Questions about Christians and involvement in cultural transformation

Reposted from an article at erlc.com/article/questions-about-christians-and-involvement-in-cultural-transformation

I recently listened to a podcast of the White Horse Inn in which Michael Horton featured the ongoing transformation of Mackenzie University, a prestigious private university in Brazil with more than 40,000 students, into a Christian university.

Let me say at the outset that, even though I have serious questions, which I’m going to express in this piece, about Michael Horton’s two-kingdoms approach to the relation of Christianity and culture, I count him a gift to the church. When it comes to what goes on inside the church (except for obvious denominational differences), I tend to agree with him. But when it comes to how the church should relate to the secular culture, I disagree with his two-kingdoms approach, rather espousing a more positive transformational approach to cultural engagement more like that of a Wesley or a Kuyper. So don’t let these friendly critiques of Horton’s views on culture be taken as a lack of excitement about his views on other things.

His account of Mackenzie University was a very compelling story. Essentially, it is a story of reformation. The president of this historically Presbyterian university, now its chancellor, received his Ph.D. at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and he desired to reform the university and attempt slowly to return it to its Christian roots. Now the university’s divinity school has moved away from its formerly Protestant Liberal theology, and every faculty member now embraces conservative Presbyterian theology.

One of the reasons I found this story compelling is that I wondered to myself, “Is it even theoretically possible that Yale, my own alma mater, which was once committed to theological orthodoxy, could be reformed in this way?”

The reason I was so intrigued by this question is that Horton and others from the two-kingdoms approach to Christianity and culture demur from the view that Christians should be trying to transform culture. Yet here was a two-kingdoms advocate rejoicing in the ongoing, gradual reformation of Mackenzie University—a secularized university in a modern, secularized Western nation—back toward its Christian moorings.

A lot of questions came to my mind:

What’s the difference between reforming an institution or field of study or cultural system and transforming it?*

If the theological seminary of a secularized Western university can be reformed, would it be possible for the whole university to be reformed?

If the theological seminary of a secularized Brazilian university can be reformed, would it be possible for a theological seminary at a secularized American university to be reformed?

If the theological seminary of a secularized American university could be reformed, would it be possible for the whole university to be reformed?

It seemed to me that two-kingdoms advocates who would rejoice about the divinity school of a secularized Western university being reformed would think that it was, at least theoretically, possible for a whole university to be reformed. It would also seem that such two-kingdoms advocates would think such a reformation would be a good thing, a positively good goal—that they would laud the president’s attempts at reforming Mackenzie University.

More questions flooded my mind, like the following: If it’s a good thing for a prestigious university in a secularized nation to be reformed back to its original Christian roots, and that’s something we would laud a university president for attempting to do, then why would we not laud a government leader for attempting to reform a nation-state back to its more theistic roots?

Many conservative theologians have been invited to Mackenzie University to speak at the theological school. No doubt, while they are down there, they encourage the president in his work of reformation, even if they are two-kingdoms advocates. I asked myself:

What would a two-kingdoms advocate do at some point in the future if he were called in to a small nation-state in Africa—let’s imagine for a moment—whose prime minister and the majority of whose parliament was made up of conservative Anglican, Baptist, and Assemblies of God laypeople? What would his advice to them be regarding legislation about, say, abortion or same-sex marriage or sex-trafficking? How would he advise them? Would he say, “Don’t try to bring about change—transformation—to the culture based on the beliefs of the Christian church”?

And then I thought of so many of my good, faithful, evangelical friends who really want to engage the culture from a Christian perspective just as I do but shy away from the word transformation. In some cases, I think, this is because they think it must mean a total transformation—such that, if you want to see cultural change and transformation in the direction of Christian values, you’re necessarily talking about a complete Christianization of everything, in this life (but surely that’s not what most so-called transformationalists are aiming at).

Shortly before listening to the story about Mackenzie University, I had read an article at the Huffington Post about a new art conference, the TRAC conference, which is trying to bring representational art, or classical realism, back into prominence in the arts community. The convener of the conference, artist and professor Michael Pearce, said, “All of us, the people in this room, are slowly changing the direction of the cultural ocean liner. I want to thank you for participating in that. We really, really need to do that. We need to change the direction of the ship.”

What I wonder is, is an artist who wants slowly to change the direction of the “cultural ocean liner” in the art world attempting to bring transformation to the art world? I would think so. And let’s say that, after 20 years, the percentage of his kind of art sold at auction goes from 20 percent to 40 percent of the total art sold, as a result of such efforts for change. Does that count as transformation, even though the transformation is not total?

Another question that came to mind regards personal spiritual transformation: Those of us who don’t believe in entire sanctification or Christian perfection think that we are gradually being transformed spiritually, even though we will never be totally transformed in this life. Why then should we shy away from thinking we should be attempting to bring slow, gradual transformation to a given sphere of culture, whether educational, artistic, scientific, political, etc.?

These are questions that I think are worth asking, as more and more evangelical young people are considering the “Benedict Option” (which I briefly discussed in a recent post). Is it possible to have a broadly Augustinian approach to cultural influence and change—call it “transformationalism,” call it something else—from the vantage point of Christian teaching that is not triumphalistic or unduly negative (in the way that too much political rhetoric from the religious right has been)? And is it possible to embody that mentality in a way that respects the institutional separation of church and state and religious liberty, for which Baptists have been on the leading edge since the early seventeenth century? And is it possible to do that from an eschatological perspective that doesn’t necessarily see complete transformation as occurring this side of eternity?

I like to think it is.

*My guess is that two-kingdoms advocates would say that churchly things such as a school of theology can be reformed, which of course involves their (at least partial) transformation, but that something in the secular sphere cannot be. But would this rule out, say, the business or physics or political science departments at Mackenzie University? Could they be considered churchly and thus reformable / transformable?


Praying and Fasting for the Missio Dei

I am writing this blog post coming fresh from a message by Clint Morgan, general director of Free Will Baptist International Missions, at the semi-annual missions conference on the campus of Welch College. He gave a stirring presentation about the mission of God in the world—including both the need of the world and the progress of the gospel in the world.

His presentation has made me even more committed to standing with our International Missions department in their Thirty Days of Prayer and Fasting during the month of October. We need a renewed commitment to our role as Free Will Baptists in the Missio Dei—the mission of God in the world—that is the theme of our conference.

The Missio Dei extends from our own spheres of influence, to the many individuals and families who have come to our communities from overseas, from church planting in the North American context, to evangelism and church planting in global cross-cultural settings.

It is exciting to see our students at Welch College catch a fresh vision for missions from denominational mission leaders such as Clint Morgan and Free Will Baptist North American Ministries’ Brad Ransom. Please pray with me for our students, that they would seek God’s guidance in discovering their own role in the Missio Dei, whether in going or enabling others to go. And stand with me in committing to prayer and fasting for Free Will Baptist International Missions during the month of October.

Prophet and Priest and King

I grew up in church singing “Praise Him, Praise Him,” a hymn by the prolific hymn writer Fanny Crosby. It was hymn 58 in the old 1964 Free Will Baptist Hymn Book. There was a phrase in that hymn that always intrigued me:

Jesus, Savior, reigneth forever and ever.

Crown Him! Crown Him! Prophet, and Priest, and King!

I sung about Christ as prophet, priest, and king in church hundreds of times. In addition to that, I recall hearing the phrase in some of my grandfather L. V. Pinson’s sermons.

Another recollection I have of what is known as the “three offices of Christ” or the “threefold office of Christ” was when Leroy Forlines, about 25 years ago, introduced me to Jacobus Arminius’s writings on the offices of Christ. Mr. Forlines told me that his theology of the atonement and justification had been particularly influenced by reading Arminius’s Oration on the Priesthood of Christ. He had encountered that work while taking a course in “Arminian Theology” in the early 1950s, taught by Dr. L. C. Johnson, founding president of Welch College.

Other than that, I’ve heard very little about the phrase or the concept. I think it’s safe to say that, generally, we hear less and less about Christ’s offices of prophet, priest, and king in modern Christianity. Still, I’ve become fascinated by the three offices of Christ, and I’m thinking of writing a little book of spirituality on them.

There was a time, not long ago, when Christ as prophet, priest, and king was common vernacular in the church. In the history of Christianity, you read a great deal about the subject. I have found this especially true in our spiritual ancestors in the seventeenth century, the English General Baptists [1].

I’m currently producing a critical edition of a book on spirituality by the English General Baptist Francis Smith entitled Symptoms of Growth and Decay in Godliness. It hasn’t been published since the early 1700s. In the “Dedicatory Epistle,” Smith, in speaking of conversion, refers to the “gracious change, God through his rich grace then made, that . . . his Son should become your King, to rule you, your Priest to make atonement for you, and also your Prophet to teach you; in a word your All in All. Thus at the sight and sense of what sin and Satan had been, and what now Christ Jesus would be by way of change, your hearts were wonderfully taken up with admiring this choice, that was not only of God’s preparing to redeem you from the highest wrath, but to redeem you to the highest glory.”

A wonderful summary of the historic Protestant teaching on the three offices of Christ is found in a seventeenth-century General Baptist confession of faith entitled the Orthodox Creed. The passage below comes from the article entitled “Of Christ and His Mediatorial Office.” “Mediatorial office” is another way of saying the threefold office of Christ. The language of “mediatorial office” comes from 1 Timothy 2:5, which reads, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (NKJV). The Free Will Baptist Treatise of Faith and Practices uses similar language in its chapter six, “The Atonement and Mediation of Christ.” Below is the passage from the Orthodox Creed. I encourage you to read it carefully and meditate on the three offices of Christ, praising Him as prophet, priest, and king.

“It pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, according to the Covenant made between them both, to be the only mediator between God and man. . . . The same Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience to the whole Law and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit offered up to God the Father, has fully satisfied the Justice of God, reconciled him to us, and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven for all those that the Father has given to him. Now by a continued act of intercession in heaven, Christ Jesus applies the benefits he has purchased to the elect. In this office of mediator, he has the dignity of three offices, (viz.) Priest, Prophet, and King. All these offices are necessary for the benefit of his Church, and without them we can never be saved. For in respect of our ignorance, we stand in need of his prophetical office. In respect of our alienation from God, our imperfect services, and God’s wrath and justice, we stand in need of his priestly office, to reconcile God to us and us to God. In respect of our bondage to sin and Satan and averseness to return to God, we need his kingly office, to subdue our enemies and deliver us captives out of the kingdom and power of sin and preserve us to his heavenly kingdom. Thus (in our nature) he, living the life of the law and suffering the penalty due to us, continually presents us at the throne of grace, and is a most wonderful and complete mediator for his elect” [2].


[1] America’s first Free Will Baptists were English General Baptists who moved across the Atlantic to the colonies of Carolina and Virginia.

[2] William J. McGlothlin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1911), 135-37. I have modernized some of the language, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.

Early Anabaptists and the Reformation of Worship

The Commission for Theological Integrity of the National Association of Free Will Baptists (of which I serve as chairman) sponsors a blog, fwbtheology.com. From time to time, I post a theologically oriented blog post on that website and place a link to it on this blog. I recently posted a blog on that site entitled “Early Anabaptists and the Reformation of Worship.” You can gain access to it by clicking here.

Every Square Inch

One of my favorite quotations is from Abraham Kuyper, the Christian statesman who served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands in the early twentieth century. He said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”

Recently I discussed on this blog what my colleague Dr. Darrell Holley has referred to as the “Kuyper Option” for how Christians should relate to culture. I believe the Kuyper Option is just what we need today in our increasingly secularized culture.

Kuyper—standing on the shoulders of Christians like John Calvin and John Wesley—stood firmly on the belief that Christians should be in the world and not of the world. He believed that we should be radically distinct from the world in our attitudes, values, and priorities, which are shaped by a kingdom which is alien to this world—the kingdom of Christ. Yet he believed just as strongly that we must be transforming the culture, influencing it with the attitudes, values, and priorities of the kingdom, as much as is within our power.

Now more than ever, we need to employ this approach. Now is not the time to put our heads in the sand, as the conservative Protestant movement did in the wake of the Scopes Trial in the early twentieth century, when Protestant Liberalism had come into dominance in American religious life. While we may be critical of some efforts at social change by the religious right, we must not therefore give up on the need to engage in cultural transformation.

My friend Dr. Eddie Moody and I have been discussing these things frequently of late—things he discusses in his new book Surviving Culture: When Character and Your World Collide, which has two editions—one for students and another for parents, youth leaders, etc. We recently have read and discussed what I think is an important little book that can help pastors and youth leaders discuss Christianity and culture with church members: Bruce Riley Ashford’s Every Square Inch: An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians.

What is wonderful about this book is that it lays out a Christian foundation for understanding how to relate to culture that general readers can understand. The book is not just about engagement in political activity (although it includes that). It’s about taking up the cultural mandate or creation mandate from Genesis and bowing to the Lordship in the whole of life—private and public. This includes the political and legal sphere as well as the arts and sciences, education, healthcare, the marketplace—indeed every sphere of culture.

Dr. Moody recently met with Dr. Ashford, Provost at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and interviewed him. I encourage my readers to visit Dr. Moody’s blog and listen to his interview with Bruce Riley Ashford. Then, go out and buy several copies of Every Square Inch and share them with the leaders and influencers around you.

Groundbreaking at the New Campus Site of Welch College

Yesterday was a great day at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new campus of Welch College at Gallatin, Tennessee. Between 350 and 400 Welch College faculty, staff, students, alumni, denominational supporters, representatives of the Gallatin and Sumner County governmental, educational, non-profit, and business communities, friends, and neighbors attended the event.

Owing to wet weather in the days before the event, we were unable to have the groundbreaking on the main part of the new campus site as we had previously planned. Thus we moved the ceremony to Station Camp High School, whose leaders were so kind to offer us the use of their campus for our celebration. That morning, when we arrived, it was not raining. So we made the decision to go across the street after our initial remarks indoors and break ground on the extreme northernmost section of the property.

In the photo above, you will notice that I am breaking ground along with Gallatin Mayor Paige Brown and Keith Burden, Executive Secretary of the National Association of Free Will Baptists, both of whom gave remarks; Board Chairman Terry Pierce and CEO of the Free Will Baptist Foundation David Brown, both of whom offered prayers; as well as Paul Eitel our contractor from Focus Design Builders and our architect Jim Sherrer of Design Development Architects. We are surrounded by members of the Welch College Board of Trustees, President’s Leadership Team, and Relocation Task Force.

The groundbreaking was a great event for Welch College, and the spirit of those gathered there yesterday is emblematic of the excitement surrounding the construction of our new campus. I ask all our friends and supporters to pray and think about what you can do to help financially in this once-in-a-lifetime transition.

I encourage you to view photographs and a video of scenes from the groundbreaking ceremony here. If you would like to read theTennessean article about the event, you can find it here. For more on the Building on the Legacy capital campaign for the new campus of Welch College, keep checking here; we will be updating the site as we move forward with the campaign. I look forward to unveiling more at the National Convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan, next week. I want to thank everyone for your prayers and support for this historic endeavor!

How Should Christians Respond to the Supreme Court Decision Regarding Same-Sex Marriage?

First, we must not panic and withdraw from public life and culture.

There are many people discussing the “Benedict Option”—inspired by the ancient monk Benedict of Nursia and his withdrawal from society into a monastic life. Others are discussing the “Buckley Option,” based on modern-day conservative thinker William F. Buckley and the way he engaged culture with conservative ideas and ideals.

I agree with my colleague Darrell Holley, who recently suggested the term the “Kuyper Option,” based on the thought of the Christian prime minister of the Netherlands in the early twentieth century, Abraham Kuyper. While Kuyper believed in the separation of church and state, believing that the church and the government are distinct spheres with different ends and purposes, he did not believe in the separation of Christianity and culture.

Kuyper believed that, wherever it finds itself flourishing, Christianity is making changes to the world around it, transforming the culture. Thus Christians should fulfill vocational callings such as being a Christian scholar or sculptor or scientist or plumber or governmental leader or homemaker or horticulturalist, being salt and light in the world and transforming the culture around them. And this sort of cultural impact makes society more conducive to the work of pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and Christian laypeople engaged in evangelism.

I think Dr. Holley is right. We need the “Kuyper Option.” The last thing we need to do is to panic and worry. We need to rest secure in Jesus’s promise: “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” This is not—especially not—just a promise for the good times, when we have a Christian cultural consensus.

The early Christians, a small minority in the midst of a radically pagan culture, were emboldened by this promise, even as they were being persecuted and martyred for their faith in Christ. We must resolve to be like those early Christians—to be strong in our faith, especially given the fact that we are in the midst of an increasingly post-Christian culture. Let us be winsome and loving, caring for the poor and downcast, showing what it means to live lives of faith, hope, love, and joy in a decadent culture that punishes us for holding to what makes our lives worth living.

Let us be ourselves—authentic Christian families and churches who are confident in the kingdom values our Lord has given us—attitudes and priorities and ways of life that are alien to the kingdoms of this world, but that are breaking in on this world even now and transforming it.

There is truth to a need the “Benedict Option” advocates stress—the need to get serious about our own internal biblical and churchly resources for rediscovering who we really are as the church of Jesus Christ. And this will mean rediscovering what it means to go against the grain of the prevailing cultural winds rather than coveting the cultural approval of secular society. Yet this desire to get serious about who we are as the church, which is called out from the world for the sake of the world, does not need to take us out of the world—to make us withdraw from culture and public life.

Second, we must re-emphasize Scriptural teaching on maleness, femaleness, Christian marriage, and the divine design for human sexuality if we are to have a coherent message.

This means we must get serious about divorce and not turn a blind eye to it in our congregations. Our tradition, like the entire Christian tradition, was historically very serious about divorce. We need to think carefully about ways we can return to the traditional Protestant position on divorce, which was simply a straightforward reading of Holy Scripture. We can never hope to be seen as consistent when arguing for the sanctity of marriage against homosexual marriage when Christian church members are divorcing in such high numbers and we seem to be looking the other way.

This seems so inconsistent and hypocritical to the watching world. Indeed it is inconsistent and hypocritical. It’s time Christians do their part in rebuilding the marriage culture by having strong marriages and exhibiting a stunning difference from the world in our divorce rate.

We also need to think more seriously about how our churches, and even associations of churches, can provide marriage and family counseling and support to our people who are struggling in their marriages.

Another thing we must emphasize is teaching and modeling, before our children, maleness and femaleness and the biblical meaning and beauty of sexual love in marriage.

This starts by not allowing popular culture, secular education, and the secular media to win the hearts and minds of our children. This will mean we have to break with our increasing desire to remake the church in the guise of current pop culture.

We must continue, strongly as ever, to emphasize sexual abstinence outside heterosexual marriage. But we must not simply be saying what not to do. Instead, we need to emphasize that violations of God’s vision for sexuality within the bond of marriage are not good for human flourishing, for living the good life that God has for us.

We need to reinvest sexuality with the beauty and mystery that is so essential to it. We need to make sexuality special again. Thus, we must explain to our children not just the what of sexual abstinence, but the why of human sexuality according to God’s good design. This is more necessary now than it was in generations past. Someone is going to give our children a worldview, and it needs to be the church and its scriptures and its tradition, not this present evil age, which is passing away with its lusts.

But this also means that we must teach and show and model for our children what it means to be male and female—that maleness and femaleness are not just about body parts. That they are about God’s unique and purposeful design, the delicate balance he designed for the home and family.

We don’t need to be afraid of masculinity and femininity. We need to re-learn biblical models of masculinity and femininity in opposition to our world’s macho models of false masculinity and sexualized models of false femininity. It’s vitally important that we not take these things for granted. We’ve got to be intentional and find ways to cultivate biblical femininity and masculinity in our daughters and sons. We mustn’t forget that without feminism and the flattening of the distinction between the sexes, homosexuality could never have gained such a foothold in our society.

It’s vitally important that we teach and model, not only before our children, but before a watching world, what Christian manhood and womanhood look like in the context of the loving, self-sacrificing servant-leadership of Christian men and the loving, nurturing, supportiveness of godly women who are following their husband’s leadership.

This will also mean recapturing what the Christian tradition believed about being a gentleman and a lady. This will be difficult, because it’s thought to be so quaint and outdated in our current cultural milieu. But we must be confident in our biblical, Christian heritage.

Last, we must show the world that Christians are the people who will be the most honest about sin and its consequences but the most loving and compassionate to sinners.

When you read what the writers of Scripture and what authors in the Christian tradition said about sexual sin, including the sin of homosexuality, you see that they were very serious. They never laughed and made light of sexual sin, including homosexual sin. They always approached it with deep sadness and tears. These tears kept them from being hateful toward the sinner.

Brothers and sisters, we desperately need to recapture this. We need to look back to our past, to our forebears’ efforts at what they called reaching drunkards and harlots and making them reformed drunkards and reformed harlots. This manifested itself in the desire to have homes to help people recover from an addiction to alcohol, for troubled youth who were deep in sin, for prostitutes who were ready to turn their backs on their former ways of living. If these same people were alive today, they would have the same love and compassion for homosexuals as they had for alcoholics and prostitutes. They would love them, care for them, and share the gospel of Christ with them.

We need lovingly to tell sinners the good news that Paul gave his readers in 1 Corinthians 6. And that good news, shared with some whom Paul said had been fornicators, adulterers, idolaters, homosexuals, drunkards, greedy people, thieves, revilers, or extortioners before their conversion, is that they were washed from their sin; they were set apart for God’s special, pure, and holy use; and they were justified by Christ.

As John J. Butler said in his 1871 commentary on 1 Corinthians, these people were “raised from the depths of heathenism,” “cleansed from sin,” “set apart to God,” with all their “powers consecrated to his service.” They were “accepted as holy, through the merits of Christ. . . .”

This is the good news we have to share! We must share it, in love and compassion, with those involved in same-sex relationships. And this love and compassion is the only way people will know we believe what we say we believe.

Roger Olson and Terrence Tiessen on Arminian and Baptist

Many of my readers are interested in the Arminian-Calvinist debate, specifically as it regards the Reformed Arminian approach to that dialogue. I discuss that approach in my new book, Arminian and Baptist: Explorations in a Theological Tradition.

Two of the first scholarly reviewers to take notice of that book have been Roger Olson of the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and Terrence Tiessen of Providence Theological Seminary in Otterburne, Manitoba, Canada.

Some of my readers will be interested in these notices; so I have linked them here and  here.

Welch College Closes on Sale of West End Campus

Dear Friends of Welch College,

I am thrilled to report that the college has closed on the sale of its West End Avenue campus and is set to begin construction on its new campus site!

The campus was purchased by Mike Ford Custom Builders, LLC, a custom home building company in Middle Tennessee that is well-known for its fine homes in neighborhoods such as Westhaven, Windstone, and LaurelBrooke in nearby Franklin and Brentwood. That firm plans to construct multi-family units on the four contiguous lots on West End Avenue and single-family homes on Richland Avenue. Davidson Hall, the college’s first building, will be restored and sold as a single-family home.

CEO Mike Ford said, “We are so excited about this project. We are very thankful to be able to play the major role in adding 50 wonderful homes to this community. It’s already been very rewarding to meet and work with folks at Welch College. We couldn’t be happier that we have been able to help the college realize its dream of a new campus. I’d just like to thank everyone involved.”

The sale included all the campus property except Welch Library. We believe that the buzz of new construction in the neighborhood will increase the price of that home, one of the most important historic homes in Nashville.

This transaction is even better than the offer the college had from Aquinas College two years ago. We are grateful for that, because construction costs have risen since that time. Furthermore, we are increasing the square footage of our residence halls because of the 30 percent growth in dorm enrollment Welch experienced over the past two years. We are grateful to our development consultant, Dudley Smith of Land Innovations, and his team, as well as our realtors, Rick French and Ellen Christianson, for their invaluable help in making this sale a reality.

The new campus will be built on a 66-acre site in Gallatin, Tennessee, which the college acquired for $3 million in 2008, and which was recently appraised at $5.8 million. This property, a short 25-minute drive from downtown Nashville, is situated in a fast-growing suburban community in Sumner County.

The site meets all the criteria the college set at the beginning of its land search. Much like the current campus, the new property is close to a limited access freeway, being less than a mile off State Route 386 (Vietnam Veterans Boulevard). It is near medical and educational resources and job opportunities for students, is surrounded by new housing developments, and is still in the Greater Nashville area.

Summer County is experiencing rapid economic and population growth. An array of restaurants, shops, and malls are opening in retail developments such as the Streets of Indian Lake, located a few minutes from the campus. Healthcare facilities and housing developments are also being built at an impressive rate.

Bob Bass, campus relocation consultant, said, “The location of the new campus site is excellent. Within a few minutes of the campus are both affordable homes for faculty and staff, as well as Fairvue Plantation and Foxland, high-end housing developments that provide job opportunities similar to what the college’s current Belle Meade surroundings have offered Welch students for decades.”

Sumner County’s vibrant economy, along with its inviting small-city atmosphere, means that the college will have the benefits of the larger Nashville community as well as the charm and convenience of the Gallatin and Hendersonville communities.

Colonel Mark Johnson, chairman of the Relocation Task Force, who spearheaded the property search, said, “We looked at over 100 potential sites before deciding on this beautiful land in Sumner County. Gallatin city officials, as well as business and educational leaders, have warmly welcomed us to the community. We’re now ready to take the next step.”

Gallatin Mayor Paige Brown said, “Gallatin is delighted to welcome Welch College to our community. We are honored that this highly respected institution has chosen to relocate its campus in Gallatin. We look forward to the day that Welch opens its doors and welcomes students to its new campus. Welch College has demonstrated its commitment to exceedingly high standards and that commitment to excellence is a perfect fit for the City of Gallatin.”

The Gallatin property is more than seven times the size of the West End Avenue campus. This means the college will not have to cap enrollment or curtail new academic programs planned for the future. There is room to construct buildings for instructional needs and student housing adequate for the present and far into the future.

The new campus will have a traditional, residential college campus feel. The campus quadrangle and buildings will feature classic, Jeffersonian campus architecture with fresh, new, and technologically up-to-date interiors. The larger campus site will have much more green space than the old campus. It will permit the construction of outdoor sports facilities for students and provide adequate parking for students, faculty, staff, and guests.

The college has secured the services of Focus Design Builders, a Wake Forest, NC-based firm, to construct the campus. They are working with Raleigh, NC-based Design Development Architects, who are providing architectural and engineering services, and Brentwood, TN-based Southland Constructors, who will handle construction management for the new campus. The goal for completion of construction and opening of school on the new campus is September 2016, January 2017 at the latest.

We are thankful to God for bringing to fruition the vision of a new campus that was initiated by president emeritus Dr. Tom Malone and his team more than two decades ago. A number of steadfast supporters of this vision have been supporting it financially over the past several years. This has enabled the college to pay down debt on the new campus site as well as engage in planning and design for the campus.

Our capital campaign to raise needed funds for campus construction is entitled Building on the Legacy. In a silent phase to the Building on the Legacy campaign, we have already raised $2.1 million in pledges ($1.6 million of which has already been received). We need to raise an additional $5.4 million in cash and gifts-in-kind ($3.4 million in five-year pledges and $2 million in gifts-in-kind of materials, labor, fixtures, etc.).

These funds, together with those raised from the sale of the West End campus and cash reserves, will pay for the $20 million-plus construction of the new campus. We are calling on friends of the college to invest in this campaign, which will be a once-in-a-lifetime investment in the kingdom mission of Welch College.

We will be unveiling more about the new campus and the Building on the Legacy campaign at the annual meeting of the National Association of Free Will Baptists in Grand Rapids, MI, next month. We also invite everyone to a groundbreaking ceremony on the new campus site, which we will host Tuesday, July 14, at 10:00 a.m. Details about campus relocation can be found at Buildingonthelegacy.org.

Please be in prayer for Welch College as we embark on the most important transition in the history of our beloved institution. Pray that God will provide the needed funds for this endeavor, and pray about your involvement in this historic event of the relocation and construction of a new campus for Welch College, for the glory of God and the extension of His kingdom.


J. Matthew Pinson


Listening to Arminius–Not Just His Opponents–On Justification

The Commission for Theological Integrity of the National Association of Free Will Baptists (of which I serve as chairman) sponsors a blog, fwbtheology.com. From time to time, I post a theologically oriented blog post on that website and place a link to it on this blog. I recently posted a blog on that site entitled “Listening to Arminius–Not Just His Opponents–On Justification.” You can gain access to it by clicking here.

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