The last Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) chapel of the fall semester, held on Dec. 5 in Binkley Chapel, celebrated the installation of The John Leadley Dagg Chair of Systematic Theology. The chair, given by an anonymous donor, is in honor of Andy Davis, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, N.C.
Davis has served at First Baptist Church since 1998 and earned his B.A. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. While working as an engineer, he earned his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In 1998, Davis graduated from Southern Baptist Seminary with a Ph.D. in Church History.
John Leadley Dagg, the namesake for the chair, lived from 1794 to 1884 and is remembered as one of the greatest Southern Baptist pastor-theologians of the 19th century. He overcame many obstacles during his lifetime through the power of Christ. He is an exemplary Baptist figure of doctrinal precision and pastoral ministry.
A SEBTS professor for almost 20 years and currently the Dean of Theological Studies, John S. Hammett was installed into the new chair during the ceremony.
Hammett shared about being selected as the new chair. “I have always been grateful for the privilege of having a job I love teaching theology, at a place I love, Southeastern, with people I love, the faculty, staff and students here,” Hammett said.
He also reflected on how meaningful the honor was. “It humbles and challenges me to be associated with a man like John Dagg, and I want to thank the donors who funded the chair and recognize Andy Davis, whose ministry so blessed the donors that they wanted to honor him,” Hammett said. “First Baptist Church of Durham was my home church during my college years and pivotal in my own spiritual growth.”
The generous gift of $1 million for an endowed chair furnishes an enduring source of funding for SEBTS professors. These donations provide the ability to keep tuition costs as low as possible, and grow the seminary’s training programs.
It was fitting for Davis to be the guest speaker at chapel as the chair was installed in his honor. Davis’ sermon, “A Case Study for People Who Relied on Themselves,” was from Deuteronomy 1:19-46.
He warned the audience of relying on themselves instead of the power of God. In the passage, God had brought the Israelites out of Egypt, they had wondered for 40 years in the desert and were on the brink of the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk in honey.
After all of the ways the Lord had provided for the Israelites, they still choose to look inward for resources to overcome their challenges. Davis noted that when one looks inward and does not find the resources, one will lose heart and faith and become discouraged.
He called listeners to instead look upward, as Jesus did many times during his life on earth.
Davis quoted Deuteronomy 1:31 “the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son.” He reminded the audience that they can trust God to carry them through any situation they are facing.
He stated that sinners are infected with the disease of self-reliance, for salvation and other aspects of life. The Israelites faced the consequences of their rebellion and many faced death and were denied entrance into the Promised Land.
He encouraged students to remember that wherever they go in ministry after SEBTS, they will be tempted to look inward. “Do not trust yourself,” Davis said. “Trust in Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected.”
Danny Akin, president of SEBTs, concluded the service. “I am so grateful for the way that Dr. Andy Davis modeled what it means to be a pastor-theologian” Akin said. “[He is] someone who models faithfully Ephesians chapter four, where we are called to the office of the pastor-teacher.”
“A chair is for the purpose of honoring a faculty member as well as honoring someone significant in their life or in the life of the Baptist church,” said Akin. SEBTS now has 6 chairs that support the Seminary and is looking forward to installing additional chairs in the coming months.
To learn more about endowing a chair or professorship at Southeastern or supporting the John Leadley Dagg Chair of Systematic Theology, please contact Daniel Palmer, director of Financial Development at firstname.lastname@example.org, (866) 917-3287 or www.sebts.edu/give.
To listen to watch this sermon online, please click here.
To view photos from chapel, please click here.
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.