The church’s compromises in pursuit of power or influence will threaten its mission in future generations, said Russell Moore in a chapel service at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, Feb. 26.
“The integrity of the church is not dependant on the approval of whomever we believe might have enough power at the moment,” said Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and formerly the dean of Southern’s School of Theology. “The integrity of the church conserves the mission of the church for generations yet to come.”
Preaching on the narrative about Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20, Moore said the situation of the people of God in the 8th century B.C. has much to teach the people of God in the 21st century A.D. Hezekiah was a king of Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel, more than a century before it was deported to Babylon. And unlike most Israelite kings, he was a righteous one.
When the kingdom of Judah was threatened by an Assyrian army in 2 Kings 18-19, Hezekiah responded righteously, falling before the Lord in the temple and praying for deliverance. After God rescued Judah from the Assyrian invaders, Hezekiah became deathly ill and again turned to God, who dramatically healed him.
Yet in 2 Kings 20, when envoys from Babylon came to see Hezekiah after hearing about his miraculous recovery, the once-righteous king responded differently. He gave them a tour of all the worldly wealth of his kingdom, seeking to impress them enough to form a geo-political alliance that would protect Israel from another Assyrian attack. Hezekiah’s desire to protect the people of God was a good one. But he chose to do it the world’s way instead of God’s, Moore said. And that was a crack in the kingdom’s integrity that would lead to its downfall.
“Hezekiah’s values are the same as the Babylonians’ values. They want to think in terms of wealth and power, so that’s exactly what Hezekiah shows them,” Moore said. “This is a kind of boasting in the Lord according to the criteria of the nations and the world, not according to the criteria of the cross.
“What Hezekiah has forgotten is that the sign of God’s presence and the sign of God’s power was not in his strength, but in his vulnerability. Hezekiah had encountered most visibly the Lord when he was under siege and when he was on the precipice of death.”
The people of God make the same mistake today, according to Moore, when they think they need to prove their strength to those in power. When the prophet Isaiah warns Hezekiah that all his kingdom’s prosperity will one day be carried off to Babylon, the king considers this a good thing, since he will have guaranteed peace and security for his day, regardless of what happens in the future.
Hezekiah’s admission is tragic, Moore said. The same man who once tore down the pagan high places now does what the pagans did: sacrifice his children’s lives for present prosperity. The church today faces the same crucial choice: political power today or spiritual integrity tomorrow? As the church is forced to grapple with the destructive effects of sin both within and without, Moore said, it must first decide what it considers most important.
“Jesus went to the cross on charges — at least partly — that he violated the temple of God. Why? Because Jesus saw the temple very differently than did Hezekiah,” Moore said. “Hezekiah saw power, bigness, winning. Jesus saw a place that represented the holiness of God and a place where the nations — the most vulnerable and overlooked people — could come into the presence of God.”
Once seminary students are serving in ministries all over the world, they will encounter horrifying sinful realities and dysfunction, Moore said, not just in the world outside, but in the church itself. And the lesson for them is the same as it was for Hezekiah nearly three millennia ago: Don’t leverage your integrity in the future for comfort and political cachet in the present.
“For some of you, you will be willing to be silent when it comes to the sin of partiality and racism because if you talk about it, they’ll say you’re a liberal. And some of you will be willing to be silent when it comes to issues of sexual immorality, because if you talk about them, they’ll call you a fundamentalist,” Moore said. “And some of you will be cowed into being silent when it comes to issues of the sexual abuse of children and the most vulnerable people within the church of Jesus Christ, because there will be some who seem to be so powerful that they will not be questioned.
“But do not be mistaken: You’re doing all those things before the face of God, and you’re doing all those things before people who are overhearing you and asking, ‘Is the gospel of Jesus Christ simply another way of winning at life, or is the gospel of Jesus Christ a transcendent word from heaven shutting every mouth before the judgment seat of Christ?’”
Audio and video of the chapel message will soon be available at equip.sbts.edu. Moore is on campus for the biannual Norton Lectures, which he delivered at 4 p.m. on Tuesday and will conclude at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Wednesday. You can watch the lectures at sbts.edu/live.
Statement from R. Albert Mohler Jr. on Sovereign Grace Churches February 15, 2019
As many are aware, I have recently apologized and asked forgiveness for serious errors I made in how I responded to concerns that were raised about Sovereign Grace Churches and CJ Mahaney.
In 2013 I was part of a statement supportive of CJ and dismissive of the allegations and concerns raised regarding SGC’s handling of sexual and domestic abuse claims. This was motivated by several factors. At the time the allegations surfaced, I did request that CJ and the ministry participate in an independent investigation, and I was pointed to the investigation that Covenant Life Church had commissioned. I did not realize until this past year that SGC and its leaders had not participated in that investigation, nor was I equipped to know the shortcomings of how that investigation was conducted. I wrongly believed that an investigation had been done, and relied on that assurance and the court dismissal of the civil suit, along with my personal knowledge of CJ, when I issued my statement of support in 2013. I deeply regret this. I frankly was not equipped to sift through the allegations and did not grasp the situation, and I am responsible for that and for not seeking the counsel of those who were.
The ‘things revealed’ by God are the only source for Christian knowledge and education, said Mohler at spring convocation February 5, 2019
God’s revelation about himself through Scripture is the primary basis for all Christian knowledge and education, said R. Albert Mohler Jr. at spring convocation for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Feb. 5.
Mohler, who is president of Southern Seminary, delivered a convocation address titled “The Things Revealed Belong to Us and To Our Children Forever.” Preaching from Deuteronomy 29:29, Mohler said Christians recognize two central tenets about human knowledge, both found in this verse: Human beings cannot know everything (a realm of knowledge called the “secret things” that only God knows), and humans can know and treasure the things God has chosen to disclose to them (called the “things he has revealed” in Deuteronomy).
Southern Seminary announces an endowed professorship in honor of late professor T. Vaughn Walker February 4, 2019
The president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, R. Albert Mohler Jr., announced Saturday a new endowed chair in honor of the school’s late professor T. Vaughn Walker. Mohler, who made the announcement as part a February 2 funeral service for Walker in Alumni Memorial Chapel, said the seminary will fund a teaching position as the T. Vaughn Walker Professor of Christian Ministry.
Walker, the first African-American to become a full professor at any Southern Baptist seminary and who taught at Southern Seminary for 33 years, died January 26 at age 68. He also graduated from the seminary with a master of divinity degree in 1987.
SBTS Professor T. Vaughn Walker, the first African-American full professor at a Southern Baptist seminary, dies at 68 January 28, 2019
Professor and pastor Thomas Vaughn Walker, the first African-American to become a full professor at any Southern Baptist seminary and who taught at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary beginning in 1986, died yesterday in Louisville, Kentucky. He was 68.
“T. Vaughn Walker will go down in history as one of the most important seminary professors of the last century in the Southern Baptist Convention,” R. Albert Mohler Jr., who is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in a statement. “He became the first African-American full professor at any seminary in the Southern Baptist Convention.
"He came to Southern Seminary first as a student, having already completed graduate work all the way to his doctorate. He was quickly recognized for his scholarship and heart for ministry and he became a member of the faculty of the Carver School of Church Social Work, and he later served in two other graduate schools of Southern Seminary. He pioneered in scholarship and leadership through the development of the Black Church Leadership program.”
Why earn a second Ph.D.? SBTS Islamic studies professor says it will ‘help and empower’ his students January 24, 2019
A professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary graduated last month with a doctor of philosophy degree — the second Ph.D. he has earned in the past five years. Ayman S. Ibrahim, Bill and Connie Jenkins Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, earned the degree from the University of Haifa in Mount Carmel, Israel, a leading university in the fields of Arabic and Islamic studies. He earned his first doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, in 2014.
In addition to teaching, Ibrahim leads the Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam, a resource center on the campus of Southern Seminary intended to establish a scholarly, Christian perspective of Islam.
Ibrahim, who is already an Islamic studies scholar, said he earned the second terminal degree not only for academic inquiry or professional advancement, but also to aid his students — many of whom will work in ministries focused on reaching Muslim people groups with the gospel.
A former professor and three-time alumnus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Walter Jackson, died January 11 at the age of 85. Jackson was on the faculty at Southern Seminary from 1982-1996, during which he served as professor of ministry and director of supervised experience in ministry.
A signatory of the seminary’s confession of faith, the Abstract of Principles, in 1982, Jackson earned a bachelor of arts from the University of Richmond in 1955 before earning his bachelor of divinity (1959), master of theology (1961), and doctor of philosophy in church history (1968) from Southern Seminary. He retired from the school in 1998.
"Walter Jackson was a Christian scholar and a true Christian gentleman, and he served for so many years on the faculty of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, shaping a generation of young ministers,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary. “Walter and Jackie were a wonderfully happy couple and it was always an encouragement to be around them. The prayers and thoughts of gratitude from the Southern Seminary family are with Jackie and the Jackson family in these days.”
Schreiner ‘honored’ to write 1 Corinthians commentary for the Tyndale New Testament series January 17, 2019
Sixty years after noted New Testament scholar Leon Morris wrote his commentary on 1 Corinthians in the Tyndale New Testament Commentary series, Thomas R. Schreiner is contributing his own volume on the book in the same series. Schreiner noted that he was heavily influenced by the late Morris’ work and said he learned much from the Tyndale series as a young Christian. Schreiner is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“When I was asked to write in the Tyndale series, I felt very happy. It brought back so many warm and wonderful memories from when I was a young student. [Back then], I asked people, ‘What commentaries should I read to help me understand the Bible?’ They pointed me to the Tyndale series,” Schreiner recalled in an interview. His new commentary is his first contribution to the TNTC.
“I was honored. It was exciting for me to think that young students today are still profiting from this series.”
Boyce College adds communication program, announces Leverett as its first faculty member January 9, 2019
The bachelor of science in communication promises to prepare theologically trained students for global professional work.
Boyce College today announced a new bachelor of science degree in communication, expanding the professional and ministry preparation available to students of the school. The program will prepare students to be effective communicators in a diverse and complex world, extending the mission of the school to new academic territory, said Matthew J. Hall, dean of Boyce College. Boyce is the undergraduate school of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“As we explored the next stage of Boyce College’s academic development, the degree program that immediately came to the fore was something in the field of communication,” said Hall, noting that the school extensively researched the program’s viability in both general demand for students with skills related to the field of communication and employment outlook for such graduates.
God is going to use pastors in many different ways during their ministries, so they need to know intimately the world of the church, said Hershael W. York at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Pastor Well event, December 3-4. York addressed a room of 30 current and future pastors at the event, drawing on his extensive pastoral ministry experience and biblical conviction.
York, who is the dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary, encouraged the men to be confident in their calling and commit themselves to the local church. York also serves as the senior pastor at Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, Kentucky, and has taught preaching at Southern since 1997.