Jonathan Soder, Assistant Faith Editor
David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, will speak at chapel on Bison Hill today at 10 a.m. after years of being sought out by Spiritual Life administration. Platt’s visit highlighted the overall missional purpose of the university, present and past.
Platt’s most direct influence on many students comes from his 2010 book “Radial.” Associate professor of applied ministry Dr. Scott Pace even incorporates Platt’s book into his curriculum for vocation and calling.
“I believe “Radical” serves as an introduction to a proper understanding of missions as a natural byproduct of faithful obedience to Christ,” Pace said. “Because of OBU’s commitment to mobilizing students in global outreach initiatives, it is a helpful tool that clarifies and compliments our efforts.”
Freshman pastoral ministries major Collyn Dixon, currently in Pace’s vocation and calling class, got a better understanding of Platt’s motivations after reading “Radical” recently.
“I understand that he is incredibly heavy on going out into the world to share the gospel,” Dixon said. “With not just America, but with all the nations, the ones that are poor and in dire need of the gospel.”
For Pace, the overarching chapel topic this semester, ‘following Christ’, represents a point Platt and OBU agree on closely.
“I believe Platt’s view and OBU’s perspective of ‘following Christ’ parallel each other because they are both founded on the Biblical mandate of Christ for his followers,” Pace said. “When you consider the core of OBU’s mission – integrating faith with all areas of knowledge, engaging a diverse world, and living worthy of the high calling of Christ – it’s easy to recognize our commitment to train students to fulfill their calling is, in reality, not radical Christianity, it’s real Christianity.”
Despite his mission-oriented focus, Platt has come under some scrutiny during his time as president of the IMB due to the fact that he’s never had experience as a long term missionary. However, Pace is slower to criticize him for this.
“While I believe there are certain aspects of a career missionary’s work that are particularly understood by those who serve in that capacity, Platt’s vision for reaching the nations and his leadership of the IMB cannot be limited to any one ‘type’ of missions perspective,” Pace said. “I believe his extensive international-missions experience, his teachable and cooperative spirit, along with his successful ministry as a mobilizing pastor, uniquely positions him to lead SBC churches in sending, supporting, and serving missionaries to engage the world with the gospel of Christ.”
Platt’s visit not only highlighted OBU’s contemporary goal to “engage a diverse world,” but also served as an opportunity to remember OBU’s past.
“Our thought continues to be, we want IMB representation on our campus because of the history of OBU and missions,” Dean Dale Griffin said. “When we were founded, we were founded by two Baptist mission organizations. They were focused on being in Oklahoma to reach people for the gospel.”
The two organizations would come together and form the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma in 1907, the same year Oklahoma would become admitted to the union. One group walked from the then-First Baptist Church, now Stubblefield Chapel, to a since-burned down opera house where the second group met.
“Their first decision, as a convention, was to create an education commission,” Griffin said. “Their purpose was to research and prepare the way for a Baptist university in their state. So, they united, became one, and formed one Baptist university.”
OBU, originally the Baptist University of Oklahoma, has maintained the mission-oriented goal of its founders in many ways. One has been its close partnership with the IMB as the top supplying university of graduated students in past years. Whether or not that status is maintained this year, OBU’s devotion to missions will remain at the forefront just as it is for Platt.