What Athens Has to Do with Jerusalem: How to Tighten Greek and Hebrew Requirements and Triple Your M.Div. Enrollment at the Same Time -- By: Paige Patterson

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 17:1 (Fall 1999)
Article: What Athens Has to Do with Jerusalem: How to Tighten Greek and Hebrew Requirements and Triple Your M.Div. Enrollment at the Same Time
Author: Paige Patterson


What Athens Has to Do with Jerusalem:
How to Tighten Greek and Hebrew Requirements and
Triple Your M.Div. Enrollment at the Same Time

Paige Patterson

President, Southern Baptist Convention
President and Professor of Theology
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587

A Paper Presented at the National Meeting of the
Evangelical Theological Society
Orlando, Florida
November 20, 1998

The thesis of this paper is that the diminution of requirements in the Biblical languages is both unnecessary and ill-advised. Contrary to the conventional wisdom of the contemporary milieu, it is possible to increase enrollment significantly, while, at the same time, increasing the demand note in academic requirements particularly regarding the teaching of the Biblical languages. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, will serve as the test case. The period of investigation is 1993–1998.

I. Setting the Stage

The story of a six-year enrollment increase at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary from 488 students in 1993 to 1,750 in 1998 can be understood only against the backdrop of developments in the parent denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. As the decade of the seventies gave way to the eighties, the Southern Baptist Convention was involved in the most serious confrontation in its 150-year history.1 Without an extensive rehearsal of the issues and events that characterized this twenty-year hiatus in Southern Baptist life, a brief overview would include the following observations.

At the close of World War II, years of unprecedented numerical growth and public recognition as something more than a regionally restricted, backwater denomination of religious recluses ushered Southern Baptists into a new day. This essentially bright external appearance masked several hemorrhaging wounds that were sapping the denomination of its strength, its visible health to the contrary notwithstanding. For example, the glaring dearth of great Bible teachers and a corresponding turn away from exposition to other forms of preaching had become all too common. This change led to a shallow form of easy-believism in evangelism, which was augmented by a trend of baptizing more and more children at increasingly tender ages so that the very denomination that had built its reputation opposing infant baptism became to an embarrassing degree, practitioners of a sort of “late stage” pedobaptism.2 This development created in many Southern Baptist churches a fairly...

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