Vogel retires after 12 years of faithful service to Southern Seminary
Veteran preaching professor Robert Vogel enters retirement after 12 years of faithful service to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and 37 years of teaching in the classroom.
Faculty and administrators gathered to celebrate Vogel’s retirement from Southern Seminary on May 12. Attendees included Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr., Vogel’s fellow members at Highview Baptist Church, colleagues, friends, and family.
Mohler recalled when he first heard about Vogel: “The more I looked at what Bob Vogel had already done and already accomplished, and what I came to know that Bob Vogel believed and taught, that’s was exactly what we needed.”
Living in the Pacific Northwest as professor at Western Seminary at the time of his appointment to Southern, the Vogels’ move to Louisville did not come without a cost.
“They were leaving a place of happiness, leaving a place of security and where their family was concentrated,” Mohler said. “They took a risk to come all the way across the country. We were just looking at it and it is 2,300 plus miles to leave where they were in order to come here. In other ways, I’m sure culturally, it might have been further than 2,300 miles, but they came.”
The Vogels took that risk, and, years later, they do not regret their decision to follow the Lord’s leading to Southern Seminary.
In an earlier interview with Southern Seminary News, Vogel said serving on the seminary faculty had been the “privilege of a lifetime” and that Mohler is “without peer as a seminary president.”
The first book Vogel ever read on preaching was John Broadus’ A Treatise on the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, and he later completed a master’s-level thesis on the Southern Seminary co-founder. In honor of his historical mentor, the seminary presented Vogel with a portrait of Broadus at the retirement luncheon. He also received from his wife a replica of the Abstract of Principles — the seminary’s confession of faith which all elected faculty sign — including his signature.
“Looking back on these 12 years God has given us here, it was absolutely the right decision,” his wife, Kathy, explained at the retirement luncheon. “It has been a very big honor for us to be here and I know that Bob has tremendously appreciated being able to serve students, to fellowship with his colleagues and most of all to serve under Dr. Mohler.”
Vogel has cultivated a love for preaching for more than 60 years. He cannot remember a time when he did not know God had called him into ministry.
“As a first grader, I can remember coming home from church and I would go in my bedroom and I would preach my heart out,” he said. “It probably wasn’t too substantive, but it was passionate.”
Vogel trusted in Christ and was baptized at the age of 6 at the First Baptist Church of Brush, Colorado. From that point forward, there was no doubt in his mind that preaching was what the Lord wanted him to do.
Vogel attended Western Bible Institute in Denver, Colorado. During his time there, he served on a gospel team that would travel to various churches in California. He met his wife at one of the churches on the tour. The following fall, in 1968, Kathy enrolled at Western. They were married in 1971 and have raised three children.
He taught preaching at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, teaching Southern Seminary professors Thomas R. Schreiner and Michael Pohlman during his time there, in addition to working alongside Bruce Ware and Gregg Allison, who now teach at Southern.
“Dr. Vogel not only models great competency in the craft of preaching, but the highest level of character,” said Pohlman, assistant professor of Christian preaching. “His godliness combined with his gifting make him an extraordinary preacher and teacher. [He is] the man God has used perhaps more than anyone in my life to nurture in me a love for preaching and the Christ we proclaim.”
After 25 years at Western, Vogel was offered a full-time teaching position at Southern Seminary and his family moved to Louisville, where he has served as the Carl E. Bates Professor of Christian Preaching since 2003.
He has had a lasting impact on the lives of many through his devotion to loving, teaching, and living God’s Word. “Who could ever forget the deep resonant voice of the invariably cheerful Robert Vogel?” asked Schreiner, James James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and professor of biblical theology.
After 37 years of sharing his love of preaching in the classroom, Vogel is retiring from full-time teaching. The everyday activities of the broader field of service will change in degree now, but hopefully not in kind, he said.
Vogel says he desires to continue serving as long as he has the capability to do so: “I have always wanted to ‘die with my boots on’ and be active in the ministry until God calls me home.”
From preaching in his bedroom at 6 years old to teaching seminary students, he has learned that serving in a pastoral role means being completely convinced of the truthfulness of God’s Word and recognizing that both believers and unbelievers need to know it.
“To preach is to proclaim Christ,” he said, referencing Colossians 1:28, “admonishing every man and teaching them with all wisdom that all would be presented complete in him.”