Baptist Press
Posted: Apr 09, 2014 4:52 PM
Today's Education Digest includes news from:

Union University

Truett-McConnell College

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Union files suit to block abortion mandate

JACKSON, Tenn. -- Union University has joined other faith-based institutions in filing a federal lawsuit challenging an order to provide abortion-causing drugs as part of employee health care plans.

The suit, filed April 4 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, seeks a judgment declaring that the abortifacient mandate of the Affordable Care Act violates Union University's rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and the Administrative Procedures Act.

Until now, Union's health care plans were not required to provide abortifacients under the new law because of a grandfather clause that allowed existing plans to continue unaltered.

But the Affordable Care Act also makes provision for that exemption to be rescinded if significant changes take place in the terms or the costs of the grandfathered policies. There are enough changes to this year's Union University health insurance policies to trigger an end to the exemption. The Affordable Care Act mandates some of those changes.

"Causing the death of the embryo conflicts with Union University's beliefs based on Scripture," the Union lawsuit states. "Therefore, Union University has religious-based objection to drugs and devices that kill the embryo and to education and counseling related to the use of these abortion-causing drugs and devices."

The lawsuit also states that the "mandate forces Union University to choose between its sincerely held religious beliefs and the government-imposed adverse consequences" of non-compliance.

When it became clear the exemption would be rescinded, Union leadership began consultations with university attorneys.

"I am grateful for the courageous action of Dr. Dockery and other leaders at Union to defend religious liberty and protect innocent life," said President-elect Samuel W. "Dub" Oliver.

Oliver's current institution, East Texas Baptist University, along with Houston Baptist University and about 100 other plaintiffs have filed similar lawsuits in the past two years.

In December, a federal court in Houston ruled in favor of ETBU and HBU. The court issued an injunction against the abortifacient requirement, ruling that such a mandate violates federal civil rights laws. "The religious organization plaintiffs have shown a sincerely held religious belief that the court cannot second-guess," the ruling stated.

Union University provides employee health insurance through the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, a consortium of 34 public and private institutions.

NAMB's online evangelism adds Truett-McConnell as partner

CLEVELAND, Ga. -- A former Muslim and former Hindu have signed a pact to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in North America.

Officials representing Truett-McConnell College and the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board inked a partnership agreement that will equip students, staff and faculty to share their faith across via the telephone and Internet.

Emir Caner, president of Truett-McConnell College and an ex-Muslim, along with N.S.R.K. Ravi, coordinator of NAMB's Evangelism Response Center and an ex-Hindu, signed the pact during a Feb. 27 TMC chapel service, where Ravi also preached.

In signing the ERC agreement, Caner said he and Ravi would "officially covenant together and put our arms around each other for one singular reason: that the world may know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior."

Truett-McConnell joins numerous other Evangelism Response Center partners, including the Southern Baptist Convention's six seminaries; numerous state conventions, local associations and churches; and various Baptist colleges. The participating organizations provide thousands of volunteers across North America who, in the privacy of their homes, share the Gospel with receptive people from the United States and Canada.

The agreement specifies that Truett-McConnell will supply the people and NAMB will train them to use the ERC, which offers 24/7 assistance -- in English and Spanish -- "equips and mobilizes Southern Baptists to offer prayer and spiritual counseling via telephone or online chat with people all over North America," NAMB's website states. "The goal is to point individuals to the life-changing hope found in Jesus Christ, then point them to a local church for follow-up on their decision."

Caner, citing TMC students' longstanding local and global evangelism efforts, said, "There are always more ways to share the Lord Jesus Christ" with those who are secluded and hard to find.

"Someone calls you, or they find you on the Internet, and they're opening their heart to you," said Caner, explaining how ERC works. "They're lost. They don't know anything about eternity; they've given up on life. Then you get to share the hope that you found in the Lord Jesus Christ."

NAMB offered three training sessions on the TMC campus, Caner noted, adding that the sessions provide all the tools to share the Gospel with "anyone, at any time, anywhere."

Joining dozens of students in the training sessions were two of Truett-McConnell's vice presidents, six staff members and two from the faculty, bringing the total number of trainees to 42.

Ravi said about 2,000 people per year come to faith in Christ through the ERC and about 1,500 of them join local churches.

Contacts to the Evangelism Response Center may come from evangelistic television/radio programming, newspaper ads, gospel tracts, websites, billboards and any other media sharing the biblical message of salvation in Jesus Christ.

People responding to these media may access real-time, personalized assistance by calling 1-888-Jesus20 or 888-701-4673. Assistance also is available at

John Yarbrough, Truett-McConnell's director of alumni relations, was NAMB's vice president for evangelism as the ERC developed, and he helped facilitate the TMC-NAMB partnership agreement.

"When considering our college's mission statement, and the desire of our administration and faculty to equip students to fulfill the Great Commission," Yarbrough said, "the connection to the ERC is a hand-in-glove fit for Truett-McConnell."

For more info about NAMB's Evangelism Response Center, go to

SBTS Press publishes ministry guide in Spanish

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A Spanish-language edition of "A Guide to Expository Ministry" debuted at a Hispanic pastors' conference Feb. 27 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, held in conjunction with the annual two-day 9Marks conference for pastors.

The book, published by SBTS Press, calls for the recovery of expository preaching in local churches and encourages pastors to apply the demands of this kind of preaching to their lives and to their preparation. The book also provides practical help for God's people to become more effective sermon listeners, Bible readers and church members.

"Cultivating an expository ministry is critical for the advance of the Gospel," said Dan Dumas, senior vice president for institutional administration at Southern Seminary, who edited the book. The guide "will add a significant resource to serve Spanish-speaking expositors around the world."

In addition to Dumas, A Guide to Expository Ministry includes contributions from R. Albert Mohler Jr., Russell D. Moore, Donald S. Whitney, Robert L. Plummer and James M. Hamilton Jr.

Jairo Namnún, editorial director for Coalición por el Evangelio (the Spanish-language website and blog of the Gospel Coalition), oversaw the translation of the book.

The Spanish edition of A Guide to Expository Ministry is available from, and Southern's Lifeway Campus Store. More information about the book and SBTS Press is available at

Patterson answers questions in his "Lion's Den"

FORT WORTH, Texas -- From his high school GPA to thoughts on New Calvinism, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson answered more than 80 questions related to theology, ministry and his personal history during a rapid-fire Q&A session March 27.

Famous for his ask-anything "Lion's Den" sessions, which he holds occasionally in chapel, Patterson answered questions via Twitter in addition to a live audience in the seminary's student center. The "Live Twitter Lion's Den" was conducted in conjunction with Southwestern's Spring Preview Conference, which gave prospective students and families a taste of life and studies on campus.

Using the hashtag #AskDrP, the audience and anyone around the world with a Twitter account could send questions. Patterson had fun with a few of his answers but also addressed serious issues related to church life and ministry.

To read the questions and answers from the session, visit

Copyright (c) 2014 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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