Yesterday the Board of Trustees of SWBTS elected Dr. Adam W. Greenway as the ninth president of the seminary (See coverage in Baptist Press here).
The reception of the news has been overwhelmingly positive both across the campus and across the convention. There have, however, been a few expressions of concern. I write today to address them briefly. Although worded in different ways (Southern takeover, Mohler takeover, Calvinistic takeover, etc.), the expressions of concern yield themselves, I believe to analysis that distills them into two basic loci of angst: First, does Greenway's election at SWBTS represent a departure from the historic character of SWBTS in regard to the school's mission and theology. Second, does Greenway's election serve anyone else's interests more than it serves the interests of SWBTS.
Let me say first of all that I went into this process with a clear procedure in mind for myself: Before I even knew who our candidate would be, I resolved that ANY candidate would be a no-vote from me until he earned my yes-vote. I can say with a clear conscience that Dr. Greenway and our new Provost, Dr. Randy Stinson, received at my hand the most thorough vetting I knew how to give. I asked all of the questions: the polite ones and the rude ones, the sophisticated ones and the blunt ones. If I did not offend them at any point in the past two weeks, it is because they are gracious, not because I didn't try. :-)
Who Is Served by Adam Greenway's Election
Although none of us as of yet can know (less than 24 hours into his administration!), I am hopeful that his election will serve the Kingdom of God, the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I believe that he will be successful in attracting new students. I believe that he will be successful in raising funds. I believe that he and Dr. Stinson will successfully build the faculty—and by "build the faculty" I mean build faculty morale, congeniality, effectiveness, and spiritual maturity.
I have served for a decade on the board of our seminary, and nobody there is serving anyone's interests other than those of Southwestern. We would not have risked what we have risked and we would not have subjected ourselves to what we have endured for any other reason. That this board has given such overwhelming and enthusiastic support of Dr. Greenway is evidence that he has convinced us that his election serves the interests of SWBTS above all others.
Whither the SWBTS Heritage?
Dr. Greenway's remarks at the post-election press conference should answer this question far better than I can. He spoke of the heritage of Southwestern in terms that should resonate clearly with all true Southwesterners. He spoke of Carroll and Scarborough, Conner and Garrett, Baker and Estep, Fish and McDowell, Naylor and Vaughan and Tolar. He spoke of a national seminary located in Fort Worth, Texas, that spans the globe and leads the convention.
If he can mobilize the ideas of these men and vector it toward that vision, then I think we can safely say that the future of SWBTS will align well with her heritage.
For my part, I am excited to watch and see what happens.
So, brothers and sisters in the SBC, if you have wondered whether those concerns that I mentioned at the top of this article are valid, permit me to address two groups of us who sometimes harbor such concerns:
There are those of us who leap to such conclusions because, deep down inside, we enjoy doing so. If that is the nature of your heart, then I cannot help you.
There are those of us who fret over such possibilities because our love for SWBTS and our gratitude for what the Lord did for us there is so profoundly deep and has tendrils that reach so inextricably into all that we are and all that we do. We feel a solemn duty and precious calling to protect her from harm. If that is the nature of your heart, then I can honestly say before God that I feel exactly the same way. I can say that I left no question unasked and no possibility unexplored. I can say that I am hopeful today that God has good things in store for SWBTS under the leadership of Dr. Adam W. Greenway.