Today's From the Seminaries includes:
SBTS (2 items)
Business professionals called to advance God's Kingdom
By Benjamin Hawkins
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Strategies for using business as a platform for missions worldwide was the focus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's first Kingdom Professionals Conference at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus.
"This is the point of the spear. This is very innovative," one expert* said during the sessions at Southwestern's Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement. And William Goff, professor of ethics at Southwestern and former Southern Baptist missionary, agreed. This conference, he said, presents information on a cutting-edge effort -- commonly called "business as missions" -- for penetrating areas of global lostness.
Goff added that the conference also aimed at facilitating contact by the International Mission Board with business people, students and faculty interested in the global marketplace initiative.
For many years, Goff said, businesses from the U.S. have engaged the international marketplace, with experts now giving greater focus on how Christian professionals can make an impact for Christ through their business endeavors. But the challenge, Goff said, is "how to do this effectively and productively."
According to experts who spoke at the conference, effective "Kingdom professionals" must be adequately equipped for and called to the professional tasks they are using as a platform for missions. They must gain both physical and legal access into the countries where they desire to serve. Their businesses must be legitimate, cost-effective and beneficial to the community and should provide professionals with opportunities to engage people with the Gospel.
Professionals can gain access to the world, experts said, through tourism, agriculture, business, restaurants, disaster relief, water filtration, mechanics and medicine as well as various other venues.
"It comes in a thousand different ways," Southwestern President Paige Patterson said during chapel, Oct. 26. "Here is the opportunity in China for a godly dentist to set up a practice that would enable him to work in the upper echelon of the Chinese people and through, that dental practice, to meet the needs of people who would never hear the Gospel in any other way."
Although Southern Baptists must always send out career missionaries to proclaim the Gospel and nurture churches until they "grow to full spiritual maturity," Patterson urged seminarians headed into church ministry "not only to call out the career missionary but also to call out those who will go to countries of the world in business and, through that business, share Christ with people that the career missionary might never reach."
During a later session, Gordon Fort, vice president of the International Mission Board's office of global strategy, called churches to stop dabbling in Great Commission endeavors and to enter wholeheartedly into the "spiritual war" that covers this globe.
"There is a global war taking place, and while you may be looking forward to having a crown one day, on this side of eternity the only thing that you get is a helmet," Fort said.
In every war, Fort said, there are casualties, voicing primary concern for those who have never heard -- and may never hear -- the Gospel, people "who have no hope because there is not even the shadow of a cross in their communities. There is no Scripture in their language. There are no churches in their villages. There is not even one believer in their extended families."
Christians must engage people in the Gospel by all possible means, Fort said.
"I hope that you have been captured by the idea, by the possibility, by the concept that sitting out amongst our churches … is an asset that, to this point, we have not really utilized to its potential," Fort noted. "Sitting out amongst our constituents are people with incredible gifts and skills and ability in the professional world."
Many of these "Kingdom professionals" have been informed for years that missions is only for the seminary trained, Fort said. They believe that, as businessmen, doctors, school teachers and agriculturalists, they can play no part in this global spiritual war.
"And I beg to differ," Fort said, praying that "Kingdom professionals" will act upon the Apostle Paul's words: "I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22).
*Names have been omitted to protect those serving in secure locations.
Benjamin Hawkins is senior news writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (www.swbts.edu/campusnews).
Trueman explains Luther as theological pastor in Gheens lectures
By Alex Duke
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Martin Luther, who sparked the Protestant Reformation, carries a complex legacy. While many laud him as a historical and theological harbinger -- the reformer who drove a nail through the heart of works-based righteousness -- others lambaste him as a derisive, ego-driven anti-Semite.
During Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's 2012 Gheens Lectures, Carl Trueman attempted to confront this black-and-white Lutheran consensus by shifting the predominant focus to Luther as pastor. Trueman, professor of historical theology and church history at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, argued that this pastoral focus brings about a more informed understanding of both Luther's theology and ministry methodology.
"Pastoral concern provided the trigger to the Reformation, showing that theology and practice necessarily intertwine," Trueman said during his Sept. 13 visit to Southern's Louisville, Ky., campus.
Borrowing from Luther, Trueman explained how the words of God in the Word of God bring life: They create reality ex nihilo, both in creation and in God's people. In fact, Trueman argued, the same holds true today as pastors encounter that Word in preaching.
"Preaching is not merely a descriptive task," Trueman said. "It is morally and existentially confrontational. Indifference to the Word is impossible."
Trueman noted how Luther's deep concern for "ordinary people" manifested itself in his pastoral ministry. He cited, among other anecdotes, the decade-long transition of the Mass in Luther's church from Latin to German. Though he often identified a need before his people could, Luther waited to address that need until they were ready.
"Luther was acutely sensitive to the pace with which his people would accept theological reform," Trueman said.
Echoing the exhortations of Luther, Trueman concluded with a call to pastoral practice driven by biblical faithfulness, humility before a holy God and confidence in a sufficient Christ.
Both audio and video from Trueman's lectures, "We Are Beggers: Martin Luther as Theological Pastor," are available online at www.sbts.edu/resources.
SBTS names new VP for advancement
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has named R. Craig Parker as its vice president for institutional advancement and executive director of the Southern Seminary Foundation.
"Craig is a man of remarkable gifts, longstanding Southern Baptist experience, valuable experience in the local church and a demonstrated expertise in building a ministry," R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary, said in the Oct. 17 announcement. "To know him and his wife, Selwyn, is to know a dedicated Christian couple whose commitment to Christ, to the church, and to Southern Seminary is tangible and powerful."
Parker takes the place of Jason K. Allen, who left Southern to assume the presidency of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Oct. 15.
Southern's office of institutional advancement and the Southern Seminary Foundation lead fundraising efforts of the seminary, from major building projects to raising money for the school's annual fund, which defrays tuition costs for master's degree students.
Prior to accepting this position, Parker served the seminary as vice president of business services. And before arriving at Southern, Parker held administrative roles in Tennessee churches, including 15 years as church administrator at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova -- the church once pastored by Adrian Rogers and a significant church in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is also a former trustee for Guidestone Financial Resources.
Parker has been married for 35 years to Selwyn, with whom he has two adult children, Leah and Matt. He holds a bachelor's degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and a master's from Murray State University in Murray, Ky.
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