BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. (ABP) — Charles Bugg was installed as dean of the M. Christopher White School of Divinity at Gardner-Webb University during the Aug. 29 convocation in the campus chapel. He came to the post June 1 from Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, where he was professor of preaching.
“I want this divinity school to be known for producing careful and confident leaders for the church,” said Bugg during the convocation address.
Bugg, 62, who studied leadership at the Kennedy School at Harvard University during a sabbatical leave, described Christian leadership as “more than a dash of charisma” and “not a bag of tricks.” He told the students present: “We want to equip you to be the best ministers possible.”
Gardner-Webb is a 100-year-old university related to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. The divinity school, which opened in 1993 and was named later for a former university president, is a theological education partner with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
University president Frank Bonner affirmed Bugg's role in giving “shape, form and fashion” to the divinity school. “Denominational landscapes may change,” said Bonner, but the role of providing leadership for local churches will always be an important need.
In his address, Bugg alluded to the denominational controversy that reshaped the Southern Baptist Convention and is being played out currently in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
“Let's be candid,” said Bugg. “The controversy … is more complex than who believes the Bible or who doesn't.” He said he is willing to discuss biblical authority with anyone as long as the motive is not a desire for power.
“I'm very willing to talk to anyone,” said Bugg. “But I don't want to be assailed, and I don't want this university or divinity school to be unfairly criticized.”
Bugg said he avoids terms like “inerrant and infallible” to describe the Bible because “these words mean different things to different people.” He urged those with questions about his or the school's commitment to biblical authority to discuss them with him directly.
“If the issue is the Bible [and not control],” said Bugg, “let's talk about the ways this book has changed our lives.”
Bugg said he has preached in a different church in the region each Sunday since moving to Boiling Springs, N.C., to raise awareness of the divinity school's mission. Bugg is the former pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., First Baptist Church of Augusta, Ga., and First Baptist Church of DeLand, Fla.