FROM THE SEMINARIES: SWBTS 'legacy servants'; Mohler book on Acts; Mark Dever at SBTS

by SBC Seminary Staff, posted Monday, September 09, 2019 (3 years ago)

Greenway thanks SWBTS 'legacy servants'

Current SWBTS faculty member Malcolm Yarnell stands on his knees to speak with former preaching professor Jimmie Nelson, who taught at the seminary for 26 years, retiring in 1999. "I got down on my knees just so I could hear his voice again," said Yarnell, research professor of systematic theology. "As a Southwestern Seminary graduate who was shaped by such great professors as Jimmie Nelson, I cannot tell you how I have longed deeply for this day." SWBTS photo
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Since becoming president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Adam W. Greenway has sought to reconnect with former faculty and staff -- or, as he calls them, "legacy servants."

Thus, Sept. 5 was a day that Greenway had looked forward to in welcoming a number of legacy servants from Southwestern's history.

That day, Al Fasol, distinguished professor of preaching emeritus, preached in chapel and Greenway welcomed the Seniors of Southwestern -- a fellowship of retired faculty and staff -- as honored guests.

"As the first alumnus of our seminary to serve as president in a quarter-century, it's very meaningful to me that all of our Southwestern family sense the love and the appreciation and the gratitude of our seminary for their service," Greenway, who became Southwestern's president in February, said in recognizing the retired faculty in chapel. "Because candidly, all of us who currently serve here at Southwestern Seminary, we are living in houses we did not build; we are drinking from wells we did not dig.

"There is a line of faithfulness that goes back through the generations of the men and women who gave selflessly to help build Southwestern Seminary into the crown jewel that she is today."

Speaking of the legacy servants' impact, Greenway said, "There are people who have had a more faithful ministry because you followed God's calling to serve here at Southwestern Seminary when you could have done a lot of other things in a lot of other places. And that's why it's important for Southwestern Seminary to have this chance to say 'thank you' for what you've done. Our seminary is a better place because you have been here."

Fasol, who began teaching at Southwestern Seminary in 1973, opened his sermon by sharing how pleased he was to "finally meet" the current students.

He recounted that, during orientation for new instructors back in 1973, he discussed with then-faculty members the cultural changes that would lead to difficult days for their children and grandchildren as Christians in the United States. One of those faculty members -- the late Jack Gray, a professor of missions -- said, "I think we'd better pray for those children and those grandchildren to come."

"And we literally prayed for you 46 years ago," Fasol said. "And we didn't stop. Every semester -- I'm sure it's happening among the faculty even today -- at the beginning of the year, we always prayed for the students -- incoming, those who were here, those graduating, those recently graduated. There was always prayer for you going on."

Drawing from the discussion 46 years ago, Fasol said there are at least two things modern-day Christians need in order to deal with changes that have occurred in society.

First, they need to have a strong foundation. Reading 1 Peter 1:3-4, Fasol said that in order to build a strong foundation, Christians must begin by praising God.

"Historically, Christianity has prospered under challenges more than it has under prosperity," Fasol said. "And as you anticipate those days, the first thing you do, no matter how difficult the circumstance is, is you praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who, according to His mercy piled upon mercy, has caused us to be born again."

The second thing modern-day Christians need, Fasol said, is all the elements found in 2 Timothy 1:7, noting that Christians armed with confidence, power, love and a sound mind will be able to act on their faith and give an answer to everyone who asks why they believe in Jesus.

"We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses here at Southwestern," Fasol concluded. "Understand that your present faculty prays for you. They are deeply educated, highly qualified, and called of God to be here to be your servant.

"The administration is called of God to be here to do everything they can to make sure that you don't have to and the faculty doesn't have to worry about anything else except why you are here: to study where God has brought you.

"With all of these advantages," Fasol said, "build your strong foundation, and be ready to give an answer to those who ask."

A luncheon after chapel provided current faculty and staff the opportunity to speak with the legacy servants. The scene of such conversations represented a "beautiful sign of God's Kingdom and our one Southwestern family," Greenway said.

"We love you. We're so thankful for you," he said to the former faculty and staff. "We could not tell the story of Southwestern Seminary apart from you.

"And know that any way that we can serve you, bless you, help you … that is our desire. We want you to feel loved and welcome and at home here at the dome," he said in reference to the B.H. Carroll Memorial Building at the center of the Fort Worth, Texas, campus.

"So please do not make this the last time that you are here with us."


Mohler completes 2-book series on Acts

By SBTS Communications

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- R. Albert Mohler Jr. has released the second volume in his two-part expository commentary on the book of Acts, titled "Acts 13-28 For You: Mapping the Explosive Multiplying of the Church."

SBTS photo
The first volume, Acts 1-13, released in 2018. Both books are published by The Good Book Company.

Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and host of "The Briefing" and "Thinking in Public" podcasts, said he intended his commentary to pay close attention to the text of Scripture and help preachers, teachers and all Christians understand and apply the message of Acts.

The volume begins with a treatment of the apostle's first missionary journey (Acts 13), then explores Paul's many arrests and court appearances throughout his earthly ministry. The book then discusses the Jerusalem Council, the arrival of the church in Philippi, Athens and Rome, and many other key moments from the book of Acts.

The second part of Acts, Mohler said, should embolden believers to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, just as Paul himself did.

"God reveals in these chapters that he uses broken, sinful people to accomplish his purposes in salvation history," Mohler writes in the introduction. "This is a humbling privilege. This is unspeakable grace -- the holy God of the cosmos rescues us out of our sin and rebellion, and refashions us into ambassadors for his kingdom. As he commissioned Paul to take the gospel to the nations, so he calls all his redeemed children into his service to bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ."

The book was designed to be used in various formats: being read straight through, used as a devotional or referenced in teaching and preaching ministries. Each of the 12 chapters focuses on a section in Acts, featuring verse-by-verse interpretation and exposition followed by a series of questions to help the reader reflect upon and apply the text to the Christian life. The book also concludes with a glossary of terms used throughout the commentary helpful for quick reference.

In the book, Mohler highlights the suffering and persecution the Apostle Paul endures in his mission to preach the Gospel to all nations. In nearly every chapter, the reader might expect Paul to meet his end or abandon his mission out of despair, but the narrative of Acts trains the believer to have an "unshakeable trust" in God's sovereignty, Mohler writes.

"Discipleship means difficulty -- a life of ease, comfort, and prosperity does not await people zealous for God and his kingdom," Mohler writes. "Quite the contrary -- Acts shows us the immense suffering that awaits the faithful servants of Christ. Yet, despite the suffering, it reveals the glorious grace, mercy, and power of God."

The book officially released on September 1 and can be purchased at The Good Book Company and Amazon.


Mark Dever at SBTS reflects 'prayer, common conviction'

By SBTS Communications

Mike Dever
Capital Hill Baptist Church photo
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- "Decades ago, Mark Dever and I were fellow students at Southern Seminary," R. Albert Mohler Jr. noted in a news release Sept. 6 about Dever's appointment as the inaugural Duke K. McCall Professor of Pastoral Leadership.

"Our friendship was born out of prayer, common conviction, common vision and a common hope for a scriptural reformation within our churches, the Southern Baptist Convention and, most urgently, Southern Seminary," Mohler said.

"Imagine my joy, so many years later, to see how God has answered our prayers. That joy is so powerfully evident in the announcement that Mark Dever will assume this new responsibility as the Duke K. McCall Professor of Pastoral Leadership. This great and influential pastor-scholar is exactly what we need as the first incumbent of the McCall Chair."

Mohler, who has led Southern Baptist Theological Seminary since 1993, announced Dever's appointment during the Aug. 27 convocation at the Louisville, Ky., campus.

Dever will continue as senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C., where he has served since 1994. He also is president of the 9Marks leadership and church health ministry.

A leading pastor and theologian in Southern Baptist and broader evangelical life, Dever is the author of nearly 20 books on topics ranging from theology to church life, including "Nine Marks of a Healthy Church," "Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus" and "The Church: The Gospel Made Visible."

Dever holds a master of divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a master of theology from Southern Seminary and a doctor of philosophy from Cambridge University.

The faculty chair is endowed by the family of Duke K. McCall, the seventh and longest-serving president of Southern Seminary. McCall is an essential part of the Southern Seminary story, Mohler said, and the establishment of a chair in his honor reflects his legacy nearly 40 years after his presidency.

"Dr. McCall, the seventh president of Southern Seminary, had already been president for almost 30 years when I arrived as a student. You cannot tell the story of Southern Seminary without him. In this announcement, the past, present and future of Southern Seminary combine."

Matthew J. Hall, provost of Southern Seminary, described McCall as a "transformational leader" for both Southern Seminary and the Southern Baptist Convention. His influence continues to this day, both with the annual McCall Lectures and now the endowed faculty chair.

"In the years prior to Dr. McCall's death in 2013, his family went to great efforts to endow both a lectureship and a faculty chair to bear his name," Hall said. "The McCall Lectures have proven to be an invaluable and enriching addition to Southern Seminary. And it is with great pride that we are able to announce the final stage in the fruition of the McCall family's generous investment."

Dever, in a statement about his hiring, said his interest in the new role stemmed from his personal history with Southern and his full agreement with the seminary's Abstract of Principles founding charter.

"I'm very thankful for the honor and the trust that Dr. Mohler and the trustees have shown me and I look forward to having this opportunity to try to train pastors," Dever said.

He added that he was present for McCall's final lecture in seminary chapel and that he looks forward to teaching faithful pastoral leadership to future pastors and ministers in his new role.

"I'm thankful for the way Dr. Mohler has helped to shepherd the relationship of the institution with the McCall family and I am happy to try and present a biblical vision of pastoral leadership sponsored by such longtime friends of the seminary," Dever said.

Hall said Dever is the ideal person to train the next generation of church leaders, thanks to his extensive experience in pastoral leadership and ministry.

"I've known Mark Dever for many years now and have been the direct beneficiary of so much of his ministry," Hall said. "As a trusted pastor and leader, his impact on a generation of pastors is evident throughout Southern Baptist life and the broader evangelical world. His appointment to the faculty at Southern Seminary is so encouraging to me personally and will present students with a remarkable opportunity to learn from a pastor-theologian of the highest caliber."

Hershael W. York, dean of Southern Seminary's school of theology, said Dever is "so singularly gifted, so uniquely passionate to teach pastors through personal example, as well as expansive publication, that he has already marked a generation for service to Christ. I am grateful that God has used him, amazingly, from the pastorate of a local church. He embodies the pastor-theologian like no one else."

Dever and his wife Connie have two adult children, both married, and one grandchild.

Reported by Alex Sibley, associate director of news and information at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the communications staff of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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