A very influential pastor in my life was somewhat against theological education. It was his opinion that such an education could actually put out a pastor’s fire for evangelism. Though I did not agree, he must have influenced me a little. For several years as a pastor I served on the basis of personal study and the training in bible that I received from Howard Payne. As I stated in an earlier blog, I commuted to Ft. Worth and then later to San Antonio to take courses in Southwestern Seminary. I really cherry picked those courses since I was not so interested in a Master’s degree as in filling in my perceived gaps in education. I was not seeking to climb a professional ladder, but to be effective wherever I went and whatever I did.
It was in Baird that the Lord opened a great door for me in theological education. Russel Dilday and Jessie Fletcher were collaborating about a plan to allow graduate theological studies at Hardin Simmons. Their plan included the opportunity to transfer hours from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to Logsdon and vice versa. Being only twenty miles from Abilene, I was elated. I was in the first group of graduate students at Hardin Simmons. These were the beginning years of what is now Logsdon Seminary. The work there was on an academic level and courses were heavy on reading books and writing papers about what you had read. This is a perfect way for me to learn. I do not learn nearly so much from lectures as I do from reading. When they looked at my transcripts, they invited me to become a graduate assistant. This meant that I could do research, grade papers, and occasionally cover for professors in their classes. I received a small stipend for my work and my courses were paid for. This helped greatly and proved to be a perfect part time job to supplement my salary at FBC Baird. In case you were wondering if the church suffered because of this, many people who were there then can not even remember that I did this. It folded so neatly into my study time that it did not hinder my work at all. I should also admit that in those days I did not know what a day off was. To my regret, I worked constantly and my family patiently put up with my schedule. Once again I need to say that God gave me the perfect mate in Shannon. She has shown me so much grace through the years.
I wrote a graduate thesis to complete my degree. It is a published work under the title, THE ANATOMY OF APOSTASY: A STUDY OF HEBREWS 6: 4-6 IN THE CONTEXT OF THE EPISTLE. There are only a few copies since I never republished the work. This degree is an academic degree. It is the kind of degree that a professor might pursue. Because of the nature of this degree, I was readily accepted as an adjunct professor of Howard Payne when we moved to Kingsville. The school I taught for is now called the South Texas School of Christian Studies. In those days it was called the Baptist Learning Center. Courses there earned the students credit at Howard Payne in Brownwood, Texas. The campus was and is on Corpus Christi bay in Corpus Christi, Texas. It is a beautiful location adjacent to Texas A & M Corpus Christi. I taught Pastoral Ministry, Evangelism, Church History, and Basic Christian Doctrine. Many of my students were Hispanic pastors. Several were of other denominations. Theological education opportunities in South Texas are rare and there is a great need for this work. A former staff member from Crestview, Tony Celleli, is the president of the South Texas School of Christian Studies. Tony served Crestview in the areas of youth and education during my first three years at Crestview. He is doing a masterful job of continuing the work of that school. His wife, Deanne, provides valuable assistance in that ministry.
I should summarize this blog by saying that I can wear the hat of an evangelist, professor, pastor, or missionary because of my background. The missionary hat became mine while at Baird, but that is another story.