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EDUCATION BRIEFS: Southwestern Seminary marks ‘Radical Reformation Day’; …

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–January 21 has been proclaimed “Radical Reformation Day” at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

SWBTS President Paige Patterson noted the birth of the Anabaptist movement on Jan. 21, 1525, as he closed a chapel service in which he preached on how Christians should relate to culture.

“Today is a very significant day,” Patterson said, adding, “… a day that from this day forward in the life of Southwestern Seminary is going to be a day celebrated.”

Patterson likened the day to Oct. 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door in Wittenburg.

On Jan. 21, 1525, Conrad Grebel performed the first Anabaptist baptism on George Blaurock in the Swiss home of Felix Manz. Blaurock subsequently baptized the rest of the men in the house.

According to the late William R. Estep, a church history professor at the Texas seminary who wrote “The Anabaptist Story,” “The newly baptized then pledged themselves as true disciples of Christ to live lives separated from the world and to teach the gospel and hold the faith.”

“It was that day the Free Church took flight,” Patterson said, noting that these men knew the implication of their pledge. Within five years, all of the men were martyred.

“They nevertheless paid the price to go against the culture of Rome and to go against the culture of even the Magisterial Reformers and say, ‘We must obey the Holy Spirit of God,'” Patterson said.

Patterson challenged students to study the culture but resist the moral, ethical and theological compromise that the culture often embraces. Students must be ready to accept divinely appointed times of adversity and face them with courage and faith, he said.

SEBTS NAMES NEW UNDERGRAD DEAN — Bruce Ashford is the new dean of The College at Southeastern, the undergraduate program at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

“Bruce Ashford is a gifted theologian and apologist with the heart of a missionary and evangelist,” Daniel Akin, Southeastern’s president, said. “He will bring passion and excitement to his assignment as the dean of The College at Southeastern.”

Ashford most recently held the Richard and Gina Headrick Chair of World Missions at Southeastern and was director of the seminary’s Louis A. Drummond Center for Great Commission Studies. He has taught philosophy and intercultural studies at Southeastern since 2003, when he graduated from the school with a doctor of philosophy degree.

Ashford, who began his new role Jan. 1, also spent several years on the mission field before serving at Southeastern.

“I could not be happier about working with the faculty and students at The College at Southeastern,” Ashford said. “The college is, and will continue to be, a first-rate college providing students with training in theological studies and the liberal arts.”

David Nelson, Southeastern’s academic vice president and dean of the faculty, called Ashford “a brilliant scholar and excellent classroom teacher.”

“He has a natural ability to communicate with students. I am delighted that he is willing to serve our college in this way,” Nelson said.

Ashford succeeds Peter Schemm, who served as the school’s dean for the past three years. Schemm has resumed a role he occupied before becoming dean, teaching theology at the graduate level for Southeastern.

Southeastern started its undergraduate school in 1994, and the college has grown to nearly 500 students. The school changed its name and curriculum last year, adding emphases in pastoral ministry and missions that reflect Southeastern’s overall commitment to Great Commission education.

“We are building a Great Commission college, one that recognizes that we are to live in an intentionally Christian manner in all of life’s various callings — not only in our families and churches but also in the workplace and community,” Ashford said, describing his vision for the college. “The Gospel’s relevance is not limited to the four walls of a church building but extends to every intellectual and social endeavor of mankind, and it is for this reason that we educate our students not only in theology but also in the arts, the sciences and the public square.”

Akin also announced Brent Aucoin as the college’s new associate dean. Aucoin, an associate professor of history, has been at Southeastern since 2004.

“I see it as a chance to contribute even more to an institution that I love and firmly believe in,” Aucoin said of the new opportunity. “The college provides a much-needed approach to undergraduate education, one that is both academically rigorous and thoroughly Christian.”

Nelson expressed enthusiasm for the college’s new administrative team.

“We have had excellent leadership in the past, and I have great confidence in the leadership of Drs. Ashford and Aucoin for the future,” he said.
Based on reports by Keith Collier of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Jason Hall of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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