Mohler at SBC annual meeting: Southern Seminary committed to ‘gold standard’ of theological education
During his report on behalf of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, President R. Albert Mohler Jr. surveyed the seminary’s growth during his 25 years as president. He began by alluding to the doctrinal controversy at the seminary — and the entire convention — in the late 20th century, which surrounded the authority of the Bible and place of the school’s confession, the Abstract of Principles, in its operations.
“Twenty-five years ago, we were told that if you took a seminary and unquestionably returned it to confessional integrity, if you required that the seminary would teach and would stand for the complete trustworthiness of God’s Word, if you would require the inerrancy of Scripture as its affirmation and the eagerness of its teaching … you would have no friends,” said Mohler.
“To the glory of God, 25 years later, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is now the largest ATS-accredited seminary in the world,” Mohler said. “The Lord blessed the reformation and recovery and gave revival beyond anything we could have imagined.”
He reported to the convention that Southern Seminary now has more than 2,200 students enrolled in the school’s Master of Divinity degree program, which the school’s leadership estimates to be the largest collection of M.Div. students at one school in the history of theological education. The seminary also reports nearly 5,500 in total student headcount. Mohler also said he recently awarded his 11,000th diploma of his tenure as president.
Mohler told the convention that Southern Seminary graduates “serve in virtually every populated continent on earth.”
He talked about the founding of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry in 1993, and the late evangelist’s contribution to the recovering of the seminary. He further noted the expansion of the seminary’s online programs and its undergraduate school, Boyce College, during the past 25 years. He expressed also the school’s ongoing emphasis on residential theological education, explaining that on-campus quality forms the foundation for other efforts.
“We are absolutely committed to the gold standard of residential theological education on the campus,” Mohler said. “We believe that building the faculty and building the program there at 2825 Lexington Rd. makes possible everything else we do beyond that.”
Mohler also expressed gratitude to the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention for the stewardship and resources it places in the seminary. He made clear that the work that has gone into his 25 years as president does not mean he plans to slow down.
“I come to give you this report at the conclusion of my 25th year, with my commitment never more vibrant than it is now,” he said.
Mohler received two questions from the convention floor
The first question related to women's teaching the Bible, “specifically whether or not the men led by missionary Joanna Moore ... should be discounted because of her gender."
Addressing the broader question, Mohler explained that every professor in Southern Seminary’s School of Theology must be qualified to be a pastor of a Southern Baptist Church.
“That means that every faculty member in the School of Theology and every faculty position is going to be filled by a man,” he said. “And we say that without an apology.
“But at the same time, we have other schools and other programs in which there are many women who are on the faculty and wonderfully serving.”
Mohler said he thinks that distinction is “really important,” and he added that “there is not a man in this room who is not indebted to women who have taught him.”
The second question asked of Mohler related to the seminary’s raising up men who would be ready for leadership in homes and in marriages. Mohler replied that he thinks the seminary could “always do a better job,” but that on the whole, the campuses of the SBC’s six seminaries comprise young men who are the exception to broader trends of delayed adolescence.