SBC DIGEST: ETS Executive Committee issues 'Gospel and Racism' statement; ETBU celebrates spring 2020 commencement with onsite and virtual services

by Staff/Sydney McBride, posted Monday, June 15, 2020 (29 days ago)

Evangelical Theological Society Executive Committee issues 'Gospel and Racism' statement

By BP Staff

NASHVILLE (BP) -- The executive committee of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), a group of evangelical academic leaders and educators, issued a statement Monday (June 15) on "The Gospel and Racism," said David Dockery, distinguished professor of theology and special consultant to the president at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The statement statement was largely put together by Craig S. Keener, ETS president and a New Testament professor at Asbury Seminary, with suggestions from other signatories.

"We believe the statement is timely and important, expressing our longing and hope for racial reconciliation in the church and in society," Dockery said. "We trust the statement will be helpful in that regard in the days to come."

In addition to Keener and Dockery, Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler and Union University bioethicist C. Ben Mitchell are among the signatories.

The full statement follows:

"The Gospel and Racism":

Today's situation requires more than a statement, but certainly no less than a statement. As evangelical academic voices, we condemn racism as contrary to Scripture and to the evangelical gospel. Evangelical history includes positively many voices for justice and pioneers of abolitionism, such as William Wilberforce, but also negatively those who assimilated the values of their surrounding unjust culture. Yet the basis of evangelical faith is Scripture, climaxing in the good news of Jesus Christ.

-- In this gospel, everyone must come to God on the same terms (Rom 1:16; 3:22-24; 10:12-13; Gal 3:28; Rev 5:9; 7:9), and become one body in Christ (Rom 12:4-5; 1 Cor 12:12-13; Eph 4:4; Col 3:15).

-- In reconciling Jew and Gentile in Christ (Eph. 2:16), surmounting a barrier that God himself once established, God in Christ summons us to surmount every barrier erected merely by human sinfulness.

-- Scripture does not discriminate by color, and, on the most common understanding of Acts 8, the first Gentile convert may have been Black and from Africa.

-- Jesus, both by his example and by his teaching, summons us to serve and love fellow believers to the point of laying down our lives for them (John 13:14-17, 34-35; 1 John 3:16-18), and to love all our neighbors as ourselves (Lev. 19:18; Mark 12:31; Rom. 13:8-10; Gal. 5:14).

-- This invites us to be swifter to listen to others than to speak (Eph 4:29; Jms 1:19), to mourn with those who suffer (Rom. 12:15), and to join them in acting for justice on their behalf (Isa. 1:17; Luke 11:42; Jms. 1:27).

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ETBU celebrates Spring 2020 commencement with onsite and virtual services

By Sydney McBride

MARSHALL, Texas, (BP) -- East Texas Baptist University (ETBU) held its spring 2020 commencement ceremonies Saturday (June 13) with students opting to attend onsite or virtual services.

ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn presided over the socially distanced ceremonies as 173 students received undergraduate degrees and 20 earned graduate degrees.

"East Texas Baptist University was incredibly grateful to welcome graduates and their families back to the Hill for this day of celebration as we worshiped the Lord and recognized their successes and accomplishments," Blackburn said. "Regardless of what happened the last semester of their final year at ETBU, God has a plan and purpose for their life as graduates. We have heritages among our campus that help and shape each of us into whose we are and who we are to be in Christ. We praise God as He has developed ETBU into a mosaic quilt."

Thomas Sanders, ETBU provost and vice president for academic affairs, participated in the ceremonies, as did university deans.

"Commencement … is a time for celebration for both the University and the families to join together with pride in celebration of the accomplishments of these students," Sanders said. "Each student's hard work, under the guidance and support of faculty members, staff, family members and friends has resulted in the accomplishments we recognize today."

Texas state senator Bryan Hughes gave the commencement address during both ceremonies.

"Normally at graduations, all of the graduates are sitting together, while their families and friends are spread out throughout the room," Hughes said. "This year, it's unique to have graduates sitting with their families, their friends, with the ones who supported them, prayed for them, who sacrificed for them to get here. This has been structured around you."

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremonies were rescheduled from May 9.

Sydney McBride is communication coordinator at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas.
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