A Letter From the President: Reflections On Ten Wonderful Years

On January 15th of this year I celebrated my 10th year at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  For Charlotte and me, this is almost impossible to believe!  And yet at the same time, we have experienced so many things.  As I pen this letter from Istanbul, Turkey, where we have the joy of being with students that God has called to the nations, I am aware that during these 10 years we have buried three parents, welcomed three daughters-in-law, added 10 grandchildren, and celebrated 35 years of marriage and ministry together.  On a personal level, God has blessed us with a full and joyful life.  With the psalmist I delight to sing, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” (Psalm 103:1).

I can also sing that same verse as I think about all the ways our Lord has blessed the school I have the honor and privilege of serving.  An exhaustive list would require a book!  However, let me highlight a few of the good things our great God has done in the past decade.

1)   The Lord led us to a very clear “mission statement” that says who we are.  The shorthand version is “Southeastern is a Great Commission Seminary.”  Ask anyone on our campus who we are, and that is the answer you will receive.  The longer version simply says, “Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission.”  This statement guides us in all that we do.  I believe it has helped a really good seminary to become an even better seminary.  It keeps us focused on the final marching orders of King Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20).

2)   The Lord has grown our school from just over 2400 to over 3100 students, and the future looks even brighter.  What a blessing!

3)   We have gone from having one endowed faculty chair to seven!  This is a double blessing in that it honors wonderful servants of God and helps the seminary financially.  I would love to see this number double in the next 10 years.

4)   The Lord has graced us with as fine of a faculty as you will find anywhere in the world.  Our students have the joy of studying under godly men and women who are churchmen, brilliant scholars, and followers of King Jesus who have a deep love for the church and a passion for the nations.  Three of my own sons and a daughter-in-law have studied or are studying here.  As a dad, I could not ask for a better place of training for my children.

5)   We built the Prince Facilities building and Patterson Hall.  Both buildings have been a tremendous asset to Southeastern in terms of how we care for the campus and teach our students.

6)   The Lord has blessed me with an incredible leadership team that has taken Southeastern to the next level.  Bruce Ashford, Jamie Dew, Ryan Hutchinson, Mark Liederbach, Chuck Lawless and Art Rainer excel in their areas of responsibility.  They make me look better than I am!  And, they are my brothers and friends who challenge me to be more like Jesus.

7)   Under the leadership of John Ewart, we launched EQUIP which allows the seminary and local churches to partner in doing theological education.  The brilliant New Testament Scholar Don Carson said this model was a utopian dream.  By God’s grace, we are making it a reality.

8)   Shortly before his death, we instituted the L. Rush Bush Center for Faith and Culture.  Initially directed by Bruce Little, it is now led by Ken Keathley.  This Center is simply stellar in engaging the cultural issues that the church must face and address with biblical truth and conviction.  I know Dr. Bush is smiling from heaven in all the Center is accomplishing.

9)   We were able to receive and house the letters and papers of Francis Schaeffer, one of evangelicalism’s leading apologists in the 20th century.  Words are not adequate to express what a gift this is.  Bruce Little rightly deserves a huge “thank you” for making this happen.

10)  Finally, and I could continue for a long time, the Lord Jesus has blessed our campus with a spirit of love, joy and gratitude.  My friend Mark Dever calls us “the happy campus.”  I think he is right.  Visitors often comment about the happy, joyful servant spirit they find on this campus.  It bears much fruit.  We know that over 90% of prospective students who visit our campus will choose Southeastern as their seminary or college.  Why?  Because students, staff, faculty and administration are happy to be here and we just can’t hide it.  And, we don’t want to!

On a number of occasions I have been asked if I aspired to be a seminary president.  The fact is when God called me into ministry in 1977 on the Papago Indian Reservation in Sells, Arizona, this boy from Georgia did not know what a seminary was.  I did not know they even existed.  No, all I have ever wanted to do since that day is please the Lord Jesus, preach the Bible, serve the church, and share the gospel.  I am the most surprised of all that I get to do what I do.  I am a blessed man far beyond what I could ever hope, imagine or deserve.  Thank you King Jesus for these wonderful years.  If it is your will, I look forward to many more.

 

New SEBTS Online Course on Islam

Many if not most Christians need to understand Islam, both as a religion and a culture, in order to pursue faithful witness to Christ in the 21st century. Questions about Islam’s origins, iterations, practices, and its relation to Christianity must be considered in the effort to understand and witness. To support these efforts, Dr. Ant Greenham addresses such questions and more in Southeastern’s new online course on Islam, starting Fall 2014.

Fair warning to the students who take advantage of this opportunity: Dr. Greenham is firmly committed to theological truth. Because his primary allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ, the course on Islam is not exactly politically correct! But it is precisely what followers of Christ need.

Politically correct or not, Dr. Greenham is a more than able instructor. He served in the 1980s as a South African diplomat in Israel, where he first met Palestinian Muslims. A decade later, he opened the South African Embassy in Amman, Jordan. He and his family lived there for over four years and were warmly embraced by the Arab culture. He has also immersed himself in the world of Shi’ite Islam, when in 1999 he visited Iran for five weeks as a guest of the Iranian government.

Such experiences paved the way for research he and his wife did in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel in January 2003. They studied why Palestinian Muslims turn to Christ. (This topic later served as the subject of his Ph.D. dissertation.) Dr. Greenham found that Palestinians’ conversion factors are broadly applicable to other Muslims too. The work has been published under the title, Muslim Conversions to Christ. During his 2011–12 sabbatical, he and his wife returned to Jordan, where they worked for a mission organization and resumed contact with Muslim friends. He has also taught in the field of world religions for over seven years. Greenham draws on all these experiences and more in this brand new Islam course.

We hope you participate in this course. Through it you will gain a better understanding of Islam, its nature and practices, and the beauty of Muslims coming to faith in Christ. Above all, the course will help you serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission, wherever Muslims are found. Dr. Greenham looks forward to meeting you online, if not in person, in Fall 2014.mobi game

A New PhD Track for Worship Leaders and Worship Theologians

Worship leaders and worship theologians are of the greatest significance to our churches and seminaries. For this reason  we at SEBTS are more than a little excited to introduce a new PhD in Theology & Worship which does not require the student to move to SEBTS’ campus.

Students will come to campus for short periods of time in order to take one-week intensive seminars, after which time they will return to their places of ministry where they will continue to research and write while also serving their churches.

Rather than being a music-based degree, the PhD in Theology & Worship integrates multiple theological and ministerial disciplines such as Bible, theology, pastoral ministry, and worship. This will prepare students for future roles in local church worship leadership, academic research, scholarship and higher educational classroom instruction.

Students will take seminars in History of Worship, Theology of Worship, and Ministry of Worship. Those seminars are complemented by seminars in Doctrine of the Church, Doctrine of the Christian Life, The Church in Its Cultural Context, and Christian Faith & the Arts. Students will also take and independent study with a professor external to SEBTS, a professor who will chose based upon his expertise in the student’s chosen dissertation topic.

Students will study under a total of nine professors in this degree track. Professors for this PhD track include four systematic theologians John Hammett (PhD, Southern Seminary), Bruce Ashford (PhD, Southeastern Seminary), Keith Whitfield (PhD, Southeastern Seminary), and Benjamin Quinn (PhD cand., University of Bristol). In addition, seminars will be taught by musicologists Joshua Waggener (PhD, University of Durham) and John Boozer (DMA, Louisiana State University), Baptist historian Keith Harper (PhD, University of Kentucky), missiologist Chuck Lawless (PhD, Southern Seminary), and philosopher Bruce Little (PhD, Southeastern Seminary).

The PhD in Theology & Worship was created to help advance the understanding and practice of worship life in the Christian church, and to prepare students for future roles in local church worship leadership, academic research and scholarship, and higher educational classroom instruction.

For more information, and to inquire about the application process, click here.