March 23, 2011
The message came from a man whom OBU President David Whitlock called “one of the godliest, most gifted orators in the world.”
Dr. Alan Day, vice chair of OBU’s board of trustees, prepared the address which reflected his heart for the institution, to be presented at OBU’s Founders’ Day chapel on Feb. 9. But the event was postponed due to winter weather, and Dr. Day died in an accident the following week.
Dr. Whitlock noted that it is customary for the university president to give the Founders’ Day address, and Day’s opportunity to share his message would have been the first departure from that tradition in recent years –- and possibly ever. Whitlock said it was appropriate to set aside the tradition because Day was such a strong advocate of OBU, as well as an outstanding speaker.
On the rescheduled Founders’ Day celebration, Wednesday, March 23, OBU Provost Stan Norman presented Day’s address exactly as he had prepared it for the original event. The chapel service represented not only those who have invested their lives in OBU in its first 100 years, but also the love and respect Oklahoma Baptists felt for Day.
Click here to read the full text of Dr. Day's message.
In a tribute to Day, Dr. Anthony Jordan, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, said Day was, above all, a loving and compassionate pastor. He said “pastor” was the title Day preferred most, and in that role he gave attention to the youngest, the oldest and everyone in between. Day had served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Edmond, Okla., for 25 years.
Jordan said Day also relished his roles in Southern Baptist life, including his work through the years as a board member for the International Mission Board, the BGCO and OBU. He was the vice chairman of the OBU board of trustees and would have served in the chairman role next year. He was proud, Jordan said, to be part of the committee that penned OBU’s mission statement: “OBU transforms lives by equipping students to pursue academic excellence, integrate faith with all areas of knowledge, engage a diverse world, and live worthy of the high calling of God in Christ.”
In his Founders’ Day message, Day noted that it is possible to “celebrate” the day without actually realizing its significance. He wrote that “Founders’ Day is more than a trip down memory lane or an excuse for celebration. Oklahoma Baptist University was founded by people committed to a specific vision and a sacred mission animated by deep convictions. We meet to remember that vision, that mission, and those convictions.”
Day wrote that he recently served on an OBU committee tasked with the mission of studying founding documents to determine the exact convictions and commitments that animated OBU’s Founders. He identified three convictions that resulted in the birth of OBU to share in his address.
“It is clear to me that, after all these years, not one of those principles is outdated, irrelevant, or unnecessary,” Day wrote. “They are founding and foundational principles.”
The first principle, Day said, is that OBU is the child of the Baptist churches of Oklahoma, conceived by the Baptist passion for missions and evangelism.
“Oklahoma Baptists have believed that Jesus is Lord of every area and every endeavor of human life and experience; and their conviction that His Lordship extends to the intellectual arena eventuated in the conception and birth of OBU,” he wrote.
He said while other Christian colleges and universities have chosen to separate from their denominational parents, causing the acceleration of secularization, Oklahoma Baptists have nurtured OBU and provided for her by the commitment of Cooperative Program funds, by the appointment of trustees, by sending students and in a hundred other ways.
“We will not forsake our roots, our heritage, our commitment to the Word and to our Baptist family; for to do so would be to trample upon the prayers and sacrifices of untold thousands of Oklahoma Baptists who believed in this institution, who prayed for her leaders, and who sacrificed to send their children to a Christian school,” Day wrote.
A second principle of OBU, Day said, is that “a consistent Christian worldview will be embraced and advocated by every division, every department, every professor, every administrator and, especially, the president himself.”
Day wrote that the kind of commitment to a Christian worldview that the OBU Founders intended is not fulfilled by a religion or Bible division within the university, and that Bible professors and chapel services cannot overcome a pervasive secularism or apathy to the mind of Christ.
“It is the grossest expression of idolatry to fence off any intellectual endeavor from the influence and sovereignty of Jesus Christ,” Day wrote, noting every professor and especially the president must be committed personally to Jesus Christ and His leadership.
The third foundational principle Day identified is the missional purpose of OBU and that the university exists as an extension of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. The Founders, he said, believed not merely in the superiority of Jesus Christ, but in the uniqueness and exclusivity of His Person and Work.
“What energized them was the commitment to truth interpreted from a Christian theistic position -– truth that would transform the lives of students and, consequently, would bless and transform business, industry, community, and culture,” Day wrote. “For this reason, OBU has been and continues to be a community of Christian pilgrims as well as a community of Christian scholars. The campus is alive with worship and prayer as well as the most rigorous intellectual pursuits.
“Life and cultural transformation through the serious search for and engagement with the truth has been the mission of OBU from the beginning.”
Building on the foundational principles set forth by the university’s Founders, Day said the task of today’s OBU advocates is to keep faith alive, intelligent and articulate through Christian liberal arts education.