The BJU School of Religion and BJU Seminary hosted the first inaugural Bell Prize reading. The event served to recognize longtime Seminary Professor Robert Bell’s passion for Christian scholarship. Providing guidance along the way, three Seminary professors—Dr. Ken Casillas, Dr. Layton Talbert and Dr. Eric Newton—selected three academic papers from the undergraduate competition to be read by their authors.
Jackson Lawson, a junior Bible major and the first student to read his paper, explored the question of which elements are essential for constituting a local church. Particularly of interest to Jackson was the mark of church discipline: Is it necessary to discipline in order to be a true church or not? In answering his key question, Jackson analyzed several key texts and the relevant secondary literature on the subject.
Tim Martin, a freshman Cross-Cultural Service major, followed Jackson and examined the biblical teaching and contemporary practice of corporate confession. His purpose in his paper, “Still Wearing Fig Leaves,” was to call the church to the practice of continual confession. Martin based his findings on the teachings of James 5 and several Greek and Hebrew words. He concluded with several practical applications for church leaders to consult.
Matt Mason, a senior Bible major and winner of the Bell Prize, closed the reading with his excellent work, “Does Yahweh Fear Yahweh?” Mason proposed that modern Christians do not take the Old Testament injunction to fear the Lord seriously enough. Mason argued that fearing God was not merely a command for the Old Testament. Rather, the Son of God Himself consciously feared God, in accordance with the expectations of Messianic prophecies.
In cosponsoring the Bell Prize, the Seminary has reiterated its commitment to foster an atmosphere of top-level scholarship. Consequently, all three finalists will receive a free book, a free seminary class and a small cash prize. In addition, Mason will receive a software package from Logos Bible Software. During this event, Nathan Schweitzer also received the Biblical Greek Award.
All of the papers prompted lively discussion, and Dr. Cushman, assistant dean of the seminary, closed the event, encouraging the School of Religion community to persevere in their academic work. To access the papers from this event, click the links below.
Originally published on the BJU Seminary website