The 98th fall convocation of classes at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary was available to a world-wide audience, Aug 24. This was possible through the seminary’s first-ever broadcast of chapel over live, streaming video, available at www.swbts.edu to anyone with access to the Internet.
Seminary President Paige Patterson urged the capacity gathering of students, faculty and guests to “anchor experience upon the truth of God”.
“If you are carried away by feeling, you have only fantasy if it is not moored carefully in the rock-hard surface of the doctrine of God,” Patterson said. It is amazing, however, to see what “genres” can communicate this truth, he added. He then cued sound technicians to play a selection of Christian hip-hop that he called “wonderful” for it’s faithfulness to the truth.
Satan is eager to lead people to one of two extremes, Patterson said. Some people turn toward lifeless dogmatism. He said that this “truth without experience” only brings “judgment.”
“Unfortunately that’s not usually the problem that this postmodern generation has,” he continued. “Our postmodern generation… has gone to the other side of the spectrum. Experience is everything ... ‘The more it affects me emotionally, the better it must be.’”
Patterson said this extreme is not biblical either. He turned to the account of Simon the magician in Acts 8. After Philip preached in Samaria, Simon, once esteemed for his seemingly miraculous powers, believed Philip’s message. He was baptized and became a disciple under Philip. He was deeply impressed with the signs and miracles that Philip performed, Patterson pointed out.
Simon’s error came to light when the apostles Peter and John traveled to Samaria to follow up on the reports they had heard about God’s work there. Simon tried to pay Peter for the ability to bestow the Holy Spirit on new believers. Peter rebuked Simon, saying that Simon was in “bondage of iniquity.”
“Simon made a fatal mistake,” Patterson said. He had taken the same steps as a true believer by being baptized and discipled, but “there was every indication that he was not saved … He was caught up in the emotion and the ecstasy and the experience of the situation.”
Patterson said that true conversion “starts with the facts of the Gospel, and our faith follows after it, and then comes feeling.” Ultimately, “the most important experience” is that of a spiritual rebirth, without which Jesus said no one would see God’s kingdom.
“In the final analysis, what matters most is that your heart has been changed,” Patterson said.
Six newly-elected faculty members signed the seminary’s book of confessional heritage, indicating their agreement to teach in accordance with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. These were Dr. Deron Biles, associate professor of Old Testament and dean of extension education; Dr. William Dembski, research professor of philosophy; John Howell, assistant professor of philosophy; Dr. David Mills, assistant professor of evangelism and assistant dean, Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions; Dr. Steven Ortiz, associate professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds and director of the Charles C. Tandy Archaeology Museum; and Dr. Robert Vaughan, associate professor of administration and associate dean for the Professional Doctoral Program, School of Educational Ministries.
Southwestern Seminary began the fall 2006 semester with 106 full-time, elected faculty members distributed among five schools in Fort Worth, one school in Houston, and extension centers in San Antonio and Bonn, Germany.Video archives of convocation can be accessed through the fall 2006 chapel schedule on Southwestern Seminary’s Web site: www.swbts.edu.