News Articles

FROM THE SEMINARIES: Convocations at SWBTS & SEBTS; Lilly extends NOBTS grant

In today’s From the Seminaries: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Patterson at convocation: Obey foremost commandment

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — “Do you love Jesus?” Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson asked students, faculty and staff in a Jan. 18 convocation kicking off the spring semester.

Acknowledging all the tasks that seminarians have to accomplish and all the subjects they have to study, Patterson nevertheless declared that the only thing that truly matters is whether they love Jesus.

Preaching from Matthew 22:34-40, Patterson noted what Jesus said is the great and foremost commandment — “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

Regarding the first element — loving God with one’s heart — Patterson explained, “To love Jesus is to love to be with Him. Don’t tell me you love Jesus when you are not drawn to Him affectionately. Don’t tell me that you love Jesus when you pray only in the moment of desperate circumstance. Don’t tell me that you love Jesus when you don’t have time to read His Word. Don’t tell me that you love Jesus when you don’t think often about Him.”

Patterson noted that the apostles’ love for Jesus was evident in their wanting to always be with Him. Similarly, Jesus’ love for the Father was demonstrated through His waking early each morning to seek Him through prayer.

“To love someone with all your heart is to be drawn to him/her in your affections,” Patterson said.

In regard to loving God with one’s mind, Patterson said this means wanting to know as well as obey what God says, just as Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

While the mind comes into play in the classroom, Patterson said, on a seminary campus “it’s not just a classroom, it’s not just a place for learning; it’s a place for learning with a view to obedience. I learn and I know in order that I may obey.”

Patterson then considered what Jesus meant by loving God with one’s soul. “He meant by that that you are to love the Lord your God without asking about the consequences, without worrying about what the price may be,” he said. “You love Him without ever inquiring about the sacrifices that will be made. You love Him so much that it doesn’t matter [what trials you face]; you just love Him regardless of the circumstances.”

Patterson thus concluded his message by posing again the question, “Do you love Jesus?” He continued, “Do you love to be with Him? Can that be demonstrated by your life? … Do you study to know what He says, and do you do it? … Do you never ask the price?” In response to the subsequent invitation that Patterson extended, one Southwestern student came forward to pray with a professor stationed at the altar.

In addition to Patterson’s sermon, the convocation also included the welcoming of new seminary and college students; the public reading of Scripture and a time for corporate worship; and the welcoming of two newly appointed and seven elected faculty.

The two appointed faculty members are Dietmar Schulze, associate professor of missions at Bibelseminar Bonn, Southwestern’s partner seminary in Germany, and Andrew Streett, associate professor of biblical studies. The seven elected faculty members — elected at last fall’s trustee meeting — are Michael Crisp, assistant professor of collegiate ministry; Timothy Deahl, dean of the Southwestern Center for Extension Education and professor of Old Testament; Steven James, assistant professor of systematic theology; Katie McCoy, assistant professor of theology in women’s studies; Mark A. Taylor, professor of conducting; Kyle Walker, assistant professor of preaching; and Hongyi Yang, assistant professor of theology in women’s studies.

Akin at convocation: Be doers of the Word

WAKE FOREST (NC) — Faculty and staff of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern welcomed students to the spring semester at the Jan. 19 convocation.

SEBTS President Danny Akin gave the convocation address, speaking from Matthew 7 about obedience to God’s Word.

“Every one of us in this room today has a source of authority that shapes our worldview,” said Akin, noting that these sources of authority entail four main categories — reason, experience, tradition and revelation.

“Revelation is that which affirms that I think the way I think because God’s Word says so,” he said. “This is the only reliable source of authority and the only place we gain knowledge and wisdom.”

Akin offered his definition of wisdom as the ability to look at life as God sees life and then to respond accordingly.

Turning to the familiar Matthew 7 parable of two houses, one on sand and the other on a rock, Akin warned against amassing knowledge of God’s Word without applying it to one’s life. “It is not enough just to hear the Word, just to study the Word. If all you are is a collector of knowledge, you are a fool,” he said.

Fitting for the beginning of a semester, Akin told students to keep in mind that they could earn all the degrees a seminary has to offer and still be far from God. “On the surface initially, there doesn’t seem to be any difference between the two men who built the houses,” he said. “What then is the difference? Their foundation and obedience to the Word.”

In his final exhortation, Akin stated, “I plead with you my brothers and sisters, as you enter into your studies, don’t just be a hearer of the Word. Be a hearer and a doer, and let the Lord bless you in your work.”

NOBTS receives Lilly grant for financial education program

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has received a $125,000 grant as part of the ongoing Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. program, Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers.

NOBTS was one of 67 theological schools across the country to receive the original grant in 2013, which provided three years of funding for the seminary’s financial education program, known as PREP. The current grant provides partial support for PREP.

Chris Shaffer, director of the PREP program at NOBTS, said the initiative has been successful in helping students mitigate debt during their time in seminary. The new grant will help further integrate PREP into the life of the seminary and help make financial education available to more students.

To help seminary students who face financial pressures that severely limit their ability to accept calls to Christian ministry and undermine their effectiveness as pastoral leaders, the Lilly created the Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers. The initiative’s aim is to encourage theological schools to examine and strengthen their financial and educational practices to improve the economic well-being of future pastors.

New Orleans Seminary will use its funding to help students develop financial skills and take active steps toward reducing their debt burden while in seminary. Research and education components of the program will target students at several stages of their seminary journey, from the transition to seminary life to their post-seminary ministry positions.

Students are shouldering more of the cost for theological education, making the problem of debt more likely among SBC seminarians, NOBTS President Chuck Kelley said in 2013 when the grant was first received. “We are deeply grateful to the Lilly Foundation for their help in working with our students on a crucial issue that could limit the ways they serve our churches and hinder their access to foreign mission fields waiting for a gospel witness.”

The Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family — J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli — through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. The foundation’s religion grant-making aims to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians, doing so largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes. More information can be found at www.lillyendowment.org.

    About the Author

  • SBC Seminary & BP Staff

    Cassity Potter writes for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press, the SBC’s news service; Alex Sibley writes for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and S. Craig Sanders writes for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

    Read All by SBC Seminary & BP Staff ›