Evangelical Theological Society Discussion at Golden Gate Seminary

The Southern Baptist Academy: Future Responsibilities and Opportunities was the theme of a special luncheon and panel discussion at Golden Gate Seminary on November 18, 2011. Panelists outlined their visions for Southern Baptist academic leaders impacting churches and communities through training people across all disciplines, enabling Baptists to function from a Christian worldview with the goal of expanding God’s kingdom in all venues. The event corresponded with the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), held this year in San Francisco, California.

The panelists included Dr. David Dockery, President of Union University, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Dr. Chris Morgan, Dean of School of Christian Ministries at California Baptist University. Dr. Jeff Iorg, President of Golden Gate Seminary, moderated the discussion and hosted the event.

Dr. David Dockery began the panel discussion by noting developments of the Southern Baptist Academy over the last 20 years. He listed five key directions the Southern Baptist Academy should take in the future, including “the need to reconnect to churches and reclaim an intellectual position in the academic world.” Dockery concluded he was “hopeful and excited” about the future of the Southern Baptists Academy and the impact it is and will make in kingdom service.

Dr. Albert Mohler added he was pleased the SBC currently has a growing involvement with ETS. “Twenty years ago, the SBC was almost invisible at ETS,” he noted, as he highlighted the development of the Academy in the Convention. He then mentioned several issues affecting the future role of the Academy including church accountability, secular context, economic pressures, and theological worldviews. Dr. Mohler called on Southern Baptists schools to “speak loudly” their confessional commitments, enhancing their unique position as distinctively Christian institutions.

Dr. Chris Morgan underscored the role of the church and the centrality of training leaders, across all disciplines that have a commitment to effective local church leadership. He challenged Southern Baptist scholars to “write for the Academy and for the church” in order to increase influence throughout the culture.

“This event was a unique opportunity, because of the ETS meeting in San Francisco, to gather a significant subset of Southern Baptist academic leaders – biblical and theological scholars – to dialogue about our future,” said President Iorg. “We believe we can multiply our efforts exponentially if we can leverage the entire Southern Baptist Academy toward local church enhancement and kingdom expansion. Having theological and biblical scholars initiate this dialogue was both appropriate and helpful. We look forward to it continuing in various forms and other venues.”