FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary launched the spring 2013 semester with its convocation chapel service in MacGorman Chapel, Jan. 24. The chapel service also featured the first message in President Paige Patterson’s annual spring sermon series. This year’s series, titled “The Man Who Saw Tomorrow,” will examine the life and writings of the prophet Isaiah.
“I believe (Isaiah) is my favorite book in the Bible,” Patterson said. “It’s unbelievable that 700 years before Christ, a man would see with precision all of those events that would relate to the birth (of Christ), the sinless life, the ultimate judgment of God on the human family through his death on the cross, his resurrection, his ascension, and ultimately his return.
“Literally, Isaiah not only saw the time of Christ coming 700 years later, but he more than any other prophet in the Old Testament looks across the years and sees the message of the reigning King on the millennial earth and tells us about that situation.”
Preaching from Isaiah 1:1-20, Patterson likened the spiritual apathy and pending judgment in Judah during Isaiah’s time to the same condition in the United States today. Yet, as Isaiah 1:18-20 says, the Lord offers grace and forgiveness to those who turn to Him.
Prior to his sermon, Patterson had all new students stand as he continued a tradition set in motion by Robert Naylor, the seminary’s fifth president, more than 50 years ago.
“It is my responsibility and great joy as president of the seminary,” Patterson said, “to pronounce you officially ‘Southwesterners’ and to tell you that it is better to be dead than to ever dishonor that name. But it would be better to have never been born than to dishonor the name of Christ. So I charge you, today, as a Southwesterner to determine in your heart and mind and soul that you will serve the Lord and Him only, yielding to none of the temptations that are characteristic of our age, but that you will uphold the sweet name of Jesus and its ability to save wherever you go and wherever you serve.”
Two newly elected professors signed the seminary’s book of confessional heritage, indicating their agreement to teach in accordance with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Christopher Teichler, associate professor of music theory and composition in the School of Church Music, and Michael Wilkinson, assistant professor of Bible in the College at Southwestern, added their names to the book.
Richard Serrano, president of the Baptist Theological Seminary of Venezuela, performed special music during the service. He played a cuatro guitar and sang in Spanish.
To watch Patterson’s opening sermon in his series on Isaiah, go to swbts.edu/chapelarchives.