We begin another semester with a mixture of gratefulness to our Lord as well as grief and lament at the pain and suffering in the world around us. Here at DTS, we welcome a wonderful new group of students, men and women from all over the world, called by God to study His Word and serve His Church. By God’s grace, our enrollment is strong, and we have some exciting new hires on the horizon.
And yet our hearts are also heavy with the loss of a great saint, Dr. Donald K. Campbell, the third president of Dallas Theological Seminary. To me, he was a dear friend and mentor, but for many others, he was a quiet warrior who opened doors that were previously closed to them. As Academic Dean, Dr. Campbell oversaw the admission of the first African-American and female students to DTS, and he advocated in word and deed for the dignity and infinite worth of every image bearer, male and female, from every race, ethnicity, and country.
Reports continue to circulate about the vulgar language reported to come from behind closed doors to describe nations and/or the people of those nations, and the life circumstances in which others reside. We may never know the precise words and context; only God really knows the intentions of the heart. But this much we do know: divisive and disparaging language is always far from the heart of God. As one leading a biblical conservative evangelical seminary comprised of an ethnically diverse and international student body, I find disrespectful terminology directed toward any country or people deeply disturbing. To our current, former, and prospective students, I would like to apologize on behalf of our country for these offensive remarks.
Speaking about the precarious use of the tongue, James writes, “With [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:8-9). God loves all people from all nations because all have been created in His image. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people, and the Kingdom of God knows no national preference.
We at DTS want to continually affirm and live out the Bible’s consistent message of God’s love for ethnic diversity and equal justice for every person. Justice is not merely a political concept. It is a deeply biblical idea that shows us how we are to relate to one other under the Great Commandment and what makes for pleasing God. We all have much to learn in this area, and we know that Scripture shows us the way forward.
And as we live in difficult days with much division, we must guard our words and use language that is God-honoring and Christ-centered. There are no “closed doors” to God. He hears all—and He also knows our heart’s intent.
May our lives and our language reflect these biblical values as we grieve over the needs of our country and pray for its leaders at every level.
This statement was part of a chapel message from Dr. Bailey: