by Lauren Crane
The Southern Baptist Convention heard from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary president Daniel Akin about increased enrollment numbers, faithful faculty and intentional partnerships for theological education during the seminary’s annual report at the 2011 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.
On June 15, Akin reported on the state of the seminary to the gathered messengers and members of the SBC. With a record enrollment during the preceding school year, and another expected record enrollment in the coming months, Akin said he is so encouraged by God’s faithfulness in bringing students to study at Southeastern.
“In 1992, in the height of the Conservative Resurgence, the school was at 585. There were people that were predicting the school would not survive, but by God’s amazing grace, today more than 2,700 students are at Southeastern.” The caliber heart for the Great Commission and the caliber of the faculty are two things that draw people to the seminary, he said. Akin said that as in past years, the number of students coming to study for service with the International Mission Board has continued to increase. “Southeastern Seminary aspires to be a Great Commission seminary, and we are now training more missionaries and church planters than at any other time in our history.”
The heart for sharing the gospel among the unreached and unengaged of the world comes directly from the faculty, Akin said, many whom have served overseas as career missionaries and have come to Southeastern to infuse the Great Commission in a variety of disciplines.
“God has brought back 6 former career International Mission Board personnel who teach – not in the area of missions – but in the areas of Old Testament, Hebrew, New Testament, Greek, Hermeneutics and also theology. What’s exciting is those men also bring to their discipline the question of, ‘How do you teach Hebrew so you’ll further the Great Commission? How do you teach theology, or Greek so you’ll further the Great Commission? How do you teach hermeneutics so that you further the Great Commission?
“These are men who not only talk about the Great Commission, but they do the Great Commission,” Akin said. He told the story of David Alan Black, a professor of Greek at Southeastern, who along with his wife, Becky, travel each year to Ethiopia at Christmastime in lieu of gifts to minister among the poor and share the gospel.
“I could spend hours telling you about these who go on the international mission field. Many of them serve on pastoral staffs. They serve as pastors, elders, and deacons. SE does have a remarkable group of men and women as our faculty.”
Akin also gave an update on Southeastern’s intentional initiative to wed the seminary to the local church for theological education.
“We call it our Great Commission Equipping Network. Our goal is that by 2015 we will have more than 250 churches that we’re in partnership with in delivering theological education. We recognize that there are some things the seminary does very well. There are other things that are done best in the laboratory of local church. We take great delight in partnering in providing theological education.”
When questioned about the agenda of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and whether or not it is trying to push a Calvinistic agenda, Akin said, “Southeastern has one agenda: it is called the Great Commission. We are committed to the final marching orders of the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe his last words are meant to be lasting words, so any agenda other than that would be the wrong agenda.”
Akin said, “As long as I’m there, we’re going to be about joining hands with Southern Baptists and taking the gospel to the ends of the earth to fulfill the final marching orders of the Lord Jesus Christ – the Great Commission.”
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.