Thursday, October 28, 2010

Steve Lemke Interview

Dr. Steve Lemke Interview
[Dr. Lemke is the provost of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, professor and author-and regular participant and past weekly winner in Football Pick'em. We will start interviewing folks concerning faith and we like to talk a little football also.]

1] When did you come to saving faith?
What prompted you into Christian ministry, in the church and in academia?

SWL: "I came to Christ at the age of 10. I had literally attended church all of my life, because church was and is at the center of my family's life. I believe my upbringing had a strong impact on my calling. My father being a college professor and my mother being a church secretary, I felt equally at home in the pastor’s study and the professor’s office. Many people experience the church and academia as being opposites or antithetical, but for me they were together. My parents served as leaders in the college department of the college town church we attended, and many of my Sunday School teachers were university professors. So I experienced from an early age how academics and the Christian faith can be held together consistently. I also experienced a freedom to ask hard questions, and witnessing on the college campus. So my interest in Apologetics was a good fit with my upbringing.
I felt called into ministry my senior year in college. God moved through several experiences (summer missions, a unique experience at Glorieta) to overcome some of my sense of unworthiness. I never would have dreamed of being “worthy” enough or holy enough to be a pastor, but I did feel a bit more comfortable ministering to youth and college students. My call experience was extremely clear and emotional for me. It took place at a Missions Conference at Southwestern Seminary (though it was not a call to missions). I had majored in History and minored in Journalism (which God has used in some remarkable ways). At that point, a career in journalism had been offered to me, but I felt clear leadership toward ministry and went to seminary.
My early direction and experience was in youth and college ministry. I served on some great church staffs, from small town churches to Second Baptist Houston. But the time came that I felt led toward the pastorate (I call this phenomenon “youth minister disease”), and pastored my first church. By this time I had an interest in teaching, though I thought the odds I would ever have a position were minimal. However, an opportunity did arise to teach in a Baptist college, and then felt led to a church plant that had split (not your usual good career move). The Lord blessed there, and then my dream job at SWBTS opened up. I had to make the hard choice of declining because it was a crucial time in the church plant moving toward constituting as a church. However, SWBTS came back and offered me the position again later, and I gladly accepted. Seven years later, I had the invitation to come to NOBTS, and I’ve been here 13 years."

2] What captured your interest in football?

SWL: "I was been privileged to grow up around sports, particularly football. Bert Jones, former LSU quarterback and NFL MVP for the Baltimore Colts, lived down the street from me (his father was a pro player for the Cleveland Browns). I got to watch him (and play sandlot ball with him) throughout high school, along with his cousin Andy Hamilton (LSU and the Kansas City Chiefs), Alan Storey (LSU), Jackson (Tulane), and Mean Fred Dean (Louisiana Tech and Hall of Fame with the San Francisco 49ers). And then I had the privilege of watching Terry Bradshaw at Louisiana Tech (future number 1 NFL draft pick and Hall of Fame), and several other future NFL players who were on those teams (Ken Liberto of the Steelers, Joe Raymond Peace and Mike Barber of the Oilers, Larry Brewer of the Falcons, Tommy Spinks of the Vikings, Charles McDaniel and Roland Harper of the Bears, Fred Dean of the Chargers and 49ers, Roger Carr of the Colts, and Pat Tilley of the Cardinals). And the next Tech teams competed and won the division 2 national championships a couple of years. I was in journalism in those days, and got to travel with and get to know many of the players. Huey Kirby, a tight end, preached a revival with me while I was in college. Tech basketball had stars like the Mailman, Karl Malone, and the girl's team won a number of national championships. Many of these guys still live in the Ruston area -- Bert Jones, Fred Dean, and Karl Malone (my son was in class with his daughter the Katrina year). Then I lived in the DFW area during the Dallas Cowboys won most of their Super Bowls. And then I move to New Orleans, and unbelievably, even they win the Super Bowl! So I've just been lucky to be around some great champions."

"Now my focus is on my son, Austin, who is in his senior year in high school. He's the team captain of the basketball team (and the cross country team), and the star of the team (there are some people besides his doting father might agree with that)."

Favorite college team?
SWL: "Louisiana Tech, plus I’m a fan of most of the Texas schools."
Favorite pro team?
SWL: "Dallas Cowboys, along with the New Orleans Saints and the Houston Texans."
High school football position?
SWL: "I played in the band – the football team was too good!"
BCS view?
SWL: "I despise the BCS, because it is so prejudiced in favor of the old traditional big schools. I would very much like to see a true playoff."

National Champion pick?
SWL: "It has gotten very confusing for me, but I’ll stick with my pre-season pick Alabama."

Super Bowl match up?
SWL: "In a dark world, all men are blind. So it is with NFL parity. None are really better than others. A cluster of AFC teams the Colts, Steelers, Packers, Patriots, and Jets could probably beat up on any of the NFC teams, but they may wear each other out. I have no idea!"

Why do so many Baptist ministers like football?
SWL: "Probably because so many of us grew up in the South. Most of us aren’t great hockey fans. And, identification with our state school is a matter of great pride. Plus, some of us are very competitive! (J)"

3] In Georgia we have North Georgia and South Georgia New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary satellite campuses. Many ministers in Georgia are alums of NOBTS. What is new in the the life and ministry of NOBTS?

SWL: "NOBTS is doing amazingly well. Obviously, over our last five years we have been rebuilding from the $64 million in damages we suffered when the levees failed a day after hurricane Katrina. The positive thing is that Southern Baptists came to our aid in such a gracious way, and now most of our housing is either newly built or newly remodeled. Our greatest challenge is continuing build new housing to provide for all the students God is sending our way. Before Katrina, NOBTS surprised everyone and became the largest seminary in the SBC. We had about 3,880 students that year; we had about 3,740 last year, so we're almost entirely back in enrollment. That makes us among the five largest seminaries in the world. Our students have moved more to the extension center, hybrid, and internet course delivery systems, so they serve not only all over the Southeast but literally all over the world."

"I'm delighted with the quality of our faculty in two ways. First, the overwhelming majority of them have significant ministry experience. We have 8 former IMB missionaries on our faculty (not just in Missions), as well as a number of others who have been involved in church planting (including me). But we also have a faculty of incredible academic achievement. Our faculty has been rated in the top 20 research institutions by Academic Analytics, a private company that evaluates faculty scholarly productivity, for most of the last few years, putting us among well-funded Ivy League type institutions like Princeton Theological Seminary. Our faculty members have produced 23 books over the last 3 years, not to mention dozens of articles and musical compositions. Our faculty is producing incredible research in places such as the Center for New Testament Textual Studies, which has become one of the premier settings worldwide for both study and research on the text of the New Testament. The Center has one of the largest collections of New Testament manuscripts in digital, facsimile, and microfilm formats in North America, and contributes the largest number of collations to the International Greek New Testament project of anyone in North America. The CNTTS Critical Apparatus of the Greek New Testament is the world's first and most extensive searchable electronic database available of the Greek manuscripts of the entire New Testament. We also have the Institute for Christian Apologetics (with their Defend the Faith conferences), the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry (with their resources for Baptist theology), the Youth Minisry Institute, the Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum (with world class speakers from both sides of an issue), the Center for Archaeological Research (with their groundbreaking dig in Tel Gezer, Israel), and the Leavell Center for Evangelism and Church Health."

4] Your new book with David Allen "The Return of Christ" is coming out when? How is it constructed as far a content?

SWL: "This week, I am (hopefully) finishing editing our new book on Eschatology entitled The Return of Christ: A Premillennial Perspective. My co-editor is David Allen, Dean of the School of Theology at Southwestern Seminary, who was also my co-editor in our book Whosoever Will, which has been very well received (it came out in April, and it's in its fourth printing). Just as Whosoever Will was based on the John 3:16 Conference sponsored by Jerry Vines Ministries (and co-sponsored by NOBTS, SEBTS, SWBTS, MWBTS, Liberty, Luther Rice, and Truett-McConnell), The Return of Christ is built off of the Acts 1:11 Conference held at North Metro FBC in Lawrenceville, GA."
"With a preface by Pastor Frank Cox and sermons by nationally known preachers Jerry Vines and Junior Hill, the first section of the book includes written versions of all the presentations made at the conference, each of which deal with a major aspect of Eschatology in the book of Revelation: Danny Akin (SEBTS), Paige Patterson (SWBTS), Ergun Caner (Liberty), Richard Land (ERLC), and David Allen (SWBTS). Also as we did in Whosoever Will, we also added five articles supplementing the presentations made at the conference. These contributors include Stan Norman (Oklahoma Baptist University), Craig Blaising (SWBTS), Lamar Cooper (Criswell College), Steven Cox (MABTS), and Mike Vlach (the Master's Seminary). Although these contributors from eight different institutions differ on a few details, they all share a pre-tribulational, premillnnial perspective. Broadman and Holman should have it out next year."

Thanks for the opportunity to participate.

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