The 71st annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) focused on the theme “Christ in All Scripture” and provided an opportunity for scholars to examine the Bible as a whole and its testimony of Jesus as the heart of scriptural revelation and Christian faith.
According to a Baptist Press tally, 193 of the presentations were given by Southern Baptist scholars. Among the leaders of ETS, R. Albert Mohler Jr.president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), served as vice president. Gregg Allisonalso of the SBTS, served as secretary.
Faculty and doctoral students from the Southern Baptist Convention’s six seminaries presented papers at ETS, along with ministry leaders and faculty from partner colleges of state Baptist conventions. Many focused on the theme of the meeting, while others addressed other topics relevant to current biblical and theological scholarship, trends in theological education, and issues in the Church.
Christ in all scriptures
Stephen Wellum, professor of Christian theology at SBTS, delivered one of three plenary addresses at the conference. His presentation, titled “From Alpha to Omega: A Biblical and Theological Approach to God the Incarnate Son,” sought to answer the question of how Christ is revealed throughout Scripture. Wellum’s goal was to demonstrate that this question is central to both biblical studies and systematic theology.
He affirmed that “Christ is visible throughout Scripture as we trace God’s redemptive plan, rooted in eternity, worked out in time, and revealed to us by God’s speech through human authors over time.” time. » He then presented four truths based on the covenant scenario of Scripture and the worldview of the Bible to illustrate how the identity of Jesus as God the incarnate Son is revealed and unfolded in the Old Testament and highlighted in the New Testament:
- Scripture with God as Lord Creator-Covenant. It is within this theistic understanding that we must understand who Jesus is. The coming Messiah would be human, as God promises in Genesis 3:15, but also, as a later revelation reveals, more than human since he will be identified with God. This is why Christ alone can redeem us.
- Humans as Image Bearers and Covenant Creatures. We cannot properly understand who Jesus is except by beginning with Adam, the head of the human race and the one who introduced sin into the world. God’s promised deliverer must be human like Adam, but also greater than Adam to pay for our sins, destroy death, and usher in a new creation.
- The nature of the human problem of sin before the holy and righteous Creator-Covenant God. Why must the coming Messiah be more than human? For this reason: the only one who can forgive our sins and justify us before God is God alone. God cannot ignore our sin in forgiving us; ultimately he must satisfy his own righteous demand himself.
- God’s salvation through his obedient Son. The Bible’s covenant scenario, from Adam/creation to Christ, reveals that God alone must redeem us and that He must do so through His Son, the greater Adam, the true seed of Abraham , the true Israel and the greatest Son of David. The entire Bible is necessary to understand who Jesus is, and it reveals that He is nothing less than God the incarnate Son.
Wellum concluded that “if we approach the Scriptures on their own terms and within their own worldview framework, then from Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures teach us that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Assessment of the Modern Missionary Movement
Jason Duesing, academic dean and associate professor of historical theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, presented a paper titled “Who’s First: Liele or Carey?” Assessing the Implications of the Father of Modern Missions. In it, he argues for what he calls a “symphonic approach to evaluating the modern missionary movement.”
Just as a symphony is made up of many parts working together, historical movements are made up of many events and characters. Drawing on the popular sketch “Who’s on First” by comedians Abbott and Costello, Duesing examined current discussions among historians regarding “who was the first modern missionary or who should be considered ‘the father of modern missions.’
Duesing recognized that it was correct to refer to Georges Liele as the first Baptist missionary and the first American missionary, and it is also fair to consider William Carey the father of modern missions as a movement, but that their contributions go far beyond titles and roles.
When we focus our energy primarily on establishing these roles, we miss many of the people and contributions that make up the movement as a whole. Duesing argued that the symphonic approach “allows today’s scholars to see the full value and beauty of what the movement’s leaders were able to do during their lifetimes, not to mention all the numbers and trends that contributed to strengthen the movement and which have not yet been developed. studied and shared.
Theological Perspective on Abuse
Lily Park, assistant professor of biblical counseling at SBTS, presented an article titled “A Theological Perspective on Verbal, Emotional, and Sexual Abuse.” Park argued that “Christian leaders have an ethical responsibility to respond to all allegations of abuse, including invisible forms of abuse, such as verbal and emotional abuse.” Non-physical aspects of abuse can often be downplayed due to a lack of hard evidence, she said, but leaders cannot avoid caring for those in their communities who have been abused in other ways. Park presented three main points:
- Leaders are like shepherds who will be held accountable to God.
- Leaders must take sin seriously as part of protecting the purity and unity of the community.
- Leaders have an ethical responsibility based on the Great Commandments to care for others.
In addressing ethical responsibility, Park asserted, “Biblical love will not remain silent when sin occurs. The best examples of leaders who step up would have to be Christians. Ethical responsibility is about more than just doing what is right. It is in response to the fear of God, a high view of God’s holiness, hatred of sin, and remembrance of God’s sacrificial love.
“Migration” and its effects on Hispanic theological education
Miguel Echevarria, assistant professor of New Testament and Greek and director of Hispanic leadership development at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, spoke in a session on “The Global South: Raising Voices in American Evangelical Theological Education “. Echevarria discussed the importance of increasing Hispanic participation in American theological education, not only in specialized Spanish-language programs but also in traditional university life.
Using the story of Joseph and his family’s migration to Egypt and Goshen as an illustration, he encouraged a shift from a model “where outsiders do their own thing with little influence on the culture as a whole.” to let current initiatives be “steps toward integrating Hispanics into society.” daily life and governance of colleges and seminaries. Echevarria also participated in a roundtable discussion with other researchers and an interactive conversation on practical steps forward.
The next ETS Annual Meeting will take place November 17-19, 2020 in Providence, RI. The theme will be “Christianity and Islam”.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Amy Whitfield is associate vice president for convention communications for the SBC Executive Committee.)