FROM THE SEMINARIES: SWBTS convocation; New SBTS Press book
By Alex Sibley
FORT WORTH (BP) -- During The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's spring convocation service Tuesday, President Adam W. Greenway invited the new and returning bachelor's, master's, and doctoral students to recommit themselves to "coming together."
"If there was ever a time for the Southwestern Seminary family and for the Southern Baptist Convention to come together, it is now," he said.
Preaching from Jeremiah 15:15-21 on the first day of the spring 2020 semester, Greenway reminded those assembled in MacGorman Chapel that "there is going to be pain and suffering when you are fully surrendered to God's plan for your life. There just is. And it's not just going to be from those who are opposed to God's agenda in terms of the broader culture. There is going to be pain and suffering even from within those who name the name of Christ, who call themselves members of the household of faith."
"If anything," he said, "our institutions, our ministries, our churches must model ways that we are able to be builders of the soul, not destroyers of the soul; places where there is real hope and healing for the hurts."
Noting that, even within the Southern Baptist Convention, many people seek to tear down others who disagree with them, Greenway said, "The call when people want to fight dirty is not to fight dirtier. The call when people want to go low is not to go lower."
"The call is to stay faithful," he said, "to realize it's the Lord who fights the battles, it's the Lord who takes vengeance, it's the Lord who will settle all the scores. My responsibility is not to try to get even or even to get right, but it is to be right in my walk, my ministry, my commitment, my role. That's what matters most."
"My prayer," Greenway concluded, "is that God would use you -- the men and women who make up the community of faith called The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Scarborough College -- to be instruments of hope and healing, of unity, rather than those who are stirrers up of strife, sowers of discord, dissension, division -- those who ultimately become tools in the hands of the enemy, not in the hands of our Lord."
In addition to Greenway's sermon, the convocation service included the recognition of recently elected faculty, who each signed the seminary's book of confessional heritage.
Greenway clarified that this book "is not significant in and of itself. But what it testifies to and represents is of extraordinary significance." The book, which has been signed by every faculty member since Southwestern Seminary's founding in 1908, indicates that the institution is "in lock-step solidarity" with the Baptist Faith and Message, "standing precisely where our convention of churches has said, 'We will stand,'" Greenway said.
"There is the integrity of witness before the gathered community, before a watching world, that the elected faculty of Southwestern Seminary gladly, proudly, happily, enthusiastically say, 'I put my signature, my pen, my name publicly to the truths that we confess as a seminary community,'" Greenway concluded.
The new faculty who signed the book were Joseph R. Crider, dean of the School of Church Music and Worship; Michael S. Wilder, dean of the Jack D. Terry Jr. School of Educational Ministries; David S. Dockery, distinguished professor of theology; Gregory A. Wills, research professor of church history and Baptist heritage; Charles T. Lewis, professor of church music and worship; and Travis S. Kerns, associate professor of apologetics and world religions.
In addition, Greenway recognized Chris Osborne, who began serving under presidential appointment this semester as professor of preaching and pastoral ministry, and Chris Shirley, who has returned to the faculty as professor of educational ministries following his earlier service at the seminary from 2007-2016.
SBTS Press releases 'Truths You Can Trust'
By Forrest Strickland
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary released Jan. 17 a volume highlighting the place of truth in key theological disciplines ranging from systematic theology to biblical counseling. The book, "Truths You Can Trust," contains 13 chapters written by professors at Southern Seminary, each emphasizing the seminary's commitment to biblical fidelity in every area of theology and life.
In his introduction to Truths You Can Trust, seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. writes the seminary stands in "a legacy of truth," and it intends to remain firm in its central convictions.
"Nothing could be more dangerous than a theological seminary that is not clearly and explicitly and continually always grounded in truth," Mohler writes. "The absolute determination of Southern Seminary is that we will continue to deliver a theological education of the highest quality and highest caliber of conviction -- without any compromise whatsoever in doctrine or substance."
In his chapter, James M. Hamilton Jr., Professor of Biblical Theology at Southern Seminary, offers seven applicable truths from the discipline of biblical theology, including reading the Bible on its own terms and interpreting it as literature.
"To understand the Bible, we have to be able to read literature, to know how authors show rather than tell, and to reflect on what they're telling in the showing," writes Hamilton in his chapter, "Truths You Can Trust from Biblical Theology."
"We must keep reading the Bible with open hearts, active minds, and prayerful souls."
The discipline of reading the Bible as one cohesive narrative, writes Hamilton, ultimately fuels Gospel work.
"As we engage in the task of biblical theology, we do this for the sake of accomplishing the Great Commission. Jesus told his followers to go make disciples, teaching them to obey all he had commanded (Matthew 28:18–20). To do this, we must embrace the way that Jesus interpreted the Bible, which is to say, we must do biblical theology.
This focus on the Bible, writes professor Thomas R. Scheiner, means students of the Scriptures meditate and reflect on who Christ is and what He has done for His people. Schreiner expanded on this point in his chapter, "Truths You Can Trust from the New Testament."
"Faith is fundamental and primary for a right relation with God or for receiving eternal life," Schreiner writes. "Those who have truly come to know Jesus Christ keep his commandments and show by their love for their fellow believers that they are truly born again."
The seminary aims to train all students to be those who rightly handle the Word of truth wherever God has called them, writes Hershael W. York, dean of the School of Theology, but training future generations of Gospel preachers remains at the heart of the seminary's mission. In his chapter, "Truths You Can Trust for Pastoral Ministry," York argues that Scripture is sufficient for all shepherds of God's people.
"You may need to learn some things in addition to the Word ... but you will never go beyond the Word of God," York writes. "The more you saturate your people with the Scriptures, the more they will grow in every aspect of life and family."
The theology taught in the seminary's classrooms is not something the seminary has invented, according to professor Michael A. G. Haykin. Rather, the goal of every professor is to help students understand how the convictions of the seminary have been passed down through generations of the history of God's church.
"The study of church history informs us about our predecessors in the faith, those who have helped shape our Christian communities and thus make us what we are," writes Haykin in his chapter, titled "Truths You Can Trust from Church History." "Such study builds humility into our lives."
Truths You Can Trust is to intended to help readers become sanctified by the truth of the Bible, according to Mohler, referencing the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus Christ.
"I pray that as you read this book," he writes, "you will experience the answer to Jesus' prayer: 'Sanctify the in the truth; your word is truth' (John 17:17)."