News Articles

FROM THE SEMINARIES: Convocations at SWBTS & MBTS; pastoral counseling modeled at SBTS

EDITOR’S NOTE: “From the Seminaries” includes news releases of interest from Southern Baptist seminaries.

Today’s From the Seminaries includes items from:
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

‘You’re preparing for martyrdom,’ Patterson tells students

By Alex Sibley

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Spring convocation at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on Jan. 21 was held 491 years after the Anabaptist movement began in the home of Felix Manz in Zurich, Switzerland.

On Jan. 21, 1525, during a Bible study in Manz’s home, George Blaurock asked Conrad Grebel to baptize him with the “true Christian baptism” upon his profession of faith. Blaurock then proceeded to baptize the other members of the group, thus beginning the Swiss Anabaptist movement and the recovery of key biblical teachings concerning baptism, the Lord’s Supper and God’s design for the church and the Christian life.

Southwestern President Paige Patterson noted in his convocation address that Baptists owe much to the Anabaptist movement, for they “rediscovered” the biblical teaching not only of believer’s baptism, but the believer’s church.

“It was the insistence of those who gathered that night in the home of Felix Manz that, in order to be a part of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, one needed to have been born again. He needed to have had an experience of heartfelt sorrow for sin, which led him, in turn, to repent of that sin and to place his faith in Christ alone,” Patterson said.

“You would think the whole world would rejoice in that, would you not?” he continued. “Quite to the contrary, not only were they opposed by the secular establishment of the day, but they were also opposed by all of the religious establishments of the day — both Roman Catholic and Protestant.”

The opposition led to the majority of Anabaptist leaders being martyred, some in especially horrific ways. Looking back at the ghastly treatment of these Bible-believing Christians, Patterson said the history of the church is a history of bloodshed and martyrdom.

Patterson preached from Revelation 6:9-11 in which the apostle John takes note of the souls of “those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.” The souls cried out, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

The answer, which Patterson characterized as a “strange message,” was the presentation to each of them of a white robe and the command to rest “a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”

Expounding on the latter verse, Patterson said, “There will be more bloodshed. More of us will have to give our lives for Christ.

“Beware if you’ve come to seminary,” he stated. “It is a serious step. As you begin to prepare for ministry, you’re preparing for martyrdom. With the grace of God, maybe most of you will not have to die, but some of you will.”

Patterson proceeded to clarify to students that they have not come to Southwestern simply to obtain a degree, nor to simply prepare for vocational ministry. More importantly, they have come in order to prepare for “a life of sacrificial service to the Lord that may very well end in martyrdom.”

Echoing the words spoken to the martyred souls in Revelation 6, Patterson said, “You have to wait a little while. Judgment is not yet, but it is coming; it is sure. But while our Lord tarries, it is our opportunity to introduce the world to Christ.”

Patterson concluded his sermon by extending an invitation, noting that even in a seminary chapel there may be someone who has not truly placed his or her faith in Christ. Three people responded, meeting professors stationed at the front of the chapel for prayer and counsel.

Also at the convocation, newly appointed and elected faculty were introduced: Barry McCarty, professor of preaching and rhetoric; Katie McCoy, instructor of women’s studies in the College at Southwestern; Justin Hiester, instructor of missions in the College at Southwestern; Michael Crisp, assistant professor of Baptist studies in the Havard School of Theological Studies in Houston; Nathan Burggraff, assistant professor of music theory; David Toledo, assistant professor of music ministry; and Ben Caston, associate professor of voice. In addition, Tamra Hernandez, executive research and editorial assistant to the president, was appointed faculty status.

Allen examines trials & faith in 1 Peter

By T. Patrick Hudson

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As tradition has held since its inception in 1957, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary opened its spring semester with an academic convocation.

Highlighting the Jan. 19 service in Midwestern’s Daniel Lee Chapel was a keynote message by President Jason Allen and the signing of the seminary’s articles of faith by new faculty members.

Allen, in his sermon from 1 Peter 1:1-2, launched a semester-long study of the New Testament book with a goal: “to model biblical exposition, to faithfully exegete the passage before us, and to bring it to bear on our lives and on this seminary community.”

Describing the apostle Peter’s first epistle, Allen noted it is a book rich with theology and application for the Christian life and ministry, setting forth the responsibility and example of faithful Christian living through perilous times.

“He [Peter] writes as one who clearly has been buffeted by age and persecution,” Allen said. “It is a reminder of how God can use men and women who have been through much trial and tribulation and who have often failed in their past.”

Of the first two verses, Allen posed the questions, “Have you ever felt like an alien?” and “Have you ever felt fundamentally like you are in a different place that you could not relate to at all?”

Allen said the aliens of verse 1 most likely were dispersed believers scattered throughout Asia Minor, or modern-day Turkey, to whom Peter is clearly stating that the defining reality in their lives is not their relationship to earth, but to heaven.

“We are taught in this passage that to be one of God’s family is infinitely superior to any earthly position or status we may gain, wealth, power, prominence,” Allen said. “All of these things are inferior to being one of God’s family members. He is writing to aliens.”

Allen noted that these aliens are dislocated, facing hardships, feeling persecution, and their faith is costing them something. “It is as though Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is saying this: ‘Be comforted in your pain. You are chosen for this trial. Be encouraged in your hardship. God is with you. Be strong. You have been made for this season of tribulation.’ There are profound pastoral implications here.”

Allen noted Peter’s reference to the Trinity — one of the clearest references in the Bible. He then offered three reasons why believers can come to a greater appreciation for the triune God who saves: The Father foreknew us; the Spirit cleanses us; and the Son purchased us.

In describing the Father’s foreknowledge of His children, Allen noted, “The Word is not referring to some sort of previous factual knowledge but to a previous, intimate, personal, affective knowledge…. We understand that we are dead in our trespasses and sins, each going our own way, but God who is rich in mercy and great in love knew us.”

The sanctification of the believer is possibly the forgotten doctrine of the church in 2016, Allen said. “Sanctification is not so much separating ourselves from the world; it is working to separate ourselves from ourselves — our former way of life, the sin that so easily ensnares us…,” he said. “The Holy Spirit gifts repentance and faith, bringing about regeneration, conversion, adoption and, in this life, sanctification.”

Allen continued by noting that the Son purchased believers by His shed blood, and that the sprinkling of Jesus’ blood, which Peter mentioned in verse 2, is a sign of ownership.

“It is a sign of the atoning work of Christ being fully applied to us in such a way that when we believe in Jesus we do not merely get fire insurance, we become His possession,” Allen said. “He owns us, thus we live for Him. He owns us, and we are marked for Him.”

As the outcome of this great sacrifice on Jesus’ part, and His resulting ownership, Allen said His followers are to live a life of obedience to Him.

In addition to Allen’s sermon, two newly elected faculty members signed the seminary’s articles of faith.

Matthew Millsap, assistant director of library services and assistant professor of Christian studies, and Owen Strachan, associate professor of Christian theology and director of a forthcoming center for theological and cultural engagement, both were elected to the faculty during the October 2015 board of trustees meeting.

Attaining the status of faculty member at Midwestern Seminary, Allen said, entails a thorough and rigorous process. He noted that signing the articles of faith is in some ways the final aspect of that process, yet in other ways the beginning aspect of the process.

“It is not merely confessional integrity for the sake of confessional integrity,” Allen said. “It is confessional integrity as a commitment for the task of ministry preparation. I am most proud of the faculty God has given us in this generation that, from top to bottom, believes in the full inspiration, authority and inerrancy of Scripture; that believes in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that believes fully and unequivocally in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

“The act of signing these articles of faith is a living statement of a living conviction and confessional integrity to this document on behalf of Southern Baptists,” Allen said. “Dr. Millsap and Dr. Strachan are both qualified to sign this book.”

To view Allen’s message in full, go to mbts.edu/convocation.

Pastoral counseling modeled in SBTS sessions

By Andrew J.W. Smith

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Two leading biblical counselors role-played a typical counseling session, teaching a room of pastors and students by example during Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Winter Alumni Academy Jan. 7-8.

Jeremy Pierre, associate professor of biblical counseling and dean of students at Southern Seminary, and Deepak Reju, pastor of biblical counseling and family ministry at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., led 10 sessions drawing from their 2015 co-authored book, “The Pastor and Counseling: The Basics of Shepherding Members in Need.”

With Pierre playing the role of a blue-collar church member struggling with occasional panic attacks and Reju counseling him, the two put their writing to action.

A form which Pierre sends to prospective counselees and reviews before the initial meeting was distributed to each attendee, which Pierre had filled out as a man named “John Stubb.” Reju did not discuss Pierre’s character before the sessions and only consulted the form, so he knew no more than the audience did when the simulation started.

“What I’m going to attempt to do in my role is just give you representative examples of things that we see in counseling, things you’re going to run into,” Pierre said before the session. Reju then modeled with Pierre’s character the three basic tasks of counseling: listening to the problem; considering responses of the heart; and speaking the truth in love using Scripture.

Face-to-face counseling, Reju said during the two-day event, is the place where ministers of God’s Word apply biblical wisdom and encouragement during church members’ most pressing troubles.

“In the midst of the mess, we can’t lose sight of the privilege of caring for God’s flock,” said Reju, who also authored “On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church” and “Preparing for Fatherhood.”

Pastoral counseling must listen attentively to the problem at hand and address the truths of the Gospel to it, Reju said. The good counselor does not merely offer “cheap advice” but instead demonstrates how the Gospel preached every Sunday morning affects a struggling person’s life, he said.

“Consider all the typical self-reliant lies that people tell themselves: ‘I can fix this on my own’ or ‘Maybe this Gospel stuff is helpful at church but it won’t make a real difference in my life,'” Reju said. “Your job [as a pastor] is to throw a grenade right in the middle of that thinking, to not let people live by those lies.”

Pierre said pastors should first listen attentively to the presenting problem, then consider how the human heart responds to various factors that are involved.

Pierre described four aspects of believers’ heart response: the circumstances they face; the people who surround and influence them; how they feel about themselves; and how they relate to God. Pastors must think through each of the categories when counseling their people, diagnosing problems and revealing them gently and graciously, Pierre said.

“As pastors, you need to be heart specialists,” he said.

Pierre concluded the sessions with two case studies, during which he walked attendees through how to counsel church members dealing with pornography and marital conflict, respectively.

The academy also featured a panel and Q&A with Pierre and Reju, along with Robert Cheong, pastor of global care at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Ky., and Brian Croft, senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville and senior fellow of the Mathena Center for Church Revitalization.

Alumni Academy provides free ongoing instruction for alumni and prospective students of Southern Seminary. To learn more about the program, visit events.sbts.edu.

    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.

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