NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary family gathered Sept. 6 for the seminary's annual convocation chapel to recognize new faculty members and honor those who have reached milestone anniversaries at the school.
NOBTS president Chuck Kelley offered the convocation message, preaching from Matthew 5. When Kelley stepped behind the pulpit in Leavell Chapel, he began his sermon by posing what he considered a surprising question for a Southern Baptist audience.
"Who does God love?"
"The message of a loving God has been something so cherished by Southern Baptists as long as I've known them and as I've read through their history," Kelley said. "It's hard to even imagine asking that question. But that is in fact the question that some are asking today -- Who did God love? Does God love some of us and not others of us?"
Though some may believe that God only loves a select group, Kelley said God's love extends to every human. He turned to Jesus' famous discourse, the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, to make his point.
The question of who God loves may be answered by observing how God expects His followers to act toward others and vice versa. The crux of Kelley's argument lay in Matthew 5:43-48, where Jesus teaches His followers how to act toward their enemies.
"Jesus says the expectation of the world love those who love you, love those who have the good sense to laugh at your jokes, love those who agree with you, love those who think you're wonderful and help you -- and hate your enemies," Kelley said.
Jesus, though, taught His followers to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." And to further instruct His disciples on how to behave toward their enemies, Jesus described how God behaves toward those who do not honor Him: "He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."
"The message of God's glory is a great and important message, but it is an incomplete message without the message of God's love to the world," Kelley said. "This is why the cross is at the heart of the New Testament and Christianity. The cross is not a moment of glory. It is a moment of humiliation and a moment of sacrifice. It is a moment of the ultimate expression of the love of God.... How could you possibly say God loves some but not others? And God has given us this kind of standard for our own conduct."
That standard, though, often is easier in theory than in practice. To illustrate that point, Kelley shared the story of Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch World War II survivor known for heroically aiding Jewish refugees during the war. After the war, ten Boom would travel throughout Europe calling people to forgive and be reconciled to those who had supported the Nazi regime.
After speaking in one church, ten Boom was approached by a man who had been a guard at a concentration camp where she had been imprisoned. He held out his hand and asked that she express her forgiveness.
She had called Christians to be forgiving and show love to their former enemies, and yet in that moment she struggled with forgiveness. Reflecting on God's love, though, turned her heart toward forgiveness and she took the man's hand.
"For a long moment, we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner," ten Boom wrote. "I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then."
"I ask you," Kelley said, "Does God expect from us what He does not expect from Himself? I say no."
Kelley offered an application for faculty, staff and students at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary by first naming the school's five core values -- doctrinal integrity, spiritual vitality, mission focus, characteristic excellence and servant leadership.
Just as NOBTS as an institution strives to uphold a steadfast commitment to those five core values, so the Christians who make up the seminary should be known for the one defining characteristic: love.
"The love of God is the standard for our interactions with one another," Kelley said. "Let us tell the nations of the love of a glorious God, and let us live with love for one another."
During the service, six faculty members signed the seminary's confessional document, The Articles of Religious Belief, and The Baptist Faith and Message 2000, the confession of Southern Baptists. The Articles of Religious Belief were authored by the seminary's founding faculty in 1917, before the first version of the Baptist Faith and Message in 1925.
The following NOBTS faculty members signed the seminary's doctrinal documents:
-- Angie Bauman, assistant professor of Christian education and director of student services for the seminary's North Georgia Hub
-- Ian Jones, professor of psychology and counseling, occupying the Baptist Community Ministries' chair of pastoral counseling
-- Chris Turner, assistant professor of voice
-- Damian Emetuche, assistant professor of church planting, director of the Cecil B. Day Center for Church Planting, and Nehemiah Project national missionary with the North American Mission Board
-- Randy Stone, associate professor of Christian education and director of the doctor of educational ministry program
-- Bob Welch, professor of church administration and chair of the Christian education division.
In addition, the following longtime NOBTS professors were honored for their milestone years of service:
-- For 10 years of service, Bill Day, professor of evangelism and church health and associate director of the Leavell Center for Evangelism and Church Health; Steve Echols, professor of leadership occupying the Nelson L. Price Chair of Leadership and director of the North Georgia Hub; and Archie England, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew occupying the J. Wash Watts Chair of Old Testament and Hebrew and director of the Baptist College Partnership Program.
-- For 15 years, Jerry Barlow, professor of preaching and pastoral work and dean of graduate studies, and Michael Sharp, professor of worship studies at the North Georgia Hub.
-- For 20 years, Charlie Ray, professor of New Testament and Greek and associate dean of research doctoral programs.
-- For 25 years, Dennis Cole, professor of Old Testament and archaeology occupying the McFarland Chair of Archaeology and chair of the division of biblical studies.
NOBTS president Chuck Kelley also recognized Jeanine Bozeman, professor of social work, for her many years of teaching at New Orleans Seminary. Though technically retired, Bozeman has continued to teach at the seminary, and this fall marks her 25th year as well.
Reported by Frank Michael McCormack, a writer for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Using Jesus' words concerning John the Baptist found in Matthew 11:1-11, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson challenged students toward boldness and faithfulness in ministry during the school's fall convocation Aug. 25.
"If you have come to school expecting softness and favor," Patterson said, "you need to transfer tomorrow to a different institution; it will not be given here.
"As a matter of fact, we're going to put you through boot camp because I am responsible for seeing to it that you stay spiritually alive when under spiritual attack to the ends of the earth. And I intend to do my best to carry out our responsibility, and it isn't going to be easy for you or for me."
John the Baptist lived a simple life and declared a simple yet profound message. He demonstrated great courage, even at the cost of his life, to speak God's words.
"To be a real prophet of God means that you have no other message than the Word of the Lord," Patterson said. "If God didn't say it, you don't say it. If God did say it, you must say it."
"You are not a servant for money. You are not a servant for ease. You are not asserting your rights. If you're going to be a prophet of God, it's got to be a commitment like John the Baptist's."
Just as John the Baptist prepared people for the coming of Christ, Patterson said, so also do ministers announce the second coming of Christ.
"Make no mistake about it," Patterson said. "It is a dangerous calling, it is an adventuresome calling."
Eight professors elected to faculty during the spring trustee meeting signed their names to the memorial book of faculty service, signifying their affirmation of the seminary's articles of faith, the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. Professors included Travis Dickinson, Thomas Kiker, Evan Lenow, Charles Carpenter, Frank Catanzaro, Thomas Davis, Patricia Nason and Patricia Ennis.
Reported by Keith Collier, director of news and information for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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