Mohler discusses homosexuality in WSJ opinion piece

In the July 1 edition of The Wall Street Journal, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary, offers commentary related to the moral revolution of homosexuality. Make no mistake, Mohler says, a moral revolution has taken place. One does not need to take a poll to learn this. Rather, "all we need to do is to talk to our neighbors or listen to the cultural chatter." He explains further:

In less than a single generation, homosexuality has gone from something almost universally understood to be sinful, to something now declared to be the moral equivalent of heterosexuality - and deserving of both legal protection and public encouragement. Theo Hobson, a British theologian, has argued that this is not just the waning of a taboo. Instead, it is a moral inversion that has left those holding the old morality now accused of nothing less than "moral deficiency."

Because of biblical authority, Mohler contends that the church cannot compromise concerning this issue despite the cultural pressure. Further, in upholding an understanding of and vision for marriage faithful to the Scriptures, evangelical Christians must not defend the sanctity of marriage as if they are free from sin. Mohler writes:

In this most awkward cultural predicament, evangelicals must be excruciatingly clear that we do not speak about the sinfulness of homosexuality as if we have no sin. As a matter of fact, it is precisely because we have come to know ourselves as sinners and of our need for a savior that we have come to faith in Jesus Christ. Our greatest fear is not that homosexuality will be normalized and accepted, but that homosexuals will not come to know of their own need for Christ and the forgiveness of their sins.

Mohler ends the article by emphasizing that - like all sins - homosexuality is a Gospel issue, meaning that homosexuality - like all sins - can be forgiven through the blood of Christ. Christians are the ones who recognize that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is "the only remedy for sin," starting with their own sins.

The Wall Street Journal Web site carries Mohler's article, "Evangelicals and the Gay Moral Revolution," in its entirety.

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June 27 Towers: SBC, SBTS focus on reaching the nations for Christ; biblical manhood amid the rubble; Piper addresses SBC pastors; Wilder talks about Transformission

The June 27 "Towers" is available online. The issue provides coverage from the 2011 Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, Ariz. Coverage includes SBTS President R. Albert Mohler Jr.'s presentation at the seminary's annual luncheon in which he discusses changes and development at Southern from recent months (page 7). Also SBC-related is Jimmy Scroggins' editorial concerning his optimism for the Convention following the annual meeting (page 4); Scroggins is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., and a former dean of Boyce College. At the SBC Pastors' Conference, John Piper, pastor of preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn., challenged his audience to become God-centered in their approach to missions and evangelism (page 3).

Other items in "Towers" include:

  • a reflection about the display of biblical manhood in the tornado-stricken southern states (page 5);
  • interview with SBTS School of Church Ministries prof Michael Wilder about his book, Transformission (page 9);
  • former Billy Graham School Dean Chuck Lawless' move to the International Mission Board (page 6);
  • Zane Pratt as the new dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism (page 6);
  • SBTS evangelism professor Paul Chitwood's election as executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention (page 7);
  • Three Questions with Michael Mardis, dean of students at the University of Louisville (page 16); and
  • book reviews, a Southern Story featuring SBTS music professor Thomas W. Bolton, the History Highlight, and more.
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New York Times quotes Mohler in story about SBC leadership diversity

The New York Times published an article highlighting the Southern Baptist Convention's appointment of Fred Luter Jr. to the office of first vice president of the covention. As the article notes, Luter is "the widely admired pastor of a largely black church in New Orleans," drawing attention to the fact that the SBC is taking steps to diversify its leadership. The article goes on to mention R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and his thoughts concerning multiethnic leadership and the difference between issues of race and issues of sexual morality:

"Leadership has to emerge naturally, but we bear a moral responsibility to encourage development of multiethnic leaders," Mr. Mohler said in a phone interview.

Gay and lesbian advocates on Wednesday called on the Southern Baptists to apologize for antihomosexual policies and for what they called destructive efforts to "cure" people of homosexuality.

Mr. Mohler said that in contrast to racial issues, the church view that homosexual behavior is a sin is dictated by the Bible. "We cannot compromise without disobeying the Scriptures," he said, adding that it is also an article of faith that the Holy Spirit can transform people.

The New York Times Web site carries the full article.

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CNN and USA Today note Mohler’s comments about Rep. Anthony Weiner

CNN's Belief Blog published a story concerning R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and his comments on Twitter about New York congressman Anthony Weiner. 

The article, "Top evangelical to Anthony Weiner: Try Jesus," records Mohler's tweet: “Dear Congressman Weiner: There is no effective ‘treatment’ for sin. Only atonement, found only in Jesus Christ."

Noting that Mohler made no statement about Weiner's Jewish background, the article also mentions his blog post responding to the controversy, "Theology, Therapy, Twitter, and the Scandal of the Gospel." Mohler writes the following:

As far as I know, Rep. Weiner is not among my "followers" on Twitter. I did not assume that he was reading my posting. My message was mostly directed at my fellow Christians as a reminder of this very concern - that the American impulse is to seek treatment when our real need is for redemption.

Also, as quoted in the CNN article, Mohler states that Weiner's problem stems from his being a sinner, not Judaism. He writes:

I never mentioned Judaism. Rep. Weiner's problem has to do with the fact that he is a sinner, like every other human being, regardless of religious faith or affiliation. Christians - at least those who hold to biblical and orthodox Christianity - believe that salvation is found through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in him alone.

Finally, after acknowledging some of the debate that took place over Twitter, Mohler speaks of the controversy as a sign of the politically incorrect nature of biblical Christianity.

The exchange on Twitter is another sign of how politically incorrect biblical Christianity is becoming in our times. Christians do understand that non-Christians disagree with the Gospel. We also understand that other religions claim "routes to restoring righteousness." But biblical Christians cannot accept that these "routes" lead to redemption, and the only righteousness that saves - the righteousness of Christ imputed to the believer, who is justified by faith in Christ alone.

UPDATE: In addition to the attention Mohler's comments received at CNN's Belief Blog, USA Today's Faith & Reason blog provides coverage and commentary in the post, "Baptist leader stands by 'Christian love' for Weiner."

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ABP features Moore for Twitter comment about potential candidate for SBC presidency

The Associated Baptist Press (ABP) highlighted Russell D. Moore's statement on Twitter that the Southern Baptist Convention should elect Fred Luter as its president at the 2012 annual meeting in New Orleans, La.

Moore, dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration, made known his thoughts about Luter, senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, by commenting on the announcement that Luter will be nominated as first vice president at the convention's meeting, June 14-15 in Phoenix, Ariz., according to the ABP article.

The ABP Web site carries the full story.

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Boyce College Worldview Studies Certificate essay contest

If you are a prospective student interested in enrolling at Boyce College for the Fall 2011-Spring 2012 Worldview Studies Certificate Program, this contest is for you!

Boyce College is hosting an essay contest that will grant a full-tuition scholarship to one lucky winner. Your essay should include what you believe the importance of a Biblical Worldview has to do with success on a college campus. All submissions MUST be original. Plagiarism in any form will not be accepted. You can use quotes and outside sources, but make sure you give adequate recognition to your sources through either footnotes or citations. Entries should be at least 400 words, but no longer than 800 words. Footnotes and citations do not count towards the word limit.

The winner will be awarded a full-tuition scholarship for the Fall 2011-Spring 2012 Worldview Studies Certificate Program. Your entry can be submitted via email to boyce@sbts.edu. Make sure your essay is in a word document attached to the email. Include your contact information in the body of the email. All submissions should be sent in by Friday, July 22, 2011.The winner of the essay contest and tuition scholarship will be notified via email Wednesday, July 27, 2011.

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May 23 Towers: In memory of Chip Stam; Moore and Kassian at TGC; SBTS loses student, Boling; two profs talk new books

The May 23 "Towers" is now online. The bulk of this issue celebrates the life and ministry of the late SBTS professor Charles "Chip" Stam. Current faculty members and alumni reflect back on Stam's legacy. The issue also includes reports from The Gospel Coalition national meeting breakout sessions from Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology, and Mary Kassian, distinguished professor of women's studies; SBTS mourning the loss of a student; and Boyce College Instructor of Christian Theology and Church History Owen Strachan and Southern Seminary Associate Professor of Church Planting and Evangelism J.D. Payne talk about their most recent publications.

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Southern Seminary BGS dean will lead IMB in theological education

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's Chuck Lawless will become vice president for global theological advance at the International Mission Board, June 1. The IMB Board of Trustees unanimously elected Lawless in an effort to emphasize the importance of sound theology as the foundation for mission work.

"Chuck Lawless is a great man of God, a man of deep Gospel passion and a wonderful teacher," said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary. "He will devote all these great gifts through the International Mission Board into the lives of missionaries around the world."

Baptist Press quotes IMB President Tom Elliff's statement about Lawless: "Chuck brings so many things to the table, especially in terms of acquainting a whole new generation of young pastors and churches with our story, [IMB] and why we're here and how we can serve them."

In his new role, Lawless will provide theological leadership and guidance to the IMB and its personnel, while helping strengthen relationships with Southern Baptist churches, seminaries and other partners. Since 2008, he consulted the IMB about theological education while continuing in his work at Southern Seminary. And now Lawless will dedicate his full attention to that work.

Lawless served SBTS as dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism and vice president of academic programing since September 2005. Prior to his deanship, Lawless taught as a professor of church and community in the Graham School, beginning July 1996.

"Southern Seminary loses a great leader in Chuck's move to the IMB, but this is a great day for Southern Baptists," Mohler said. "I am so thankful for Chuck's service as professor and dean of the Billy Graham School. Chuck and Pam Lawless will always be honored members of the Southern Seminary family."

Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration at SBTS said of Lawless:

"Chuck Lawless has been the driving force at Southern Seminary for more than 15 years, keeping our focus on the Great Commission. When I think of Chuck Lawless' legacy, there are so many things that come to mind - his investment in students, his scholarship, his administrative leadership - but I think his primary legacy has been prayer. Dr. Lawless has by example led the seminary to pray. When I think about Chuck Lawless, I think of godliness, I think of integrity, I think of prayer.

"I am thrilled about what God is doing with Chuck and Pam as they lead missionaries around to world to greater confidence in a God who answers prayer," Moore said.

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SBTS prof receives recommendation as Kentucky Baptist Convention leader

The Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC) announced the recommendation of Paul Chitwood to serve as the next executive director-treasurer of the convention, May 23, 2011. Chitwood is associate professor of evangelism and church growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Kentucky Baptist Mission Board will consider the recommendation for approval at a special-called meeting on June 2. According to the KBC news release, a 15-member search committee will make the recommendation. If the board approves, Chitwood will start his position July 1. He will replace former director-treasurer Bill Mackey who will retire May 31.

"Kentucky Baptists will be celebrating the nomination of Dr. Paul Chitwood as executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. I have known Paul for many years, and he is a man of deep conviction, Great Commission passion, pastoral vision, tremendous personal skills and leadership ability. He will provide outstanding leadership for Kentucky Baptists across the generations - of that, I am certain," said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary.

Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern Seminary, also expressed his confidence in Chitwood's experience, skills and leadership ability.

"Paul Chitwood is one of the most respected young leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention and in Kentucky Baptist life," Moore said. "He understands Kentucky Baptists and he understands the urgency of the Great Commission. I could not be more thrilled with his selection as executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention."

Serving as a faculty member since 2007, Chitwood also earned his master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southern Seminary. Moore noted that he and Chitwood studied together as doctoral students at Southern Seminary, commenting that Chitwood's leadership abilities were evident then.

"Even in the doctoral seminar room, you could tell Paul was a leader and a leader with integrity," Moore said. "Southern Seminary is very proud to have one of our own serving in this key role in taking the Gospel to Kentucky and to the rest of the world."

He has served as senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Mt. Washington, Ky., since 2003, and prior to that, he served pastorates in other Kentucky Baptist churches.

Chitwood was KBC president in 2005-06 following his term as first vice president in 2003-04. In 2002, he was president of the KBC Pastors' Conference. Additionally, from 2008-10, Chitwood was chairman for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

A native of Tennessee, Chitwood and his wife, Michelle, have three children, Daniel, Anna and Cai.

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Former Boyce Bible School dean dies at 88

Former Boyce Bible School director and dean, David Q. Byrd Jr. passed away, May 18, 2011. Byrd served what is now Boyce College from 1978 to 1989.

"Dr. Byrd was a true Christian gentleman," said Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. "He was a Southern Baptist statesman and a man of great gentility and kindness. I was very pleased to get to know him, and over the years, to know of his service to the Boyce Bible College and to Southern Baptists. He was a pastor of great devotion, he was a Baptist of tremendous insight and he was one who demonstrated personal care for the students of this institution and others far beyond."

Hired January 1978, as director of Boyce Bible School, Byrd came to the school promoting his vision of "Bold Mission Thrust," a concept he advocated in one of his last sermons as pastor of West Jackson Baptist. Bold Mission Thrust was an effort among Southern Baptist to evangelize the entire world by the year 2000.

Byrd became assistant dean of the Ministry Training Center, August 1983. And only a year later, the seminary promoted him to dean of the Boyce Bible School, a post he held from January 1984 to December 1989. Originally, Boyce Bible School trained ministers who lacked a college degree. And Byrd professed a passion for providing ministerial training to adults with families and jobs without a college education, yet who desired the work of ministry.

Boyce Bible School's enrollment grew significantly during Byrd's leadership and her number of off-campus centers exponentially increased. Following his deanship at Boyce, Byrd taught at the school adjunctively until 1995.

Prior to his time at Boyce, Byrd served as a president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, a trustee of Union University and as a member of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. He was the pastor of West Jackson Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn. for 24 years.

The Mississippi native earned the master of divinity, master of theology and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southern Seminary.

A memorial service will be held at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's Alumni Memorial Chapel, Wednesday, May 25, at 10 a.m. Visitation will be Tuesday, May 24 from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. at Highland Funeral Home.

Memorial services will also be held at Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tenn., Monday, May 23, at 3 p.m. Visitation will be Sunday, May 22, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Williamson Memorial Funeral Home; and Monday, May 23, from 1 p.m. - 3 p.m. at Brentwood Baptist Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the David Q. and Floriene W. Byrd Memorial Scholarship at Union University or to the Byrd Memorial Scholarship at Mississippi College.

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