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Southeastern graduates called to be spiritual midwives, says Patterson

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Likening ministers of the Gospel to the Hebrew midwives who defied Pharaoh’s orders to kill the male Israelite newborns, Southeastern Seminary President Paige Patterson challenged seminary graduates Dec. 19 to “be ministers of life wherever you go, and I promise God will bless your ministry unbelievably.”
Preaching from Exodus 1:15-21, Patterson compared the biblical account of the Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah to the graduates’ ministerial responsibilities.
“You, too, hold in your hands, as you go from this place, life and death,” said Patterson, who is also president of the Southern Baptist Convention. “Remember that our God is forever a God of life. All life that exists, exists because he commanded it to be so and created it and brought it into being.”
Patterson exhorted the 105 graduates, representing 19 states and one foreign country, to be faithful to their calling as spiritual midwives.
“It is your responsibility to see that as many as possible make it to eternal life,” Patterson declared. “Our Lord has made the payment to make it possible. When Jesus died on the cross, he was the incarnate God from Heaven, come in human form who died there in order to forgive our sins and make it possible for us to have life abundant here on earth and life eternal in the world to come.”
Like the Hebrew midwives, Patterson said, ministers of the Gospel will discover God’s blessings when they fear God more than man.
“My challenge to you from the Word of God is to fear God enough to live for him according to the covenants you have made,” said Patterson. “Fear God, don’t fear anything else. Don’t fear the government. Don’t fear what your parishioners may say to you sometimes. Don’t fear what the armies of this world can inflict upon you. Don’t fear hurt. Don’t fear disappointment. Don’t fear disillusionment. Don’t fear burnout. Fear nothing but God.”
Describing fear as an “awesome reverence” and understanding of who man is and who God is, Patterson warned graduates trouble would come when they uphold the precepts of God’s Word.
But when those troubled times emerge, Patterson said, a heavenly perspective will equip the minister to weather the storms.
“Your home is not here,” he said. “It is over there. Your reward is not here in paycheck or praise of men, it is over there when he says, ‘Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord.’ Your assignment is here. Your reward and your pay is over there.”
Southeastern’s December 1998 commencement exercises marked the school’s first graduate from the Doctor of Philosophy program. Thomas Alan Howe, of Charlotte, N.C., was awarded a Ph.D. for his dissertation entitled: “Objectivity in Hermeneutics: A Study of the Nature and of the Role of Presuppositions in Evangelical Hermeneutical Methodology and Their Impact on the Possibility of Objectivity in Biblical Interpretation.”
Of the 105 degrees awarded, there were 31 college degrees and 74 seminary degrees. Among the various academic programs, the following number of degrees were awarded: associate of divinity, 9; bachelor of arts in biblical studies, 22; master of divinity, 36; master of divinity with church planting, 10; master of divinity with counseling ministry, 8; master of arts in counseling ministry, 8; master of divinity with Christian education, 6; master of arts in Christian education, 2; master of arts in church music, 1; master of divinity with church music, 1; master of theology, 1; doctor of philosophy, 1.
Former Southeastern Seminary trustee Edwin Bailey of Placentia, Calif., presented each graduate with a leather-bound New American Standard Bible on behalf of the Lockman Foundation in LaHabra, Calif.
The Lockman Foundation, founded in 1942, is a non-profit Christian organization that translates the Bible from Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek to English, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Hindi, and Korean.

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  • Lee Weeks