Apologist and church planter joins Southwestern Seminary faculty
Travis S. Kerns, Send City missionary with the North American Mission Board, is joining the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary faculty as associate professor of apologetics and world religions. Kerns brings with him years of academic and ministry experience, especially in the area of Mormon studies.
“I am excited to welcome Dr. Kerns to the faculty of Southwestern Seminary,” said Southwestern Seminary President Adam W. Greenway. “He is not only an extraordinarily gifted apologist, but he has demonstrated experience as a pastor and church planter. He will help us to more effectively equip our students to know what they believe, why they believe it, and how to share their faith in an increasingly secular and pluralistic culture.”
Kerns says he is excited to move to Fort Worth and be a part of the seminary’s “big-tent vision,” joining the Southwestern Seminary faculty as they train God-called men and women for more faithful service in the local church and on the mission field.
“I look forward to the emphasis on evangelism and missions that is across the campus,” Kerns says. “That is where my heart is, and that is very exciting to me.”
Originally from Greenville, S.C., Kerns earned his undergraduate degree from North Greenville University before moving to Louisville, Ky., where he completed both his Master of Divinity (2004) and his Ph.D. (2009) degrees at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Kerns taught apologetics, world religions, and philosophy at Southern Seminary for eight years before moving in 2013 with his wife, Staci, and son, Jeremiah, to Salt Lake City, Utah, to serve with NAMB. As a Send City missionary, Kerns has led and given oversight to missions and church-planting efforts in a largely unreached region dominated by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
From an early age, Kerns developed an interest in learning the beliefs and motivations of other religions and has studied Mormonism for more than 20 years. He has devoted much of his academic work, including the focus of his doctoral research, to the study of the history and philosophy of the Mormon Church. Kerns is the author of The Saints of Zion: An Introduction to Mormon Theology, published in 2018 by B&H Academic.
“NAMB has been very blessed to have Travis Kerns as our City Missionary for Salt Lake City,” said Kevin Ezell, president of NAMB. “He has done a magnificent job connecting Southern Baptists to the needs of the West. We will miss him, but I am excited about the prospect of him investing in the next generation of missionaries and leaders. SWBTS and its students will be incredibly blessed by his ministry.”
“Travis Kerns brings to Southwestern Seminary a strong balance of scholarship, pastoral instincts, and commitment to the Great Commission and the local church,” said Southwestern Seminary Provost Randy L. Stinson. “Not only is he a leading expert on Mormonism, but he is widely known for his expertise in apologetics and world religions. The hiring of Dr. Kerns is just one more reason to be encouraged about the future of Southwestern Seminary.”
While Kerns’ heart has long been for the people in the Mormon Church, his ultimate desire is to see people from all faith traditions and belief systems find the salvation only available through Jesus Christ. Understanding the great need for ministers of the Gospel in all contexts, Kerns says he is excited to join the Southwestern Seminary family and equip students for a commitment to the Great Commission.
“My hope is to train students in not only a love for the Gospel, but a love for sharing the Gospel with people from any other faith tradition, and to be able to defend their faith with any person who asks,” Kerns says. “We are excited to get to Fort Worth, to get to Seminary Hill, and to get going.”