Ozolins Joining OT Department at Southern Seminary May 11, 2022

Kaspars Ozolins has been appointed as the newest member of Southern Seminary’s biblical studies department.

Ozolins, who will serve as assistant professor of Old Testament interpretation, previously worked as a research associate at Tyndale House in Cambridge and comes to Southern Seminary with a dynamic educational and teaching background.

Ozolins received his PhD from UCLA and has lecturing and teaching experience at numerous colleges and seminaries including the University of Cambridge, The Master’s Seminary, and UCLA.

Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler said Ozolins’ background makes him an invaluable addition to the seminary’s Old Testament faculty.

“Kaspars Ozolins is an outstanding addition to the Southern Seminary teaching faculty,” Mohler said. “He brings outstanding academic credentials to his teaching, and he is an unreservedly conservative Old Testament scholar and teacher of the Scriptures.

“His experience at Tyndale House and in major universities, ranging from the University of Latvia to Cambridge University and UCLA will serve our students well. He and his sweet family will be warmly welcomed into the Southern Seminary family.”

Ozolins said he considers it a great privilege to join the Southern Seminary faculty.


New Testament Scholar Joins Boyce College Faculty May 10, 2022

Boyce College has hired Daniel Stevens as assistant professor of New Testament interpretation.

Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler said Stevens is an excellent addition to the faculty.

“Daniel Stevens is an outstanding young scholar whose commitment to Christian scholarship is stellar and whose dedication to teaching young ministers and college students is clear,” Mohler said. “His education and experience are outstanding.

“We are very glad he is joining the Boyce College and Southern Seminary faculty. His doctoral work at the University of Cambridge and his research at Tyndale House speak loudly of his commitment to Christian scholarship and teaching.”

Stevens, who will relocate to Louisville and join the faculty this fall, is excited to train students to love and serve the church.

"I am thrilled to be starting this new position at Boyce College,” he said. “All my previous studies have been with the goal to help others better understand the New Testament, and I am humbled by the opportunity to help guide the students of Boyce and through them to serve the church.”


Southern Seminary Celebrates the Memory of Beloved Trustee and Longtime Associate April 29, 2022

A soldier, physician, baseball-lover, and friend, Southern Seminary leaders remember Dr. Howard Pope as a godly man who lived with abiding joy and faithfully served his Lord.

Southern Seminary honored Pope’s memory during a special service April 26 in Broadus Chapel. Pope died in January at age 84 in Arizona.

Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. spoke of Pope as a friend and cherished member of the Southern family.

“We are gathered to honor one of our own,” Mohler said. “To know Howard Pope was to know one who had never met a stranger. He invested his interest in me, in Mary, in Southern Seminary, in his church, and in the Bible.

“Howard was a Christian man who grew in his faith and commitment to Christ. His devotion to Christ became a hallmark of his life and he translated that into gospel friendship, and it showed in his Christian joy.”

Pope’s life displayed love for his wife, Harriet, and his children: Mary Sue, Thomas, and Jennie, and his grandson, Jonas. Above all, he loved his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Said Matthew Hall, Provost of Southern Seminary, “This is a service of Christian worship and of grieving the loss of one we have come to miss so dearly. But more than that, this is a service of Christian joy, hope in the resurrection, and the joy that comes from knowing the reality and certainty of eternal life in Christ Jesus.”


SBTS Trustees Elect Faculty, Approve Annual Budget, and Honor Outgoing Board Members at Spring Meeting April 26, 2022

In their spring meeting Monday evening, trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary unanimously approved a $50.4 million operating budget for 2022-2023, as enrollment and finances remain very strong.

The new budget represents a $2.3 million increase (4.8 percent) from the budget trustees approved last year. Over the past two budget cycles, Southern’s budget has grown by more than $13 million despite challenges from the recent pandemic.

“God continues to bless Southern Seminary and our churches continue to send us the most amazing students,” SBTS President Albert Mohler said.

“This is a great era in the history of this seminary and college and we are pressing ahead. Our board of trustees and faculty and staff work together for the best theological education we can provide our students for a lifetime of faithful ministry. We pray to bear this great mission with faithfulness until Jesus comes.”

The new budget is just right for the current economic circumstances, seminary leaders said.

“We believe this is a conservative budget,” said Jon Austin, senior vice president for institutional administration. “We are mindful of the economic state of not only the country, but the world, so we want to navigate that and be very mindful of that.”


SBTS Encourages Mission-Centric Work during Great Commission Week April 19, 2022

Southern Seminary encouraged students, faculty, and staff to get involved in missions both locally and globally during the school’s Great Commission Week April 12–14.

Southern filled the week, themed “Send Me!”, with events designed to present options and information for the many students considering full-time missions after graduation.

Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board, kicked off the week with a chapel message on the need for the gospel in solving the world’s greatest problem.

“Lostness is the world’s greatest problem.” Chitwood said, “We know the solution to the world’s greatest problem, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we have been called to share it.”

Paul Akin, Dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, interviewed Chitwood in The Bookstore at Southern on the mission of SBTS and the IMB. Southern has proudly partnered with the IMB for 160 years and the seminary is more mission-centric than at any other time, Chitwood said.


Four Vital Truths Are Foundational to Human Flourishing, Anderson says in Gheens Lectures March 18, 2022

Important ground on our culture’s understanding of human nature has been lost in the last decade, Ryan T. Anderson told the Southern Seminary community during the annual Gheens Lectures March 16-17.

Truths that were self-evident a generation ago now require an academic response in the public sphere, Anderson argued.

“None of our grandparents needed academic arguments about the dignity of human life, the value of life in the womb, the nature of marriage as a union between a husband and wife, the importance of our embodiment as male or female, or the free exercise of religion,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we now have to actually make arguments and engage in a political process to see that our laws reflect the truth.”

Anderson is founding editor of Public Discourse and president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. He is author of five books, including  When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment and Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom.


SBTS Student Maintains Contact with Family in Ukraine March 11, 2022

For Vladyslav “Vlad” Hruntkovskyi, a Southern Baptist Theological Seminary student from Ukraine, the country’s current crisis is having a huge impact both on his family and his own personal ministry journey.

Hruntkovskyi grew up in Ukraine with his two brothers while his parents served in full-time ministry in the country. Hruntkovskyi has been in constant contact with his family receiving updates about the crisis in his homeland.

Pictured: Vladyslav Hruntkovskyi (far right) with his family on his last visit to Ukraine.

“The reality of this conflict is very severe and very real,” Hruntkovskyi said. “What is being portrayed in the American media is true; it’s not an exaggeration. It is as bad as they say it is."

For the last several years, Hruntkovskyi’s father has served as one of the pastors of an evangelical church called Irpin Bible Church, a few miles away from Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv. The church is connected in partnership with a sister church – Carmel Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C.

Hruntkovskyi described Kyiv as central to a lot of the violence taking place in the country, and this forced his parents into making a difficult decision about whether to evacuate to the western part of the country, or stay and try to assist people near the church.

With bags prepared and preparations made to leave, Hruntkovskyi said one last visit to the church building caused his father to change his mind.

“By the second day of the conflict, there were a bunch of people who needed help, leadership and shepherding,” Hruntkovskyi said. “Through literal tears, my Dad and my Mom both decided to stay and help the flock.”

Relief efforts from the Irpin Bible included assisting in the evacuation process for those fleeing as well as providing church members and civilians with food and shelter in the church basement.

The church was even able to hold a small worship service the first Sunday after the conflict began.

During the first days of the conflict, several of Irpin’s pastors were out of the country attending an event at their sister church in North Carolina.

While the pastors worked on finding a way back to Ukraine, Hruntkovskyi said his father took the lead on leading the service, which included a time of worship, a short sermon and the baptism of two believers who delayed their evacuation from the city for this specific purpose.

After several days staying and ministering in the city, Hruntkovskyi’s parents, along with a majority of the church congregation fled to the Western part of Ukraine.

“They did everything they could, but they had to leave for the sake of their own lives and the lives of their close ones as Eastern Ukraine is literally on fire,” Hruntkovskyi said.

He continued to say that the current crisis is a pivotal time for the Church in Ukraine, as well as the surrounding countries in Eastern Europe.

“For Christians (in Eastern Europe), this is the greatest of our commitment to the Gospel of Christ we have ever seen, but right now the church is being strengthened,” Hruntkovskyi said.

“I know for a fact that the light of the Gospel shines in the darkest of dark. Right now I think the Church is planting the seed of Gospel in Ukraine and in all of Eastern Europe.”

Hruntkovskyi was planning to finish his Master of Divinity degree at Southern and return to Eastern Europe to do ministry. He said the current conflict has caused him to consider working for a Christian humanitarian organization where he can use his seminary knowledge to minister physically and spiritually.

Although he says he has not completely processed all that has happened yet, he is thankful for the grace of his professors and the prayers and support from people all over the world.

“Being here and powerless, I’ve realized that ultimately God is my refuge and He is my stronghold,” Hruntkovskyi said. “Ultimately in those dark moments, we can count on Him and we can ask and petition for others.

“This (prayers and support from fellow Christians) is a testament to the unification that we have in Christ. The fact that we are truly brothers and sisters and we are united by His blood. When one member of the family hurts, all members of the family hurt and are grieving with him. I know the Church is strong and God is powerful and He is acting even in the midst of this.”

Current updates from Hruntkovskyi and ways to pray for the crisis can be found on his Instagram page.


Editors' note: This article was originally published at Baptist Press.


Muslim Conversion Stories are Powerful Tools in Evangelism, says Islam Scholar in Jenkins Center Lecture February 23, 2022

Alienation from family and friends is a real threat to those who leave Islam, scholar David Bertaina said at the Jenkins Center’s academic lectures held February 11–12.

Bertaina equipped the Southern Seminary community to reach their Muslim neighbors by surveying and drawing application from historic examples of Muslim converts to Christianity. Bertaina is professor of history at the University of Illinois Springfield.

“Anyone who converts to Christianity is going to be giving up a number of resources in their life,” Bertaina said. “They're going to be feeling that they need somebody to be there for them.”

Learning from past Muslim conversion stories can help Christians relate better to converts out of Islam. The apostle Paul’s Damascus Road experience provided one of the perfect templates for conversion. But conversions, especially from Islam, are often more complicated, said Bertaina.

“For someone who converts, that doesn't mean, ‘well, I'm a Christian, that's the end of it.’ No, they have to live with implications with their family,” Bertaina said. “They have to live with implications with their friends and with their community.”

A prominent convert Bertaina noted was Abd al-Masih—a ninth-century Muslim convert who participated in raids against Christianity before he became a monk and eventually faced martyrdom.


Allen Challenges Southern Baptists to Make Five Healthy Choices for a Stable Future in McCall Leadership Lecture February 17, 2022

Southern Baptists are facing numerous challenges that must be met by faithful leadership and an unyielding commitment to confessional and biblical fidelity, Jason Allen told Southern Seminary students Thursday morning in the Duke K. McCall Leadership Lecture at Alumni Memorial Chapel.

At the moment, there are critics on every side of the Southern Baptist Convention and challenges galore, he said, but this is not the first time the denomination has faced serious battles without and within. Allen, a two-time graduate of Southern Seminary, is president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City.

“I believe that Southern Baptists are a great people,” Allen said. “I believe they are congregated in great churches and formed together in a great convention. Yes, God will discipline us from his Word and by his Spirit and even through instruments and means beyond our control like the secular media as they press in on our hypocrisies and on our failures.

“But at our heart, as a convention of churches, as a denomination, I believe Southern Baptists are a great people and to serve them is a glorious opportunity and a sweet stewardship. I say that I am an optimist about the Southern Baptist Convention, and I say that not half-heartedly. To be an optimist in these days might make one a contrarian but I believe that is a position we can take and should take.”

Allen said Southern Baptists must make five healthy choices if they will remain faithful. The denomination must:

  1. Choose biblical conviction over cultural accommodation

The SBC, her leaders, and churches, must not be ambiguous on major ethical issues of the day, even if it may seem the denomination is overreacting or comes off as alarmist to the watching world.


Union with Christ is the Christian Doctrine of Salvation, Noted Theologian Says in Annual Norton Lectures February 14, 2022

Union with Christ is central to the doctrine of salvation, theologian Fred Sanders told the Southern Seminary community at this year’s Norton Lectures Series, held February 9-10 in Heritage Hall.

Sanders gave three lectures on “Union with Christ, Systematically Considered.” Sanders is professor of theology at Biola University and the author of numerous books, including The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything and The Triune God.

In the first lecture, Sanders argued that union with Christ is a unifying theme of soteriology, even though it is sometimes underplayed in contemporary theology.

“While it makes sense to speak about the Christian doctrine of God or the Christian doctrine of the incarnation,” Sanders said, “it seems somehow less believable in the contemporary world to assert that there is such a thing as one single Christian doctrine of salvation.

"It is the powerful, scriptural, and spiritual drive toward union with Christ that gave rise to the creeds."

Being prominently present in the early church councils and in the writings of reformer John Calvin, union with Christ is fundamental to any unified Christian teaching on salvation, he argued.

In the other lectures, Sanders examined the doctrine biblically and theologically.


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