When Jesus’ disciples asked him why he sometimes taught in pithy stories known as parables, the Lord gave them a surprising, if not slightly shocking answer: he taught in parables so that some would have their spiritual eyes opened to the truth of God’s kingdom and that others would have their hearts and minds blinded to it.
Such is the nature of those stories Jesus tells, which is, of course the outcome of engaging all of Scripture—some hearts are softened toward the kingdom, others are hardened.
In his new book, Tell Me the Stories of Jesus: The Explosive Power of Jesus’ Parables (Nelson), Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. says in this way the parables “sneak up on Jesus’ hearers” with incredible power that makes clear truths about the kingdom of God.
In a little over 200 pages, Mohler examines many of the parables—most of which are found in the first three books of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, and Luke—showing how they announce the arrival of God’s kingdom in all its glory, communicating both God’s grace in salvation to the found and his wrath in judgment to the lost.
“To be human is to be a storied creature in a way no other creature is,” Mohler said. “Dogs don’t know stories, they don’t tell stories; human beings tell stories—it’s a part of understanding who we are. Parents tell stories to their children and then those stories get repeated about the identity of a family. Churches and other organizations have stories.
“To be human is to have a story. To be human is to understand ultimate truth in terms of a story. The Bible is much more than a story, but it’s never less than a story. There is a storyline that goes from Genesis to Revelation and there are stories in the Old Testament. Jesus perfected the use of parables in teaching, and they are particular kinds of stories; they are stories that sneak up on us, they are stories that explode and disclose truth in an unbelievable way.”
SBTS Adds Will Bishop to Department of Biblical Worship June 27, 2022
SBTS has named Will Bishop as associate professor of church music and worship. Bishop brings
a background of local church ministry and advanced training in theology to Southern’s
Department of Biblical Worship.
“I love the curriculum at Southern that is designed to equip students with the musical,
theological, and ministerial needs of today's churches.” Bishop said. “My background is in local
church ministry, and my passion is preparing students for a lifetime of faithful and fruitful
service to our churches.”
Bishop has served as Assistant Professor of Worship Leadership at Mississippi College since
2017. He currently serves as the interim worship pastor at Parkway Baptist Church in Clinton,
Mississippi. Bishop also earned his Doctor of Musical Arts from New Orleans Baptist Theological
Seminary in 2015.
A major reason he decided to join the mission at Southern is his respect for the faculty at SBTS
and its commitment to training ministers for the church.
“I admire the faculty at Southern.” Bishop said. “I love that the faculty here are both scholars
and active leaders in local churches. I believe it is vital that our students are taught by faculty
who are modeling faithful gospel ministry by serving in their churches.”
Churches need theologically rich worship ministries and Southern is committed to training their
leaders. Hiring Bishop is a good step in ensuring that worship leaders who train at Southern
receive the highest quality instruction in musical, theological, and ministerial needs.
Paul Akin, Provost of SBTS, is thrilled to see Bishop take on this new role.
“Will Bishop brings a strong Southern Baptist pedigree and proven experience as a college
professor and leader in local church.” Akin said. “He has a heart to train and equip the next
generation of worship leaders for the local church.”
The Bishops will relocate to Louisville. Bishop, his wife Jamie, and his four children; Caroline, Jackson, Carter, and Julianne.
Pastor, author, and noted podcast co-host J. T. English has been named associate professor of Christian Theology at Southern Seminary.
An alumnus of SBTS, English currently serves as lead pastor of Storyline Church in Arvada, Colorado, a role he will continue while teaching at the seminary. English formerly served as chief of staff to seminary President Albert Mohler.
English possesses a significant background in theological education in service of the local church, having previously served as an adjunct professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and as founder of the Village Church Institute, which offers discipleship and theological training through the local church.
“J. T. English combines a deep theological scholarship with a very keen understanding of the culture and contemporary challenges of ministry,” Mohler said. “He is a leader in shaping thought and in influencing pastors in his generation.
“J. T. is a proud son of Southern Seminary, and we are very proud to welcome him to the Southern Seminary faculty. It was my honor to work with J. T. when he served as chief of staff in my office, and it will be a joy to be teaching colleagues together.”
English is thrilled to join the work of SBTS in equipping the next generation of graduates to love and serve local churches.
SBTS Adds Veteran Pastor-Theologian to Faculty June 23, 2022
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has appointed veteran pastor-scholar Mitchell L. Chase as associate professor of biblical studies.
Chase, who brings years of experience as a pastor, teacher, and author, will join Southern’s faculty after previously serving as an adjunct professor at Boyce College since 2014. Along with a prolific academic career, Chase has served as the preaching pastor at Kosmosdale Baptist Church in Louisville since 2012.
Southern carries out its mission of equipping leaders for the local church through the faithful ministry of pastor-scholars such as Chase. Seminary President Albert Mohler said he is pleased to be adding a scholar of Chase’s caliber whose ministry feet are firmly planted in the local church.
“Mitch Chase is a remarkable combination of pastor and scholar,” Mohler said. “His pastoral heart is evident in the congregation he serves and in the devotion of its people. He is strong in the pulpit and he is strong in the study.
“I've had the great opportunity to work with Dr. Chase on a major work of biblical scholarship and ministry. I found him to be a wonderful Christian whose character is evident, whose scholarship is stellar, and whose gift of teaching is first rate.”
SBTS Honors Mary Mohler and SWI for 25 Years of Faithfulness, Names Two Distinguished Alumni June 17, 2022
In February of 1997, Mary Mohler met with a few wives of Southern Seminary faculty members to share a burden and a vision that wives of seminary students needed to be encouraged and trained, and in the fall of that year, Seminary Wives Institute (SWI) was born.
On Wednesday, during the annual seminary luncheon at the SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California, Southern Seminary honored Mary Mohler, wife of SBTS President Albert Mohler, for 25 years of faithfully serving seminary families through SWI.
Tanya York, a longtime SWI faculty member and wife of Theology School Dean Hershael York, attended that initial meeting and has watched SWI grow into one of the seminary’s most vital and cherished ministries.
“Mary shared with us a passion, a burden, and a vision,” York said. “Mary’s passion very quickly spilled over to a willing group of participants from within Southern’s faculty wives as they joined her in investing in educating and equipping student wives in the service of the kingdom.
“God has used this incredible and fruitful ministry to equip, fuel, and inspire hearts, homes, churches ministries and lives in general.”
Hershael York, who teaches theology at SWI, said male students often stop and extol the incredible impact and encouragement SWI is having on their wives.
SBTS Names Paul Akin as New Provost June 16, 2022
Leaders at Southern Seminary didn’t have to look far to find the school’s new provost. Seminary President Albert Mohler announced on Wednesday at the school’s annual luncheon at the SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California, that Graham School Dean Paul Akin has been named Southern’s provost and senior vice president for academic administration.
Mohler said seminary leaders searched widely to fill the office, but it became clear that the best candidate was already in the SBTS family. Akin has served as dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Ministry since 2019.
Current Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration Matt Hall was recently elected provost of Biola University an evangelical school located a few miles from the site of the SBC’s 2022 annual meeting.
“Faculty affirmation of Paul Akin in this role was simply overwhelming and I understand why,” Mohler said.
Referring to the historic Seminary Hymn, “Soldiers of Christ in Truth Arrayed,” Mohler said: “I am very much looking forward to working with Paul in this new role. He and his wife, Kari, are a wonderful gift to Southern Seminary. As we meet to part and part to meet, the parting and the meeting are both very special, so it is my great joy to make this announcement.”
Akin was 12 years old when he first came to Southern Seminary as his father, Danny Akin, was elected as dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration. That was in 1996. Akin surrendered to ministry as a young man and received both his MDiv and PhD from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where his father serves as president.
Now, Danny Akin and Paul Akin become the first father and son to serve in the same leadership role at Southern Seminary, covering two generations of Southern Baptist life.
“It’s a bit surreal,” Paul Akin said. “I’ve been able to watch what the Lord has done at Southern over the last 30 years. It’s been fun for me to have a front-row seat and also to watch from afar what the Lord has done.”
Akin brings extensive missions experience to his new role.
Following seminary, Akin served for many years on the mission field, working among Muslims in Africa and the Middle East, training missionaries in both local church and seminary contexts. In all, Akin served alongside mission teams in 40 countries. He was later team leader for new missionary sending with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
When Mohler approached him about the new role, Akin said he immediately sought the counsel of his father, who served in a similar role at Southern for many years in the 1990s and early-2000s.
“Any time you step into any kind of role like this you feel inadequate,” Akin said. “You don’t feel like you belong. One of the first things I did when I had this conversation with Dr. Mohler was to call my dad and ask for his wisdom, insight, and counsel. He was very encouraging. He told me, ‘Paul, if the faculty believes you can serve in this role, then I think you can do that.’
“Dr. Mohler was also very encouraging, saying I had been mentioned by several faculty members. I’m just trusting the Lord, taking it day by day, trusting that the Lord is the one who equips us and gives us the strength we need to do these kinds of roles.”
For the time being, Akin will also remain as dean of the Graham School until a successor can be found, likely by fall, Mohler said. Akin and his wife, Kari, a Louisville native, have four children.
Mohler highlighted the importance of selecting the right candidate for this vital role at the seminary.
“This role is so important at Southern Seminary and beyond,” Mohler said. “Academics are at the very heart of what we do. The credibility of our academic program, the strength of our faculty, the faithfulness of the curriculum, what happens in the classroom is of crucial, crucial importance. This role is so vital. I eagerly look forward to Paul Akin assuming this new role.”
Boyce College Launching Cross-Country Team Next Fall June 2, 2022
Boyce College is expanding its athletic offerings this fall to include a cross-country team. The addition of men’s and women’s cross-country will be the school’s fourth athletic program and testifies to significant growth within Boyce College athletics.
“The fielding of a cross-country program represents the next move for Boyce athletics,” said Dustin Bruce, Boyce College dean.
“With the growth of the sport among traditional high schools, smaller Christian school, and home school co-ops, cross-country is a natural fit for our constituency. Our current student athletes make a significant contribution to our student experience and campus culture, and I look forward to welcoming a new team into the Boyce athletics program.”
The team will have spots for up to ten men and ten women and plans to begin competition this fall.
The past year witnessed major success for Boyce athletics as the basketball team achieved a top- 10 ranking in the NCCAA Division II, and the Boyce men’s soccer team made history by winning the school’s first regional championship. Adding the cross-country team is the next step in furthering Boyce’s success in the classroom and on the field.
Michael McCarty, athletic director at Boyce College, is excited for the new athletic offering that Boyce students will use to spread the gospel.
“Boyce Athletics is thankful to the trustees, Dr. Mohler, and Dr. Bruce for allowing us to add the men's and women's cross-country team this fall,” said McCarty.
“The cross-country team will give our students another exciting way to participate in intercollegiate sports while at Boyce College. The cross-country team will continue our mission of using Boyce athletics as a platform for ministry and the advancement of the kingdom of Christ in the lives of the student-athletes and those we meet while running. I am excited to see all the Boyce runners out competing this fall.”
Twenty-five years ago, Southern Seminary was, to put it mildly, a radically different place than it is in 2022.
Albert Mohler had been president for only four years and though a theological reformation was underway, it was far from complete. Moderate faculty members were leaving, and turmoil filled the air on campus and the newspapers off it. An atmosphere of uncertainty and change forced Mohler to wrestle with a giant question: Will any stalwart evangelical scholar be willing to leave his current—presumably peaceful—place of service and enter the “white-knuckle” struggle for the theological soul of Southern Seminary?
To join Southern Seminary’s faculty with the ground trembling so violently beneath the institution was to take an epic risk.
“I understood we had to get an entirely new faculty; it was do or die,” said Mohler, whom the trustees elected as Southern’s ninth president in 1993, and tasked him with
leading the school out of the Egypt of liberalism into the Canaan of its orthodox confessional heritage.
“The big question was who was going to come and teach here. I knew what I believed the Lord would do here, but it took other people who would leave other good places to come and take a risk.”
Tom Schreiner and Hershael York were willing to take the risk; they were willing to help the seminary recover the theological and ministry vision of its founding faculty.
Schreiner is one of the most highly regarded New Testament scholars in the evangelical world. Schreiner left the faculty of Bethel Theological Seminary, where he had served for a number of years, to link arms with the burgeoning reformation at Southern.
York is a faithful longtime pastor and noted homiletician. He has written several books on preaching, teaching, and homiletics.
Last week, the two marked 25 years of faithful service at Southern Seminary during a faculty luncheon honoring professors with five, 10, 15, 20, and 25 years of service. With the dust from that early theological controversy having long ago settled, both Schreiner and York continue going strong as leaders of Southern’s faculty. Schreiner serves as the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and York is the Dean of the School of Theology and the Victor and Louise Lester Professor of Christian Preaching.
Seminary graduates must give themselves unreservedly to preaching God’s Word because Scripture is the chosen hammer God puts in the hands of called ministers, one he uses to shatter savingly the hard hearts of sinners, Southern Seminary Albert Mohler told graduates Friday at the school’s spring commencement.
Preaching on the call of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah from Jeremiah 23:23-29, Mohler said faithful proclamation of God’s Word is both a hammer and a fire that breaks and burns and transforms the hearts of sinners.
“Just imagine the heat of a million million suns put in your mouth,” Mohler said. “For what is the infinite power of the Word of God? The exhortation of this faculty and my exhortation to you today is give yourselves unreservedly to the ministry of the Word in such a way that the fire the Lord puts in your mouth will come out as fire.
“God’s Word will come forth from your mouths and through your ministries like a hammer that shatters a rock. . . . God puts words in our mouth and those words are like fire that burn in us. Here is the mandate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: Go set fires. Open your mouth and let fire come out.”
In the seminary’s 229th commencement, 347 students received degrees for the spring semester with 262 walking across the stage on a warm, picture-perfect spring day. Boyce College held its graduation Friday morning (see below), Southern’s commencement was held in the afternoon, one Mohler called the warmest ceremony during his presidential tenure. In total, Southern Seminary and Boyce College—the seminary’s undergraduate school—cumulatively conferred 526 degrees.
Curtis Solomon, director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition (BCC), has been named assistant professor of Biblical Counseling at Boyce College, bringing extensive academic and local church experience to Southern Seminary’s undergraduate school.
Solomon received his MDiv, ThM, and PhD from Southern Seminary and is the author of a brand-new book, Redeem Your Marriage: Hope for Husbands Who Have Hurt through Pornography (New Growth Press).
Solomon is well-acquainted with the Boyce College student body, having served for several years as an adjunct professor. He will serve as program coordinator for Biblical Counseling at the college and will remain in his position with the BCC.
Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler said Solomon is the right leader for Boyce’s counseling program because he brings both strong academic acumen and significant pastoral experience to his new position.
“The need for biblical counselors and for pastors skilled in counseling from Scripture is great,” Mohler said. “I am so thankful for the addition of Curtis Solomon to the Boyce College faculty, both as teacher and as coordinator of this program. He combines years of pastoral ministry with academic credibility.
“I am very proud of this program at Boyce College, and thankful God has provided a key leader and teacher to prepare the next generation of Boyce College students.”
Solomon said his new role allows him to serve a vibrant community he long ago grew to love.
“The community at Southern is the primary draw for me,” Solomon said. “From the students to the staff, faculty, campus police, administrators, and everyone else, the people make this place special. My new role will give me even more opportunity to sharpen and be sharpened by the campus’s vibrant spiritual life.”