EDUCATION BRIEFS: 'Taking the Hill' launches at Southwestern; other news

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--Dressed in camouflage and stationed as the gunner in a Chenowth Desert Fast Attack Vehicle, Paige Patterson stormed onto the chapel stage.

After firing a round of blanks from a .50-caliber Browning machine gun, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's president took his place behind the pulpit and initiated operation "Taking the Hill."

"We are taking the Hill," Patterson announced Sept. 3. Taking the Hill is Southwestern's effort to reach nearly 6,700 households within a one-mile radius of the Texas campus with the Gospel through door-to-door personal evangelism by teams of seminary students, faculty and staff.

Looking back at his Fast Attack Vehicle and machine gun, Patterson said, "That is quite a bit of firepower up there, but it is totally inadequate. As a matter of fact, it's not even the kind of weaponry that actually works. That weaponry maims and kills. The weaponry that we need is weaponry that brings life. That weaponry brings sorrow and heartache. We need weaponry that brings joy and happiness. This weaponry has the prospect of bringing things to an end. We need weaponry that opens eternity. What kind of weaponry would do that?"

Patterson lifted his Bible, pointing out that God has armed believers with His Word, along with prayer and proclamation. Then, reading 2 Corinthians 5, he urged believers to testify to the Gospel of Christ, reminding them of Paul's motivation: the "terror of the Lord," the righteous judge of all men and women, and the "love of Christ," who died to save all who believe.

"What keeps you from hell and makes heaven possible," Patterson said. "what keeps you from the ravages of death and makes life a possibility for you, what keeps you from having the sorrow of the world and gives you the joy of Jesus Christ is a God who loves you so much that He gave Himself. What kind of an individual [are you] if you do not love Him enough ... to do a simple thing that He asks, and tell everybody else what He has done?"

When Patterson finished speaking, a voice called his name twice. It was the voice of Southwestern music professor David Robinson playing the part of God. In this short drama, the voice asked Patterson whether he really fulfilled the Great Commission and showed concern for lost men and women each day.

Lifting his left hand, Patterson saw that it was covered with blood -- the blood of a woman who died without hearing the Gospel although she lived less than a mile from the seminary. His right hand was covered with the blood of a man who took his own life because Patterson did not witness to him at God's prompting.

To end the drama, the voice recited God's warning to Ezekiel: "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Therefore, hear a word from my mouth and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity. But his blood, I will require at your hand" (Ezekiel 3:17-18).

Patterson closed the chapel service by challenging Southwesterners to pray every morning for 30 days that God would give them at least one witnessing opportunity each day, along with the wisdom to see those opportunities when they come and the courage to act on them.

For more information on Southwestern's Taking the Hill initiative, visit www.swbts.edu/takingthehill.

SOUTHWESTERN ADOPTS NEW LOGO & SEAL -- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, which celebrated its centennial in 2008, has adopted a new logo and seal representing the school's mission and history.

SWBTS President Paige Patterson said the new logo and seal "rightly show that at the heart of every Southwesterner is a desire to see the Gospel reach the nearly 7 billion people on the face of the globe."

Depicting a Bible and a portion of the globe, Southwestern's new logo emphasizes the seminary's devotion to God's Word and the Great Commission. "Southwestern Seminary is founded upon the inerrant Word of God," a Southwestern news release stated, "and not upon any historic building or landmark. The Word has echoed through its halls, and students have proclaimed the Word throughout the nations for more than 100 years." SWBTS students "root themselves in Scripture" through courses in biblical language and exegesis, theology, apologetics and church history and begin to apply their knowledge through courses in preaching, evangelism and missions, the news release said.

The new seal made its debut appearance at the end of a film shown during the seminary's report at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in June. As in most universities and seminaries, Southwestern's seal marks diplomas and other official documents.

A rope wrapped around the edge of the seal and Texas' lone star at its center recall Southwestern's roots in the rugged Texas of the Old West. Founded at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, in 1908, the seminary moved to Fort Worth two years later, and its students preached the Gospel in "Hell's Half Acre," an area notorious for brawling and crime. Southwestern's founder and first president, B.H. Carroll, was a Texas Ranger, and his successor, L.R. Scarborough, honed his skills at horseback riding, roping and handling a six-shooter during his early years on a West Texas ranch. The rope also calls to mind Carroll's final words to Scarborough: "Keep the seminary lashed to the cross."

The seal's prominent message, "Preach the Word, Reach the World," reflect Southwestern's heritage of training young ministers to preach the Word and reach the world in obedience to the Apostle Paul's mandate in 2 Timothy 4:1-5 and Christ's Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20.

The waves of grain, stretching upward in the seal, portray the world's need for the Gospel and the urgency of Southwestern's mission drawn from the words of Christ in Matthew 9:37-38: "The harvest truly is plentiful but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

And in the upper portion of the seal, the Latin phrase, "Pro Ecclesia (For the Church)," reminds members of the Southwestern family that the seminary serves the churches of the SBC.

SPANISH REFORMATION VOLUMES ARRIVE AT SWBTS -- The Reformers who preached in Spain during the 16th century recognized expository preaching as a matter of life and death, Spanish Reformation scholar Emilio Monjo Bellido said during a lecture series at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Daniel Sanchez, professor of missions at Southwestern, translated for Monjo.

"What would our preaching be today if the hearer that accepts our preaching is condemned to death? What a great responsibility to explain [Scripture] well," Monjo said during his Aug. 26-27 lectures. "Many issues would disappear. We would have to concentrate on the expository preaching of the Bible because, in the final analysis and at the end, our conscience would have to say the Word of God ordains it. The Word of God demands it. What few preachers would be left today because, in addition to this, it would become known that the preacher himself might be condemned to death. That is the Reformation."

Monjo said that Spanish Protestants established a strong reform movement in Spain, especially in the city of Seville. The Spanish Inquisition was able to oppress the movement and condemned many of its leaders to death. However, the Spanish Reformation still lives, Monjo said, "because the Word that sustained it is alive."

In cities like Seville, Protestants were threatened with persecution, imprisonment and death, and this situation could be "a great temptation not to preach."

"And in that context, expository preaching then comes out not as artificial but as the method of the life of Scripture itself," Monjo said. In this situation, "who would think of preaching to please someone or to announce frivolously a Christ? It is life or death. What weight upon the preacher. And that is why the preacher only has his rest in submitting to the Scriptures...."

Monjo is the director of the Center for the Investigation and Memory of Spanish Protestantism, based in Seville, and he coordinates a committee that has produced translations of Spanish Reformation documents. Upon arriving at Southwestern, Monjo donated to the seminary the already published volumes of this series, titled "Obras De Los Reformadores Españoles Del Siglo XVI," along with other works from the Spanish Reformation.

Berry Driver, dean of libraries at Southwestern, said, "Before Dr. Emilio Monjo appeared on our campus in late August 2009, those of us who are church historians knew little about the rich heritage of the persecuted Spanish Protestant Reformation fathers, which was preserved through not commonly known manuscripts in Great Britain, Spain and elsewhere on the continent.

"The nine publications, including the 1553 Ferrera translation facsimile of the Hebrew Scriptures, that Dr. Monjo donated to our libraries are just the beginning of an exciting and growing corpus of new materials among Southwestern Seminary's special collections in the Roberts Library. We appreciate so much the generosity of this godly scholar-pastor for his important contribution to our libraries," Driver said.

To listen to the Spanish Reformation lectures, visit www.swbts.edu/mediaresources.

FAMILIES IN FOCUS AT SWBTS -- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson and his wife Dorothy attended the fifth World Congress of Families (WCF) in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where a declaration was adopted highlighting support of traditional marriage and the rights of families.

Paige Patterson presided over several plenary sessions, including one featuring Dorothy Patterson, professor of theology in women's studies at Southwestern, who presented a paper on "A Modern Paradigm for Motherhood."

Paige Patterson said the site of the Aug. 10-12 congress was significant, noting, "Meeting in a city like Amsterdam, which has so devalued the traditional home and boasted of its sexual licentiousness, underscored the tragedies incurred by the social order when the importance of the biblical family is abrogated."

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, also spoke on the role of faith in keeping families together at the congress, held every two years.

Land described the Declaration of Amsterdam adopted at the congress as important "because it reflects the strong consensus of the world's great faith traditions on the importance of the family and on the harmful influences bombarding the family in cultures around the world."

Dorothy Patterson, meanwhile, voiced a hope that future congresses "will strengthen their declarations on the value of life in the womb -- absolute sanctity of life, especially for the most vulnerable -- and undergird in a more positive way the value of a mother's investment in her own household with full energies, giftedness, academic training and creativity in her commitment to producing the next generation."

The full Declaration of Amsterdam can be accessed at www.worldcongress.nl/en/declaration-of-amsterdam.

The seminary will host a family ministry conference Feb. 26-27, 2010, at its Fort Worth, Texas, campus to equip pastors and church leaders with knowledge and skills for leading a relevant and effective family ministry in the local church.

Elias Moitinho, assistant professor in Southwestern's school of educational ministries, said family ministry is "an intentional, comprehensive ministry strategy for each local church under the Holy Spirit's guidance." Such ministry helps families fulfill God's purposes for their lives and builds an evangelistic arm of the church that equips congregations to reach the lost in their own families and community. Family ministry also aids families in facing predictable life-cycle transitions such as marriage, parenting, sending children to college and retirement.

Speakers at the "Connected: Southwestern Family Ministry Conference" will include Paige Patterson, addressing the "Why" question of family ministry by expositing from the Bible the biblical and theological foundation for the family; Richard Ross, an assistant dean in the school of educational ministries, addressing the "What" question by laying out the vision for family ministry in local churches; and Brian Haynes, associate pastor of Kingsland Baptist Church in Katy, Texas, addressing the "How" question of developing a ministry strategy to "inseparably link church and home to equip generations." Haynes is the author of "Shift: What it takes to finally reach families today" released by Group Publishing, Inc., in August 2009. A luncheon is planned for attendees with June Hunt of Hope for the Heart. Hunt is an author, singer and speaker.

For more information about the conference, visit www.swbts.edu/familyministry


Reported by Benjamin Hawkins & Rebecca Carter of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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