I’m pleased to announce a series of articles on Saint Augustine and his influence on Southern Baptist theology written by Dr. James D. “Jim” Gifford Jr. Originally from West Virginia, Dr. Gifford now lives in Charlotte, NC where he teaches theology and church history at New Life Theological Seminary, a small but growing TRACS-accredited multi-denominational, multi-ethnic Bible college and seminary.
Jim received his PhD in systematic theology in 2010 from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.1 He also is author of Perichoretic Salvation: The Believer's Union with Christ as a Third Type of Perichoresis2 and only recently presented an academic paper at the 2012 Evangelical Theological Society entitled “Christological Difﬁculties for a Deterministic Model of Providence.” Dr. Gifford is married to Karen both of whom are the proud parents of three children.
The first piece in the series is entitled “Augustine and Southern Baptists: an Introduction” and will appear shortly. Following are pieces to anticipate in order:
- Augustine and Divine Omnipotence
- Augustine and Human Nature
- The Upshot of Augustine's Assumptions: Divine Determinism
- Augustine's Exegetical and Hermeneutical Method
- Augustine's Critics and Legacy
It remains clear to me that certain theological beliefs which are not conducive toward and sometimes contrary to our free church tradition as Southern Baptists are engendering more and more influence today and consequently may be part of the source of theological tension we encounter as a convention. Dr. Gifford’s series may clearly expose one of those powerful influences driving, at least in some significant ways, the theological embroilment we sadly experience—(semi-) Augustinianism.3
1Dr. Gifford's previous education includes a B.A. from West Virginia University and M.A. and M.Div. degrees from Liberty University
2Dr. Ken Keathley, Director of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture and Professor of Theology at Southeastern seminary, says of Gifford's Perichoretic Salvation, "The New Testament presents union with Christ as a central feature of soteriology. Yet generally evangelicals have not fully appreciated the implications of the concept. Gifford's clear and helpful work makes real strides in addressing this shortcoming" while Dr. Bruce Demarest, Professor of Christian Formation at Denver Seminary avers "Jim's thesis-developed using careful biblical, theological and historical analysis-is not widely understood and acknowledged, particularly in evangelical circles, although it ties in nicely to revived interest in the Trinity and Christology. His thesis-refreshingly relevant to nurture of Christ life-is formulated clearly, comprehensively and, I believe, quite convincingly."
3while Dr. Gifford has been a frequent contributor on comment threads here at SBC Tomorrow and has habitually produced valuable contributions to each discussion in which he participated, scheduling may not allow for him to offer extended exchanges. Nonetheless, both he and I welcome feedback on his series and will do our best to accommodate all serious inquiries concerning any portion of his six-part series on Augustine's influence particularly amongst Southern Baptists
Below are links to the entire series by Dr. Gifford:
- Coming Series on Saint Augustine and Southern Baptists by Dr. James D. Gifford Jr
- Augustine and Southern Baptists: an Introduction
- Augustine and Southern Baptists: Augustine and Divine Omnipotence
- Augustine and Southern Baptists: Augustine and Human Nature: Part 3A; Part 3B
- Augustine and Southern Baptists: The Upshot of Augustine's Assumptions: Divine Determinism
- Augustine and Southern Baptists: Augustine's Exegetical and Hermeneutical Method
- Augustine and Southern Baptists: Augustine's Critics and Legacy: Part A; Part B