By Marilyn Stewart
SAN ANTONIO--Imagine a place where the scholars that write the textbooks are gathered and where cutting edge research is critiqued. The national Evangelical Theological Society meeting each year is exactly that as leading theological thinkers meet to present papers and offer peer-review analysis.
NOBTS was well-represented at the 68th annual meeting held this year in San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 15-17. Papers were presented by five NOBTS faculty members, five Ph.D. students, and two NOBTS graduates. Four sessions—consisting of three or four papers related to a topic—were moderated by NOBTS faculty and students.
“There’s such a congenial atmosphere,” said Ph.D. student Andrea Robinson, a presenter. “Everybody is willing to discuss difficult topics and not fight, but in the spirit of understanding God’s word better. I really enjoyed being a part of that.”
Robinson presented an exegesis of John 14:1-3 in the session “New Testament: Gospels.”
This year’s theme for the conference was the Trinity. Plenary speakers for the event included Fred Sanders, Gerald R. McDermott, Alister McGrath, Daniel B. Wallace and Scott R. Swain.
Baptist Press reported that 175 of the approximately 600 presentations were offered by scholars with ties to SBC churches, seminaries and colleges that partner with Baptist state conventions.
Dr. Adam Harwood, Associate Professor of Theology, in his presentation posed this question: “Did the Incarnation introduce change among the persons of the Trinity?” Harwood reminded listeners that Christ’s divine nature did not experience death nor did God change in his being, character or attributes in the Incarnation.
Harwood went on to explain that scripture says Jesus was “born, grew, learned, suffered and died,” something God the Son, without flesh, had not experienced previously. He noted that if change occurred, it was in the form of new experiences.
Harwood stated, “The second person of the Trinity exists in eternal relationship with the other members of the Trinity. Without any change in the attributes of the members of the Trinity (e.g., holiness, love, eternity, etc.), the Son related differently to the Father and the Spirit after his incarnation due to the changes mentioned in Scripture when Jesus was born then grew, learned, suffered, and died.”
Paper presentation ideas are submitted prior to the event, evaluated and accepted “by a panel of scholars under the direction of the program chair,” according to ETS program materials. The papers are arranged into sessions based on texts, topics, and methods.
Other NOBTS faculty presenters included Dr. Rex Butler, “The Father, the Son, and the Lord Montanus: The New Prophecy and the Development of Trinitarian Doctrine”; Dr. Dennis Cole, “From Jabez to Josiah: The Rhetorical Function of Prayer in the Chronicler’s History”; Dr. Rhyne Putman, “Confirmation Bias in Theological Methodology”; Dr. Robert Stewart, “Who’s Afraid of ‘God of the Gaps’ Arguments?”
Student presenters included Andrew Hollingsworth, Andrea Robinson, Matt Rose, Matt Solomon, and Dustin Turner and NOBTS graduates Jesse Coyne and Billy Puckett. Dr. Craig Price, Dr. Robert Stewart and Ph.D. students Andrew Bailey and Cory Barnes served as moderators.
Meeting concurrently with ETS were the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Near East Archaeological society and special events were hosted by other academic entities.
Dr. Putman was a featured panelist discussing “Is the Baptist Faith and Message Sufficient for Today?” at the SBC Professor Fellowship hosted by B & H Publishing Group.
Dr. Stewart was one of five scholars honored for “excellence in research, writing and displaying the characteristics of a Great Commission scholar in both the classroom and Christian scholarship” at the annual Southeastern Theological Fellowship dinner hosted by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Attending and presenting at ETS may open doors for possible future publications and presentations as well as presenting opportunities to hear and become acquainted with noted scholars. For Bailey, moderating a packed-room session with theologian Michael Bird was a highlight.
“Even though Michael Bird is becoming more and more high profile, he’s very personable,” Bailey said. “He cares about people.”
Andrea Robinson called her experience at ETS “fruitful” adding that, “Scholars I have read and interacted with in my research and writing I was able to meet in person and actually discuss one-on-one the areas of my research focus.”
ETS offers student memberships. For information, visit www.etsjets.org.