At Southern Seminary convocation, Mohler calls for ‘insurgency’ of countercultural Christians
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Countercultural Christianity is the necessary result of friendship with Jesus and the destiny for gospel ministers, said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in his Feb. 2 convocation address.
“We have to go out as an insurgency,” Mohler said. “And we have to go out knowing that we are likely to spend the rest of our lives spending social capital in the world around us and the secular world’s mind in order to share the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in all its saving power.”
Preaching from John 15:12-26, Mohler said the ground of friendship with Christ is his choosing and preservation of believers, guaranteeing his followers they can fulfill the countercultural work to which they are called. Mohler illustrated how differently he understood this passage as a teenager when Christianity carried social capital and no one objected to his call to ministry.
“Gone are the days when the aspiration of this institution would be to provide gentlemen ministers for a gentlemanly culture,” Mohler said. “What we’re left with now is preparing ministers of the gospel for a church like is described in the Gospel of John chapter 15 ... understanding that the only basis by which this can possibly happen is because we did not choose him but he chose us.”
Mohler said the cultural revolution has resulted in a “great displacement,” a loss of social capital for evangelical Christianity because of its commitment to biblical authority. But this loss illustrates, said Mohler, that evangelicals in the past identified with the culture at their own peril.
"If you can't tell the difference between the church and the culture, it isn't that the church has been victorious over the culture; it's because the culture has been victorious over the church," Mohler said.
Allegiance to Christ will prove costly for Christians, Mohler said. In his introductory remarks, Mohler welcomed new students to a “movement” and a “tribe,” reiterating it in his address because of how the cultural majority perceives evangelicalism. Because Southern Seminary students today will lose social capital because of their identification with countercultural Christianity, Mohler said it shows an urgency for “building a different civilization.”
“It will be to Christ’s glory that his church is understood to be so radically different than the world,” Mohler said. “I read the Book and that’s how it ends. I read the Gospel of John and that’s why Jesus went to the cross.”
Prior to his message, Mohler installed Ayman S. Ibrahim as Bill and Connie Jenkins Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies. Ibrahim has served as the senior fellow of the Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam since July 2015. He received his Doctor of Philosophy from Fuller Theological Seminary and is working on a second doctorate at University of Haifa.
“In the year 2016, in order to prepare ministers of the gospel for ministry in this world, and in order to recognize the implications for missions, globalization, ministry, and evangelism, a professor of Islamic studies is necessary at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,” Mohler said after installing Ibrahim in the endowed chair.
Also, Mohler announced the appointment of David “Gunner” Gundersen as assistant professor of biblical counseling at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of the seminary. Gundersen received his Ph.D. from Southern and his master’s degrees from The Master’s Seminary. He has served as director of student life at Boyce since 2011.
Audio and video of Mohler’s convocation address are available online at sbts.edu/resources.