Naylor (1958-78) led the seminary to realize many of the dreams and to impact the world with the Gospel. Russell H. Dilday (1978-94) improved the link between students and ministry positions during the era of Southwestern’s greatest enrollment. Kenneth S. Hemphill (1994-2003) fostered a sense of community within the seminary and a continued passion for Kingdom ministry. Paige Patterson (2003-present) has continued the seminary’s evangelistic heritage through the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.
A free subscription to Southwestern News can be requested at www.swbts.edu/swnews, clicking “subscribe” and entering a name and address. The online version of the magazine will be available soon at the website.
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR MISSIONS VOLUNTEERS — Additional scholarship assistance for qualifying Southern Baptist mission volunteers to receive seminary training has been announced by Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.
SBC mission volunteers who qualify are those in International Mission Board programs such as ISC/Journeymen and North American Mission Board programs such as MSC and US2/C2.
The IMB’s International Service Corps (ISC) encompasses singles, couples and young families who accept an assignment from two to three years, while the Journeyman program encompasses single 20-something college graduates who commit to two years of international cross-cultural missionary service. NAMB’s Mission Service Corps encompasses self-funded missionaries who serve for four months or more in an assigned ministry supporting the evangelism and church planting efforts in North America. US2/C2 missionaries are college graduates who serve two years under appointment with NAMB and participating state conventions or the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists.
“Global mission service characterizes the very heart of seminary life,” Golden Gate President Jeff Iorg said. “We are proud to be able to increase our assistance to these whose call is not limited by geographical or cultural boundaries. Their experiences with the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board always brings a welcome dimension to the seminary classroom.”
The missions scholarships — $4,320 in tuition funding toward the first 24 credit hours taken at Golden Gate -– will be available for fall 2008 admissions.
Golden Gate officials say students who enroll at one of its five campuses in the West following a mission assignment often experience a smooth transition from the mission field. The campuses are located in multicultural metropolitan settings (San Francisco Bay Area; Southern California; Portland/Vancouver, Wash.; Denver; and Phoenix) that can provide students with various opportunities to continue their ministry in the same language and culture.
Golden Gate is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Association of Theological Schools.
For more information about the scholarship, visit Golden Gate’s www.ggbts.edu/financialaid/EnteringStudents.aspx website or contact the admissions office at 1-888-442-8701.
GOD’S WILL FOR EVERYDAY LIFE — Principles on God’s will for everyday circumstances are evident in the Book of Philemon, Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, told a chapel audience at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Citing the command to love one another in verses 8 and 9 of the short New Testament book, Rainer noted: “There is a tendency among evangelicals to look at that word love and think we’re getting mushy on doctrine. Love is doctrine. Love is tantamount to doctrine, and God is love.”
However, the will of God is not to love only those who are easily lovable, Rainer said, but to love those who are unlovely.
“How often do we wake up and say, ‘Lord, let me come into contact today with someone we can show the love of Christ to, even though they’re unlovely?'” Rainer asked. A love for all people ought to spur Christians on to share the Gospel with them, he said.
“Why is that not the normal, everyday life?” Rainer asked in his March 4 message at the North Carolina campus.
THERE’S A DIFFERENCE — A distinction between “text-centered” sermons and “text-driven” sermons was drawn by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary faculty member Steven Smith during the fourth annual Expository Preaching Workshop at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus.
Smith, assistant professor of preaching and James T. Draper Jr. Chair of Pastoral Ministry, said of text-centered preaching: “The preacher takes a text of Scripture and all the points of the sermon come from the text, but it is not driven by the structure of the text.”
Text-driven preaching, as Smith described it, allows the substance, structure and style of the text to dictate one’s preaching. For example, if the structure of the text is inductive, then the sermon should take on an inductive structure.
Alan Streett, W.A. Criswell Chair of Expository Preaching at the Criswell College in Dallas, and author of “The Effective Invitation,” challenged workshop participants to plan out the invitation as part of the sermon.
“The invitation is the conclusion of an evangelistic message,” Streett said. “It is the application part of the sermon. And I’m convinced that preachers cannot make that transition because they add or tack on an invitation to the end of the sermon, and therefore, the presentation is disjointed.”
Also featured during the Feb. 25-26 sessions were SWBTS President Paige Patterson; David Allen, dean of Soutwestern’s school of theology; Calvin Pearson, assistant dean for preaching and pastoral studies; Jerry Vines, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Fla.; John Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless, Texas.
DON’T BE INSULTED — “Friends, never be insulted when someone says something negative about your spiritual state,” Mark Dever counseled.
“Thank God for their concern and invite their prayers,” said Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington in a chapel message at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary primarily aimed at pastors and future pastors.
“Thank God for people who are willing to care for us and reach out,” said Dever, author of “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church.”
“I fear that sometimes people in our churches, and even our pastors, want to be flattered, more than they want to hear the truth,” Dever said in speaking about the Apostle Paul’s prayers for the church as recorded in 1 Thessalonians 3:10-13.
“When you go to the doctor, do you just want a good report so you feel good when walking home or do you want the truth?” Dever asked. “I think you want the truth. That’s what we want in our pastors. We want pastors who will be faithful, like Paul was being faithful to the Thessalonians, not flattering them, but telling them the truth.”
To have a healthy church, Dever said in his Feb. 26 message at Southeastern’s Wake Forest, N.C., campus, it is vital for the leadership to pray for its people as Paul did. “When was the last time you prayed for your church?” Dever asked. “What a marvelous thing the Lord has called us to be about.”
JEWISH PEOPLE ARE ON HIS HEART — Mitch Glaser greeted a chapel audience by urging them to “ask God to break your heart for the Jewish people, to give you a burden for the Jewish people.”
Glaser, president of Chosen People Ministries and a Jewish believer, underscored the Apostle Paul’s burden for the Jewish people in a message at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. As Paul recounted in Romans 9:3, he had “great sorrow and unceasing grief in [his] heart” stemming from the fact that his kinsmen were unbelievers.
Glaser noted that Paul described his kinsmen in Romans 10:2 as having a zeal for God, but a zeal without knowledge.
“Full knowledge,” Glaser said, “is knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior.” Glaser, who lives in the Brooklyn, N.Y., said thousands of Jewish people walk the streets on their way to and from synagogue each Saturday. Echoing Paul, Glaser said, “They have a zeal, but not a zeal that saves.”
Urging his listeners to ask God to make them prayer warriors for the Jewish people, Glaser said, “When you pray for someone, you look at them through God’s eyes, not your own. This will also help you to understand that it’s not you who is persuading them, but God.”
Glaser noted that “God has not rejected His people,” quoting Paul in Romans 11:1 in describing himself as “an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” Paul knew he was part of the “remnant that God has kept according to His gracious choice.”
Glaser, as part of that remnant, shared his testimony of how he accepted Jesus as his Messiah when he came to San Francisco in 1970. After several anecdotes detailing the experiences of his hippie lifestyle, he described his angst over how a Jewish boy who was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home could accept Jesus as the Messiah.
“I discovered three things as I wrestled with the decision,” he recalled. “Jesus was Jewish, and so was I; we were talking about the same God: of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and Jesus also had a Jewish mother, just like me.”
He remained in San Francisco as a new believer, and gratefully recalled in his Feb. 21 visit to Golden Gate how he grew in his faith aided by GGBTS students who invited him to Bible studies in the Haight Ashbury District.
Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston with reporting by writers David Roach of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Benjamin Hawkins and Keith Collier of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Phyllis Evans of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary; and Lauren Crane of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.