Don’t waste your summer — SBTS expands summer course offerings

Communications Staff — April 27, 2010

Students of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will have twice as many classes from which to choose this summer and the seminary has expanded its summer schedule by five weeks.

More than 30 one-week course options are available, many of which are being offered for the first time as a summer course. Southern expanded the summer schedule in an effort to best meet the changing schedule demands of students both on campus and off. The summer class period will begin May 18 and extend until Aug. 11, beginning two weeks earlier than a year ago and extending an extra three weeks than last year.

Southern Seminary professors offered insights into several of the summer course offerings.

Study abroad, no passport required

Michael A.G. Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality at Southern, will be leading seminary students “overseas” in introduction to church history I, Aug. 6-11. Haykin will be introducing students to ancient cities and governments as well as Christianity-shaping figures like Irenaeus, Perpetua, Macrina and Augustine.

“I have always thought of a course in church history as an inexpensive way of touring a foreign country,” Haykin said. “The past is a foreign country, even the Christian past to some degree. So if you can’t do that trip to Europe you would love to take this summer, why not spend a week touring the history of the Ancient Church?

“It was a deeply formative period of church history, when the church realized what discipleship meant as men and women literally gave their lives for the Lord Jesus, when heresy forced the church to hammer out the doctrine of the Trinity on the basis of God’s Word, and when the New Testament portion of that Word was recognized as canon alongside the Old.”

The Bible: book by book

Taking pastors-in-training deeper in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ is top priority for Southern professors T.J. Betts and William Cook, who will be leading the summer studies of the Old and New Testaments, respectively.

Betts, associate professor of Old Testament interpretation at Southern, will be teaching introduction to Old Testament I, June 7-11, and introduction to Old Testament II, June 14-18.

“I can think of no better way of spending the summer than studying these important sections of God’s Word,” Betts said. “Our study will help us grow in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Cook, professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern, will be teaching introduction to New Testament I, June 21-25. Cook said there is no more glorious privilege than to study the words and deeds of Christ.

“This class gives us the amazing opportunity to dig into the Gospels and unpack the life of Christ,” Cook said. “I love this class more than any other class I teach because of the intensive focus on Jesus. I find that it continually draws me back to the One who died in my place and is now seated at the Father’s right hand making intercession for me. Join me in the most wonderful study mankind will ever know – the life of Jesus Christ.”

Biblical doctrine

Opportunities abound for those wanting to delve into a deep study of systematic theology this summer. Bruce Ware, professor of Christian theology at Southern, says teaching systematics is a privilege that comes with great responsibility because of the foundational nature of the subject. Ware, will be teaching systematic theology I, June 7-11.

“Systematic theology I contains some of the most important subject matter covered in all of the seminary curriculum and for all of life – the doctrine of the inspiration, inerrancy and authority of the Bible, and the doctrine of the divine attributes and of the Trinity,” Ware said. “The Bible and God, you just don’t get more foundational than that.”

Systematic theology III will be taught by Gregg Allison, June 21-25. Allison, professor of Christian theology at Southern, said his two favorite aspects of this course are the treatments of the Holy Spirit and the church.

“As for the first, a significant period of time elapsed between when I became a Christian, as a senior in high school, and my understanding of the important ministries of the Holy Spirit. Thus, this section of the course has deep personal meaning for me and is reflected in the stories I tell,” Allison said.

“As for the second topic, I am finishing up the writing of a fairly sizeable book on the doctrine of the church (part of the Foundations of Evangelical Theology series with Crossway). Students will have the opportunity to read the final go around of the draft of the manuscript that I will be submitting to the publisher at the end of this summer, so they can be guinea pigs in terms of trying out my ideas about the church before they are finalized in written form.”

Stephen Wellum, professor of Christian theology at Southern, will be teaching issues in biblical and systematic theology, July 6-9. Wellum describes the course as an investigation of the foundational role of biblical theology for the doing of systematic theology.

“It will not only discuss various views of biblical and systematic theology and issues related to those disciplines, such as the nature of typology, but it will seek to wrestle with the views of dispensationalism and covenant theology and argue that biblical theology can help us arbitrate these two viewpoints,” Wellum said. “We will then look at some test cases in theology which can be resolved if we pay careful attention to biblical theology such as differences within evangelicalism over the nature of the church, baptism, Sabbath and the land.”

Evangelism and the local church

William Henard, assistant professor of evangelism and church growth at Southern, will draw on his pastoral experience as he leads students in the course building an evangelistic church. Henard, senior pastor of Porter Memorial Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky., has first-hand knowledge that the key elements of healthy church growth revolve around balancing integrity with passion. His experience will be reinforced with readings from Nelson Searcy’s “Ignite” and Thom Rainer’s “Essential Church.” The texts will enable students to discern practical approaches for growing the church through evangelism and also for maintaining integrity in their methods.

“We all want our churches to grow, but we must recognize the distinct difference between growing a church and drawing a crowd. If a church’s growth does not reflect biblical church growth, then it does not bring glory to Christ,” Henard said.

The Reformation

Shawn D. Wright, associate professor of church history at Southern, will be leading the Reformation course, Aug. 2-6. This class is significant to all seminary students because “the Gospel is central to Christian living and Christian ministry,” Wright said.

“Paul warned the Galatians that a wrong understanding of the Gospel has awful consequences, so we need to make sure we get the Gospel right,” Wright said. “Recently, at the Together for the Gospel conference, R. C. Sproul reminded his listeners of the many ways the Gospel has come under attack in the last 40 to 50 years, even by evangelicals who should be friendly to it. So often other concerns, even good concerns, can squeeze out a right understanding of the Gospel. It may not be abandoned or debated outright. But it may be neglected, and over time forgotten.”

Wright enjoys teaching the Reformation course because he gets to speak with students about the centrality of the Gospel, and what it is, largely through examining the life and theology of Martin Luther and John Calvin.

Literature of the Old Testament

Charles Halton, instructor of Old Testament interpretation at Southern, will be teaching the book of Job and biblical wisdom literature. Halton said this genre is among the most deeply practical portions of the Bible, yet it is often under-taught and under-preached within churches.

“There are likely many reasons for this,” Halton said. “For instance, many readers mistakenly view Ecclesiastes as a nihilistic book. Others are perplexed at seemingly contradictory proverbs listed back-to-back or they have a hard time explaining to skeptics why God lets Satan cause the suffering of righteous Job. However, the aspect of wisdom literature that may present the most difficulty to church leaders is understanding how to interpret these books in light of Christ – after all, the personal name of God, Yahweh, is not even mentioned once in Ecclesiastes. Lord willing, we will study all of these issues and more in the context of a concentrated class format.”

Halton’s curriculum will primarily focus upon the historical background, content and theology of biblical wisdom literature. Students will also study extra-biblical wisdom texts in order to gain a deeper understanding of the Bible by comparing and contrasting it with cognate texts, see how Old Testament wisdom literature is used within the New Testament, apply a Christological approach to wisdom and explore ways in which wisdom literature can be taught, preached and applied to local church life.

Counseling and discipleship

If you are yearning to know how to react when a church member comes to you and says, “I’m falling apart and am losing hope that I can ever be what God wants me to be,” introduction to biblical counseling, taught by Stuart Scott, will restore your confidence in the sufficiency of Jesus Christ and His Word applied. Scott, associate professor of biblical counseling at Southern and executive director of the National Center of Biblical Counseling, will be teaching introduction to biblical counseling, July 19-23 and will use the course to train students how to counsel people towards a vital and more fruitful walk with Christ.

“You will be overwhelmed at the plethora of direction and practical help that God’s Word affords for your counseling and discipleship needs as a pastor, missionary, lay leader or concerned brother or sister,” Scott said. “Come see what biblical counseling is and isn’t, how to wade through the many voices and models of counseling in the church today, while you not only learn how to deal with the things in your own life and heart but also how to help others effectively.”

Scott will also be teaching marriage and family counseling, July 12-16. Through the course Scott will be presenting clear biblical principles and teaching students how to apply them to what people are really dealing with today – tough marriage and family issues.

“Difficulties associated with the premarital interim period, roles and responsibilities, communication and conflict, financial stewardship, intimacy and parenting are some of what this course will cover from a counseling/discipleship perspective,” Scott said.

A case study in church planting

Southern students who are planning on serving as Nehemiah Church Planters with the North American Mission Board take heed: two required courses for the Nehemiah program are being offered back-to-back this summer. J.D. Payne will be teaching models of church planting and church multiplication strategies – both advanced courses in church planting – with introduction to church planting being a prerequisite for both.

Payne, associate professor of church planting and evangelism and director of the Church Planting Center at Southern, is pleased that the scheduling of these courses will offer many of Southern’s extension center students the opportunity to come to campus for two weeks this summer, complete both courses quickly and hopefully be able to begin serving as a Nehemiah Church Planter in the near future.

“I purposely developed my schedule this way to get our missionaries to the field faster,” Payne said. “I have taught these courses for the past seven years here at Southern and always enjoy teaching them. The models of church planting class examines five case studies of church planting, representing the most common approaches used today.

“The focus of the church multiplication strategies course is to assist students to think beyond the planting of a single church to the multiplication of disciples, leaders and churches across a city, town, population segment or people group. I want our missionaries to be making disciples, planting many churches and training pastors to serve those churches.”

SBC Convention Orlando

Gregory A. Wills, professor of church history, associate dean of theology and tradition and director of the Center for the Study of the Southern Baptist Convention at Southern, will be leading students on a unique summer-only opportunity to earn class credit while attending the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 15-16 in Orlando, Fla.

“The SBC annual meeting will be the most important meeting of the convention in at least 10 years,” Wills said. “Students in this course will attend all sessions of the annual meeting to observe firsthand the messengers and leaders of the convention in action, and to learn what it all means in light of past and current stresses and trends in the convention.”

Wills will pre-assign readings and require students to attend a one-day lecture in Louisville, Saturday, May 29, to prepare for the event in Florida. Class curriculum will introduce students to the history and structure of the convention. At the convention, Wills will lead students in discussions on the meaning of convention developments and help them become familiar with denominational leadership.

(Editor’s note: students enrolled in the SBC annual meeting course are responsible for making and funding their own travel and lodging arrangements. A ticket to the Southern Seminary luncheon at the annual meeting is also a course requirement to be arranged for by the individual student.)

Biblical family ministry

Randy Stinson, dean of the School of Church Ministries, will teach students how to train families in their church to effectively pass on the Gospel from generation to generation in introduction to family ministry.

“This course will give you biblical foundations for your own home and will provide strategies for helping you align your proclamation and practices so that each household in your church can effectively and faithfully hand down the faith once for all delivered to the saints,” he said.

Online registration for the summer term has already begun. The complete summer class schedule is available on Southern’s website at:

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