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Ignore ‘prophets of doom,’ Patterson tells grads

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Live a life of loyal commitment to God in an age when people “have lost their moral compass,” Paige Patterson said in commissioning Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s 2016 graduating class.

Preaching from 2 Chronicles 16:7-10, the seminary president charged the 208 college, master’s and doctoral graduates at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus not to be swayed by cultural and political circumstances but to fix their eyes on the Creator God and live a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

Prognostications of the prophets of doom “will tell you that God is no longer able to triumph in the things of this life,” Patterson said, citing King Asa in 2 Chronicles who “succumbed to those sirens of doom. … [But] there is no circumstance in your life and ministry that you will not conquer if you trust God.”

King Asa turned his eyes from God and relied instead on the Syrian army, Patterson recounted, telling the graduates not to seek answers from the powers of the world.

“Don’t rely on the armies of Syria,” he said. “There is no nation that will not disappoint you, and there is no national politics that will not make you weep from time to time. But our commitment cannot be to those. Our commitment must ultimately be to the Lord God.”

Giving the example of the prophet Hanani, who delivered God’s prophecy against King Asa and was imprisoned as a result, Patterson said those who choose the life of ministry may be ignored and shunned by the world. Nevertheless, he reminded that the source of their strength comes not from worldly approval but from God alone.

“It will not mean anything at all for the nations to dislike you and speak evil of you,” Patterson said. “It will not be a thing in this world for the Lord God, because He is the Creator of heaven and earth.”

Patterson noted that difficulty, sorrow, misrepresentation, abuse and perhaps even imprisonment and death await those who enter the ministry. Citing 2 Chronicles 16:9, he said, “But I can promise you that in the midst of all that, the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the earth looking for that man, that woman, who is loyal to God. I want to challenge you today: be that man; be that woman.”

Among the recipients of this charge were graduates Rúgero Salcedo Cárcamo and Zaida Z. Rodado Salcedo — parents of Ph.D. student Efrain Salcedo. The couple, who earned master of theological studies degrees, had studied at the Baptist seminary in Colombia 50 years ago under the tutorship of missionaries who graduated from Southwestern.

Now, after retiring from 45 years of their own ministry, the Salcedos are proud graduates of the institution that trained their teachers.

“What Southwestern passed down to those missionaries, they passed to my parents, and I think I am also a product of that,” Efrain Salcedo said. “And it has now come full circle, and my parents are receiving degrees here at Southwestern themselves.

“It is a wonderful experience all around. They enjoyed the professors, classes and students,” Salcedo said.

A day after the May 6 Fort Worth graduation, the J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies in Houston held its commencement ceremony, with eight students earning master’s degrees and one student earning a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies.