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Southern Seminary confers 97 degrees; paraplegic named outstanding graduate

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Scott Blue didn’t walk across the platform to receive his degree during Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s 182nd commencement service Dec. 11 in Louisville, Ky.
Instead, Blue stood head and shoulders above his peers as he rolled his wheelchair down the aisle of the seminary’s Alumni Chapel to receive his master of divinity degree in missions, evangelism and church growth.
Blue, a paraplegic from a car accident, is not known for his disability — he’s known for his abilities. At the Dec. 10 graduation banquet, Blue was honored by his peers as the outstanding graduate of his class. In April of this year, he placed first in the competition for the seminary’s annual Clyde T. Francisco Preaching Award.
Joining Blue in graduating were 96 others, representing 23 states and two foreign countries. The 97 graduates earned 16 different types of degrees, from a diploma in missiology to a doctor of philosophy degree in theology. Fifty-two master of divinity degrees were awarded, some reflecting specialization in fields of study involving Christian education, church music, as well as missions, evangelism and church growth.
Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. charged the graduates with their responsibilities to the church of Jesus Christ by raising the question of how the church has survived for 20 centuries. His answer came from Matthew 16:13-20. Using the Apostle Peter’s confession of the messiahship and sonship of Christ, Mohler said the church has survived in the truth that Jesus is the Christ, in the power of Christ and in the authority of Christ.
“The church has endured for 20 centuries. It has faced Jewish opposition, Roman persecution, ethnic cleansing, barbarian invasion. It has survived both the fall of Rome and Mediaeval decadence. It has survived Muslim invaders, internal corruption, schism, Marxist atheism, religious pluralism and modern secularism — and yet the church endures. Not only does the church endure — to the glory of God — it flourishes,” he said.
A flourishing church and its ministers may find the tasks of church work in the 21st century to be very similar to ministry in the first century, Mohler said. “The context will be radical pluralism in a culture increasingly affected by modern paganisms, but desperately in need of the gospel,” he said.
“You will serve in a nation that is increasingly loosed from its moral moorings and, it seems, increasingly at war with the Word of God. Ministry has always been challenging. It is always in the context of ‘dangers, toils and snares.’”
Mohler expressed confidence in the graduates by saying, “The church … will be well served by you who will go out from this place and will go out from this morning to serve and to minister and to witness in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

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  • Norman Miller