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Southeastern’s Bush to lead Center for Theology and Culture

Updated March 3, 2006

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel L. Akin announced to the school’s faculty March 1 the creation of the L. Russ Bush Center for Theology and Culture.

The Center is being named in honor of Bush, 61, the academic vice president/dean of the faculty at Southeastern and one of the leading philosophers and apologists in the Southern Baptist Convention and the evangelical community.

The center will sponsor annual lectureships, conferences and forums, and it will support an apologetics website and provide intensive mentoring in worldview, ethics and apologetics by the Southeastern faculty. All of this will be under the direction of Bush, who leaves his post as academic dean in order to lead the center.

“It is still a shock to me that President Akin would have the confidence in me to ask me to initially lead the work of this new center,” Bush said. “Southeastern’s faculty has wanted to see an emphasis like this for some time, but we could not see how to implement it. Dr. Akin approached me about this and proposed a way not only to do it but to involve me in it. I am grateful to Southeastern for the confidence this shows in me. I hope I will live up to those expectations.”

The center will be launched at the April 10-11 trustee meeting and will anchor the new Paige and Dorothy Patterson Hall. Groundbreaking for Patterson Hall is scheduled for this summer. The $4 million, four-story, 25,300-square-foot building, designed by architectural firm Design Development, also will house faculty offices, a number of new classrooms and doctoral seminar rooms.

A banquet will be held on April 10 honoring Bush and his wife Cindy for their years of commitment to Southern Baptists at large and Southeastern in particular.

“Russ Bush is the premiere philosopher and apologist among Southern Baptists,” Akin said. “No one has contributed more to the discipline of philosophy and apologetics than Russ Bush. This center will be a major focus of this seminary. It will serve as a think tank for theology and apologetics. It will serve as resource for theological and cultural engagement.

“And it is my prayer under the leadership of Russ Bush that an army of Christian apologists will be trained through the center,” Akin said.

Bush, who also is senior professor of philosophy of religion at Southeastern, has been the seminary’s academic dean since the spring of 1989 and has served with four school presidents. He previously was on the faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, for 16 years and also has served as president of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Bush is the author of numerous books and journal articles, including “A Handbook for Christian Philosophy,” “Classical Readings in Christian Apologetics,” “The Advancement” and the groundbreaking “Baptists and the Bible,” coauthored with Tom Nettles. The book stands as one of the most complete sources for reliable, incisive and detailed information on the history of Baptist attitudes toward the doctrine of the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.

Bruce Little, associate professor Christian philosophy at Southeastern and a former student of Bush, said, “Personally, Dr. Bush is a mentor, colleague and friend whose selfless attitude, Christian spirit, tireless efforts for the Kingdom, faithful service to our Lord, unquestionable integrity and judicious scholarship have both encouraged and instructed me. I am delighted that this center is named in his honor.”

Senior associate dean/associate professor of theology David Nelson added, “I, like so many I meet around the country and world, have been influenced not only by his teaching but by his gracious spirit and kind heart. Dr. Bush has left a legacy through so many of our lives, and it is appropriate that a center dedicated to this kind of work should bear his name.”

According to Bush, apologetics is the most neglected and yet, the most needed part of a youth and adult ministry in the local church. He hopes that the center will provide the tools necessary to help combat this neglect.

“The defense of the faith requires knowledge of theology, ethics, historical and cultural studies and Christian worldview issues,” Bush said. “Nothing ever replaces Bible exposition, evangelism, missions, education, music, counseling, pastoral ministry and preaching skills as priorities for theological education. But the faith once for all delivered to the saints is under attack today like never before. I hope this new center will strengthen theological education at Southeastern and, in turn, strengthen the ministry of local pastors and youth leaders throughout the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee, said: “I’ve known Russ since the beginning of my ministry, and I’m pleased to see him honored in this way. Certainly, we live in a day of unprecedented challenges to the Christian faith, and the creation of the L. Russ Bush Center for Theology and Culture promises to equip pastors and teachers to help our people follow the biblical admonitions to ‘be prepared to give an answer’ and to ‘contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.’ With Russ at the helm, I anticipate seeing an army of well-trained apologists ready to take on those challenges, speaking the truth in love to a world that desperately needs the Lord.”

Former Southeastern President Paige Patterson, now president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, worked with Bush from 1992-2003. Patterson said he is overjoyed at the announcement of the center.

“At a critical moment in Southeastern’s history, Dr. Bush stepped into a situation that required steel convictions and velvet gentleness in relationship. At a crucial moment in Southern Baptist life, he coauthored Baptists and the Bible, a book that changed the landscape. To name this center for Dr. Bush demonstrates both the wisdom and the gratitude of the president and trustees of Southeastern,” Patterson said.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., added, “Russ Bush is just a tremendous thinker, one of the great intellectual figures in Southern Baptist life in recent decades. We are indebted to him for his work in defense of revelation, the Bible and the inerrancy of Scripture. It is altogether fitting that Southeastern Seminary would establish this center in his honor, and I think we can expect great things from Dr. Bush and from this center in years to come.”

Southeastern Seminary currently has on its faculty two professors of philosophy and three ethics professors. A C.S. Lewis scholar also teaches in the seminary’s undergraduate school, Southeastern College at Wake Forest, as well as professors with expertise in marriage and family, cultural analysis and the fine arts.

With specialized degree programs in apologetics, ethics and philosophy on the master of arts, master of divinity, master of theology and Ph.D. levels, the foundation has been laid for the center’s establishment.

“No one has been better equipped by God than Russ Bush to train up a new generation of defenders for the faith,” Akin said. “I am convinced Russ Bush’s greatest contribution to the Kingdom will be realized through his leadership of the center that appropriately bears his name. My excitement about what this can mean for the glory of God cannot be captured by words. I am grateful to God He has raised up Russ Bush for this assignment at this time.”

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  • Jerry Higgins