WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Interim President Bart Neal presided over his first convocation at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Aug. 19, encouraging students that the coming school year will be one of the best in Southeastern’s 52-year history.
In addition, four members of Southeastern’s faculty signed both the seminary’s Abstract of Principles and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Baptist Faith and Message 2000, formalizing a covenant between themselves and the seminary that they will teach according to the core doctrines of the faith and traditional Baptist principles.
During the first chapel service of the fall semester for students at the seminary and its undergraduate program, Southeastern College at Wake Forest, Neal promised the students that the 2003-04 school year will be “a great adventure in the classroom, in chapel and in building new relationships.”
Timothy Lewis, chairman of the seminary’s board of trustees, also expressed his anticipation for the coming year and asked the students to pray for the trustees as they search for “God’s man” as the seminary’s next president. Former President Paige Patterson left in July to become president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
Signing the Abstract of Principles and the BF&M during the chapel service were faculty members Michael E. Travers, David S. Hogg, George H. Chok and Phyllis M. McCraw.
“We stand where Baptists have stood in the past, and we stand where they now stand,” said L. Russ Bush, dean of the faculty. The signing is a testimony by the professors “to each other and the world” of their commitment to sound doctrine, Bush said.
R. Logan Carson received the Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, given annually to an outstanding member of the Southeastern faculty. Bush said Carson, who has been blind since birth, “is a contemporary example of the blind man in Jerusalem, of whom it is said, ‘This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'”
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., was the guest speaker for the convocation. He spoke from Acts 17 on the difficulties and the urgency of sharing the Gospel message with those who hold a postmodern worldview.
“This generation faces a unique challenge of arguing for, and explaining, the truth to a generation that is not even sure truth exists,” Mohler said. “We live in a day of liquid doctrines and worldviews where nothing is fixed. But the Gospel is the same today, yesterday and forever.”
Mohler’s message emphasized the intersection between right theology and hot-hearted evangelism, a trait for which Southeastern’s faculty is well-known.
Explaining that when rightly understood, “apologetics and evangelism are one,” Mohler defended the necessity of strong preaching of the Gospel, however unpopular to politically correct sensitivities.
“We are living in a generation that wants to hear the new,” he said. “What’s the new? It’s not the old. But what are we to preach? The old, old story.”
Mohler also noted that as in the Apostle Paul’s case, some might sneer at the modern evangelical apologist. However, he said, the believer defends his faith “not just so our case will be justified, but so sinners will be justified by faith in Christ.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: ACADEMIC YEAR BEGINS, AFFIRMING THE FAITH and MOHLER’S MESSAGE.