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Get ready. It's one of America's most important, influential, and respected voices on cultural and political issues. An apologist, Christian political advocate, and author, here is the founder and chairman of the Citizens for America Foundation, Dr. Chris Hughes.
I'm Chris Hughes. Welcome to Christian Perspective, where we look in God's Word in order to develop a Christian worldview and modern culture. The show is brought to you by the Citizens for America Foundation from the Christian Perspective studios on the campus of Mid-America College and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Well, welcome back, folks. We talk every day about biblical worldview, and if you listen to the show at all, you know that we want to encourage you to develop a biblical worldview and then take that into the world as you represent Jesus. And a worldview is just the lens through which we see the world. As Christians, we should see the world through the lens of the Bible. You know, that can be hard today, today in high school and particularly in college.
It's hard to find a college where you can go to school and know that you're grounded in God's Word and learn about the sufficiency of Scripture and the importance of seeing the world through the lens of the Bible. My guest today is Dr. Michael Spradlin. Dr. Spradlin, I love him. I got to know him a few months ago. He's a preacher, he is a Bible teacher, he's a church planner, a former missionary, military chaplain. I learned that he plays the trombone, and he is a marathon runner. And for those of you who've seen me speaking at conferences, you know this short, fat guy is not a marathon runner, but he's my hero.
I'd like to be like him, so maybe he can give me some training tips along the way. But he's chair of the evangelism department, he's a professor of evangelism and church history, and he is the president of a college and seminary called Mid-America College and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Spradlin, thank you so much for joining us on The Christian Perspective today. Well, Chris, it is an honor to be on the show, and I'm so excited to be here, and we love what you are doing, your ministry, Citizens for America. It's really, it's a fantastic ministry and program, and it's really a treat to get to be with you and to spend some time with you and your listeners today. Well, thank you, and for those of you who don't know, we have recently opened up our national headquarters on the campuses of Mid-America, and they are just a great and growing Christian institution right outside of Memphis, Tennessee.
It's a great place to get barbecue and a great place to come and learn about the Lord. So Dr. Spradlin, before we start talking about the school, tell us a little bit about your background. You've done so many different things. Tell us a little bit about who you are. Okay, so I go by Mike and married to Leanne. We have three children, David, Thomas, and Laura, all are grown.
Our two older boys are married. Our daughter Laura is engaged to be married later in 2022, and so, but we are, we think of ourselves as a regular family, but I do do a lot of activities, but I grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas after, I was born in Ohio, but Little Rock is home. My parents are still living, and they're there, and so went to high school, went to college, went to a Baptist college in Arkansas. At the time, it wasn't a really strong Bible-believing school. It's much better today than it was back then, and that really kind of compelled me to seek, you know, a school that was a little stronger on scripture, and so that's what drew me as a student of Mid-America. I was called to preach at the age of 16.
I'd been saved at 15, a teenager, some friends at school invited me to go to a church, and it was a small southern Baptist church on the outskirts of Little Rock, Arkansas. Can I interrupt you there for a minute, Dr. Spradlin? Let me interrupt you there, because that's such an important point that I want our listeners to hear. You said, and I didn't know this before just now, that somebody invited you to church, and you got saved as a result of that, and that's something I really encourage people to do today. Not many people invite their friends and co-workers or people they go to school with to go to church, but y'all, it is so important. You know, anybody can invite somebody, just say, hey, we're having a youth gathering, or we're going to have pizza at church, or we have supper at church on Wednesday nights, but literally, inviting somebody to church can really change their lives, and many people come to Jesus because of that. I didn't mean to interrupt you, but it just jumped out at me, it's such an important thing that we need to do, is invite others to come to church.
I'm sorry, go ahead, Dr. Spradlin. No, no, and it was a huge thing because church wasn't really on our radar. My family, they're very involved in church now, but they were out of church at the time, and so some friends said, come with us, and it was kind of a youth event, and I heard the pastor preach, and I really don't remember the sermon, but I just knew that there was something terribly wrong in my life, and then over the next few weeks I realized I needed Jesus, and so Ed Edmondson was the name of this pastor, and he led me to Christ after a Sunday night church service. He came over and talked to me, and he said, would you just answer your question, do you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? And I said, no sir, but I really want to, and he said, well let's just talk, and he talked with me, and we got on our knees and prayed, and it's the best thing that ever happened to me.
Wow, what a testimony. So important also for pastors, I know you're in the business of training pastors now, and I know you do this at your seminary, but a lot of seminaries are not teaching pastors today to intentionally share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now don't just preach a feel-good sermon, but always, always, every time I preach, Dr. Spradlin, I know you probably do this too, I always give somebody the opportunity to get to know the Lord, because you never know how the Holy Spirit might be moving at that moment, and it's important for pastors to always give an intentional invitation to allow others to have the opportunity to come to know Jesus. Chris, I think that is a really, really good point, and yes, you know, we preach the gospel, we preach the Bible, we preach the truth of God, but you want to make it clear, because when we see our Lord Jesus in ministry in the gospels, and we see the apostles in Acts, they're inviting people to come to Christ, and so they're not just preaching and ending it, they're giving that call, and so I think it's important. So I was saved, I surrendered to preach at the age of 16, and started preaching then, and so it's been a wonderful thing. I'm very thankful that those early sermons have been lost to history, I hope no one ever finds them, it'd be pretty embarrassing if we looked at it.
There was no YouTube back then, you didn't have to worry about what was going to be on the internet. Exactly, that's exactly right, so thankful for that, but went to Mid-America, got a Master of Divinity and a PhD degree in Old Testament and Hebrew, and so, and then went as a church planter with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, called the Home Mission Board back in the day, did that for several years, and then came back in the early 90s to join the faculty at Mid-America. Our founder, Dr. Allison, invited me to come back, and then after a year on faculty at our main campus in Memphis, Tennessee, I was asked to pray about moving to head up our work in New York, at upstate New York, that time we had a residential campus there, and so we lived there for three years, and then when our founder retired, the Lord just put it on the board's heart, I was invited to be the second president, so I've been president for a little over 24 years now. Wow, so when was the school actually founded?
So Mid-America was started in 1972. There had been a group of men that had been praying probably for a decade that there would be a school that really emphasized personal evangelism, that this idea where it's a requirement, it's not just a subject in one class, but it's part of the culture of the whole school, and this burden to take the gospel to the nations would be kind of part of the culture of the school as well, and so this vision that they had, and Dr. Gray Allison was a great visionary and great leader, it was really something the Lord put on his heart. He had seen a real revival at another seminary he'd been involved with, which was a great school and is a great school, and he had seen what happened when they kind of instituted this practical missions program, this requirement that you share the gospel on average once a week with the Word of God in a genuine attempt to lead someone to Christ, and so he thought, and that school had kind of moved away from that, he thought you know somebody needs to pick up that mantle, and eventually after years of praying with some other people that were like-minded, they felt like, well we just need to start a school, and so in 1972 Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary was started originally in Little Rock, Arkansas for various different reasons. A church there invited the school to use their facilities, and then Adrian Rogers, who was the longtime pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, talked to Dr. Allison asking pray about moving the seminary to Memphis, and so in 1975 the school relocated to Memphis to purchase some facilities in the downtown Memphis area, and as they say, the rest is history. Wow, what a story, and God really opened up opportunities for you, particularly with the connection to Dr. Adrian Rogers, who is just one of my heroes, one of the greatest preachers I think that ever lived, and a strong man of God.
A testimony to what he is doing is even though he's been dead for many years, his radio ministry is still powerful and playing around the world really today as many pastors learn from his style of preaching and the importance of evangelism. Well Dr. Spradlin, so when the campuses moved to Memphis, at that time you were still just a seminary, right? That's correct, so at that time it was just a seminary. We did have an undergraduate degree from the beginning, an associate's degree for somebody that maybe was called into the ministry later in life and then you know wanted to come get some theological education but couldn't go all the way through and get a master's degree, so we've always had that and then we had expanded that a little bit, but it was really in just in the last five years that we've moved into more a college degree and so even though it's one institution, we function as a theological seminary for people that are headed for vocational ministry, but we also now have the College of Mid-America to kind of expand our offerings and we hope that, and it's proven true, the college is a feeder for the seminary. As people want to go into graduate theological education, they can go right here and so it's been a real great blessing and we've been able to expand some of our degree offerings and even though we try to focus on the main things, Christian studies, business, organizational leadership, biblical counseling, we'll probably add new degrees to the college in the future. We have a full range of seminary degrees all the way through the PhD program and so it's been a great thing just to see what God has done. The degrees are all fully accredited and offered not only residentially but online as well because that's kind of where the world is moving. Yeah, I'm glad you pointed out that they're accredited because a lot of people listening I think have the impression that Christian education is not as good or not accredited and that's simply not true. You have a great institution there and you are accredited and your students are coming out are really changing the world. It's so exciting. I mean, we feel so personally invested in our graduates and watching them go around the world, around the country and a lot of times our graduates, they're not headed for maybe the biggest name churches but they're headed for places that don't have the gospel and that's one of the things that's a real joy for us is just seeing this passion to take the gospel to the end of the earth, to go maybe where others don't want to go but they want to go and they want to preach and teach and minister in those places, maybe some of the out of the way places.
Well folks, you're listening to The Christian Perspective. Our guest today is Dr. Michael Stradlin. We're going to take a quick commercial break. When we come back, we're going to talk about online learning and then we're going to delve into the world of biblical worldview. We'll be right back. We'll be right back. We'll be right back. We'll be right back. We'll be right back. We'll be right back.
Welcome back to The Christian Perspective. If you're just joining us, our guest today is Dr. Michael Stradlin. Dr. Stradlin is the President of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary based in Memphis, Tennessee and he's been telling us a little bit about the history of the school. Dr. Stradlin, now I want to talk to you a little bit about online learning because I know as, I have two kids in college right now and after March of 2020 when COVID just went crazy and school started sending people home, I'm not sure if y'all sent people home or your students stayed, but really the world of education changed in many ways because students had to begin to learn online and in the past I think there was kind of a negative feeling in years past of online learning but that's not the case anymore. Really you can get a great education but from what I've heard, Mid-America was really ahead of the curve with online learning. Can you tell us a little bit about your online program and how things changed after COVID hit in 2020 and what people can expect with online learning in the future?
Well, yeah, I'm not sure we were ahead of the curve because there are some other great institutions that really pioneered online learning. Back in the old days, because I've been around a long time now, the mail order education was what was really looked down upon and things like that, but distance learning has been growing in credibility and for a lot of different reasons because we live in a much more tech savvy age and things like that and also for many other factors, but we had moved into online learning because there was a demand for it and we were trying to reach a wider audience and so we've been involved with online learning and had our degree programs already accredited for 100% online delivery and so when the pandemic first hit and the regional health department began to ask people to shut down, we did close down our residential programming that initial part of the pandemic and so we finished out a semester online and then that fall we came back residentially, but we had a lot of safety protocols in place with distancing and mask and things like that and so those are now more recommendations than requirements, but we were already online and I'm very thankful that we were because it really accelerated this trend to people getting an education online. I will say this, for ministry training where people's skills are really important, we're still a little concerned that there's something about mentoring people and the discipling aspect of theological education especially, that in-person approach is very, very necessary. Even with our online learning in the northeast where we've continued to have a presence, we have a program where we have a mentor that meets with our online students and to just to kind of be maybe more of a pastoral help to them and they don't, they're not helping them with their homework, but we call it the mentored online virtual education, MOVE or M-O-V-E or MOVE, and I've been really excited to see that develop because it kind of gives you online learning and the accessibility there, but also that personal touch which is still important. Yes sir, and I agree particularly for pastors, you know, they need to learn how to interact with people and love on people and with the program that you were discussing in our first segment, we were talking about how you have a requirement, I guess, that is kind of unique to your college and your seminary that students witness and that's hard to do if they're online, you know, I think it's better to be together and be with your colleagues and going out in groups and telling others about Jesus. Do you still have campus, you mentioned you have a presence northeast, do you have branch campuses around the country?
So at the moment we're just online, so the northeast, we had a branch campus there, but with all of our degrees being online we moved all those students over to 100% virtual and so we might on occasion have what we might call a teaching site where we offer a class or something like that, but at the moment we've just focused on our main campus, Memphis, Tennessee as the residential approach and then you can access our online materials from anywhere in the world and so that's really been where we've kept that focus. Yeah, well I know a big part of your curriculum, just walking around campus and talking with some of the students and seeing some of the things hanging on the walls there at your main campus in Memphis, the biblical worldview is a big part of what you're trying to teach your students at Mid-America and that's a big focus of our ministry at Citizens for America Foundation as well as trying to encourage Christians to develop a biblical worldview and then to take that worldview into the world and specifically in our case we're trying to encourage people to take that into the arena of public policy and politics and try to change some of the legislation and things that are going on in our country right now. What role does biblical worldview take in what's happening at Mid-America? Are your professors intentional about teaching biblical worldview?
What are y'all doing and how do you do it? So biblical worldview, the idea that you see to me it's what you do is so important because it's you're helping people see things from God's point of view and that is where you have this understanding of scripture guides our thinking, not the whatever is considered to be the popular trends of the day or whatever. It also allows you to analyze these things in the world and know which things are actually contrary to the word of God and so biblical worldview to me is the application of knowing the Bible.
It's good to know all the facts of the Bible, that's great, but the problem is that if you have a lot of Bible information but it doesn't affect your life, it doesn't affect your worldview, what have you got? And so this is why ministry like yours is so important because you're helping to equip people to bring their faith into their world and to realize that culture is sinful because it's made up of sinful people but what's the solution? The solution is scripture and so we want to make all of our classes really focused on this is that how to live as a believer in a world in a sense every New Testament Christian today is a cross-cultural missionary because we live in a counter-Christian culture. It's not just different, it's actually negative. Christianity is the problem in some people's minds and so how do you deal with that? How do you live in the public square? How do you engage whether it's in politics or business and maintain your faith and function and also be a witness for Christ and all that? So yeah you're right, it's really really important and it's probably where Christianity in the North America and especially the U.S. has really been weakest because...
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