Mohler emphasizes centrality of theological education in convocation address
Biblical teaching and theological education that promotes it are essential to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in an Aug. 19 convocation address.
Seminary students are called to steward the gift of education in a way that honors God and works for the good of the world. Southern Seminary was established in order to fulfill and stand for teaching that serves the church, which “is a calling worth all that we do,” Mohler said.
“There is nothing more important than what takes place in the stewardship of this opportunity,” Mohler said in his introduction, describing the perpetual need for gospel ministry.
Preaching his message, “Do You Understand What You Are Reading? — The Christian Faith and the Call to Teach” from Acts 8:26-40, Mohler emphasized Philip’s role as a teacher to the Ethiopian eunuch. In the passage, the eunuch seeks to understand the identity of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53.
Mohler said Philip does what any evangelist, pastor or Christian, and certainly teachers, should do: he taught the eunuch about Jesus by explaining the text to someone who attempted to read and understand the Scriptures despite being an outcast. After Philip reads the passage to him, the eunuch is converted and baptized.
Emphasizing the importance of teaching in the church, Mohler offered students 10 observations they should remember about the faculty at Southern Seminary as they begin the semester.
First, teachers know things students do not, and they know these things because they want students to understand them.
Second, students need to know what their teachers know.
Third, teachers are fellow learners who have worked hard to teach, said Mohler.
Fourth, he said, “this faculty is ridiculously excited about what they teach. Every last one of them.”
Fifth, teachers are not independent contractors — they abide by the seminary’s convictions to the school’s doctrinal statements, the Abstract of Principles and the Baptist Faith and Message.
“We do not have the kind of faculty that is reserved in their offices, letting those whose names do not appear in the catalog do all the teaching. They do the teaching themselves,” Mohler said. “That’s part of the secret and the stewardship of Southern Seminary.”
Sixth, teachers do not work for their students; they work for Christ.
Seventh, Mohler reminded students that the teaching is not about them but those who have not yet confessed faith in Jesus.
Eighth, even with new technological advancements, Mohler said, nothing will ever replace the sacred experience that takes place when a student and teacher are in the classroom.
“As Christians we should understand that the incarnation of Christ points to the reason why there is something more than a bonus added when we are physically together,” Mohler said.
Ninth, Southern Seminary students will bear the imprint of their teachers for the rest of their lives.
And tenth, when teaching is sound, students will love their teachers as teachers love their students, Mohler said.
Students are to steward the gift of theological education well, Mohler said, because the world is in need.
“We’re not out of the world here, we’re very much in it. The world is with us, and that’s not a bad thing because we are directed to the world,” he said. “Our concern is the world, our heart is to the world, so we would not wish to be removed from it. But, we do, amidst much chaos and calamity in the world, we do have a rare opportunity, an opportunity that others around the world would envy: the stewardship of concentrated learning.”
The seminary also installed three academic chairs during the convocation service: Peter J. Gentry as the Donald L. Williams Professor of Old Testament Interpretation; Joseph R. Crider as the Ernest and Mildred Hogan Professor of Church Music and Worship; and Adam W. Greenway as the William Walker Brookes Associate Professor of Evangelism and Applied Apologetics.
Audio and video from Mohler’s convocation message are available at sbts.edu/resources.