Seminary partnership recognized; 'cardinal questions of life' offered

by Craig Christina , posted Wednesday, March 25, 1998 (20 years ago)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--In the midst of contending with a daunting academic workload of exams and research papers, students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary were encouraged March 19 to examine themselves by asking "five cardinal questions of life," an African seminary president urged.

Yusufu Ameh Obaje, president of Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, visited Southern Seminary to celebrate a 50-year relationship between his school and the Louisville, Ky., school, Southern Baptists' oldest seminary. The African seminary, based in Ogbomoso, Nigeria, is celebrating the centennial of its founding this year. The school began an official relationship with Southern Seminary in 1948.

"Many of us in Nigeria are very grateful to God for this achievement," Obaje said, explaining "the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary awarded the first degree in Nigeria."

Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. echoed Obaje's sentiments. "There is a proud relationship between these two schools," Mohler told the chapel audience. "There has been a good deal of interaction, of faculty going back and forth and a strong tradition of partnership."

Following Obaje's chapel message, the partnership of the sister seminaries also was recognized at a luncheon honoring the Nigerian school's president.

Preaching from 2 Corinthians 13:5, Obaje challenged seminary students to "constantly examine yourself ... to see whether you are in the faith," reflecting the sage advice received from a former professor at the University of Edinburgh during his doctoral studies. Such self-examination, Obaje contended, will permit ministers to deal with the demands, trials, temptations and expectations of the ministry.

The first question is "Who am I?" Obaje stated, "You cannot be an effective instrument of God's saving presence if you don't know who you are." By formulating a strong identity, the Christian minister can prevent spiritual drifting and build a conscious self-identity in Christ, he said.

Another question ministers must consider is, "Where am I coming from?" Recognizing one comes from "the Lord of life" enables the minister "to accept orders" from God. Otherwise, Obaje insisted, ministers will never realize God wants them to work together with "brothers and sisters all over the world, regardless of the color of skin, background, training and experience."

When confronted with "serious temptations," Obaje reminded students to ask themselves a third question, "What am I living for?" Obaje warned, "Our world is increasingly being turned upside down by wrong priorities." If ministers remember they are living for Christ, they can confront temptation with the proper perspective, knowing he is their Master.

A fourth question for those who live in a society constantly on the move is, "Where am I going from here?" Crowds of people mill about without any idea of their ultimate objective, Obaje said. Ministers must constantly ask themselves if they are "moving in the right direction" by following Christ or if they are following their own desires.

Finally, God's servants should consider, "What am I expecting?" The final reward of life may be either "a crown of glory or a crown of shame," Obaje warned. The minister of God should have the same attitude of the Apostle Paul who fought the good fight and received the crown of righteousness. By reflecting on the final reward of one's life, the minister can live with great expectations.

"Try to challenge yourself by going through these questions," Obaje said. "It is my prayer that the Lord God Almighty who has called you to the saving knowledge and faith in Jesus Christ will constantly remind you of the need for self-examination so that you can keep that living faith and do the will of God."


Christina is a newswriter at Southern Seminary.

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