Land delivers inaugural Ethics & Religious Liberty Lectures

Richard Land delivers inaugural
H. Ray Newman Ethics and Religious Liberty Lectures

by Norm Miller

CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMNEWS)–In honor of a Georgia Baptist statesman, lobbyist and pastor, Truett-McConnell College announced on Nov. 14, 2013, the launch of the endowed “H. Ray Newman Ethics and Religious Liberty Lectures.”

Dr. Richard D. Land — president of Southern Evangelical Seminary* and former head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission – delivered the inaugural lectures January 30 at Truett-McConnell College, both in the chapel and in the classroom.
Land eulogized Newman — who succumbed to a brain tumor Nov. 25, 2013 – as a former trustee of the ERLC under Land’s leadership.

Newman was “a faithful trustee … who was always very supportive, very encouraging” and who worked “hand-in-glove in common concerns” between the Georgia Baptist and Southern Baptist Conventions. “He was truly an Israelite in whom there was no guile. He was a loving, transparent, dedicated man who had given his life to serve the Lord Jesus…. I miss him.”

Newman, who founded the Georgia Citizen Action Project, also served Georgia Southern Baptists as a specialist in ethics and public affairs. He helped pen bills, adopted by the Georgia House and Senate, addressing the social, cultural and moral issues of abortion; embryonic stem cell research; the marriage amendment, defining marriage biblically as one man and one woman for life; the sex slave industry; and using the Bible as textbook in public school classrooms.

As a follower of Jesus Christ and a patriot, he prayed with and counseled members of the Georgia General Assembly and with others considering elective offices.

Land said that, less than a year into his role at Southern Evangelical Seminary — that specializes in apologetics* — he is increasingly convinced that the seminary’s role and function are important “in preparing Christians to give reasonable answers to the honest questions people have. That’s what apologetics is.”

Citing 1 Peter 3.14-15, Land read: “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

Land told students that they were in college to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts” by preparing their minds and hearts “to always be ready to give a reasonable explanation of the hope that lies with in you – the hope that we have in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Our hope and faith are in our “God, who revealed himself as a God of love, mercy, and justice, and who requires that a price be paid for sin, and he paid it himself,” said Land, adding that this is where it begins for Christians.

Noting that “all scripture is God-exhaled” (2 Timothy 3.16), Land said the Bible is “exactly what he intended for us to have … a sure and certain word from God. God has not left us in ignorant about who he is. He has revealed himself to us is Scripture.”

God also revealed himself to pagans (Acts 14.17) through general revelation, or the evidence of himself in the created order. “God’s fingerprints are all over the creation,” Land said.

God also “has left his fingerprints on our hearts — Romans 2 — the law of God written on the conscience,” providing the reason why, Land said, that “every civilization ever discovered had some form of religion” and they all have some way of “making expiation for that intuitive guilt that people feel.”

The law of God written on everyone’s conscience, and the witness of God in creation means that no one has an excuse for not following God because what can be seen of him in Creation.

Nonetheless, some people suppress the truth of what God has shown them, and they are without excuse, Land said.

During the 25 years of Land’s experience in public policy, one of his frustrations has been the way people suppress the truth, particularly regarding abortion.

“Every baby is a human being from conception onward,” he said. “This is not just a statement of theological affirmation; it’s a statement of biological fact.”

A baby’s heart starts beating in 24 days, Land said. “That’s a fact.”

“We’re dealing with a human being,” he added. “And it should be clear and obvious to any rational person that this is the truth.”

Given the satanic influence in the world, Land said such facts are ignored by choice, indicating that “we’re not dealing with just a cognitive problem; we’re dealing with a volitional issue.”

Land said: “It’s not that people don’t understand. Often, they do understand, but they hold down the truth in unbelief.”

The answer is for Christians to be salt and light in the world as Jesus commanded, but Christians cannot be such if they remain sequestered behind the church’s four walls, waiting until it’s “time to go up and be with Jesus,” he said.

“If we are going to be the salt of the earth, we’ve got to come into contact with the world. We got to go out there and make the case,” Land said. “Be always ready to give a reasonable explanation of the hope that lies within you.”

Citing the Lord’s command for Christians to be the light of the world, Land said believers need to be close enough to others that “they can see the light and feel the heat.”

Land warned, however, that believers should be concerned if “all men speak well of you because there’s something in the gospel of Jesus Christ to offend all fallen flesh sooner or later.”

Christians are to confront evil the same way Wilberforce confronted the slave trade, and the way “Dr. King confronted us to give up our ‘Southern way’ of life that was antithetical to, and a blasphemous imitation of the gospel,” Land said. These struggles are not against people, per se, but against Satan and his forces, he added. “It is spiritual warfare.”

Saying that the U.S. “is living under the judgment of God,” Land noted: “Why would we expect otherwise? We have been practicing child sacrifice for the last 41 years. We have allowed 57 million babies to be killed [and have] seen a 30 percent death rate between conception and birth.”

“Great spiritual and political leadership is a sign of God’s blessing on a nation,” Land said. “Its absence is a sign of God’s judgment.”

God’s people, who behave and believe as God intends, “will have no trouble in pulling down the stronghold that is Planned Parenthood … or the gay and lesbian marriage movement in the United States,” said Land, referencing 2 Corinthians 10.4.

“You’re the hope for the future,” Land challenged students. “I’m counting on you to lead us out of the darkness that my generation has put us in, and to lead us into the light.”

Land recalled standing outside the largest abortuary in the U.S. in Houston, Texas, in a rally with numerous young people, who carried signs that read: “We survived Roe; Roe won’t survive us.”

“May it be so. May it be soon,” Land said. “Make Roe end up where it belongs – on the trash heap of history. God bless you, and God bless America.”

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*Southern Baptist Evangelical Seminary has a free app that has the very best in Christian apologetics. Articles, Audio, Video, Blogs, and more from today’s best defenders of the Christian Faith… Including William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, William Dembski, Frank Turek, Hugh Ross, Dinesh D’Souza, Gary Habermas, and many more. Download the app HERE.

To watch a video of Dr. Land’s sermon, click HERE.