SWBTS Chapel: Abuse of power

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 5.20.58 PMThe first week of March 1977, the senior pastor of Atlanta’s historic Second Ponce de Leon, Russell Dilday was invited to preach a series of chapel sermons for a pastors’ conference at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  In his sermon on Mar. 6 — nearly a year before his installation as president of the Fort Worth seminary, Dilday preached a message entitled, “Power: How to abuse it and how to lose it.”

When we visited Southwestern’s campus several weeks ago, one of the seminary’s preaching professors was kind enough to give us a tour of the new preaching library. During that visit, the professor made one request: “Put in a good word for Southwestern.”

Glad to.

The digital chapel archives at Southwestern Seminary are of extraordinary value to students of homiletics, pastors, churches, and anybody who just loves to listen to sermons.  There are sermons from a 20-something L. Russ Bush and Billy Graham. There are sermons by J.D. Grey and J.D. Greear. You’ll find women preachers and those who oppose women preachers. You can listen to a circa 1970s Jerry Rankin, and a 1960s-era Fred Swank. There are evangelists like Arthur Blessitt and Bailey Smith, and ethicists like Foy Valentine and Bill Pinson, and pulpit masters like Adrian Rogers and Joel Gregory.

The only sermon we can’t find is the 2006 sermon of Arlington pastor, Dwight McKissic. Does it bother anybody else that the only sermon still blacklisted from the seminary’s sermon archive is one from a then-sitting trustee who publicly opposed IMB policies that are now obsolete? And that the only reason they are still banned is because a now-terminated president didn’t like what he had to say?

It should.

But the sermons that have caught our attention most recently are those by Dr. Russell Dilday. Hearing these message, which span the length of his tenure right up to the year of his termination, is not only fascinating, it gives a little more perspective about why so many students were stunned, angry, and confused when it all went down in the Spring of 1994.

In the 1977 sermon on the abuse of power, Dilday preaches through the life of Samson, the Old Testament judge who in one final act of faith brought down the Temple of Dagon and killed himself in the process.

In any event, we heartily commend the Southwestern Seminary digital archive of chapel sermons.

2 thoughts on “SWBTS Chapel: Abuse of power

  1. I started at SWBTS in ’95 and left in ’05. So I knew little to nothing of Dilday. But this sermon from 1977 is good stuff. I’ve known my fair share of leaders who needed to hear this message. Repeatedly.

  2. Thanks for posting the link to Dr. Dilday’s message. I was privileged to earn my Mdiv from SWBTS in 1987, before he was fired and prior to the dismantling of an excellent faculty. In many ways, the message captures all that was good about Southwestern in those days: scholarship, passion, Christ-centeredness, authenticity and class.

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