Journal celebrates SBTS sesquicentennial

Communications Staff — May 7, 2009

By God’s grace The Southern Baptist Theology has maintained both orthodox theology and missionary passion for 150 years, according to essayists in the latest edition of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology.

Six writers, all on faculty at Southern, unpack the seminary’s history and cast a vision for its future in a special commemorative issue celebrating the school’s

Journal editor Stephen J. Wellum, who serves as professor of Christian theology at Southern, argues in his editorial that Southern Seminary is a demonstration of God’s faithfulness as He pulled it back from the brink of theological compromise.

“Specifically, God’s faithfulness may be uniquely witnessed in how the Lord has preserved Southern Seminary over the years both in terms of her commitment to historic Christianity and to fulfilling her calling in training God-called individuals for gospel ministry,” he writes.

Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. argues in his essay that successful theological education requires a confession of faith and a willingness to hold professors accountable to the confession. Seminary founder James P. Boyce knew this reality.

“Boyce’s point was elegant and simple: Theological institutions that do not hold themselves and their professors accountable to a confession of faith will eventually compromise or abandon the faith,” he writes.

“Over the course of the past 150 years, the history of Southern Seminary reveals that a regulative confession, though essential, is not sufficient in itself to prevent theological defection. The other essential element is the determination of the seminary’s leadership and governing board to enforce the regulative nature of the confession of faith.”

Only by heeding Boyce’s advice will Southern successfully train ministers of the Gospel, Mohler argues.

“The mission of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is the preparation of ministers and missionaries by means of the transmission of Christian learning from one generation to the next,” he writes. “And that mission, we now know, is anchored in a commitment to confessional theological education.”

The journal also features articles by Southern professors Thomas J. Nettles (“James Petigru Boyce: For Christ and His Church”), Michael A.G. Haykin (“‘Soldiers of Christ, in Truth Arrayed’: The Ministry and Piety of Basil Manly Jr.”), Joshua W. Powell (“‘We Cannot Sit in Judgment’: William Whitsitt and the Future of the Seminary”), Gregory A. Wills (“A Review of James H. Slatton’s W.H. Whitsitt: The Man and the Controversy” and “Southern Seminary and Progressive Religion 1870-1940”) and Russell D. Moore (“Southern Seminary and the Reshaping of American Culture: Retrospect and Prospect”).

A forum featuring several Southern Baptist leaders discusses Southern’s past, present and future. Forum participants include Daniel L. Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.; Thom S. Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; and David S. Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

For more information or to subscribe to the journal, please call 502-897-4413 or e-mail

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