SBTS Celebrates Annual Heritage Week
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary celebrated its storied past and looked to the future during the school’s annual Heritage Week celebration October 11-14.
To mark the event, Southern held three chapel services, including two that featured preaching by SBTS President Albert Mohler SBTS also held a luncheon honoring the retirement of a cherished administrator and presented the Bruce W. Benton Distinguished Service Award to Robbie and Sarah Brown, among numerous other events.
In his sermon on October 11, Mohler examined one of the most important texts on the implications of Jesus’s resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. If the resurrection is not true, Christians are to be pitied.
"If we're looking for one chapter in the entire Bible that puts the historical facts of Christianity and the central doctrines of Christianity in their compressed form and then makes it clear that this is how the church is to preach and this is what the church believes, it's this passage," he said.
Mohler chose the text because Paul explicitly confronts the question, “What if it’s not true?”
“When faithful preachers preach on the resurrection,” Mohler said, “We tend to jump over these verses to get the resurrection because that’s the way we sing the songs, that’s the way we preach the message, and that’s the way we present the gospel.”
Paul may have made an odd apologetic argument, but Mohler connected Paul’s conclusion—that life is vanity if Jesus remained in the grave—with 19th century philosopher Frederick Nietzsche.
Said Mohler, “Nietzsche died in the year 1900, and was the prophet of modern aggressive atheism. Not only a skeptic against Christianity but the man who declared ‘God is dead, and we have killed him.’” Mohler continued, “We are the futile. The people most to be pitied, according to Nietzsche. But the apostle Paul beat Nietzsche to that argument.”
In his October 12 sermon in Broadus Chapel, Mohler unpacked Matthew 17:1-13 on the transfiguration of Christ.
“The normative experience for the Christian will be that this vision of the transfigured Christ comes to us on the day of the Lord.” Mohler continued, “But Christ was transfigured on this high mountain such that Peter, James, and John would see it.”
Along with confirming Jesus as the Messiah, the Transfiguration bears witness to Jesus as the fulfillment of the law and prophets. Moses and Elijah’s appearance, therefore, attest to Christ’s superiority.
Mohler summarized God’s announcement from the clouds.
“You listened to Moses, you listened to Elijah, but now I’ve sent my son. Listen to him.”
The disciples had obeyed Moses and Elijah but now they were told to listen to Jesus because the law and prophets point to him. Mohler emphasized that Scripture is the avenue to hear Christ today.
“In worship we come and hear Christ. We have no access to hearing Jesus except through the Scriptures.” Mohler said, “The singular voice of God is the voice of Christ. The only Jesus that saves is the one testified by Moses and Elijah and revealed in Scripture.”
Honoring the Work of Craig Parker
Mohler honored longtime administrator Craig Parker at a luncheon on Wednesday for his many years of service at Southern Seminary, calling Parker “one of God’s most faithful servants.”
Parker retired last summer after having served as senior vice president for institutional administration since 2017. Overall, Parker had served at SBTS in various roles since 2011 and will remain as special assistant to the president.
Prior to his time at Southern, Parker served 15 years as senior administrator at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, with noted pastor Adrian Rogers—one of the most important figures in the conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“The privilege of working with a man like Craig Parker is rare and tremendously appreciated,” Mohler said. “He is a man of unquestioned personal integrity. Every ‘I’ is dotted, every ‘T’ is crossed. He is a man of incredible dignity. I never had to worry that Southern Seminary is going to be embarrassed by Craig Parker.
“He has made an incredible impact on this school in ways that are both visible and invisible. I was able to sleep at night knowing that all that was in his care was safe. That’s a tremendous gift. I also enjoyed working with him as a personality. It is an outgoing, warm, receptive kindness.”
Parker’s wife, Selwyn, has also served the seminary community for many years as a discipleship group leader for Seminary Wives Institute and volunteering weekly in the Southern Exchange.
Mohler presented Parker with a page from the 1611 King James Bible. Mary Mohler also honored Selwyn Parker, who has served the women at Southern for many years through mentoring and Seminary Wives Institute as well as volunteering for The Southern Exchange.
“She will continue in these roles,” said Mary Mohler. “We’re glad they aren’t going anywhere.”
Parker attributed his work at Southern to God’s grace.
Said Parker: “My parents put extreme importance on the virtue of humility. It was not uncommon in our home to hear one of them say, ‘If you see a turtle on a fencepost, you know that someone put him there.’ In this particular moment, I feel very much like a turtle on a fencepost.
“If there is anything good that comes from our lives, it’s the Lord Jesus, and he has overrun our lives with abundant grace in the places he has sent us and the people we’ve been able to be with have just been incredible, but none like this place and none like this people. I want to thank the Lord for what he has done for us.”
Benton Distinguished Service Award
Robbie and Sarah Brown received the annual Bruce W. Benton Distinguished Service Award at a dinner on Wednesday. The Browns have been heavily involved at Southern for more than a decade, contributing annually at the Heritage Golf Classic, establishing the Hispanic Initiative in 2017.
Bruce Benton, who died in 2001, served as a trustee at SBTS and has been described as a man of “strong character and commitment”. He is a native of Hamilton County, Tennessee. He attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and served in the Tennessee Army National Guard and was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant. From 1953 until 1974 he was associated with Benton Oil Service, Inc. as vice president and secretary. From 1974 until 1997, he was president of United Pump and Controls, Inc.
Donors from across the United States traveled to SBTS to attend Heritage Week where they met with faculty members, attended chapel services with students, and sat in on a live recording of The Briefing with President Mohler. Donors also attended a traditional dessert fellowship in the president’s home. As in years past, Mary Mohler prepared a variety of homemade desserts which are loved and highly anticipated by all.
“Heritage Week gives us the opportunity to accomplish two important objectives with our donors,” said Edward Heinze, vice president for institutional advancement.
“It is our opportunity to express our appreciation for their financial partnership in keeping our degree programs accessible and affordable for our students. It also allows us to demonstrate our stewardship of their gifts by enabling them to interact with our students and faculty, worship with us in chapel services, and enjoy our campus community during the best time of the year—right in the middle of the fall semester.”