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Former Muslim, El Salvadoran, among 17 new SWBTS faculty

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary elected 17 new faculty members during the trustees’ April 4-5 semiannual meeting on the Fort Worth campus.

The faculty members will serve in all six of the seminary’s schools. New deans for the seminary’s undergraduate college, the school of evangelism and missions and the school of church music were among the 17 faculty members elected.

Following a trend of appointing professors with international perspective, the faculty elected included a Turkish-American church historian, a native of El Salvador, an immigrant from India, two professors from Germany and a professor of education who is a native of South Korea.


Emir F. Caner, 38, was elected as the first dean of The College at Southwestern and will also serve as professor of church history. Caner, whose family emigrated from Turkey, was raised a Muslim by a mosque leader in Columbus, Ohio. Caner presently serves as associate dean of the College at Wake Forest, the undergraduate institution of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina.

Keith Eitel, 50, was elected dean of the newly established Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions. He also will serve as professor of missions. Eitel currently serves as professor of missions at Southeastern Seminary.

Stephen P. Johnson, 29, was elected dean and associate professor of music in the seminary’s school of church music. Johnson previously served as assistant professor of composition at the Master’s College in Santa Clara, Calif.


Seminary trustees elected Gerardo Alfaro, 43, as associate professor of systematic theology. Alfaro is the first El Salvadoran to be appointed to the seminary faculty.

Alfaro currently is the director of master programs and a professor in the doctor of theological education program at Seminario Teológico Centroamericano (Central American Theological Seminary) in Guatemala City. In addition to teaching at the graduate level, his ministry experience includes service as associate pastor of La Iglesia Biblica de Cristo Viene in Dallas and as a youth pastor to churches in Guatemala.

Alfaro holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in sacred theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, a master of theology degree and a bachelor of systematic theology degree from Central American Theological Seminary, a bachelor of social science degree from University Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala and a diploma in biblical studies from The Salvadoran Bible Institute in El Salvador.

Two German professors elected to the faculty of Southwestern Seminary’s extension center in Bonn, Germany, are Friedhelm Jung, 47, as professor of systematic theology and Helmuth Pehlke, 62, who was appointed professor of Old Testament.

Jung has served as pastor of The Baptist Church in Bornheim in Bonn, Germany, for the past four years. He has been a professor of German, biblical Greek and church history at the Bibelseminar in Bonn and instructor of Greek at the University of Marburg (officially Philipps-Universität Marburg), the world’s oldest Protestant university.

Jung holds a doctorate in theology from the University of Marburg and the equivalent of a master of divinity degree from St. Chrischona Theological Seminary in Basel, Switzerland.

Pehlke, 62, chairs the department of Old Testament at Freie Theologische Akademie in Giessen, Germany. He was the senior editor of a 42-volume commentary on the Old Testament and has translated several English publications into German, including Eugene Merrill’s “Kingdom for Priests.” Pehlke attended Dallas Theological Seminary, where he earned both a master of theology degree and a doctor of theology degree.

Ishwaran Mudliar, 39, was elected assistant professor of Old Testament. He immigrated to America from India with his family as a 2-year-old child. His family was Hindu but he became a Christian at age 20 and soon after followed God’s call into ministry.

Mudliar returned to India and obtained a bachelor of arts degree from Union Biblical Seminary in Pune, India. He also earned a master of divinity degree from the Chicago-area Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a master of arts degree from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He anticipates completing his Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and northwest Semitic philology at Johns Hopkins this May.

Mudliar has served as an associate pastor of family ministry and outreach and a youth minister. He is currently instructor in Old Testament at Bethel University of the East in Dresher, Pa.

Jason Kenneth Lee, 34, from Shreveport, La., was elected associate professor of church history. Lee currently serves as associate pastor of theology and discipleship at Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport. He previously taught church history at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Southeastern Seminary.

Lee holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland; a master of divinity degree from New Orleans Seminary; and a bachelor of arts in religion degree from the University of Mobile in Alabama. He is the author of “The Theology of John Smyth.”

Thomas Vann, 58, was elected associate professor of pastoral ministry. He has been teaching at Southwestern Seminary under presidential appointment for the past year.

A former U.S. Army chaplain, Vann holds a doctor of philosophy degree in foundations of education from the University of South Carolina, Columbia.

In addition to completing courses at the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School in Fort Jackson, S.C., and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Vann holds three master’s degrees: a master of strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., a master of education from Wayne State University in Detroit and a master of arts in New Testament from Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary. He holds a bachelor of science degree from Mars Hill College in North Carolina.


In addition to the election of Keith Eitel as dean, two more faculty members were elected to the newly established school of evangelism and missions.

Danny Forshee, 40, an evangelist from Keller, Texas, was elected associate professor of evangelism. Through the Danny Forshee Evangelistic Association, Forshee has preached all over the world and has spoken before gatherings of pastors, missionaries, business executives and military personnel.

In addition to having taught evangelism at The Criswell College, Southwestern Seminary and Southeastern Seminary, Forshee has been a pastor, assistant pastor of personal evangelism and youth minister.

Forshee holds a Ph.D. and master of divinity degree from Southwestern Seminary and a bachelor of arts from the University of Mobile.

Trustees elected Tony Maalouf, 50, as associate professor of missions. He has been teaching Islamic studies and missiology at Southwestern under presidential appointment for the past year.

Born in Damascus, Syria, Maalouf was raised in Lebanon the son of a Greek Orthodox father and Catholic mother. He became a Christian through the witness of a friend from Rwanda while he was conducting research toward a Ph.D. in microbiology.

Maalouf holds a master of theology degree and Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is the author of “Arabs in the Shadow of Israel: The Unfolding of God’s Prophetic Plan for Ishmael’s Line.”


Seminary trustees added four faculty members to The College at Southwestern in addition to the election of Emir Caner as dean.

David Paul Bertch, 60, was elected professor of humanities. A resident of Fort Worth, Bertch served at different times as interim president, dean of students and professor of Christian education at the Tyndale Theological Seminary in the Netherlands from 1985-90. Most recently, he has been curriculum director and lead instructor for the Caleb Institute and an adjunct faculty member in the school of education at Texas Christian University.

For more than 30 years, Bertch has been a representative for The Navigators at the area and state level. He is the author of several books, including “The Dynamic Dinosaur of Faith’s History: An Overview of the Personalities, Ideas and Events of the Last 2000 Years” and “Back to the Ancients and True Christian Education: Restoring the Lost Tools of the Liberal Arts.”

Jonathan Kim, 41, was elected associate professor of education. Since 2001, Kim, 41, a native of South Korea, has served as the director of Southwestern’s undergraduate and lay theological studies program. That program has now been subsumed into The College at Southwestern.

Kim has taught at Golden Gate Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif., Dallas Baptist University and Southwestern. He has pastored or been on the ministry staff of churches in Texas and California. For two years, Kim was an English instructor and acting chaplain for the Korea Air Command and Staff College in Seoul, Korea.

Kim holds a master of arts in religious education degree and a Ph.D. from Southwestern and a bachelor of arts degree from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo. He has authored or translated into Korean several books and articles, including the Korean translation of “The Prayer of Jesus” by Kenneth Hemphill and the article “Korean Churches and Cultural Mandate” in “21st Century Christian Education of the Korean Baptist Churches.”

Trustees elected Gregory S. Smith, 42, as assistant professor of Bible. Smith currently is assistant to the associate vice president for doctoral studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and children’s pastor at the First Baptist Church of Sellersburg, Ind.

Smith anticipates completing his Ph.D. at Southern Seminary this May. He holds an advanced master of divinity degree from Southern Seminary, a master of arts degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a bachelor of science degree from Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, Institute for Biblical Research and Society of Biblical Literature.

Donald J. Wyrtzen, 62, was appointed as professor of music after serving during the current year under presidential appointment. A talented musician and prolific composer, Wyrtzen has been a vice president at The Benson Company, editor-in-chief at Zondervan’s Singspiration Music, chair of the music department at Dallas Bible College and for 10 years was instructor in hymnology at Dallas Theological Seminary.

Wyrtzen is completing his doctorate in music through the Oxford Graduate School in Dayton, Tenn. He holds a master of theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and a bachelor of science degree from The King’s College in New York City. He was awarded the Gold Medallion Book Award, ECPA and Angel Media Award for his 2004 book, “A Musician Looks at the Psalms.”


Max Barnett, 69, was elected professor of collegiate ministries in the school of educational ministries. Barnett is an accomplished Baptist Student Union director whose ministry has spanned more than 50 years. He has successfully grown and nurtured college student ministries on the campuses of Texas A&M in College Station and University of Oklahoma in Norman, the largest public universities in those respective states.

Barnett holds a bachelor of science degree from Texas A&M and a master of divinity degree from Southwestern. He is the author of “A Guide for Making Disciples on College Campuses.”


Benjamin B. Phillips, 34, was elected assistant professor of systematic theology. Phillips has served as an adjunct professor at Southwestern and Dallas Theological Seminary for the past year.

Phillips holds a master of divinity degree and Ph.D. from Southwestern and a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Maryland in College Park. For five years he was senior pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Rhome, Texas. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, American Academy of Religion and the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

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  • Brent Thompson