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Greenway lays out ‘big-tent vision’ for Southwestern

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — “I believe Southwestern Seminary historically has been at its best when it’s been known as the big-tent seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Adam W. Greenway said in his first chapel sermon as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, March 21.

Evoking the imagery of big-tent revival meetings, Greenway laid out his vision for the seminary’s future, explaining that just as a tent has four pegs, so Southwestern Seminary holds to four points of conviction and commitment — a high view of Scripture, the Baptist Faith and Message, the Great Commission, and cooperation.

Greenway, who holds an M.Div. from Southwestern, was unanimously elected as the seminary’s ninth president during a Feb. 26-27 called trustee meeting at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus.

“I think it’s important to say even in the midst of uncertain, changing, transitional times, some things ought never to change,” Greenway told the chapel audience. “I don’t come in with some radical new vision and complete discontinuity from the glorious 111-year history of the crown jewel seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“If anything, I believe the Lord called me here to help reinvigorate and to retell the great legacy of our seminary for a new generation. That is my passion and my desire as a Southwesterner.”

Addressing the seminary family as well as prospective bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral students attending Experience Scarborough, Experience Southwestern and Research Southwestern events, respectively, Greenway assured the audience that if they find themselves in alignment with these four pegs — a commitment to the inerrancy and authority of Scripture; the convictions laid out in the Baptist Faith and Message; preaching, teaching, evangelism and missions; and a spirit of cooperation with one another and especially with the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention — then Southwestern is “a home for your heart. This is the seminary for you.”

“As much as it depends upon me,” Greenway said, “I want to lead in such a way here that when people come to Southwestern Seminary, even as they’re driving up James Avenue or they’re driving down Seminary Drive, the closer they get to this sacred 200 acres, they sense the power of the Spirit of God. They sense a community of people who love one another.”

Greenway acknowledged that the seminary family does not agree on every matter, but they agree on “the main things,” such as the inspiration of Scripture and the necessity of personal evangelism.

Furthermore, he said, Southwesterners recognize that “there is a beautiful level of diversity on the nonessential matters that is a reflection and a reminder of what it’s going to look like one day when we stand in the very presence of God in heaven and we sing that new song together — believers from every tribe, every tongue, every nation, every language, every people group singing, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.'”

Greenway emphasized that a big-tent vision is neither new nor novel; on the contrary, he said, it is the founding vision of the seminary. “I believe that was the heart of B.H. Carroll and L.R. Scarborough,” Greenway said in reference to the seminary’s founder and second president. “I believe it’s the heart of the New Testament.

“As much as it depends upon me, this is where we’re going to stand,” Greenway said. “And any way that our seminary can serve you, can help you, can equip you, that’s what I desire for our seminary to be….

“Our seventh president, Dr. [Ken] Hemphill, said that together, we can touch the world and we can impact eternity. That is my prayer. May God bless us, may God use us, may He find us faithful, and may He make us fruitful for His Kingdom’s work.”

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  • Alex Sibley