Saturday, September 22, 2007
Convergent: Southeastern Seminary and the Emerging Church
We Southern Baptists are blessed to have six theological seminaries spread out all over the country. Most aspiring ministers of the Gospel are within driving distance to at least one of these institutions, and all are fine places to prepare yourself for ministry. But lately, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is becoming my favorite!
Granted, thats saying a lot for a two-time graduate of Southern, but I have been particularly impressed with Danny Akin since he assumed the Presidency of this institution. This week I'm actually on the Wake Forest North Carolina campus for the Convergent Conference, which has featured Ed Stetzer, J.D. Greear, and most notably, Mark Driscoll, all of which are speaking about the emerging church and how evangelicalism should view it.
Tonight Dr. Akin closed the Friday series of meetings with a message from 1 Corinthians about appropriate Christian behavior and cultural engagement. As always, he showed an unapologetic commitment to the authority of Scripture, while at the same time demonstrating himself well-versed in N.T. Wright, and others whose theology helps to undergird the worldiew of many in emerging church circles.
Honestly, the fact that he invited Driscoll to speak is alone a sure indication of his fair treatment of the subject. I would venture a guess that the Missouri Convention, after its convoluted and hopelessly confused statements on the subject,* would not have given Driscoll the same ear . . .let alone the same respect.
Nevertheless, Akin's move to hold a conference on emerging church issues, while far from total accomodation of everything in the movement, clearly signaled his recognition that cultures are changing in North America and that the church bears the responsibility of reaching them. This requires a commitment to the unchanging Gospel, but it also requires a presentation of that Gospel in changing ways.
Anyone attending these meetings will go away with two facts about Southeastern Seminary that have been clearly demonstrated: 1. The commitment of this institution to the supreme and sole authority of Scripture has not, and will not, change. 2. The commitment of this institution to play its part in reaching everyone with the Gospel will not change either.
In the end, I suppose thats what I like best about Southeastern, and Akin. His primary passion is the evangelization of lost people. He said at this year's Southern Baptist Convention that as long as he is President of Southeastern, he would allow nothing to be raised to an issue that would be a detriment to this cause. With this in view I say, long live his Presidency!
*Regarding the Missouri Convention's statements on the Acts 29 network, two things are helpful to know:
1. Dr. Mark DeVine, Professor of Theology at Midwestern Seminary, actually gave an excellent report that for some reason seemed to be totally misunderstood by Convention leadership.
2. Acts 29 has published a response to the contentions of the Missouri Convention that clear up any misconceptions about this organization's doctrinal fidelity.