Christian suffering is part of God’s power, plan, and purpose for the universe, Florida pastor Ken Whitten said in a March 10 chapel message at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“The sovereignty of God and the sympathy of God do not conflict,” said Whitten, who has served as pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, for 25 years.
Preaching from Job 38-41, Whitten observed how suffering serves the purpose of God, even when the pain seems pointless or unbearable. Such suffering is a part of the Christian life and identity, according to Whitten. Job complained against God when he experienced suffering, but Whitten said this was the wrong response.
“Often, we treat homosexuality as if it’s a kind of self-contained issue on its own, and we don’t quite know what to do with it because we’re not anchoring it in what the gospel tells all people to do,” said Allberry. “Jesus says all of us need to repent and believe in the gospel.”
Allberry is associate pastor at St. Mary’s Church in Maidenhead, United Kingdom, and author of Is God Anti-Gay? And Other Questions about Homosexuality, the Bible, and Same-Sex Attraction. He shared his testimony, including his struggle with same-sex attraction, and lectured about Christian engagement with homosexuality in a series of lectures hosted by Boyce’s Center for Gospel and Culture at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Leading evangelicals discussed the nature and consequences of the gospel at the 9Marks at Southern conference, Feb. 27-28. The conference featured Mark Dever, founder of 9Marks and pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“The integrity of our claim to love God is intended to be confirmed by our membership in the local church,” said Dever in a session on the local church’s role in proclaiming the gospel. “Lose the church, lose the gospel.”
The gospel is not simply a message the church proclaims, it will affect the way Christians live, Dever said.
Churches need generational and ethnic diversity to display the gospel, pastor Brian Croft said in a Feb. 24 chapel message at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Croft, senior pastor at Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and senior fellow for the seminary’s Mathena Center for Church Revitalization, addressed whether future pastors should plant or revitalize churches. Croft suggested sinful reasoning can affect either decision.
Church planting usually seeks to reach young people, while revitalization generally involves pastoring older Christians who have attended a dying church for many years. Croft said he fears that men decide which to pursue based on which group they would rather serve. A young man might choose to plant a church because he is not patient with older people or to revitalize an established church because he wants a stable income.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will now offer both D.Min. and D.Ed.Min. degrees in Applied Apologetics to ministry leaders for equipping their churches to confront current issues and reach people with the gospel, school officials recently announced.
“Apologetics remains indispensable for biblical ministry, therefore, the study of apologetics should be regarded as fundamental in ministry preparation,” said Ted Cabal, professor of philosophy and apologetics. “No one obeys our Lord’s Great Commission to evangelize without apologetics.”
The D.Min. degree is a 32-hour program and the D.Ed.Min. a 46-hour program, both designed to be completed in 36 months. The doctoral programs include modular courses offered in the winter and summer terms.
An increasingly secularized American culture sees evangelism based on the exclusivity of the gospel as a threat, said two Southern Baptist seminary presidents in a Feb. 10 panel discussion at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The school hosted the panel with President R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, as part of Southern’s Great Commission Focus.
“In the eyes of many, a belief in the particularity of the gospel is a threat to world peace,” said Mohler.
Mohler specifically referenced the recent National Prayer Breakfast, where President Obama said religions that claim to be the only way to God are dangerous. Mohler mentioned that William Saletan, agreeing with Obama, wrote on Slate.com that Islamic terrorists and exclusivist evangelicals were in the same category.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary launched its new Global Campus allowing students who serve in ministry around the world to complete a master’s of divinity degree through distance learning options including online, seminary leaders announced Feb. 12.
“We do not merely want to have a program that allows people to access Southern Seminary online,” said President R. Albert Mohler Jr. when he announced the campus in chapel during the seminary’s Great Commission Focus. “Our ambition is bolder than that — it is to reach the nations.”
Through the Global Campus, students can earn the M.Div. entirely through Southern Seminary Online or one of the institution’s nine extension centers. Other distance learning options include hybrid modular, conference, mission trip or J-term courses, and the Ministry Apprenticeship Program.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is establishing the first extension campus of its Boyce College in northern Wisconsin effective Aug. 1, school officials announced recently.
“The central distinctive of Boyce College is its emphasis upon a comprehensive Christian worldview education,” said Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. “That’s the sole purpose for Boyce College: to prepare a new generation of young people to face a world that’s increasingly pluralistic and increasingly secular, to be able to apply what Scripture teaches and to think critically about all things through a Christian worldview.”
Mohler added, “We believe Boyce College Northland Campus can be an outpost for training young people who desire to live on mission. If you had told the founders of Southern Seminary that one day we would have a campus for Boyce College in the northland, they might have thought Indiana or Ohio. I think that is entirely due to God’s purpose, God’s plan, and it’s to the glory of God — and I’m excited about it.”
Ethnic diversity is part of God’s purpose for humanity and the reflection of the fullness of his gospel plan, said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, during his Feb. 3 convocation address.
“Diversity isn’t an accident and isn’t a problem, but instead is a sign of God’s providence and God’s promise,” Mohler said in his address, “The Table of the Nations, The Tower of Babel, and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb: Ethnic Diversity and the Radical Vision of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Biblical theology is the means of church unity and the foundation for careful theological interpretation, according to professors of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at the Alumni Academy, Jan. 8-9, 2015.
Using the text of Ephesians 4:11-14, James M. Hamilton Jr., professor of biblical theology at Southern Seminary, argued that doctrinal agreement, unity, and Christ-likeness are accomplished through understanding the work of God throughout salvation history.
Namely, “unity of the faith” and attaining “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” is possible through a robust biblical theology. The proper understanding of the Bible’s unfolding story unifies the church and ultimately makes us mature in Christ, he said.
Hamilton also demonstrated that biblical theology is understood when readers view Scripture through the lens of the “interpretive perspective,” or worldview, of the biblical authors.
The idea of worldview is central to proper experience of the Bible, Hamilton said. A worldview is not only a comprehensive story within which believers fit, he said — it also offers a pattern of living through mastering and transforming Christians’ affections. While other stories compete for attention and devotion, believers must fight to make the biblical story the exclusive story in their lives.
“The narratives in the Bible,” Hamilton said, “are in the Bible to shape our desires, to cause us to want to be certain kinds of people. What they give us is a vision of what the good life looks like.”
Biblical theology also involves typology and symbols, Hamilton said, or ways the biblical authors “summarize and interpret” earlier stories in the biblical canon through various linguistic connections between texts.
For example, he argued that Psalm 8 is a later interpretation of Genesis 3 — “out of the mouths of babies and infants” is a reference to the “seed” of the woman in Gen. 3:15, and the list of animals under man’s authority reflect the dominion given to man in Gen. 1.
Finally, Hamilton said that biblical theology shapes the church’s identity as the people of God. The Bible’s metanarrative becomes the believer’s story.
“My identity is not, ‘I’m a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,’” Hamilton said. “My identity is, ‘I’m a Gentile, who was a stranger and alien ... and God mercifully included me on this new Exodus salvation that God has accomplished.’ … My identity is, ‘I am a liberated slave.’”
Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, gave a case study in biblical theology by focusing on what the Bible’s storyline teaches about sexual orientation. “Is same-sex orientation sinful?” he asked.
Burk suggested the question relates to biblical theology, and showed through Jesus’ teaching on adultery in the Sermon on the Mount how the New Testament is dependent on the narrative flow in the Old Testament.
When Jesus prohibits adultery in Matthew 5:27, the author quotes directly from the seventh commandment in Exodus 20:14. However, Burk said, Jesus goes one step further than the original commandment and points to the lustful heart as the source of the sin.
Burk argued that Jesus’ extension of the commandment to include inward lust is actually a pairing of the seventh commandment with the tenth commandment (“You shall not covet”), since the word employed by Matthew for “lust” is the same as the one used for “covet” in the Septuagint.
“All that Jesus is doing is reading the Ten Commandments,” Burk said.
Burk also noted that the word itself, often translated “desire,” is either morally negative or neutral depending on the object desired. If one desires “another man’s wife,” Burk said, the desire is clearly wrong. Because same-sex desire focuses on non-marital erotic desire, it necessarily cannot be glorifying to God.
“The only sex desire that glorifies God is that desire that is ordered to the covenant of marriage,” he said.
Stephen J. Wellum, professor of Christian theology, approached the topic of biblical theology as a systematic theologian, noting the ways biblical theology complements the work of systematic theology.
While systematic theology applies the Bible to all of life, Wellum said, biblical theology ensures that Christians are properly interpreting the Bible in the first place. While systematic theology assumes the reader is properly interpreting Scripture before applying it to life, biblical theology first reads the Bible on its own terms. One can’t apply the Bible unless it’s rightly understood, Wellum said.
“Systematic theology is the queen ... in our reading and application of Scripture,” he said. “Biblical theology is hermeneutical discipline that is a means to an end — and the end ultimately is a theological reading of the Bible that is faithful to it, applied properly and driven home to our lives.”
The two-day conference also featured additional lectures from Hamilton and one from Robert L. Plummer, professor of New Testament Interpretation, as well as panel contributions from Greg Gilbert, preaching pastor at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and Brian Payne, associate professor of Christian theology and expository preaching. Alumni Academy provides free ongoing instruction for alumni and prospective students of Southern Seminary.
More information and audio from the Alumni Academy lectures are available at www.sbts.edu/resources.