At first Cross Conference, Mohler, evangelical leaders encourage college students toward missions

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R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, takes a question from a participant during Cross Conference, Dec. 27-30 in Louisville, Ky.

A new missions conference attended by 3,600 college students, held Dec. 27-30 in Louisville, Ky., featured Southern Seminary’s president R. Albert Mohler Jr. and other evangelical leaders.

Leadership of Cross Conference — Kevin DeYoung, Mack Stiles, David Platt, David Sitton, Thabiti Anyabwile, John Piper and Zane Pratt — shaped the conference around the theme “missions exists because worship doesn’t,” drawn from Piper’s popular book, Let the Nations Be Glad, in order to encourage students toward missions work to the unreached people groups of the world.

In an interview following the conference, Mohler said that the sizable participation in the conference conference encouraged him.

“What an incredible encouragement to look out and see nearly 4,000 college students giving up time between Christmas and New Year’s Day to do nothing but listen to God’s call to missions in order to expose themselves to respond to it,” he said. “It’s an incredible thing. I can’t imagine anything happier for the church than seeing the quality of these young people here saying, ‘We’re here, and by our presence we’re saying we’re ready to go.’ And I believe many of them will.”

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Bryant Hicks, retired missions professor, missionary and Kentucky pastor, dies at 88

W Bryant Hicks croppedWade Bryant Hicks, retired professor of missions at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, died Jan. 12, according to an obituary in today’s edition of Louisville, Ky.’s Courier-Journal. He was 88.

“Bryant Hicks was a man of deep passion and great energy, who shared that passion and energy with his students,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the seminary. “He helped to shape a generation of Southern Baptist missionaries. He was also a man of great kindness and collegiality. Our hearts go out to his wife Peggy and the entire Hicks family. The Southern Seminary family is praying for them.”

Hicks, a United States Navy veteran and member of Louisville’s Lyndon Baptist Church, taught at Southern Seminary for more than 40 years, as a full-time faculty member from 1965 until 1993, and then as a senior professor from 1994 to 2006. In 1983, he assumed an endowed professorship as the M. Theron Rankin Professor of Foreign Missions.

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Mohler to be joined by New York Times columnist Douthat, radio personality Prager for ‘Faith and Freedom in the Public Square’

R. Albert Mohler Jr.
R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Three nationally renown commentators will participate in a “Faith and Freedom in the Public Square” discussion to be held Jan. 28 on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

Ross Douthat
Ross Douthat

Southern Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr., nationally syndicated radio show host Dennis Prager, and New York Times columnist Ross Douthat will participate in the event, presented by Hashtag Productions and WORLD Magazine, the nation’s largest Christian news magazine. Warren Cole Smith, vice president of WORLD, will serve as emcee.

Dennis Prager
Dennis Prager

“The goal of this event is to allow three prominent voices in the public square — one Jewish (Prager), one evangelical Christian (Mohler) and one Catholic (Douthat) — to engage in an open, honest and entertaining dialogue” about the challenges of secularism and changing morality, according to a news release by Hashtag Productions. “This is about asking and answering tough questions in a God-honoring and purposeful way.”

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Strachan: pro-life convictions come with cost of action

Owen Strachan (center), assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at Boyce College, seeks to counsel women to choose life outside a Louisville, Ky., abortion clinic (SBTS photo by Emil Handke).
Owen Strachan (center), assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at Boyce College, seeks to counsel women to choose life outside a Louisville, Ky., abortion clinic (SBTS photo by Emil Handke).

For Owen Strachan, convictions come with a cost.

Strachan, an assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at Boyce College, has been pro-life for many years. It wasn’t until recently, however, that he decided to act on his conviction.

“I’ve been convictionally pro-life for a long time, but hadn’t taken an opportunity to get involved with the cause,” Strachan said. “I was a passionate advocate for pro-life thinking, but it wasn’t until coming into contact with this ministry — and finding people who were putting their convictions to work — that I started to get practically involved.”

The ministry is Speak for the Unborn, which came to life when Ryan Fullerton, pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., preached a sermon on sanctity of life Sunday in 2009. Dave and Stacey Hare, who were then members at Immanuel, decided to act on the message they heard. The following Saturday, they went to downtown Louisville to do sidewalk counseling outside of the abortion clinic.

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Geoffrey Dennis, former publishing executive, named development vice president at Southern Seminary

Geoff DennisGeoffrey Dennis, a former executive with evangelical publisher Crossway, has been named vice president for development at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, school officials announced Jan. 6.

“Southern Seminary is very pleased to have Geoff Dennis joining our development team in this crucial new capacity,” said president R. Albert Mohler Jr. “The appointment of a vice president for development to work alongside Craig Parker, our vice president for institutional advancement, represents a great step forward for Southern Seminary in our effort to serve the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and to meet Southern Seminary’s needs in one of the most God-blessed moments of our history. Geoff brings great skills and deep commitments to this new task and I am very glad to welcome him as a crucial member of the Southern Seminary leadership team.”

Dennis, who began his new duties Jan. 1, worked for the last 23 years in various capacities at Crossway, a leading evangelical publisher based in Wheaton, Ill. He served most recently as executive vice president, chief operating officer and associate publisher with oversight of advancement, sales and marketing, digital and information technology, operations, human resources, fulfillment, finance and literature ministries. During his tenure on Crossway’s Publishing Committee, Dennis was involved in the strategic development, market positioning, production and distribution of the English Standard Version Bible, first published in 2001, and the award-winning ESV Study Bible, published in 2008.

“I could not be more pleased that God is sending Geoff Dennis to be part of the Southern Seminary leadership team,” said Parker. “Geoff is a proven leader who possesses professional skills and experience that are second-to-none. Geoff’s accomplishments are significant, but you do not have to be around him long to recognize that he is also a man of great spiritual maturity, warmth and relational gifting. He is going to be an exceptional ambassador for Southern.”

Parker, who leads the seminary’s development program, said Dennis will be an important asset to the development team as the school is experiencing a “wonderful season of growth.”

“The addition of Geoff to our team will make it possible to seize new opportunities for capital gifts — especially for renovation and expansion of the James P. Boyce Centennial Library — planned giving that will be instrumental for growth of the endowment, and other major gifts that will enable us to contain the cost of tuition that must be borne by our students,” Parker said.

Dennis said, “I have a deep passion for effective Christian ministry that serves the body of Christ, a commitment to the application of sound business practice in the ministry environment and desire for the effective use of digital technologies to extend ministry reach and impact. I have great appreciation for the mission and ministry of Southern Seminary and its remarkable history of serving God’s people since 1859. It will be an honor to serve the Lord — as well as students, faculty and staff — through the exceptional ministry of Southern Seminary for many years to come.”

Dennis earned a bachelor of science degree in business management from National Lewis University in Chicago and a master of arts degree in theological studies from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill.

He and his wife of more than 20 years, Allison, are parents to four children. Dennis has served in various church capacities, including as elder, worship leader and small group leader.

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On CNN, Mohler defends ‘Duck Dynasty’ star’s views about homosexuality

 R. Albert Mohler Jr. (right), president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, appeared on “CNN Newsroom” today, with host Brooke Baldwin and Wilson Cruz, representing the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
R. Albert Mohler Jr. (right), president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, appeared on “CNN Newsroom” today, with host Brooke Baldwin and Wilson Cruz, representing the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Earlier today on “CNN Newsroom,” R. Albert Mohler Jr. defended the view of homosexuality espoused by “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson, noting the reality television celebrity’s concern to spread the message of the gospel.

Robertson, the “patriarch” of the Louisiana family featured in A&E network’s widely popular reality television show, told a writer for GQ magazine about his Christian faith and the faith of his family. He spoke openly — and at times crudely and graphically — about sin. His comments specifically related to homosexuality, which he views as sinful, caused A&E to suspend Robertson indefinitely from the show. And his dismissal has generated a controversy centering around the Christian perspective on homosexuality, religious liberty and freedom of speech.

“I’m going to defend Phil on this very clearly,” Mohler, who is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told “CNN Newsroom” host Brooke Baldwin.

“He put his comments in the context of the gospel; he was doing exactly what Christians should do,” he said. “And, by the way, the GQ article is very clear about this. His concern was to help people to know their need for Christ and to turn to Christ and to believe in Christ and find salvation in Christ.”

Mohler added: “And he was talking about that in the context of sin; he wasn’t comparing one sin to another. He was doing what the Bible does repeatedly: and that is put out a list of sins that includes all of us so we know our need for Christ. And in those sins, Phil was very clear: he included himself amongst the sinners who needs Jesus, like we all have to do continually. ”

Baldwin asked Mohler if he supported Robertson’s comments. In response, he explained that while he would not express himself in the manner Robertson did, he affirms the biblical teaching embraced by Robertson.

“I wouldn't have put it exactly how he put it; I wouldn't have been so anatomical,” Mohler said. “He was answering a question he was asked and he did so in a way that, in terms of its substance, was unquestionably faithful to the Scripture and is faithful to what most people around the world believe right now, and what virtually all Christians have believed throughout the entire history of the church until this moment, and continuing. … I wouldn’t have said it exactly how he said it. But what he said — what is causing the offence — is classic Christianity.”

Mohler also said that he thinks the reason that “Duck Dynasty” appeals to such a large audience — some 14 million weekly viewers, according to Nielsen — is its presentation of a “wholesome” family that is not available elsewhere on television.

“Part of the reason why millions of Americans love ‘Duck Dynasty’ has very little to do with ducks, and everything to do with the Christian life, the family life, the wholesomeness of that program. And quite frankly it’s a picture of family life you don’t get almost anywhere else in terms of popular television. That’s why there’s so much attention there. And there’s a very positive, healthy depiction of Christianity in life of that family.”

During the same segment as Mohler, Baldwin spoke with Wilson Cruz, strategic giving officer and national spokesperson for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Although Mohler and Cruz both appeared on-screen along with Baldwin, the two did not interact.

The “Duck Dynasty” segment of “CNN Newsroom” — "Bigotry vs. Belief" — is available here.

This morning, Mohler posted an essay at his website — “You Have Been Warned—The ‘Duck Dynasty’ Controversy” — addressing the issue.

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Mohler to discuss “Duck Dynasty” controversy on CNN at 2 p.m.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is scheduled to appear today on CNN at  2 p.m. EST to discuss the recent controversy surrounding “Duck Dynasty” cast member Phil Robertson’s comments about homosexuality to GQ magazine.

This morning, Mohler posted an essay at his website — “You Have Been Warned—The ‘Duck Dynasty’ Controversy” — addressing the issue. In the essay, he questions Robertson’s wisdom in agreeing to an interview with GQ and notes that some of his comments were “rather rude and graphically anatomical.” But, “the fact remains that it is the moral judgment he asserted, not the manner of his assertion, that caused such an uproar,” writes Mohler.

He continues, “So the controversy over 'Duck Dynasty' sends a clear signal to anyone who has anything to risk in public life — say nothing about the sinfulness of homosexual acts or risk sure and certain destruction by the revolutionaries of the new morality. You have been warned.”

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Mohler tells winter 2013 graduates to be torchbearers for Christ

IMG_9605-webAt the winter commencement service of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 157 students received degrees, Dec. 13, 2013.

At the ceremony, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the seminary, delivered a commencement address, “On Them Has Light Shined — The Christian Minister as Torchbearer,” in which he charged graduates to be a torchbearers for Jesus Christ.

“Take the light; send the light; defend the light; declare the light; teach the light; preach the light,” he said during the seminary’s 212th commencement exercises. “And let the light of Christ shine, confident that, even as he is our light, he will draw sinners unto himself. In other words, ‘preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching,’” he continued, quoting 2 Timothy 4:2.

Throughout the address, Mohler contrasted a 1838 commencement address at Harvard Divinity School by Ralph Waldo Emerson with the words of the prophet Isaiah (Isa 9:2-7).

“Emerson’s ‘Divinity School Address’ is now remembered as one of the most influential commencement addresses ever delivered to an American audience,” Mohler said.

“Emerson was declaring theological independence from every authority and model, including the Bible, the prophets and the apostles,” he said. “Do not be imitators, he charged the students, go alone, in your own light, and with their own ‘immeasurable mind.’

“[Emerson] declared each of the graduates, ready to assume the pulpit, as ‘a newborn bard of the Holy Ghost’,” Mohler said.

In contrast, the prophet Isaiah — in Isaiah 9:2: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” — reveals that “the people were walking in darkness, but have now seen a great light. They were dwelling in deep darkness, but the light has now shone on them,” he said.

In the end, Mohler concludes that “Ralph Waldo Emerson had it wrong.”

Mohler said: “The minister of Christ is a torchbearer, not a newborn bard of the Holy Ghost; but this is a greater calling, not lesser. By God’s sheer grace, the light has shone on us. Now we share that light with others.”

Mohler’s entire address is available in audio and video at the SBTS Resources page, www.sbts.edu/resources. A complete manuscript of the address, “On Them Has Light Shined — The Christian Minister as Torchbearer,” is available at www.albertmohler.com.

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William Hull, former provost and dean at Southern Seminary, dies at 83

p.hulw.003William Hull, 83, former provost and dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, died Dec. 10 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, according to a press release from Samford University.

Hull taught New Testament at the seminary for 17 years, during which time he served as dean of the School of Theology and the seminary’s first provost. He then, in 1975, became the pastor of First Baptist Church in Shreveport, La., and in 1987 he became the provost at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

“Bill Hull was a gifted scholar and a born leader, and he stood as a giant in his generation of Southern Baptists,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the seminary. “He was a dedicated professor and a gifted administrator, who helped to define the roles of dean and provost at Southern Seminary.

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Southern Seminary Communications team wins graphic design awards for fourth year in a row

IMG_9417 lowerFor the fourth year in a row, Southern Seminary’s Office of Communications received five awards at the 24th-annual Louisville Graphic Design Association (LGDA) 100 Show, Dec. 6, 2013.

“The mission of Southern Seminary has attracted a talented creative team committed to producing innovative communication materials,” said Steve Watters, vice president for communications at the seminary, who leads the office. “It’s a testimony to their commitment that Southern’s work should not only be recognized by an organization as prestigious as LGDA, but that the gospel-centered materials Southern submitted should be recognized so highly, including the Best in Show award.”

Of the six compositions the office submitted, five won. The design team received the highest available award, the Best in Show award for the 2013-14 Southern Seminary Viewbook. The office also received a gold award for the design and layout of The Call to Ministry journal; a silver award for DVD packaging of “Don’t just stand there: say something,” the 2013 convocation address by Southern Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr.; and bronze awards both for a Women at Southern booklet and photography from a recent study tour to Israel. Southern’s photographer, Emil Handke, also won a “people’s choice” award for a portrait submitted as a personal entry.

Southern Seminary’s creative team includes creative director Eric Jimenez, lead designer Andrea Stember, graphic designers Daniel Carroll and Gabriel Reyes, photographer Handke, account executive Lindsey Poenie, special projects manager Jason Thacker and production coordinator Brittany Loop, as well as interns Ashley Dunn and Amy Loh. The lead writer for the viewbook and The Call to Ministry was Matt Damico.

The LGDA 100 Show accepts entries from professional graphic designers and creative service agencies in the Louisville, Ky., area. The show’s panel of judges include directors, designers and entrepreneurs from leading creative service companies around the country. Judges for the 2013 show were Katie Heit Gardner of Tomorrow Studio in San Francisco, Calif.; Kevin Grady of Ideo in Boston, Mass.; and Eric Thoelke of Toky in St. Louis, Mo.

The 2013 100 Show is the final LGDA event, as the organization will become a chapter of the 23,000-member American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). More information about the LGDA is available at lgda.org; information about AIGA is available at aiga.org.

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