Dec-Jan “Towers” looks at the church calendar, to the year ahead

The December-January “Towers” is now on stands and online.

Every December, my mom used to put this felt “advent calendar” on the wall, then my siblings and I would stick little wooden figures onto it as we counted down to Christmas. It was fun. All it really taught me, though, was that 24 miniature Santas — and wreaths and reindeer — velcroed to a felt cloth lead up to the real Santa. Not exactly the advent we’re talking about in this issue of “Towers.” Unlike the felt version, local pastor Daniel Montgomery explains how the traditional church calendar — including the real advent calendar — can preach the gospel to a congregation, year after year. And, like last year, several seminary figures share their New Year's resolutions.

Inside the year-end issue, we offer an interview with Paul David Tripp about his new bookDangerous Calling; we provide an update about Diane Schreiner, the wife of New Testament professor Tom, who sustained a serious bicycle accident earlier this year; and news writer Craig Sanders profiles Jason K. Allen, a Southern Seminary alumnus and the newest SBC seminary president.

Southern Seminary Resources publishes “Towers,” Southern Seminary Magazine and other seminary publications digitally as well as physically. Check out the Resources page for an improved online reading experience.

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Tragedy, hope and theology for life: Schreiners display model of faithfulness

On Aug. 17, the Schreiner family faced a tragedy. Tom Schreiner, a New Testament professor at Southern Seminary, received news that his wife, Diane, was involved in a severe bicycle accident, leaving her unconscious, with several broken bones and fractures -- and, of most urgent concern, bruising to her brain. The family knew few details about the accident, and they knew even less about its effect on Diane’s future.

During the following days, Schreiner kept an online journal through CaringBridge, in order to update friends and family about his wife’s condition following the accident. This journal also became a window into the spiritual and emotional state of Schreiner and his family.

“We don't know for sure, and in one sense it doesn't matter,” he wrote in his first entry. “God reigns over all things, and now we deal with the situation he has placed us in.”

Five days later, on Aug. 22, Schreiner wrote: “Diane woke up and was conscious. She responded to questions, squeezed my hand, gave us the peace sign when we asked, etc. We cried with joy. We know that we have a long journey, but what an astounding answer to the prayers of so many.”

Later, he wrote that Diane had the text of Isaiah 41:10 posted to a window sill. The verse reads, "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand."

Schreiner’s response to this crisis demonstrates that he and his family believe this promise in Isaiah to be true.

The process of Diane’s healing brought many unknowns, but Schreiner consistently pointed to the gospel through all the questions. In a post at the online journal, Sept. 2, Schreiner wrote:

“If sparrows don't fall to the ground apart from the Father, neither do bicycle riders. Not even the tiniest thing can happen to us apart from the Father's will. He didn't cease being her Father when she fell. …Why did it happen? The scriptures are clear: to bring glory to God. … He planned it for our good, so that we would become more like Christ and trust our Father even more.”

On Oct. 25, Tom Schreiner was scheduled to preach in Southern Seminary’s chapel. Diane progressed enough in her recovery that she was able to attend the chapel, where she received a warm greeting from seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. and an extended standing ovation from those in attendance. Once he stood to preach, Schreiner thanked the seminary community for prayers and support.

“I want to say thank you for the love and prayers you’ve shown Diane and me. Your love for us has been overwhelming; it has been deeply encouraging to us. I’m so grateful to Drs. Mohler and Moore; they gave me freedom to care for and minister to Diane, for which I am so grateful. We have seen the love of Christ in countless ways -- especially in prayers. Almost every day the Lord has encouraged me and my family by answering prayer. From the very beginning, it’s his will, but we’d ask, ‘Lord, encourage us with an answer to prayer’ and virtually every day, he did.”

The week after Diane’s accident, the Schreiner family prepared for a recovery time lasting as long as two years. On Nov. 19, roughly three months after the accident, however, Schreiner gave the following update:

“We are full of praise, for Diane finished her outpatient therapy today! ... That doesn’t mean that Diane is fully recovered; but she has made amazing progress since her accident.”

Back in August, the Schreiners anticipated a different fall season, but their faith in God, rooted in sound theology, prepared them for the fall that came.

“The best thing to prepare for suffering is good theology,” Schreiner wrote at CaringBridge. “Whether it is life or death, healing or disease, God is good and he rules.”

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SBTS alumnus and longtime prof, Tate, dies at age 87

Marvin Embry Tate Jr., an alumnus and longtime professor of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, died Nov. 16, 2012 at age 87. He was a professor of Old Testament interpretation from 1960 until 1995, and then a senior professor until 2003.

Born May 2, 1925 in Hope, Ark., Tate grew up in Washington, Ark., where he attended Washington Elementary and High School. In 1944, he enrolled at Ouachita Baptist University, from which he graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1947. Tate then attended Southern Seminary, earning a divinity degree in 1952 and a doctorate in 1958. An Old Testament scholar, Tate’s doctoral dissertation is A Study of the Wise Men of Israel in Relation to the Prophets.

While finishing his education, Tate served as the pastor of Goshen Baptist Church in Glen Dean, Ky., where he met and married Julia Moorman, one of 11 children in a Methodist family from Western Kentucky. Tate and his new wife then spent three years pastoring a church in Tulsa, Okla., while he finished his dissertation. After Tate graduated, the couple moved to Texas, where he taught at Wayland Baptist College. He joined the Southern Seminary faculty in 1960.

In 1965, Tate, who became known by students for his quick wit, signed the seminary's most important founding document, the Abstract of Principles, the signing of which is historically significant in the life of Southern Seminary. In 1992, Tate took an endowed position as the John R. Sampey Professor of Old Testament -- a chair he held until his retirement from full-time teaching in 1995. This chair, intended to preserve Old Testament scholarship at the seminary, is one of Southern Seminary’s oldest and highest honored endowed professorships, held first by John R. Sampey from 1938 to 1943 and currently by Duane Garrett.

Tate authored numerous books and articles, including two works in the Word Biblical Commentary series: Psalms 51-100 and Job. He and Southern colleague, Clyde T. Francisco, published a translation of Exodus, and he helped with Hebrew translation for the New International Version of the Bible. Tate was also editor of Review and Expositor, the seminary’s academic journal now called Southern Baptist Journal of Theology.

Tate leaves behind his wife of 55 years and his five children, Sarah McCommon, Martha Kent, Betsey Tate, Andrew Tate and Virginia Phelps, and five grandchildren.

A memorial service honoring Tate will take place Tuesday, Nov. 20 at Buechel Park Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., at 11 a.m. A public burial will immediately follow the funeral at Cave Hill Cemetery.

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November “Towers” explores G.K. Chesterton, art and leadership

The November “Towers” is now on stands and online.

Any list of history’s most influential Christian writers will include Gilbert Keith Chesterton, unless, of course, it’s a poor list. His fiction and literary critical work merited him significant praise during his own lifetime, even making him one the most discussed personalities in such secular publications as The New York Times; his apologetic writings profoundly influenced the culture around him, and the culture around us too. As a picture of that influence, Dan DeWitt, dean of Boyce College, writes in this issue of “Towers” about Chesterton’s vision for art done christianly. We also offer a sampling of Chesterton’s characteristic wit — Chestertonisms on everything from religious liberty to cheese.

Inside the November issue, you’ll find an interview with R. Albert Mohler Jr. talking about his new bookThe Conviction to Lead; modern hymn writer Keith Getty talks about the nature and artistry of hymns and the role of an artist in church life; and contributor Matt Damico profiles new seminary professor David Prince.

Southern Seminary Resources publishes “Towers,” Southern Seminary Magazine and other seminary publications digitally as well as physically. Check out the Resources page for an improved online reading experience.

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SBTS Press publishes A Guide to Expository Ministry

SBTS Press, a division of Southern Seminary, released a new book, A Guide to Expository Ministry, Oct. 30, 2012. The book, a third volume in SBTS Press’ guide book series, debuted at the Expositors Summit conference hosted by the seminary’s Center for Christian Preaching.

Expository preaching is a call to deliver from the pulpit what has already been delivered in the Scriptures. A Guide to Expository Ministry, edited by Dan Dumas, calls for the recovery of this kind of preaching in local churches. The book also encourages faithful, qualified pastors to apply the demands of expository preaching to their lives and to their preparation. Lastly, the book provides practical help for all of God’s people to become more effective sermon listeners, Bible readers and church members.

In addition to Dumas, who is teaching pastor at Eastside Community Church in Louisville, Ky., and a senior vice president at Southern, the expository ministry guide includes essays from R. Albert Mohler Jr., Russell D. Moore, Donald S. Whitney, Robert L. Plummer and James M. Hamilton Jr.

The publication of this guide book coincides with the first annual Expositors Summit. The summit is an annual conference hosted by the Center for Christian Preaching that aims to restore the primacy of expository preaching in local churches. To that end, the theme of the 2012 conference was “Preaching in a Post-everything World,” and featured speakers Mohler, Alistair Begg and Ray Ortlund Jr.

A Guide to Expository Ministry is available from press.sbts.edu, Amazon.com and Southern’s Lifeway Campus Store. More information about the book and SBTS Press – including the first and second volumes in the guide book series – is available at press.sbts.edu. Information about the Center for Christian Preaching is available at sbts.edu/preaching. The center will send updates and highlight resources through Twitter: @tc4cp

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SBTS names new VP of advancement

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary announced R. Craig Parker as its vice president for institutional advancement and executive director of the Southern Seminary Foundation, Oct. 17.

“Craig Parker is a man of remarkable gifts, long standing Southern Baptist experience, valuable experience in the local church and a demonstrated expertise in building a ministry,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the seminary. “To know him and his wife, Selwyn, is to know a dedicated Christian couple whose commitment to Christ, to the church and to Southern Seminary is tangible and powerful.”

Southern’s Office of Institutional Advancement and the Southern Seminary Foundation lead fundraising efforts for the seminary, from major building projects to raising money for the school’s annual fund, which defrays tuition costs for master’s degree students.

Parker grew to know and love Southern Baptists through his service in administrative roles in Tennessee, including 15 years as church administrator at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova -- the church once pastored by Adrian Rogers and a significant church in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Parker, also a former trustee for Guidestone Financial Resources, claims that Rogers influenced his life like no one else. He thinks that working for Rogers makes his new role all the more significant.

“I got to serve the greatest Southern Baptist leader of the 20th century. And now I get to serve the greatest Southern Baptist leader of the 21st century,” he said, referring to Mohler.

Both Murray, Ky., natives and lifelong Kentucky Wildcat fans, Parker and his wife of 35 years, Selwyn -- with whom he has two adult children, Leah and Matt -- are thrilled to be back in the bluegrass state. But Parker thinks the best part of this new position is supporting the students of the seminary, helping equip them for faithful and fruitful ministries.

“I want to help build churches where my grandkids can be taught truth, and receive a foundation for their lives, and no one is better able to prepare future church leaders than Southern Seminary,” he said.

According to Parker, the passion for the church and zeal for evangelism that characterize the seminary students are what drive him to ensure that their ministry-training is as attainable as possible.

He said: “We need to get the student out on the field as fast as we can, as well equipped as we can.”

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Jason Allen elected as Midwestern’s president

KANSAS CITY, MO. (BP) -- In a 29-2 vote, Jason K. Allen has been elected by Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees as the school's fifth president. The vote took place Monday, Oct. 15, during the trustees' bi-annual meeting in Kansas City, Mo.

Allen, 35, comes to Midwestern from Louisville, Ky., where he served as vice president for institutional advancement at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and as executive director of the Southern Seminary Foundation. He had concurrently served as senior pastor of Carlisle Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville.

Midwestern's new president, who assumed the seminary's helm effective immediately, noted his thoughts upon being elected.

"I think the key word that defines my state of heart is first that I'm honored," Allen said. "I'm honored by the trust this board has overwhelmingly placed in me."

Allen said he and his wife Karen "both have sensed unmistakably the Lord's leadership these past several months that has come to fruition and completion in many ways today. I intend to lead in building a seminary that serves all Southern Baptists, that is committed to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention, and by God's grace, will find a seminary that the vast majority of Southern Baptists are both proud of and pleased with."

Allen added that throughout the process God has placed a great love in his and his wife's heart for everything about Midwestern. "Over the last several months, the Lord has given us a love for people we are yet to know and a seminary we are yet to reside at," he said. "We are zealous to get there and invest our lives to the Midwestern Seminary community and to see God do a great work within that community."

Trustee chairman Kevin Shrum voiced excitement and confidence in the trustee vote to bring Allen on as Midwestern's leader.

"We couldn't be more pleased to announce the election of Jason Allen as the fifth president of Midwestern Seminary," Shrum said. "In addition to a tremendous student body, a fine faculty and a great staff, we now have a new president that will help us embark on a new phase in the history of Midwestern. So, we are very excited about moving forward, about the future, and about what God is going to continue to do at Midwestern." Shrum is pastor of Inglewood Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn.

Allen, as a member of Southern Seminary's executive cabinet since January 2006, has been vice president of institutional advancement since 2009 and was executive assistant to the president from 2006 to 2009. He also has taught courses in personal spiritual disciplines, pastoral ministry and preaching at Southern since 2007.

Emphasizing that during his administration Midwestern will be "absolutely committed to the Great Commission," Allen outlined his approach to leading the seminary into the future.

"We are a denomination of the Great Commission," Allen said. "This will be a seminary of the Great Commission, and I will be a leader that leads the seminary to fulfill the Great Commission."

Allen added that he foresees two specific ways of achieving this climate.

"We want to build a robust campus community culture," Allen said. "It will be marked by godliness, fellowship, a place that every square inch of the campus is family friendly and a place where there is a sense of Great Commission commonality and a sense of being here to train to learn to serve the local church."

Secondly, Allen said he intends for Midwestern to be known as "the school that is steadfastly committed to serving the local church."

"I want every faculty member, every aspect of the curriculum and everything we do to have a laser-like focus on serving the churches, and specifically the churches within the Southern Baptist Convention," Allen said.

Allen, in other ministerial roles, has been senior pastor of Muldraugh Baptist Church in Muldraugh, Ky., and has worked in varying positions at churches in Alabama and Kentucky since 1998.

He holds Ph.D. and master of divinity degrees from Southern and an undergraduate degree from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala. Allen and his wife have five children, Anne-Marie, 9; Caroline, 8; William, 7; Alden, 5; and Elizabeth, 4.

Allen was officially announced as a nominee, Sept. 5, by Midwestern’s presidential search team. That team was led by Bill Bowyer, who spoke of the confidence the team had in nominating Allen.

“Dr. Allen has broad and insightful experience into the inner-workings of a seminary,” Bowyer said. “That, coupled with his gracious manner, his loving heart and his pastoral spirit -- he’s going to make a perfect match for Midwestern and we’re anticipating wonderful days ahead.”

Bowyer, who pastors Crossroads Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., added that things setting Allen apart from the other candidates included his previous seminary experience and answers during hours of discussion about numerous matters pertaining to the seminary, but ultimately it was the leading of the Holy Spirit.

“Prayer, fasting and following the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit led us to him to the point that seven of us unanimously agreed that ‘This is the man God set aside for us at Midwestern Seminary,’” Bowyer said.

Shrum concurred and added that the entire selection process hinged on the team’s willingness to listen to a number of seminary constituencies to learn what was desired in the next leader. From there, the search team formulated a presidential profile.

“We weren’t operating in a vacuum because we had been listening to what students, faculty and personnel were saying,” Shrum said. “Those inputs helped guide us in the search, and we felt like Dr. Allen addressed a lot of those issues.”

Midwestern Seminary has been in search of a successor to R. Philip Roberts since his resignation in February. Robin D. Hadaway, the Seminary’s professor of missions, had served as interim president since Feb. 10.

Trustee leaders spoke high praise for what Hadaway accomplished in the interim.

“Dr. Hadaway combined the right skills at the right time for this transitional period,” Shrum said.

Bowyer added that Hadaway “has done a masterful job at the seminary. He will be very helpful in making it a very smooth transition to hand the presidential baton to Jason Allen. So, we’re deeply indebted to you, Dr. Hadaway.”

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T. Patrick Hudson is director of communications at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Brian Koonce, staff writer of The Pathway (mbcpathway.com), contributed to this article.

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Pierre examines fatherhood issues, offers pastoral remedies

"How can ministers of the gospel help people whose fathers were bad role models?" asks Jeremy Pierre in a recent article appearing on The Gospel Coalition website.

Pierre, assistant professor of biblical counseling at Southern Seminary, presents several pastoral remedies to urgent fatherhood problems in his article, "A Good Dad is Hard to Find."

The full article is available online at The Gospel Coalition website.

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SBTS elects Boyce prof, approves strategic plan

At its fall meeting, Oct. 9, the Board of Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary approved a new strategic plan, voted to form a task force to review the seminary's administrative structure and elected Heath Lambert to the faculty of Boyce College.

“Heath Lambert is a scholar and an excellent teacher. Southern Seminary is proud to have him as a part of our teaching team,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., who is president of Southern Seminary. “The students at Boyce College have long known about his outstanding work in the classroom and his ministry far beyond.”

Lambert, who is assistant professor of biblical counseling at Southern Seminary’s undergraduate school, Boyce College, became the executive director-elect of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, Oct. 2. He will begin active service in that role, Oct. 1, 2013.

“I would venture to say that when most students think of Heath Lambert the word ‘pastor’ comes to mind before ‘professor’,” said Dan DeWitt, dean of the college. “He and his wife, Lauren, have a remarkable ministry to our students in and outside of the classroom. His election to tenure is an appropriate affirmation of his consistent and faithful leadership as an associate dean and assistant professor at Boyce College. I am thrilled to see the many ways the Lord is rewarding Heath's faithfulness to equip men and women for ministry.”

While faculty elections for the seminary take place during the spring trustees’ meeting, trustees vote on Boyce faculty in the fall. Lambert, who is a pastor at Crossing Church in Louisville, Ky., becomes only the third tenured faculty member at Boyce. And he is the author of Biblical Counseling After Adams and co-author of Counseling the Hard Cases.

In addition to granting tenure for Lambert, the Board of Trustees approved a five-year, strategic plan to enhance the institution’s quality of theological education.

“The strategic plan is a statement of intention and accountability,” Mohler said. “It is a concrete expression of what we know our mission to be and how we intend to accomplish it. It’s the kind of statement institutions need in order to provide basic guidance and also to protect and preserve the mission for which the seminary was founded.”

A key facet of this plan is an institutional priority to improve theological writing. Further, the new strategic plan will encourage faculty development, scholarship and churchmanship; strengthen local church relationships; equip students for degree completion; strengthen Boyce College; expand and develop external education; and implement the campus master plan.

Trustees also approved the formation of a task force to review the seminary’s administration structure.

“We have been the beneficiaries of a structure that was pioneered by Southern Seminary back in the 1940s and has served us remarkably well,” Mohler said. “Our assignment, as we look to the future, will be to discover the structure that will serve us best in meeting the needs of the next generation. Higher education is being changed by new technologies, different student patterns and new opportunities. We want to make sure that the structure of the seminary best fits the accomplishment of our mission. This task force will be given ample time and resources to ask the big questions, and to recommend its findings to the board in order for it to take action.”

Additionally, the board approved updates and revisions to personnel policy and took further steps in the execution of the first phase of the seminary’s master plan.

More information about Southern Seminary is available at www.sbts.edu; more information about Boyce College is available at www.boycecollege.com

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Southern Seminary opens center for missions mobilization

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary officially opened its new Bevin Center for Missions Mobilization, Oct. 9, during the seminary’s Heritage Week. This center will mobilize prayer and people for the fulfillment of the Great Commission through the Southern Seminary community.

Functions of the Bevin Center will include a major missions conference, training events, affinity group fellowships, cultural immersion experiences, hosting missionaries in residence, an expanded missions week on Southern’s campus as well as expanded missions trips around the world.

Glenna and Matthew Bevin provided an endowment to fund the center in remembrance of their late daughter, Brittiney, whose passion for the gospel drove her life. At the dedication of this center, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary, introduced Matthew Bevin to explain why he and his family made this gift.

Speaking to the seminary’s board of trustees, foundation board, faculty and students, Matthew Bevin told the story of Brittiney, who was the oldest of his 10 children. From the time she was a young girl, Brittiney possessed an incredible heart for missions, according to her father. He used the biblical phrase “salt and light” to describe Brittiney’s compassion for “the least of these.”

As young as 14 years old, Brittiney sensed a call to pursue missions vocationally. The Bevins sent her on overseas missions trips to India and Romania to share the gospel and to work in orphanages. These trips confirmed both to her parents and to Brittiney that God called her to the work of spreading the gospel to the nations. Only weeks after her return from Romania, when she was 17 years old, Brittiney Bevin died in a car accident on Lexington Rd., right in front of the Southern Seminary campus.

Matthew Bevin said that his daughter will not physically be able to fulfill her calling, but her desires are being fulfilled by the legacy she left behind. The Bevins desire to see Brittiney’s calling live on through a generation of young Christians ready to answer the call to world missions.

And, according to Matthew Bevin, Southern Seminary is the best institution to house and operate such a center. He said: “We have confidence that Southern is an institution that will steward this in a way that will serve God best.”

Concluding his comments, he read a prayer that Brittiney Bevin recorded in her journal the night before she died.  Her prayer emphasized her heart for the lost and the down-trodden. She wrote her “dangerous prayer” and hoped to be fully deployed for the gospel of Christ.

She wrote: “You hold the only peace that can fill the deepest hole. But how do I get it? You said, ‘Ask and you shall receive.’ I am asking and I know that you will give it to me. Every week you bless me so much and teach me lessons after lessons. I know that once again you are showing me your love. I can't fathom how much you feel when one of your children suffers, but I've had a glimpse of your heartache. Please fill me with your wisdom that I won't just watch others suffer, but that I'll be able to say what they need to hear. As a new week approaches, my dangerous prayer is that you'll place broken hearted people in my path and fill me with you so that I can let your love heal their pain.”

Because of the Bevins’ gift to Southern Seminary, the school now owns the “stewardship of this story,” according to Mohler.

“Matt and Glenna Bevin are a wonderful Christian couple whose vision and generosity are so evident in the establishment of this new center and its endowment. To know them is to know their heart for missions and the deep personal dimension of this commitment, especially as it is linked to the memory of their daughter Brittiney and her heart for missions,” Mohler said.

The Bevins see the center as a fulfillment of Brittiney’s dream to see the gospel reach the ends of the earth.

“The Bevin family is demonstrating Christian stewardship in its very essence in establishment of this center and endowment,” Mohler said. “In doing so, they are not only continuing a missions vision in honor of their daughter and her memory, but they are doing something that will make a real and immediate difference on the mission fields of the world.”

The festivities of the center opening culminated in a prayer of dedication by chairman of the board, Todd Fisher, and a ribbon cutting by Glenna and Matthew Bevin at the new offices of the center on the second floor of the Honeycutt Campus Center.

More information about current and future opportunities through the Bevin Center is available at the center website.

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