Thousands of people flocked to the Bruton Parish Church in colonial Virginia on Sunday, Dec. 16, 1739, to hear a famous young preacher they called the “heavenly comet.” Church members were joined by curious onlookers and some eager visitors who traveled a then-remarkable 14 miles to hear the powerful voice of George Whitefield proclaim the new birth.
Though he made no mention of it in his journal, the “grand itinerant” turned 25 years old that day. Despite his youth, Whitefield had already attained a level of popularity in Britain and colonial America that arguably no one has since matched. Turning to his text, Matthew 22:42, Whitefield asked the congregation a classic question: “What think ye of Christ?”
He was received with unusual warmth from the Anglican minister and faced no immediate controversy from his sermon. By the time Bruton Parish received letters from the Church of England to bar Whitefield from its pulpit, the evangelist was already on his way through the colonies for “the greatest preaching tour of any preacher since the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul,” said Steven J. Lawson, president of OnePassion Ministries in Dallas, Texas.
Lawson, who wrote The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield, delivered a plenary address at the eighth annual conference for the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on “Whitefield and the Great Awakening,” Oct. 21-22. The two-day conference honoring the tricentennial of Whitefield’s birth featured key scholars such as Thomas S. Kidd, professor of history at Baylor University and author of the recent George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father, and David Bebbington, professor of history at the University of Stirling and author of notable works on modern evangelicalism.
John M. Perkins, an evangelical civil rights leader on issues of racial reconciliation and community development, will deliver the Julius Brown Gay Lecture on Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Oct. 27.
“For reconciliation to take place, we must create an environment that is worshipful and where God’s Word can clearly be heard,” said Perkins, 84, in a recent interview with Southern Seminary. “The gospel is only the gospel when the totality of the redemption is heard, when we proclaim the depths of God’s love and the longing of his people for change.”
Perkins will lecture on “Why We Can’t Wait: The Urgency of the Now” at 10 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 27. The lecture will be held in Legacy 303 at the seminary’s Legacy Hotel & Conference Center. The first 50 students in attendance will receive a free copy of Perkins’ book, Let Justice Roll Down.
When Travis Freeman lost his eyesight in high school, he never expected his story to be told on the big screen. He just wanted to play football. But 23 Blast, a film based on his journey in early high school when he lost his sight after contracting an illness, releases Friday, Oct. 24, in 600 theaters across the country.
“The movie isn’t the Travis Freeman story,” said the two-time graduate from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in a recent interview. “It does a really good job capturing the spirit of my story. I want people to be encouraged whether by watching the movie, 23 Blast, or reading the book, or following me on Twitter or hearing me speak.”
The movie chronicles Freeman’s story as he went from a healthy teenager and football player to a hospital patient with bacterial meningitis that left him blind in 1993.
His sermons are still circulated around the world through books, pamphlets, and the Internet. He is quoted by thousands of pastors across the land each Sunday. His books are read and re-read. Church historians often say Charles Haddon Spurgeon was the prince of preachers, but it may accurate to say he still is.
“The ministry of a man like Spurgeon is timeless,” said Thomas J. Nettles, who studied Spurgeon for nearly 20 years in writing Living By Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. “His attentions and affections were focused on things that were not merely ephemeral, but were eternal. The longevity of interest in him is something that certainly commends him to all of us.”
More than 125 alumni of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary attended a two-day Alumni Academy, Oct. 9-10, devoted to the life and ministry of the great British pastor.
As a New Testament professor, Robert L. Plummer is concerned that his former students are apostatizing. But he says graduates from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary are not turning from their faith, but turning from their Greek.
Plummer, professor of New Testament interpretation and the chair of the New Testament department at Southern Seminary, has taught introductory Greek courses for 15 years. After watching students invest so much time into learning Greek only to see their skills wilt from disuse, Plummer resolved to fight back against linguistic atrophy.
Realizing he may have a couple decades left of seminary teaching, he wanted to think of ways to buck this trend, and came up with a web project called “Daily Dose of Greek.”
“Let us go to places where the gospel has never been,” he said. “We must complete the Great Commission in our generation, and we need to make a commitment together that their spiritual death will not happen on our watch.”
Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, urged students to fulfill the Great Commission and take the gospel to unreached people, both overseas and even across the street.
“Opposition from the world is an opportunity to witness,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, during a special Heritage Week chapel service, Oct. 15.
"The opportunity of greatest Christian witness is not when we think the world loves us, but when the world quite openly hates us."
Preaching from John 15:18-27, Mohler said, “This passage is, of course, not completely unfamiliar to us as evangelical Christians in the United States. But for most of evangelical history in America, we have not heard them as particularly addressed to us.”
Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry during the fall trustee meeting, Oct. 13-14.
During an Oct. 14 special chapel service marking the occasion, Thom Rainer, the founding dean of the Billy Graham School, preached a sermon on evangelism and President R. Albert Mohler Jr. read a congratulatory letter from the Graham family.
Mohler read the letter from Will Graham, grandson of Billy Graham and vice president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, who sent greetings from the Graham family on the occasion of the BGS anniversary. The nearly 96-year-old world-renowned evangelist is “homebound, frail and weak, but confident in heart about the promises of eternity and the truth of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,” his grandson wrote.
EDITOR'S NOTE: For a two-minute video tour of Northland's 660-acre campus gifted to Southern Seminary, click here.
Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary unanimously accepted the gift of a Christian university campus in Wisconsin as a new extension campus of the seminary and Boyce College during its fall meeting, Oct. 13-14.
Trustees also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, elected three faculty, approved four sabbaticals, and adopted responses to referrals from the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
Northland International University, an evangelical Christian school located in Dunbar, Wisconsin, will become the first campus outside of Louisville for Boyce College, Southern’s undergraduate school. The action is effective Aug. 1, 2015.
PADUCAH, Ky. (BP) -- The funeral of a youth pastor, his wife, and two teenage sons was "the hardest thing I have ever done as the pastor of this church," Justin Mason of Rosebower Baptist Church in Paducah, Kentucky, said Oct. 8