Evangelical Theology In The Twenty-First Century -- By: Steve W. Lemke

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 01:1 (Spring 2003)
Article: Evangelical Theology In The Twenty-First Century
Author: Steve W. Lemke

Evangelical Theology In The Twenty-First Century

Steve W. Lemke

Provost and Professor of Philosophy
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
3939 Gentilly Blvd.
New Orleans, LA 70126

(The following article was Dr. Lemke’s Presidential address at the 2000 Southwest Regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas)

Nearly three years ago, I was approached about the possibility of becoming the Provost and academic dean at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I quickly consulted friends such as Millard Erickson about whether or not academic deans could remain current in their own disciplines. He relayed to me the old adage that in their first year, deans stop writing; in their second year, they stop reading; and in their third year, they stop thinking. I have discovered over the past few years that this is a faithful saying, worthy of all acceptation. The time constraints placed on deans usually does not allow for in-depth research. So I find myself left with having only about six months of thinking left, and at that I’m fading fast.

Millard Erickson is a happy exception to this rule, of course, due principally to his wonderful discipline, time management, and love of theological scholarship. So a new dean may choose to be “in Adam” by following in the natural human inclination of deanship away from scholarship, or one may become “in Erickson” and make time for research and writing. Given my time constraints, however, I fear that I have become an “in Adam” dean. So in this presidential address, with my time running out, I would like to share from my vantage point of a seminary dean what the key issues are that evangelical theology will face in the next few decades.

I’ll begin with a few caveats. First, I have discovered to my astonishment that technical papers in my chosen discipline of philosophy sometimes provoke yawns rather than interest among more general audiences. I thus offer this talk as a provocateur of discussion, rather than as a more typical research paper. My purpose is primarily to spur discussion and dialogue as we seek to address these issues together. Perhaps these ruminations will spark or provoke a helpful discussion. Second, perhaps as a partial mark of my impending mental poverty, I have organized what I believe to be seven major issues confronting evangelical theology in this new century as an acrostic according to the first seven letters of the English alphabet. By the way, my commentary in the various sections is not equal in length (A, B, and C are longer). I simply had more to say in some areas ...

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