Alongside other essays, the Southwestern journal contains a three-part eyewitness assessment of the "conservative renaissance" written by the seminary's president, Paige Patterson.
"The Southern Baptist Convention at the end of the twentieth century was characterized by growth in mission and excitement over theology," Malcolm Yarnell, managing editor of the journal, writes.
"This journal is an appropriate venue for rehearsing Southern Baptist theology in the late twentieth century, because Southwestern Seminary often took center stage in that doctrinal drama," Yarnell, assistant professor of systematic theology at Southwestern, adds.
In an introductory essay, Southwestern Seminary graduate and Union University President David S. Dockery describes the "coming of age" of Southern Baptist theology.
"It is not possible to understand the issues and challenges we face in Southern Baptist life in the second decade of the twenty-first century," Dockery writes, "without understanding what took place in the SBC from the time of the adoption of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message to the 2000 Orlando Convention where the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message was overwhelmingly affirmed."
In two essays, distinguished professor emeritus James Leo Garrett Jr. examines the theological legacy of 20th century Oklahoma pastor and denominational leader Herschel Hobbs. In his major 2009 publication, "Baptist Theology: A Four-Century Study," Garrett "treated Hobbs's theology as that of one of the two most influential Southern Baptist pastor-theologians of the twentieth century."
In the final three essays, Patterson, whose leadership in the Conservative Resurgence was significant, evaluates the struggle to uphold biblical inerrancy within the Southern Baptist Convention. His first essay provides a background to the battle by tracing the story of trends within the convention from the Civil War to 1979. The second essay recounts the "renaissance plan" and its outworking.
In the final essay, Patterson asks a question: Should conservatives rejoice at their victory in reviving the doctrine of biblical inerrancy in the SBC? He answers that conservative Baptists have much to be thankful for, but they must be vigilant.
Patterson's concerns for 21st century Baptists include ecumenical trends and the "failure adequately to seek the face of God" and to "distinguish between the holy and profane." Many Baptists also have forgotten their heritage, he writes. Additionally, "quick access to knowledge" on the Internet discourages people from training for the ministry in Bible colleges and seminaries, and there exists a "general tendency" in many places toward "the overall dumbing down of pastoral preparation."
Such issues, Patterson writes, "raise serious questions about what the churches will look like in twenty years." Patterson has concerns for Southern Baptist churches, but he also has hope.
"Every generation has its own battles, and not infrequently, resurrects conflicts from the past," Patterson writes in his conclusion. "The next few generations of Baptists, being a free people, will debate fiercely. But the reliability and authority of God's Word that guided Baptist life for the first 100 years of the Southern Baptist Convention will likely now guide the next 100 years if Jesus delays His return. ... "We have given our children, grandchildren, and sons in the ministry a chance to live under and to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ by preserving the doctrine of biblical inerrancy," Patterson writes. "May the grace of God attend them and keep them faithful. We gladly pass the torch to the next generation!"
Alongside the essays, the edition of the Southwestern Journal of Theology contains nearly 50 pages of book reviews covering recent publications in biblical studies, theology, church history, philosophy, ethics and pastoral ministry.
To order a copy of the spring 2012 edition of the journal, contact the editorial assistant at P.O. Box 22608, Fort Worth, Texas 76122, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The editorial and one essay from the edition of the journal may be viewed at www.baptisttheology.org, a website of Southwestern's Center for Theological Research.
UNION'S 'RENEWING MINDS'
The first edition of a new journal published by Union University, "Renewing Minds: A Journal of Christian Thought," is now available.
"This is not like an academic journal in the sense that it is written just for other academics," Hunter Baker, associate dean of arts and sciences at Union and one of the journal's senior editors, said. "This is an attempt for academics to make their ideas accessible to a broader public."
C. Ben Mitchell, the Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy at Union and a senior editor of the journal, said Renewing Minds will allow Union to contribute to the conversation about important topics in a timely fashion.
"We want to showcase the best of Union scholarship," Mitchell said. "We think that the journal will enable us to do that, as well as be able to publish others as well."
The theme for the first issue is "Christian higher education," with articles from Union professors Scott Huelin, Jennifer Gruenke and Baker as well as Mark Schwehn, provost of Valparaiso University, and Paul House, professor of divinity at Beeson Divinity School.
The plan for each issue, Baker said, is to include an article from the past to reprint. The first issue contains an article from Carl F.H. Henry, "The Crisis of the Campus." The journal carries several book reviews as well.
"It's designed to get Christian scholars to reflect on important questions," Baker said of the new project. "A lot of times scholarship seems to be aimed at things that we might find trivial or exceedingly narrow. This is an attempt to call upon people to apply their mind to questions of significant social import."
In the introduction to the journal, David S. Dockery, Union's president, says the articles "reflect well the key aspects of the Christian intellectual tradition."
"We pray that the journal will be used of God to enhance the work of 'renewing minds,' thus strengthening the efforts of those who are called to serve in the distinctive sphere of Christian higher education," Dockery writes.
J. Michael Garrett is the review editor for the journal, while Jonathan Dockery is the managing editor and Sarah Dockery is the production editor. To subscribe to Renewing Minds, visit www.baptisttheology.org.
Based on reports by Benjamin Hawkins, senior news writer at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Tim Ellsworth, director of news and media relations at Union University. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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