by Charissa Veal

CLEVELAND, Ga., (TMNews)—Truett-McConnell College opened its first chapel service of the 2014-15 school year with the signing of the Baptist Faith and Message, followed by a message delivered by the school’s President, Dr. Emir Caner.

In an outward testimony of their faith, fourteen new faculty members took turns signing the Baptist Faith and Message declaring that, as the opening line states, “There is one, and only one, true and living God.” Dr. Caner remarked, “It is a statement of our belief and it is unashamedly spoken around the halls, the classrooms, and the dorms, that we worship the one true God of this universe through the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Additionally, in further agreement with the document, Caner emphasized that “there is salvation in no other, and it takes a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved.” It was upon these truths, as well as the biblical precept that marriage is between one man and one woman for life, and that life begins at conception, that these fourteen professors publicly affirmed their adherence.

After the ceremony, Caner presented the student body with a single, self-reflecting question: “Are you free?” By way of determining an answer to that question, Caner cited John 8:31-36 and outlined what it truly means to be free.

In his first point, Caner stated that everyone is free to believe but pointed out the distinction between believing Jesus and believing in Jesus: “Simply to believe is not enough,” he said. “That doesn’t make you a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. You can’t simply believe what He said; you’ve got to believe in Him and surrender your life to Him.” Second, he established that people are free to live, provided that they surrender themselves to Christ: “In the same way you can’t do anything a little bit and enjoy it, neither can you play Jesus one day a week and enjoy Him.” And thirdly, he concluded that, once man is adopted by God into the family of believers, he is free to love unconditionally as he has been loved by his Creator.

For the faculty of Truett-McConnell College, freedom in Christ is a reality. Their intentional dedication to scripture and truth marks a monumental movement within its ranks; but for the students, the question asked of them is one which must be answered individually. As the year progresses and students make decisions, Caner’s question will continue to echo through the hallways: “Are you free?”

The 2014 signees to the Baptist Faith and Message are as follows:

1. Dr. Joseph Weigand (Associate VP for Academic Services and Assistant Professor of Law and Government)
2. Lisa Fisher (MSN, RN: Assistant Professor of Nursing)
3. Celeste Dunnington (BSN, MSN: Chair of Division of Nursing and Associate Professor of Nursing)
4. Janis Justus (QEP Director and Associate Professor of History)
5. John Yarbrough (Associate Professor of Christian Studies)
6. Maël Disseau (Associate Professor of Christian Studies)
7. Jeremy Lyon (Associate Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew)
8. Julia Lutz (Assistant Professor of Education)
9. Donna Caudell (Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences)
10. Jon Yeh (Assistant Professor of Physical Education and Head Men’s Basketball Coach)
11. Marcus Cobbs (Assistant Professor of Business and Head Wrestling Coach)
12. Tamara Griffis (Assistant Professor of Education)
13. Michael Thomas (Assistant Professor of Education and Head Lacrosse Coach)
14. Melody Tenney (Instructor of Business and Head Volleyball Coach)
Charissa is a senior English Major and a freelance writer for the college

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