Month: July 2004

CCBS approves relocation of KCBI

CCBS approves relocation of KCBI

to east Dallas Criswell College site

DALLAS?When The Criswell College (TCC) moved east of downtown Dallas in 1991 to the renovated facilities of the former Gaston Avenue Baptist Church campus, the Criswell communications division, including KCBI-FM, already had moved to a retail Arlington site a few years earlier.

KCBI-FM continued round-the-clock broadcasts of Christian programming in Arlington while TCC moved into facilities that provided more space for classrooms, a library, faculty and staff offices and its own 1,700-seat auditorium for chapel.

The school and the station now have expanded ministries, and plans for building expansions have naturally followed. TCC needs space for student housing while the communications division needs more room for reception, administration, studio and volunteer workers.

At their June 4 meeting, trustees of The Criswell Center for Biblical Studies (CCBS)?which encompasses both the school and the station?advanced an idea that provides both divisions adequate space at a lower cost that earlier plans anticipated.

The board approved in principle the relocation of Criswell Communications and KCBI to the Gaston Avenue location, authorizing administration to secure revised building and financing plans for a seven-story building located across from the school that was purchased last year to provide dormitory space for students. The sale of property in Arlington used by the communications division will be investigated, trustees said.

The board’s decision is consistent with earlier commitments not to sell KCBI or separate it from CCBS, directing administration to achieve greater integration of the college and the communications division.

Using two full floors of the 4005 Gaston Avenue site for communications will provide approximately 20,000 square feet of usable space, which amounts to 4,000 square feet over existing facilities. Furthermore, the communications division will have access to a new cafeteria and coffee shop and existing auditorium, gymnasium, conference rooms, classrooms and broadcast studio.

CCBS President Jerry Johnson told trustees he anticipates “greater integration and coordination of both divisions” with the station relocated nearby. “With the present arrangement, we have one family in two houses,” Johnson added. “We need to bring the family together.”

While the inclusion of the radio station into the Gaston Avenue project will raise the total construction cost for that site, the increase would be less than the total estimated cost of separate projects at both locations. Great efficiency and savings is expected as staff positions and service contracts are combined in the areas of utilities, custodial, security and human relations.

“As the Criswell Center for Biblical Studies seeks to evangelize the lost, and to raise up a generation of spiritual and cultural warriors, we have the message and the megaphone to be ‘salt and light’ to this generation,” Johnson said. “To have maximum kingdom impact, it is imperative that we coordinate the work of The Criswell College and KCBI in this tangible way,” he said, calling it an “open and unique door of opportunity.”

Land: religious liberty vital to world stability

The 21st century is a century of religion and policy-makers must understand it, SBC ethicist says.

HOUSTON?Religious persecution worldwide is increasing and U.S. foreign policy must grasp the religious dimensions of conflicts if democracy and peace are to flourish globally, Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land told a Rice University audience June 8.

Land, in a lecture titled “Global Security and U.S. National Interests: Why Religious Freedom Matters,” delivered at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy on behalf of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), said if the 20th century was known as the century of ideology, the 21st century is the century of religion. Nearly every conflict worldwide has a religious dimension, and U.S. foreign policy must engage countries that suppress the God-given right to freedom of conscience, Land contended.

President Bush appointed Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, to the USCIRF in 2001 and again in 2003.

“The world is filled with religious-related persecution and the situation is getting worse, not better,” Land said.

Such persecution was the impetus for the International Religious Freedom Act, passed with broad bipartisan support by Congress in 1998, which brought USCIRF into being, Land noted.

Old concepts of national security based on sovereign nations competing for strategic superiority are being replaced by ethnic and religious strife combined with high-tech weapons capability, Land said.

“It’s important for future leaders to be able to take religion seriously?to understand its yearnings, to use its potential and to counter its danger,” he said. “Diplomats and politicians and policy-makers who are not equipped to do that are going to find themselves falling short in putting forward U.S. policy goals in the 21st century.”

Land cited four reasons why religious freedom concerns are vital to U.S. national interests.

First, Land said, religious liberty has been integral to America’s history.

“I believe we always do best in the world when we reflect who we are and when our foreign policy reflects who we are. And religious freedom, freedom of conscience, is an integral part, a foundational part, of why this nation exists,” he said. “… From our nation’s founding, the belief that every human being has a fundamental right to believe, worship and practice according to his or her own conscience has been a core conviction of the vast majority of the American people.”

Thomas Jefferson, Land said, called religious liberty the “first freedom,” and the founding fathers “believed that these rights were inalienable because they were understood to exist prior to society and to government and were granted by neither, but instead were merely recognized and protected.”

Land said the practice of religious freedom entails other rights such as freedom of assembly, free expression and property ownership, and such freedom creates “breathing room” for political dissidents, labor organizers and human rights advocates. Religious freedom fueled democratic reforms in Eastern Europe and has inspired communist

Austin’s O’Chester honored at SBC

INDIANAPOLIS?A woman who has served as a spiritual mentor to thousands of Southern Baptist women was recognized at this year’s Minister’s Wives’ Conference in Indianapolis. Barbara O’Chester of Austin received the J. M. Dawson Award for Distinguished Service, honoring “outstanding Christian character and service to others.”

Lynda Estep of Columbia, S.C., who presented the award. The South Carolina pastor’s wife spoke of O’Chester’s 35-year commitment to retreat ministry for women. She “and her staff have ministered to thousands of women,” Estep said, citing programs offered in 10 states and two foreign countries. The wife of retired Austin pastor Harold O’Chester, she was his partner in ministry at Great Hills Baptist Church of Austin for 35 years as well as ministering in Mississippi where he endured public criticism for his opposition to racism.

“Few pastors’ wives have done so much for Southern Baptist women as Barbara O’Chester,” Estes told the crowd of thousands. “She is a mentor, a spiritual mother, a godly wife and a role model for women everywhere. She has unselfishly invested her life and energy in ministry to women.”

A graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a bachelor’s degree in church music, O’Chester assumed her role as a minister’s wife with on-the-job training. She decided there had to be a better way to train young wives for a lifetime of serving in ministry. “I was on my way back from a retreat, praying about the ministers’ wives I’d met and the Lord began to speak to me about the challenges of ministry,” she told Texas Baptist Crossroads in an interview last year.

“Ministers’ wives face the same situations that other women do, but they have additional challenges,” she said. From 1975 to 2003, Great Hills Retreat Ministry incorporated into their retreat line-up a weekend of training specifically for ministers’ wives. She sought to teach staff wives “that there is joy in serving the Lord and being in the ministry,” O’Chester stated. “That one thing carries a wife through a lot of challenges.”

With the success of the conservative reformation, all of the six Southern Baptist seminaries now offer training for the wives of ministers. “The seminaries are doing a much better job of preparing women for minister than when I was in school,” she related. Several of the wives of current seminary presidents benefited from O’Chester’s teaching during years when their own husbands were engaged in training for ministry.

In receiving the award from Southern Baptist minister’s wives, O’Chester said her basic philosophy had remained the same through 46 years of ministry. “Love the Master, love the man and love the ministry.” Looking out over the capacity crowd at this year’s luncheon, she said, “I can assure you today even though I don’t know what you’re walking through that God is faithful and He will never let you down.”

Jack Graham: ‘stand up … speak up’

INDIANAPOLIS?Southern Baptists know their priority is to fulfill the Great Commission, said Texas pastor Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano in his final address as president of the Southern Baptist Convention June 15.

While “sharing Jesus one-on-one and cooperating around the world is God’s agenda,” Graham acknowledged “some say we just need to share the gospel and shut up about the rest of this,” referring to the cultural war of values.

“I simply ask you a question: As Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians, if we don’t stand up, wise up and speak up on these issues, who will be left to deal with the issues of our times?” he asked. “If not us, Southern Baptists, then who? If not now, when? We will look up [to heaven], step up in personal witness, wise up to our responsibility to this culture and gear up for a spiritual battle.”

Graham addressed the meeting’s theme of “Kingdom Forever,” reminding messengers that God gave Christians a clear assignment to share the gospel and expand his Kingdom forever.

Turning to Ephesians 3:20-21, Graham said the epistle provides an instruction manual for the local church as well as a doxology praising God’s ability “to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”

Noting that Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards was often accused of being too heavenly minded and having “eternity stamped on his eyeballs,” Graham pleaded, “Would that people say of us that we have eternity stamped on our eyeballs.”

The SBC president thanked God for the inerrant, infallible word of God, but added, “If I study the Bible and know my Bible and believe my Bible and won’t walk across the street to share the gospel, what’s the point? If evangelism is buried in orthodoxy, it is an unworthy grave. Graham noted:

?North America is the only continent where Christianity is not growing.

?Seven out of 10 people in America do not know Christ.

?Only 4 percent of Americans have a biblical worldview.

?More than 80 percent of all churches in the United States are plateaued or declining.

Amid “these startling statistics,” Graham said, the SBC has “flat-lined in baptisms” in America.

“God help us to make our neighborhoods and communities a place from which it is hard to go to hell,” Graham said. After lamenting that too many Southern Baptists have become calloused to the need for evangelism, Graham challenge listeners.

“Pastor, it starts with you and me. Every pastor needs to get over the idea of being a CEO in charge of the church and remember that God has called us to be shepherds who love sheep, including lost sheep!” he said.

Conservative resurgence, at 25, called ‘take-back’

Heroes describedas not the knowns TRONG>but legion of unknowns.

INDIANAPOLIS?Rejecting a description of the conservative resurgence as a “takeover” of the Southern Baptist Convention, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Richard Land told a 25-year “Conservative Resurgence Reunion” that the reformation was “a take-back to where our spiritual forefathers founded it?on the cross of Jesus Christ and the absolute infallible word of God.”

Jerry Falwell of Liberty Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., opened the June 14 gathering at the Indianapolis Convention Center in prayer, thanking God for “the 25-year miracle that we never thought could happen.”

Land recounted statements by early Southern Baptist leaders like J.M. Frost, founder of the Baptist Sunday School Board, who clearly accepted Scripture as the “all sufficient and infallible rule of faith and practice.”

In contrast, “liberalism and higher critical thinking was a cancer that implanted itself” in the convention in the last half of the 20th century, Land noted, calling that approach to the study of Scripture “a dangerous interloper that would have been a lethal one had it been allowed to continue.”

Land credited the late William Powell, a former Home Mission Board employee, retired Houston Judge Paul Pressler and current Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson with understanding “our forefathers had given us some way to deal with” a denomination that was straying to the left.

“Our ecclesiology saved us. We believed in the autonomy of the local church and that all of our boards and agencies ultimately are accountable to the messengers from the local churches,” Land said.

“We need to tell the story of what happened, why it was necessary and learn from those stories of history the lessons that will keep it from happening again,” he continued, challenging SBC entity leaders to “make certain we keep these agencies leashed to the cross and founded on the infallible, inerrant word of God.”

Criswell College President Jerry Johnson of Dallas said it is impossible to talk about the conservative resurgence without thinking about the legacy of W.A. Criswell, longtime pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and two-term SBC president who founded the college with a Christian worldview and witness.

“He being dead yet speaketh,” Johnson said, noting that the Criswell Legacy Project ( provides an opportunity for Southern Baptists to hear and read sermons delivered by the popular preacher. The audience sampled video clips of sermons Criswell delivered in 1985 and 1988, including his reference to “the curse of liberalism” in mainline denominations.

“We have taken the great, sanctified Baptist doctrine of the priesthood of the believer and made it to cover every damnable heresy that I could imagine,” Criswell declared in a message replayed for the reunion audience of nearly 700. “No minister who has embraced a higher critical approach to the gospel has ever built a great church, held a minor revival or won a city to the Lord,” Criswell stated. “They live off the labor and sacrifice of those who paid the price of devoted service before them.”

Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, said he looks forward to the next 25 years as the most fruitful and blessed in the history of the SBC. He recognized “leaders at each entity who affirm and ascribe that they believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible word of God.”

Richards said conservative leaders realized a turnaround was possible only by electing a conservative SBC president. “The president would appoint conservatives to the Committee on Committees which would in turn nominate for convention approval a Committee on Nominations, which would nominate trustees for SBC agencies,” he explained.

“Through this convoluted process, Southern Baptists could impact their agencies,” Richards said of the “course correction” that was accomplished. Conservatives on the Committee on Committees and Committee on Nominations understood the needs of Southern Baptists, he said, and “by virtue of their fidelity and dedication” nominated others who shared the same dedication.

“We must never lose sight of the method that was used,” Richards said. “And although now we would consider ourselves all conservatives, we must remember that as we go along through the course of years that we could never wink at someone who may be wavering, and that we can never sacrifice truth on the altar of compromise, though we must continue to stay vigilant through the years.”

Richards publicly recognized the current leaders of the 11 SBC entities, describing them as “men who affirm and ascribe that they believe that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible word of God.”

<script src="http://li// <![CDATA[

Reverence and self-control at public events

Are Americans getting sillier? Is that even possible from people who speak seriously of pet rocks and extreme burritos? If “silly” means doing things that do not fit the situation, I’d have to say yes. Incongruity is a basic element of humor?the guy who shows up at a wedding wearing swim fins or kazoo music in a grand theater. But is it humorous when the swim fins guy shows up at your wedding?

I guess that’s what prompts my concern. I attended two graduation ceremonies this year?one high school and one college. The high school event was in a church auditorium and the college one was in the school’s chapel. Both events were punctuated by “Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!” and a Freon air horn when certain grads did their stroll. A quieter reminder of silliness came during President Reagan’s funeral(s). As he lay in repose in the Capitol rotunda, a huge crowd stood in line to walk past the casket. One pilgrim lamented having to go back to his hotel to leave his camera when the guards (in formal dress uniforms and buttoned collars) on duty refused to let him bring it into the building. Would you normally bring a camera to someone’s funeral or into the funeral home during the viewing of a body? How about the tank tops and shorts and flip-flops? There comes a time when incongruity is just plain disrespectful.

Contrast this behavior and a hundred other examples you could cite with the guidelines for church leaders and members listed in Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus. Here are few concepts given high priority in Paul’s letters.

* Sober: Originally, this referred to the normal way we use the word today?not drunk. It came to encompass a broader concept including self-awareness and good judgment. As a virtue in the lives of overseers and other church leaders Paul had the broader use in mind since he made separate mention of alcohol abuse. A sober person knows who he is, where he is, and how to respond to those realities. It should not be seen as grimness but rather the ability to be serious when dealing with serious matters.

* Self-control: The pastoral letters give frequent mention of self-control and they use a word sometimes translated “temperance.” Again, the idea of avoiding drunkenness is part of the meaning but only part. Exercising self-control means that we can stop doing something that we may feel like doing. This is something that is lost to those who abuse alcohol but also to those who are immature or enslaved to bad habits. Self-control is mentioned repeatedly in the pastorals; this implies importance and relevance. A person with self-control can refrain from shouting whatever is on his mind in church or in a movie theater. Some of our fellows apparently lack this virtue.

* Respectability: Also rendered “good behavior” or “modesty,” the word may be understood as being aware of our situation and our audience. The people around us will see and judge the way we carry on as well as the way we refrain from carrying on. We should be worthy of respect by our good and appropriate behavior. This may sound like a repressive virtue to those who see respectability as exclusive of fun or self-expression. These same folks?all of us, in fact?would be concerned to look up from our gurney to see our heart surgeon in a clown wig and reeking of whiskey. Here at least we demand respectability.

* Reverence: This word is used of respect between people and an awe of God. To live reverently is respect the things that are holy. People are created in God’s image. Other things may be worthy of our respect as God gives them value or if they are committed to God, as in a worship meeting. Respect is an attitude of the heart expressed in many external ways. Lack of reverence is the same, an internal condition expressed externally?perhaps as a “Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!” during a serious commencement exercise.

In Galatians, Paul adds several more virtues in his list of the fruit of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit empowers us to be and do all these things in our new life. I think this power is like the power of a child to walk and talk and feed himself. It is a real potential that comes with new life but it also must develop with maturity and effort. In other words, we must practice self-control to get better at it. If we do not, we will be unfit for leadership and have a poor reputation.

Christian Americans are also Americans. Our culture is increasingly informal in so many ways. These expressions can be if they encourage equality of worth amongst our diverse gifts and roles. Informality can also degrade serious things or build into us the habit of irreverent silliness. This is a concern when worship services become a gathering of a few guys who just happened to be in the neighborhood and thought they might stop by on their way to whatever else is going on. We dress that way; we act that way, and woe to the person who suggests that reverence sometimes means sit still and be quiet.

I am that guy. Freedom of speech is a right, not a mandate for those empowered with divine self-control. The Lord looks on the inner person. He sees right past the sweat pants and the Grateful Dead t-shirt. True enough; but when he does this, he might see a lazy man who wants all those around him to be impressed with how little he cares. We were not set free for this.

Wow, I must really sound like a crank. The fact is, I think even sports fans have become too rowdy. The current goal for some seems to be to call attention to themselves by being loud, outrageously dressed, or weird in some other way. It has less and less to do with the team or the game and everything to do with the individual fan. I even heard a fan heckling at the 18UP>th hole of U.S. Open golf tournament. The tendency to extremes has carried over into every place we gather.

Some places and events call for us to know when we’re onstage and when we shouldn’t be. They call on us to know how and when to play the appropriate role. That is an important mark of maturity without which we will be rightly seen as juvenile.