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FROM THE SEMINARIES: Russell Moore at SEBTS; Jeff Iorg on Calif. pastor David Gill; SWBTS highlights church planting; Mohler app

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

Today’s From the Seminaries includes items from:
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Russell Moore calls Southeastern students to cultural engagement

By Cassity Potter

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) — Russell Moore charged students and faculty to keep their focus on the Gospel in an ever-changing culture during two days of lectures at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“Our future is not at stake as long as Jesus of Nazareth is still alive,” said Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “He has promised in the short term a cross on our backs but in the long term a crown of glory.”

Southeastern hosts a key theologian every fall for its Page Lectures on a subject of concern to the Christian community.

Moore, in his Nov. 3-4 lectures at the Wake Forest, N.C., campus, drew from his latest book, “Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel.”

Moore spoke from Galatians in his first lecture on what Christians should work to preserve in the 21st century. “We have come to a moment where we must recognize that God has called us uniquely to not only believe the Gospel but to be people who are defined by the Gospel,” he said.

Conserving Gospel authority, community and ministry must be priorities in the church today, Moore said. “If we are going to conserve the Gospel for future generations, we must be people that know the authority of Scripture and must not be embarrassed by the Bible,” he said. “What are we conserving? … If we are not conserving [the Gospel] then we are not conservatives, just hoarders.”

Moore’s second lecture focused on 2 Chronicles 7:7-22, specifically the common American ideology of God and country. He recalled an early encounter with this ideal in Scouting as a youth trying to earn a “God-and-country” badge. After talking with a pastor during the badge process, he realized, “What the God-and-country badge was about for [the pastor] was not the truth of the Scripture but about how religion could make us into good citizens.”

People often allow enough religion into their doctrines or organizations to make people good citizens, Moore said, but not enough to make them effective messengers to a decaying culture.

To Moore, 2 Chronicles 7:7-22 is a text that faithful Christians in the 21st century must confront. It is a text that often has been misused to address the problems in American culture and how to solve them. However, Moore proposed that the Scripture is not about a country acting better or praying to God more but about the cross of Jesus Christ and how the cross defines the people of God, the presence of God and the promises of God.

Because every passage of the Old Covenant was fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, Moore said Christians should be free from all fear, even in a culture that sees the cross as strange. “People are so afraid in the culture right now that they just want to capitulate and give up Christian truth,” he said. “Some just want to double down and respond to the world with anger.”

Christians should, instead, cling to God’s promises and remember what Christ has done, Moore said. “The worst thing that could happen to you has already happened,” he said. “The worst thing that could happen to you is to be crucified outside the gates of Jerusalem under the curse of God.”

He continued, “The best thing that can happen to you is being raised from the dead, forgiven of sins, given an inheritance and seated at the right hand of God. You are already there because of Jesus.”

Southeastern Provost Bruce Ashford led an informal question-and-answer luncheon with Moore for faculty and Ph.D. students, and the library hosted a talk where Moore answered questions about his new book. In both events, Moore called Christians to stand up for the Gospel and engage lost people in a new way, calling Christians the “prophetic minority,” a term from his book.

“It’s a prophetic calling we’ve been given as followers of Christ,” Moore said. “We have a message to speak, and we need to do that persuasively.”

To watch Moore’s lectures, click here.

Jeff Iorg on friendship with Korean pastor David Gill

By Art Toalston

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP) — Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, voiced thanks for the pivotal friendship of retiring pastor David Gill during a Nov. 15 celebration of his 39 years of leadership of Concord Korean Baptist Church near Concord, Calif.

Iorg noted that Gill will continue to work with Golden Gate Seminary’s Korean-English bilingual program and with the Korean Baptist Fellowship, “but in the fullness of time he has relinquished his pastoral responsibility to a younger man he mentored into leadership.”

Iorg recapped in a Nov. 17 blog post what he shared in his congratulatory message:

“… I thanked David (and Anne) for modeling a Christian home, for serving faithfully as a pastor, and for making a long-term investment in Golden Gate Seminary as a student, trustee, and faculty member….

“But the focus of my remarks was thanking David for his friendship. We have shared life together — particularly over the past decade. We have eaten together, traveled together, preached together and laughed together. He has introduced me to many Korean leaders and served as a conduit for developing those relationships. David has helped me make a larger impact because of his quiet leadership — both through preaching and translating my books into Korean. In some small way, I hope I have also helped make his ministry more effective.

“David and I are friends who work as partners in ministry. Many Anglo leaders see ethnic leaders as objects of mission rather than partners in mission. David is the pastor of a large church, with a fully-orbed ministry, who has a profound commitment to being a Southern Baptist. His church has long since stopped being an object of mission and now participates fully as a partner in our mission. We are partners and friends, co-workers who support one another in our shared work of expanding God’s Kingdom around the world.

“Having a good friend from another culture has made me a better man and a better leader. My wife would say the same thing about her friendship with Anne Gill. Thank you David and Anne for your investment in our lives, for your faithful example of effective leadership and for being our friends.”

Church planting called believers’ ‘assignment’

By Alex Sibley

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — The Great Commission in Matthew 28 constitutes the “assignment” of all believers — be they church planters, missionaries or laypersons, Richard Taylor of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention said during Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s fall banquet for its Fellowship of North American Church Planters.

“Seminary is not your assignment,” Taylor, the SBTC’s church planting associate, told students in Southwestern’s church planting program as well as those simply interested in church planting. “Church planting is not your assignment. Pastoring and leading worship is not your assignment. The assignment is to make disciples, and if you are not making a disciple, you are not accomplishing the assignment.”
Thus, Taylor said, a question perpetually looms over every believer’s head: “How are you doing with your assignment?”

While the question sounds simple, it may prove difficult to answer, Taylor said, considering an individual’s vast array of responsibilities, from seminary studies and work obligations to family and ministry duties.

Taylor said the question “will not go away. It’s a question that demands an answer from each and every one of us: ‘How are you doing with the assignment?’ Because we don’t plant churches just so we can have churches; we plant churches to make disciples.”

Taylor was one of two speakers at the gathering, the other being Richard Dugger, church planting catalyst for the North American Mission Board’s West Region who works primarily with the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention.

“We need just about any kind of planter that you can imagine,” Dugger said of opportunities in the western United States.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of planting model you want to implement — if you are winning people to Jesus Christ, and you are disicipling those you win, and you are then deploying those you have discipled to plant new churches and form new ministries, then we want you to come and try whatever God is leading you to do with regard to planting.”

Dugger also relayed three pieces of practical advice for any church planter.

First, he encouraged church planters to plan on staying wherever God calls them to plant a church.

“If there’s any thought in your mind that you’re going to go for a little while, and then you’re going to come back and go somewhere else, don’t go,” Dugger said, explaining that “people want to know that those folks who are coming to tell them what Christ can do for them are people who really care about them.”

Ways of displaying this kind of commitment include buying a home in the area and obtaining a proper driver’s license and license plates, Dugger said. Concluding this point, he exhorted, “Go there thinking that that is where you will buried.”

Second, “forsake where you came from,” Dugger said, continuing the train of thought begun with the first point.

“It tears people’s hearts apart when people come and begin to invest their life with them but then pull out and go home within two years because they can’t survive,” he said.

Third, Dugger underscored the priority of evangelism for all church planters. Everywhere a church plant is thriving and multiplying, there is someone sharing the Gospel, he said, adding that sharing should always be accompanied by an expectation for a response.

Southern Seminary launches Albert Mohler app

By S. Craig Sanders

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has launched a new mobile app and redesigned website for R. Albert Mohler Jr., offering users more convenient ways to engage with the evangelical leader’s content.

In the past year, more than 1.6 million people visited AlbertMohler.com for the seminary president’s essays, his daily podcast “The Briefing,” and “Thinking In Public” conversations, resulting in 6.4 million pageviews.

The new design offers more accessibility for mobile users, which made up more than half of the visits to the site, a trend not fully realized when the website adopted its previous look in 2012, said Steve Watters, vice president of communications at Southern Seminary.

With the retooled design, users can now listen to and share individual segments of “The Briefing” rather than accessing a single audio file of the daily podcast. The app, available at the App Store, and the AlbertMohler.com website also feature a “News to Watch” section aggregating noteworthy worldview issues.

Mohler began “The Briefing” in fall 2010 after six years of hosting “The Albert Mohler Program,” a syndicated radio show. The daily podcast examines current events from a Christian worldview, with each edition running 15 to 20 minutes. Mohler’s essays, which he began posting on his website in January 2004, examine cultural and theological issues at greater length than in his podcast. His blog is ranked No. 2 in NewsMax’s list of the top 75 religion bloggers and No. 4 in Church Relevance’s annual ranking of the top 300 Christian blogs.

    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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