We are often asked, “What are the real distinctions of Southern Evangelical Seminary? We know you believe in the inerrancy of Holy Scripture and you are Evangelical in doctrine and theology. We also know you are committed to evangelism and missions. Such things are true of dozens of seminaries. What makes SES unique?”
That is an excellent question. Certainly, there are many wonderful institutions today that offer training in theology and apologetics. There are very few, however, that offer the integrated training in theology, philosophy, and apologetics found here. At SES, apologetics is much more than just a class or two.
Regardless of your particular vocation or ministry context, sound theology that is undergirded with good philosophy and apologetics is a must for doing the heavy lifting of removing obstacles so that people can come to Christ. This deep and unique integration of theology, philosophy, and apologetics woven throughout each SES class will help you form a complete and systematic Christian world view. Such systematic thinking will equip you to more effectively proclaim the Gospel, engage the culture, and defend the Truth. As one SES student noted, “If I knew a fraction of what I know now, it could have saved me from 10 years of atheism, and what I know now is only a fraction of what SES has to offer. I was looking for answers that no one could give me, and then I found SES.”
SES firmly holds to the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s Word, our final authority for faith and practice. We also hold to the “classical” view of the attributes of God and what it means to be a human being. Our studies of philosophy and apologetics are not ends in themselves. Rather, such studies provide the tools for effective discipleship and persuasive evangelism in a very confused culture. As SES professor Dr. Richard Howe says, “Good theology is essential to good discipleship.”
Built largely on the philosophical foundations laid by Thomas Aquinas, SES maintains that certain philosophical truths are essential for both theology and apologetics. This “classical” Christian thinking has largely been abandoned today, and the church has suffered because of it. Without a proper view of reality, an answer to the skeptic, and a clear understanding of objective goodness, one’s ability to properly explain biblical truth and the nature of God will be compromised. Good philosophy, however, enables us to build powerful arguments for the existence of God and His creative activity in addition to the objectivity of truth, morality, and biblical interpretation.
As SES co-founder Dr. Norman Geisler once said: “Apologetics is simply to defend the faith and thereby destroy arguments and every proud obstacle against the knowledge of God. It is opening the door, clearing the rubble, and getting rid of the hurdles so that people can come to Christ.” In short, we believe apologetics is simply loving people enough to answer their honest questions. SES is committed to the classical apologetics approach of meeting people where they are as we seek to lead them to the cross. We believe general revelation (e.g., creation) and special revelation (e.g., the Bible) combine to give us the evidence that reveals the truth of Christ’s redemptive work as Savior.
When I started at SES, I was not particularly happy that I had to retake [systematic theology courses] that I had already taken at a prior seminary. However, when I began taking the classes, it quickly became evident that SES approached systematics in a unique way. It was my first exposure to the examination of how non-Christian philosophies can be integrated into Christian thought. We saw this with Augustine and Plato, as well as Aquinas and Aristotle. The SES approach of integrating ‘all God’s truth’ into a Christian systematic theology was one of my most formative experiences at SES.SES Alumnus
SES President Emeritus Dr. Richard Land says, “Over the years, it has become increasingly clear to me that the way we will spell evangelism, discipleship, missions, and Christian education in the 21st century is apologetics. Among evangelical institutions, SES uniquely infuses classical apologetics and philosophy throughout each of our programs to serve this end. Since its founding in 1992, SES has maintained its dual commitment to evangelism and apologetics. Hundreds of SES graduates are proclaiming and defending the Christian faith from the pulpit, the mission field, on campus, and in the business world. Will you be next among them?”
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