FROM THE SEMINARIES: SWBTS ponders astrophysics & fantasy; SBTS begins one-week academy for h.s. students; SEBTS launches East Asia initiative

by SBC Seminary & BP Staff, posted Friday, April 13, 2018 (2 years ago)
Tags: RI

In today's From the Seminary:

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

SWBTS ponders astrophysics & fantasy in 'Hubble Meets Narnia'

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Man looks to both literature and science as he seeks to know his place in the universe, two authorities in their fields said at "Astrophysics and Fantasy - Hubble Meets Narnia," an examination of the universe presented at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Land Center for Cultural Engagement.

Michael Ward, a professor of apologetics with Houston Baptist University and senior research fellow at the University of Oxford in England, discusses C.S. Lewis' view of the universe at "Astrophysics and Fantasy - Hubble Meets Narnia" at Southwestern Seminary.
SWBTS photo
The discussion explored theological and scientific standpoints, including the perspectives of "Chronicles of Narnia" author C.S. Lewis.

Michael Ward, a professor of apologetics with Houston Baptist University and senior research fellow at the University of Oxford in England, addressed Lewis' mission to deepen man's understanding of the universe. Ward is the author of "Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis."

Citing Psalm 8:3-19, Ward said that man has pondered his place in the universe since biblical times. He observed how David was moved by the majesty of the celestial bodies at night and reflected on man's frailty and role in the face of God's great handiwork and plan.

While he was best known as an academic and literary historian, Ward noted that Lewis also was deeply interested in astronomy, particularly the work of Copernicus, who revolutionized astronomy in the mid-1500s with his model of Earth and the planets revolving around the sun. Medieval cosmology and Copernicus' findings that "relocated our home planet, Earth" fascinated Lewis throughout his life and inspired his Narnia series of books, Ward said. Lewis was aware that Earth is not the center of the universe, and he observed that the planet is surrounded by the heavens and seven planets, with symbolism assigned to each.

Lewis often visited the local observatory and was well-schooled there, Ward said. "He had a personal engagement with the beauty of the heavens. His interest was not as an astrophysicist, but in the planets' role in literature and culture. He was fascinated by the thought of planets of unbelievable majesty and constellations undreamed of."

While science concludes there is no center to the universe, an individual might view himself as the center, Ward said, noting that "Lewis said you can't operate in both modes simultaneously." Ward reflected on the differences in viewing one's place in the world from the outside or inside -- as an observer of the world or focused on one's own place.

"To you, your own brain is your mind, while to others it is a cluster of neurons flashing," Ward said. Similarly, he continued, "God is viewed differently from without and within."

"Lewis sees planetary relationships as symbolic of our situation with God, where we are all situated within Him. He sees the planets as God's handiwork, where His voice goes out to the ends of the world."

Following Ward, Anton M. Koekemoer covered the "Hubble" portion of the March 20 program. A research astrophysicist whose work includes maintaining the scientific integrity of the Hubble Space Telescope, Koekemoer's research focuses on the properties of galaxies and black holes and their growth over cosmic time.

The Hubble telescope, Koekemoer stated, has been key to making the most precise measurements to date of the expansion rate of the universe. Images captured by the Hubble have provided man's deepest views of the universe and exciting astronomical discoveries about the universe, including distant galaxies, black holes and giant clouds of star formations. The Hubble's Deep Field images, compiled over a 10-year period, have revealed more than 10,000 galaxies of various shapes, sizes, colors and ages.

Koekemoer said he believes the Hubble discoveries confirm that the viewpoints of science and faith are fully reconciled. "The Hubble gives us a picture of what the universe is like," he said. "These distances cannot even be described in miles, only in light years. But this is where science stops. From my perspective as a Christian, the observation of this proves that God created this universe."

While science is focused on explaining the physical processes observed in the universe, deeper questions such as the meaning of man's existence must be considered from the standpoint of religion, Koekemoer said, adding that individuals arrive at their own understanding of these questions. Science, he said, reveals attributes about God, enriching faith for those who already have faith.

"Scripture teaches about God's attributes," he said. "Science reveals the extent of these attributes, enriching the faith of believers who contemplate it."


Boyce College announces summer academy for high school students

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will launch Boyce Academy in the summer of 2018 to give rising high school seniors, juniors and sophomores a chance to experience a Christian college campus while earning course credit.

"The Boyce Academy represents a particularly promising new venture in the life of Boyce College," said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and its undergraduate school, Boyce College.

The college is named after the founder of Southern Seminary, James Petigru Boyce, and was originally called Boyce Bible School in 1974 before it became an accredited degree-granting institution in 1998.

"Forming a Christian worldview is an urgent priority in this generation within our churches," Mohler said, "and the academy has the potential to play a vital part in that effort for young adults and their families.... [L]earning in this environment from our world-distinguished faculty ... is exactly what I would have needed and eagerly wanted as a high school student."

The one-week residential experience is intended for motivated high school students with a minimum grade point average of 3.0., and students must complete a short essay in their application.

The academy will give students a glimpse of what they can expect from college both academically and socially, said Matthew J. Hall, dean of Boyce College and a senior vice president at Southern.

Students will take two courses during the week of July 16-20 taught by Hall and Bryan Baise, assistant professor of worldview and apologetics at the school. The classes will explore the topic of freedom, addressing theological and apologetic issues from a biblical worldview with Baise, then the ways in which contested ideas of freedom have developed in American history with Hall. After finishing the classes, students will earn two hours of college credit.

The experiences during Boyce Academy will not be limited to the classroom, however. Students will live in Boyce dormitories, gain a sampling of campus life, and interact with resident assistants and campus leaders. The academy also will allow students to experience the city of Louisville during the evenings.

"For families who are trying to discern what makes a Christian college a valuable proposition, that is a hard question to answer in a brochure," Hall said. "[S]tudents need to be in the classroom and on a campus experiencing the school's residential life for themselves. This is the optimal way to know whether a Christian college is worth investing in -- even more than a campus visit and preview day, as valuable as those events are.... My expectation is that this initiative is going to help a lot of families confirm that next step -- not just for college in general, but a Christian college in particular."

For more information about the Boyce Academy, visit


SEBTS begins East Asia leadership initiative

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) -- Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary's Global Theological Initiatives (GTI) office is creating an East Asian Leadership Initiative office with Minwoo Jang as coordinator.

Minwoo Jang
Jang, a native of South Korea, is graduating from SEBTS with a Th.M. in May and is seeking to enter the Ph.D. program.

The new initiative will focus on engaging leaders across East Asia who serve both in theological education and the local church. Specific attention will be given to contextual training of leaders within their own nations as well as those who have relocated to urban centers outside East Asia. The initiative also will work with other offices at Southeastern to help increase the seminary's East Asian student population on campus and online.

John Ewart, associate vice president of GTI, said it is a privilege to serve Christian leaders within their context. "We recognize how God continues to work in the East Asian church to impact the entire world," he said, "and our prayer is to be able to assist his work in any way possible."

Danny Akin, SEBTS president, stated, "It has been my prayer for some time that God would use Southeastern to impact the East Asian community both here in the United States and around the world." He voiced appreciation "to have Minwoo on board to help determine and guide us in the best pathways for that impact to become a greater reality."

Jang said he is "blessed and honored" to become the East Asian Leadership Initiative's coordinator "to serve East Asian leaders as they are trained and equipped for the Great Commission of Jesus Christ both on and off campus."

Through a combination of occasional face-to-face and distance learning, Southeastern's GTI currently is helping provide biblical training for proven, positioned leaders on six continents serving churches, mission boards and seminaries.

Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston from reporting by Julie Owens of Southwestern Baptist Theoological Seminary; Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's communications staff; and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary staff.
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