Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) hosted 50 pastors and leaders from around the country at the Intersect Conference on April 19, 2016. The group included church planters, pastors, parachurch organizations and students who had the opportunity to hear from SEBTS faculty on matters of faith, culture, economics and vocation.
To begin the conference, SEBTS Provost Bruce Ashford spoke on the topic of “Theology and Culture,” reflecting on his time as a missionary where he noticed for the first time the relationship between ministry and culture. “It was a major awakening for me to figure out the relationship between God’s saving work on one hand and culture on the other hand,” he said.
Ashford explained that while many things in culture are directionally bad, culture itself is a structurally good construct. As such, ministers of the gospel need to practice Christianity that is involved in culture. “We engage culture and make culture better because Christ’s lordship is as wide as creation, as wide as culture,” he said.
We engage culture & make culture better because Christ’s lordship is as wide as creation, as wide as culture.
Speaking on material from their recent book, “Every Waking Hour,” Benjamin Quinn and Walter Strickland addressed the doctrine of vocation. Quinn serves as associate dean for institutional advancement and assistant professor of theology and history of ideas at SEBTS. Strickland is the SEBTS special adviser to the president for diversity and an instructor of theology.
Quinn and Strickland examined the common notion among Christians that only ministry-related work matters in the Kingdom of God. They introduced the idea that work is what creatures do with creation while vocation is how people make themselves useful to others. Together, “work is the hand that animates the glove of our vocation,” they said.
According to Quinn and Strickland, pastors and leaders should show all Christians that their vocations matter, even in the nuts and bolts of every job. “How powerful a testimony would it be if we commissioned accountants before tax season every year?” Quinn asked. “What about commissioning teachers before academic years every year?”
Brent Aucoin, professor of history and associate dean of The College for Academic Affairs at SEBTS, addressed the topic, “History of Christianity and Economics,” by examining economic systems and how Christians should relate to wealth and poverty.
In his session on “Economics, Stewardship and the Common Good,” SEBTS professor of Christian ethics and associate dean for graduate program administration, David Jones, explained that the importance of wealth or poverty is how people use it. “God doesn’t care about whether you’re rich or poor,” Jones said. “But he does care what you do with it.”
To wrap up the conference, Keith Whitfield, SEBTS vice president for academic administration and assistant professor of theology, led a panel discussion with the conference speakers where participants could ask follow up questions from earlier discussions.
Intersect is a partnership between the Kern Family Foundation and SEBTS that seeks to educate people to engage the intersection of faith, culture, work and economics so that they can equip others and be empowered to glorify God. The Intersect Conference connects pastors and leaders to work together to bring faith to bear on all areas of culture, work and economics.
Intersect also offers opportunities to learn from SEBTS faculty and other reputable speakers through free online classes, daily blogs, videos, books and special events.
To learn more about Intersect or find helpful resources, visit intersectproject.org.