President Paige Patterson warned students to flee from the enticements of contemporary culture during the spring 2010 convocation chapel service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Jan. 14.

 “I imagine that with the change of the modern conveniences that we enjoy today, that you could take the contemporary United States and set it down in the middle of the times of the judges,” Patterson said in the first of a semester-long series on the book of Ruth.

Preaching from Ruth 1:1-6, Patterson described how Elimelech and Naomi left Bethlehem, which in Hebrew means “house of bread,” because of a famine and traveled to Moab, a country notorious for rejecting God and worshipping the false god Chemosh. He likened Moab to the contemporary culture, which offers empty promises of happiness.

“I run into young men and women now who say that they are Christians and even say that they are evangelical Christians,” said Patterson, “but in fact they are married to the culture of Moab. And they have baptized it and tried to make it Christian, but folks, you can baptize Moab all you want to, and Moab is still the culture of Chemosh.”

Moab eventually brought great sorrow to Naomi’s family. Her husband and two sons died, and she was left to provide for herself and two daughters-in-law.

“The church may be in chaos, the United States may be in chaos, it may be that your own home is in chaos,” Patterson said, “but don’t sell out to the world’s culture, the culture of Moab, because Moab is a cauldron of sorrow in the end.”

Patterson encouraged students and faculty not to forget Ruth 1:6, saying “God always visits his people.” Like Naomi and Ruth, Patterson urged those who had strayed from the Lord and embraced the culture of the world to repent and return to the Lord. 

Patterson has a tradition of preaching an extended sermon series during each spring semester. Over the past few years, he has preached series on the last days, the Sermon on the Mount and difficult questions one cannot avoid in ministry. His series on the book of Ruth will continue throughout the spring 2010 semester, and a chapel schedule can be found at

Prior to his sermon, Patterson recognized a man who has blessed the School of Church Music for many years. William C. Everitt, founder of Mr. E’s Music, and his wife were honored during the chapel service for their generosity to Southwestern Seminary. In 1996, the School of Church Music needed additional pianos for classroom use.

Everitt sacrificially loaned pianos to the seminary at no charge, and has done so for the past 13 years. Patterson presented Everitt and his wife with a plaque in recognition of their contributions.

At the beginning of the chapel service, Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost, introduced Steven Smith as the newly elected dean and first professor of communications in the College at Southwestern. He also introduced former seminary trustee Matthew McKellar as an associate professor of preaching.