Southern Seminary ‘thriving’ in face of secularization, Mohler reports to SBC messengers

IMG_1001ST. LOUIS, Mo. (SBTS) — The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s record-setting enrollment numbers testify to an ideological paradox of the cultural revolution, said SBTS President R. Albert Mohler Jr. during his June 15 report to messengers during the SBC annual meeting in St. Louis, Missouri.

Despite the supposed death of conservative theological education foretold by mainline liberalism 50 years ago, the confessional seminaries of the SBC are healthier than ever, said Mohler. Although experts in theological education said only seminaries that adopt a secularized message would survive, that has not been the case, Mohler said, pointing to the fact that for the first time in its history Southern Seminary’s enrollment had exceeded 5,000 students in the 2015-2016 academic year.

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“Here’s the great paradox: the seminaries that followed that methodology and adopted that trajectory are the seminaries that are dead or are dying,” Mohler said. “It is the seminaries that have refused to bend the knee ... that are not only surviving but by God’s grace, thriving,” Mohler said.

Mohler said more is required of Southern Baptist seminaries now than any other time in the history of the convention. Although the gospel message itself never changes, the challenges before the graduates of Southern Seminary are dramatically different than when the seminary was founded in 1859.

“We are on the hinge of history right now, of such massive change,” Mohler said. “The secularization that is going on in the society around us, the massive intellectual worldview challenges we now face, the moral revolution that now so characterizes our times is producing a context of ministry that is not only markedly different than that experienced by previous generations, it is one that is increasingly marked by hostility towards the cause of Christ and his gospel.”

Concluding his report, Mohler thanked messengers for their support and for funding the seminary through the Cooperative Program, which helps prepare ministers to face the rising cultural challenges concerning gender identity and sexual orientation.

“There are more young men training for the gospel ministry and to pastor churches on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary right now than have ever been at any place in the history of the Christian church. And for that we are so very, very thankful,” he said.

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Matthew J. Hall named dean of Boyce College

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has appointed Matthew J. Hall as dean of its undergraduate school Boyce College. Hall, assistant professor of church history, has served as vice president for academic services at Southern Seminary since 2013.

Matthew J. Hall is the new dean of Boyce College.
Matthew J. Hall is the new dean of Boyce College.

"Matthew Hall is just the leader to take Boyce College into the next stage of its future,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary, who appointed Hall to the new position. “He is academically prepared, experienced, and ready to lead one of the fastest-growing programs in higher education. I have had the honor of working with Matthew Hall for several years in the highest levels of Southern Seminary's administration. With this appointment we have the right man at the right time for the right school. It is a great day for Boyce College. Dr. Hall will be able to build on the great work accomplished by previous teams and direct Boyce College to the future."

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SBTS leaders to participate in several events during SBC annual meeting in St. Louis

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will be well represented at the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting and other gatherings in St. Louis, Missouri, June 14-15.

Southern Seminary leaders will feature at numerous events at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, June 14-15.
Southern Seminary leaders will feature at numerous events at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, June 14-15.
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SBC’s first black professor among 3 retirees at Southern Seminary

The first African-American seminary professor in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention is among three retiring faculty members at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

T. Vaughn Walker, WMU Professor of Christian Ministries and professor of black church studies, is honored at a luncheon, May 19.
T. Vaughn Walker, WMU Professor of Christian Ministries and professor of black church studies, is honored at a luncheon, May 19.

T. Vaughn Walker, David L. Puckett, and Brian C. Richardson are retiring following the 2015-2016 school year with 64 combined years of service on the faculty of Southern Seminary. Walker, WMU Professor of Christian Ministries and professor of black church studies, was appointed in 1986 as the first black professor at any of the six SBC seminaries, and then the first elected to the faculty in 1997.

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Hope for gospel message to ‘speed ahead,’ Mohler says at SBTS commencement

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During the institution's 216th commencement exercises on the seminary lawn, 284 master’s and doctoral students from 44 states and 15 countries received their degrees.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Gospel ministers must proclaim God's Word with the urgency of eternal consequences, said President R. Albert Mohler Jr. in his May 20 commencement address to the 2016 graduates of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

During the institution's 216th commencement exercises on the seminary lawn, 284 master’s and doctoral students from 44 states and 15 countries received their degrees. A week earlier, a record 150 Boyce College graduates received certificate, associate, and bachelor’s degrees.

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Record 150 students graduate at Boyce College commencement

A record 150 students graduated from Boyce College, the undergraduate school of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, May 13, surpassing the previous mark by more than 40 percent.

“We do have confidence that the education invested in them through Boyce College will prepare them whatever the job description may be as they move now into the future,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary and Boyce College, during the commencement ceremony.

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Burk affirms traditional doctrine of hell in contribution to ‘Four Views’ book

Hell is a place of eternal, conscious torment, writes Boyce College professor Denny Burk in his chapter in the newest installment of Zondervan’s Four Views series, Four Views on Hell.

"Four Views on Hell," published in 2016, presents four evangelical views on the doctrine of hell.
"Four Views on Hell," published in 2016, presents four evangelical views on the doctrine of hell.

While the opposing three views claim to articulate evangelical positions different from the eternal, conscious torment view — terminal punishment (annihilationism), universalism, and purgatory — Burk says all people will exist forever in one form or another. For believers in Christ, everlasting glorification awaits them, but everlasting punishment awaits unrepentant sinners.

“Every person is going to be resurrected in the end and given a body that is fit for their destiny — the righteous will get a physical body that is incorruptible and fit for the new heavens and new earth, the unrighteous will be raised up and fit for an experience of God’s wrath forever,” said Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce, in an interview. Hell
“is equally everlasting and a conscious experience.”

Burk’s argument is foremost an exegetical one, he said, tracing the biblical-theological nature of the doctrine from Daniel through Revelation. Both Jesus and the New Testament writers later affirmed what the Old Testament writers taught about the nature of hell, according to Burk.

“Jesus is the person who talks the most about hell in the New Testament,” he said. “He speaks of it in ways that make it parallel to the experience of eternal life, so its duration and people’s consciousness of what they’re experiencing is exactly parallel of those who go into life.”

His opinion also adopts a reading of the Bible that has been the majority view among orthodox Christians throughout church history, he said. Although he had never thought deeply about hell until he was a college student, Burk says his understanding of the traditional reading developed when he read Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “The End of the Wicked Contemplated by the Righteous” for the first time. In the sermon, Edwards argued for an eternal, conscious torment view from Revelation 18, adding that although now it seems difficult to celebrate God’s wrath, one day Christians will see God’s justice from a divine perspective.

Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, defends the eternal, conscious torment view of hell in his contribution to "Four Views on Hell."
Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, defends the eternal, conscious torment view of hell in his contribution to "Four Views on Hell."

“What struck me is how he shows that in the last day, believers aren’t going to be embarrassed about the doctrine of hell,” he said. “We’re going to be called to rejoice in God’s judgments over Babylon and the saints of God are going to find it an occasion of great happiness that God is finally vindicating his people and vindicating his own holiness.”

Edwards’ sermon ended with a call to accept God’s offer of salvation while it is available. Although a day is coming when all believers will celebrate God’s justice and no one will weep for the damned, Burk said, there is a chance now to repent and believe.

Hell “should put in us a sense of gospel urgency to call the lost to repent,” Burk said.

Burk said there is great value in the Four Views series, as it permits the reader to evaluate various opinions according to their own claims. Editor Preston Sprinkle, biblical scholar and vice president at the Boise, Idaho extension of Eternity Bible College, invited Burk to contribute.

“The Four Views books put different views on a given subject side-by-side, and you get direct engagement with the arguments,” Burk said. “So, if you want to understand a controversial position on a given view, you’re able to see the best arguments for and against.”

Four Views on Hell, published by Zondervan in 2016 ($18.99), also features contributions from John Stackhouse (terminal punishment), professor of religious studies at Crandall University in Moncton, New Bruswick; Jerry Walls (purgatory), professor of philosophy at Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas; and Robin Parry (universalism), commissioning editor for Wipf and Stock Publishers.

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Southern Seminary’s Counsel the Word addresses depression and Bible’s comfort

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Heath Lambert, executive director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) and associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — The Bible provides comfort and hope for people in the pit of despair, said speakers at the Counsel the Word conference at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, April 26-27.

“When you say, ‘You need something more than the Bible,’ that actually makes a statement about the character of God,” said Heath Lambert, executive director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) and associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida. “God finished the Bible in about 90 A.D. and he has not been waiting for the last 2,000 years for really smart unbelievers in the 20th century to come up with something that would really help. ... He gave us those things because that’s what we need for our trouble.”

During his two sessions, Lambert focused on the importance of ministers preaching the Word and the sufficiency of the Bible to comfort depressed persons. The theme of the two-day conference was “How Long, O Lord? Depression and Hope in a Complex World.”

“Comfort comes to people in pain from the Word of God and no place else when we know that a good God is using his superior wisdom and his superior power to bring about a superior good,” said Lambert, who also serves as assistant professor of biblical counseling at Southern.

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Boyce College adds women’s volleyball team for 2016 season

Alexis Ammon, head coach for the Boyce College women's volleyball team
Alexis Ammon, head coach for the Boyce College women's volleyball team

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Boyce College, the undergraduate school of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will add a women’s volleyball team to its athletic program and begin competition this fall in the NCCAA Division II Mideast region. Volleyball will be the third sport offered at Boyce and the first for women.

“There has been a ton of interest from the ladies on campus, and even the men who wanted us to have a more fully developed athletic program, and the next obvious step was to add a women’s sport,” said Boyce athletic director Blake Rogers, who also coaches the men’s basketball team. “This is a unique way to support our ladies on campus and I am thrilled for the turnout, because I know that our students are going to jump all over this.”

The volleyball team will be coached by Alexis Ammon, a native of Floyds Knobs, Indiana, who was a four-year starter in volleyball at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Sport Management.

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Southern Seminary’s 1937 Project sends record 450 volunteers to serve Louisville

A record 450 volunteers from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College completed service projects across the city of Louisville during the fourth annual 1937 Project, April 23. The event commemorates the school’s relief efforts in the Great Flood of 1937, when the Ohio River rose to more than 50 feet, creating one of the worst floods in American history.

Tyler Clark, student life director at Southern Seminary, volunteers at Habitat for Humanity.
Tyler Clark, student life coordinator at Southern Seminary, volunteers at Habitat for Humanity.

“This is not just a civic program, but also a spiritual program for our city and that is why it is so, so appropriate that Southern Seminary is right at the center of it,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said at the kickoff for the project.

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