SBC Seminary Presidents Share Prospects of Future

“In this critical turning time in human history, it is our responsibility to make certain that we do everything in our power demonstrate faith in the face of a faithless world.”
( [email protected] ) Jun 23, 2004 05:01 PM EDT

During the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, all six seminaries of the SBC -- Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southeastern BTS, Southwestern BTS, Midwestern BTS, Golden Gate BTS, and New Orleans BTS -- addressed various issues reflecting each seminary and as well as today’s Christianity as whole.

In a report to the annual meeting on June 16 in Indianapolis, Albert Mohler, president of SBTS, spoke of the challenges that Southern Baptist seminaries are facing. He pointed out the difficulty of producing faithful ministers in a faithless world and listed five imperatives to which Southern Baptists must adhere in order to demonstrate biblical faith in the world.

“We are living in a time when so many in the church are beginning to sense that there is a problem not only out there the world, but also in the church,” he said. “... In this critical turning time in human history, it is our responsibility to make certain that we do everything in our power demonstrate faith in the face of a faithless world.”

Mohler urged Southern Baptists to: first, maintain a bold vision of biblical truth; second, renew their commitment to teach biblical truth in churches and seminaries; third, experience a bold recovery of expository preaching; experience a reenergized embrace of evangelism and missions; and fifth, raise up a new generation of leaders in the faith.

Speaking on behalf of all six seminaries, he also added that Southern Baptist seminaries are making important advancements in the area of leadership development, identifying Southern Seminary’s 3,500-plus students as examples of ministers contending for the Gospel in a hostile culture.

Mohler concluded, “The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary exists ultimately on your behalf ... in order that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ may have in the next generation an even more faithful ministry.

“The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary exists for the truth, for the church, for the world and for the glory of God.”

The presidents of Southern Baptist seminaries also shared other news with the alumni at the seminary luncheon which was held June 16.

More than 650 students, faculty and alumni attended Southern’s annual seminary luncheon. Mohler reminded attendees that seminary students, faculty members and graduates possess a unique opportunity to be light during desperately dark days. He said:

“What generation of Christians has had the privilege of addressing the challenges of our day?

“What generation of Christians has had to take such a bold stand as to say, ‘This is what marriage is’? What generation of Christians has had the opportunity to say, ‘When the world has forgotten what life is all about and isn’t even sure when it begins, we know the origin of the miracle of life and we know the Giver of life?’

“What generation -- against a secular tide -- has had the opportunity to say, ‘This is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal and unchanging Gospel, the only Gospel that saves ...?’ It is a great time for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It is a great time for the Southern Baptist Convention. It is a great time for your church. It is a great time for this generation.”

At the annual meeting, Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary presented an overview of NOBTS’s development. Despite the sole membership controversy, Kelley said there had been many miracles happening on the campus of NOBTS.

"God is doing amazing things on the campus of your seminary in New Orleans," Chuck Kelley told messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention during the evening session June 15. "Living on the campus is something like living inside a miracle."

To NOBTS, the highlight of this year has been the doubling of seminary’s enrollment over the past eight years, said Kelley. He also spoke of a new construction initiative on campus and the success of the seminary’s program at Angola State Penitentiary, Louisiana’s maximum-security prison, which provides an opportunity for prisoners to earn an accredited bachelor's degree from NOBTS and serve as ministers in correction centers.

Kelley concluded: "We've discovered that our students really care about our Baptist identity. They want to do things in a Baptist way reflecting the wonderful historical, theological and biblical heritage God has given us."

Four hundred alumni and friends attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s luncheon. At the luncheon, President Paige Patterson shared his vision for Southwestern in promoting mission and evangelism programs and building a new chapel to house the school of evangelism and mission and the Southwestern Center for Expository Preaching.

“Along with the addition of our new professors of preaching, a chapel will enable Southwestern to be the finest training center for preachers in the world,” he said.

Patterson also said he anticipates the seminary to grow, enrollment reaching 5,000 students in the near future.

The luncheon also included awards ceremony. This year, four distinguished alumni awards were presented to: Paul Kim of “Berkland” Baptist in Berkeley; D. McCall “Mac” Brunson of First Baptist Church of Dallas; Claude Cone, executive director of the state convention in New Mexico; and Ronnie Floyed, pastor of First Baptist Church of Springdale, Ark.

Besides electing new alumni association officers, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Daniel Akin, shared his vision for the future of the seminary with the alumni and friends at the annual luncheon.

He said he is not planning to change anything but continue emphasize preaching, missions and evangelism and let them flourish along with a newly designed doctor of ministry program.

"People often ask me what I intend to change as president of Southeastern," Akin said of the institution that enrolled a record 2,389 students this past year.

"The answer is - nothing. Why in the world would you take a speeding train headed in the right direction and turn it around? I want students to know that if you come to Southeastern Seminary, you will come to a school that is passionately in love with Jesus Christ. That is the heartbeat of our institution."

R. Philip Roberts, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, which was once known for its liberal teachings, spoke of the future of Midwestern seminary, saying that the seminary is “clearly no longer a part of the problem, but a part of the solution.”

Referring to a book written by one of Midwestern’s professors, which argued that Genesis is a legend, he said:

“I can stand before you this morning and tell you that we at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary are inheritors of the clear, decisive and needed thorough redirection of convention education within the Southern Baptist Convention to embrace the truth that the Bible, the Word of God, is God’s revelation; His depository of saving reality without any mixture of error; His inerrant book.”

“At Midwestern Seminary, not only do we believe that it is important that we believe the Bible,” Roberts said, “but as we have heard several times this morning, to practice and apply the Scriptures.”

In closing his report, Roberts said, “There are many great and good things happening at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary including a record year in institutional development; the establishment of Midwestern Baptist College; and the commissioning and completion of our first phase of refurbishing on our first building project in the last 40 years of Midwestern Seminary.”

Lastly during Golden Gate seminary’s luncheon, Tom Stringfellow, pastor of First Baptist Church in Beverly Hills, Calif., was awarded with Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s 2004 Alumni Achievement Award and Jeff Iorg, the new president who will assume his presidency in August, shared his passion for evangelism, the family, and the local church.

During the GGBTS report at the convention, Iorg said:

"At Golden Gate, the Kingdom of God is our purpose, the Great Commission is our passion, the Bible is our standard, and the future is our commitment," Iorg said. "We are committed to shaping leaders for the churches of tomorrow to see the West won to Christ. May God give us grace for this great work."