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Russ Bush, Southeastern VP/dean, intent on overcoming cancer

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–L. Russ Bush III, the academic vice president and dean of the faculty at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has been diagnosed with carcinoma cancer in his chest.

Bush, 60, who also is a senior professor of philosophy of religion, has begun radiation treatments at Rex Healthcare Cancer Center in Raleigh, N.C., and will start chemotherapy next month. He will continue to teach at Southeastern and has remained upbeat.

“Open theism is not true. God knew about this,” Bush said. “My job is to learn what God wants to teach me from this as fast as possible. God already knew about this cancer. God has obviously chosen me to endure this. It’s a surprise to me. It’s not a surprise to God.

“I’m not afraid of it. I’m not looking forward to the treatments, but people are clearly praying for me around the world. Former students, missionaries, friends all around the world are praying for me and I’m overwhelmingly grateful. I’m confident I will beat this. My goal is to endure the treatment and continue to work and serve Christ and Southeastern Seminary for years to come.”

Bush has been the academic dean at Southeastern Seminary since the spring of 1989 and has served with four presidents. He was on the faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, for 16 years prior to that.

Bush is a noted author and was president of the Evangelical Theological Society in 1994. He has written several books on Christian apologetics and his book, “Baptists and the Bible,” coauthored with Tom Nettles in 1980, has become one of the most complete sources for detailed information on the history of Baptist attitudes toward the doctrine of the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.

“Dr. Russ Bush has been a vital and essential part of making Southeastern Seminary the great school that it is,” Southeastern’s president, Daniel Akin, said. “He is also a dear and trusted friend to me personally. In the days ahead, we will be praying diligently for his healing and, with great confidence in the providence of God, we are placing him daily before our gracious and loving heavenly Father.”

Bush said so far he’s holding up well to the treatments, but he’s not happy about the time away from his busy workload. He appreciates the support from Akin and the Southeastern faculty and staff and said, “I have a better chance of dying in a car crash than dying of this cancer.

“The seminary has been more than just kind and gracious. They have been overwhelmingly generous,” Bush said. “And I can’t thank Dr. Akin enough for his willingness to allow me time to get treatments and still maintain my service here. The faculty has been just as gracious as can be. I’d rather be here than any other place on earth.”

Bush was taken to the hospital a couple of weeks ago after Bush’s administrative assistant, Patricia Shuford, noticed a drooping along the side of his face. Further tests revealed that he had cancer, and he began treatments immediately.

Doctors have told Bush he is in excellent shape and today’s technology has advanced to the point where Bush said he’s been told his prognosis is good.

“Dr. Robert Stewart [Bush’s primary care physician and director of Southeastern’s health center] has helped me control my blood sugar,” Bush said. “Doctors believe they have caught this early. My sincere belief is that I will beat this and I will have a number of years of active, healthy, productive life that I want to devote to Christian apologetics. I want to defend the truth of the Gospel in a hostile world.”

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  • Jerry Higgins