Graduates Will Impact the 22nd Century, Mohler Tells Record Class of Fall SBTS Graduates December 12, 2022

If Jesus tarries, the latest graduates of Southern Seminary will have ministries that will impact this century but will also reverberate into the 22nd century, President Albert Mohler said Friday morning at the seminary’s fall commencement.

“These graduates graduating right now, if the Lord grants them a normal tenure of ministry, that will bring many of them right up to the brink of the 22nd century,” Moher said. “It’s a pretty amazing thing. We’re celebrating all of that today.

“We are celebrating these graduates, but we are worshiping the one, true, living God. He has done this.”

SBTS graduated 275 students in its 230th commencement with 180 graduates walking the stage to receive their diplomas, both record numbers for fall graduation. Southern’s commencement presented a powerful picture of the global work of the gospel, with graduates from numerous countries including Colombia, Argentina, the People’s Republic of China, Nigeria, the Dominican Republic, Korea, Chile, and South Africa, among others.

Drawing on Mary’s Magnificat in Luke 1, particularly verse 48 (“for he who is mighty has done great things for me”), Mohler said it is important to see that the focus of the graduates’ work is the future. Today’s graduates will impact tomorrow and will carry out gospel work for decades into the future in local churches and on the mission fields of the world.

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Wells Wins Coach of the Year, Leads Boyce Volleyball to First National Tournament November 16, 2022

In her first year as Boyce Volleyball Head Coach, Jackie Wells won the Division II Mideast Region Coach of the Year award. Wells and the Bulldogs will compete in the program’s first national tournament this Thursday in Kissimmee, Florida.

“I am humbled and thankful,” Wells said. “This award is a testament to the accomplishments of the entire Boyce Volleyball Program and the years of dedication from the coaches and players who have poured into it over the past seven seasons.”

Wells led the Bulldogs to their best season yet, earning a number one seed in the Mideast Regional Tournament—where they lost a close match to Welch College in the championship.

Dustin Bruce, Dean of Boyce College, is proud of the team’s success.

“The Boyce Bulldogs volleyball team has modeled the disciplined pursuit of excellence we encourage our students to pursue in every area of life,” Bruce said. “We could not be more proud of their accomplishments this year and wish them well as they compete in the national tournament.”

Michael McCarty, Director of Athletics for Boyce, is thrilled at Wells’ immediate achievements on and off the court.

“Coach Wells has continued to grow our program and has done a fantastic job leading these young ladies in volleyball—but more importantly, spiritually and academically,” McCarty said. “Coach Wells deserves the Mideast Coach of the Year award as she has helped lead the volleyball team to their first winning record in team history, first one-seed at the NCCAA regional tournament, and first National tournament berth since the program launched in 2016.”

The Coach of the Year award and the Bulldog’s winning season continues a pattern of accomplishments for Wells. Attending Arlington Baptist University, she helped her team win two NCCAA DII Regional Championships and qualify for three National Championship tournaments. She was recognized as a scholar-athlete and four-time All-American by the NCCAA. In her junior and senior seasons, she won Region MVP and was named to the National All-Tournament Team.

After graduating from Arlington Baptist University, Wells moved to Louisville in 2020 to attend Southern and is currently pursuing an MA in Biblical Counseling.

“Regardless of our results in the National Tournament, I will finish out this season as a proud coach of truly amazing athletes,” Wells said. “I am thankful to play a small role in the growth of our athletic program and to represent Boyce College from the sidelines, and I am praying for the Lord to be glorified in the seasons to come."

The Bulldogs will face Bob Jones University in the NCCAA Division II National Tournament this Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in Kissimmee, Florida.

If you are interested in participating on the Boyce Volleyball team please fill out the recruit me form and contact Coach Wells directly at boycevolleyball@sbts.edu.

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“All Preaching Is Persuasion,” Helm Says in Annual Mullins Lectures October 31, 2022

A faithful preacher’s role is to move from exegesis to persuasive exposition, to communicate biblical truth with clarity, and to bring credibility as a godly man to the pulpit, David Helm told attendees of the 2022 E.Y. Mullins Lectures, held October 26–27 at Southern Seminary.

Helm is senior pastor of Christ Church Chicago and author of numerous books, including 1 & 2 Peter and Jude, The Big Picture Story Bible, One-to-One Bible Reading, and the 9Marks volume, Expositional Preaching.

The theme of the Mullins lectures was “Persuasive Preaching.” Helm also serves as board chairman for the Charles Simeon Trust, a ministry that encourages expository preaching and conducts preaching workshops worldwide.

“The preacher, in his preparation, is always moving from the biblical text to presenting what he has learned,” Helm said. “Only after the hard work of exegesis and theological reasoning can the preacher turn to having a word for today.”

Helm said all sermons should make an argument to persuade. The preacher isn’t simply presenting information but is calling for an obedient response. To provoke a response, however, the sermon must present a persuasive argument that is clear and rational.

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Fall Trustees Meeting: Board Commends Mohler’s Stance on Meaning of Pastor in BF&M 2000 October 13, 2022

At their annual fall board meeting Monday, trustees at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary unanimously adopted a resolution commending the public stance seminary President Albert Mohler took on the office of a pastor during the 2022 SBC annual meeting in Anaheim.

Chairman of the Board Joshua Powell at the podium in front of the trustees

In June, Messengers at the SBC’s annual meeting in Anaheim, CA, considered precisely what the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 means when it refers to the office of a pastor. Mohler argued that the SBC’s confession of faith unequivocally reserves the office, function, and title of pastor to biblically qualified men.

Mohler served on the committee that drafted the BF&M 2000. On the convention floor in June, Mohler told messengers that there was no debate or confusion among BF&M 2000 committee members as to what is meant by the term “pastor:” it is an office which Scripture defines clearly in terms of qualifications and limits to men.

The trustees’ resolution commends Mohler’s stance. It concludes: “It is further resolved that this Board encourages The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary administration and faculty to continue its theological training with this stated conviction—graduating both men and women for service to the church, but with men alone reserved for the office and function, and thereby title of pastor.”

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Dignity Is the Missing Mark of Modern Leadership, Mohler Says at Leadership Briefing September 30, 2022

The missing mark in much modern political leadership is dignity, Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler argued Thursday at the annual Leadership Briefing in Heritage Hall at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In this year’s Leadership Briefing, Mohler examined the life and leadership of the recently deceased Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen served as England’s monarch for 70 years and died on September 8 at age 96. In his address, titled “The Mandate of Dignity: Queen Elizabeth II and the Missing Element of Modern Leadership,” Mohler held up Elizabeth as a leader whose lengthy reign exemplifies unwavering dignity at the highest level of leadership.

The Leadership Briefing is Mohler’s annual series of biographical addresses on renowned leaders throughout history who’ve left an indelible mark on societies, countries, industries, and organizations. Past addresses are available at the Leadership Briefing Archives.

Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral was one of the most highly watched events in history, drawing the undivided attention of Americans whose country is founded upon the rejection of the English monarchy in favor of a constitutional republic. Yet, Americans are fascinated by the English monarchy as evidenced by the massive number of people in the U.S. who mourned the queen’s passing and watched her funeral with rapt attention.

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Baptism Teaches Deep and Vital Truths for Christian Living, SBC President Tells SBTS Students September 23, 2022

Baptism is not merely a ceremony, but a critical event in the Christian life that teaches important theological lessons for daily living, SBC President Bart Barber said Thursday in chapel at Southern Seminary.

Preaching from Romans 6:1-7, Barber said Paul intended for believers to think deeply and reflectively on their baptism as it points to the death of the old man and the new life has come to a Christian through faith in Christ. Barber has been pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas, since 1999 and is serving his first term of SBC president, having been elected at the annual meeting last June in Anaheim.

“Your baptism is supposed to teach you something,” Barber said. “You’re supposed to study and learn from it deep truths that guide you from your birth as a disciple throughout your life as a disciple.”

Barber outlined three main lessons a believer’s baptism teaches that help a follower of Christ live the Christian life faithfully.

  1. A lesson of death

Baptism is a picture of death and burial, Barber pointed out, an illustration of a Christian’s dying to sin. Just as Jesus died at Calvary, so is the old man in the Christian nailed to the cross. Thus, the believer has died to sin, Barber said.

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Seminaries are Textual Communities, Vanhoozer Says in Annual Norton Lectures September 19, 2022

A seminary should foster a culture of theological reading that will help form Bible-literate disciples, theologian Kevin Vanhoozer told the Southern Seminary community at the annual Norton Lecture Series, held September 12–14 in Heritage Hall.

Vanhoozer is Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and is the author or editor of more than 20 books, including Is There a Meaning in this Text?The Drama of DoctrineFaith Speaking Understanding: Performing the Drama of Doctrine; and Biblical Authority after Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity. 

He delivered three lectures on “Mere Hermeneutics: A Proposal for Transfiguring Biblical Interpretation.”

Battles over what it means to be biblical have raged throughout church history. But Vanhoozer’s proposal of “Mere Hermeneutics” attempts to unite Christians over a shared understanding of biblical interpretation. The interpretive key, according to Vanhoozer, views the redemptive storyline of Scripture as the primary frame of reference for interpreting the Bible.

“We as Bible readers not only need to test the spirits but we must test the hermeneutics,” said Vanhoozer. “The Bible is a human instrument in what is ultimately divine discourse, and we should approach it that way. The Bible is God’s personal address to his chosen people and contains everything we need to know as God’s people to become a holy nation.”

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Gospel Light Shines Bright on My Old Eastern Kentucky Home September 14, 2022

Most people know by now that on July 27, 2022, historic levels of rain fell on Southeastern Kentucky taking the lives, homes, and livelihoods of many.

As an Eastern Kentucky native, born and raised in Red Fox, Kentucky, my heart continues to ache with much grief as I witness the magnitude of the loss and trauma that so many image bearers in the region continue to experience because of the flood.

Adding to this grief is the fact that some of the hardest hit areas in the region were in my native Knott County where businesses, homes, churches, and entire communities are badly damaged or destroyed, and where the loss of life was the highest. Adding insult to injury is the fact that I personally know people who suffered some degree of loss. As I wrote in the immediate aftermath of the flood, the financial, material, physical, and spiritual needs in Eastern Kentucky are immense.

Firsthand Witness

Since writing that article, I traveled with SBTS colleague Justin Irving to Knott County and witnessed the devastation firsthand. We also had the privilege and honor to take a financial gift from our church, Sojourn Midtown, as well as gift cards from many colleagues at Boyce College and Southern Seminary. We also took select items to help meet some of the material needs in the community.

We were able to partner with my home church, Hindman First Baptist Church (HFBC), to help restore the flood-damaged home of my mother in the faith, Ms. Ella Prater. During our short time there, we saw both the heartbreaking devastation in the community and the amazing and faithful work HFBC is doing to meet both the material and the spiritual needs in the community under the leadership of both Dr. Mike Caudill, senior pastor of HFBC—affectionately known by his parishioners and the community as Brother Mike—and with his wife, Alice Caudill. I was a member of HFBC from 1996 to 2001.

Brother Mike, an MDiv graduate of SBTS, has faithfully served HFBC for 34 years. During his ministry there, the gospel of Jesus Christ has spread like wildfire throughout many parts of Knott County, across Eastern Kentucky, and beyond as they have produced many disciples of Jesus Christ, disciples who have, by God’s grace, reproduced themselves across the region and across the globe.

In the flood’s immediate aftermath, HFBC—which averages around 150 to 200 in attendance each Sunday—served more than 9,000 meals to local residents, many of whom had lost everything. With the help of generosity from church members and volunteers across the state, HFBC served around 1,500 meals a day for several days following the flood.

In addition to working tirelessly to lead HFBC to meet the community’s physical needs, Brother Mike and Mrs. Caudill continue to serve alongside fellow members to take material goods to community residents who are unable to come to the church to receive them. Members of HFBC have also taken the love of Jesus and the light of the gospel message to specific communities in the area.

Preaching the gospel, teaching the gospel, applying the gospel, obeying the gospel, and serving the community in practical ways in the name of Christ because of a love for the gospel is nothing new for HFBC—as I have personally experienced.

Personal Journey: Grace Germinates Among the Weeds of Tragedy

Since its inception, fervent gospel ministry has been the church’s mission and witness in the community. I experienced this ministry firsthand both before and after I became a Christian as a 17-year-old. Like many family members in my childhood and early teenage years, Brother Mike, Mrs. Caudill, the Prater family, and many of the saints at HFBC played a major role in saving my life.

As I was coming to the end of my senior year of high school in the spring of 1996, I had no direction, no purpose, no realistic goals. Worse, I didn’t know Jesus. Our community experienced a tragedy that changed the direction of my life forever and changed the lives of many young people and adults. A dear high school friend, Merri Kathryn Prater, a fellow senior and fellow athlete, was involved in a terrible car crash and suffered a severe brain injury. Merri Kathryn was a Christian, and her mother, Ella Prater, my senior English teacher, and Merri Kathryn’s father, Willie Prater (now with the Lord), were also Christians. The Praters were members at HFBC.

During her stay in the hospital after her accident at what was then known as the University of Kentucky Medical Center, several of her classmates and members from HFBC visited Merri Kathryn and sought to comfort and support the family. Brother Mike and numerous church members were a constant presence at the hospital. They showed their faith by loving, caring for, comforting, and weeping with the family. They also loved, comforted, and wept with many of us young people, who ranged in age from early teens to late teens; we quite simply couldn’t understand or handle the trauma of seeing a classmate and dear friend whom we loved and a family whom we loved going through this pain and potential loss.

Even as a non-Christian, I was amazed by the consistency with which Brother Mike, his wife, and the saints at HFBC shared the love of Jesus with the hundreds of young people at the hospital and with other supporters from the community who were there. I was taken by the compassion and love they showed the Prater family and concerned friends. I was also filled with wonder by the deep faith they demonstrated as they encouraged us young people to place our faith in Christ and to pray fervently for Merri Kathryn. In the foyer of the UK Medical Center in 1996 I, still an unbeliever, gathered in circles of intense prayer for my friend, sang hymns, and heard for the first time the famous hymn “Amazing Grace” as members of HFBC led in worship there in the foyer.

Those moments shook me to the core of my being in deep and meaningful ways, and they changed me forever.

To my dismay, however, Merri Kathryn never gained consciousness, and she never left the hospital. On April 3, 1996, she went to be with Jesus. The funeral was held at HFBC. I was a pallbearer. Brother Mike preached a sermon called “Three Cheers and a Savior”—Merri Kathryn was both a Christian and a cheerleader.

That sermon and the entire service changed my life direction in every possible way.

Brother Mike preached the gospel clearly and beautifully celebrated Merri Kathryn’s life. Many friends, family members, and teammates spoke of Merri Kathryn with beauty and grace. Mrs. Prater eulogized her daughter with profound eloquence, supernatural strength, deep faith, and with the joy of the Lord in a manner that left us completely mesmerized.

Merri Kathryn’s funeral was filled with sorrowful joy and with lament, but not with despair as the Prater family and HFBC’s saints grieved with gospel hope. I encountered the greatness of God for the first time at that funeral, as I heard Brother Mike preach the gospel with stunning clarity, and as I heard for the first time those words of the famous Rich Mullins song, now forever engraved on my soul as the choir and congregation sang, “Our God is an awesome God, who reigns in heaven above, with wisdom, power, and love, our God is an awesome God.” Merri Kathryn’s life—one so well lived, her friendship, her church (which eventually became my church), and her family (which eventually became my adopted spiritual family) truly saved my life.

The night Merri Kathryn died I received the sad news along with my baseball teammates after a game. My teammates and I, many of whom were not Christians, erupted with loud cries of lament, shock, devastation, and anger—at God. A teacher at my high school, also a member of HFBC, had attended the game. She came onto the field, placed her hand on my shoulder as I groveled in the dirt near first base with anger, confusion, and uncontrollable pain, and she exhorted me: “Jarvis, you must put your hope and your faith in God.” Several of us heard that HFBC was open. Someone told us Brother Mike and other church members were willing to talk to us.

I joined a few teammates and some parents for the short drive from the baseball field to the church. There, one of my teammates, an underclassman and HFBC member, sat down beside me in a church pew, opened John 3:16, and read it aloud; he explained, “Jarvis, this is what life is all about.” Brother Mike likewise explained the gospel with great clarity to the young people and parents who had gathered there.

That night, one of my teammates, Mark Combs, gave his life to Jesus. He and I were good friends in high school, eventually became college roommates, and we attended Southern Seminary together. Pastor Mark is a two-time Southern Seminary graduate, and he currently serves as pastor of Summit Church in Hazard, Kentucky, a congregation he and his wife planted. Pastor Mark and Summit Church are likewise doing great work to help flood survivors in the region.

Grace Breaks Through

I didn’t give my life to Christ on the night Merri Kathryn died. But, on April 22, 1996, during a baseball game, I asked Brother Mike’s son, Casey, a teammate, if he would ask his father to give me a call because I wanted to talk to him about becoming a Christian. After our game that night, Brother Mike called, explained the gospel with great power, and led me to personal faith in Jesus Christ. Approximately two years later, Casey went to be with the Lord.

Shortly after my conversion, Brother Mike baptized me, and I became a member of HFBC. In the ensuing years, the body of HFBC walked with me through Christian discipleship and helped me discern a call to ministry. That body licensed me into the ministry, ordained me into the ministry, supported me financially so that I would be able to attend college and seminary, supported me spiritually, and they walked with me in numerous joys and trials of life.

Brother Mike and HFBC ministered to and loved my family well, and multiple family members gave their lives to Christ because of the direct impact of Merri Kathryn, her family, Brother Mike, Mrs. Caudill, and the saints at HFBC. Brother Mike and Mrs. Caudill, the Prater family, and so many others at HFBC adopted me as their spiritual son.

I say it again: That body truly played a major role in saving my life!

The Light Still Burns Bright in Eastern Kentucky

So, as I have heard, read in the news, and have seen firsthand how Brother Mike, Mrs. Caudill, and the saints at HFBC are responding with grace, love, compassion, mercy, and with the hope of the gospel during this time of crisis in the region, I’m reminded that the gospel’s light continues to shine bright on my old Eastern Kentucky home through the ministry of HFBC and through the kindness and generosity of so many residents there.

It’s deeply gratifying to see the work that the Lord is doing through HFBC and to see the impact of the generosity and sacrifices of so many people from different parts of the country. However, neither they nor other churches in the area can do this work alone.

The path ahead for Knott County and for the rest of the Southeastern Kentucky region so devastated by the flood is long and difficult. Residents there will need help for many days, months, and years to come. There are myriad needs in the area because the devastation is so widespread. There are financial needs, educational needs, material needs, mental health needs, and a need for able-bodied people to help with physical labor. Two of the most important material needs are money and workers to help with cleanup. There are also many spiritual needs.

Want to Help?

For members of our the SBTS and Boyce College community who may be interested in helping, there are abundant opportunities to share the love of Christ as you show the love of Christ in the communities which the flood waters ravaged.

I respectfully ask members of our seminary community to consider prayerfully creative ways you and your churches can help the region over the long term. We can partner with trusted pastors in the region and travel to the area to help these pastors and their churches on the ground in the work of loving our neighbors as ourselves and sharing the love of Jesus. We can join with the many faithful churches there who continue to shine the bright light of the gospel on my old Eastern Kentucky home.

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“Treasure the Old Testament,” Betts Tells Faculty and Students in Annual Faculty Address September 7, 2022

While many Christians wonder how the Old Testament remains relevant, believers should study, teach, and preach it because it is God’s Word and is vital for the Christian life, professor T. J. Betts urged in Southern Seminary’s annual Faculty Address held August 31 in Broadus Chapel.

“My hope is for my students to see the treasure that is the Old Testament and experience the joy of teaching and preaching it,” Betts said. “There’s one God, one Savior, one Bible, and one faith. The Old and New Testament testify to this truth.”

Betts offered six reasons for New Testament believers to study, teach, and preach the Old Testament. Betts serves as professor of Old Testament interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

1. The Old Testament is the Word of God.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and carries divine authority. Betts noted that Jesus and the New Testament authors expanded on—rather than replacing—the inspired message of the law and prophets.

“The unbroken testimony of the apostles is that the books of both testaments are special revelation in their entirety—the inspired word of God,” he said.

2. The Old Testament is God’s revelation of himself.

From cover to cover, the Bible teaches that God wants us to know him through his Word, Betts pointed out.

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SBTS Installs New Provost and Graham School Dean September 2, 2022

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary installed new leaders in two of the school’s most important offices this week in separate ceremonies in Alumni Memorial Chapel, with the provost appointment making Southern Baptist history.

Jeremy Pierre was installed as dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Ministry in a chapel service on Aug. 30 and Paul Akin was installed as provost and senior vice president for academic administration of the seminary on Thursday morning.

Paul Akin’s appointment is historic: he follows in the footsteps of his father, Daniel L. Akin, who served as provost at Southern Seminary from 1996 to 2004. They are the first father-son tandem in Southern Baptist Convention history to serve as provost of the same institution. Today, Daniel L Akin is president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, an office for which he left Southern Seminary in 2004.

Seminary President Albert Mohler called it a “blessed continuity.”

“There is nothing like this in Southern Baptist history,” Mohler said. “The only parallel to this I know is in the 18thand 19th centuries at Princeton Theological Seminary where there were fathers and sons that were serving in such similar capacities with names like Alexander and Hodge. This is glorious.

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