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Long-time New Testament prof retires at Southwestern Seminary

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Lacoste Munn has had 40 years of thrills working with his heroes and doing something he loves — teaching thousands of students New Testament and Greek at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“It’s a real thrill to see students interested in the New Testament, absorbing its message and then teaching it now and in the future,” said Munn. “It’s a great thrill to be able to make a contribution to people who are going all over the world to share the gospel.”
Munn, who began teaching at Southwestern in 1959, decided to retire right before the beginning of the fall semester to care for his wife, Mary, who has cancer. This summer, the former distinguished professor of New Testament and Wesley Harrison Chair of New Testament also had cancer surgery. He said he is back to full strength and “all tests indicate the cancer has been completely removed.”
Munn’s love for teaching has been noted by those around him.
“He cared about his students,” said Ann Farley-Parker, a former student of Munn and now a doctoral student at Southwestern. “He knew the subject, and he loved the subject. You never doubted if he knew what he was talking about.”
“I will never forget Dr. Munn’s lecture that focused on the importance of praying in the name of Jesus,” said President Kenneth S. Hemphill. “He is a wonderful scholar and a passionate churchman. Our students were always blessed by his love of Scripture.”
For Munn, seminary teaching was his focus and love, even while he was a student at the University of South Carolina.
After reading a tract called “God’s Simple Plan of Salvation” at age 16, he became a Christian. Soon, he felt God’s leadership toward the ministry.
During college, as he considered where he would prepare for ministry, he was influenced by a friend to consider Southwestern. His friend was Bob Naylor, whose father, Robert Naylor, was a pastor at the time and would become president of Southwestern. Munn considered the elder Naylor one of his heroes.
At Southwestern, Munn knew seminary teaching positions were “hard to come by” and began preparing for the pastorate. After graduating in 1955, he accepted the pastorate at First Baptist Barnwell, S. C. In 1958, Naylor became president of Southwestern and asked Munn, who was completing doctoral studies, to join the faculty.
Munn was seeing two dreams come true — to do what he loved, teach students New Testament and Greek and to work with Naylor, who he had admired since high school.
“I admired him and his brilliant mind,” he said, remembering being inspired by Naylor’s character and preaching.
The faculty and students quickly recognized Munn’s love for students and the subjects he taught.
“I think students are grateful he actually taught them to love the Greek New Testament as a book to read,” said New Testament professor Bruce Corley of his friend of 34 years.
Comparing Munn’s performance on the tennis court to his personality, Corley noted, “The ball always comes back; he is very consistent.”
Even through difficult times, Munn has shown a consistent character of being able to maintain a cordial attitude and sincerity toward students and friends, Corley said, many times relying on a dry wit.
As Munn reflected on his life, he said, “If I had my life to do over again I would to do the same thing, but I would like to do a better job of it.”
His love for teaching and students has not died, and he hopes to someday return to Southwestern as an adjunct professor.

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  • Robyn Little