Month: November 2010

SWBTS acquires more Dead Sea Scrolls fragments

FORT WORTH?Less than a year after acquiring three fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has added three more biblical fragments, making it the largest collection at an institution of higher education in the United States.

The new fragments were obtained from a private collector in Europe through a gift from an anonymous donor and friend of the seminary.

“The acquisition constitutes another significant milestone in the development of our programs in biblical studies and archaeology,” said Paige Patterson, Southwestern’s president. “We are especially grateful for the friends of Southwestern who have made these acquisitions, as well as three other fragments, possible.” Patterson also credited his wife Dorothy, professor of theology in women’s studies, and Ph.D. student Candi Finch for having worked “tirelessly to get them to Fort Worth.”

The set of six fragments is one more than those owned by Azusa Pacific University near Los Angeles, which acquired five pieces in 2009. The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago also owns a fragment.

Steven Ortiz, associate professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds and director of the Charles D. Tandy Archaeology Museum at Southwestern, noted that having one fragment would be just as important as owning six.

“It is not a race to see who can collect the most fragments,” Ortiz said. “The goal is to get these out of the hands of private collectors and make them available to the public, especially scholars. ?

“Our institution has been entrusted with an important role to play in biblical scholarship and the archaeology and history of ancient Palestine. In addition, since these are some of the oldest biblical texts, Southwestern has a sacred trust to see that these are properly studied and preserved for perpetuity,” Ortiz said.

Southwestern worked with the University of Southern California’s West Semitic Research Project in September to digitally image all of Southwestern’s scroll fragments as well as other rare ancient texts and artifacts in the Tandy Museum for future study and scholarship. Southwestern students were trained in the latest technology and methodology of imaging ancient pieces. Study of the documents is already underway.

“We have hired new faculty members who are trained in Dead Sea Scroll research and archaeology as well as brought the top team to photograph the fragments,” Ortiz said, adding, “We are currently in advisement with the Dead Sea Scroll Foundation to assist in the analysis and publication of these fragments.”

Early analysis shows the new fragments include portions of Deuteronomy 9:25-10:1, Deuteronomy 12:11-14 and Psalm 22:4-13. Psalm 22 is known as a prophetic messianic psalm that describes the brutality of Jesus’ death 1,000 years before he was crucified.

Plans for Southwestern’s new chapel, which is currently under construction, include the secure, climate-controlled Ira Leeta Phillips Library for housing the fragments and a pen made from a palm tree which was found with the Dead Sea Scrolls and presumably was used by the scribes who wrote them. Once the chapel is completed, the pieces will be on display and potentially will travel in national exhibits.

“One cannot overestimate the significance of these valuable artifacts for Southwestern Seminary, for Fort Worth, for Texas and for all the Americas,” Patterson said. “I cannot but express my gratitude to our Lord for enabling us to be a significant part of this ongoing vital research.”

In 1947, Bedouins discovered the scrolls in caves overlooking the Dead Sea near the ancient city of Qumran, east of Jerusalem. Nearly 10 years of excavation in the caves produced fragments from approximately 825 to 870 separate scrolls containing biblical manuscripts, biblical manuscripts with commentary, apocryphal manuscripts and extra-biblical literature.

The Dead Sea Scrolls have made a profound impact on biblical studies, especially in the area of scribal transmission. Dating back to the time of Christ, these documents pre-date the Masoretic Text of Hebrew Scriptures by 1,000 years. When Southwestern acquired the first three fragments in January, Patterson said the discovery of Daniel fragments in the Dead Sea Scrolls showed that “it was clear that these were copies of copies of copies so that it established the certainty that Daniel was written when it claims to have been written.”

Empower Evangelism Conf. Feb. 28 – March 2 in Frisco

FRISCO?”Jesus Christ is Lord!” taken from Philippians 2:9-11, is the theme of the 2011 Empower Evangelism Conference, scheduled Feb. 28-March 2 at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco.

The annual conference will feature a wide array of speakers, including pastors such as Jack Graham, Kie Bowman and Bryant Jones, best-selling author and apologist Lee Strobel, “Total Church Life” author Darrell Robinson, and others. Musical guests will include Babbie Mason and Charles Billingsley.

“The Empower Evangelism Conference is designed to inspire and motivate followers of Jesus to be more zealous about the Great Commission and the Great Commandment of our Lord,” said SBTC Evangelism Director Don Cass. “You will be blessed by great music, dynamic testimonies, and great preaching that will lead us to refocus on the Lordship of our Savior.”

Together, Reaching Texas, Touching the World

This issue of the TEXAN is being handed out at the Corpus Christi annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. If you are reading this in Corpus, “welcome.” I am glad you made it. We are in for an exciting experience. God is ready to move in our lives. Get ready by “Praying and Listening,” which is our theme this year.

If you are not able to be with us, you can pray. Please pray that God will protect those who travel. Pray for His Spirit to move on hearts. Pray for the messengers and guests to leave Corpus different from how they arrived. Pray for the SBTC staff to carry out the will of the churches under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Your prayers are important.

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is your convention. Your church and 2,260 other churches make up this convention. We need each other. Working together we can Reach Texas and Touch the World.

Thank you for being a part of the SBTC. It is my joy to serve you.

Fixed-rate annuity benefits changing

DALLAS?GuideStone Financial Resources recently notified participants age 60 or older in the Church Retirement Plan of a new method GuideStone will use to calculate fixed-life annuity benefits beginning this January. These modifications will not affect any fixed life annuities that are established on or before Dec. 1, 2010.

The new methodology will use an annuity funding rate that more accurately reflects market conditions and is in line with industry standards. Currently, GuideStone sets a floor?or minimum?funding rate that is well above industry norms. However, the current economic climate necessitates this modification. Just as one can no longer find bank certificates of deposit with an interest rate of 8 percent or 9 percent, one cannot find fixed annuity funding rates that are kept artificially high.

An adjustment in the annuity funding rate can impact the potential monthly income amounts. Generally a 1 percent move in the annuity funding rate (e.g., from 6 percent to 5 percent or from 6 percent to 7 percent) would impact a single life annuity benefit amount by about 10 percent with all other assumptions being equal. GuideStone has implemented a mechanism to ensure the annuity benefits will consistently fall within the top quartile of the industry. Because the funding rate may change each month, participants will be able to learn of a new funding rate 45 days before it takes effect: For example, participants can learn the funding rate for April 2011 as early as Feb. 15, 2011.

GuideStone offers a variety of benefit combinations to its participants. To learn about those options and the unique benefits GuideStone can offer ministers for tax purposes, please request the “Retirement Income Solutions” workbook by calling GuideStone. Participants can learn more about retirement income needs and GuideStone benefit options by logging into their account and using the Retirement Income Solutions interactive tool at

Each month GuideStone offers free live webinars for participants to learn more about benefit options and to answer questions about upcoming modifications to new benefits. Visit and click on the link under Live webinars.

For more than 90 years, GuideStone’s Fixed Benefit Fund has consistently provided annuity benefits to meet the needs of the participants it is privileged to serve. During the explosive growth of the financial markets in the 1980s and 1990s, the robust investment performance of the Fixed Benefit Fund enabled GuideStone to pass on multiple discretionary benefit increases to its annuitants?a practice unique and unduplicated in the secular industry.

GuideStone believes the new methodology will help to enhance the long-term security for its annuitants today, as well as those who are nearing retirement and those who will retire in the future.

For a full list of commonly asked questions, please visit and choose the “News about annuity benefits” link in the Popular Items section of the homepage. Trained specialists are available to answer questions about GuideStone retirement accounts and available benefit options by calling 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433).

DR volunteers have busy late summer, fall

Flooding provided opportunities to share Christ in deed and word.

Tropical storms kept SBTC Disaster Relief teams busy through September and into October. Atlantic hurricane season begins in June and lasts through November, with September the most active month. This year was no different.

Tropical storm Hermine, the worst storm to hit Texas this season, blew through the state the second week of September, spawning a series of storms, and overwhelming some regions with rain. When the skies cleared, mud-out teams trained by the SBTC Disaster Relief task force were there to begin the cleanup.

As flooding swept through Arlington, Williamson County and Corpus Christi over a span of three weeks, the SBTC deployed disaster relief (DR) volunteers to the three locations.

“The deployments came just one after another,” said Scottie Stice, a DR task force member. “It was the same event; we were just responding in sequence trying to do what we could to help. We started in Arlington. The following week we sent teams to Williamson County and the next week to Corpus.”

By Sept. 16, a week after Hermine began her sweep through the Dallas-Fort Worth area, volunteers led by DR veteran volunteer Paul Easter of Mount Pleasant arrived in Arlington with mud-out trailer in tow. Easter, who keeps an SBTC trailer stocked and ready to go at a moment’s notice, organized a five-person team to help the flood victims.

The flooding in Arlington was localized to one primary neighborhood where Easter’s team set to work, cleaning out a house per day from Sept. 16 through Sept. 22, finishing seven homes in all. The mud-out process for each home included removing ruined carpet, wet sheetrock, damaged cabinets and furniture and spraying the house with a chemical to kill mold.

Williamson County
Another DR veteran, Mike Northen, education minister at Austin-area First Baptist Church of Pflugerville, responded with a team to the flooding in nearby Williamson County, cleaning homes in nearby Round Rock and Georgetown, where members of trained mud-out teams joined them to guide local volunteers and assist cleanup.

“They had willing hearts,” Stice said. “They had disaster relief training but not mud-out training. Most of their volunteers were on a cooking unit. They had a strong desire to go out and help their own community in that time of need. They responded as soon as they were aware of the need.”
Local emergency managers contacted Northen about the needs they witnessed in the flood zone, asking for help. Northen contacted the SBTC and received encouragement to send in local support from his own church.

In all, three teams worked over the course of two weeks to assess and complete mud-out projects in the area.

“This area was tricky,” Stice said. “It was flash flooding scattered out all over the county, not concentrated in a single neighborhood like the other locations.”

Northen’s assessment volunteers took a week determining the amount of damage and prioritizing work orders. The flash flooding affected 482 homes in Williamson County.

“By the time we got on the scene, a lot of them had taken care of themselves,” Northen said. “We handled the last few that were left. But I still get e-mails every now and then from the emergency management teams in those areas asking if we can help with another need they have discovered in the area.”

The team was able to do mud-out work in five to 10 homes. Mostly, the work involved spraying the homes for mold. However, a few projects were more in-depth.

The experience was a blessing to the Pflugerville team, three out of four of whom were unemployed, Northen said. “They really felt good about doing something worthwhile during that down time of looking for work.”

The experience also encouraged them to get more DR training so that they would be able to deploy more often. It introduced them to mud-out and made them enthusiastic about helping more people through this ministry.

“If Baptist churches in each community had their own disaster relief teams, they could respond to local disasters, have a local influence,” Northen said. “I would encourage every church in our convention to give serious thought to getting involved in DR. There are many people who might not feel like they can fill a ministry role, but this is something they can do. They can pull a trailer. They can do assessments. They can stir a pot of beans or serve a plate of food. This is one of the greatest evangelistic opportunities we can have and I would encourage every church to really consider involving their people.”

Corpus Christi
The last week of September through the first week of October brought SBTC DR teams to Corpus Christi where homes had been flooded by an overflowing drainage ditch.

Of 140 residents in the area, more than 100 of them requested help from DR volunteer teams. According to Stice, every flood relief project is essentially the same in regards to what needs to be done. However, there is a small window of time in which to do it. It takes time to organize and deploy a team. It takes more time to assess and prioritize needs.

“In Williamson County we got word a little too late, and had a hard time finding work orders,” Stice said. “With Corpus, we hit the window exactly right and rolled up 119 work orders in a week.”

As per procedure, assessment teams went door-to-door through the area talking to homeowners, assessing damage, and offering help.

Jolissa Hart of First Baptist Church in Winona served as the operations “blue hat” for the Corpus DR efforts. As a blue hat, she has been trained in nearly every aspect of disaster relief work. Hart was also one of the first women to be certified to work with a chainsaw. Now she works in operations prioritizing projects and organizing volunteer teams to work in the disaster areas.

“When we first got there and actually went into the area there was stuff lined up on the side of the streets that homeowners had pulled out of their homes,” Hart said. “They had already started doing cleanup.”

The residents were more than happy to receive help from DR volunteer teams.

Julian Moreno, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista in Uvalde led the mud-out efforts with 28 volunteers involved. One elderly couple prayed to receive Christ after Moreno shared the gospel.

Moreno asked for prayer for these and everyone involved as the work is nearly completed.

“Please remember these residents in their time of need,” Moreno asked. “Pray also for those that made professions of faith. Pray that local churches will be successful in following up with them. Pray also for strength for the volunteers who are working so hard in such tough conditions.”
For more information on volunteering or on receiving DR training for members of your church, contact Jim Richardson by e-mail at or by phone at 877-953-7282 (SBTC).

Donations to SBTC Disaster Relief may be made electronically at or by writing a check to “Disaster Relief,” P.O. Box 1988, Grapevine, TX 76099-1988. All funds go directly toward current or future disaster relief efforts.

Seminary’s Dead Sea fragments go hi-tech

FORT WORTH?In a convergence of ancient Scripture with the latest in photographic technology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary worked with the West Semitic Research Project this fall to prepare for the study and publication of its Dead Sea Scrolls collection and other artifacts.

A workshop hosted by the seminary’s Tandy Institute for Archaeology featured a team from the West Semitic Research Project at the University of Southern California that specializes in producing high-definition images of ancient texts and artifacts. The scholars made images of Southwestern’s collection of Dead Sea Scrolls fragments as well as some artifacts from the seminary’s Carlson Cuneiform Collection.

“The West Semitic Research Project is one of the best for the digital imaging of ancient manuscripts, particularly Dead Sea Scrolls fragments,” said Steven Ortiz, associate professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds at Southwestern and director of the Charles D. Tandy Archaeology Museum.

“Naturally, as the Tandy Institute for Archaeology prepares for the scholarly publication of Southwestern Seminary’s Dead Sea Scroll fragments, we are starting the process by first digitally documenting these rare and valuable texts,” Ortiz said.

In January, the seminary announced its acquisition of three Dead Sea Scrolls fragments and an ancient pen discovered with the scrolls. This collection, containing biblical passages from Exodus, Leviticus and Daniel, makes Southwestern one of only a handful of institutions of higher education in the United States to own Dead Sea Scrolls fragments. Gary Loveless, founder and CEO of Square Mile Energy in Houston, provided the lead gift for the purchase of the scrolls. Three more fragments were added this fall through a gift by an anonymous donor.

Bruce Zuckerman, director of the West Semitic Research Project and associate professor of Hebrew Bible at the University of Southern California, said Ortiz and others at Southwestern “have been a model of cooperation with us.”

In a lecture on recent imaging technology during the Sept. 24-25 sessions at the Texas seminary, Zuckerman explained the multiple benefits of specialized imaging technology for the study of ancient texts. Infrared photography, for example, can reveal writing on a scroll that had otherwise disappeared because of its age.

In the past, scholars primarily could examine ancient texts only with the naked eye. As a result, damaged or faded texts provided little information about the past. With the latest technology, however, scholars can re-analyze the research of the past.

“For those people who are your age and who are interested in getting into the field of ancient studies, there is no better time than now,” Zuckerman told Southwestern students. “One of my colleagues said to me, ‘You know what this means? It means we have to do everything over.’

“Wouldn’t it be fun to remake a field of study, especially a field of study relevant to the Bible, and be the ones to dictate how the games are going to be played in the future?”

Ortiz noted that the interactive nature of the archaeology workshop allowed students “to learn the cutting-edge technology and methodology for the research of artifacts and manuscripts.”

“It is just amazing to see what capabilities there are at the present,” said Adam Dodd, a student in the master of theology program and vice president of the seminary’s student archaeological society. Dodd said he benefited from the workshop not only in observing the team from the West Semitic Research Project, but also because the team produced an image that will help with his master’s thesis.

For his thesis, Dodd is analyzing a medieval manuscript that contains a portion of the Hebrew text from the Book of Genesis. The manuscript, however, is stained, and the Hebrew text is overlaid by a later Coptic text. Dodd said the new images of the manuscript will help him examine the text more closely and come to more accurate and confident conclusions.

While the manuscript will not change the field of biblical scholarship, Dodd said, “[I]t is perfect for someone who wants to learn the practice and refine their skills in evaluating different aspects of manuscripts. It is perfect for a young student to cut his teeth on.”

Baptist minister honors troops

It’s Sunday morning and you struggle to get yourself to church on time. On the other side of the ocean a young American wakes to the sound of gun fire and shouting soldiers.

Over and over again, the sacrifices of our service men and women have, among other things, provided the liberty to awaken oneself to get to church on a Sunday morning free and clear of danger or persecution.

Such sacrifices haven’t escaped the notice of some churches.

The father of one of those fighting to protect our country, Jim Leascher, pastoral counselor at First Baptist Church in Odessa, has begun a ministry called Honor Our Troops (HOT). The program is for those who want to support and show appreciation to those serving overseas by purchasing small care packages.

For $25, one may purchase a flat-rate care package containing objects that to military people in harm’s way are priceless: non-perishable snacks, toiletry items, and perhaps most valuable?a personalized letter and picture sent from the person, family or group supporting the service person.

Leascher established this organization when his son, Army specialist Chad Leascher, was deployed to Afghanistan in 2003. In 2004, after being honorably discharged, Chad safely arrived back on U.S. soil. “We praise God Chad is back with us and out of harm’s way,” Leascher said.
Many war veterans leave the combat behind but are sometimes haunted by what they witness, Leascher said.

“This is why it is so very important to let our military know we appreciate them, we pray for them, and we think of them often,” Leascher said.
The packages come with Oreos, Pringles, sunflower seeds, and beef jerky as well as deodorant, lotion, and baby wipes. Among all the goodies are a picture and a post card from the sponsoring family.

“The response from the folks here and military overseas has been overwhelming and has confirmed over and over that we at HOT are doing what God has intended us to do,” Leascher said.

HOT has one-day events in churches, businesses, and at sporting events across Texas. One recent event at Central Baptist Church in College Station spotlighted the HOT ministry. Central pastor Chris Osborne attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with Leascher.

“We want to encourage our troops while they are in harm’s way,” Osborne said, “and are hoping to provide HOT with at least 1,000 care packages, if not more.”

The church met the challenge, purchasing 1,440 care packages.

“Unbelievable,” Leascher said. “We hope to pattern what we had at Central with other churches and events,” Leascher said.

“We praise God for Jim and his ministry,” Osborne said. “What the Lord did here at Central is small compared to what his plans really are. God will give Jim everything he needs to fulfill God’s plan.”

For more information about the HOT ministry, call 432-889-0177 or e-mail them at The website address is

Criswell College celebrates 40th anniversary; draws SBC dignitaries, alums from across US

DALLAS?Southern Baptist leaders, pastors and alumni of Criswell College celebrated the school’s 40th anniversary at the Dallas school on Oct. 5. With 1,807 graduates and additional alumni serving worldwide, and 365 students enrolled this semester, the school has remained faithful to founder W.A. Criswell’s vision of “intensive Bible study, based on conservative evangelical Christianity as preached and practiced” in the church he pastored.

Highlighting the day’s festivities were sermons delivered by the co-pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Calif., Roger Spradlin, who also is chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, and former Criswell College professor David Allen, dean of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s school of theology and professor of preaching.

The bulk of Criswell College alumni have either planted or served in local churches. Numerous others have risen to positions of significant responsibility in the SBC.

Allen, like Spradlin, modeled the expositional sermon style for which Criswell College is noted.

Through a series of leaders who upheld the vision of W.A. Criswell, the college has maintained its founding and declared allegiance “to the inerrancy, infallibility, inspiration and authority of holy Scripture,” Allen said.

Former leaders of the school committed to such tenets include the college’s first academic dean, James W. Bryant; and its first president, H. Leo Eddleman, as well as successive presidents. They include the institution’s longest-tenured leader, Paige Patterson, who now presides over Southwestern Seminary, Richard Melick (now at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary), Richard Wells (now at Union University), President-elect Jerry Johnson (now at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) and Interim President Lamar Cooper.

Preaching from Numbers 9:15-23, Allen said the presidents, boards of trustees, faculty, staff and students of Criswell College have not always known exactly where God is leading and what God is going to do. “But in these 40 years we’ve never lacked for God’s leadership, his direction.”
Providing an exposition of the pastor, Allen reminded, “God is with you always and will guide you always as long as you obey him.”

“Never forget the manna always falls and the water always flows where the cloud moves. Our job is to find God, where he is, and obey him, and watch him work.” Allen said.

Included in the day’s activities was the annual practice of all Criswell College officials signing the school’s articles of faith, which are patterned after the Baptist Faith & Message.

Criswell College asks staff and trustees to affirm its statement, which also incorporates distinctives that Criswell endorsed.

After the longtime Dallas pastor announced in 1969 plans to launch the school the next year, Bryant told him they needed articles of faith. He quoted to the chapel audience Criswell’s response that, “‘We don’t need articles of faith. Just find professors who believe like I do.'”

While Criswell agreed the BF&M would be a good starting point, he tasked Bryant with tweaking the popular statement to incorporate the founder’s convictions in four of the articles:

  • specifying the Bible to be “inerrant and infallible in its original manuscripts which are to be taken as verbally inspired,”
  • reflecting a pre-millennial return involving a pre-tribulation rapture,
  • adding the statement that “the tithe is to be considered the starting point of Christian stewardship,” and
  • adding the conviction that “the greatest contribution the church can make to social betterment is to bring individual men to a heart-changing encounter with Jesus Christ.”

Prior to a luncheon, Cooper asked Jimmy Pritchard, pastor of First Baptist Church of Forney, to pray. Pritchard is chairman of the Criswell College board of trustees, the International Mission Board’s trustees and the IMB’s presidential search committee.

Pritchard asked God “to allow us to keep our lives plugged into that place you have for us in fulfilling the Great Commission, and allow us to do all we can to make certain that this school remains in its place in fulfilling the Great Commission and your great plan for the world.”

Keynoting the luncheon was Alan Streett, professor of evangelism who in 2008 was awarded an endowed chair and appointed to be the W.A. Criswell Professor of Expository Preaching. Distance education dean Barry Creamer also informed the audience of opportunities to teach students beyond the walls of the Dallas campus through online instruction.

Addressing his assigned topic?”The Uniqueness of Criswell College, Past and Present”?Streett first noted the difference between an institution’s distinctiveness and uniqueness, saying that uniqueness means “one-of-a-kind … like no other.”

“We’re unique because we’re the only college in the world that bears the name Criswell. And that’s not a little thing…. This college bears the image of Dr. Criswell,” Streett said.

Criswell College also trains men and women “at a seminary level, but for a college degree. And I don’t know of any other college in the world that does that.”

During the 1970s and ’80s, the college was unique for another reason: “It was the nerve center for the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention at a time when SBC leadership had moved leftward, which was a reflection of the six SBC seminaries.”

“When the battle was won at the national level, the war continued at the state level,” said Streett, citing the school’s affiliation with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention as a budgeted SBTC ministry.

With some 17 full-time faculty and a number of ongoing part-time/adjunct professors, the student body this fall includes 365 students from more than 30 states and 30 countries. Initially utilizing downtown facilities of First Baptist Church of Dallas, the school relocated in 1991 to the Gaston Avenue property acquired through the efforts of Ruth Ray Hunt, a longtime supporter of the school.

James Robison: Don’t just sing louder

Summit draws leading Christians to pray for awakening, renewal, religious liberty.

EULESS?An eyewitness once told the chilling story of his life as a boy in Nazi Germany during the period of the Holocaust. The church his family attended sat along a train track that served as a main line for the mass transportation of Jews to the death camps.

Each Sunday, as the train passed by, parishioners could hear the screams and cries for mercy coming from the train cars. In an effort to distance themselves from the tragedy, the church-goers learned to sing at the top of their lungs in order to drown out the Jewish voices.

Although he does not believe Americans live under a heinous regime like Hitler’s, evangelist James Robison uses this illustration to communicate his fear that the church today has turned a deaf ear to the nation’s departure from its Christian heritage.

“At this moment, freedom as we have known it is under a subtle assault from an insidious worldview that is attacking faith, family and freedom,” Robison told members of First Baptist of Euless during a special service on Oct. 3. Robison cited the nation’s maladies, including escalating divorce rates, legalization of homosexual marriages, economic turmoil, steadily increasing abortion rates, and narrowing restrictions on religious liberty.

“I fear the American church has been singing louder,” Robison said.

Robison’s message was part of a “Speaking Out for the Nation” series at First Baptist Euless, where he and his family were members 30 years ago. He said he was speaking to the church like family, from his heart, based on earnest prayers over the past 24 months.

Robison, an itinerant evangelist since 1962 and founder of Life Outreach International, has organized conservative Christian efforts in the past to pray about national leadership and to promote Christian involvement in the electoral process. Most significantly, he staged the National Affairs Briefing in Dallas in 1980 which gave widespread credibility to Ronald Reagan’s candidacy.

“In 1980, the enemy was visible,” Robison said, alluding to the former Soviet Union. “Today, the enemy is within. For many, it’s not obvious. For the church, it must become obvious. I do not exaggerate when I say to you that the only hope for the world?for security, stability, peace and opportunity?rests upon the shoulders of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Noting that 50 percent of evangelicals do not vote, and even those who do are largely uninformed, Robison challenged Christians to become involved. He emphasized that Christians must vote based on convictions rather than political party.

“An uninformed voter is an easily manipulated voter,” Robison said. “Quit pointing fingers. When you get to choose, you’re responsible.”
Robison also urged Christians to stop assuming government alone will meet people’s needs.

“You don’t throw money at the problem,” Robison said, “you get involved in the pain, and nobody knows how to be involved in pain like the church. You’ve got to do more than sit here in your seat and hear sermons. ? There’s no substitute for a compassion connection.”

Robison vowed to continue to seek the Lord on how he can lead and encourage believers to make a difference in returning the United States to its religious roots.

“I pledge to you before God that I’m going to find the steps that must be taken to restore freedom’s foundation, the freedom, the opportunity, the peace and the security and stability that our founders established and died to provide and our military has protected through the ages,” Robison said. “This nation was born because of people who believed the Word and believed the God of the Word.”

“I don’t know anybody today who is speaking with more passion and more clarity about our nation than this man,” said John Meador, pastor of the Euless church.

“I believe God has raised him up to do mighty things in our nation today. It’s hard to describe what that is because it’s kind of out of the box of what we’ve traditionally seen pastors and evangelists and Christian leaders do. But it’s a call to repentance and it’s a call to renew the foundations of our nation. And I believe people are listening. I believe God has raised him up so that people will listen. I believe we’re ripe and ready for a message like that.”

Meador told the audience that the idea for Robison to speak precipitated from Robison’s attendance at a recent church service where Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke. Robison spoke up during a question-and-answer session following Land’s message and attended a prayer breakfast the next morning. Former First Euless pastor and president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources, Jimmy Draper, encouraged Meador to consider having Robison speak to the church about his convictions regarding the nation.

“I appreciate James’ passion for this task. He has proven himself as a champion of Christian social and political activism and has not stopped challenging Christians to respond,” Draper, a lifelong friend of Robison, told the TEXAN in an interview.

“I believe that Southern Baptist pastors and church members need to accept the challenge to pray for our elected officials, to actively participate in the electoral process by voting Christian values regardless of party affiliation. We desperately need a biblical worldview to have a strong presence in Washington. Our response should be fervent and earnest prayers and exercising our right to vote. And for many, it may be to inject themselves into the political processes and run for public office in the days ahead.”

In early September, Robison organized a prayer summit at a location near DFW International Airport, which drew a diverse crowd of pastors and religious leaders who influence an estimated 20 million people on a weekly basis. Land, also a longtime friend of Robison, attended the prayer summit and appreciates Robison’s convictions and desire to see revival come to the nation.

“James is a man of absolute conviction who is fearless,” Land said in an interview with the TEXAN. “He’s not intimidated by anybody or anything. I appreciate his commitment to church and to America, his commitment to revival and awakening, and his fearlessness in speaking out against sin.”

Regarding the prayer meeting, Land said, “It was a very diverse group. It’s not often you get Pentecostal holiness, Baptists and Reformed evangelicals in the same room together for a common purpose, which is that America is at a very critical fork in the road. Without a spiritual revival, we don’t see our way out of this. ? We’re praying for revival.”

Meador echoed those sentiments in an interview, saying: “It was an interesting gathering for the purpose of praying and seeking answers to what is perceived by most as a growing atmosphere of intolerance towards Christianity and the practice of religious liberty. We shared how we perceive the landscape is changing in America and discussed how we can pray or inform our people toward the future.

“Interestingly, little was said about the November elections, as this is not seemingly a political movement. We did hear from many who are proactively impacting their community through ministries the government speaks about needing, such as feeding and clothing people, and helping with job training.”

Robison has also been active in encouraging pastors to lead their people in praying for the nation through the Pray and Act website (

Meador summarized his meetings with Robison, saying, “I believe our conversations with James have resulted in us having a greater fervency in prayer, repentanc

Trustees unanimous: Johnson to lead Criswell College

DALLAS–Acting on the unanimous recommendation of the presidential search committee for Criswell College, the school’s trustees, in turn, unanimously elected former president Jerry Johnson to fill the post he resigned two years ago.

“There’s really only one reason I would want to come back that matters, and that is if God calls me,” said Johnson at the Nov. 5 board meeting prior to trustees’ secret ballot vote.

“I am a Baptist and believe in the process of the people, committee and the board. And if God is leading, I receive that, along with what I’ve sensed in prayer: God’s call to come back and finish the assignment I started years ago.”

Johnson resigned in August of 2008, when Criswell was under the ministry umbrella of First Baptist Church of Dallas. But now the school is self-governing and independent.

“This is a week of elections,” Johnson told the board. “I don’t know if I can top what happened on Tuesday for some of you.”

Johnson said many in the recent election cycle emphasized a return to the Unites States’ founding documents, and that reminded him of Criswell College’s founding documents. Displaying a written copy of W.A. Criswell’s vision for the school, and a Bible, Johnson said, “What I have to say about the college, and what I believe about Criswell College, really comes from these two documents.”

Commenting on one of the school’s unique distinctions?a commitment to the “inerrancy, infallibility and authority of Scripture”?Johnson said, “Whatever else happens here, we must hold this is our top value.

Board members applauded when Johnson said, “Every faculty member will always be asked initially and annually to recommit to the inspiration, infallibility and inerrancy of Holy Scripture.”

Johnson noted the school’s requirement that all students study Greek and Hebrew.

“If we believe this is God’s Word, then teaching students to understand the way it was written is important.”

Criswell College “is a school built for the glory of God to magnify the Lord Jesus and his mission and meaning to the world,” Johnson continued. “Yes, this is a preacher college. But Dr. Criswell, even in the school’s infancy, envisioned more: kingdom workers, lay people, not just to the church, but to the world.”

Saying he wanted to continue with the counseling and humanities curricula, Johnson revealed his desire to expand to education, communication and other disciplines.

Citing a third focus of the school–evangelism–Johnson added, “That has been a unique distinctive of Criswell College.”

“Criswell College is positioned to train the next generation of Christian leaders for our Lord and I am excited to serve him in this great mission,” Johnson said. “So, I say, ‘Back to the future.'”

Search committee chairman Steve Washburn said the committee reflected a “healthy diversity of convictions. We decided to take an objective approach to our search, using the presidential qualifications specified in our new bylaws as our standard.Each committee member used this standard to conduct personal evaluations of every candidate.”

“In the course of our work we were privileged to consider some of the most godly and qualified men in the Southern Baptist Convention, and we ultimately agreed that Dr. Jerry Johnson was the only man who met all the specified qualifications for president,” said Washburn, pastor of First Baptist Church of Pflugerville. “We asked the Lord to overwhelm us with clarity in our choice, and we’re grateful to God for doing so.”

No stranger to theological academia, Johnson has been serving as vice president for academic development, dean of the faculty and professor of ethics and theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., since January 2009.

“On October 5 of this year the Criswell College celebrated its fortieth year carrying forth the vision God gave our founder, Dr. W.A. Criswell. How appropriate that exactly one month later God would select a new president by returning Dr. Jerry Johnson to lead the college,” wrote Lamar Cooper, executive vice president and provost, who has served for the last two years as Criswell College’s interim president.

Cooper said Johnson is “eminently qualified by his proven leadership as dean of Boyce College at Southern Seminary, as vice president for faculty development and dean of the faculty at Midwestern Seminary, and four years as the president of Criswell College. I join the student body, staff, and faculty in welcoming the return of Dr. Jerry Johnson.”

His second stint as president begins Nov. 15, though he will continue serving Midwestern Seminary two days a week until Dec. 31. This allows Johnson to begin his presidential role at Criswell, to represent Criswell College at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and to complete the fall semester at Midwestern as the seminary prepares to fill the position Johnson vacates there.

A native of Malakoff, Johnson was licensed and ordained to the preaching and pastoral ministries at First Baptist Church of Malakoff.

Johnson earned a bachelor of arts in biblical studies at Criswell in 1986; a master of arts from Denver Seminary in 1997, where he majored in historical and theological studies; and a doctor of philosophy from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003, where he majored in Christian ethics and minored in systematic theology and philosophy.

Associated with Southern Seminary in various roles for 14 years, Johnson was dean of Boyce College, served on the seminary’s executive cabinet, was assistant director of development, and a trustee from 1989-98, serving as board chairman two of those years.

As Criswell president from 2004-08, student enrollment increased by more than 50 percent, from approximately 300 to almost 500. Johnson led the school to financial profitability and garnered a multi-million dollar land gift for a future campus or for liquidation.

His experience includes a pastorate at Ireland Baptist Church, an internship at FBC Dallas and service as a youth pastor at Central Baptist Church in Aurora, Colo., where he later became pastor. He also served as pastor at the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Littleton, Colo.

“Jerry Johnson has the head of an academician, the heart of a pastor and the hands of a servant. He is uniquely equipped to lead Criswell College into the future,” said Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. “He has my enthusiastic and unqualified support. The SBTC has a dear and devoted friend in Jerry Johnson.”

—-Tammi Reed Ledbetter, TEXAN news editor, contributed to this story.