In 1517 Halloween, when the devils are supposed to enjoy a final fling, a courageous, frightened Augustinian monk named Martin Luther, armed with hammer and nails, took on Rome and all her advocates by nailing his theses to the door of the chapel church in Wittenburg, thus inviting serious debate. For the next few years heaven’s light burst through the shroud of human darkness. But the gospel seed needed “water” to flourish, and that was provided by the Anabaptists, whose shed blood in imitation of the sufferings of Christ watered the seed of truth planted by Luther, eventually producing the modern missions movement under William Carey. These remarkably committed men and women followed the New Testament and went where neither Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, or Henry the VIII were willing to venture.
Southern Baptists have a seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, that is determined to recover the Anabaptist and New Testament vision. While appreciating the compromised theology of the Reformers, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary refuses to truncate the everlasting gospel. Confident with the Anabaptists that we can say to every man, “God loves you individually and died for your sins,” Southwestern presses on in the intensity of a campaign to get the good news of salvation in Christ to all seven billion on this globe. While allowing no discrimination against our Reformed cousins who come to us, we continue to sound the trumpet of leading people to Christ, baptizing them by immersion in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and gathering them into free churches with congregational governments.
To that end, this year Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted a Homemaking Conference that drew more than a thousand women. This continues our accentuation on biblical gender roles and on the critical importance of the home in the plan and purpose of God. Our biblical homemaking degree is growing and exercising increasing influence.
Faculty members continue to lead students into the backways of life, seeking men and women who need to know Christ. Most of our large faculty have actually led new friends to Christ this year. Imagine what it means to a student to listen to a lecture by a world-renowned scholar, have lunch, and then go to the park with the same professor and watch him share simply and beautifully the riches of Christ. That night the student may drive for an hour with the professor to a revival where he listens to the professor preach an evangelistic message and publicly draw the net. Maybe this is not happening at many schools, but at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, testimonies like this abound.
Online programs now bring Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to the world. The president offers a course each year in which people enroll from across the globe. Full degrees are now available online. These are the Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Education, Master of Theological Studies, Maestría en Estudios Teológicos, and Master of Theological Studies + Missions. In addition, our hybrid PhD in world Christianity has quickly become one of the most-sought-after PhDs that we have offered. Each class boasts enrollment from four to five continents. These degrees open the seminary to all, but men and women in our residency programs do the hard pulling and find themselves uniquely prepared for the demanding assignments that they must accept in reviving old churches and planting new churches at home and abroad.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s School of Church Music continues to prepare a cadre of ministers of music for tomorrow’s church. Realizing that tomorrow’s congregations will insist on greater versatility than in the past, Dean Leo Day brings his megachurch worship background, coupled with a love for opera, into a magnificent plan of preparation of music leaders for worship in this new day.
Childhood education and youth preparation, along with biblical counseling, continue to be premier programs led by Dean Waylan Owens in the Terry School of Church and Family Ministries. Mike Wilkinson provides leadership for the flourishing College at Southwestern— the perfect place for your youth!
Denny Autrey and Ben Phillips in Houston, Texas, direct the J. Dalton Havard campus, a fully degree-granting institution, which includes our Darrington Prison program among serious offenders. God is doing an amazing work there.
The Theology School of Southwestern remains the centerpiece of all that we do. The opportunity of future pastors to study theology with Malcolm Yarnell, preaching with David Allen, New Testament with John Taylor, Archaeology with Steven Ortiz, etc. make this place unlike any other in the earth.
Every recipient (including almost everyone) of Cooperative Program funds at Southwestern knows how much he owes to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. Each one of them joins the president in saying thank you to Southern Baptists for the incredible confidence that you thereby place in us. We WILL return these blessings to the churches. That is our pledge. May heaven smile upon all that you attempt for Him.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Fort Worth, Texas
One section of this report received some attention this week—all the more since it was ripped out of context and eisegeted in a masterful work of demagoguery. Permit me, if you will, to offer another reading of the text, and then you can let me know which interpretation you find to be more faithful to the text in its actual context.
Southern Baptists have a seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, that is determined to recover the Anabaptist and New Testament vision.
Yes, and about this I am unapologetic. It is no secret that there is, within our convention, theological and methodological diversity among our seminaries. This diversity takes place within the boundaries of the Baptist Faith & Message. If it is horrifically offensive that SWBTS comes to the task of theological education from an Anabaptist perspective, how is it not offensive that other seminaries come to the same task from a more Calvinistic perspective?
As for me, I say that SWBTS need not apologize for its soteriological and ecclesiological perspective and neither does SBTS or any other SBC seminary.
While appreciating the compromised theology of the Reformers, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary refuses to truncate the everlasting gospel.
Now, my friends, who are “the Reformers”? Is this a slap at Al Mohler, Tom Nettles, and Tom Ascol? Or ought we not to understand this by reference to (a) the accepted and universal meaning of the term “the Reformers” and (b) the immediate context of the preceding paragraph? Mustn’t we understand this sentence to be referring to Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Henry VIII?
And with regard to them, can we not safely conclude that ALL Baptists regard their theology as being “compromised” and “truncated”? After all, did they not all retain the corpus permixtum, fail to grant religious liberty, and lack either the insight or the boldness to restore New Testament baptism? SWBTS does not, in this report, repudiate these men entirely, “appreciating” them as the document does. It’s simply that there are limits of appreciation beyond which no Baptist can go, and SWBTS thus does not go there.
Confident with the Anabaptists that we can say to every man, “God loves you individually and died for your sins,” Southwestern presses on in the intensity of a campaign to get the good news of salvation in Christ to all seven billion on this globe.
Yes, and in this I proudly support SWBTS. Although there are a variety of soteriological positions represented within both the faculty and the student body of our seminary, our seminary as a whole is rather obviously in the General Baptist tradition with regard to the atonement. This comes as news to nobody, and it certainly does not put SWBTS at odds with the majority of Southern Baptists. I mention this majoritarian concept not to browbeat those who affirm limited atonement or to suggest that they are not welcome parts of our convention, but merely to undermine any suggestion that SWBTS has somehow wronged the convention by affirming a general atonement.
Praise God, SWBTS does not merely affirm a general atonement; the seminary lives out a general offer of the benefits of the atonement!
While allowing no discrimination against our Reformed cousins who come to us, we continue to sound the trumpet of leading people to Christ, baptizing them by immersion in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and gathering them into free churches with congregational governments.
Who are the Reformed? I’ve heard a great many of my Calvinistic Baptist friends observing that although one can be a Calvinist and a Baptist simultaneously, one cannot be both Reformed and a Baptist simultaneously. “Reformed” is a word that involves more than soteriology alone.
Calvinistic Baptists are our brothers. The Reformed—as many of them as are Christians—are our brothers—as many of us as are Christians—in the sense of our common salvation, but in the tree of denominational history it is fair to refer to them as our cousins. Certainly our relationship with them is something different from our relationship with other Baptist groups, for example. The rather obvious distinction in the sentence is between free congregationalist churches on the one hand and those churches that have on their hands the blood of Christian martyrs and of others because of their histories of advocating state churches.
To that end…
The transition is a little abrupt, but rather obviously the rest of the report is programmatic rather than ideological. Of course, the programs at SWBTS flow out of the beliefs of the seminary, but it is unfair to expect this brief report to tease out all of the details of connection between the two.
Hey, I’m no longer a convention officer! Hopefully I’ll blog a little bit more now. I hope this little essay helps!