Mohler addresses Chick-fil-A controversy at CNN Belief Blog July 31, 2012

At CNN’s Belief Blog, R. Albert Mohler Jr. addresses the controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A and its president Dan Cathy. Mohler is president of Southern Seminary.

The controversy began when Cathy revealed to a Baptist newspaper that his views of marriage reflect those of the Christian tradition. To a different media outlet, he disclosed his concern for a generation with the “audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.”

Shortly after, city officials in Boston, Chicago and New York publically condemned Cathy’s statements and vowed to oppose the expansion of Chick-fil-A in their respective cities.

“The threats made against Chick-fil-A betray the principle of religious liberty that is enshrined within the U.S. Constitution,” writes Mohler, in Belief Blog's "My Take" column. “Civic officials in some of the nation’s largest and most powerful cities have openly threatened to oppose Chick-fil-A for the singular reason that its president openly spoke of his Christian convictions concerning marriage.”

Mohler warns that these threats could extend to other groups who oppose same-sex marriage, groups with long and important histories in these cities.

“When [New York City Council Speaker Christine] Quinn, one of the most powerful officials in New York, announces, ‘I do not want establishments in my city that hold such discriminatory views,’ is she also threatening the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox Jewish synagogues and Islamic mosques?

“They, along with evangelical Christian denominations, openly oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage. Cathy’s statements are completely consistent with his own denomination’s statement of faith and official declarations. He was speaking as a Christian and as a Southern Baptist, and he was speaking as a man who does his best to live and speak as he believes,” Mohler writes.

He concludes by calling the aggressive opposition to Chick-fil-A a sign of the length to which those who oppose the Christian perspective of marriage are willing to take the debate.

“This country is deeply divided over the issue of same-sex marriage, and the controversy over Chick-fil-A is an ominous sign that many of the proponents of same-sex marriage are quite willing to violate religious liberty and to use any and all means to silence and punish any individual or organization that holds the contrary view – a view sustained by the voters in 29 states by constitutional amendments.”

Mohler's entire article, “Chick-fil-A controversy reveals religious liberty under threat” is available at Belief Blog.

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Southern Seminary to offer hybrid modular courses beginning fall 2012 July 27, 2012

Beginning fall 2012, Southern Seminary will offer select courses in a new, more flexible format: hybrid modular courses.

The seminary has offered modular courses in "J-Terms" for several years, enabling students to take a whole course in five days. Hybrid modular courses blend online course lectures and online discussion forums with an intensive on-campus experience.

The result is that now, in only eight days, students can earn up to 13 hours of on-campus course credit. Since more than half of the hours in each course involve face-to-face instruction at Southern’s campus in Louisville, Ky., all 13 hybrid modular hours count as on-campus credit. What this means is that a student can earn all required on-campus hours for a master's degree in only two eight-day segments. Students can earn the remainder of the degree through online courses, at extension centers or at the seminary’s campus in Louisville.

The fall 2012 inaugural offering of hybrid modular courses includes a blend of theology, biblical studies, practical ministry and even one language course.

Courses offered the first half of this fall's hybrid modular week (Oct. 3-6):

  • Christian theology I with Bruce Ware;
  • Elementary Greek with Rob Plummer;
  • Introduction to the New Testament I with Bill Cook; and
  • Leadership field education I with Troy Harrison.

Courses offered the second half of this fall's hybrid modular week (Oct. 8-10):

  • Theology and practice of leadership with Michael Wilder;
  • Introduction to church history I with Shawn Wright;
  • Team ministry relations with Troy Temple; and
  • Islam and the Christian mission with J. Ryan West.

Hybrid modular on-campus weeks begin on the Wednesday of fall reading days (in fall semester) and spring break (in spring semester) each semester, and they conclude the Wednesday after, respectively. The online component of each course begins and ends at the beginning and end of the semester. Current students interested should register for hybrid courses through their Moodle portal (here). Those not yet enrolled at Southern Seminary, can do so here. When registering, students should look for these courses:

  • 27060 MD Christian theology I;
  • 22400 MD elementary Greek;
  • 22200 MD introduction to the New Testament I;
  • 45190 MD leadership field education I;
  • 40080 MD theology and practice of leadership;
  • 25100 MD introduction to church history I;
  • 42210 MD team ministry relations; and
  • 32990 MD Islam and the Christian Mission.
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SBTS to host Marriage in Ministry conference, August 2012 July 11, 2012

On Aug. 23, Southern Seminary will host a daylong conference, Strengthening Your Marriage in Ministry, sponsored by The John and Debbie Bethancourt Lectures for Ministerial Ethics and Family Life.

Conference discussions will explore practical aspects of strengthening marriages and families with special attention given to men and women preparing for gospel ministry.

This free conference is open to all students, student-spouses, faculty and staff of Southern Seminary and Boyce College. Regularly scheduled SBTS and Boyce College classes on Thursday, Aug. 23, will meet in the chapel for the duration of class. Alumni and their spouses will be welcome to attend through our Alumni Academy program. Details on Alumni Academy are available here.

Conference events will take place Thursday, Aug. 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Guest speakers will include Dennis Rainey, president and CEO of FamilyLife, C.J. Mahaney, leader of Sovereign Grace Ministries, Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for Academic Administration at Southern Seminary, and R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary

Childcare will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis for a small fee. Childcare reservations can be made online here, or by contacting the Health and Recreation Center.

Attendees wishing to take advantage of a free lunch from Chick-fil-A must register by scanning their Shield Cards at the August 16 and 21 chapel services. The scan machines will be set up in Alumni Memorial Chapel before and after chapel services.  Students, student-spouses, faculty and staff may also sign up for lunch by stopping by the Office of Event Productions anytime prior to the first day of the event. After August 20, attendees are welcome to register for the lunch but there will be a $2 fee per person.

Students interested in attending the conference may earn course credit by enrolling in course #45910, under the instruction of Randy Stinson, dean of the School of Church Ministries at Southern Seminary. The course itself will last two days (Aug. 23-24) and will satisfy the core course requirements for 35040 Leadership and Family Ministry. While conference attendance is free, enrollment in course #45910 will incur standard tuition and fees.

 

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SBTS alumnus writes about God’s action as basis for Christian maturity at Desiring God Blog July 10, 2012

Jarvis Williams, associate professor of New Testament and Greek at Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Ky., and a four-time graduate of Southern Seminary, recently published an article about the pursuit of practical maturity in the gospel at the Desiring God Blog.

In the article, "The Foundational Action of God," Williams, who is also a visiting professor at Southern, proposes that Christians' obedience results from God's action in them and for them through Christ. Focusing on Romans 8:29-30, he explains that God's purpose to conform believers to the image of his Son will assuredly come to pass. He writes:

God’s design for us to pursue practical maturity in the gospel didn't begin after we believed the gospel. Rather, it began when he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to believe the gospel in order that we would become conformed into the image of Christ.

Williams' entire article is available at the Desiring God Blog.

Additionally, Williams will be a plenary speaker at the 2012 Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis, September 28-30. The conference will also feature SBTS Dean of the School of Theology Russell D. Moore as a plenary speaker. More information is available at the conference website.

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In CT, Moore comments on the presence of the American flag in churches July 5, 2012

Russell D. Moore contributes to a discussion about the display of American flags in church sanctuaries in Christianity Today magazine's July-August issue. Moore is senior vice president for academic affairs and dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary.

CT's "Village Green"  opinion forum asks Moore, Douglas Wilson and Lisa Velthouse, "Should Churches Display the American Flag in Their Sanctuaries?" Moore answers, "Fly it responsibly."

While he sympathizes with those who fear the flag's presence could invite the idolatry of  nationalism, Moore suggests that the gospel rightly orients patriotism. He writes:

Patriotism is dangerous, yes, but that's because it's a strong natural affection that's rooted in something good and right. When rightly applied, patriotism is akin to what God commands us to do in showing honor to our father and mother.

When we honor our country, we are recognizing that we are not self-made or self-situated. We are here, placed by God in a particular plot of land because of the sacrifices of forefathers and foremothers we haven't known. We have a responsibility to our neighbors of all faiths for the generations to come. Patriotism can become idolatrous, sure. So can family affection. But the gospel doesn't evaporate family love. It just re-narrates it, and situates it in a right context, in which we seek first the kingdom of God.

The same is true for the flag.

The full forum, including Wilson's response, "Just don't do it," and Velthouse's response, "It's all right by me," is available here.

 

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SBTS, Boyce College to offer course credit through D6 conference July 3, 2012

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will partner with the D6 conference to offer course credit toward a bachelor’s or master’s degree. D6 is a national conference that “helps churches develop and sustain an integrated discipleship strategy that combines the relationship and influence of the church and the home.”

Students may attend the D6 pre-conference and conference in Dallas, Sept. 26-28, 2012, complete the course requirements after the conference and receive three hours of undergraduate credit, or up to six hours of master’s-level credit.

Master’s-level courses offered at the 2012 D6 conference in Dallas through Southern Seminary:

  • 35040MD Leadership and Family Ministry (3 credit hours, must attend the entire pre-conference and the conference);
  • 45260MD Discipleship and Family Ministry (3 credit hours, must attend the entire pre-conference and the conference)

Bachelor’s-level courses through Boyce College, Southern Seminary's undergraduate school:

  • CE431MD Family Discipleship (3 credit hours, must attend the entire conference)

To defray the cost of tuition, D6 offers a discounted rate for students who enroll in these courses: $119 for the entire pre-conference and conference in Dallas (together, the pre-conference and conference cost $448 at full price). Current Boyce or Southern students should register for the course(s) through Moodle, just as any other fall course. Non-Boyce or -Southern students should register through this link. After registering, the D6 conference discount code is available by emailing academicrecords@sbts.edu

Students taking any of these courses must plan to gather for a “Family Ministry Dialog” with Randy Stinson, dean of the School of Church Ministries at Southern, and Timothy Paul Jones, SBTS associate professor of leadership and church ministry and editor of The Journal of Family Ministry and Discipleship, on Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Dallas-Frisco Convention Center. Directions to this required gathering are available from the Southern Seminary admissions booth at any time during D6 registration or during the D6 pre-conference.

A blog post by Derek Brown at Family Ministry Today provided the above information.

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SBTS doctoral student reflects on Luter’s election in BP Ledger

In the July 2, 2012, edition of BP Ledger, Baptist Press published Toby Jennings' thoughts about the recent election of Fred Luter as Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president. Jennings, an African-American, is a Ph.D. candidate at Southern Seminary.

In the article, dated June 19, 2012 (the day that Luter was elected), Jennings offers several points of reflection: 1) he compares Luter with Protestant reformer Martin Luther, referring to each of them as pioneers for gospel change during their respective eras; 2) he notes the differences between Luter's election and Obama's election as the first African-American United States president; 3) he explains how the election shows that SBC members trust in a power beyond themselves; 4) he highlights Luter's election as fruit of repentance in the SBC; and 5) he says that the election is a sign that the sovereign Lord Jesus Christ directs his church (and the SBC) to act justly.

Jennings states the following:

In reflection on this historic SBC election, I certainly have no desire to herald any distinct ethnicity as being in need of discriminating attention to any disregard of another; for the tapestry of humanity portrayed in Revelation 5:9 by its Creator trumps any creaturely attempt at any such preference. The significance, however, of a body of God's image-bearers appointing as [its] leader one who bears a minority ethnicity from the overwhelming majority of them evidences so much worthy of commentary.

The entirety of Jennings' reflection is available at the Baptist Press website.

 

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SBTS student becomes first African-American executive at KBC June 29, 2012

The Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC) Mission Board appointed Curtis Woods as associate executive director for convention relations, during a special-called meeting, Tuesday, June 26, 2012.

According to KBC President Adam Greenway in a convention news release, Woods, a doctoral student at Southern Seminary, will be the first African-American to hold an executive-level position in an “old line” Southern Baptist state convention.

“I congratulate Kentucky Baptists and Curtis Woods on his election as an associate executive director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr, president of Southern Seminary. “This is a sign of God’s favor and it makes a wonderful statement about Kentucky Baptists and the determination of Baptists of this state to reach its people and to be a state convention that looks like Kentucky.”

Since 2006, Woods served as Baptist campus minister at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Ky. He completed a master of theology at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas before enrolling in Southern Seminary’s doctor of philosophy program in biblical spirituality. Woods and his wife, Tracy, live with their children in Frankfort, Ky.

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Jones talks about books excluded from New Testament canon June 28, 2012

Following his previous First Person article at Baptist Press, Timothy Paul Jones, associate professor of leadership and church ministry at Southern Seminary, takes another look at how the church determined the writings that make up the New Testament, this time examining books excluded from the canon.

In his most recently published article, "Why baptized lions & talking crosses didn't make it into your Bible," Jones establishes the early church's standard of accepting as authoritative only writings that came from those who had eyewitness encounters with Jesus (or those closely associated with them). He writes:

From the first century forward, Christians viewed testimony that could be connected to eyewitnesses of Jesus as uniquely authoritative. The logic of this standard was simple: The people most likely to know the truth about Jesus were either eyewitnesses who had encountered Jesus personally or close associates of these witnesses.

So, although Christians wrangled for some time about the authority of certain writings, it was something far greater than political machinations that drove these decisions. Their goal was to determine which books could be clearly connected to eyewitnesses of Jesus.

Jones specifically discusses the Gospel of Peter and the Acts of Paul as examples of books that the church did not recognize as authoritative because they seemed not to represent eyewitness testimony of the life and ministry of Jesus. He concludes:

So what do these texts tell us about why certain ancient texts became authoritative among Christians? Even among the earliest Christians, testimony that could be connected to eyewitnesses of the risen Lord was uniquely authoritative. That's why the supposed "lost Scriptures" were lost – or, more precisely, why they were not preserved with the writings that appear in your New Testament today.

In the article, Jones also notes that from the second century onward, Christians never questioned 19 of the books that constitute what became the official New Testament canon. They debated about the inclusion of several books – such as the letters of Peter, John's second and third letters, the letters of James and Jude and the Book of Revelation – beyond the second century, but by the end of the fourth century, Jones explains, Christians were almost in universal agreement about the 27 books.

Jones' entire article is available at the Baptist Press website, where his previous article – "How were the books of the New Testament chosen?" – is also available.

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At SBTS luncheon, Mohler announces alumni of the year and reaching an unreached people June 22, 2012

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, announced G. Bryant Wright and John A. Folmar as distinguished alumni of the year at the Southern Seminary alumni luncheon during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), June 20, 2012.

Wright, a master of divinity (M.Div.) graduate from Southern in 1979, is senior pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., and the current two-term president of the SBC. Folmar, who earned his M.Div. from Southern in 2003, is pastor of United Christian Church of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Mohler also presented to the alumni and friends at the luncheon that Southern Seminary has identified the Meskhetian Turks as a people group to target with the gospel of Jesus Christ. At the 2011 annual meeting of the SBC in Phoenix, Ariz., Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board (IMB), and Wright jointly called on Southern Baptist churches and institutions to “embrace” an unengaged, unreached people group for the purpose of spreading the gospel to the nations.

The IMB, an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, defines “unreached” as a people group with less than two percent evangelical population. “Unengaged” qualifies a people group with no identifiable Christian presence and for whom no mission strategy exists.

The Meskhetian Turks are, despite their name, not from Turkey. Instead, the Meskhetian Turks are a people of about 300,000 who live in the Russian Federation. World War II scattered the Meskhetian Turks and they have since remained an especially elusive group to engage, with a number of attempts seldom progressing beyond the information gathering stage in the past.

Louisville, Ky., the location of Southern Seminary, houses a community of 60 to 80 Meskhetian families (somewhere between 500 and 800 individuals). Efforts to reach the Meskhetian Turks will begin by reaching out to the Louisville community, Mohler explained.

At the luncheon, Mohler outlined the seminary’s adoption and implementation of a comprehensive master plan to repurpose and refocus the seminary’s physical campus. During the next 10 years, the master plan will dissolve $52 million in deferred maintenance and position the campus for immediate and future structural and financial sustainability. Phase one will repurpose the historical Mullins Complex as a state-of-the-art facility for Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern Seminary.

During its annual meeting, the Executive Committee of the SBC approved a $20 million loan for phase one of the SBTS master plan.

Phase two will advance the learning community of Southern Seminary, primarily through renovation of the James P. Boyce Centennial Library. Phase three, without requiring any firm commitments, anticipates future development.

Closing his address at the luncheon, Mohler surveyed the happenings around Southern Seminary during the past year. He also explained the increasing need for faithful theological education in days that require well equipped pastors, missionaries and teachers.

“We’re up to this,” he said. “But we need each other. It is moving to imagine how the lives gathered together, gather to become a part of that long line of faithfulness that came before us at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.”

Mohler affirmed Southern Seminary’s commitment to seriousness of her task, the urgency of her vision and the credibility of her alumni.

The commitment, however, is only a means to end. He explained: “We have a job to do, and it’s not done when we graduate; it’s not done when we retire; it’s not done until Jesus comes. It’s not done yet.”

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