EDITOR’S NOTE: “From the Seminaries” includes news releases of interest from Southern Baptist seminaries.
Today’s From the Seminaries includes reports on the convocations at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
$7M gift received; Allen speaks on godliness
By T. Patrick Hudson
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (MBTS) — The announcement of an historic gift toward a student center and a charge by President Jason Allen to pursue godliness highlighted the fall convocation service for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s new academic year.
Standing before the students, faculty, staff and friends of Midwestern Seminary abuzz with anticipation of a “major announcement” during the Aug. 25 service, Allen stated that the seminary would be receiving an historic gift from Harold and Patricia Mathena of Oklahoma City.
“I am announcing a lead gift that we trust in God’s timing will lead us to breaking ground and to dedicating in the very near future a student center for us to enjoy,” Allen said. “Therefore, by God’s grace, and as a channel of His goodness through this family, I am able to announce a lead gift … totaling $7 million.”
Allen provided details of how God wove together the paths that had connected the Mathenas to the seminary, explaining that none of meetings and interactions between him and the family had happened merely by chance. “This is just how God works,” Allen said.
Following the announcement, Allen recognized the couple and invited Harold Mathena to the platform. Mathena shared his gratefulness for being present at the convocation and partnering with Midwestern Seminary toward building a student center.
“When Dr. Allen shared with us his burden and vision, immediately we joined in that burden and joined with him in the vision and dream that God had placed in his heart about this student center,” Mathena said. “Immediately, God impressed upon us that this might be something that He might use us to be a part of. It is with great joy today that we come to make a pledge of this amount of money.”
In a complete surprise to Allen and the audience, Mathena pulled out an envelope and handed it to Allen saying, “We just happened to bring another payment with us today to fulfill that pledge.”
Turning his attention to bringing a charge from God’s Word, Allen began his message, titled “The Pursuit of Godliness” based on 1 Timothy 6:3-14, by asking, “Where have all the men of God gone?”
Lamenting a dearth of godly men and women in the church today, Allen suggested that the reason might be that the church simply does not want them. “We tend to value books, blogs, conferences, intellectual achievements and the accoutrements of ministry, while so often overlooking the fundamental value of godliness,” he said.
The greatest need of the church today, Allen said, is for this generation to rise up and be godly men and women, which would result in a trickle-down effect that leads others within the church toward godliness.
In 1 Timothy 6, the apostle Paul labels Timothy a “man of God.” Allen said the title “man of God” or “woman of God” is one requiring action, citing four actions specifically listed in these verses: fleeing from immorality; following after Christ’s likeness; fighting for biblical truth; and remaining faithful to one’s calling.
In verses 3-11, Paul urges Timothy, and modern-day godly men and women alike, to flee from false doctrine, divisive personalities and the love of money, Allen recounted, noting that an unwillingness to do so can ruin a person’s life, ministry or both.
“The bottom line is this: Sometimes the most important step you can take in the Christian life is to run from sin, to flee from certain things,” Allen said.
Regarding Christ-likeness, Allen said verse 11 isn’t just a “pileup of words”; rather, they are “specific characteristics we are called to cultivate, pursue and demonstrate.”
The characteristics used by Paul in the passage include being righteous; possessing godliness; and pursuing faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Without a cultivation of these in one’s life, Allen said it could lead to a spiritual withering over time that causes a person’s ministry to “fizzle out.”
Fighting for biblical truth in ministry, Allen noted, entails “some moxie so that people know there is some grit in your soul when it comes to the Gospel and the Word of God; and that you are actually willing to let your ‘yes be yes’ and your ‘no be no’; and you will draw lines and take stands; and you will do it for the glory of God and for the truth.”
And in being faithful to one’s calling, Allen said verse 12 expresses a great balance of the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. While men and women are called to salvation and to ministry by God, it is their responsibility to hold on to that calling.
“If you are here today, you have a triple calling on your life, do you not?” Allen said. “It is a call to Christ, a call to ministry and a call to a particular ministry that is either clear or becoming increasingly clear in the years ahead. Celebrate that calling; rejoice in that calling; be faithful to that calling.”
In his charge to the convocation audience, Allen said, “My call is simple and urgent to begin this new academic year, yet it is daunting as well: It is for us, as a people of God, to fundamentally reprioritize and restore the urgencies of the Christian life and Christian ministry, at the heart of which is personal godliness.”
To hear Allen’s message in its entirety, click here.
Christ’s love on display at SEBTS convocation
By Ali Dixon
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (SEBTS) — Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Binkley Chapel was filled with new and returning students along with faculty and staff for the fall convocation on theme of Christ’s sacrificial love.
Southeastern President Daniel Akin spoke about Christ’s “new commandment” for His followers to serve others as He served them, underscoring Christ’s humility as He washed His disciples’ feet on the eve of His crucifixion.
In a message titled “How will the world know that we belong to Jesus?” from John 13, Akin posed the question “What does it mean to love others as Jesus has loved us?” in the seminary’s first chapel service of the new academic year Aug. 18.
Christians’ “love for others will show Jesus’ love to the nations,” Akin said, pointing to the way Christians live, love, serve and die in showing that they belong to Jesus.
As an example of someone who lived this kind of life, Akin shared the story of Christian missionary and martyr Eleanor Chestnut, an orphan in the late 19th century whose faith in Christ led her to medical missions in China. Her sacrificial work in China led to the growth of a local church to 300 members
In 1905 at the age of 37, she was martyred in China for her faith. Years later, the community still spoke about how Chestnut’s loving care of others made them think of Jesus.
To conclude the service, Akin and his wife Charlotte and several SEBTS faculty members put the message into practice by washing the feet of five students.
Ken Keathley was installed in the Jesse Hendley Chair of Biblical Theology. Ed Hindson, dean of Liberty University’s divinity school, introduced the new chair.
Hendley, of Atlanta, is best remembered as one of Southern Baptists’ most remarkable evangelists. He hosted “The Radio Evangelistic Hour” beginning in 1931 until his death at the age of 87 on Nov. 30, 1994.
Hendley also served as pastor of Colonial Hills Baptist Church in East Point, Ga., for 14 years and was an author, Bible teacher and student of New Testament Greek. He attended Georgia Tech, Columbia Seminary and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Keathley, professor of theology and director of Southeastern’s L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture, graduated from Southeastern with a master of divinity and a Ph.D. in theology.
“I am grateful to the Hendley Foundation for the funding it provided, to Ed Hindson for his work in guiding the endowment to Southeastern, and to the administration for bestowing the chair,” Keathley said. “Occupying the Hendley chair is a privilege I do not take lightly.”
Keathley is the author of several works including “Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach,” “40 Questions about Creation and Evolution” and “Biblical Authority: The Critical Issue for the Body of Christ.”
Also during convocation, Akin recognized two new elected faculty members: Stephen Eccher, assistant professor of church history and Reformation studies, and Jim Shaddix, professor of preaching and W.A. Criswell Chair of Preaching.
Provost Bruce Ashford presented Chuck Quarles, professor of New Testament and biblical theology, and Matthew Mullins, assistant professor of English and history of ideas, with the “Faculty Excellence and Teaching Award.”
Regular chapel services at Southeastern are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the semester.
To watch Daniel Akin’s convocation message, click here. For photos of the convocation and the Jesse Hendley Chair installation, click here. For information about endowed chairs that provide an enduring source of funding for professors, contact Daniel Palmer, director of financial development at email@example.com, 866-917-3287 or www.sebts.edu/give.
Mohler, at convocation, urges Gospel action ‘while there’s time’
By S. Craig Sanders
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Cultural hostility to the Gospel should compel Christian ministers to proclaim God’s message with faithfulness and urgency while there is still time for repentance, President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said during Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s fall convocation Aug. 25.
“More is hanging in the balance than the horror of human terrorism,” Mohler said after recounting the courage of three Americans who prevented an attempted mass shooting on a train in France on Aug. 21.
“The time is coming when the wrath of God will rise up and there will be no remedy. And while there’s time, act. Do. Wring everything out of every course, wring everything out of every test, do everything you do to the glory of God.”
In an address titled “Until There Was No Remedy,” Mohler preached from 2 Chronicles 36:15-16 in which the kingdom of Judah persists in rejecting God’s prophets until the Lord judges His people through Babylonian captivity.
The reality of God’s judgment, Mohler said, means seminary students must prepare to act with eternal consequence for those who have not believed “because at some point there will be no remedy.”
“We’re actually preparing a generation of young ministers, church planters, missionaries and Christian leaders to go out and suffer being mocked and to be the object of scoffing,” Mohler said, referencing contemporary culture’s rejection of God’s Word.
In addition to those who refuse to profess faith in Jesus as Lord, Mohler said mainline Protestant denominations and their seminaries appear to be “beyond remedy” because of apostate leadership. Mohler expressed his gratitude for the Southern Baptist Convention’s conservative resurgence in the 1980s which turned the nation’s largest Protestant denomination back to biblical orthodoxy.
“A generation ago, Southern Baptists acted while there was still an opportunity for a remedy,” Mohler said.
Prior to Mohler’s convocation address, two professors elected to the faculty during the spring trustee meeting signed the Abstract of Principles, the seminary’s confession of faith. The professors signed the original document drafted and signed by founding faculty James Petigru Boyce, John A. Broadus, Basil Manly Jr. and William Williams, along with every subsequent faculty member of the school.
The Abstract of Principles remains a vital part of the seminary’s tradition, Mohler said, because it represents a commitment to fend off the theological liberalism that claimed historically Christian institutions, including Southern during much of the 20th century.
“We go back not just to traditions of Christian higher education in a generic form, we go back to some very specific disciplines and patterns and commitments represented by Southern Seminary,” Mohler said. “None of those is more important than the public signing of the Abstract of Principles.”
Signee numbers 254-255 of the Abstract of Principles were Douglas K. Blount, professor of Christian philosophy and ethics, and Joseph R. Crider, Ernest and Mildred Hogan Professor of Church Music and Worship.
Blount previously served on the faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Criswell College. Crider, before coming to Southern in 2011, was associate dean of Liberty University’s College of Arts and Sciences and minister of music and worship at First Baptist Church, Roanoke, Va.
At the start of the ceremony, Mohler also introduced new trustees and five incoming faculty members: Blount, who began his role July 1; Jonathan Arnold, assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at the seminary’s undergraduate Boyce College; David Bosch, associate professor of business administration at Boyce; Ayman S. Ibrahim, assistant professor of Islamic studies and senior fellow of the Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam; and J. Stephen Yuille, associate professor of biblical spirituality.
Audio and video of Mohler’s convocation address are available online at sbts.edu/resources.
Patterson exhorts SWBTS students to know, understand God
By Alex Sibley
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) — Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson kicked off the new semester with an exhortation from Jeremiah 9 during fall convocation Aug. 27.
In verses 23-24, God declares that men should not boast in their wisdom, might or riches, but that they know and understand Him. “The most powerful thing in the world, the most knowledgeable thing in the world,” Patterson said, “is to know God and to understand His purposes in the world.”
Addressing the new and returning students in MacGorman Chapel, Patterson said, “I would say to all of you who have come here this morning, you are not here to get a better job, you are not here to get a recommendation to a church, you are not here to earn a degree — I hope you do all of that, but that is purely secondary. The whole reason you are here is to learn more about Him.”
First and foremost, this requires knowing God by entering a relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ, Patterson said. Keen to ensure that all present knew such saving grace, he said, “Godly sorrow works repentance unto salvation. Has there ever been that crisis moment in your life when, confronted with your own sinfulness, you cried out to God and asked for His forgiveness?”
To those who are saved, Patterson proceeded to explain that knowing God does not simply mean becoming a Christian and then learning nothing else but, rather, learning everything about Him that one possibly can. “After all,” he said, “we can never imitate Christ — and the Bible says that’s what we’re supposed to do — unless we know Christ and unless we understand Him and find out about His motivations and purposes.”
Patterson noted three things that the Jeremiah 9 passage states about the character of God: namely, the attributes of lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness.
Regarding lovingkindness, Patterson said God’s love is demonstrated through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and His kindness is demonstrated through His walking with believers day by day.
The second attribute, judgment, is the quality of the mind and heart that assesses things correctly, Patterson said.
“Lovingkindness without judgment simply results in gullibility,” he explained. “But judgment without lovingkindness results in Pharisaism and legalism. You see, you need the two together. They balance your life. Lovingkindness, on the one hand, gives you the spirit of the Lord God, and judgment, on the other hand, gives you the mind of the Lord God.”
The attribute of righteousness, Patterson then said, means that Christians must live their lives according to the righteous standards of the Word of God. This includes not only Scripture’s explicit commandments but also the wisdom literature found in such parts of the Bible as Proverbs and the Corinthian epistles.
Patterson concluded, “Your job at the seminary is to know Him, to know about Him, to understand Him, and to prove that understanding in your life by the fact that you are characterized by lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness. For God says, ‘In these, I delight.'”
Patterson gave an invitation at the conclusion of his message, noting that, even in a room full of seminary students, some were present who were lost and needed to be saved. With several professors stationed at the front of the chapel, one young man went forward and gave his life to Christ.
Also at the convocation service, 11 new professors were welcomed to Southwestern’s faculty. To learn more about each of these professors, click here.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The fall convocation at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is scheduled for Sept. 8.