Baptist Press publishes Jones’ article about New Testament canon

Baptist Press recently published Timothy Paul Jones' article "How were the books of the New Testament chosen?" In the article, Jones, associate professor of leadership and church ministry at Southern Seminary, considers how the church came to recognize some writings as authoritative and others as not.

"The question isn't whether God had any part in choosing the books; the question is, 'By what human means did these texts come to be viewed as authoritative?'," he writes.

Responding to the claim that no authoritative list containing 27 books existed prior to the fourth or fifth centuries,  Jones states that hints of some sort of standard are evident in Christian writings as early as the first century. The primary criteria was whether or not the writings were connected to those who actually saw the Lord Jesus. He writes:

Long before Athanasius was even born, testimony that could be connected to eyewitnesses of the risen Lord was uniquely authoritative among early Christians.

Even while the New Testament books were being written in the first century A.D., the words of people who had actually seen Jesus – especially the words and writings of the apostles – carried special authority in the churches (see Acts 1:21-26; 15:6-16:5; 1 Corinthians 4-5; 9:1-12; Galatians 1:1-12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26-27). After the apostles' deaths, Christians continued to value the testimony of eyewitnesses and their associates.

The entire article is available at the Baptist Press website.

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June-July “Towers” raps about hip-hop, the covenants

The June-July 2012 “Towers” is now on stands and online.

It’s hard to miss the impact Christian hip-hop has on the current generation of (especially younger, Reformed) evangelicals. What began as a marginalized movement in the South now finds itself distributed by major music sellers – Christian and secular – and among the most talked about and energetic music movements. This issue of “Towers” offers a brief timeline of Christian hip-hop, and a conversation with rappers Lecrae, Trip Lee, Shai Linne and FLAME. And, in the spirit of the theme, the cover represents a Technics turntable, a widely used instrument among producers, DJs and rap MCs.

Also in the June-July issue, Southern Seminary professor Stephen J. Wellum and Peter Gentry discuss their new book, Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants; the  History Highlight column surveys Southern's involvement in popular media, from radio to Twitter; and Josh Hayes profiles Bruce Ware, professor of Christian theology, in the June-July Southern Story.

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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Moore speaks to porn, video game addiction at Desiring God Blog

Southern Seminary's Russell D. Moore recently wrote about why men are addicted to pornography and video games at the Desiring God Blog. Moore, dean of the School of Theology and vice president for academic administration, states that the danger in the two mediums lies in their artificiality.

"There's a key difference between porn and gaming. Pornography can't be consumed in moderation because it is, by definition, immoral. A video game can be a harmless diversion along the lines of a low-stakes athletic competition," he explains.

"But the compulsive form of gaming shares a key element with porn: both are meant to simulate something, something for which men long."

The reason that both pornography and video games appeal to men is because each tantalizes longings rooted in creation that point to gospel realities. However, pornography creates a sexual experience apart from marital intimacy and video games frequently present combat scenarios with nothing real or right for which to fight. Moore suggests that the solution is to "fight arousal with arousal." The gospel is, after all, about "a Christ who loves his bride and who fights to save her." He writes:

"Pornography promises orgasm without intimacy. Video warfare promises adrenaline without danger. The arousal that makes these so attractive is ultimately spiritual to the core."

Moore's entire article, "Fake Love, Fake War: Why So Many Men Are Addicted to Internet Porn and Video Games," is available at the Desiring God Blog.

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Stinson appears on FamilyLife Today to discuss biblical manhood

Randy Stinson, a father of seven and dean of the School of Church Ministries at Southern Seminary, participated in a two-part interview with FamilyLife Today radio about biblical manhood.

In part one, Stinson tells FamilyLife radio’s Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine how his sports-loving family opted out of baseball in order to give his kids a big vision of the world. In part two, Stinson lists some of the valuable things a father should teach his son before he leaves home including: building a fire, camping, carving a turkey, lighting a grill and tying a tie. Stinson talks about the importance of a father casting a vision for his family, and then leading them in practical ways to reach their goals.

Audio of the interviews is available at the FamilyLife Today Web site.

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Mohler writes about Internet at Washington Post

The Internet, like all technology, comes with blessings and curses, Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. argues in a recent article at The Washington Post. In light of the May 20 gathering of 40,000-plus Orthodox Jews at Citi Field in New York City, an event held to discuss the dangers of the Internet, Mohler comments that evangelical Christians too have concerns with the technology that permeates much of contemporary human experience.

"Like the Orthodox Jews at Citi Field, most evangelical Christians see real and present dangers on the Internet, ranging from pornography to a loss of authentic communication and human relatedness," he writes. "Thanks to the Internet, a toxic dump of pornography is just a click away, destroying lives and souls."

So, is the Internet the enemy of faith? No, Mohler concludes. While Christians must keep in mind that "the dark side is always close at hand," they must also learn how to be "in the world, but not of the world." To remain relevant in the cultural conversation, he contends that Christians must utilize the Internet to facilitate discussion. "To be absent from the Internet," Mohler writes, "is to be absent from many of the most important conversations and debates of our times."

Mohler addresses further the tension between the advantages of online communication and its inherent limitations with respect to genuine human interaction:

"There is no way to avoid the Internet and remain relevant to the cultural conversation. And yet, a digital preacher is not going to preach your funeral, nor visit you in the hospital."

Mohler's article – "Is the Internet the enemy of faith?" – is available at The Washington Post Web site.

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Long-term SBTS professor Wayne Ward dies at 90

Long-term Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Wayne Ward passed away, May 23, 2012, at the age of 90. Ward served as a professor at Southern Seminary from 1951 till 1991.

From 1953 until 1991, Ward was professor of Christian theology at Southern Seminary, and in 1983, he became Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, the same professorial chair that Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. presently holds. Upon his retirement, he was appointed senior professor of Christian theology.

“Wayne Ward was born to be a teacher,” Mohler said. “He brought incredible energy and commitment to the classroom. Through his classroom teaching and doctoral supervision, he touched and influenced thousands of lives. He had one of the longest tenures of any professor in the history of this institution, and it is a matter of academic legend that he served on more doctoral committees than any other member of Southern Seminary’s faculty.

“Wayne Ward was the very first Southern Seminary professor I ever met. He was a powerful preacher and he came regularly to my home church to preach January Bible studies. He befriended me and my family and later became a member of my own Ph.D. committee. Ward had an infectious love for students. He cared deeply for people. He was a peacemaker on the faculty, and he was a man whose life represented so many of the most historic events of the 20th century – events he not only witnessed, but helped shape,” he said.

Mohler continued: “The power of a teacher is incalculable, but few lives make that point so clearly as Wayne Ward. He lived long enough that many of those whom he taught in his ministry have already served and gone to glory, but there remain countless gospel ministers and missionaries who would point to Wayne Ward as a great influence in their lives.

“When Wayne Ward would teach theology in the classroom, his teaching lectern would become a pulpit. He would literally pound the pulpit and raise his voice to a high preaching tone, due to the fact that he not only loved to teach theology, he loved to preach and the two came together in him in an incredible way. Those of us who knew Wayne Ward as teacher were perhaps most touched by Wayne Ward as husband. His devoted care for Mary Ann through the many years of her illness and infirmity was one of the greatest testimonies I have ever seen of a husband’s devotion to his wife. That, among so many other things, will be long remembered by the Southern Seminary family.”

Duke K. McCall, Southern's seventh president (1951-1982) remembered: "Wayne Ward began teaching at Southern Seminary the very year I became president (1951). He was both a colleague and a friend. We served many, many years at Southern Seminary together. He was an energetic teacher and a preacher popular in the churches."

Ward earned a bachelor of arts from Ouachita Baptist University, a bachelor of divinity (now master of divinity) and doctor of theology (now doctor of philosophy) from Southern Seminary. He did post-doctoral studies at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University in New York City, as well as at the Universities of Zurich and Basel, Switzerland, where he studied with widely known theologians Karl Barth, Edward Schweitzer and Oscar Cullmann.

Born July 28, 1921, in Piggott, Ark., his father working as a prosecutor and later as a judge, Ward seemed bound for a career in law. As early as high school, he took shorthand notes in the courtroom, and during his time at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., he became chief reading clerk for the Arkansas legislature. However, in 1941, while serving as state Baptist Student Union president, Ward surrendered to the call to preach and served at three Arkansas churches before graduating college magna cum laude in 1943.

One of Wayne Ward's earliest memories was of meeting E. Y. Mullins, Southern's fourth president, when Ward was a small boy in the early 1920s. Mullins, a titanic Baptist personality, made a huge impression on the youngster. Years later, Ward would occupy the very professorial chair held by Mullins.

Ward was closely connected to a vast Baptist network. As a boy, he spent much time in the home of the Kelley family in Piggott, Ark., where Ward grew up with Charles S. Kelley, bonding as brothers. Later, Kelley's children would include Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Dorothy (Kelley) Patterson, wife of Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

After World War II, Ward began studies at Southern, and following the completion of his doctoral studies, he was elected to the faculty as professor of Christian theology in 1951. He wrote several books and contributed many articles and chapters to reference volumes and other titles. Among Ward’s works are his The Drama of Redemption, The Word Comes Alive and Is the Bible a Human Book? (each published with Broadman Press, which is now B&H Publishing).

Ward was a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Academy of Religion, the American Schools of Oriental Research and the American Association of University Professors. Ward’s tenure as a teacher also afforded him the opportunity to teach overseas on many occasions, including locations in Europe, the Middle East and South America. For 47 years, he served as interim pastor for more than 30 churches in the American South.

During his more-than-four-decade career in teaching and ministry, Ward became acquainted with several famous personalities, including Bill Clinton and Martin Luther King Jr. First meeting Clinton when he was eight years old, Ward later encountered him while serving as interim pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock when Clinton was governor of Arkansas. Clinton and his wife, Hillary, attended the church at the time and traveled with Ward on a tour of the Middle East. As a result, Ward and his wife, Mary Ann, developed something of a friendship with the Clintons.

Ward met King while he was teaching at Union Theological Seminary. King was in town for a World Council of Churches meeting, and he asked Ward for assistance with formatting and citation in his doctoral dissertation.

Ward was also a pilot, earning his license at age 15. By the time of World War II, he had logged in hundreds of hours in a single-engine aircraft and also became a lieutenant in the Naval Air Rescue Service. During the war, Ward flew air-rescue and hospital planes for four years, including spending several months retrieving survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. He survived three crashes as result of enemy fire or storms, and during the World War II era, he experienced an additional crash as a passenger aboard a commercial plane headed to Los Angeles.

Ward became a widower in 2007, when Mary Ann, passed away on Nov. 18 of that year. The two were married June 15, 1943. He leaves behind three children: Larry Wayne Ward, Rebecca Ann Fulgham (James) and David Heath Ward; four grandchildren: Jason Ward Fulgham, Ashley Ann Fulgham Phillips, Jacqueline Marie Ward and Thomas Lee Ward; and a great-grandson: Holden West Phillips.

The family will hold visitation services at Shannon Funeral Service in Shelbyville, Ky., from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m., Friday, May 25. A funeral service will begin at 6 p.m.

On Saturday, May 26, an additional visitation will take place at Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., from 10 a.m. – noon, with a funeral service beginning at noon. Public burial will follow immediately at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Ky.

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WDRB story about racial integration in the SBC features Mohler, Walker and Chitwood

With Fred Luter poised to become the first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) next month, the subject of the denomination's history with race relations is on the front burner. WDRB, a FOX affiliate in Louisville, Ky., recently aired a story about the matter that featured commentary from Southern Seminary faculty members R. Albert Mohler Jr. and T. Vaughn Walker. Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and a former faculty member at Southern, also appears in the story.

The report, produced by Lawrence Smith, highlights the historical significance of Luter's likely election at this year's national convention, which will be held in New Orleans, June 19-20. As a denomination that originated out of conflict over slavery, the installment of an African-American president would represent substantial progress for the SBC with respect to racial integration.

"The history of the Southern Baptist Convention is tied to the history of America," said Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, in the report.

"You just look at how America has been transformed on issues such as race relations, and the Southern Baptist Convention is very much a part of that. Now, that's to our shame in that we should have been leading when sometimes we were following."

Walker, WMU Professor of Christian Studies and professor of black church studies at Southern, stated that Luter's election as SBC president is, for him, on par with Barack Obama's election as the first African-American president of the United States.

"I never thought I'd see that in my lifetime. I'm delighted that it has occurred in both instances," said Walker, who in 1986 became the first full-time African-American faculty member at a SBC seminary.

The full report is available at WDRB's Web site. Video of the story is available at YouTube.

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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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