From the Dean

News items, published articles, and reading recommendations from Dean Timothy George

The Dean Recommends: How to Preach to Both Head and Heart

By Jeff Robinson

February 4, 2016


Expository preaching seems to be on the rise among younger evangelicals, but its recovery raises numerous questions. Is verse-by-verse exposition valid for every type of church? Does it appeal to more intellectual audiences than to more emotional ones? And what exactly is “expository preaching” anyway?

Robert Smith has been working through these issues as both a teacher and a practitioner of preaching for the past several decades. He serves as Baptist chair of divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, where he teaches preaching. Previously he served as preaching professor at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and for 20 years pastored New Mission Missionary Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

There seems to be an unspoken assumption that expository preaching is a heady form of sermonizing, best for “cold and rational” audiences that may be less emotional. Would you say expository preaching is for all churches and Christians from all ethnic and social backgrounds?

I think that’s a false assumption. We’re called to preach the whole gospel to whole persons. Jesus says in Luke 10:27: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The intent of expository preaching is to preach to the whole individual, the emotional as well as the mental, the cranial as well as the cardiological. If I start with the assumption that expository preaching is only for the “cold and rational,” then I won’t meet the standard of Jesus, regardless of my audience. With ethnic congregations, you might have to start with the heart to get to the head. With white congregations, you might have to start with the head and move to the heart. So there are 18 inches between the head and heart that must be traversed in any setting, no matter where you start.

When I’m preaching to a white congregation and start with the head, I’m aiming to teach the mind, and thereby stir the heart and move the will. Moving the will brings transformation. That’s the Holy Spirit’s work. You’re not going to reach them simply with an emotional presentation. You have to start with content. But with many black or multiethnic congregations, you may need to start with emotions, then move to the head.

Think about John the Baptist and Herod Antipas. In Matthew 14, John tells Herod: “It is not right for you to have your brother’s wife. It’s adultery, it’s wrong.” He uses a straightforward and cognitive approach. But in 2 Samuel 12, Nathan starts with emotion and imagery. He tells David, who’d committed adultery and murder, a story about a stolen ewe lamb in order to convict him. Both John and Nathan are dealing with the same issue—adultery—but they do so in different ways. John moves from the head to the heart, while Nathan moves from the heart to the head. David repents and Herod doesn’t, but that’s not in the hand of the preacher.

It’s vitally important to know your audience. If we don’t bridge the gap between the head and the heart, we haven’t done our job. Read the rest of the interview at The Gospel Coalition.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Friday, February 5, 2016
Share |

National Racial Reconciliation Conference to Take Place March 3-4 at Beeson Divinity School

By Kristen R. Padilla

February 1, 2016


Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell, Bishop Robert J. Baker of the Catholic Diocese of Birmingham and Dean Timothy George of Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School are hosting a racial reconciliation conference titled “Black and White in America: How Deep the Divide?” March 3-4 at Beeson Divinity.

“In the wake of recent racial turmoil in our country and having experienced much anguish over racial issues in our city of Birmingham, we want to offer a possible pathway to dialogue and harmony for the future,” said conference chairs Bell, Baker and George. “A reflection/conversation on race relations in the United States among its African-American and white citizens is our humble effort to foster light and hope where darkness and despair may prevail.”

The conference will feature talks by Bell and Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. of Charleston, South Carolina; Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange; Most Rev. Edward K. Braxton, Catholic bishop of Belleville, Illinois; Professor Emeritus Wayne Flynt of Auburn University; Rev. Dr. Carolyn Maull McKinstry, Birmingham author of While the World Watched; and Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, Catholic archbishop of Owerri, Nigeria.

The conference also will include two panels. The first panel will feature civil and political leaders and be moderated by S. Jonathan Bass, Samford professor and university historian. The second panel will be moderated by Fisher Humphreys, professor emeritus of Beeson, and will include religious leaders from the Christian, Jewish and Islamic faiths. The conference will conclude with a mid-day prayer service led by George.

Conference chairs Bell, Baker and George said they hope that the conference, which will be held during the season of Lent, will bring about a time of repentance, conversation, reconciliation and hope for the future.

“Please join with us. Reflect with us. And, pray with us for this important event,” they said.

Find more information and register by Feb. 15 at Seating is limited.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Monday, February 1, 2016
Share |

The Dean Recommends: Religious Liberty - a Baptist distinctive

By Danny Akin

January 28, 2015

A passion for religious liberty and freedom of conscience runs in the veins of Baptists. It is actually in our DNA! Our forefathers and mothers fought and suffered for this inalienable right because they understood to truly love and worship God is to love and worship Him freely.

Coerced love is an oxymoron. It is nonsensical. We must be free to love our God without intimidation because it is a divine right granted to us by our Creator as His imagers. This is why we persuade others to trust Christ with the Word and not the sword!

Southern Baptists are firmly committed to this proposition for all people. Indeed, we are willing, like those who have gone before us, to fight for and even suffer for every person's right to believe or not believe according to their conscience.

So important is religious liberty to us that we have an article in the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message specifically dedicated to this conviction. There we read:

XVII. Religious Liberty

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.
Read the rest at Baptist Press.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Friday, January 29, 2016
Share |