CNN's Belief Blog published R. Albert Mohler Jr.'s column, "Are evangelicals dangerous?," Sunday, Oct. 16. Since then, the comments section has witnessed significant activity, amounting to 75 pages in length at the time of this post.
In the column, Mohler, Southern Seminary president, discusses American culture's perception of evangelical Christians as a threat to the political process and overall health of the nation in view of the coming presidential election. As Mohler notes, some widely heard voices qualify evangelicalism as a movement of unenlightened social and theological conservatives driven toward overcoming democracy and instituting theocracy. He writes:
If evangelicals intend to engage public issues and cultural concerns, we have to be ready for the scrutiny and discomfort that comes with disagreement over matters of importance. We have to risk being misunderstood - and even misrepresented - if we intend to say anything worth hearing.
Are evangelicals dangerous? Well, certainly not in the sense that more secular voices warn. The vast majority of evangelicals are not attempting to create a theocracy, or to oppose democracy.
To the contrary, evangelicals are dangerous to the secularist vision of this nation and its future precisely because we are committed to participatory democracy.
The entire column is available here: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/15/my-take-are-evangelicals-dangerous
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary announced a balanced budget and increased enrollment at the board of trustees meeting, Oct. 11, 2011. Also, at the meeting, R. Albert Mohler Jr., SBTS president, briefed the board about changing cultural contexts.
The financial board reported on adjustments the seminary made in order to balance the 2010-2011 budget. In light of economic challenges, the seminary recognized a decrease in revenue from primary sources, most importantly, the Southern Baptist Convention's Cooperative Program. As a result, the seminary reduced and contained spending and met the budget approved by trustees, with revenues slightly exceeding expenses of $33.7 million for the fiscal year.
Crediting the hard work of the office of institutional advancement, Dan Dumas, senior vice president for institutional administration, noted the seminary received $4.5 million in total gifts, nearly doubling the amount from the previous year.
Trustees also heard a report indicating an improvement in new student enrollment. The seminary saw a 14-percent increase in new students this fall compared to last year. Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of SBTS, saw a 21-percent increase.
Further, the board voted unanimously to move forward with a new writing program. Because of the forthcoming reaccreditation cycle in 2012-2013, the seminary will develop a quality enhancement plan aimed to improve writing among the student body. The program will be implemented across the curriculum within the School of Theology, Mohler told the board.
Following the discussion of business items, Mohler addressed the board about urbanization and immigration as well as other developments expected in the next 10 years and how these issues affect the seminary and Southern Baptist Convention churches.
"One of the biggest human trajectories in the contemporary time is urbanization, and this urbanization is often working out in ways we often don't recognize," Mohler said.
By 2050, Mohler noted, projected figures show that 75 percent of the world's population will live in cities. China, for instance, will be home to more than 200 cities that have a population of one million people or more by this point in time. In addition to the vast urbanization of the world's population, Mohler noted that immigration presents a challenge for the Christian church. People groups migrating to cities do not assimilate into culture but rather form their own enclaves in which they maintain their own respective cultures. This will present missiologists and church planters with the task of formulating new methods for reaching people groups making up these enclaves.
Furthermore, Mohler expressed these trends affect every person in the room listening to his address to the board.
"We're going to have to learn how to say thanks to God for what has been and learn how to say before God, ‘This is what we're going to have to see and know and do now'," he said. "That's not going to be easy for Southern Baptists. That's not easy for our mission force, and it's certainly not easy for our churches. It certainly speaks in terms of some of these issues to how we're going to have to train a generation of young pastors, church planters and missionaries who are going know how to look at these issues and figure out how to be faithful in leading amongst them."
Also, at the meeting, trustees prayed over each of the seminary's deans with an emphasis on recently appointed deans, Zane Pratt and Dan DeWitt. Pratt is dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism, and DeWitt is the dean of Boyce College.
The October issue of "Towers" is now online and on stands. Toward answering the question about the mission of the church, Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert talk about their new book -- not surprisingly titled -- What Is the Mission of Church? And Josh and I survey some literature that attempts to answer the same question.
This issue also includes Randy and Danna Stinson telling soon-to-be parents about allowing God to stretch them while in seminary in the October edition of the Marriage, Family and Seminary column. "Towers" features Southern Seminary's librarian Bruce Keisling in this month's Southern Story. And then, the SBTS archives team investigates the "Jo-Bowl" pop-name of the seminary lawn in the October History Highlight.
Southern Seminary Resources now publishes "Towers," Southern Seminary Magazine and other seminary publications digitally as well as physically. Check out the Resources page for an improved online reading experience.
Southern Seminary's Russell D. Moore appeared live on CNN's Newsroom, Sept. 16. Moore, dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration at SBTS, spoke about "700 Club" host Pat Robertson's advice that a man should divorce his Alzheimer-ridden wife, saying that Robertson's counsel does not agree with a Christian perspective of marriage.
"It is a grievous thing to hear a Christian leader speak in this way," Moore said in the CNN interview. "According to the Christian Scriptures, marriage is a picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a repudiation of everything that we're about. A man is to love his wife, the Bible says, as Christ loves the church, and that includes in weakness, that includes in those times of sickness. And so, this is horrifying, and this doesn't speak for Christians."
The CNN appearance follows Moore's article, "Christ, the Church, and Pat Robertson," posted Sept. 15 at his blog. In the article, Moore writes, "This is more than an embarrassment. This is more than cruelty. This is a repudiation of the gospel of Jesus Christ."
"A woman or a man with Alzheimer's can't do anything for you. There's no romance, no sex, no partnership, not even companionship. That's just the point. Because marriage is a Christ/church icon, a man loves his wife as his own flesh. He cannot sever her off from him simply because she isn't 'useful' anymore."
CNN's Web site carries the video of Moore's appearance: "Christian outlash over Robertson advice"
SBTS Communications invites all students, faculty and members of the Southern Seminary community to attend the "Towers" writing seminar, Friday, Sept. 23. Initially scheduled to take place in Honeycutt 246, the location has been changed to Norton 101.
Jeff Robinson will help attendees hone academic, creative, Web and popular writing, with particular emphasis on journalism.
Robinson has won more than 20 awards for writing and journalism excellence in his 20-plus years of experience. He served as an editor and reporter for several newspapers in the southeast, his writings appear in USA Today, The New York Times and Baseball America, and he was the director of news and information for Southern Seminary from 2000 until 2010. At present, Robinson is co-writing a book about John Calvin with SBTS church history professor Michael A.G. Haykin, due next year from Crossway.
"Towers" will provide lunch for those who RSVP by Wednesday, Sept. 21, at noon. RSVPs can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (502) 897-4000.
Schedule as follows:
- "This Is My Father's World": Christian news writing in a fallen world, the WORLD Magazine approach to biblically focused journalism (9-9:45 a.m.);
- Journalism 101: the "formula" for clear, concise news writing contrasted with feature writing and in light of common fallacies (10-10:45 a.m.);
- Nuts and Bolts: Crucial Aspects of News Writing: writing leads, conducting an interview and meeting deadlines (11-11:45 a.m.);
- "I Hear Your Voice Calling": feature writing and developing one's "voice" or style for accepted journalistic practice (1-1:45 p.m.);
- Don't Waste Your Journalism: encouragement as to how news writing will make one a better student and gospel minister, with Q&A (2-2:45 p.m.)
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary honored former president Duke K. McCall, Sept. 6, on the 60th anniversary of his election as president of the seminary.
In an unprecedented service afforded only few institutions, current Southern Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. led a full-to-capacity Alumni Chapel in celebrating McCall's more than 32 years as president of the school. McCall, who served at Southern from 1951 to 1982 as the institution's seventh president, also turned 97 years old, Sept. 1. These two milestones offered the seminary the opportunity to highlight the life and legacy of McCall, one of the most influential figures in Southern Baptist history.
"Moments of grace are often rare. And this was an incredible moment of God's grace and mercy to be able to welcome back a patriarch, Dr. Duke K. McCall, whose involvement with Southern Seminary spans more than half of its 152-year history," Mohler said. "It was a very rare and singularly important occasion for Southern Seminary to honor Dr. McCall for the 60th anniversary of his election as president of this institution."
McCall, whose contributions to the Southern Baptist Convention cover most of the 20th century, massively shaped both Southern Seminary and the convention in ways that continue to define them today.
"Dr. Duke McCall is representative of a generation of Southern Baptists who served and built this denomination, its churches and institutions," Mohler said. "We need to remember that we are living in houses we did not build and we are drinking from wells we did not dig. And, as God's people are warned not to take these things for granted, we must live in constant appreciation to those who helped to build all that we build upon.
"At the same time, it is very important to be able to articulate what has taken place in the life of the Southern Baptist Convention and why it's so important to affirm the inerrancy of Scripture, the faith once-for-all delivered to the saints and all that Southern Baptists believe and expect their institutions to believe and teach," Mohler continued. "To have Dr. McCall come back, given his own lifespan and role in the Southern Baptist Convention and see him received with honor by a chapel filled with people, most of whom were not alive when he was elected as president, and many of whom were not alive when he retired as president of Southern Seminary was something that was really, really important."
At one point, Mohler directly addressed McCall from the chapel platform. He talked about the honor the entire seminary community felt in celebrating McCall's 60th anniversary, and expressed his personal gratitude for McCall's presence at the event. Later, Mohler reflected on his own experience as a Southern Baptist and the significance of the McCall celebration to him as Southern's current president.
"I grew up having had the opportunity to hear Southern Baptist leaders in my home church," he said. "I knew and recognized the names of Dr. Duke McCall, Dr. Grady Cothen, Dr. Robert Naylor and others who led the Southern Baptist Convention. I was a Royal Ambassador and had to memorize the names of Southern Baptist institutions and their executives and even their addresses and this was very much a part of me before I arrived as a student at Southern Seminary in 1980. When I did come as a student, I had the privilege of observing him as a president and he made a big impact on my life.
"When I came to be elected president of Southern Seminary in 1993, I came to bring about a process of theological change required in order to bring this seminary into theological and doctrinal accountability to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention," Mohler continued. "That process was extremely costly and I was in the position of having to correct a course that had been set by my own teachers who had invested a great deal in me and had loved me and had generously given themselves to me. To be able, after being here for 18 years as president, to welcome back Dr. McCall in a context of honor that also made clear what Southern Seminary stands for and what we believe was incredibly moving to me. It was, for me as an individual, a moment of very great satisfaction. The opportunities to enjoy historic celebrations, and share relationships and affections, without theological compromise, are rare and very precious."
Russell D. Moore, Southern Seminary's senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the School of Theology, said of the opportunity to honor McCall:
"I will remember this day as long as I live. This was a healing, hopeful day for Southern Seminary, a tie between Southern Seminary's heritage and future."
"The only appropriate response to all of this is silence," McCall said. "But that's one quality I've never had."
McCall went on to encourage those in attendance to give themselves fully to God , and allow him to shape the course of their lives. He then concluded his statements with the same humorous charisma with which he opened:
"Now that I've gotten out the introduction to my sermon, let's pass the plate and go home," he said.
Adding a special significance to the occasion, present at the event were not only Dr. and Mrs. McCall, but also their four sons and daughters-in-law and members of their extended family, along with several figures from the McCall era. Mohler said about welcoming back the McCall family and guests:
"The McCall family has meant so much to the history of the Southern Baptist Convention and to Southern Seminary, and right before the eyes of Southern students and faculty, we experienced a family reunion, which is an important part of institutional life."
The morning concluded with the inaugural address in the Duke K. McCall Lectures on Christian Leadership, an endowed series established by the McCall Family Foundation, Spring 2011. This endowed lecture series speaks to the importance of Southern Seminary in McCall's life.
"Dr. McCall has made clear his love and support for his alma mater, the institution he so tenaciously served," Mohler said. "His identification with us and our identification with him in the context of the year 2011 is priceless, something Southern Baptists could not have foreseen years ago, but something made possible by God's mercy and grace to us."
Leadership is not obtained but given, Robert B. Sloan Jr. told his audience at the inaugural address of the Duke K. McCall Lectures on Christian Leadership series at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Sept. 6, 2011.
Taking place on the 60th anniversary of McCall's election as Southern's seventh president, Sloan's lecture is the first in a series endowed by the McCall Family Foundation, an endowment that includes the establishment of the Duke K. McCall Chair of Christian Leadership. Sloan is the president of Houston Baptist University.
Rather than seeking leadership, Sloan explained, a person should seek the will of God, and the opportunity for leadership will find him or her. The peculiar, counter-intuitive pattern of receiving things without aiming for them is seen in Jesus' teaching throughout the Gospels, he explained.
"I think there are some things in life - and I can certainly say things in Scripture - that are best gained not by aiming at them," he said. "There are some things we are told that if you aim at them, you don't really get them. And even if you get them, you end up really distorting them."
Basing his message on 2 Corinthians 6:1-10, Sloan framed the latter part of his lecture around three characteristics of godly leadership: doing the will of God no matter the cost; doing it without compromise; and doing it no matter what others say.
"There are people who say at times that ‘I will do whatever it takes to do the will of God,' and Paul has certainly said that in these opening phrases," he said. "But there is a qualifier, and the qualifier is this - that the cause is never so right or so noble and neither have I interpreted it so perfectly as to justify my pursuing it at the cost of violating the commandments of God. The end never justifies the means."
Sloan noted Jesus' attitude toward possessions, particularly food, drink and clothing - good things that can become idols if focused upon wrongly.
"If you aim at these things - good things but nonetheless second things - you miss the first thing, which is ‘seek first the kingdom of God, and these things will be added to you'," Sloan said, expounding upon Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.
Other sayings of Jesus, he explained, elucidate this pattern as well: "Whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it" (Matt 10:39); and "whoever would be great among you must be your servant" (Mark 10:43). The things at which someone aims are precisely the things he or she does not obtain, Sloan explained.
Despite the popularity of leadership as a topic of interest in mainstream culture, Sloan noted that "something still nags at him" about the present-day outlook on leadership. The difference between a Christian view of leadership is that leadership is more than adopting the label "servant leadership," he said. More than that, it is the understanding that leadership is given rather than obtained.
"I think it's the way in which you pursue leadership," Sloan said. "Leadership is not something in the end that you can obtain, but something that can only be given."
The same day as the lecture, the seminary hosted a forum about Christian leadership with Sloan. Led by R. Albert Mohler Jr., SBTS president, the forum consisted of Sloan discussing his leadership experiences throughout his career in academia. Admitting that he was not always interested in pursuing administrative roles, Sloan described the process by which he came to appreciate and embrace the value of administrative work as he took on leadership roles with Baylor University, George W. Truett Theological Seminary and eventually Houston Baptist University.
Audio and video of Sloan's lecture, "Servant Leadership: The Cliché Versus the Reality," are available at www.sbts.edu/resources
The September issue of "Towers" is now online and in stands. SBTS professors Mark Coppenger and Michael A.G. Haykin help readers toward a clearer understanding of the often convoluted and always complex issue of Christians engaging in warfare (page 12). Coppenger also offers a brief summary of just-war theory (page 13).
In addition, Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. talks about the happenings and opportunities at the seminary during the new school year (page 7).
September's "Towers" also includes a discussion with Mohler about his contribution to the new book Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism (page 9). News manager Josh Hayes writes the September Southern Story about new Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism Dean Zane Pratt (page 15). Diane and Tom Schreiner help married students think about earning money in the October Marriage, Family and Seminary feature. And this month's issue asks Three Questions of theologian and author Michael Horton.
The September issue of Christianity Today features an essay by Russell D. Moore, Southern Seminary's School of Theology dean and senior vice president for academic administration. Moore writes, on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, about the appropriateness of displaying images from the infamous event.
Moore argues that images of the attacks, as difficult as the memories they produce may be, help Americans - and the world - remember the concrete and fleshy nature of our struggle against terror. But more than that, those horrors point us to cosmic warfare and the realities of Christ's cross.
Moore's article, "The Gospel at Ground zero: The horrors of 9/11 were not unlike those of Good Friday" is available at CT's Web-publishing page.
Louisville's Courier-Journal writer Peter Smith highlighted the upcoming debate at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School between Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. and public theologian and author Jim Wallis. Mohler and Wallis will dialogue about whether or not social justice is an "essential part of the mission of the church."