Published on September 11, 2018 by Kristen Padilla  
Fall 2018 Opening Convo

“Something has gone wrong in our culture. On this much, people across this country, who cannot seem to agree with much of anything, seem to agree.”

David S. Dockery, president of Trinity International University, addressed those gathered on Tuesday, Sept. 4, in Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel for Beeson Divinity School’s Opening Convocation on the topic, “Community and Belonging: The Church in a Time of Fragmentation.”  

The fragmentation of our culture is the result of a breakdown of community and loss of meaning and purpose of life, he said.

“Many Christ followers are more and more like the culture we now inhabit. We’ve inverted Jesus’ dictum and become of the world but not in the world.

“In this way the Beeson community has a unique opportunity to be a grace-filled voice in and for a fragmented world to help establish a credible Christian presence in places that are often hostile to the gospel.”

Dockery called those gathered for convocation to “live between gospel and culture” as it seeks to build authentic community based on the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

“We need new commitments to prioritize the gospel, the Scriptures and the best of the Christian tradition as our guide,” he said. “What is needed is a biblical orthodoxy, a historic, apostolic and catholic Christianity, a faithful intercultural, transcontinental, interdenominational and intergenerational evangelicalism. Such a proposal, however, will need prayerful wisdom on our part to avoid unintentionally moving in the direction of an unhealthy inclusiveness or a heterodoxical universalism.”

Opening Convocation marked the beginning of Beeson Divinity School’s 30th year as well as George’s 30th and last year as its dean.

“I remember 30 years ago when this entity was launched hidden away in a wing by Reid Chapel,” said Dockery. “Look what God has done in bringing us together in this place.” 

Samford University President Andrew Westmoreland also acknowledged this significant milestone in his welcome. “Dr. George, we appreciate you so much and we love you and we are grateful for all you’ve done through this place over these years.”

Almost 30 years ago, when George was installed as dean of Beeson Divinity, he, too, like Dockery, recognized the fragmentation of culture and the divinity school’s calling and role in the midst of it. 

“We would be less than honest if we did not acknowledge that the Beeson Divinity School is born in a time of great controversy and strife,” George said in his installation speech. “In an age of secularism and relativism, we do not declare theological neutrality. Let it be said for all posterity to hear that we stand without reservation for the total truthfulness of Holy Scripture and the great principles of historic Christian orthodoxy. On these essential values we cannot and we will not compromise. 

“In the lingo of contemporary labels, we will be neither a haven for disaffected liberalism nor a bastion of raucous fundamentalism," he continued. "We will be evangelical but also ecumenical, conservative but not irresponsible, confessional yet interdenominational."

"Above all, I pray that we might be a school where heart and head go hand in hand, where the love of God and pursuit of truth join forces in the formation of men and women, called by God, empowered by His Holy Spirit, equipped for the ministry of His church, sent forth into the world to bear witness to the grace of God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, whom to know is life eternal."

Watch the Opening Convocation service.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.