Dr. Richard Land

Praying for an Historic South Carolina Church

June 22, 2015

Southern Evangelical Seminary President Dr. Richard Land Says Christians Are Called to be Ministers of Reconciliation

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Police have apprehended a 21-year-old suspect who opened fire at a prayer meeting at an historic African-American church in South Carolina last night, where nine people were killed, including the church’s 41-year-old pastor, Clementa Pinckney, also a State Senator.

Dr. Richard Land, President of Southern Evangelical Seminary (www.ses.edu), a leader in apologetics education, said Christians should pray for the church, the community and the country, but also for the wisdom and compassion to stand up as the ambassadors of reconciliation God has called us to be (2 Cor. 5:1-21).

Land has already spoken to radio media this morning about the tragedy: “Last night’s horrific events in South Carolina immediately reminded me of 1963 when white supremacists blew up little girls on a Sunday morning when they were in church in Birmingham,” Land said. “This shows the deep depravity of the human heart, that this young man could sit for one hour in church and then open fire, killing nine people—six of them women,” Land said. “We need to understand that God calls us to be ministers of reconciliation. And we need to pray for the victims and their families and for the perpetrator, obviously a person moved to perverse actions by the evil in his heart.

“I was profoundly influenced by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his marvelous Christian witness against racism and hatred,” Land continued. “I vividly remember after one incident of racial violence that Dr. King so powerfully said, ‘Those you want to change you must first love.’ I thought, ‘If Dr. King can love bigots, then I can love bigots.’ We need to heed his ministerial admonition. We should not harbor hatred in our hearts for anyone. Certainly, we should loathe and detest the root of what perpetrated this act, not the person, someone for whom Jesus died. As Christians across America, we must denounce evil and wickedness, but we must ask our Heavenly Father to cultivate within us the spirit of the Prophet Jeremiah, who denounced the sin and depravity that was bringing God’s judgment on his country. He was known as the ‘weeping prophet’ because he preached with a catch in his voice and a tear in his eye, as he grieved over the suffering and pain being caused by the people’s sin. So must we speak to our country.”

Land added that the church is being referred to as “historic” for its storied place in the formation of America. Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1816 when several parishioners broke off from a Christian Methodist Episcopal church. One of the founders, Denmark Vesey, led a slave revolt in 1822. Vesey, along with 34 others, was executed, and the church was burned to the ground in revenge for the revolt.  The church members continued to worship underground and surreptitiously until after the Civil War. It is also interesting to note that Dr. King preached at Emanuel AME Church during his tragically brief ministry among us. 

SES is a leader in apologetics education—teaching students to defend their faith and talk intelligently, passionately and rationally about what they believe and why they believe it. Many courses focus on societal issues from a Christian worldview, delve into scientific apologetics or contemplate creation research.

SES’s 22nd annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics will be hosted by Calvary Church in Charlotte on Oct. 16-17, 2015, with the theme, “Ideas Have Consequences: The Bigger the Idea, the Bigger the Consequence.” In addition to Dr. Land, confirmed speakers include Josh McDowell, Dr. Jay Richards, Dr. Hugh Ross, Dr. Norman Geisler and Dr. Paige Patterson.

Land is featured in his nationally syndicated daily radio commentary, “Bringing Every Thought Captive,” which airs on 200 stations on the American Family Radio Network and 100 stations on the Bott Radio Network. “Bringing Every Thought Captive” is also podcast daily on the free SES mobile app and airs locally in the Charlotte, N.C., area every weekday. The “Bringing Every Thought Captive” television program, hosted by Land, debuted in January on the NRB Network, and airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and midnight EST. This spring, it began airing on the Total Living Network, reaching nearly 2 million households in the Chicago area. For more information about stations, times, downloads and more, visit www.ses.edu/about-us/bringing-every-thought-captive.

Land has taught as a visiting or adjunct professor for several seminaries and has authored or edited more than 15 books. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford University in England and his bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) from Princeton University. Land also earned a Master of Theology (Honors Program) degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he received the Broadman Seminarian Award as the Outstanding Graduating Student. Dr. Land was the 2013 Watchman Award recipient from the Family Research Council for his leadership on moral and cultural issues. He also received the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth from Biola University in 2010. Land served previously (1988-2013) as president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention’s official entity assigned to address social, moral and ethical concerns, with particular attention to their impact on American families. In 2014, he was appointed as a Senior Research Fellow of the ERLC’s Research Institute, and in 2015, he was named in the top 15 of Newsmax’s “Top 100 Christian Leaders in America.”

Southern Evangelical Seminary invites visitors to its web site to join the more than 20,000 people who have already downloaded the SES Apologetics App for Windows mobile devices and Android and Apple phones and tablets. Those with the app can get the very best news and information in Christian apologetics, including articles, audio, video, blogs and more from today’s most able defenders of the Christian faith—William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, William Dembski, Frank Turek, Hugh Ross, Gary Habermas and other well-known speakers, authors and teachers.

Southern Evangelical Seminary has been ranked as the top graduate program for General Christian Apologetics by TheBestSchools.org’s “Top 10 Graduate Programs in Christian Apologetics.”

For more information on SES, visit its web site at www.ses.edu or its Facebook page, follow the SES Twitter feed, @sesapologetics, or call (800) 77-TRUTH. For more information about "Ethics in Emerging Technology," visit www.ethics.ses.edu.

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For information on SES or to set up an interview, contact Deborah Hamilton at 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096, ext. 102, or Beth Harrison, 610-584-1096, ext. 104Media@HamiltonStrategies.com.

Southern Evangelical Seminary is a leader in apologetics education—teaching students to defend their faith and talk intelligently, passionately and rationally about what they believe and why they believe it. The accredited Christian college and seminary offers a wide variety of bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees. Programs can be completed through residence in the Charlotte area or online. The award-winning education at SES is distinctively Christian and focused on evangelism and world-engaging defense of the Christian faith—Christian Apologetics.