Rick Bordas, SBTS Foundation Board member, dies at 65

Rick Bordas, Southern Seminary Foundation Board member and long-time friend of the school, died Sept. 18 from gallbladder cancer. He was 65.

“A giant has fallen in Louisville,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary. “Rick Bordas was a dear friend to me, to Southern Seminary, and to the cause of Christ. He was a devoted churchman, a mentor and evangelist, and a friend to a small army of friends and fellow disciples. He was a model husband and father, whose love for his wife and family was evident to  all. He mentored young men for Christ and his influence will endure through the lives he shaped and through the Rick Bordas Fund for Christian Discipleship at Southern Seminary.

“Our prayers are with Lori Bordas and the Bordas family, even as we rejoice in the triumph of Christ in the life and legacy of Rick Bordas.”

Bordas, a believer for 25 years, served on the foundation board for seven years. According to a family obituary, he loved the seminary and its students, which lead him to serve on the board. He attended chapel services often.

When Bordas was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer earlier in 2013, he simply asked people to pray and continued to work and volunteer. He and his wife, Lori, faithfully attended Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., where Bordas mentored young men, served as a deacon and greeter.

Bordas, a Vietnam War veteran, was known for saying that the most important things in life are God, family and friends. He has three sons and one stepson.

Friends of Bordas recently honored him with a student discipleship fund in his honor at Southern Seminary. When these friends invited Bordas and his wife, Lori, to a dinner on June 17, the two did not know that 100 friends and family gathered at the seminary to unveil the Rick Bordas Fund for Student Discipleship.

The fund recently co-sponsored a conference at the seminary about personal and family vigilance while in seminary.

He leaves behind his wife, Lori, three sons and their wives, Drew and Kennington, Matt and Karen, Josh and Jessica; one stepson, Jeffrey Peterson; six grandchildren; his parents, Margaret Anne and Jim Bordas; and seven siblings. He is preceded in death by his brother, Joe.

The family hosted a visitation service on Sept. 22 and a funeral service at Southeast Christian Church on Sept. 23.

The Bordas family requests that gifts be given to the seminary fund in lieu of flowers. Gifts may be sent to: Southern Seminary c/o Rick Bordas Fund for Student Discipleship, Office of Institutional Advancement, 2825 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY 40280.


Rainer warns students against falling into Satan’s traps

Students need to guard against the traps of Satan, said author and denominational leader Thom Rainer in a Sept. 5 chapel service at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary, introduced Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, expressing thankfulness for Rainer’s friendship and ministry as the founding dean of the seminary’s Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth.

“It was very clear to me that God had created one man for that job, and his name was Thom Rainer,” Mohler said. “It was a great joy when Thom Rainer came, and the growth and development of that school under his leadership was remarkable. The lengthened shadow of his legacy here continues. ... He is also a dear friend.”

Rainer, a two time Southern Seminary graduate, preached from 1 Timothy 3:7, warning students about the traps that Satan sets for all Christians, and especially ministers of the gospel.

“No one puts a trap up accidentally,” Rainer said. “Satan is setting intentional traps for you now.”

He described five characteristics of these traps: Traps are powerful, intentional, they aim at a person’s vulnerability, they catch you unaware and they bring sudden and sometimes perilous consequences to a Christian’s life.

Rainer told students about a season in his life when ministry and education took precedence over his family. He said that he realized this problem when his five year old son had not seen him in several weeks because of work and ministry. He said that this was a turning point. Rainer warned students to heed this passage and not fall into the same sin.

“Please don’t think that you’re invincible,” Rainer said. “Don’t think it can’t happen to you because it’s those who say ‘never’ who end up in the trap. We don’t have to fall into the trap, but we need to know that we can,” he said.

Rainer closed the sermon with a final warning for students to walk closely with God in order to prevent a fall.

“Please, for the sake of the glory of God, stay close to him because the devil is waiting to devour.”

Before his sermon, Rainer reflected on his early ministry at Southern Seminary when Mohler first became president.

“What took place in the early and mid-90s for several years was convictional leadership at its best,” Rainer said, referring to Mohler’s stewardship of the institution through theological transition. “What took place at Southern Seminary many said could not be done. And because God worked through a man named Albert Mohler, this school turned around as the denomination began to turn. I was an eyewitness to that history and I saw that convictional leadership. I saw it then and I see it now.”

Earlier this year, Southern Seminary named Rainer as its distinguished alumnus of the year during the school’s alumni luncheon at the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston, Texas.

Audio and video of the sermon are available at sbts.edu/resources.


Wills says Southern trains pastors in ‘scandalous scholarship of the gospel’

Faithful Christian scholars must be prepared to accept the scandal of the gospel, even at the cost of academic reputation, said Gregory A. Wills in a Sept. 3 installation service at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“It is right to step back and hear from the one who will take this office about what he sees in the future of the school and the reason it was established,” seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr., said, introducing Wills as the new dean of the seminary’s School of Theology.

Wills preached from 2 Corinthians 4:1-12 about the scandal of the gospel and its relation to Christian scholarship.

Wills, professor of church history and the author of several books, including Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: 1859-2009, called the seminary community to suffer the scandal of humility in the service of the gospel.

“I want us to reflect upon this message and its role in our scholarship and in our study of Scripture, the truth of Scripture and all things that belong unto the study of Scripture,” Wills said. “The scandal is inescapable. The scandal of the gospel is that we must repudiate our confidence in glorious human knowledge. We must acknowledge Christ’s righteousness and abandon our own. We must die if we would live.”

Wills applied this scandal to scholarship, specifically in seminary training. He said that no scholarly evidence can compel sinners to repent and trust in Christ, but only the gospel.

“It is crucifixion above all that scandalizes sinners. Christ crucified, Paul says, was ‘a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles’ (1 Cor. 1:23). It is the cross itself that offends the heart and the conscience of man,” Wills said.

Wills said that in 1879 the seminary faced the “momentous” question of whether it would stand committed when professor Crawford Toy challenged the seminary’s commitment to divine truth. Southern dismissed Toy as an “act of gospel fidelity and courage that has bolstered Southern Baptist commitment to Scripture to this day,” Wills said.

“Southern Baptists rightly established this seminary for the promotion of divine truth,” Wills said. “And we must never relinquish this task, though at great cost of labor, at great inconvenience and great grief. We must never relent in our determination to promote and defend gospel truth. And so we repudiate tampering with the Word of God.”

The historian noted, however, that the gospel is not about scholarship, but Jesus Christ.

“We are content that our scholarship is employed in the statement of open, divine truth. This means, among other things, that we do not long for the recognition of the academy, but for the ‘well done, good and faithful servant.’ We are trophies of grace, not learning,” Wills said.

Scholarship must serve the gospel, he said, and the purpose of God’s truth is to produce love, resulting in godly living and godly dying. Wills said that students are accountable to knowing the truth and that the aim of truth is love.

Wills also laid out a vision for how Southern Seminary desires to train ministers.

“We are seeking to produce theologians whose theology makes them evangelists,” he said.

Wills charged seminarians to be relentless in their commitment to the task, citing Southern’s founders who, in the aftermath of the Civil War, resolved that they would die before they allowed the seminary to die.

“May we do our duty and change history. Until Christ returns we must attend zealously to theological scholarship for teaching biblically sound and courageous ministers of the gospel,” Wills said. “The church will always need such faithfully trained ministers who are trained in the scandalous scholarship of the gospel. We believe theological education is an obligation. As long as God sustains us, we will never give up.”

Wills is the second of three new senior academic leaders to present inaugural addresses to begin the 2013-14 academic year. The seminary installed Randy Stinson as senior vice president for academic administration and provost, Aug. 29, and will install Adam W. Greenway as the new dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, Oct. 1.

Mohler presented Wills with a framed certificate commemorating the installation service, and a Bible.

Audio and video of Wills’ message are available at sbts.edu/resources.


In installation address, Stinson focuses on preparing Southern Seminary students for hardships

PHOTO: Randy Stinson received a commemorative certificate from Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. on Aug. 29 following his installation address as senior vice president for academic administration and provost in Alumni Memorial Chapel. SBTS photo by Emil Handke.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary must prepare students not only in academics, but hardships in future ministry, said Randy Stinson in his Aug. 29 installation address.

Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr., introduced Stinson, who became senior vice president for academic administration and provost earlier in the year, thanking God for his provision and looking forward to the coming years at the seminary.

“This is a special and historic day in the life of the seminary,” Mohler said. “This is a responsibility of tremendous importance and a position that requires much stewardship of the entire seminary. As we think about how God has provided for us in the future we come with great gratitude. It’s one of those moments that needs to be solemnized in a certain way.”

Preaching from 2 Corinthians 6:1-10, where Paul exhorts the Corinthian church to commend themselves to God through endurance of trials, Stinson told students at Southern Seminary to expect and be prepared to face challenges in life and ministry.

“We're expecting that the students who come to us will have more personal challenges, not less,” Stinson said.

Stinson, who served for eight previous years as the dean of the School of Leadership and Christian Ministry and founding dean of the School of Church Ministries, talked about young ministers who leave churches because they think that the congregation will not endure sound doctrine. He emphasized the importance of biblical expectations of pastoral leadership, and how the people accept his leadership.

“It's all about expectations,” said Stinson. “What do you expect? It's easy to say that they wouldn't endure sound doctrine, but it's hard to look in the mirror and see that they won't endure you.”

Stinson called students and pastors to endure the difficult situations of ministry that make the temptation to run appealing.  He said that pastors need to commend themselves to the people that they serve.

“The thing that will commend you to the people you are serving is how you endure in Christ with patience, kindness and love,” he said.

Life isn’t only about academics or how many people fill the church pews each week, he said. Rather, the Christian life is about living according to what they know and believe, patiently and in a godly manner.

“You're learning things here that are important that will serve you well if you live according to what you know,” Stinson said. “Patience ruled the day for Paul.”

He said that Southern Seminary will always be vigilant about the content that is taught in the classroom because administrators want students to be prepared for ministry in a sinful world.

“I want our students to be a certain way and have a certain ministry,” he said. “There’s a type of minister of the gospel that we’re trying to create here to send out — a minister of great endurance and great expectation of trial and difficulty who will face those in God.”

Stinson called the patient endurance of trials “true grit,” but not the Hollywood, John Wayne kind.

“True grit is rooted in the eternal God and his eternal reward,” Stinson said. “What commended Paul is his endurance.”

Stinson exhorted students to endure difficult circumstances by purity.

“There's a way to walk through challenges and hardships and that's by living a life that is above reproach,” Stinson said.

Ministers, students and laymen will experience tests of faith and strength in life, but Stinson said God brings hardships because they are part of God’s plan to sanctify his people

“The will of God is your sanctification, or God making you more Christ-like, because there’s something on the other side of this hardship that you need to know about,” he said.

At the conclusion of Stinson’s address, Mohler presented him with a certificate and Bible commemorating his installation.

Audio and video of the service are available at sbts.edu/resources.


Southern Seminary emphasizes spiritual health over academics to begin the semester

The importance of the spiritual health of seminary students and their families should precede academics, speakers urged at an Aug. 22 conference at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Jeremy Pierre, who recently became the dean of students at Southern Seminary, introduced the all-day Personal and Family Vigilance conference, explaining the importance of students taking care of their spiritual life — even while in seminary.

“Following Christ first in your personal life and in your family is not automatic,” said Pierre, who is also assistant professor of biblical counseling at Southern Seminary. “It takes effort and it takes vigilance, grace enabled effort and vigilance, but vigilance nonetheless. We don't want any of our students to shipwreck their faith through the negligence of their soul, because following Jesus while studying him is not automatic.”

Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. led the first plenary session, exhorting students about the health of their private and spiritual lives. Mohler preached from 1 Timothy 4:12-16, warning about the dangers of ministry and the tragedy when someone leaves ministry because of poor personal and spiritual vigilance.

Mohler said that people learn much about an institution by how it begins its semester. He gave an example of a secular school that recently began its semester with a mandatory meeting about “safe sex” among the students. In contrast, Southern Seminary began its new year by focusing on the soul care of its students.

“We need to train ourselves for the pattern of sound steps and the pattern of a sound life,” Mohler said. “If we fail in terms of the private life, then we fail utterly.”

Mohler stressed that people are always watching those in ministry to see how they live. He said that wherever the minister or leader goes, eyes follow to watch if his words match his actions.

He read an open letter from a former student who, instead of graduating, signed divorce papers. The letter, which appeared in a 2011 issue of the seminary’s news magazine, Towers, illustrated the importance of the conference and its message of personal and family watchfulness while in seminary, Mohler said.

“All of us together, whatever our age, need to be determined to right now feed the virtues and starve the vices by God’s grace,” he said. “It’s in the mirror that doctrine and character meet. The defense of the truth requires the same virtues as the defense of character.”

Heath Lambert, associate professor of biblical counseling at Boyce College, the seminary’s undergraduate school, led a plenary session directed toward men about the dangers of pornography. Lambert’s recent book, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace, addresses the issue of pornography within today’s Christian culture. The seminary gave attendees a free copy of the book. (A question and answer about Lambert’s new book is available here.)

Lambert, who is also the executive director of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, said that he believes this is a time of crisis. “Pornography is the most significant problem in the church. … Today people in our churches have to be vigilant against a phantom,” he said, talking about pornography’s anonymous, ease of access on the Internet.

Purity in the churches begins with the pastor, he said.

“God has raised you up to be leaders in your home and church,” Lambert said. “If our homes and churches are to be pure, they are going to be led by men who are pure.”

Lambert preached from Romans 6, telling students that the necessary power to be pure is found in the passage, which addresses a believer’s deadness to sin and life in Christ through the Holy Spirit.

He noted three truths that empower men struggling with pornography, saying that a Christian cannot confess Christ’s resurrection and not fight for holiness; the power for purity is found in the fight against sin; and the fight against sin includes the need for Christians to stop resenting sin and to present themselves to God as raised-to-life believers.

Lambert told students to protect themselves by putting protective systems on computers, cell phones and even television in order to avoid temptations to sin.

Men should begin to present themselves to God as instruments of righteousness by service to others and the church, said Lambert. Fighting for purity requires spending time with Jesus.

He also encouraged the attendees to sing gospel-centered music when tempted to sin.

“God has wired us that there’s something about singing that ignites our affections,” Lambert said.

His final call to action encouraged men to find someone and tell them the truth, emphasizing the importance of grace and honesty in the effort to fight sin.

The conference also featured four breakout sessions led by seminary professors. Michael A. G. Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality, led a session about vigilance in soul care; Pierre led a session about ministering to those who need to confess sin; Bruce A. Ware, professor of Christian theology, spoke to students about how couples can pursue purity together; and Brian J. Vickers, associate professor of New Testament interpretation, led a session about moving past guilt and the step toward grace

The conference is the first to be co-sponsored by the Rick Bordas Fund for Student Discipleship, established June, 2013, and the John and Debbie Bethancourt Lectures for Ministerial Ethics.

Audio and video from the conference are available at sbts.edu/resources.


At the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, SBTS remembers MLK visit; Williams writes about ongoing need for racial reconciliation

Henlee Barnette, Martin Luther King Jr., Nolan Howington and Allen W. Graves talk after King received a copy of Barnette’s "Introduction to Christian Ethics" during a visit to Southern Seminary in 1961.

August 28 is the 50th anniversary of  the March on Washington, the 1963 large-scale rally that advocated for civil and economic rights of American-Americans in the United States.

Fifty-two years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. visited Southern Seminary to give the 1961 Julius Brown Gay Lecture on Christian Ethics. Audio from King's visit is available at the James P. Boyce Archives and Special Collections website: King’s address, “The Church on the Frontier of Racial Tension,” pronounced a call for church leaders to accept the responsibility of confronting the moral evil of segregation in the South and take the lead in moving American society toward integration. He also lectured in an ethics class. Archives also includes an article from the Review & Expositor by former Southern Seminary professor Henlee Barnette reflecting on King's visit. Baptist Press recently referenced the visit in an article about Southern Baptists and reconciliation. And, two years ago, Towers published a special edition about the 50th anniversary of King's visit to the seminary.

Jarvis Williams, associate professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern Seminary, recently wrote about the March on Washinton, issuing a call for gospel-centered racial reconciliation, available here.


What the March on Washington couldn’t accomplish: 50 years later, a call for gospel-centered racial reconciliation

The Civil Rights movement in the second half of the 20th century worked ferociously to fight for the equal rights of people of color, especially for the equal rights of African-Americans. Many women and men, both black and white, sacrificed time, money, and the high price of their own lives in order to end racial discrimination by means of boycotts, rallies, freedom rides and impassioned speeches against the sin and evil of racism.

The March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963, was one of the largest civil liberties rallies in the history of the United States and featured Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic “I have a Dream” speech in which the civil rights leader movingly argued for equal rights and racial harmony for all people. Both the march and King’s speech certainly impacted the culture’s attitude toward race and racial harmony.

However, as the following days and months after King’s speech demonstrated and as our nation’s current racial tensions illustrate, the March on Washington was unable to eradicate racism, and it was incapable of universally accomplishing racial equality. The reason is quite simple: the March on Washington, as significant as it was, could not change the human heart inclined toward sin.

To the contrary, when faithfully lived, preached, and taught, the gospel of Jesus Christ can in fact eradicate all forms of racial hostility. As I suggested in my book on racial reconciliation, One New Man, the Bible confirms that sin is the reason why racism exists, Jesus’ death and resurrection are God’s provision for racial reconciliation, Jesus actually accomplished racial reconciliation for believers, and racial reconciliation must be intentionally pursued and can be experienced by those within the Christian community who believe, love, and live for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Reason for Racial Enmity and God’s Provision for Racial Reconciliation

In Genesis 1-2, Moses states that God created a perfect world without sin. In its original pristine form prior to sin entering creation, humanity was reconciled both to God and to one another. But, after Adam and Eve violated God’s command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:17), sin devastated God’s original creation. The hostility between humanity as a result of sin envisages the universal power of sin over human relationships.

 Prior to the fall, humanity was in perfect harmony with its creator, with creation, and with one another (Gen 1-2). Unfortunately, after the fall, Cain murdered his brother, Abel (Gen 4:8), a direct consequence of Adam’s sin in the garden (Gen 3:15). Furthermore, because of the sin of idolatry, God confused humanity’s one speech into different dialects with the result that humanity became more alienated from one another due to dialectical confusion (Gen 11:1-9).

A key New Testament passage by Paul discusses the division between different dialects and different people groups and God’s solution to the division (Eph 2:11-22). When speaking of Jews and Gentiles (i.e. a Gentile is a non-Jewish person), Paul asserts that the Gentiles were separated from all of God’s promises to Israel (Eph 2:11-12). However, he asserts that Jesus’ death incorporates Gentile Christians into God’s family along with Jewish Christians by means of faith (Eph 2:13). Further, Paul declares that Jesus’ death makes believing Jews and believing Gentiles into one new humanity by killing the enmity between them, namely the law (Eph 2:14-16). Finally, Paul asserts that Jesus’ death grants both Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians access to the one and true living God, access to the same Holy Spirit, and made them citizens within the same household, whose foundation is the apostles, the prophets and the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 2:18-22).

Of course, the ethno-racial problems between Jews and Gentiles are not the same as ethno-racial problems that are still prevalent on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. For example, the racial harmony that Paul discusses in Ephesians 2 has nothing to do with skin color.

Nevertheless, Paul’s words in Ephesians precisely speak to us today. For example, he reminds us that the division between humanity is not only a black and white problem, because sin is a universal power that enslaves every ethnicity and that causes divisions between them (see Rom 1:18-32; 6:1-23; Gal 2:11-14). Jews and Gentiles (all ethnic groups) are alienated from one another.

In addition, Paul reminds us that the provision for racial harmony is not Civil Rights rallies and well-attended marches, as helpful as they can be, because he promulgates that Jesus Christ himself actually accomplished racial reconciliation for followers of Jesus.

The Bible emphasizes the universal power of sin over humanity, the universal effects of sin over humanity, the alienation of humanity because of sin, and Paul presents the only solution to this massive problem of racial alienation as the gospel of Jesus Christ. May the churches, therefore, be vigilant to promote and preach a God-centered, Christ-exalting, Spirit-filled, and gospel-centered message of racial harmony, and may they be intentional to achieve this in the church, in the academy, and in the world.

Jarvis Williams is associate professor of New Testament interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He has written and spoken widely on the subject of biblical racial reconciliation and is the author of One New Man: The Cross and Racial Reconciliation in Pauline Theology (Broadman and Holman Academic Press, 2010).


Mohler calls ministers to speak the truth in times of trouble during 20th anniversary convocation address

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, speaks Aug. 20 to the seminary community in Alumni Memorial Chapel. The Convocation address marked his 20th anniversary leading the Southern Baptist Convention's flagship school (SBTS Photo by Emil Handke

In the midst of cultural pressures to remain silent, R. Albert Mohler Jr. told ministers to speak the truth because souls are at stake, during an Aug. 20 convocation address marking his 20th anniversary as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“We are called to be, as Scripture describes us, stewards of the mysteries of God,” Mohler said. “We are called to preach that which has been revealed. We are called to preach the Word in season and out of season. ... We are living in a time that may well be described as increasingly out of season. Thus, we speak of the sin of silence in a time of trouble.”

Mohler’s address, “Don't Just Stand There: Say Something: The Sin of Silence in a Time of Trouble,” follows in the tradition of two previous convocation messages at significant moments in his presidency.

The first, in 1993, “Don’t Just Do Something: Stand There,” set his agenda to reclaim the seminary — a central concern during the Conservative Resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention. He argued that the school had lost its way theologically and needed to commit with integrity to its foundational doctrinal confession, the Abstract of Principles.

Ten years later, Mohler called the school — in a message oppositely titled, “Don’t Just Stand There: Do Something” — to re-engage in the task of the church by taking the gospel to the nations.

 Speaking to the seminary community Tuesday, at the beginning of a new academic year, Mohler said, “We know what we believe; that’s what we confess. We know what we must do, as the Lord himself has commissioned us. And may we ever be faithful to speak what we’ve been commanded to speak.”

Mohler preached from Ezekiel 3:16-27, where God gives the prophet responsibility for those to whom God calls him to speak. In the passage, God says to Ezekiel, “If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.”

Mohler asserted that the message God gives to Ezekiel is as applicable today as it was for the ancient prophet.

“The portrait given to Ezekiel is [one] we must hear and we must heed and we must own for our own time,” he said.

Confronting a fear of truth-telling, Mohler said the Scriptures present only two conditions that require silence: when in the presence of God and “when we do not know what to say because the knowledge is too far from us.” But, Mohler said, calls to speak are “far more prevalent in Scripture” than calls for silence, noting that the call to speak is not generic, but a specific call to preach God’s revealed truth.

“Our task is not theological speculation; we are not called to doctrinal creativity; we are not summoned to invent a message; we neither market nor test this message, nor modify it. We receive it. And as we receive it, so we preach,” he said.

But preaching God’s Word is often unpopular, Mohler reminded seminarians.

“The increasingly secular culture of the West, and specifically the United States, is poised to present the seriously Christian minister with serious challenges. And challenges bring temptations. One of the greatest temptations is for us to remain silent,” he said.

“We are tempted to speak in terms that will be better received, we believe, than the terms of the gospel that Scripture require. We are tempted to lower our voice when we should raise it, and to raise our voice when it should be lowered. The truth dies a thousand deaths of equivocation and is buried in a grave of evasion,” he said.

Still, ministers cannot avoid trouble, Mohler said. “We will be in trouble with someone. So let us choose this day those with whom we will have trouble. The world says, ‘Remain silent,’ and God says, ‘Speak.’”

Mohler emphasized his desire not to spark a “new belligerence or to a posture of defensiveness,” but to call the church to obedience to all that Scripture teaches. “My concern is the mandate given to us by God and my concern is the church,” he said.

Silence in times of trouble is sin, Mohler said, noting the increasing cost of speaking the truth. “It will cost more every year to bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, to the exclusivity of that gospel as a radical cause of outrage in this culture, to the moral teachings of God’s Word,” he said.

Mohler stressed that consequences of speaking God’s truth span beyond cultural discussions of morality. The call to speak the truth in times of trouble today, as in Ezekiel’s day, carries eternal consequences.

“This is not merely about some cultural conflict over moral questions; it is about an eternal conflict over the souls of men and women. Nothing less is at stake,” he said.

“Together, may we be determined never to remain silent when we are called and commissioned and given opportunity to speak. May we end our days free and innocent of the blood of all men,” he said. “May Southern Seminary and the Southern Baptist Convention and all of God’s people learn new skills of truth-telling and draw courage to speak the truth in love and resolve to speak as best we know in the time we are given to the people whose eternal destiny many hang in the balance.”

Audio and video of Mohler’s address are available at the Southern Resource Web page. Mohler's two previous milestone convocation addresses are also available: “Don’t Just Do Something: Stand There”; “Don’t Just Stand There: Do Something.”


Schreiner offers ‘pastoral’ explanation of how ‘Scripture fits together’ in new book

A new biblical theology book is a “pastoral” effort to help Christians understand “how all of Scripture fits together,” said author Thomas R. Schreiner, a New Testament scholar at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In a recent interview with Towers, Southern Seminary’s news magazine, Schreiner said he wrote The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments “fundamentally for people who love the Scriptures and want to know the Scriptures, but they also want to have an understanding of how all of Scripture fits together.”

Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and author of commentaries on the books of Romans and Galatians, said his motive when writing was pastoral rather than scholarly.

“I think there’s a pastoral slant to my book. I’m not trying to advance a new or novel scholarly theory, really. I am trying to discover how the Scriptures fit together,” Schreiner said.

The thesis of The King in His Beauty ­– the title of which comes from Isaiah 33:17– is that God reclaims his kingship on earth among his people through one man.

“The story of the Bible is that God, as Lord and creator, is king, and he created us to rule the world for him,” he said. “Human beings rejected God’s rule and sinned. God is king, but he doesn’t treat human beings as he did fallen angels. He promises in Genesis 3:15 that victory will be won (the world will be reclaimed) through the offspring of the woman who crushes the serpent.”

Schreiner, who is also a pastor at Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., noted practical ways he thinks people can use the book, with private reading as the first option. Because of what he sees as weaknesses in many Bible survey-type courses, The King in His Beauty could also be an alternative text book for an Old or New Testament survey course to help students better connect the big story across the testaments.

“Sometimes there’s not as much focus on how the message coheres with the rest of the Bible,” he said. “We focus so much on the parts that we don’t see the whole. One of the contributions of my book is that I look at the Scriptures in terms of a book’s historical setting, but I also look at a book in terms of its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

“The problem with many Old Testament biblical theologies is that they only look at it in terms of what it meant within the Old Testament itself, but I think we should do both: we should look at Leviticus in light of its historical setting and in terms of the fulfillment we have in Jesus Christ,” he said.

In The King in His Beauty, Schreiner emphasizes the importance of studying the timeline found in Scripture of God’s redemptive work on earth through Jesus Christ.

“In biblical theology we focus on redemptive history and what each biblical author has to say, whether we are reading Leviticus, Lamentations, or Luke,” Schreiner said.

Schreiner connects Old Testament books like Leviticus to Christ, teaching and writing about Scripture as one cohesive story about the gospel.

He said that writing about the Old Testament for The King in His Beauty challenged him, specifically the wisdom literature and how it fits into the redemptive storyline of the Bible. He tied wisdom literature like Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes to the fear of the Lord.

“In Proverbs how we live under God's reign is tied to the particulars, to the details of everyday life. We don't only have a cosmic plan; God relates to us as individuals as we await the consummation,” he said.

In the interview, Schreiner also discussed the importance of biblical theology in the Christian life. He said that people want to know the big picture, including why they exist, what life is about and what it means to be human. As Christians, this means seeking answers in Scripture about God’s work and understanding life in relation to what God is doing in the world, and biblical theology gives people the answers.

The full interview with Schreiner about The King in His Beauty is available here. The King in His Beauty is available for purchase in all major Christian bookstores and on Amazon.com



Pope’s comments on gays don’t signal change in Catholic teaching, SBTS prof. says

EDITOR’S NOTE: R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, also commented on this subject in a recent essay and podcast, "Who Am I to Judge? The Pope, the Press and the Predicament" and the Aug. 1 edition of The Briefing.

Pope Francis’ comment that he will not “judge” homosexuals does not signal a change in Roman catholic teaching about sexual morality but reflects the pope’s desire to portray the Roman Catholic Church as loving toward everyone, according to Southern Seminary’s Gregg Allison.

“I think some, perhaps many people, both outside and inside the Catholic church, are hopeful that the pope’s comments about homosexuality signal a change in the church’s view of and policy toward homosexuality, but I have strong doubts that this is the case," said Allison, professor of Christian theology and author of the forthcoming book Intrigue and Critique: An Evangelical Assessment of Roman Catholic Theology and Practice (Crossway, 2014).

The pope offered his comments July 29, during a wide-ranging press conference aboard a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Rome. He made “off-the-cuff remarks that express his rightful compassion toward all people, those engaged in homosexuality included,” Allison said. “Like his similar remarks a couple of months ago about atheists and good works, the pope’s comments are not official teaching on this issue.”

Francis’ commented on an alleged “gay lobby” in the Roman Catholic Church with inordinate influence. He said a gay lobby is bad but distinguished between the gay lobby and homosexual individuals, telling reporters, “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person?”

That statement led major media outlets to speculate that Francis may be shifting the church’s ethical teaching. But Allison said such claims show a misunderstanding of Catholic theology.

“The pope’s comments do not represent any official change in theological direction,” he said. “They may signal the fact that he will not be a pope who follows the path of his immediate predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, in terms of the latter’s projection of a more conservative, closed face on the Roman Catholic Church. The current pope seems to embrace everyone and wants to demonstrate to the world that the Catholic Roman Church embraces everyone.

“But this should not be taken to mean that Pope Francis is going to reform the church in terms of a new social or theological agenda when it comes to homosexuality, abortion, contraception, women as priests, married priests and the like. The Roman Catholic Church in general, and its pope in particular, does not — I would add cannot — function in that way.”

The official teaching of Roman Catholicism, articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is that some acts are intrinsically disordered, including homosexual activity. Such acts are “always wrong to choose, because choosing them entails a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil,” according to the catechism.

“Accordingly,” Allison said of Catholic teaching, “under no circumstances — for example, the claim to be acting out of love, or to be reciprocating an expression of love — is homosexual activity a moral act. It is always illicit.”

 Another highlight of Francis’ trip to Brazil was his emphasis on the need for Catholics to evangelize more or risk losing the church’s members. According to census data, the number of Catholics in Brazil dropped from 125 million in 2000 to 123 million in 2010, with the nation’s percentage of Catholics falling from 74 percent to 65 percent. During the same period, the percentage of Protestants and Pentecostals soared from 15 percent to 22 percent.

“Jesus is calling on you to be a disciple with a mission,” Francis told a crowd of 3 million in Rio de Janeiro on July 28. He added, “Dear young people, Jesus Christ is counting on you; the church is counting on you; the pope is counting on you.”

 Francis is well aware of Protestantism’s recent success in Latin America as a native of Argentina, Allison said.

“This pope knows first-hand the immense impact of evangelical churches on the Catholic populations of South America, and he will be a leader for the Roman Catholic Church who challenges it to mirror and even reproduce the evangelistic fervor, community building, prayer, enthusiastic worship and the like of evangelicals,” Allison said. “We should expect a more aggressive Roman Catholic Church to follow the lead of this pope in reaching out to connect with people, both Catholic and non-Catholics.”

 Allison cautioned evangelicals not to assume they know what the pope means when he talks about evangelism.

“Southern Baptists should … learn that many similar terms that we and Catholics use — for example, evangelization, receiving/believing in Christ, the gospel, faith, baptism — mean something very different to us than they mean to Catholics,” he said.

Evangelicals who minister among Catholic populations must make sure that people who seem to embrace their preaching are truly trusting in Christ alone for salvation, according to Allison.

“If we miss this important point … we are going to engage in ministry, share the gospel and plant churches that are not properly contextualized,” he said. “They may garner explosive numbers, but they will not be gospel-centered churches as we might think.”

David Roach is a correspondent for Southern Seminary.