FROM THE SEMINARIES: Midwestern's 'OnlineYou' program; SWBTS lecturer on difficult OT texts

EDITOR'S NOTE: "From the Seminaries" includes news releases of interest from Southern Baptist seminaries.

Midwestern unveils "OnlineYou" initiative

By T. Patrick Hudson

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (MBTS) -- Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has unveiled "a new way of doing online education" in its new online education initiative "OnlineYou."

Midwestern President Jason Allen said the focus of OnlineYou, which encompasses all of the seminary's graduate and undergraduate online offerings, is to provide students a customized educational experience.

"In establishing OnlineYou, we have customized our online education program, making it personalized to every student, to their specific calling of ministry, and to gear their online experience directly toward what God has called them to do," Allen said.

Midwestern has been on the cutting edge of online education for more than a decade, Allen said, noting, "We feel like this new initiative positions us, once again, on the very forefront of theological education with our online delivery systems."

Several key facets of OnlineYou set it apart from more traditional online formats, seminary Provost Jason Duesing said.

"The thing that I'm most excited about within OnlineYou is the customizable tracks," Duesing said. "We've embedded into our online experience strategic, contextualized assignments that allow students who are engaged in ministry to apply information learned in class while implementing skills learned in day-to-day ministry. On certain assignments, students can choose to apply class material as a pastor, teacher or scholar would.

"For example, if a student has identified that he is called to be a senior pastor or preacher, he's going to find assignments facing him that are tailored to that task," Duesing said. "If he is preparing for a teaching ministry, then he is going to find assignments tailored to training him for scholarship in a teaching ministry. ... It is online education designed for the millennial generation and beyond."

Second, assignments in OnlineYou's practicum component will integrate and encourage one-on-one meetings between students and local church pastors to provide a "For the Church" component to every online class, Duesing said, citing the seminary's purpose statement.

Another key feature of the new initiative is "Online Connect," in which professors at Midwestern's campus who are teaching online classes will provide regular opportunities for students to meet one on one or in a small group setting for a more personalized experience.

There also will be opportunities for students to visit Midwestern's campus in Kansas City as part of their course of study.

Duesing said opportunities will include symposiums held in conjunction with regular on-campus events, like the For the Church Conference slated for Aug. 31-Sept. 1 and various other lecture series and events throughout the academic year.

Allen added that the new online education format will benefit students who aren't able to uproot from their current station in life and ministry and relocate to campus.

"I think this style of learning is a game-changer in online education. If you know anything about Midwestern Seminary, you know we exist 'For the Church,' but if there was one cut-line underneath that it might be that we also exist for the student.

"This is proof-positive of our determination to serve the local church and to prepare our students in a way that is affordable, is accessible, and that now is personable ultimately to them in their context of learning," Allen said. "I pray that students will join us and be part of what God is doing here at Midwestern Seminary as we train pastors, ministers and evangelists for the church."

For more information about OnlineYou, click here.

Lecturer addresses difficult Old Testament texts

By Alex Sibley

FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) -- Pictures of Christ can be found throughout the Old Testament, Cambridge University lecturer Peter Williams noted at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on April 8.

Many of these pictures, Williams said, point to Christ through contrast.

"Aaron's having to offer sacrifices for his own sin, for example, brings into relief the fact that Christ did not have to do so," said Williams, warden of the Cambridge's Tyndale House.

"So in fact, we can see more pictures of Christ when we are not trying to look simply for positive correspondence but also for negative correspondence," he said.

Lecturing on how to deal with difficult passages in the Old Testament, Williams encouraged believers to read Scripture with the understanding that every passage reveals something about the character of God. Such revelations, he said, can be applied today through looking at how they fit into the whole story of the Bible, from creation to redemption.

Using King David as a case study, Williams noted that Scripture presents two distinct pictures of the biblical character. The first, found in 1 Samuel 17, pictures David as a good shepherd. The second, however, found in 2 Samuel 12 -- when Nathan confronts David concerning his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah -- pictures David as a bad shepherd.

"How do I get a picture of Christ out of that?" Williams asked. "Well, Christ is the good shepherd, and the fact that David falls short is precisely what brings Christ and His excellence into relief."

Williams also addressed such issues as polygamy, which some argue makes God seem too lenient, and the destruction of the Canaanites at the hands of the Israelites, which some argue makes God seem too harsh.

Regarding the former, Williams noted that although several major characters in the Bible were polygamists, including Abraham, Jacob and David, such sinful behavior was not without consequences. Citing, for example, the strife among Jacob's 12 sons that ultimately resulted in Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers, Williams said, "When you read all of the narrative clues together, it's not telling you [polygamy] is okay. Every time there's polygamy, you see great confusion, chaos and dispute."

Regarding the destruction of the Canaanites, Williams admitted that such a passage presents difficulties. He warned against explaining God's motives, but he also maintained that such destruction has scriptural support. The Canaanites' pagan practices, for example, led them to sacrifice their own children. Such godlessness and sinful behavior obviously could not be tolerated.

Williams also pondered whether the destruction of the Canaanites is a picture of Christ, stating that it "shows how serious the punishment for sin is. And what the Canaanites underwent is less than Christ underwent. Joshua [who led the Israelites in destroying the Canaanites] is a symbol of Christ, and yet so are, in some ways, the Canaanites who undergo the punishment."

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