SBTS will host seminary luncheon at SBC, June 20

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will host a luncheon for alumni and friends during the 2012 Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans.

The luncheon will be at noon, Wednesday, June 20, at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, in the La Nouvelle Orleans Ballroom, Sections A & B, Level Two. Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. will present a ministry update on behalf of the seminary.

Tickets purchased before June 11 are $20. If available, tickets at the door and Southern Seminary convention booth are $25. Seating is limited. Those interested may register here.

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Mohler speaks to homosexuality, Christian hypocrisy at CNN

In CNN Belief Blog's "My Take" column, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary, addresses the charge that Christians inconsistently isolate and condemn homosexuality.

After all, the Bible forbids the eating of shellfish and the wearing of mixed fabrics, among other things. Mohler points out that such ceremonial laws were given to Israel for a particular purpose at a specific point in redemptive history.

"An honest consideration of the Bible reveals that most of the biblical laws people point to in asking this question, such as laws against eating shellfish or wearing mixed fabrics, are part of the holiness code assigned to Israel in the Old Testament," he said.

"That code was to set Israel, God’s covenant people, apart from all other nations on everything from morality to diet."

Mohler explains that the New Testament rescinds dietary laws for Christians (see Acts 10:15). However, the Bible speaks to sexual morality in a different, more unified sense. "When it comes to homosexuality," he said, "the Bible’s teaching is consistent, pervasive, uniform and set within a larger context of law and Gospel."

Still, why do Christians continue to place importance on homosexuality? Mohler explains:

In the first place, that question is answered by the simple fact that it is the most pressing moral question of our times. Christians must be concerned about adultery, pornography, injustice, dishonesty and everything the Bible names as sin. But when my phone rings with a call from a reporter these days, the question I am asked is never adultery or pornography. It is about homosexuality.

Mohler also deals with other "inconsistencies" people raise concerning the Bible's witness to slavery and polygamy. He concludes by saying that Christian love requires nothing less than telling the truth about sexual sin.

"Christian love requires that we believe and teach what the Bible teaches and that we do so with both strong conviction and humble hearts," Mohler said. "The Church must repent of our failures in both of these tasks, but we must not be silent where the Bible speaks."

The entire article, "The Bible condemns a lot, but here's why we focus on homosexuality," is available at Belief Blog.

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Mohler tells spring 2012 graduates to faithfully teach and gladly reach the nations

More than 270 Southern Seminary students received degrees – ranging from certificates to doctorates – during commencement exercises on the seminary’s lawn, May 18, 2012.

“We set [graduates] loose to do what God has called and gifted and empowered them to do – to teach and preach the Word of God, to shepherd the flock of God, to guard the good deposit and to follow the pattern of sound words, to herald the good tidings of the gospel, to teach the church, to counsel believers, to reach the unreached and to comfort the afflicted,” R. Albert Mohler Jr. told the 209th graduating class. “They are set forth to defend the truth, to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, to mourn with those who mourn and to minister in Christ’s name and stead.

“Take everything good you received here, and leave anything that does not glorify God and strengthen Christ’s church. Remember all who made this possible for you, knowing that all these things were provided so that the church may be faithfully taught and the nations gladly reached.”

Also at graduation, Mohler presented the Findley B. and Louvenia Edge Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence to Peter J. Gentry. Joining the seminary in 1998, Gentry is professor of Old Testament interpretation. He is also the author, along with SBTS’ Stephen Wellum, of the forthcoming book, Kingdom through Covenant, available this summer.

Mohler’s entire address is available in audio and video at the SBTS Resources page, www.sbts.edu/resources. A complete transcript of the address, “To Utter What Has Been Hidden Since the Foundation of the World,” is available at www.albertmohler.com

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SBTS hosts second-ever Alumni Academy course, Christology with Bruce Ware

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary held its second Alumni Academy course, Christology with Bruce A. Ware, May 15-17, 2012.

Ware, professor of Christian theology at Southern Seminary, taught the course in four sessions, each giving framework, foundation and development of the Bible’s presentation of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition to the course’s four main sessions, the event included two panel discussions featuring Ware dialoguing with other Southern Seminary professors about christological issues.

In the first session, Ware focused on the doctrine of Trinity in order to provide background for how one should understand the person of the Son. He exhorted attendees to learn to read their Bibles with “trinitarian lenses,” seeing that in many passages of Scripture, pronouns like “he” and “him” refer not to God generically but to a particular person of the Godhead. Thus, putting on trinitarian lenses opens up the Bible to help people to see what is already there.

Further, in order to have orthodox trinitarianism, Ware explained, one must have the two pillars of identity: distinction and equality. Without distinction among the persons of the Godhead, one has unitarian monotheism (one god, one person). Without equality of identity, one has tritheism (three gods, three persons). To have authentic monotheism, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit must share the same identical nature, not merely the same kind of nature. The Bible presents a complex rather than simple monotheism. In surveying the biblical and historical data concerning the doctrine of the Trinity, Ware stated that relationships and roles distinguish each member of the Godhead from one another.

In the second session, Ware dealt with the Son as the eternal Word, the second person of the Trinity. As the eternal Word, the Son activates, implements and carries out the design and will of the Father, indicating the inherent hierarchy that exists among the Trinity. Though all three are equally God, the Father has authority over the Son, and the Father and Son have authority over the Spirit, both in eternity past and in the economy of redemption.

Ware drew attention to John 1:1-5 in order to show that the Word is both identified with God and distinguished from God. The Word’s participation in creation necessitates the conclusion that he too is God because apart from him “nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3). “What is implicit in Genesis 1 is made explicit in John 1,” Ware said. And though a point contested by some evangelical theologians, he stressed the clarity of the biblical teaching of the Son’s submission to the Father before and during the incarnation.

According to Ware, more than 40 times in John’s Gospel, Jesus says that he came to do the will of his Father (e.g., John 6:38; 8:42; 10:36). The Father initiated the plan for his eternal Son to come into the world, as texts such as John 3:16-17; Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 1:1-2; and 1 John 4:9-10 indicate. The Father’s plan from eternity has been to bring to pass his purposes through the Son (Eph 1:9-11; 3:8-12).

“The eternal Son, God the Son, is both fully God and fully equal to the Father, while he is fully Son and eternally in a relationship of agent of the Father, carrying out the work and implementing the will of the Father in full submission and obedience to all that the Father has planned,” Ware said.

In the third session, Ware discussed the incarnate Son. As in eternity past, the Son – as the one who became forever incarnate in taking upon himself a human nature in addition to his divine nature – submits to the Father’s will (see John 8:28-29; 1 Cor 11:3). In the Bible, Ware pointed out, one never encounters an instance in which the Son exercises authority over the Father. The Son obeys out of love for the Father (John 14:31) and in view of his future reign and exaltation (Ps 2:7-9; 1 Cor 15:25-28).

Ware addressed Jesus’ relationship to the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Spirit-anointed Messiah of whom the Old Testament prophesies, and as the incarnate Son, he lives an authentically human life by relying on the Spirit. And beyond living as a human being in submission to the Spirit, Jesus performed miracles by the power of the Spirit (Matt 12:28; Acts 2:22; 10:38).

Building off of Philippians 2:5-8, Ware taught that Jesus did not give up any of his deity in assuming a human nature. Rather, he gave up the privileges of his deity and experienced a truly human life. This, he noted, is subtraction by addition. The Son’s deity is not taken away in the incarnation, but the incarnation does veil it.

In the fourth session, Ware talked about the Son as the exalted Lord. Having completed the task that the Father set before him, the Son reigns as the glorified king, though still under his Father’s authority and in the continued power of the Spirit. As a result of his successful mission, Ware explained, the Son defeated the penalty and power of sin, as well as conquering Satan’s power over humanity (1 Cor 15:54-57; Col 2:13-15). Also, the Son earned the right to sit at the Father’s right hand from which he rules and reigns over the nations, maintaining his rights as savior of the elect and judge of the non-elect (Heb 1:3; Eph 1:18-23; cf. Ps 2:7-9; Matt 28:18-20; John 6:37-39). And at the consummation of all things, the Son as the exalted Lord will return to reign with his bride, the church (Dan 7:15-18; Rev 22:1-5).

The event’s Tuesday-night panel discussion featured Ware and two other members of Southern’s faculty, Zane Pratt and Thomas J. Nettles. Owen Strachan, assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at Southern’s Boyce College, moderated the panel. Ware, Pratt and Nettles discussed a range of topics, such as the need to communicate the deity of Christ to Muslims, church history’s relationship to biblical doctrine, the nature of Christ-centered preaching and the normative trinitarian pattern for prayer.

The Wednesday-night panel consisted of Southern Seminary professors Gregg R. Allison, Jim Hamilton and Stephen J. Wellum along with Ware. Allison served as moderator, raising for the panel questions pertaining to how practical church issues relate to Christology. Responding to questions from both Allison and the audience, the panel members gave insights about baptism, the Lord’s Supper, church discipline, weddings and funerals, with a christological focus.

An effort of Southern Seminary’s alumni relations office, Alumni Academy seeks to offer ministry enhancement and ongoing theological learning to the institution’s alumni. Alumni Academy events are of no cost to Southern alumni, and for a nominal fee, alumni who attend can bring with them members of their church staff. Southern Seminary faculty members R. Albert Mohler Jr., Randy Stinson, Joe Crider and Gregg R. Allison will each teach course offerings in the coming months.

More information about Alumni Academy is available at events.sbts.edu

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Mohler, Ryken offer commencement speech advice to Romney

In a May 11 post at CNN's Belief Blog, Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Wheaton College President Philip Ryken provide unsolicited advice to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney about his imminent commencement speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

As leaders of prominent evangelical schools, Mohler and Ryken surmise that Romney should speak to evangelical interests openly and honestly as a Mormon and politician.

In his portion of the post, Mohler recommends that Romney not only stay true to his Mormon convictions as he communicates to his audience, but also appeal to his concerns and goals in public policy that overlap with those of evangelicals. And furthermore, he should point out that he does not aim to become their pastor but their president.

"[Romney] should not try to bridge the theological gulf that separates Mormons from evangelical Christians, but he should point directly to common concerns and shared convictions about the crucial issues facing our nation," Mohler writes.

"He should remind the audience at Liberty University that he is not running to be their preacher but to be their president. He should speak to shared political and policy concerns, making clear the fact that his policies emerge from a deep reservoir of commitment."

In demonstrating his shared interests with evangelicals, Ryken suggests that Romney speak about religious liberty.

"I would give Romney the same advice that I offered in a letter to President Obama when the White House asked for comments on the health insurance mandate: promote religious liberty as a first and fundamental freedom," he writes.

Both Mohler's and Ryken's comments are available in their entirety at Belief Blog: "Unsolicited Advice: What should Mitt Romney say at Liberty University?"

 

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The Church at Brook Hills announces Payne as pastor of church multiplication

The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., voted to receive J.D. Payne as its pastor of church multiplication, May 6, 2012. This comes after the church’s elders recommended Payne to the congregation during April.

"I'm grateful to God for his grace in leading J.D. to Brook Hills,” said David Platt, senior pastor of the Church at Brook Hills. “As we are training pastors and church planters in the local church to serve throughout North America and the nations, I can't think of a better person to lead this way in the local church. I look forward to seeing how the Lord uses him in the days ahead to lead the Church at Brook Hills and other local churches to passionately make disciples and intentionally multiply churches.”

Since 2002, Payne has served with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and Southern Seminary as associate professor of church planting and evangelism and director of the Center for North American Missions and Church Planting, as well as being a national missionary with NAMB.

“We’re going to miss J.D. Payne incredibly. Our loss is Brook Hills’ gain,” said Zane Pratt, dean of the Billy Graham School, noting that Payne would continue with Southern Seminary in an adjunct role.

Payne spoke fondly of his time at Southern: “The past 10 years have been an incredible blessing. The men and women who make up the faculty at Southern are wonderful – and dear friends. I will most definitely miss them.

“I loved being able to be a part of an environment where students have been hungry to get out of the classroom and into the field sharing the gospel and planting churches. I’m very humbled to have been here the past 10 years.”

Payne will officially start his position with Brook Hills July 1. As pastor of church multiplication, he will oversee Brook Hills’ church planting efforts in North America, which includes working closely with the church’s pastor of global disciple-making in matters related to cross-cultural church planting. Payne’s responsibilities will include developing an equipping center that will seek to mobilize the church’s 4,200 members for evangelism and discipleship, helping people from all stages of life and leadership to become more faithful and effective disciple-makers. The center will also provide opportunities for the church to raise up future leaders in these areas.

During the course of last 14 months, Payne said he conversed with Platt about helping them find someone who fit the role of church multiplication pastor. Platt contacted Payne after reading Payne’s work. For some time prior to this, Payne and his wife, Sarah, sensed a new direction in terms of God’s call on their lives. Payne thought he would continue in academia in some form. However, as he continued to give counsel to Platt and the leaders at Brook Hills, he began to consider the position of pastor of church multiplication for himself.

“The more I thought and prayed after David and I first spoke the more I felt like the Lord was probably leading me in this direction,” he said.

Soon after this, Platt asked Payne if he thought about taking on the role himself, and after several trips from Louisville to Birmingham, along with times of fasting and praying, Payne decided to pursue the position. After Payne interacted with the elders and leaders at Brook Hills to determine that he was on the same page with them theologically, missiologically and philosophically, the church moved forward with making him its pastor of church multiplication.

Interestingly enough, Payne said, noting that it is to his embarrassment, he knew little about Platt and the Church at Brook Hills other than what he read, heard and saw in the media.

“Up until about 14 months ago, I knew practically nothing about the Church at Brook Hills. I knew practically nothing about David Platt. I never read his books. I only heard him preach three times in chapel at Southern,” he said.

“Other than that, I knew nothing.”

Payne explained that Platt’s deep theological commitments wed with a robust yet simple understanding of missiology appealed to him since becoming familiar with Platt. Now, he will join Platt on a more direct level in reaching the ends of the earth with the gospel.

Payne and Sarah, who have been married since 1995, have three children: Hannah (10), Rachel (7) and Joel (5). For the last nine years, Sarah worked as a part-time physician in internal medicine and pediatrics, serving the uninsured at a Louisville clinic. She will continue similar work serving at a clinic in Birmingham.

More information related to Payne’s new role as pastor of church multiplication at the Church at Brook Hills, including video, is available at the church’s Web site, www.brookhills.org

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May “Towers” looks at theology in thought and action

The April 2012 “Towers” is now on stands and online.

We’ve all seen and heard the two extremes. One is the German-reading, bearded fellow who prefers theology only in old brick buildings. The other is the county-seat pastor who shivers at the idea of Augustine and Calvin and wants only to pursue the “real” task of soul-winning. And then we’re stuck wondering, “Which is more important: theory or practice, thought or action?”

In this “Towers,” Timothy K. Beougher and Owen Strachan help readers think about this issue and see that, properly understood, action rises out of thought. The two are intrinsically related.

The May issue also includes an interview with Capitol Hill Baptist Church pastor Mark Dever about his two new books, an illustrated overview of the 2012 Together for the Gospel conference and Southern Seminary's newly unveiled 10-year master plan to reset and restore the campus.

Additionally, we take a satirical look at the quirks and idiosyncrasies of Seminary-Guy: our SBTS hipster.

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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Don’t waste your summer: course suggestions from Prof. Greg Wills

Southern Seminary summer courses offer a unique opportunity to study with experts visiting our campus. Not only that, but the summer provides an excellent venue for students to spend concentrated times of study with some of their favorite SBTS faculty. There are a number of incredible opportunities this summer on both fronts.

Study opportunities with visiting faculty:

  • You could take Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, taught by colonial and early American history expert Daryl Cornett, June 25-29. Cornett is the author and editor of the recent book Christian America? (B&H Academic, 2011);
  • Another option is Religion and the Civil War with Daniel Stowell, June 18-22. Stowell is a Civil War-era expert and director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln project. He is also the author of Rebuilding Zion: The Religious Reconstruction of the South 1863-1877 (Oxford University Press, 1998);
  • You could also take Contemporary Theology, June 25-29, with the inimitable Greg Thornbury, who is dean and professor at Union University’s School of Theology and Missions;
  • Beyond that, you could take Systematic Theology II, July 16-20, with Micah Carter, a terrific lecturer who directs adult ministry publishing at LifeWay.

If you're hoping to take a class with one of your favorite SBTS professors, there are plenty of excellent options:

  • For starters, you could take C. S. Lewis: His Life, Works, and Legacy, June 11-15, taught by Dan DeWitt, dean of Boyce College and passionate C. S. Lewis enthusiast;
  • Another option is Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, June 18-22, taught by Owen Strachan, a tremendous scholar and expert on fundamentalism and evangelicalism;
  • In addition to these, you could take Systematic Theology I, July 2-6, with Steve Wellum;
  • Church History I, June 11-15, with Shawn Wright;
  • Biblical Theology, July 29- Aug. 1, with Jim Hamilton;
  • For those who might be interested in attending the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention June 17-20, you can not only attend and earn class credit for going, but also spend time with seminary Dean Russell Moore, who will lead students on a tour of New Orleans as he lectures about the SBC.

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A complete list of course offerings is available at www.sbts.edu/summer2012. Students wanting to register for summer courses may do so through their Moodle Web portal.

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SBTS trustees adopt comprehensive master plan, add faculty

The Board of Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary approved a master plan to repurpose and refocus the seminary’s physical campus, April 17, 2012. This dramatic step represents the most significant physical revitalization of the seminary since moving to its current location in 1926.

“One of our chief responsibilities in this generation is to ensure Southern Seminary is propelled into the future unconstrained by limitations that we have the responsibility to address now,” said SBTS President R. Albert Mohler Jr. “The campus of Southern Seminary is merely a tool, but it’s a very important tool for our ability to fulfill the mission that has been entrusted to us. For that reason, we need to take responsibility in this generation to make certain that the campus continues as a great asset to our mission and does not become a liability. That explains this very significant effort to address long-term issues, and also important opportunities for the campus.”

Dan Dumas, senior vice president for institutional administration, said about the adoption and implementation of the master plan: “After restoring the theological heritage of the seminary in the late 20th-century, we are committed to restoring the historic buildings of this campus in order to align them with our mission.”

During the next 10 years, the master plan will dissolve $52 million in deferred maintenance and position the campus for immediate and future structural and financial sustainability. Phase one will restore and update the campus, primarily in terms of housing and administrative offices. This phase requires the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to approve a $20 million loan during its annual meeting in New Orleans, this June.

The master plan will repurpose the historical Mullins Complex as a state-of-the-art facility for Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern Seminary.

“Moving Boyce College into the Mullins Complex in the heart of campus will facilitate the greatest integration of the college into the life of the seminary since its inception,” Mohler said. “It will accelerate our programs that link the college and the seminary together in order to get committed missionaries and pastors onto the mission field and into the churches as quickly as possible. It will also maximize the stewardship of all of our campus facilities.”

Phase two will advance the learning community of Southern Seminary, primarily through renovation of the James P. Boyce Centennial Library. Phase three, without requiring any firm commitments, anticipates future development.

In addition to approving the 2012-13 budget, the Board of Trustees voted to grant James M. Hamilton Jr., associate professor of biblical theology, with tenure. The board also promoted Timothy Paul Jones, currently associate professor of leadership and church ministry, to full professorship.

“Jim Hamilton and Timothy Paul Jones are two of our most creative, visionary professors,” said Russell D. Moore, senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the School of Theology. “They are not only writing the books the next generation of Christians will read, they are also pouring their lives one by one into students here on this campus. I couldn't be happier to have them as part of this great, historic faculty.”

Mohler echoed Moore’s sentiment, stating that Hamilton and Jones model Christian scholarship: “Professors Hamilton and Jones are not only capable scholars, but deeply committed Christians and involved churchmen who model for our students just the right picture of what it means to be a Christian scholar.”

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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April “Towers” addresses the priority of distinctives, primacy of the gospel

The April 2012 “Towers” is now on stands and online.

Remember the song from Sesame Street that goes something like, “One of these things is not like the other”? Well, that’s what this issue of “Towers” is about. Of the many different things that define a given church, one commitment reigns over the others – the message of Jesus Christ. Ligon Duncan and Josh Harris tell readers that the primacy of the gospel is not like the other commitments of a church.

Also, we look at the remarkable story of the tornado that, in early March, swept through Henryville, Ind., and brought a unique opportunity to the township’s First Baptist Church.

April's "Towers" also includes G.K. Beale talking about his new book, A New Testament Biblical Theology, SBTS Press releases A Guide to Adoption and Orphan Care and a before-unseen tour of underground Southern.

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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