Contours of a Great Commission Resurgence is a series of articles by faculty of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary that seeks to offer some definitions of what constitutes a GCR, why we believe the SBC is in need of such a movement, and what such a movement might look like in SBC life. The series addresses biblical, theological, historical and practical issues related to a GCR with the hope that God will use our finite and flawed efforts for His glory and the good of the people called Southern Baptist.
Looking for a Great Commission Seminary?
By Danny Akin
Why Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary exists is made plain in our mission statement: “Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20).” This is who we are plain and simple. Let me take the opportunity to unwrap that statement.
Southeastern Seminary exists to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is our passion and our priority. It is all about Him. If that ever changes, it would be best for us to disappear from planet earth! Our goal is to fulfill Colossians 1:18, that “He might come to have first place in everything.” Our hearts desire is to see Philippians 2:10-11 come to pass “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Southeastern Seminary aspires to be a Jesus-intoxicated seminary. We will be satisfied with nothing less.
Southeastern Seminary exists to equip students to serve the Church. We see ourselves as a servant to the churches who entrust their men and women, sons and daughters, to our care. Our reason for existing is “for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, [growing] into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness” (Eph. 4:12-13). Equipping students means teaching them what to believe and how to live. Southeastern Seminary is proudly confessional. We want people to know where we stand without apology or compromise. An outstanding faculty with well-trained minds and a missionary heart gladly teach in accordance with and not contrary to: 1) The Abstract of Principles; 2) The Baptist Faith and Message; 3) The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy; 4) The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Southern Baptists, the evangelical community, and for that matter the whole world can be certain of the biblical and theological instruction taking place in Wake Forest, North Carolina. They can also be confident that we are not interested in creating ivory tower theological eggheads who are disconnected from real persons and real life. We work hard to wed the head, the heart and the hands in fulfilling the Great Commission. We believe theology and missions go hand in hand. What we teach must be translated and transferred to where people live. Biblical truth is not only concerned with what we believe, it is also concerned with what we do.
Finally, Southeastern Seminary exists to fulfill the Great Commission. We are consumed with a passion to be a Great Commission Seminary. The call to take the gospel to the lost is a consistent drumbeat at Southeastern put before every student day after day after day.
Do our students need a reason to go to the nations? No! They need a reason to stay home! That is the heartbeat of Southeastern. 1.6 billion people have yet to hear the name of Jesus. Millions more have only a nominal witness. Our seminary exists to correct this problem! We believe there is no greater joy than seeing new believers place their faith in the Lord Jesus as they identify themselves with Him in His death, burial and resurrection. And, God has promised that they would be found in every nation and from all the peoples of the earth! What a gospel! What a mission! What an assignment! This is an awesome calling given to us by an awesome God!
Jerry Rankin is a dear friend to me and he is president of the International Mission Board. This is what he has said about Southeastern Seminary:
The increasing number and consistent flow of missionary candidates coming from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary for service with the International Mission Board indicates a passion for missions that permeates the campus. Southeastern has emerged as a preeminent equipper for Great Commission fulfillment, and not only in the training of future missionaries. Those who go to pastor, serve on church staffs and in other areas of ministry are impacted and influenced by a focus on missions through studies in every department and academic discipline.
I believe in Southeastern Seminary. My calling to serve here is one of pure grace and goodness. I believe we are doing well, but I am also convinced our precious Lord wants us to do even more! My constant prayer is that God will raise up William Carey’s, Adoniram and Ann Judson’s, Bill Wallace’s, and Lottie Moon’s from the students who come to our campus. Do we need a reason to train students to take the gospel to the nations? Do we need a reason, as a seminary, to train a new generation of Great Commission Christians both at home and around the world? No, the commission is plain, and the need is self-evident.
Let me close with a personal word of appreciation that I hope will go out far and wide. Southeastern Seminary is particularly grateful for the faithful and generous support of Southern Baptists. They make it possible for us to provide the finest theological education at the lowest cost anywhere in the world. If you doubt this, just do a little cost comparison. You will be shocked at the difference! During this time of economic struggle, this commitment on the part of Southern Baptists is especially appreciated and it has never been more important. Southern Baptists make it possible for us to train Great Commission Christians. Thank you. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for supporting us. Thank you for believing in what we do. It is a joy to partner with you in glorifying Jesus and fulfilling His Great Commission.