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



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.



John D.W. Watts, former professor at Southern Seminary, dies at 92

Former professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, John Drayton Williams Watts, died July 21 near his home in Penney Farms, Fla., according to the family. He was 92.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the seminary, said of Watts, “John D.W. Watts was both an Old Testament scholar and the son of an Old Testament scholar, and the Watts family represents at least two generations of seminary professors within the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Watts played a significant role in several Baptist institutions and was a member of the Southern Seminary faculty for many years. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Watts family.”

Born in August of 1921 in Laurens, South Carolina, Watts spent his childhood in Palestine with his missionary parents and his youth in New Orleans, La., where his father served on the faculty of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

In 1946, he married Winifred Lee Williams. The two served with the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board — now called the International Mission Board — from 1948 to 1970 and from 1972 to 1975. Watts was professor of Old Testament at International Baptist Theological Seminary in Rüschlikon, Switzerland, where he also served as president from 1963 to 1969. He then served on the faculty of Serampore College in Serampore, India (1972-75), Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., (1976-1981) and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., (1981-95).

Watts earned a bachelor’s degree from Mississippi College and bachelor of divinity and doctor of theology from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was the Old Testament editor of the Word Biblical Commentary. His books included Vision and Prophecy in Amos (1958; revised 1996), Studying the Book of Amos (1966), Basic Patterns in Old Testament Religion (1971), How We Got the Bible (2011), with contributions to the Broadman Bible Commentary (1970-72) and several commentaries on Old Testament books.

He was honored with two festschrift collections of essays by colleagues and students, Forming Prophetic Literature: Essays on Isaiah and the Twelve (ed. J. W. Watts and P. R. House, 1996) and a special issue of Perspectives in Religious Studies (ed. P. J. Scalise, 2008). In 1995, he retired to Penney Farms, Fla., where he lived with Lee until her death in February 2011.

He is survived by his children, Cheryl, Reid, Clare and Jim, as well as seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The family will hold a memorial service at Penney Farms Retirement Community in Penney Farms on Oct. 14, 2013. The family requests donations of sympathy to Heifer International.


Friends honor Southern Seminary donor with student discipleship fund

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article originally appeared in the Southeast Outlook. Used by permission.

Rick Bordas never planned a legacy.

He wasn’t thinking about it as he made rounds in his sales business, cared for his wife Lori and sons Jeffrey and Joshua, volunteered at Southeast Christian Church and for the Foundation Board at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Rick describes himself as ordinary — a diehard University of Kentucky fan, a golfer who never traveled far from home except to serve in Vietnam, a quiet, loyal friend. A good day is delivering embroidered shirts to clients, a home-cooked dinner with Graeter’s ice cream for dessert, a game of canasta or sitting on the deck with Lori until dark.

He didn’t know that everyone builds a legacy as they live.

When Rick, 64, was diagnosed with incurable gallbladder cancer a few months ago, he simply asked people to pray, continued working and volunteering. Though he is weak and thin, Rick calls himself “a blessed man.”

When friends invited Rick and his wife Lori to dinner on June 17, they had no idea that seminary President Dr. Albert Mohler, his wife Mary and about 100 friends and family had gathered at the seminary to unveil the Rick Bordas Fund for Student Discipleship.

It’s an honor that Rick still has trouble wrapping his arms around.

Southeast Elder John Schmitt is not surprised.

“The reason this happened is Rick’s life has never been about Rick,” he said. “It’s always been about others and Jesus.”

Mohler said the fund will touch every student on the seminary campus as it provides special speakers who will teach about prayer and discipleship.

“Rick is a light in a dark world,” Mohler said. “My wife was talking with a young man on a plane recently. When he found out we live in Louisville, he said, ‘I know somebody in Louisville’ and went on to explain that he didn’t have a dad in his life, but he had been mentored by Rick Bordas. I think many could say that.”

Rick has been on the Foundation Board at the seminary for eight years, raising funds to defray education costs for students. He’s prayed for students and for outreach, for Mohler, for those who return to their own countries to preach and teach, for those who plant churches and preach.

Those who know Rick know how much the seminary means to him, but the scholarship fund is not his only legacy.

It’s in students he mentored, the faculty at the seminary, his family and a wide group of friends.

Decades before he had cancer, Rick volunteered to be a D Group leader for high school students at Southeast. The group became so close that after graduation, they continued to meet at the Bordas home whenever they were home from college.

Now some of them are pastors, youth leaders, worship leaders and dentists.

When Rick was diagnosed with cancer, he asked these young men to pray. When they learned that Rick could no longer lift his stepson Jeffrey, who has special needs, they began showing up at the Bordas home to help.

John Hamilton, a worship intern at Southeast, said what they do is insignificant compared to all Rick and Lori have done for them.

“Rick kept in touch with us no matter where we were in college,” Hamilton said. “He modeled what a Biblical husband and father looks like. We saw that played out in how he treated Lori, Jeffrey and their son Joshua. We were shocked when he told us about the cancer, but we wanted to help. Some of us started watching Jeffrey when he and Lori went to doctors. He served us so well that there’s nothing else to do but serve him as he served us.”

Close friend Linda Webster said one of Rick’s mottos is, “It will be OK.”

“For most people, that’s just a phrase, but for Ricky, it’s a lifestyle,” she said. “No matter what he faces, he trusts it will be OK. That’s a great example of resting in the Lord.”

Glen and Becky Hedgspeth said it is not often that people see the result of their faithfulness during their lifetime.

“Rick is seeing that every day,” Becky said. “He’s experiencing an outpouring of love and support in cards, letters, visits from friends and gifts.”

As cancer has become part of Rick’s story, he manages to weave in unshakable faith in a good God.

Some have told Rick that cancer shouldn’t happen to him. He’s a good man, busy with God’s agenda.

“Do you think cancer only happens to bad people?” Rick asked. “Maybe God allowed me to have cancer because I can deal with it. I will not curse God when something goes wrong. John Piper wrote a booklet, ‘Don’t Waste Your Cancer.’ I will use this to witness and share my hope and be joyful so people will see that.”

Rick and Lori pray for healing, but they demand nothing from God.

“Through it all Rick continues to consider himself a blessed man,” Lori said. “It's true, in so many ways we feel as though we've led charmed lives. We have gladly accepted all the good things God has bestowed upon us year after year. Why should we be angry with Him when all is not cookies and bonbons? We have a 25-year history with Him. He is worthy of our trust. We are so thankful this world is not our home.”

Contributions to the Rick Bordas Fund for Student Discipleship may be mailed to:

Southern Seminary c/o Rick Bordas Fund for Student Discipleship, Office of Institutional Advancement, 2825 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY 40280


At memorial service and on social media, students, colleagues react to professor William R. Cutrer’s death

Following the death of William R. Cutrer, a professor and staff physician at Southern Seminary who died Saturday, July 13, friends and family responded with an outpouring of love and support.

Cutrer became the first medical doctor to join the faculty of Southern following his successful career as an obstetrician and gynecologist in Texas. While at the seminary, he served as staff physician of the school’s Hagan Clinic, an on-campus limited health maintenance service staffed by a charge nurse and physician.

The morning he died, Cutrer, who was 62, left his home for a bicycle ride and not long after, fellow cyclists found him tipped over on his bicycle, according to the family. First responders tried to revive Cutrer without success.

Three days later, the family held a memorial service at the Cutrer’s church, Crestwood Baptist Church in Crestwood, Ky. Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and a close friend of Cutrer and his family for more than 30 years, spoke at the service from Psalm 1.

“In many ways, the Cutrer family had four brothers and I was the fourth, and was always treated like that and so much more,” Akin said. “In fact, were I to attempt today to share all the ways in which Charlotte and I were a part of this family, we’d be here a long, long, long time.”

Akin, who formerly served as vice president of academic administration at Southern Seminary, shared to the story about how Cutrer delivered each of the Akin sons. One difficult pregnancy forced Charlotte Akin to bedrest. Cutrer and his wife, Jane, invited the Akins to move in with them for remainder of the pregnancy, which they did.

Akin concluded his comments drawing a parallel between Cutrer and the psalmist’s vision of a blessed man: “Adrian Rogers said that life is lived in depth, not length,” he said. “And if a live lived in the depth of God’s grace and goodness is certain to be a blessed life, then Bill Cutrer lived a very blessed life as first trophy of God’s amazing grace but also as an example worthy of all of us to study and in many ways emulate.”

Also at the funeral, Cutrer’s second son, read from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem, “Crossing the Bar,” noting the poem’s significance to three generations of Cutrers.

“Finally, I would like to end by reading a poem that my dad found solace in at the passing of his father, who also found solace in it at the passing of his,” he said.

Following the funeral, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary, led at the graveside ceremony.

In the hour following the announcement of Cutrer’s death on July 13, social media outlets Facebook and Twitter demonstrated Cutrer’s influence on many people’s lives in many contexts.

One of the first to comment about Cutrer, Mohler sent a tweet highlighting two of Cutrer’s passions: “Dr. Cutrer spent years helping babies to be born before helping a generation of young ministers be born into ministry.”

In the same time frame, Russell D. Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of Southern Baptist Convention and a former colleague of Cutrer at the seminary, summarized through Twitter reactions to Cutrer’s life: “Consistent theme in what I’m hearing today from fellow @SBTS alums about Bill Cutrer: gratitude for how he strengthened their marriages.”

One such story is Tim Brister, a popular blogger and pastor and elder of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla., posted about Cutrer’s influence on his marriage.

“My wife, Dusti, and I were greatly enriched by his teaching and modeling the Christian life in the daily grind, especially in marriage,” Brister wrote on Facebook. “At the time where the stresses and challenges of seminary life seemed most difficult, God used Dr. Cutrer to strengthen and equip us with God's grace and truth where we needed it most.”

Trevin Wax, editor of LifeWay Christian Resources’ Gospel Project Sunday school curriculum, credited Cutrer with helping deepen his faith while he was a student at the seminary. “Grieving the sudden loss of @SBTS professor William Cutrer. His passion and example helped fan the flames of my love for Jesus,” he said through Twitter.

During his time in Louisville, Ky., Cutrer was an active pro-life advocate and practitioner in the community. For many years, he was the medical director for A Woman’s Choice Resource Center, a non-profit special health clinic that provides pregnancy testing, ultrasounds and other services for crisis pregnancies and post-abortion support.

In the hours after Cutrer’s death, Timothy Paul Jones, professor of leadership and family ministry at the seminary, said through Twitter, “Who knows how many people are alive today due to Dr. Bill Cutrer's work with pregnant mothers in crisis,” highlighting Cutrer’s pro-life efforts.

The comments of a Cutrer family friend, Debbye Brown, noted the diversity of Cutrer’s ministry. She posted to Facebook, “So sad to hear about the sudden passing of  William Cutrer. He was our friend, Sunday School teacher, and OB/GYN. He was the one who prayed us through the entire process of not being able to conceive to delivering Tim. He was a great man of God and will be greatly missed by many.”

Those who wish to give expressions of sympathy in Cutrer’s honor may do so through gifts to the Gheens Center for Family Ministry at Southern Seminary and to A Woman’s Choice Resource Center in Louisville.


Updated: William R. Cutrer, seminary professor, dies suddenly from heart-related complications

William R. Cutrer, a professor and staff physician at Southern Seminary, died Saturday morning, July 13, from cardiac-related complications.

According to his wife, Cutrer, 62, left his home for a bicycle ride around 7 a.m. and not long after, fellow cyclists  found him tipped over on his bicycle. The cyclists and emergency responders tried to revive Cutrer without success.

In a letter early Saturday afternoon, Southern Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. informed the seminary community of Cutrer’s death.

“Bill Cutrer was known to many as “William Cutrer, M.D.” For many years he was a prominent obstetrician in Dallas, Texas. He delivered thousands of babies, including some of our own students,” Mohler writes. “Later, Dr. Cutrer trained for the ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary. He came to us as a member of the faculty more than a decade ago, teaching in the areas of ministry, medical ethics, marriage and family and personal discipleship. He was also known to the Southern Seminary family as a trusted doctor in the clinic.”

Cutrer became the first medical doctor to join the faculty of Southern following his successful medical career as an obstetrician and gynecologist in Texas. In 1999, he assumed an endowed professorship as C. Edwin Gheens Professor of Christian Ministry. He was also the director of the Gheens Center for Family Ministry. During his tenure at the seminary, he served as staff physician of the school’s Hagan Clinic, an on-campus limited health maintenance service staffed by a charge nurse and physician.

In his letter, Mohler writes about “first-hand” knowledge of Cutrer’s medical expertise, referencing his own major surgery and ensuing complications.

“Dr. Cutrer cared for me and supervised my recovery and months of subsequent testing,” he writes. “I know what a trusted physician he was, and I know what a friend he was to so many on the Southern Seminary campus.

“Bill Cutrer spent years helping thousands of babies to be born before helping scores of young Christians to be born as ministers. He was a remarkable man, and he lived a remarkable life. He touched and influenced thousands of lives and he leaves a great legacy. He died all too soon, from our perspective. We will miss him greatly,” Mohler writes.

In addition to his duties at the seminary, Cutrer was an active pro-life advocate and practitioner in the Louisville, Ky., community. For many years, he was the medical director for A Woman’s Choice Resource Center, a non-profit special health clinic that provides pregnancy testing, ultrasounds and other services for crisis pregnancies and post-abortion support.

In a 2006 article, a reporter for the The New York Times quotes Cutrer about his work with the center. Noting the variety of needs and interests that attract women into the center, Cutrer tells the reporter that the center provides ultrasounds primarily for “persuasive, not diagnostic” reasons. He says: “The primary purpose is to show [women who come into the clinic] that [their pregnancy is] not a clump of tissues but a human being.”

Cutrer, who spoke at conferences about various topics such as marriage enrichment, bioethics and wellness lifestyles, was the author or co-author of several books, including Sexual Intimacy in Marriage, The Infertility Companion, The Contraception Guidebook and The Church Leader’s Handbook: a Guide to Counseling Families and Individuals in Crisis. He also performed missionary work in a variety of countries and contexts. Cutrer held a medical degree from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., and a master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas.

Following announcements of Cutrer’s death, his former colleagues, students and friends filled social media outlets with appreciation and thanksgiving for Cutrer’s ministries, along with sympathy and support for his family.

One such student, Athanasios Bardis, an alumnus from Australia, sent out a newsletter expressing his appreciation for Cutrer. He writes:

“In introducing himself [Cutrer] told us he was a living time bomb and could die at any moment with a condition he had in his heart,” the student writes about he and his wife’s first encounter with Cutrer during a marriage enrichment seminar. “This did not stop him, make him fret, or cause anxiety. He lived all out there for Jesus, pursued and continued to serve students till his last breath. His godly counsel, his living example of his life and marriage has impacted and influenced our marriage like no other.”

Cutrer leaves behind his wife, Jane Curry Cutrer, and three children and their spouses — William Jr. (Elisabeth), Robert (Meredith) and Jennifer Snow (Casey) — and grandchildren Emily, Zachary, Maddie, Abigail, Alexis and Victoria . Cutrer was a member of Crestwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.

Closing, Mohler writes, “I know you join with me in praying for Jane Cutrer and the entire family. … Let us praise God for the gift of Dr. Bill Cutrer and pray for God’s grace and mercy to be very real to the Cutrer family at this time.”

The Cutrer family will hold a visitation Monday, July 15, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Highlands Funeral Home, 3331 Taylorsville Rd, Louisville, KY 40205. The funeral service for Cutrer will take place Tuesday, July 16, at 10 a.m. at Crestwood Baptist Church, 6400 Sweet Bay Dr., Crestwood, KY 40014. A burial will follow immediately at Louisville Memorial East Cemetery. The family asks that expressions of sympathy go to the Gheens Center for Family Ministry at Southern Seminary or to A Woman’s Choice Resource Center.


Jarvis Williams, four-time alumnus, joins seminary faculty

Jarvis J. Williams, an author, speaker and four-time alumnus of Southern Seminary, joined the seminary’s full-time faculty this summer and immediately began his new teaching duties as associate professor of New Testament interpretation.

“Jarvis Williams is a wonderful young scholar and we're thrilled to have him join the faculty,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary. “He is nearly unprecedented in terms of a member of the Southern Seminary faculty: there probably isn't a human being on the planet who well represents a Southern Seminary theological education like Jarvis Williams. He's home, teaching where he needs to be. We're very glad to have him.”

Williams, 35, holds four degrees from Southern Seminary: a bachelor’s degree from Boyce College (2000), a master of divinity (2003), master of theology (2004) and doctor of philosophy (2007).

Frequently a speaker at churches and conferences around the country, Williams was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis, Minn., in 2012 and, most recently, the featured speaker at Bethlehem Baptist Church’s annual racial harmony weekend in Minneapolis, where he taught pastors and church leaders in the inner city about the exegetical and theological foundations underneath Paul’s understanding of racial reconciliation. He is currently the interim pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Danville, Ky.

Williams is the author of three books: Maccabean Martyr Traditions in Paul’s Theology of Atonement: Did Martyr Theology Shape Paul’s Conception of Jesus’s Death? (Wipf and Stock, 2010), One New Man: The Cross and Racial Reconciliation in Pauline Theology (Broadman and Holman Academic Press, 2010) and For Whom Did Christ Die? The Extent of the Atonement in Paul’s Theology, (Paternoster, 2012). Additionally, he has authored several scholarly articles about penal substitution in Paul’s soteriology in Romans.

Gregory A. Wills, dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary, said he expects seminary students will learn from and enjoy Williams in the classroom.

“Students will appreciate Dr. Williams’s utter confidence in the truth and power of the scriptures,” he said. “They will benefit from his passion for the Bible, for the gospel, and for the church. He is a gifted teacher, an accomplished scholar, and a tested man of God. I am thrilled that our students will have the opportunity to take his courses and get to know him.”

Williams expressed his gratitude to God for bringing him to this new teaching post.

“My family and I consider it a great honor, a tremendous joy and a gracious gift from God to be given the opportunity to be part of the faculty at Southern,” he said. “We absolutely love this institution, and we strongly believe in its mission and commitment to train women and men for the gospel ministry of Jesus Christ and to spread a passion for his glory and for the truth of the Bible throughout the world by means of evangelism, discipleship and scholarship.”

Williams noted particularly his thankfulness and pride as an African-American in joining the seminary’s faculty. He referenced growing up in a post-segregation, all-white church in a part of Eastern Kentucky that “was and is extremely racist.” According to Williams, he was the first African-American member of his home church — the church that licensed and ordained him into the ministry and even helped pay for his theological education.

“As we all know, there was a time when people of color could not study at Southern,” Williams said. “Special providences of God allowed me to complete four degrees at this great institution from 1999-2007, and now to begin serving on faculty of the flagship Southern Baptist seminary,” he said, noting that Southern was the first SBC seminary to confer a degree to an African-American, Garland K. Offutt in 1944, and to hire the first African-American faculty member, T. Vaughn Walker, in 1986.

Williams said it was especially meaningful to be named to the Southern post soon after the Southern Baptist Convention elected its first African-American president, Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, La. Elected in 2012, Luter is currently serving his second and final term as SBC president.

Citing a list of prominent scholars who teach and have taught at the school, Williams said, “I’m genuinely overwhelmed with emotion, joy and gratitude when I think that I’m now part of Southern’s rich history as a faculty member of color.”

Williams previously taught New Testament and Greek from 2008-2013 at Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Ky. He and his wife, Ana, are parents to a five-year-old son, Jaden. They are members of Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.


Worship is a gospel issue, speakers say at Southern Seminary’s inaugural ‘Think: Worship’ conference

Worship is fundamentally about the gospel, said speakers at the inaugural “Think: Worship” conference at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Mike Cosper, pastor of worship and arts at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Ky., addresses Think: Worship attendees

“The gospel is a story that is all about worship and because of that, worship in the church should be about the gospel,” said Mike Cosper, pastor of worship and arts at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Ky.

The conference, featuring well-known speakers, worship ministers and music scholars, promoted the theology of worship, the gospel in music and encouraged attendees to lead their churches to worship biblically.

Christian recording artist Michael Card, who has recorded more than 30 albums and authored or co-authored several books, spoke about lament and worship.

Card used anecdotes to illustrate the thesis of his message: “Lament is not about getting stuff off your chest, but worshiping God well,” he said.

Worship begins in the wilderness, Card said. “We're not the people who are together, but we're the people who know what pain is for,” he said, adding that churches need to make a place for people who are suffering.

“We desperately need people in our congregation who are suffering so we can learn from them — not fix them.”

Cosper, author of a new worship book, Faith Mapping: A Gospel Atlas for Your Spiritual Journey, challenged attendees to examine their hearts about the self-centeredness prevalent in worship preferences.

Pleasing individuals in the congregation “leads to a church that’s built around spectacle rather than a biblical set of priorities about who the church is and what the people do when they meet together,” he said.

Instead, Cosper said worship should focus on the gospel.

Recording artist and author Michael Card spoke from Psalm 73 about worship beginning in the wilderness

Matt Boswell, pastor of ministries and worship at Providence Church in Frisco, Texas, preached about “The Center of Christian Worship” from 1 Cor. 15:1-11.

Boswell said the cadence of the Christian life is grace that leads to worship.

“We’re not singers of songs; we’re heralds of good news. We need to be reminded of the centrality of the gospel,” he said.

“Gifting may give a man a platform, but character is what gives him a voice. God’s grace forms worship leaders,” Boswell said.

Donald S. Whitney, senior associate dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary, spoke about private and public worship, asserting worship in Scripture is primarily congregational.

“Every glimpse given to us in Scripture of worship in Heaven, with two exceptions, reveals congregational worship,” Whitney said, who is also associate professor of biblical spirituality at Southern.

“God is glorified more in congregational worship than in private worship,” he said.

Whitney talked about the importance of personal worship, too. One of his points encouraged attendees to meditate on Scripture.

“Reading alone was never intended to be the primary means of absorbing the Scripture,” he said. “Reading is the starting place, but meditation is the absorption of Scripture.”

At the conference, Harold Best, well-known musician and scholar, received the Carl “Chip” Stam Award for Leadership in the Worshipping Church. Stam taught at Southern Seminary for 11 years before developing non-Hodgkins lymphoma, from which he died in 2011.

“Almost everything we are doing in the division of biblical worship here at Southern is a result of Chip’s influence and passion for Jesus Christ. He mentored literally thousands of worship leaders,” said Joe Crider, head of the Division of Biblical Worship at Southern Seminary.

Best is an emeritus dean and professor of music at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill. He is a former president of the National Association of Schools of Music and now serves as ministry associate at Community Presbyterian Church in Post Falls, Idaho.

After receiving the award, Best presented a letter to the attendees about music and art in the church.

“Music and worship have never been anything but traditional. Music and worship had its best moments when the people of God have joined heartily in the worship of God,” he said

Best talked about art in the church, too. “Great art is not out of place in the public worship gathering. To do this would be to ban mystery,” he said.

Adam W. Greenway, new dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry — the parent school of the Division of Biblical Worship — said that the Think: Worship conference emphasized Southern’s commitment to train local church ministers in sound theology.

“Hosting the Think: Worship conference is part of our ongoing strategy to provide training and encouragement for local church leaders to help recapture a passion for biblical worship,” he said. “We want churches to know that we are serious about the entire Great Commission, including training leaders who are capable of leading the people of God not only in worship, but to worship.”

The June 17-19 conference featured 23 speakers and two bands — Southern Seminary’s Norton Hall Band and Sojourn Community Church Music. Breakout session topics ranged from songwriting to technology to worship presentation and planning to vocal help.

Audio and video from Think: Worship are available at the Southern Seminary website.


Donald Paul Hustad, Billy Graham crusade organist and long-time Southern Seminary professor, dies at 94

Donald Paul Hustad, organist for Billy Graham crusades and long-time Southern Seminary professor, died June 22, according to his family. He was 94.

Hustad, who taught at the seminary for 40 years, leaves a legacy as one of evangelicalism's most significant and influential musicians, according to R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“Don Hustad was one of the giants of Christian music of the 20th century — an almost iconic figure whose personal ministry and professional artistry were combined in such a powerful way,” Mohler said.

“Don Hustad’s role with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Moody Bible Institute and his long years at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary place him at the center of some of the most important events and institutions in evangelical history,” he said. “He was an artist, gentleman, warm-hearted believer and a great servant of the church.”

Born to Clara and Peter Hustad on Oct 2, 1918, Hustad grew up in Yellow Medicine County, Minn. Following the death of Peter Hustad, the family moved to Boone, Iowa, and lived in an institution for indigenous peoples. And since the family could not pay for their stay, Clara Hustad and her sons had to work.

In a 1987 interview with his biographer, Rhonda S. Furr, Hustad said: “I have to be grateful for this particular circumstance in my life because the chances are that had my father not been killed tragically, and had I not gone to this institution, I would never have been a musician. I would probably have been a happy farmer in western Minnesota.”

Hustad excelled at music from a young age. At eight years old, he played hymns in worship services and improvised accompaniments for the institution’s Christian radio station. According to Furr, Hustad by the end of grade school, mastered Beethoven’s “Pathetique” Sonata, opus 13, Mendelssohn’s “Rondo Capriccioso” and Liszt’s transcription of the second “Hungarian Rhapsody.”

Following his graduation from John Fletcher College in University Park, Iowa, in 1940, Hustad became staff musician of Chicago's WMBI, where he worked with soloist George Beverly Shea on a weekly broadcast called "Club Time."

Years later, Shea recalled his first meeting of Hustad in his book, Then Sings My Soul. He writes:

“Another audition I remember was set up by Aunt Theresa, who had a friend ‘who should be playing organ for WMBI.’ When we heard him play one number we knew she was right. Don Hustad was hired on the spot.”

Hustad first encountered Billy Graham, who was at the time pastor of a small Baptist church in Western Springs, Ill., when he became the organist for the radio show, “Songs in the Night,” which aired many of Graham’s sermons. Shea was the featured soloist.

In February 1942, Hustad met Ruth McKeag in a local Baptist church. He later told Furr that he “met her on that occasion and fell head over heels in love. It really didn’t matter that she was engaged to someone else at the moment.” The attraction was mutual and the couple started dating, became engaged and married within the year. During the next decade, the new Hustads welcomed three children: Donna, 1945, Sondra, 1949 and Marcia, 1952.

Hustad attended Northwestern University, where he studied piano with Harold van Horne and completed the master of music degree in 1945. After that, he taught at Olivet Nazarene College in Kankakee, Ill. from 1946 to 1950.  Hustad then became director of the Sacred Music Department at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Ill.

During his 13 years at Moody, from 1950 to 1963, Hustad’s vision was to shape the programs there like a formal conservatory and he laid significant groundwork in that area. In fact, in a book about Christian higher education, Safiara A. Witmer called the Moody Chorale  under Hustad’s leadership “one of the finest music organizations in the country.”

In 1955, Hustad reentered Northwestern, this time seeking a doctorate in music. His dissertation represents the first major document on the complete organ works of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.

In 1961 he became team organist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He played during the Graham crusades and directed the Crusader Men choir for the "Hour of Decision" radio broadcasts. He worked with the association until 1967. In 1967, Hustad, after the completion of his degree, moved to Louisville, Ky., to serve as professor of church music at Southern Seminary.

He was the author of more than 100 articles about music in church life and five books, including Jubilate!, Jubilate II and True Worship: Reclaiming the Wonder & Majesty.

Adam W. Greenway, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry — the school that now houses all of the seminary’s church music education — said Hustad was a “remarkable combination of scholar-practitioner.

“Throughout his decades of service as professor of church music at Southern Seminary he impacted countless students in and out of the classroom, and his numerous publications extended his legacy far beyond this campus. Moreover, Hustad’s years of faithful service alongside Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea as Billy Graham’s crusade organist vividly displayed that core conviction which was always at the heart of his teaching ministry — that music has a legitimate role to play in both worship and evangelism.”

Thomas Bolton, another long-time music professor and dean of the former School of Church Music at Southern Seminary, is a contributor to the Festschrift published in Hustad’s honor in 2010, Jubilate, Amen!: A Festschrift in Honor of Donald Paul Hustad.

“It has been my privilege to know Don Hustad personally since 1996, although I certainly knew of him before that time,” Bolton said. “He was a most gracious and knowledgeable man who loved to think and write about the act of worship and how music fit into the fabric of church life. He was a talented and trained musician who understood that all types of music were appropriate when worshipping almighty God, but he was concerned that any music used in worship should be theologically sound and authentically presented.

“The world has lost a giant in the church music world who contributed much to the life of Southern Seminary while he was with us as professor and senior professor, and I have lost a dear friend,” Bolton said.

According to an obituary published by Christianity Today, Hustad in 1989 received the Fellow of the Hymn Society award for his contributions to American hymnody. In 2006, Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., awarded him an honorary doctorate in fine arts. In 2008, the American Choral Director's Association Southern Division Conference honored Hustad for his contributions to church music. Further, he earned diplomas as an Associate of the American Guild of Organists and a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, London, UK.

Mohler stated his condolences for the Hustad family: “Along with the entire Southern Seminary family Mary and I are praying for Ruth Hustad and for the Hustad family. At this time, Southern Seminary has lost a dear friend.”

Survivors include his wife, Ruth McKeag Hustad, three daughters, along with four granddaughters, and eight great-grandchildren.

The Hustad family will hold a memorial service Saturday, July 27 at 2 p.m. at Western Springs Baptist Church, 4475 Wolf Road, Western Springs, IL 60558.