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New Southwestern website seeks to aid local churches

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–In a day when more and more churchgoers are having questions about the nature and purpose of what it means to be a Baptist, a study center at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is offering resources to answer those questions.

Southwestern’s Center for Theological Research has launched a new website, BaptistTheology.org, to aid local church leaders with current and classic resources promoting the study of theology from a Baptist perspective.

“Our prayer is that this new website will equip local church leaders to think biblically and theologically as Baptists,” said BaptistTheology.org managing editor Malcolm B. Yarnell III, who also serves as Southwestern’s associate dean for theological studies and associate professor of systematic theology.

Partnering with Yarnell is an editorial board of Southwestern faculty, staff and Baptist pastors who promise to add new resources “periodically as opportunities and crises facing local churches are identified,” as Yarnell put it.

Southwestern President Paige Patterson described BaptistTheology.org as “a profoundly pertinent effort to focus the attention of pastors and churches on our Baptist heritage.”

“In the midst of our era, many seem unsure of what it means to be a Baptist and whether or not it is even important,” Patterson said. “This website will reacquaint users with the fathers of our Baptist faith, as well as with the doctrines for which they sacrificed so much. I am grateful for our young Southwestern theologians whose hearts the Lord has touched.”

BaptistTheology.org will provide local church leaders with resources from the present and the past. According to the website, the “white papers are written at a popular but educated level … address[ing] critical issues facing the churches, equipping them to think biblically and theologically as they implement their divine mission in an ever-changing cultural context.”

Several white papers already are posted on such topics as “Faith and Freedom” and “From Circumcision to Baptism.” As new papers are posted, readers have the option of receiving notification via e-mail.

To complement the contemporary white papers, BaptistTheology.org maintains links to a growing list of Baptist history sources. With issues of the present day in mind, these resources provide historical distance and objectivity to contemporary discussions.

“The Baptist history section of the website represents our attempt to acknowledge, learn from and make readily available the great resources of our Baptist forefathers,” said Thomas White, editorial board member and Southwestern’s interim vice president for student services. “All of these sources are priceless treasures which demonstrate the distinctives that Baptists have always held dear. By rediscovering our past, our future will be brighter.”

BaptistTheology.org also has current and archived issues of the Southwestern Journal of Theology, the seminary’s longtime academic periodical, which is edited by Douglas K. Blount, assistant dean for ethics and philosophical studies and associate professor of philosophy of religion.

In an effort to provide a forum for interaction with the readers, BaptistTheology.org will provide for the submission of questions through its Q&A page.

“The Q&A page will allow those who have critical theological questions to receive feedback from trained theologians related to Southwestern Seminary,” Yarnell said.

“We have no interest in putting forth edicts from an ivory tower that have no reception or readership in the local churches,” White said. “We exist to serve the churches and desire to do our part to help those on the front lines. Our heart beats for the local churches. We see them as essential and primary to God’s plan for the world.”

Future plans include offering podcasts of sermons by Baptist pastor-theologians and others, information on conferences related to Baptist theology, and regular contributions to critical local church issues.

BaptistTheology.org can be accessed directly at www.baptisttheology.org, or through Southwestern’s website, www.swbts.edu.

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