FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Great academic and ministerial success without a burning, genuine love for the Lord will ultimately result in failure, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson told a bumper crop of new and returning students, Aug. 22. Patterson’s remarks came during Southwestern’s convocation chapel service on the first day of fall classes.
“If you came to seminary and you learned everything that every professor knows until you could recite it in your dreams at night; if you had it all nailed down and your theology was virtually perfect; and not only that but you practiced the things that are found but you did not do it loving the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, and soul, you will be a failure,” Patterson said.
“If you become a pastor or leader of an enormous ministry somewhere so that your influence and impact is worldwide and yet you do not love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, the sad truth of the matter is that you are a failure.”
Patterson preached from Matthew 22:34-40, where Jesus gives the two greatest commandments. He told students that loving God with everything that is in them requires them to love His Word and obey His Word.
Holding up his Bible, Patterson said, “When I come to this book, I know every syllable of it is true, but that’s not what makes it precious.”
“It’s not the inerrancy of the Word, not the infallibility of the Word of God, that makes it precious to me—I believe all that, but that’s not what makes it precious to me. What makes it precious to me is that I know the author, and I’m responding to the love that He has for me. And because I love Him so much, I love His Word. I study it because I love Him and want to know all about Him that I possibly can. If you’re here to study for any other reason than the supreme love of your heart for the Lord Jesus Christ, you’ve come for the wrong reason.”
During the convocation chapel, several faculty were recognized for promotions, one faculty member was installed into an academic chair and a new faculty member signed the seminary’s book of faculty service, marking his agreement with the institution’s articles of faith. Among those recognized for promotion were Steven Smith, who was elected in July to serve as vice president for student services and communications, and Michael Wilkinson, who was elected to serve as dean of the College at Southwestern. Evan Lenow, assistant professor of ethics, was installed into the Bobby L. and Janis Eklund Chair of Stewardship. Leo Day, former music minister at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., and newly elected dean of the School of Church Music, signed the book of faculty service.