In today’s From the Seminaries:
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Reformation still points to Scripture, Mohler tells convocation
By S. Craig Sanders
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation must remind Christians that proclamation of God’s Word remains necessary for advancing the Gospel and nourishing the church, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said at the Feb. 7 convocation on the Louisville, Ky., campus.
In an address drawn from Hebrews 4:12-13 titled “God Did It By His Word … Revisited: What the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation Means for Southern Seminary,” Mohler said the seminary’s own theological reformation in the 24 years of his presidency occurred solely because of fidelity and faithfulness to the living Word of God.
“Looking back to the Reformation, God did it, and He did it by His Word,” Mohler said, alluding to Martin Luther’s statement that Scripture “weakened the papacy” as opposed to human efforts. “Looking at you all today, understand me when I say, God did it, and He did it by His Word.”
Because Christians find their primary identity in Scripture, Mohler said tracing a “line of faithfulness” to the church fathers helps believers understand what led to the crisis of the Reformation 500 years ago. While God has never been without His church, Mohler said, spiritual darkness marked the period prior to the Reformation.
“It’s not as if the Gospel was not known and taught somewhere, it was just that everywhere one looked [there was] darkness,” Mohler said. “What was absent was the preaching of the Word of God, and light.”
Although the Solas as summary statements of Reformation teachings were not developed until the 20th century, the doctrines nevertheless were “the heartbeat of the Reformers” and Sola Scriptura is their foundation, Mohler said.
Mainline Protestantism in the 20th century illustrates the importance of this truth, as famous preachers like Harry Emerson Fosdick dismissed the relevance of God’s Word for the church. “When God’s people cease to hear God’s Word they cease to be God’s people,” Mohler said, noting how many mainline churches are dying today. “And everything is lost, every doctrinal principle is lost, every doctrine is denied one by one.”
Mohler said Hebrews 4:12-13 demonstrates that “God will judge by His Word” and the church cannot live without it. While Luther hoped preachers in the Reformation would be effective in expositing Scripture, he knew “at the end of the day the Word will have to do the work or the work will not be done,” Mohler said.
During his welcoming remarks, Mohler said the convocation’s ritual and regalia signifies the gravity of the seminary’s role in equipping future ministers with theological education. Reflecting on Southern’s “incredible inheritance” of a rich heritage of faith, Mohler said healthy teaching at the seminary means “health will go into our churches” and spread into the mission fields of the world.
Mohler also introduced new faculty member Tyler Flatt, assistant professor of humanities at the seminary’s undergraduate school, Boyce College, who will graduate in March with a doctor of philosophy in classical philology from Harvard University.
Audio and video of Mohler’s convocation address are available online at sbts.edu/chapel.
Midwestern launches in-the-field M.Div.
By T. Patrick Hudson
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) — Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has launched a new master of divinity track for residential students not only to study for ministry in the classroom but also obtain hands-on, in-the-field training.
The new program, known as Timothy Track, will partner select incoming M.Div. students to serve as interns with local churches during their first two semesters in Kansas City.
The intent, Midwestern President Jason Allen said, is to give the students practical experience in a ministry environment while studying toward their M.Div. degree on campus.
“Our mission at Midwestern Seminary is to exist for the church,” Allen said. “And yet, there is a sense in which the best way to train leaders for the church is to train them with the church. With that in mind, that’s the reason we’ve developed the Timothy Track.”
This concept benefits both the students and local churches, Allen noted.
“Not only do students receive direct hands-on mentorship in a healthy local church, but they will receive a 50-percent tuition scholarship for their first year of studies,” Allen said.
“From the local church’s vantage point, they get the opportunity to invest in the next generation of ministry leaders, benefit from those students’ spiritual gifts and talents, identify potential future staff members, and share in the privilege of helping strengthen the church throughout the Kansas City metro area,” he said.
The primary difference between the Timothy Track program and Midwestern’s other M.Div. offerings is that the internship takes the place of elective courses.
As interns, students will immerse themselves in the local church environment, regularly attending their partner church’s worship services and serving at least eight hours weekly. Their time will be spent focusing on three areas: serving, leading and learning.
In the area of “serving,” Timothy Track students will interact with the partner church’s staff and membership in supporting various programs such as food pantries or clothes closets; managing the church’s website, bulletin or other communications pieces; or providing support as a research assistant to the pastor as he develops his sermons.
In “leading,” students will also be encouraged in such areas as teaching in Bible studies or Sunday School environments from time to time, spearheading a mission trip or leading a worship time.
“Learning” will take place in a variety of settings, including opportunities for students to regularly attend and observe church staff and business meetings and to meet with their ministry mentors to discuss theology, the practice of ministry, areas for growth and other topics.
From an academic standpoint, Midwestern Seminary will walk alongside each Timothy Track student throughout his or her internship. The director of church partnerships at Midwestern will regularly be in contact with the students and hold debrief sessions to answer questions and to ensure the interns are maximizing their experience. Students also will receive the in-class mentoring and support of their professors as they work toward the academic portion of their degrees.
The Timothy Track internships will begin in the fall semester of 2017. Qualifications for students include: holding a 3.0 GPA; maintaining a 3.0 GPA throughout the internship; being recommended by both their church’s pastor as well as a member in good standing; upholding biblical conduct as required in Midwestern’s handbook; and remaining a member in good standing with their partner church.
Partner church qualifications include: cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention; adherence to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy; and dedication toward biblical, expositional preaching. Additionally, churches must be located within 40 miles of Midwestern’s campus and have a senior pastor who has led the congregation at least three years.
“This program is truly unique in that it offers layers of investment, by both Midwestern and the local church partners, in the spiritual and ministry growth of these interns,” Allen said.
“Of course, we are excited that this program provides our students with the opportunity for practically applicable ministry experience, but the hands-on mentorship of the student from the church’s pastor and staff as well as Midwestern’s director of church partnerships makes this program really stand out. We greatly look forward to seeing the results of these partnerships bearing much spiritual and ministry fruit in the years ahead.”
To learn more about Timothy Track, or to apply for the program, visit www.mbts.edu/timothytrack.