Lifelong learners
    January 25 2010 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC Executive Director-Treasurer

    Not long ago we included an article on our web site about how students at Campbell University started a ministry to reach out to international students. Students attending the five affiliated North Carolina Baptist colleges and universities continue to make me proud as I hear about their involvement in missions and service on their campus, in the community and around the world. Last year, students at Chowan University spent the summer serving in East St. Louis. A graduate student at Gardner-Webb University began serving in the Peace Corps with HIV/AIDS relief in Rwanda. Mars Hill College students used summer break to minister in Puriscal, Costa Rica. Students at Wingate University helped with Habitat for Humanity projects.

    During February we encourage churches to designate one Sunday as Baptist College Day. North Carolina Baptists have long expressed a belief that education, specifically Christian higher education, is an important, necessary and essential part of the convention’s ministry. While one of the original purposes for the establishment of the convention was theological education, the young convention soon expanded into the area of Christian higher education; meaning that we supported higher education for fields beyond the preparation of ministers and missionaries.

    The North Carolina Baptist Scholarship Program administered by the convention allows North Carolina Baptists to continue supporting our young people as they prepare to enter many professional fields of work. For the 2009-2010 academic year, 663 Baptist scholarships were awarded, totaling more than $980,000. I am so glad we as a convention support our college students. The college years are indeed a special season of life. A time of learning in the classroom, and a time of growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. I hope all our college students will be mindful that this is a special time. Do not be anxious for tomorrow and do not rush ahead to the next thing. Enjoy the moment. Take time to learn everything you can. Most importantly, devote yourself to learning more about Jesus Christ.

    I challenge all of us, no matter how long it has been since you donned the cap and gown, to think more like a student. As long as the Lord gives us breath, each of us will be a student. We are always learning new things about our Lord and His Word. He always has new things to teach us about what it means to know Him, love Him and serve Him.

    Be eager to get into the scriptures and discover the treasures awaiting those who truly seek after truth and wisdom. And then, share what you learn with others. Be quick to put into practice the things you learn from God’s Word. I am grateful to God for His faithfulness toward His children as He continues to transform us into His image.

    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Prov. 1:7  
    1/25/2010 6:23:00 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC Executive Director-Treasurer | with 1 comments

Dr. James Willingham
The BSC Executive Director-Treasurer's remarks regarding thinking like a student, that we are all students throughout our lives, are duly appropriate to our situation and deeply appreciated. Supposedly, we are moving into the information age, and it is even more incumbent upon us to give ourselves to thinking, studing, and reflecting - if we are to survive and prosper in such era. As to learning new things about our Lord and His Word, I am reminded of what John Robinson, the pastor of the Pilgrims (he died before he was to take his journey to the new world to be with his people), is reported to have said: "Who knows what new light is getting ready to break forth from God's word?"

Tht new light, in part, was the covenant idea applied to government, along with the idea of checks and balances. According to some professors from Houston who made a study of the founding documents of this nation, the number one influence in double digits (some 34%?) was the Bible. The next runner-ups were the political philosophers Montesquieu (sp?) and John Locke, both in the single digits.

And then there were the Great Awakenings and the transformation of the Protestant Denominations from being Gospel recovery, contentious pesecuting movements into being more positive, missionary outgoing institutions dedicated to the idea of persuading people to respond to the Faith of Christ. Apparently now even Rome seems to be undergoing the same transformation. I well remember an announcement to the effect that Catholic leaders admittted that Martin Luther was right in his doctrine of Justification by Faith alone in a newspaper in New Orleans over 25 years ago. In '97 our son (a student at SEBTS) and his wife were on a mission trip to Kenya, when he had the ooprtunity to teach a Sunday School class in a Roman Catholic mission in that nation. Wonders never cease.

What is even more remarkable is that the Baptists of North Carolina were primarily founded by people converted in the First Great Awakening, and they experienced the Second Great Awakening. In North Carolina and Virginia the Separate and Regular Baptists united (circa 1787). Fifty years later a church was founded in Mo, the old Sardis United Baaptist Church, a congregation where I served as a pastor for a short period in 1965-66. How did the leaders in the 1700s get peple to unite, and how might we unite our divisions today in order to win the whole earth to Christ? We really must deal with our disagreements in a better, a more Chistian, a more Christ-like way or we are going to suffer a diminution not to be believed. We are facing an influx of people such as the Moslems who also desire to advance the cause of their own Faith by establishing Sharia law which does not allow for any Moslem to be converted to Christianity and even calls for the execution of all Moslems who do convert.

It took centuries, if not a millenium, for Christians to learn that the best way, indeed, the only way, to make converts is that of conversion by open, honest, earnest, persuasion with the facts and evidences of our message and cause. Anything else such as the use of the sword to enforce conversion is simply not Christian The Bible speaks of the whole world as remembering and turning to the Lord (Ps.22:27). Does that not suggest that we must pay the price in faithful witnessing and suffering in order to win them all to Christ?

As to the depth of the teachings of the Book, I remember a professor in my M.A. in Counseling at liberty in a course on statistics and scientific studies use an example from Daniel chapter one as an illustration of a one-shot scientific experiment. The null hypothesis being that, if the food of the youths of Israel did not lead to better health for them than the diet of the King for the princes, then Daniel's argument would fall to the ground. One of the things as a student in the history of American intellectualism I learned was that ideas have a life of their own, and it often takes multilevel complexities of thinking in order to see all the ramifications of even one view. Eventually I came to the conclusion that there were problems with the scientific method as we now perceive it, but that is another story.

It was in view of the creativity of the period from 1750-1820 that I came to the conclusion that Protestantism ad especilly the Baptists had suffered a radical transformation for the better which I called, "The Climax of The Reformation," in an article which I wrote for the Link, the associational Newsletter of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association in 1977-78. It was the insights into, and understandings of, the biblical teachings in that period that opened the doors of exciting venues of change (witness religious liberty and calling other Protestants our pedobaptist brethren) and opportunities for advancement (witness the change of 255 Congregational churches in to Baptist churches and the launching of the Great Century of Missions) that enabled and empowered our predecessors (and in some cases ancestors) to make such progress. We have a similar opportunity today, if we will but re-examine our beliefs and how they actually work to make believers balanced, flexible, creative, and magnetic. There is more, but I merely close with this question, well-known from its source which ought to stir us to affirmative thought and action in seeking to advance the cause of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ: "Who knows whether we are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
2/3/2010 12:35:43 PM