WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–The sentiment among Southern Baptist Convention leaders is clear: Daniel L. Akin would be an excellent choice as the sixth president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The final decision won’t be determined until the seminary’s board of trustees votes on him during a special session on Jan. 15 on the seminary’s Wake Forest, N.C., campus. But the unanimous recommendation of Akin by Southeastern’s presidential search committee after a nearly six-month search speaks volumes about the man.
“In choosing Danny Akin as the next president of Southeastern, the seminary’s trustees have made a choice that will pay huge spiritual dividends in God’s Kingdom for years to come,” said Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. “Danny is brilliant, personable, and has a heart for equipping God-called students in their preparation for a lifetime of serving our Lord Jesus Christ. He is a genuine Christian who loves people and takes time to invest his life in theirs. He will be an encouragement to each and every student who spends time on the campus and in the classroom.”
Akin, 46, is currently vice president for academic administration/dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He has connections to Southeastern, as he was professor of theology and dean of students during his time at Southeastern from 1992-96.
According to SBC President Jack Graham, that prior experience at Southeastern will be a major plus in Akin’s transition.
“With Danny Akin’s prior experience at Southeastern, that makes the learning curve less for him,” Graham said. “He understands the role of the seminary. He has a great love of students who prepare for life in the ministry. He’s a very strong leader. He’s one of the very well-known preachers and teachers. He can fill any pulpit in America. He brings grace to the position. He is a great author.
“He brings Southeastern visibility and a capability that will move the seminary forward to advance the Kingdom of God. It’s a great marriage,” said Graham, pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church.
Southeastern President Paige Patterson, who was also the president at Criswell before coming to Southeastern in 1992, brought Akin to Southeastern from Criswell College. The two have been close friends and Patterson said Akin has been like a son to him.
“Every time I hear him preach, I marvel at the way he makes a text come to life, and I always thank God that his life touched my own and blessed me,” said Patterson, now president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. “As he picks up my mantle, I rejoice that the mantle left by me will not dignify Dr. Akin, but Dr. Akin will dignify the mantle.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., described Akin as “one of the most gifted, most committed, most congenial and most effective leaders serving the church today.” Mohler said that Southern’s loss will be Southeastern’s gain.
“Southeastern Seminary has chosen a remarkable man — theologian, scholar, leader and teacher — as its next president,” Mohler said. “He is a model of the Christian scholar in devoted service to the church. He is a stalwart Southern Baptist with the world in his heart and the Gospel as his passion. He is a man of sterling character and unquestioned conviction.
“We will miss him greatly, even as we send him on to our sister seminary with pride and with prayer.”
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Charles S. Kelley Jr., chairman of the SBC’s Council of Seminary Presidents, said Akin has the ability to take Southeastern to the next level.
“Dr. Danny Akin has a brilliant mind, a pastor’s heart and the zeal of an evangelist,” Kelley said. “Add to that wide experience in teaching and administration at both the college and seminary levels, and you have an ideal candidate for the Southeastern presidency. He will keep the seminary and college anchored in the Bible, focused on the church and committed to getting the Gospel to the ends of the earth.”
Akin and his wife, Charlotte, have been married for 25 years. They have four children: twins Daniel and Jonathan, 22; Paul, 20; and Timothy, 18. Mohler said Southeastern will be getting a family people can look up to.
“Charlotte Akin is a model Christian wife and mother, a woman of great charm and Christian spirit,” Mohler said. “Their four sons honor both God and their parents, and are a tribute to the Christian home in which they were raised.”
Patterson added, “Dr. Akin is that rare mixture of exemplary husband and father, omnivorous book-devouring theologian, compelling preacher and genuine man of God that is seldom encountered in a single individual. His prowess as student recruiter is almost legendary. However, for a gentle heart and sweet spirit he can be tough when he needs to be. Charlotte will keep him encouraged and pray him to success.”
Richard Land, president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, joined the others in commending the SEBTS search committee’s selection.
“Dr. Akin’s devotion to his Savior, God’s Word and to Southern Baptists, is unshakable and unquestioned. As one of his former professors [at Criswell College], I can attest personally to his devotion, his dedication and his scholarship.
“I can think of no one who is better prepared and better suited to take the helm of Southeastern Seminary and to build on the tremendous foundation laid by our mutual friend and colleague, Dr. Paige Patterson,” Land continued.
“As a Southern Baptist and as the father of two Southeastern students and the father-in-law of a third, I rejoice in God’s providential watchcare in providing Dr. Akin as a leader and as a model pulpiteer, and man of God for Southeastern Seminary students, now and in the foreseeable future,” Land said.