Today's From the Seminaries includes items from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.
Southeastern M.Div. available fully online
By Ali Dixon
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (SEBTS) -- Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has launched a fully online master of divinity along with several other online degrees available from anywhere in the world.
The master of arts in intercultural studies, master of theological studies, master of arts in church planting, associate of arts and associate of divinity degrees also are available for immediate enrollment in fully online format. In the coming months, the master of arts in Christian Studies will be available online as well.
The degrees uphold the same academic standards, with flexible schedule options and comparable tuition rates.
Chuck Lawless, Southeastern's dean of graduate studies, noted, "The opportunities that fully online degrees offer are numerous. We can touch the nations as students from around the world study with us.
"These degrees allow us to be cutting edge in fulfilling the Great Commission while still offering the best on-campus residential program," Lawless said.
John Ewart, associate vice president for global theological initiatives at Southeastern, said the online degrees allow Southeastern "to further strengthen our ongoing connection with the local church and mission field."
Citing Southeastern's mission to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and to fulfill the Great Commission, Ewart said, "If we are going to effectively raise up an army of students large enough to fulfill this challenge we must often do so by training them where they are even while they are already on the battlefield." The online degree provide "one more option for that equipping to occur," he said.
Jerry Lassetter, SEBTS director of distance learning, said, "We talk to college students and church members all over the U.S. who want theological education and training for the ministry but they cannot leave their local ministry or their jobs and move to Wake Forest."
The new online format is focused on accessibility and convenience for the participants. "Our online M.Div. and M.A.'s make it possible for students to earn a degree and still serve in the ministry they love," Lassetter said.
The expertise of Southeastern's faculty will be a key facet of the new online degrees. "Courses can include multiple professors teaching to capture and share the best parts of what our professors teach," Lassetter said.
"We consistently talk to missionaries who want more education but cannot leave the mission field," Lassetter added. "We know missionaries that plan their stateside assignment at times when they can take classes. Now they can complete their degrees completely from the field."
"I want to disciple the whole world," Ewart said.
For more details on the online degrees, contact Southeastern's admissions office by phone, 1-866-816-0273, or email Distancelearning@sebts.edu, or visit SEBTS distance learning.
Southern hosts 9Marks Spanish-language conf.
By RuthAnne Irvin & Jairo Namnun
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's 9Marks conference looked and sounded different this year, as the seminary hosted its first-ever conference entirely in Spanish. A Feb. 27 Hispanic pastors' conference was held in conjunction with the annual two-day 9Marks conference for pastors. Miguel Núñez, a Dominican pastor, author and host of a popular TV show, broadcast in 20 countries, spoke at the conference, along with other pastors.
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary, said the Hispanic pastors' conference pointed to the need and desire for outreach to the Hispanic and Latino communities.
"Southern Seminary was honored and extremely pleased to host this conference for Spanish-speaking pastors, and we were quite honestly overwhelmed with the turnout," Mohler said. "It went far beyond anything we could have imagined. It just points to the need for Southern Baptists particularly, and evangelicals more generally, to have an intensive, strategic outreach to the Hispanic and Latino community."
The mission field "demands that we get serious, and we get serious fast, about joining hand-in-hand with Hispanic pastors and Christian leaders to be faithful to Christ," Mohler said.
9Marks, a ministry of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., helps educate and train pastors to minister in local churches. The organization emphasizes "nine marks" of a healthy church -- preaching, biblical theology, the Gospel, conversion, evangelism, membership, discipline, discipleship and leadership -- through resources and events like the 9Marks at Southern conference.
The Hispanic pastors' conference coincided with this year's 9Marks at Southern conference, which focused on pastors and their understanding of biblical theology. Pastors need to understand the different parts of Scripture in order to know the whole of Scripture and to know God accurately, according to speakers at the Feb. 28-March 1 event.
Speakers included 9Marks founder and senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Mark Dever; Mohler; G.K. Beale, professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia; David Helm, lead pastor of the Hyde Park congregation of Holy Trinity Church in Chicago; Christian hip-hop artist Shai Linne; and Michael Lawrence, senior pastor at Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, Ore.
More than 130 participants from across the U.S. attended the Hispanic pastors' conference, which featured several prominent Hispanic pastors, including Núñez and Juan Sánchez.
The seminary streamed the conference live online, garnering more than 800 online viewers from various countries, including the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Peru, Canada, Ecuador, Sweden, Uruguay, Brazil, Netherlands, Australia, India, Norway, Paraguay, Singapore and Bolivia.
Núñez, senior pastor of the International Baptist Church in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, led a plenary session emphasizing the first "mark" of a healthy church, according to the 9Marks formula, which is biblically based expository preaching.
Núñez called for preaching that isn't divorced from the text or man-centered, but God-centered and Gospel-saturated. Christians are sustained and grown through God's Word, he said, which is why biblical preaching is essential to a healthy church.
"The church is sustained by the Word of His power," Nunez said. "Our lives are sustained by His Word of power. What causes people to be born again is the action of the Word -- not the skills of the preacher, not the way we present the message, not the audiovisual resources, which we use and love. It's the Word of His power."
Sanchez, pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, led a session about three more of the nine marks of a healthy church: leadership, discipline and membership. He said the miracle of the Gospel is the unity of Christians from around the world.
"The miracle of the Gospel is not that Mexicans and Cubans and Puerto Ricans can be together in one room," Sanchez said. "All that takes is a football game. The wonderful thing is that Mexicans and Cubans and Puerto Ricans are together as brothers and sisters. That's wonderful. And right there you can see God's wisdom that brings people who were enemies and are now together at the Lord's table."
The event also featured several other speakers and panel discussions, including Southern Seminary missions professor M. David Sills. Attendees received a copy of the newly released Spanish language edition of "A Guide to Expository Ministry," published by SBTS Press.
Southern Seminary student Chris Wong said the conference encouraged him as someone of Peruvian descent.
"It's just an encouragement to see so many pastors here from different parts of the U.S. -- the fact that they're very zealous to do God's work," Wong said.
Another attendee who drove from where he pastors in central Alabama, Antonio Inestroza, said he came to the conference to learn more about pastoral ministry in the Hispanic community.
"I came because I was interested in the development of Hispanic pastoral ministry in the United States. I thank God for these opportunities," Inestroza, a pastor for 42 years, said.
And Josué Cardoso, originally from Cuba, traveled to the conference from Houston, Texas, where he serves in the Colegio de Estudios Biblicos de Houston (school of biblical studies). He came to the conference to get involved with 9Marks and to prepare for ministry.
"It is our purpose that the Latin community in Houston be better prepared," Cardosa said. "In the midst of so much confusion and many strange currents inside the church, we need to prepare better the leadership of the Latin community in the south of the U.S."
Audio and video from both the Spanish-language conference and the English-language conference are available online at sbts.edu/resources.
Biblical authority, salvation called 'inextricable'
By RuthAnne Irvin
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) -- The authority and inerrancy of Scripture is necessary to understand salvation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said during his spring 2014 convocation address.
In a message titled "'If You Do Not Believe His Writings, How Will You Believe My Words?' -- The Authority of Scripture and the Gift of Salvation," Mohler said the inerrancy of Scripture is inseparable from the gift of salvation, and to believe otherwise is dangerous because without the first, the second is impossible.
"Scriptural authority and the gift of salvation are inextricable," Mohler said Jan. 28. "We cannot have one without the other. We cannot be a Gospel people without also being a Bible people."
In John 5:39-47, Jesus confronts the Pharisees who seek to understand the Scriptures yet do not believe Moses' words in the Old Testament, so they do not see Christ or truly believe the Word of God, Mohler noted.
" not denying the truth of the Word; they're simply refusing to see what is there," Mohler said. "They are missing the point. They are diligently studying the Scriptures because they think that in them they have eternal life. But they're missing the fact every single word of Scripture, specific here to the Old Testament, bears witness to Christ."
And, Mohler said, if all of Scripture bears witness to Christ, the result is an inability for Christians to have faith in Christ without confidence in the Scriptures and its authority in their lives. Instead of being solely New Testament Christians, Mohler said, they need to be whole Bible Christians.
Jesus' question, "If you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?" formed Mohler's argument. If the Bible contains errors, he said, then the Gospel's trustworthiness is questioned.
Mohler briefly reviewed the history of the debate about the authority of Scripture, beginning with the Enlightenment and its turn from the authority of Scripture to the rationality of the mind. From the Enlightenment he talked about the rise of Protestant liberalism in the 20th century, mentioning Southern Seminary's turn from liberalism in the 1970s and '80s to its commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture.
Despite the victories won in the battle for inerrancy, Mohler asked, "How can so much be gained so quickly to be lost?" noting today's generation as the most confused about this doctrine.
But it isn't just confusion, Mohler said, but an agenda of trying to find a new way to discuss Scripture's authority to make it more "cool." Today's evangelicals, he said, want a new understanding of the gift of salvation without the authority of Scripture that doesn't necessitate such a specific definition of biblical inerrancy.
Still, Mohler said, the primary issue is reading the Bible to see Christ.
Mohler said he hopes students would never miss the point of their study of Scripture: "Christ, and the point of the text is the Gospel, who Christ is," he said.
"Our affirmation of the Scriptures can be no less than our affirmation of the Gospel because we have no knowledge of the Gospel, we have no power of the Gospel, we have no concept of the Gospel, we have no message by which to teach and preach and share the Gospel if it is not the direct, trustworthy, true revelation of God in the Scriptures," Mohler said.
Audio and video from Mohler's address are available at sbts.edu/resources.
Iorg underscores 'hearing & obeying' Scripture
MILL VALLEY, Calif. (GGBTS) -- "Experience often determines perspective and perspective often shapes attitude," said Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, during the spring 2014 convocation.
"It is easy to take for granted the opportunity God has given us to be students of the Word of God," Iorg said. "In this message I want to shape your attitude about the importance of the Bible in your life."
Preaching at the Mill Valley campus of Golden Gate Seminary in California, Iorg exhorted the seminarians from James 1:19-25 "to be people who not only have access to the Word of God, but people who are committed to hearing and obeying the Word."
When this choice is made, Iorg assured students "you will experience the blessing that can only come from living under the authority of God's Word."
"As we change our perspective on the Word of God, we must first be genuine hearers of the Word. We cannot be casual hearers only but must also be intentional, eager hearers who are quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger and intentionally ridding ourselves of things which crowd out the influence of the Word in our lives."
Iorg said there is more to Christian ministry than simply hearing or appreciating the Bible. James 1:19-25 "progresses from challenging us to be better hearers of the Word to the next level," he said. Some seminarians deceive themselves by thinking that simply amassing the information by hearing about the Word of God is sufficient for ministerial success, he said, noting, "You must not be mere hearers, but practicing 'doers' of the Word who are transformed by the Word."
Iorg said the seminary administration and faculty have agreed to a clearly articulated mission statement: shaping leaders who expand God's Kingdom around the world. "Leaders must be transformed so they can go out and allow the Word of God to transform others. This is how the Kingdom of God expands."
Iorg concluded the sermon by reminding students of the perspective they should have on the Bible. "Don't lose the capacity to experience the Bible's transformative power. Recapture a sense of awe: God has allowed you to go to seminary. Hold a sense of amazement that you have received the opportunity to come here and study the Word of God with people who've devoted their lives to it, and soak up all the richness of it. Think of the privilege you've been given. But more than that -- develop a passion for doing what the Bible teaches … being transformed by the Word of God."
Golden Gate Seminary is a Cooperative Program ministry of the Southern Baptist convention, operating five fully-accredited campuses – in Northern California, Southern California, Pacific Northwest, Arizona, and Colorado. For more information visit www.ggbts.edu.
Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
Copyright (c) 2014 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net