Burk to lead new Center for Gospel and Culture at Boyce College
Boyce College Dean Dan DeWitt announced recently the formation of a new academic center for cultural engagement — the Center for Gospel and Culture at Boyce College. He also announced that New Testament scholar and ethicist Denny Burk, a member of the Boyce faculty since 2008, will lead the center.
DeWitt sees the role of Boyce College, the undergraduate school of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as preparing and equipping the coming generation of church leaders to engage the culture around them with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“This is the Christian’s task,” DeWitt said. “As the famous apologist Francis Schaeffer said, each generation has to articulate the gospel in the language of the culture. At Boyce, we have a great faculty, all of whom view their disciplines through a gospel-lens. They write books and preach and teach the gospel all the time. And our students experience this gospel focus in every class.”
The center represents an effort to bring together that energy and expertise into one focus that will serve the college’s students and the churches they represent.
“My prayer is that the Center for Gospel and Culture will coalesce our faculty’s energy in a way that services the church and engages the culture,” he said.
And, according to DeWitt, Burk is the “right man” to lead this effort.
“Through his influential books and a widely popular blog, he has already proven to be a clear voice in analyzing political and cultural events through a gospel-lens,” DeWitt said.
For Burk, the timing of the center is crucial and strategic, as the cultural environment grows increasingly secular.
“Christians find themselves today living in the midst of a culture that in many ways is set against a biblical worldview,” said Burk, who is author of a recent book about sexual ethics, What is the Meaning of Sex?. “This clash is not merely an academic debate but in very real ways presents a practical challenge to believers and their churches. How can Christians bear witness to Christ when they find themselves in the minority? Southern Baptists and the wider evangelical movement are facing real conflicts over religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, the definition of marriage and a host of other concerns.
“With the Center for Gospel and Culture, we plan to bring the gospel to bear upon these issues and to be a resource for those who are trying to be faithful to Christ in a decadent culture. The Bible says that the sons of Issachar were men who understood the times and who knew what the people of God were to do (1 Chr 12:32). In many ways, that is what we hope to accomplish — to help believers understand the times and to point the way forward based on God’s Word,” he said.
The center, funded by the late Hazel L. Bishop, a benefactor and long-time supporter of the seminary, will train and equip pastors, missionaries, church leaders and educators for gospel ministry on the “front lines,” according to DeWitt.
“I see the Center for Gospel and Culture serving those on the frontlines of gospel ministry in two ways,” DeWitt said. “First, our hope is that through special events, like seminars and forums with guest speakers, the center will inspire and equip the students of Boyce College for future ministry. Second, we want to serve pastors, missionaries and leaders already on the frontlines through the resources such as articles that apply the gospel to contemporary cultural issues.”
DeWitt plans for the Center for Gospel and Culture to launch its website — featuring digital resources such as videos and articles as well as a blog — and begin hosting on-campus seminars in spring 2014.
According to Schaeffer, each generation of Christians must speak meaningfully to its culture. And, according to Burk, the new center at Boyce College will equip this generation for just that. He said: “The Center for Gospel and Culture will exist as a resource for the coming generation, and those already serving churches, to help them to see how a biblical worldview sheds light on the challenges of our time.”