SBTS to raise $50,000 to replace books at Union University

Communications Staff — February 15, 2008

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, announced Thursday that the school will be raising money to assist in the recovery of Union University.

Union University, located in Jackson, Tenn., was devastated by a tornado on Feb. 5 when storms plowed a wide path of destruction across the Southeast and the Ohio Valley, killing nearly 60 people. Virtually every building on Union’s campus sustained significant damage, however, none of the 1,200 students who were on campus when the storm struck were killed.

Southern Seminary seeks to raise between $35,000 and $50,000 for buying books to replace those that were housed in Jennings Hall, Union’s biblical studies library when water flooded the building. Jennings Hall was severely damaged and the books in it were ruined. Southern will take up an offering at each chapel service beginning Feb. 19 through Feb. 28.

Mohler challenged students and faculty members to give to a sister Southern Baptist institution that has intimate ties to the seminary.

“It is an amazing thing to reflect upon the fact that there were about 1,200 students on the campus that night,” Mohler said.

“The question is not now why did anyone survive? But why did all survive? About 57 people were killed that night throughout the mid-South and the Ohio Valley, but all those young people on that campus were preserved. That is something for which we are very, very thankful. The devastation could have been so much worse.

“This is an opportunity to help a sister institution to which we have so many connections and so much indebtedness and such a common purpose and sense of vision. ”

Southern Seminary is closely linked to Union in a number of ways. Prior to becoming president at Union, David Dockery served as dean of the School of Theology and Vice president for Academic Administration at Southern. Numerous Southern faculty and staff members have children who are students at Union, including Mohler, whose daughter Katie is a freshman. Many Union graduates preparing for the ministry do so at Southern.

Bruce Ware, professor of Christian Theology, preached a sermon on suffering and God’s sovereignty titled “Embracing Tornados and Other of Life’s Troubles: Lessons on Affliction from the Story of Job.” Ware’s daughter Rachel is a student at Union. While her dorm was severely damaged, Rachel Ware was not injured.

Ware pointed out that Job’s story teaches us that God ultimately exercises His sovereignty over all things, even evil, affliction and natural disasters such as the tornado that struck Union. This, however, does not make God the author of evil.

“Because Satan, as a moral creature who is evil, brings this devastation, then the devastation that comes upon Job is truly evil,” Ware said. “The fact that God is ultimately the one who stands behind it does not turn an affliction or an evil thing into a good. Murders and rapes and all kinds of devastations that take place are in themselves horrible things. The fact that God rules over them does not change the fact that they are horrible.

“When there is a moral agent responsible for it, God will bring responsibility to bear and judgment upon those people who bring evil and suffering about. God’s control does not turn evil into good, though God’s control assures that he is permitting it and controlling it for His good purposes.

“God’s ultimate purpose in controlling all of the affliction that takes place, including what happened at Union University last week, is for good purposes that He will bring about. William Cowper’s hymn, with the line that says ‘behind a frowning providence, lies a smiling face,’ is true and so gloriously comforting.”

When Job was struck by a personal holocaust that cost him his children and his possessions, he fell prostrate before God and acknowledged that both prosperity and adversity come from the hand of the Lord, Ware pointed out. Worship in the manner of Job is the proper Christian response to suffering, Ware said.

“Let us apply the lessons from Job’s story to our story and apply it to the stories of our friends and loved ones as we face affliction that God may be honored and that we, His people, may grow in all the ways He intends for us through, and not apart from, the affliction He brings into our lives,” Ware said.

Those desiring to donate money for Union University may do so during chapel services, through the President’s office or the office for Institutional Relations at Southern. Gifts should be designated for disaster relief at Union University.

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