On the afternoon of Sept. 24, 1934, Archibald Thomas Robertson pondered over a difficult text in his Greek New Testament. Leaving a mark on Matthew 6:11, Robertson walked out of his office in Norton Hall at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to teach his Greek class.
He would never return.
As students recited their translations of New Testament passages, sweat poured down Robertson’s discolored face. The eminent scholar dismissed class early, an occurrence so rare that a junior professor rushed to Robertson’s aid and took him home. Shortly after, with his wife Ella at his side, the 70-year-old Robertson died of a stroke.
According to his biographer, Robertson’s sudden death left the Southern Seminary campus in a state of shock. A student is recorded as saying, “If a storm had blown away the buildings and left Doctor Robertson, the seminary would have been more real than it was with him gone.”
A partnership between The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention will allow students to pursue a modular Ph.D. in Christian ethics with an emphasis in public policy, with classes beginning in spring 2015.
“Public theology at the intersection of the church, the gospel and the culture will represent one of the greatest challenges to the coming generation,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary. “I can’t think of any better news than the fact that Southern Seminary and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission are combining strengths in order to provide an unprecedented Ph.D. program that will prepare a new generation for frontline service and leadership where it will matter most.”
“Filled with stripped-down worship songs via the medium of reclaimed classic hymns, Be Thou My Vision is the all-around favorite,” wrote the magazine editors in the July/August issue. “It’s hard to beat beautiful production applied to cherished songs of the faith.”
Discipline without direction is drudgery,” writes Donald S. Whitney in a familiar opening to the revised and updated edition of his classic book on biblical spirituality. The book contains new material with more emphasis on the gospel that will help both first-time readers and those who enjoyed the first edition to ground their disciplines soundly in Scripture.
Whitney’s bestselling work, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, is used to train one out of four seminary students in the country. According to Whitney, NavPress approached him to revise it for a 20th anniversary edition, in keeping with a tradition established with the spirituality books of Dallas Willard and Richard Foster. “As it turns out, it is a 23rd anniversary edition, so it is just called revised and updated,” said Whitney, professor of biblical spirituality and associate dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Whitney improved on the 1991 edition of his most influential work by adding 11 new methods of meditation on Scripture and including a more explicit Christocentric focus in each chapter. He bolstered the content with more Scripture references in order to distance himself from a mystical approach to spirituality and removed any cultural references that would fade with the passing of time.
Economics and work exist to glorify God, according to R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in a lecture for the school’s Commonweal Project, Sept. 3.
“All of the Scriptures speak to the worldview and the understanding of life and the understanding of humanity and the pattern of God's glory revealed in human flourishing,” he said. “We have to live as gospel people, under the authority of the entirety of Scripture, understanding that not only the Bible but biblical theology must guide our considerations.”
In the first of a series of Commonweal lecture luncheons this fall, Mohler provided an overview of economics and the importance of understanding it from a biblical worldview. The Commonweal Project on Faith, Work, and Human Flourishing, funded by the Kern family, is an academic initiative at the seminary to foster a theology of work and economics.
Monuments marking the final resting place of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s first two presidents, James P. Boyce and John A. Broadus, overshadowed President R. Albert Mohler Jr. as he addressed the crowd.
“This is sacred ground if the seminary has ever known sacred ground,” Mohler said. “The story of Southern Seminary is told almost entirely, in one sense, in this single plot because it goes all the way back to the beginning of the seminary in 1859.”
On September 3, a caravan of cars departed the Southern Seminary campus for Louisville’s historic Cave Hill Cemetery. After weaving through “the second-largest city in Kentucky,” the group arrived at one of the seminary’s three plots inside the cemetery.
Mohler and others in the seminary community gathered to lay a wreath at the grave of Southern Seminary’s seventh president, Duke K. McCall, to celebrate what would have been the 100th anniversary of his birth, September 1.
“He was a man of incredibly rare bearing and a rare leader in the Southern Baptist Convention,” Mohler said of McCall, who served as Southern Seminary’s president from 1951 to 1982, and later as chancellor. McCall was president of the seminary when Mohler first enrolled as a student.
“When I was elected president in 1993 with the agenda of the conservative resurgence, Duke McCall called me the night the search committee chose me and let it be known that he had endorsed and supported my nomination to be president — which no doubt confounded a good many people,” Mohler said. Pulling out a letter written by McCall in Nov. 1993, Mohler read the words of advice from the former president, who encouraged Mohler to seek the support of his wife, Mary Mohler, when the tension of his presidency became overwhelming.
Mohler did not just honor the life of McCall, who died April 2, 2013, but used the opportunity to examine the history and legacy of Southern Seminary. Mohler said it is important to take opportunities such as these “to be reminded that the Lord used remarkable human beings to help found the school we now know, and to keep it alive through many dangers, many toils, and many snares.”
Boyce and Broadus did more than just found Southern Seminary, they helped create a legacy maintained by subsequent presidents and seen today through the lives of current students and faculty, he said.
The lives of these men should also remind faculty and students of their mortality, Mohler said.
“Eventually all seminary presidents, all seminary professors, and all seminary students, and all flesh find their way into a place like this. But because of the grace of Jesus Christ, the grave is not our final word,” said Mohler.
Christians must never compromise the exclusivity of Christ when engaging Islam, said Michael A. Youssef in The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s inaugural Jenkins Lecture, Sept. 2.
“The challenge for us Bible-believing, orthodox Christians is to be able to articulate the Christian faith lovingly, thoughtfully, most certainly truthfully and fearlessly,” said Youssef, founding pastor of the Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia.
Students will not be prepared for ministry challenges if they do not leave seminary with “a workable, apologetic, missiological, theological understanding of Islam,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in a panel discussion hosted by the school’s Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam, Sept. 2.
J. Scott Bridger, director of the Jenkins Center, moderated the panel featuring Mohler and Michael A. Youssef, Jenkins Center fellow and founder of Leading the Way, a worldwide evangelical radio broadcast ministry. Youssef is also the founding pastor of the Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia.
“The only thing we have in common between Christianity and Islam is basically one sentence: ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,’” Youssef told students and faculty. “From that moment on, we’re going in two different directions.”
Following the inaugural Jenkins Lecture delivered by Youssef, the panel covered the rise in modern awareness of Islam, Islamism compared to moderate Islam, insider movements within Islam, and apologetics against Islam.
Tom Hellams has been named vice president for denominational relations and chief of staff, Office of the President, at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, President R. Albert Mohler Jr. announced Aug. 19.
“I’m very pleased that Tom Hellams is re-joining the Southern Seminary executive team,” Mohler said. “He is a man of rare gifts, deep commitment and an incredibly warm heart. He is also a man of incredible experience. This a welcome home to a friend and fellow servant. We are thrilled to have him return to Southern Seminary.”
Hellams, who will begin Sept. 1, is returning to Southern Seminary to a similar role he served previously, 1997-2006.
As vice president of denominational relations, Hellams’ responsibilities will include “assisting the institution to relate to the whole Southern Baptist Convention, including state conventions, in a way that would be most helpful to Southern Baptists in accomplishing all the Lord has assigned to us,” Mohler added.
Since 2006, Hellams has served as vice president of corporate relations at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. In that capacity, Hellams represented LifeWay’s president in a variety of capacities to the LifeWay board of trustees, Southern Baptist Convention, state Baptist conventions and the Nashville business community.
Teachers of the gospel must restrain their tongues, said Randy L. Stinson, provost of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, to students and faculty in Alumni Chapel, Aug. 21.
Speaking on the importance of words in life and ministry, Stinson said, “We’re all sinners; we’re all going to stumble with our words ... sin with our words.” Preaching from James 3, Stinson showed man’s inability to tame the tongue because of sin, but pointed to the hope of the gospel.
Stinson noted the constant refrain of the passage to emphasize the human impossibility to restrain the tongue apart from God’s work.
As he spoke, Stinson used personal and often humorous examples to demonstrate the power and the sinful potential of words. “One minute you’re talking about ‘somebody left socks on the ground’ and the next minute you are talking about each other’s mother. How did this happen?”