Greenway cautions students to guard their hearts during studies

Ashley Allen

MicrosoftTeams-image (80)

Students pursuing theological education must carefully guard their hearts against pride and being unloving, President Adam W. Greenway preached during a Jan. 25 convocation message officially opening the spring semester at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Texas Baptist College.

During the service, three faculty members recently elected by the Board of Trustees publicly signed the seminary’s Book of Confessional Heritage and two newly appointed faculty members were introduced.

In the first chapel service of the new academic semester, Greenway acknowledged some students were just beginning their scholarly pursuits while others were nearing the completion of their studies. However, he said he was “mindful” of the tendencies that could occur at any stage in theological education if believers are “not guarded.”

While affirming the “importance and centrality” of theology, as well as academic and intellectual pursuits, Greenway warned about the “temptation” that certain methods of academic pursuits are “not virtuous” and “can impact or affect you in terms of your personality type, your disposition, your wiring in ways that may even seem unconscious, perhaps.”

Greenway preached from Ephesians 1:15-19, but also read verses 3-14 of chapter one in which the Apostle Paul writes about the spiritual blessings of salvation “in Christ.”

“There’s a way to read those verses and think, ‘Aren’t I something?’” Greenway said. “If we always put the accent mark on the ‘me’ rather than the ‘He,’ our theology is always going to go astray.”

However, Greenway added, “We can never truly understand and see ourselves rightly if we don’t understand truly and see God rightly.”

Greenway said as new students begin to study “there’s also a temptation and tendency to where as we begin to have a more rigid, robust theological understanding” that instead of knowledge bringing humility and “an awe-filled wonder of what God has done,” it leads to pridefulness, arrogance, argumentativeness, and combativeness.

Reflecting on the passage’s concluding verses, Greenway reminded the assembly of Paul’s thankfulness for the faith the Ephesians possessed, but also the love they had for all the saints.

“It’s not just the content of their faith—that they had a level of theological, doctrinal, philosophical, apologetical precision—but that it manifested itself in an attitude and in actions of love,” Greenway said, adding the actions of the church at Ephesus reflected Jesus’ words about love and action in John 13:35.

Noting that “in a climate and culture, where the way that you’re going to get the most attention from some” is by being “combative and volatile,” Greenway encouraged students to refrain from doing those things because they are “completely in opposition to what the Lord expects from us and what God’s called us to be as His people.”

Greenway concluded by reminding students their theological education should lead to brokenness and humility.

If time spent on Seminary Hill is not “leading you to a greater brokenness and humility and recognition of what Christ has done for you, but leads you to become one who is consistently argumentative and combative and divisive and abrasive, then God have mercy on you,” Greenway said. “Before a watching world, the testimony of whether a Southwestern Seminary/Texas Baptist College education makes any difference is what people will see and hear from you. You are Southwestern Seminary and Texas Baptist College to a watching world.”

The service also included a ceremony in which three recently elected faculty members signed the Book of Confessional Heritage, which contains the Baptist Faith and Message, the seminary’s confession of faith.

Calling it a “sacred act,” Greenway said since its founding in 1908 the seminary has been “known for the strength of the scholarship” of its faculty “that from the beginning has been committed to confessional fidelity,” which is one of the four pegs of his “big-tent vision” for the institution.

The newly elected faculty are M. Todd Bates, professor of philosophy and associate dean of Texas Baptist College; Ian B. Buntain, associate professor of missions in the Roy J. Fish School of Missions and Evangelism and director of the World Missions Center; and Mark R. McClellan, professor of missions in the Fish School and director of Hispanic Programs.

Two faculty members who began serving under presidential appointment were also recognized during the service: Micah D. Carter and Juan R. Sánchez.

Carter, who was appointed assistant professor of theology at Texas Baptist College, most recently served as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ripley, Mississippi. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy in systematic theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2008. Prior to serving at FBC Ripley, Carter served six years at LifeWay Christian Resources and is the author of Manage: Caring for All God Entrusted to Us and has contributed to the second edition of the Holman Bible Dictionary and Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

Sánchez, who has served as the senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, since 2005, was appointed associate professor of theology at Southwestern Seminary. While maintaining his pastoral role at the central Texas church, Sanchez will teach theology courses in both English in the School of Theology and in Spanish in the seminary’s Hispanic Programs. He holds three degrees, including the Doctor of Philosophy degree, from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and is the board chairman of The Gospel Coalition and co-founder and president of Coalición por el Evangelio. He is the author of several books, including 1 Peter For You, Seven Dangers Facing Your Church, and The Leadership Formula: Developing the Next Generation of Leaders in the Church.

hapel is held every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 10 a.m. (CT) in MacGorman Chapel on the campus of Southwestern Seminary. Chapel may be viewed live at