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‘It’s a new day’ at Midwestern,Davidson tells alumni & friends

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A lot has changed at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary since Gerald Davidson first attended classes there in the 1960s.

According to Davidson, co-pastor of First Baptist Church in Arnold, Mo., and the Southern Baptist Convention’s immediate past first vice president, he was so discouraged with the liberal teachings of the institution in its early days that he quit after only one year, vowing not to waste his “time, effort and money.”

But more than 40 years later, he said all that has changed and the seminary is now heading in the right direction for the glory of God.

“I couldn’t be more excited about what God’s doing at Midwestern,” Davidson told the audience at the seminary’s alumni luncheon June 22. “It’s a new day and we praise God for it.”

Approximately 200 attended the annual luncheon, which was sponsored and paid for by First Baptist Church of Snellville, Ga., for the second year.

“We were thrilled to see another record attendance at our alumni luncheon,” Midwestern President R. Philip Roberts said. “The spirit and support evidenced there could not have been better. Gerald Davidson has encouraged us and exhorted us to ‘walk in faith and obey the Lord and His Word,’ which we will gladly do.”

Comparing the seminary’s past and future with those of Joshua in Joshua 24, Davidson said there were five aspects to “Building a Legacy” at the seminary.

First, he said, just like Joshua was born into slavery in Egypt, Midwestern was born into the bondage of liberalism.

“Midwestern was started with a real good purpose and with real good intentions,” Davidson said. “It was founded and started with the idea of preparing ministers to preach the Gospel, to share the Good News of Christ.

“But let’s be honest about it,” he said. “Midwestern was born in bondage…. Liberalism had literally set its claims on it before it actually came into existence.”

But, Davidson said, the future doesn’t have to be determined by the past.

“You don’t have to be a slave to your past. We don’t have to be contained by what’s in the past,” he said. “It’s the fruits not the roots that count.”

Second, he said, Midwestern, like Joshua, was “delivered by the power of God.”

“Joshua did not get out of bondage by his own ability,” Davidson said. “He wasn’t capable of getting out by his own power. He was delivered by the power of God.”

Like Midwestern, he said, in the late ’70s, many other Southern Baptist Convention entities needed to be delivered from the bondage of liberalism. Davidson said in 1979 God began to deliver those institutions from that bondage through the election and efforts of men like Adrian Rogers, Paul Pressler and Paige Patterson.

“A change began to take place,” he said, “and it was God behind it all doing a mighty work.”

Now, more than 25 years later, he said, “It’s a new day” at Midwestern and throughout the Southern Baptist Convention and its institutions.

Third, Davidson said, the seminary’s leadership must “walk in faith.”

“Joshua was a man of faith,” he said. “You’ll never build a worthwhile legacy without faith.”

Without faith, he said, there is only doubt, despair and disbelief.

“It’s only by faith we’re going to become anything or do anything,” Davidson said. “The future is yet to be written, but I believe if Midwestern remains an institution of faith, walking by faith, living by faith, I believe the greatest days are yet to come.”

Fourth, he said, the seminary must equip students to “wage the battle for God.”

“Joshua was always a warrior,” he said. “He was always waging a battle.”

Davidson said there is a battle waging today and Midwestern must prepare its students for battle against “sin, Satan and everything evil.”

“Midwestern Baptist, you walk by faith and wage the battle,” Davidson said, “and we’ll stay behind and lift up hands.”

Finally, Davidson said, like Joshua, the seminary must “finish well.”

He said someone recently asked pastor Adrian Rogers what his top concern was, and the elder statesmen replied: “I want to end well.”

“I think all of us want to end well,” Davidson said. “Midwestern may have been born in bondage, but she can end well if she always keeps her eyes on the cross.

“And God will bless.”

During the luncheon, Midwestern honored four Missourians with alumni awards. Alumni of the Year awards went to R. Gary Taylor, a 1967 graduate of Midwestern and senior pastor of First Baptist Church in O’Fallon, Mo., and Rodney Albert, a 1991 graduate of Midwestern and senior pastor of Hallsville Baptist Church in Hallsville, Mo.

Additionally, Honorary Alumni of the Year awards were presented to David Clippard, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, and Gerald R. Davidson, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Arnold, Mo.

The seminary also received a $10,000 donation from the Rawlings Foundation, presented by Harold Rawlings during the luncheon.

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  • Cory Miller