Ten Things I Don’t Like About Southern Seminary
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is the best seminary in the world. I honestly believe that. Teaching here has been one of the greatest privileges of my life.
But after more than a dozen years at Southern, I have enough experience to know that it isn’t perfect. So here are 10 things I don’t like about Southern Seminary
1. I don’t like knowing that day and night, almost every day, there are great lectures going on all over campus and I can’t hear them because of my own teaching responsibilities. I’m missing out on so much great teaching!
2. I don’t like having the best Christian bookstore on the planet less than 100 yards from my office and not being able to read as many of the great books there as I’d like.
3. I don’t like getting to teach with the most incredible colleagues at any seminary in the world and not having all the time I want to pick their brains because they are spending so much time with their students.
4. I don’t like that students can get course credit for classes conducted in connection with great conferences held on our campus and in Louisville (such as “Together for the Gospel”) and that nothing visionary like this was available when I was a seminary student.
5. I don’t like not being able to eat lunch with more of my students after class. I typically eat in the cafeteria with several of my students following my midday class, but many of them have to go to other classes or to work and can’t join us.
6. I don’t like that when some of my favorite preachers are speaking in chapel (which is often), it is frequently difficult to find a place to sit in our 1500-seat chapel.
7. I don’t like knowing that the students at Southern have far more opportunities for personal interactions with their professors than I was privileged to have when I was a seminary student.
8. I don’t like having such a large, well-equipped fitness and recreation center located so conveniently on campus. It all but eliminates my excuses for not working out.
9. I don’t like having to say goodbye to the hundreds of students who graduate every semester. After getting to know them and pouring into their lives, it’s hard to see them go, even though launching them from the seminary into ministry is why we exist.
10. I don’t like knowing that every seminary student in the world can’t have a ministry-preparation experience as good as that made available to the students at Southern Seminary.
If you’d like to confirm these observations, check out the seminary website at www.sbts.edu. Or better yet, contact our Admissions folks at 502-587-4200 or Admissions@sbts.edu and set up a visit to see for yourself.
Photo credit: SBTS
Happy I went to Fuller Seminary . It was a great school in the sixities; it’s an even greater school now. As for SBTS (and the SBC generally), I’ve drawn a few conclusions after living nearly fifty years in small town/rural Georgia. One is that some of my dearest friends (pastors and lay alike) are Baptists. I admire them tremendously. The other is that Southern Baptism [if I may] still has too many marks of smugness, insularity, and “we’ve got it all” for my taste. I find Methodists, Episcopalians, and Nazarenes a lot more generous (on the whole). I suspect the “superiority” of Baptists often dissipates when one leaves the region and mingles with other Christians. Perhaps it’s really disguised inferiority, at least for some.
Hi Charles, the Fuller graduate. I don’t know if you are aware of this but we have many young seminary students at Southern Seminary that are not from Baptist churches but come to us from the Presbyterian churches, Methodist Churches, Christian Churches, Nazarene Churches & many other denominations. I would like to invite you to visit our campus. If you attend chapel you are very likely to hear someone speaking such as Rosiera Butterfield, whose husband is a Presbyterian minister, or Allistar Begg who is senior pastor of a large church in Cleveland that is not Southern Baptist. My husband & I have served on the board of trustees & foundation board of Southern Seminary off & on for 25 years & we also have folks on our foundation board who represent many of these denominations. We feel Southern is one of the top Seminaries in the world because of the impact it is having around the world sharing the Gospel & Love of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. We at Southern partner with many Christian groups around the world to being the Gospel to anlost world. I challenge you to visit our campus for yourself before making these types of statements. Did u see where the Southern Baptist’s were one of the first groups to be in Houston & Florida helping the hurricane victims. We are also a very giving denomination.
Charles: I’m an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). I am not able to be a member of most SBC churches (I know, I once tried). I grew up in small baptistic house churches, a First Assembly of God, and a large non-denominational church. After college I attended Rob Bell’s church in Grand Rapids for a season. I’ve attend ARP, RCA, EFCA, HRC, OPC, and a host of other non-denoms. I think I’ve seen just about everything.
After a year of study at the Wheaton College Graduate School, I chose to take a few courses from SBTS because it is simply the best seminary in the world right now. That’s saying a lot, given that as a conservative Presbyterian, we have a lot of good options these days.
As a Presbyterian, we look down on our ignorant friends who reject covenantal infant baptism. Ironically, I’m convinced that the same heart that causes SBTS to come off as ‘smug’, is the saving grace that keeps them faithful to their evangelical mission. May we all, in every denomination, learn some tenacity and faithfulness from our dear brothers.
Charles, you’re right in that we have all kinds of folks in our SBC churches. I’m thankful we can look forward to the day when all believers in Christ will be one and all will be like Christ. Thanks for reading the article and for writing.
I don’t like that I am MDIV that is taking online classes off campus and I don’t get the privilege of being in the classroom and on campus.
Chad, I’m grateful that you are taking the online classes with us. (And by the way, after several years there’s a new edition of my Personal Spiritual Disciplines course going live in the next couple of weeks.) May the Lord make it possible for you to take some courses on campus, at least in the one-week or hybrid modular variety. May the Lord greatly bless your studies.
Chad, I’m in a similar situation, but taking the modular courses to get some on-campus time is a worthwhile investment.
…and there I was thinking I was going to read a real article and not a self-congratulatory advertisement.
Soy Alumno de MDIV de Lima Perú, y no me gusta no poder disfrutar de todo lo que se menciona.
I am MDIV student from Lima Peru, and I do not like not being able to enjoy everything that is mentioned.
Thanks, friends, for kind and thoughtful remarks. My “negative” comments were aimed more at grassroots expressions of baptistness than at a particular seminary. SBTS has a great tradition, though some would say its glory days (academically speaking) are in the past. I’m probably the wrong guy to be in this conversation since, though my early training at Westmont College and Fuller Seminary was strongly evangelical, as an Episcopalian of fifty years with an equally strong attachment to Eastern Orthodoxy, I tend to prefer the word “orthodox” (a designation that includes my evangelical friends but embraces the larger Christian tradition as well). My doctoral training was at Emory (whose faculty when I was there were very hospitable to students from places like Fuller, Asbury, aand–yes–SBTS) where I studied hist theol and patristics. My book on perichoresis/John of Damascus might be of interest to some. Thanks for letting me drop in. Happy to view you all as my brothers and sisters in Christ and hope the family connection is reciprocated!
🙂 This is a great description. 🙂