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.
A Newsweek cover story calling into question the veracity and relevance of the Bible nevertheless “shows the Bible still matters,” R. Albert Mohler Jr. said today on "FOX & Friends" on the Fox News Channel.
Mohler also responded to the Newsweek article, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin” by Kurt Eichenwald in a Dec. 29 blog post, saying that Eichenwald’s article “is a hit-piece that lacks any journalistic balance or credibility.”
Eichenwald argues that Christians have a poor understanding of the Bible, which leads them to be “God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch. They are joined by religious rationalizers — fundamentalists who, unable to find Scripture supporting their biases and beliefs, twist phrases and modify translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s word.”
Mohler appeared on “FOX & Friends” to discuss his response to the Newsweek article.
Mohler will discuss his Dec. 29 essay, “Newsweek on the Bible — So Misrepresented It’s a Sin,” in which he critiques a major cover story in the national magazine, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin.” The Jan. 2, 2015, Newsweek essay was written by veteran journalist Kurt Eichenwald.
In spite of Eichenwald’s otherwise “impressive reputation,” Mohler writes he “appears to be far outside his area of expertise and knowledge. More to the point, he really does not address the subject of the Bible like a reporter at all. His article is a hit-piece that lacks any journalistic balance or credibility. His only sources cited within the article are from severe critics of evangelical Christianity, and he does not even represent some of them accurately.”
Mohler is expected to be interviewed by “FOX & Friends” host Elisabeth Hasselbeck and special guest host former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA).
According to the network, “FOX & Friends” is the number one morning show in America with more than two million viewers, and is the most-watched program on cable news between 6-9 a.m.
The redefinition of marriage happening in America today is the ideal time for the church to shine, not despair, says professor and author Sean McDowell.
McDowell, co-author of Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, graduated Dec. 12 from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a doctor of philosophy degree. He believes his time studying at Southern Seminary equipped him to both write the book and minister to college students through his professorship at Biola University in Los Angeles, California. He wrote his dissertation about the fate of the apostles, which he said affects how he views his current ministry.
“Speaking truth came at a cost to the apostles. While my situation is clearly less dire than for the apostles, their example encouraged me to speak out lovingly and truthfully, even if it costs me personally and professionally,” he said in an interview with Southern Seminary’s news staff.
The mission of seminary graduates is to announce the birth of Christ and the clear truth of salvation, president R. Albert Mohler Jr. told the fall 2014 graduates of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Southern Seminary conferred degrees upon 207 master’s and doctoral students during the 214th commencement exercises in Alumni Memorial Chapel, Dec. 12.
In an address from Luke 1:67-80 titled “To Give Knowledge of Salvation to His People: A Christmas Mandate for Christian Ministry,” Mohler stressed the significance of the approaching Christmas holiday as an opportunity for graduates to refute a “terminal theological confusion” in churches today.
Russell Moore: Extending John Leland’s religious liberty legacy for Southern Baptists — and everyone else
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following profile first appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of Southern Seminary Magazine, "Religious Liberty Imperiled." Included in the issue are essays by R. Albert Mohler Jr., "Erotic liberty v. religious liberty: How the sexual revolution is eclipsing the First Freedom"; Gregory A. Wills, "The colonial 'spirit of Massachusetts' stirring anew in America"; David Platt, "Religious liberty and persecution: A global perspective"; J. Scott Bridger, "Islam and religious liberty"; and Greg Cochran, "From bombings to bobblehead income: The diversity of persecution in New Testament perspective."
WASHINGTON — Separated by more than 200 years of history but in lockstep with the same convictions and commitments, Russell Moore is extending the legacy of American colonial Baptist preacher John Leland as he vigorously defends and seeks to advance religious freedom.
“Without religious liberty there is no other freedom,” said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “That’s because religious liberty is not simply a political issue or simply a cultural issue. But at its foundation, it is a gospel issue.
Dan DeWitt, dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate school at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently published a children’s novella, The Owlings, to help educate young and old alike about the Christian worldview. The Owlings introduces readers to an owl named Gilbert who helps a young boy answer his questions about the world.
“The Owlings is a worldview adventure for readers young and old alike about a young boy named Josiah who discovered an important lesson from some unlikely visitors,” DeWitt writes. “This short novel (or novella) mixes humor and intrigue to introduce the most basic principle of reality — the existence of God.” Readers meet Gilbert, a talking owl, and three of his friends who together explore the wonder of creation.
As the new year approaches, many Christians are thinking about their next attempt at reading through the Bible. The Bible reading plans to choose from are numerous, but some people find certain plans difficult to continue once they reach the dense texts of Leviticus and Numbers.
Chris Dendy, a December D.Min. graduate in Applied Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has a suggestion to help believers stick with their Bible reading commitments.
As part of the ministry project required for his degree, Dendy designed a reading plan to go alongside James M. Hamilton Jr.’s book, God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment. Hamilton, professor of biblical theology, also serves as Dendy’s adviser.
“The goal of the plan is to graciously push believers to grow in their understanding of the Scriptures and to give them a plan that will stretch them,” Dendy said.
Christians experiencing same-sex attraction should repent of those desires, but God can transform a person’s sexual identity, said panelists at the Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting, Nov. 19.
“This is what I would say to guys in my church, is 'If you are in the moment feeling an attraction for a person of the same sex, that's an occasion for repentance,'” said Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “'Well, I didn't choose that.' That's still an occasion for repentance.”
Burk presented a paper titled “Is Same-Sex Orientation Sinful?” and participated in a panel discussion on the issue with fellow lecturers Preston M. Sprinkle, vice president of Boise extension at Eternity Bible College, and Wesley Hill, assistant professor of New Testament at Trinity School for Ministry and self-described celibate gay Christian.