Stephen Rummage encourages Christians to know the depths of God’s strength, presence, love and fullness
God’s strength, presence, love and fullness are greater than Christians can imagine, Southern Seminary chapel speaker Stephen Rummage said, Oct. 22.
Rummage, senior pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., preached from Ephesians 3:14-19, where Paul prays for spiritual strength. Rummage spoke about God’s vision for his people, which is greater than they can imagine.
“Your God has a vision for you that you can’t see yet. And it’s greater than anything you can ever imagine. As you walk with Jesus Christ day in and day out, he will work in you and on you,” Rummage said.
Rummage, who served as a second vice president for the Southern Baptist Convention, 2009-2010, gave four reasons that God can do more than Christians imagine to accomplish his purpose.
The first reason, Rummage said, is that God’s strength is greater than people think. He said that God strengthens his people with, through and in the Holy Spirit’s work. The Holy Spirit allows Christians to accomplish things that they never could do alone, Rummage said.
“Strength is to take something that is weak and wilting and make it strong,” Rummage said. “God’s power is his can-do ability in your life to do what you can’t do on your own.”
Second, Rummage said, God’s presence is greater than Christians can imagine. He spoke about their attitude concerning the study and meditation of Scripture, noting Christians often give only one area of their life for Christ to rule, but he deserves all.
“When Jesus came into your life, he didn’t come to take a seat. He came to take over,” Rummage said.
Rummage’s third reason, he said, is that God’s love is greater than Christians can imagine. He said that no matter the situation, Christ’s love is sufficient for life. God wants Christians to build the foundation of their lives on his love, Rummage said.
“God wants you to grow deep roots into his love,” he said.
His fourth and last reason was that God’s fullness is greater than Christians can imagine. Rummage said that God’s fullness is his absolute control in a person’s life. It’s him reigning over every part of life, Rummage said.
“God’s fullness is his absolute domination, control, lordship and satisfaction in your life,” he said. “As you are filled with his fullness, he will accomplish more than you can ever ask or think.
He concluded his sermon noting that Christians will face difficult days, but with the power of the Holy Spirit and the truths he spoke about from Ephesians, Christians will represent Christ even on those days.
Audio and video from Rummage’s sermon are available at sbts.edu/resources.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s commitment to live and minister in light of all Scripture says provides a model for all Christians, said Baptist historian Tom Nettles, who recently published a biography on the 19th century British Baptist preacher.
“Spurgeon’s ministry grew out of a love for the Scripture and a love for doctrine that everyone should share,” said Nettles, professor of church history at Southern Seminary, in an interview about his 700-page book, Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
According to Nettles, this love for Scripture should be especially true for pastors. Spurgeon let Scripture dictate all he did, and pastors today should seek a similar role for Scripture in their ministries.
“It should be everything,” Nettles said. “You shouldn't do anything that Scripture doesn’t condone. You shouldn’t avoid anything that Scripture doesn’t condemn. You shouldn’t preach anything that you could not verify with Scriptural exposition.”
Nettles glimpsed Spurgeon’s commitment to Scripture by focusing his research on Spurgeon’s monthly publication, Sword and Trowel, which Nettles thinks previous biographies have overlooked.
Spurgeon served as pastor of New Park Street Chapel, later named Metropolitan Tabernacle, in London, 1854-1892.
“He wrote most of those, and so he explains month-by-month what’s going on in Metropolitan Tabernacle or in other churches” said Nettles. “You get all these little views about how he viewed church life. … I think that adds a depth to Spurgeon’s life that sometimes I didn’t find in other biographies.”
The underused Sword and Trowel is not the only thing previous Spurgeon biographers have overlooked. According to Nettles, Spurgeon’s theological ability and consistency has not received its proper due. This, in fact, is what gave Nettles the title for the book.
“Spurgeon has not been taken seriously enough as a theologian who governed his life and his ministry on the basis of theological principles,” Nettles said.
“Some historians have not sorted out the fact that he had a very strong theology of evangelism, and a strong theology of human responsibility as it related to divine sovereignty,” Nettles said. “There were theological reasons for what he did. That’s the reason I’ve titled the book Living by Revealed Truth.”
Spurgeon’s trust in God’s sovereignty played an important role in how he reacted to the profound suffering and tragedy in his life. Spurgeon knew, from passages like Romans 8:28-29, that God works all things for the good of those who love him, to the end of conforming them to the image of Christ.
“He was so committed to the sovereignty of God that he knew that God had a purpose in everything. He did not question God in his dealing with him,” Nettles said. “He wasn’t afraid to quote Romans 8:28 in hard suffering. God is saying that he is in control, he’s fashioning us into the image of his Son. What more could we want in our suffering?”
Spurgeon’s commitment to doing ministry in light of Scripture is also evident in his heavy involvement in benevolence ministries. Eventually, Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle housed as many as 66 such ministries.
“And all of them, as far as Spurgeon was concerned, had a theological foundation,” Nettles said. “All of these things rose out of his love for the gospel.”
With all of the ministries that Spurgeon supported, and with his vast output as a preacher, writer and administrator, Nettles concedes that Spurgeon’s life could discourage readers who have little hope of such productivity. But there’s much from Spurgeon’s example that deserve attention and emulation.
“There’s one sense in which we say, ‘Don’t try to be Spurgeon, because you can’t,’” Nettles said. Regardless, “I think we need to try to love the gospel the way he did, be insistent on biblical foundations for all we do the way he did, we should be energetic for the gospel as he was.”
While Mormons and evangelical Christians fundamentally disagree about the gospel, they should work together to address common threats to religious freedom, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said in an Oct. 21 address at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
“I am not here because I believe we are going to heaven together, but I do believe we may go to jail together,” said Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, at the Latter-day Saints’ premier educational institution, named for Mormonism’s second president. According to Salt Lake City newspaper Deseret News, about 400 faculty and students attended Mohler’s address.
“I do not mean to exaggerate, but we are living in the shadow of a great moral revolution that we commonly believe will have grave and devastating human consequences,” Mohler said in the address, “A Clear and Present Danger: Religious Liberty, Marriage and the Family in the Late Modern Age.”
Mohler’s lecture was the third of a “Faith, Family and Society” series at BYU. The lecture series is sponsored by several offices at the university and has featured previous addresses by Richard Land, former president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and George Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God denomination. In January, evangelical apologist Ravi Zacharias will speak at BYU in the same series of lectures.
Mohler is scheduled to address a nationally televised, campus-wide forum on Feb. 25 at BYU, Deseret News reported.
While expressing his “great privilege to know friendship and share conversation” with LDS leaders, Mohler said such friendship is not “in spite of our theological differences, but in light of them.”
Mohler said he accepted the BYU invitation “because I intend with you to push back against the modernist notion that only the accommodated can converse.”
Still, he was frank in asserting theological differences between evangelicals and Mormons.
“I come as a Christian theologian to speak explicitly and respectfully as a Christian — a Christian who defines Christianity only within the historic creeds and confessions of the Christian church and who comes as one committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ and to the ancient and eternal Trinitarian faith of the Christian church. I have not come as less, and you know whom you have invited,” he said, according to a prepared manuscript of the address posted on Mohler’s website.
Near the end of his address, Mohler further elaborated on the doctrinal differences with Mormons.
“I am not here because I believe we are going to heaven together. I do not believe that,” he said. “I believe that salvation comes only to those who believe and trust only in Christ and in his substitutionary atonement for salvation. I believe in justification by faith alone, in Christ alone.”
Because of his “love and respect” for Mormons, Mohler said “as friends, we would speak only what we believe to be true, especially on matters of eternal significance. We inhabit separate and irreconcilable theological worlds, made clear on the doctrine of the Trinity perhaps most clearly. And yet here I am, and gladly so. We will speak to one another of what we most sincerely believe to be true, precisely because we love and respect one another.”
The common moral concern of Mormons and evangelicals, Mohler said, is the “moral revolution” on homosexuality that is “without precedent in human history in terms of its scale and velocity.”
With that revolution comes a threat to religious freedom, he said, noting several examples of legislative actions and court decisions impinging on religious liberty for the sake of sexual expression and liberty.
“The conflict of liberties we are now experiencing is unprecedented and ominous,” Mohler said. “Forced to choose between erotic liberty and religious liberty, many Americans would clearly sacrifice freedom of religion. How long will it be before many become most?”
Mohler noted the moral revolution and “disestablishment of marriage did not begin with the demand of same-sex couples to marry. The subversion of marriage began within the context of the great intellectual shift of modernity.”
In that shift, he said, marriage became “redefined in terms of personal fulfillment rather than covenant obligation,” “romanticized ideal of personal fulfillment” replaced duty, matrimony is mere choice and personal expression and “companionate marriage was secularized and redefined solely in terms of erotic and romantic appeal — for so long as these might last.”
Mohler insisted, “Once marriage can mean anything other than heterosexual union, it can and must mean everything. It is just a matter of time.”
He added, “We can point to others who have been the prophets and agents of this self-injury to society, but we must recognize that we have all contributed to it, in so far as we have embraced essentially modern understandings of love, romance, liberty, personal autonomy, obligation and authority.”
The Bible instructs Christians, Mohler said, to “work for the good and flourishing of this earthly city, even as I work to see as many as possible also become citizens of the heavenly city through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Mohler said he was “honored to come among those who, though of a different faith, share common concerns and urgencies” and he is “unashamed to stand with you in defense of marriage and family and a vision of human sexuality integrity. I am urgently ready to speak and act in your defense against threats to your religious liberty, even as you have shown equal readiness to speak and act in defense of mine.”
He concluded, Christians and Mormons must together “push back against this age as hard as it is pressing against us. We had better press hard, for this age is pressing ever harder against us.”
Veteran Baptist librarian C. Berry Driver Jr. has been named associate vice president of academic resources, librarian and professor of church history at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, president R. Albert Mohler Jr. announced, Oct. 23.
“Southern Seminary is incredibly proud that Berry Driver is joining us as librarian and professor of church history,” Mohler said. “He is one of the most highly respected librarians in the theological world, and he combines great professionalism with scholarship and a love for students. He comes to us after years of service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and we are proud and thankful to have him join the Southern Seminary faculty at this strategic time.”
Since 1996, Driver has served as dean of libraries at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, where he also has served as professor of systematic theology since 1998. Previously, Driver was director of library services and taught at the Northeast Branch of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Schenectady, N.Y.
“Pursuant to our Lord’s providence, I am honored to receive his call to ministry at Southern Seminary,” Driver said.
“Instrumental to my consideration was the unique and promising vision of Southern Seminary’s leadership, assuring their historic institution’s godly theological tradition of training for the gospel ministry in a campus environment of holy learning,” he said. “Add to this the commitment by the faculty and administration to keep at the center of biblical research an august collection of bibliographic resources. With their determination of providing the means of access via the changing venues of applied technology, one could not but accept the invitation to join such blessed endeavors.”
Randy Stinson, senior vice president for academic administration and provost, said Driver is the “right man to take us to the next level in terms of library services. His role is central to the future of the institution. I am grateful for his willingness to make the move.”
Matthew J. Hall, vice president for academic services, said Driver has “unmatched experience, gifting and credentials. He is uniquely suited to carry on Southern's legacy of excellence in theological library services in such a way that will also look toward the future for opportunities for strategic innovation and expansion.”
Driver, Hall continued, is a “skilled administrator, a Christian scholar and a man devoted to Christ. I am absolutely delighted that Dr. Driver will be joining the Southern Seminary family.”
Driver will begin his work at Southern Seminary on Jan. 13, 2014.
A native Alabamian who was ordained to the gospel ministry at First Baptist Church in Selma, Ala., Driver has served as pastor of churches in Alabama, Tennessee and New York.
Driver holds the doctor of philosophy from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, master of science in library science from University of Kentucky, master of divinity from Southwestern Seminary and bachelor of arts from University of Alabama.
Driver and his wife, Catherine, are parents of three children. Their current church membership is with Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth.
Southern Seminary announced a new academic chair in preaching in honor of W.A. Criswell, long-time pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Southern Baptist statesman and two-time Southern graduate, during an Oct. 17 chapel service in Alumni Memorial Chapel.
Jack Pogue, a long-time friend of Criswell who was present for the announcement, funded the chair. After introducing him, seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. thanked Pogue for his generosity.
“It is my great privilege to announce today, at the great generosity of this friend, the funding of the W.A. Criswell Chair of Expository Preaching,” Mohler said.
Before the announcement, Mohler commented about Criswell’s gift of expository preaching.
“He, in many ways, exemplified not only for Southern Baptists but for evangelicals at large, a recovery of expository preaching,” Mohler said. “From the time of Charles Spurgeon to the time of W.A. Criswell, there are very few prominent preachers who are actually committed to what we would call biblical exposition.”
Mohler introduced a video of Criswell’s 1985 address, “Whether We Live or Die,” which the seminary community viewed as part of the service. Criswell preached the message, one of his most well-known sermons, at the pastors’ conference held before the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Dallas.
In the sermon, preached during one of the most intense times of controversy over the inerrancy of the Bible in SBC life, Criswell outlined how acquiescence to liberal theology leads to the death of denominations and institutions. As examples, he pointed to Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s defense of the Bible in the “Downgrade Controversy” among English Baptists in the late 1800s and the University of Chicago’s fall into liberalism after its founding as an orthodox school to train ministers.
Criswell illustrated the influence of liberalism within the Southern Baptist Convention with the story of professor Crawford H. Toy’s dismissal from Southern Seminary in 1879, due to his acceptance of German higher criticism. He pointed to the seminary’s subsequent acceptance of Toy’s theology, citing a 1985 issue of Southern Seminary’s at-the-time academic journal, Review and Expositor. The issue — published shortly before Criswell’s address — included an article describing Toy’s beliefs, which Criswell cited as “perfectly acceptable, condoned, and defended,” were Toy to teach at the seminary then.
Later at the 1985 convention, Southern Baptist messengers elected Charles Stanley, pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., as president of the convention. Stanley’s presidency continued a line of conservative presidents and helped secure the success of the conservative movement, known as the “Conservative Resurgence.”
Concerning the context of Criswell’s sermon, Mohler said the legendary preacher and former SBC president delivered the sermon under “conditions of maximum warfare.” The 1985 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, Mohler said, was one of the great turning points in the SBC.
“There is a line that runs very straight from that day in Dallas, Texas, to this day in Louisville, Ky.,” Mohler told Southern Seminary students. “We can look back at history and say, had not the convention voted as it did in the very day after Dr. Criswell preached that sermon, we would not be sitting in this chapel today. It would be a very different world and a very different institution.”
Pogue, a businessman from Dallas, is also the funder of the W.A. Criswell Sermon Library. The digital library provides for free Criswell’s more than 4,100 sermons in digital format. At the conclusion of the service, Pogue provided each chapel attendee with a copy of Criswell Classics: Centennial Edition, a DVD collection of 12 of Criswell’s most important sermons.
Also at the service was Jerry Johnson, the current president of Criswell College in Dallas, a school which Criswell himself helped establish, which later took his name. The National Religious Broadcasters recently named Johnson as their new president.
Audio and video of the service are available at www.sbts.edu/resources.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary today released a new 25-minute documentary film that tells the story of R. Albert Mohler Jr.’s presidency of the seminary. The film, Recovering a Vision: The Presidency of R. Albert Mohler Jr., looks at Mohler’s 20-year tenure within the school’s own history and the history of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
When Southern Seminary began in 1859, its founders established the school with a confession of faith — the Abstract of Principles — to define its theological commitments and to set “boundaries of acceptable belief for the faculty.” But, despite their precautions, many of the school’s faculty members departed from the school’s confession.
By the 1960s, Southern Seminary’s faculty was thoroughly and decidedly liberal in its theological commitments. And the progressive trajectory of the faculty continued into the 1980s.
When, in 1993, Mohler became president of the seminary, the school’s board of trustees charged him with returning the school to its founding commitments. But Mohler’s task came with a high cost.
Recovering a Vision, produced by Southern Productions in cooperation with the seminary’s Office of Communications, documents the seminary’s drift to liberalism and Mohler’s fight to recover the school in the face of severe opposition. The film also places the struggles of Southern Seminary within the Conservative Resurgence movement in the SBC, particularly examining the inherent and symbiotic relationship between the convention and its seminaries.
The documentary features interviews with historians and first-hand accounts of the events by students, faculty and SBC leaders, including Gregory A. Wills, Jimmy Scroggins, Timothy George and Paige Patterson.
The release of the film coincides with the seminary’s Heritage Week activities, most of which centered this year around Mohler’s anniversary. The school inaugurated Mohler ninth president of Southern Seminary on Oct. 15, 1993. Other events for the week include the seminary’s semi-annual meetings of its board of trustees and the Foundation Board. Both boards held banquets honoring the Mohlers.
The film is among a collection of resources released to commemorate Mohler’s 20th anniversary as president. Other resources include:
- a special edition of Southern Seminary Magazine with articles on the theme, “R. Albert Mohler Jr.: Vision at the Twenty Year Mark”: reporting on the seminary’s progress since 1993, “A Vision Reaffirmed,” highlights the seminary’s growth in academics, finances and campus facilities; historian Gregory A. Wills’ essay, “Twenty Years of Denominational Statesmanship,” surveys Mohler’s role in the Southern Baptist Convention as a key leader on many formative bodies since 1993; “Innovative Communicator of Evangelical Conviction” traces Mohler’s multi-media cultural engagement, always employing the latest communications technologies, from fax machines to social media; and “Thursday Night Lights” tells the story of Mary Mohler’s establishment and leadership of Seminary Wives Institute training nearly 2,500 student wives since 1997; and
- a special issue of Towers, the campus news magazine, including a profile of Mohler, based on an extensive interview with him, and a photo essay of a day in the life of Mohler on Aug. 20, 2013.
Recovering a Vision is available for viewing on the Southern Seminary Resources Web page: www.sbts.edu/recovering-a-vision.
Reflecting on his tenure as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said his only response is gratitude.
Twenty years ago, Oct. 15, 1993, Southern Seminary inaugurated Mohler as its ninth president — in ceremonies that included evangelist Billy Graham and theologian Carl F.H. Henry. Twenty years later, yesterday, Mohler preached Oct. 15 in a special chapel service as a part of the seminary’s annual Heritage Week activities about the place of gratitude in Christian life and theology.
“A bit more than 20 years ago, I was given the unspeakable opportunity to serve this sacred school as president and professor,” said Mohler, who, at the time of his election, was only 33 years old. “Let me ask the question that others were clearly asking at the time: ‘What were they thinking?’ It has been 20 years that can only be summarized in one word: ‘gratitude.’”
His sermon, “What Do You Have That You Did Not Receive? Gratitude and Christian Discipleship,” came from 1 Corinthians 4:1-7, where the apostle Paul establishes the proper relationship between God and his servants.
“What is the one thing most on my heart that I would share with you this day?” Mohler said. “It is gratitude.”
Mohler emphasized the relevance of Paul’s letters to the Corinthian church.
“To one extent or another, every one of our congregations is a Corinthian congregation; every one of our congregations has at the very least, its Corinthian moments and is perpetually afflicted by the Corinthian temptations,” he said.
Mohler explained that “one of the problems in the Corinthian church was the perpetual sense of spiritual superiority that was lorded over by some believers over others because of their spiritual gifts.” Paul’s answer, he said, is to remind the Corinthians that all they have is from God.
“We are all tremendously shaped ... by the simple declarative sentences of Scripture, those sentences which establish the truth of the gospel, the reality of the one true and living God, the substantial and accessible, forcible, eternal truth of God’s revelation to us,” Mohler said. “We live on those.
“But I am sometimes, I must admit, more attracted to the questions asked in Scripture. Some of these haunting questions sometimes seem to reveal even more than those declarative sentences.”
Referencing verse seven of his passage, Mohler said, “Here are one of those questions I think should frame our thinking as believers: ‘What do you have that you did not receive?’”
Mohler said that the correct answer to this “incredible question” frames Christian theology, and should define the believer’s life.
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing” is the answer, Mohler said. “We know that God is himself the giver of all good and perfect gifts, the source of all that is good, including life itself. And thus we understand that thanksgiving and gratitude are the Christian’s portion. This is our natural and rightful response, not only to who God is, but to what he has done for us. Understood rightly, there is no more inherently theological act than thanksgiving.”
Mohler used the topic of gratitude and thanksgiving to express his thanksgiving to the seminary community.
“When I look out at this room, I see what I had no right to expect to see 20 years later: you,” Mohler said, referencing the early days of his presidency, many of which brought struggle and difficulty. “And beyond you, so many who have gone out; and beyond you so many who are now coming. This is God’s doing, and it is marvelous in his sight. And what’s our response to that? Mine, first of all? Gratitude. Gratitude for all. Gratitude at the beginning, gratitude at the end, gratitude at the top, gratitude at the bottom, gratitude at every point, gratitude at every moment.”
He continued: “The Christian life and all true theology begins and ends with the right answer to that one question — and the right last word to this sermon. What do we have that we did not receive? Nothing.”
At the beginning of his sermon, Mohler expressed his sentiment of how “special” the seminary’s Alumni Memorial Chapel is to him. He catalogued his experiences in the building as a prospective student, student, employee, graduate and then as president — his daughter, Katie Mohler Barnes, was married in the chapel this summer.
Also during the service, trustee chairman E. Todd Fisher read a resolution of “thanksgiving and appreciation,” unanimously adopted during the Oct. 14-15 semi-annual meeting, that traces Mohler’s stewardship of the seminary through two decades [Story available here.] The seminary presented Mohler with a framed copy of the resolution. In response, Mohler told the seminary community the recognition is “humbling” for himself and Mary. “And what an incredibly moving day.”
Audio and video of Mohler’s sermon are both available at www.sbts.edu/resources.
Twenty years to the day after his inauguration as ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the school’s board of trustees honored R. Albert Mohler Jr. for his leadership in recovering the founders’ vision for the school and its progress since 1993.
During an Oct. 15 chapel service, trustee chairman E. Todd Fisher read a resolution of “thanksgiving and appreciation,” unanimously adopted during the Oct. 14-15 semi-annual meeting, that traces Mohler’s stewardship of the seminary through two decades. The statement expresses “profound gratefulness” for Mohler’s “faithfulness” to restore the school, which was a key concern of grassroots Southern Baptists resulting in the “Conservative Resurgence” in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination during the 1980s and 1990s.
Fisher, senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Shawnee, Okla., read from 2 Timothy 4:1-5, a passage “very fitting” for the occasion, he said. Addressing Mohler, Fisher said, “Thank you so much for all you’ve done for this seminary and the kingdom of God.”
A framed copy of the resolution was presented to Mohler and his wife, Mary, who were greeted by a lengthy standing ovation by the filled-to-capacity audience in Alumni Memorial Chapel.
In response, Mohler told the seminary community the recognition is “humbling” for himself and Mary. “And what an incredibly moving day,” he said.
Saying he did not want to “linger” on the matter, but reflecting on his inauguration ceremony in the same building 20 years to the day before, Mohler said, “We had no assurance that we would be here 20 years hereafter. Matter of fact, we had no assurance that this seminary would be here 20 years thereafter.”
He said, “This is the seminary that God has built and what a joy it is to be able to reflect upon that.”
Noting 20 years is a “significant period of life,” Mohler said, “I think in many ways those were the most strategically invested years of my life and I want you to know that I would do nothing other with them if ever I were asked or given the alternative. There is no alternative history I would choose here. This is it. And for that I am unspeakably grateful.”
Mohler then preached on the theology of gratitude in a sermon entitled, “What Do You Have That You Did Not Receive? Gratitude and Christian Discipleship,” from 1 Corinthians 4:1-7. [Story available, here.]
Following chapel, a reception for the president and his family, attended by students, faculty and staff, was held in Duke K. McCall Sesquicentennial Pavilion.
The trustee resolution notes that Southern is now one of the largest seminaries in the world, with the largest enrollment of master of divinity students in any seminary. According to the Association of Theological Schools, in 2012-2013, Southern had a total enrollment of 4,366, compared to 2,858 in 1993, making it the second-largest ATS-accredited school.
The resolution also notes academic, financial and campus facilities improvements under Mohler, and expresses “unqualified support” for the president’s recent reaffirmations of his vision for the school during the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting and his August convocation address, “Don’t Just Stand There – Say Something: The Sin of Silence in a Time of Trouble.”
Noting Mary Mohler “modeled grace, humility and steadfast allegiance … during times of severe opposition” and “personal attacks,” trustees also offered “profound gratitude to Mary Mohler, Katie Mohler Barnes and Christopher Mohler for their irreplaceable devotion and incomparable assistance to Dr. Mohler as he has led Southern Seminary for the last 20 years.”
Trustees requested copies of the resolution be sent to SBC President Fred Luter and Executive Committee President Frank Page “with encouragement that it be shared with the wider Southern Baptist family so that all may join us in celebrating this important milestone in the ministry of Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. and history of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.”
[The entire text of the resolution follows at the end of this story.]
During an Oct. 15 banquet for trustees, faculty and friends of the seminary, Fisher presented to Mohler a trustee approved “twelve-month study leave” to be “allocated and used at his discretion by Dec. 31, 2018.”
In other actions during the trustee meeting, the board received reports from its committees and unanimously:
-- approved sabbatical leaves for Heath Lambert, associate professor of biblical counseling; and Mark A. Seifrid, Earnest and Mildred Hogan Professor of New Testament Interpretation;
-- amended the trustee bylaws in two sections: (1) to reduce the number of standing school committees to three, reflecting the April trustee-approved merger of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism with the former School of Church Ministries, resulting in the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministries; and (2) to allow flexibility in scheduling of the semi-annual meetings of the board of trustees;
-- moved the spring trustee meeting to April 14-16, 2014, in light of the date of Easter;
-- approved a policy for the Faculty and Staff Handbook and Student Handbook on “Sex, Sexuality and Gender Identity” stating the seminary’s biblically based positions on these matters; and
-- approved a response to a motion made at the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting concerning mental health summarizing the seminary’s role in training pastors and counselors on the matter, while deferring to a prospective recommendation from the Executive Committee for further reporting.
The board also received a report from its Executive Committee on the election of seven members of the Southern Seminary Foundation Board.
In recognition of Mohler’s anniversary milestone, the seminary released, Oct. 15, several resources.
A special fall edition of the Southern Seminary Magazine, the quarterly publication of the school, includes articles reporting on the seminary’s progress since 1993, Mohler’s role as a denominational statesman and innovative communicator and Mary Mohler’s leadership of the Seminary Wives Institute.
A special October edition of Towers, the campus news magazine, includes a profile of Mohler, based on an extensive interview with him, and a photo essay of a day in the life of Mohler on Aug. 20, 2013.
James A. Smith Sr. is executive editor and chief spokesman at Southern Seminary. Following is the full text of the resolution marking R. Albert Mohler Jr.’s 20th anniversary as president of Southern Seminary unanimously adopted by the school’s board of trustees in its Oct. 14-15 semi-annual meeting.
Resolution of Thanksgiving and Appreciation for R. Albert Mohler Jr. on the Occasion of His Twentieth Anniversary as President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Whereas, Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. was elected ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary by the Board of Trustees on March 26, 1993; and
Whereas, Dr. Mohler was inaugurated as president of Southern Seminary on October 15, 1993; and
Whereas, before his election as president, Dr. Mohler had previously served as an administrator and was a distinguished Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy graduate of Southern Seminary; and
Whereas, Dr. Mohler’s profound affection for Southern Seminary is evidenced by his deep knowledge of the history of the institution and his stewardship of the school as president for the last 20 years; and
Whereas, upon taking office, Dr. Mohler immediately commenced the implementation of his vision to restore Southern Seminary to the Founders’ commitment of a confessional school based on fidelity to Scripture and The Abstract of Principles, grounded in a steadfast allegiance to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and its confession of faith, The Baptist Faith and Message; and
Whereas, Dr. Mohler eloquently expressed his vision to restore Southern Seminary in his first Convocation Address, “Don’t Just Do Something: Stand There!”, delivered to the seminary community on August 31, 1993; and
Whereas, Dr. Mohler unwaveringly withstood vehement opposition and sometimes deeply personal attacks upon himself and family by elements of the faculty, alumni and others in the Southern Baptist Convention determined to see his vision unfulfilled; and
Whereas, because of his commitment to restore a confessional seminary based on the total truthfulness of God’s Word, Dr. Mohler was able to recruit faculty with both the highest academic credentials and deepest Gospel ministry commitments, resulting in the finest collection of evangelical scholars in the world; and
Whereas, because of his commitment to restore a confessional seminary based on the total truthfulness of God’s Word, Dr. Mohler’s convictional leadership has attracted outstanding students from across the nation and around the world seeking Gospel ministry training, resulting in one of the world’s largest seminary student bodies and the largest number of Master of Divinity students in any seminary; and
Whereas, because of his commitment to restore a confessional seminary based on the total truthfulness of God’s Word, Dr. Mohler’s management has resulted in a financially sound institution with a budget more than twice as large, an endowment more than thirty million dollars larger, and campus facilities that are well-maintained, improving and expanding; and
Whereas consistent with his commitment to restoring a confessional seminary based on the total truthfulness of God’s Word, Dr. Mohler has led in the development of new academic programs – including the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry and Boyce College – to better equip ministers to serve more faithfully the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention; and
Whereas, even while leading the recovery of Southern Seminary, Dr. Mohler has played a strategic role of leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention as longtime president of the Council of Seminary Presidents; by service on key SBC task forces and committees, including the Presidential Theological Study Committee (1994), Program and Structure Study Committee (1995), Baptist Faith and Message study committees (1998, 2000), the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (2010), and the Calvinism Advisory Committee (2013); and by delivering the Convention Sermon in 1995; and
Whereas, in addition to his seminary and denominational leadership, Dr. Mohler is widely admired as an innovative communicator of evangelical convictions to the broader American society through his extensive writing ministry; multi-media platforms; as a frequent commentator on theological, moral and social issues in the nation’s most prominent newspapers, magazines, network and cable television news programs; and in many other venues; and
Whereas, because of Dr. Mohler’s personal investment in students, faculty and administrators, key leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention and the broader evangelical world have been drawn from among those most closely associated with Dr. Mohler during his 20-year tenure at Southern Seminary; and
Whereas, Mary Mohler, Dr. Mohler’s wife and ministry partner since 1983, has made an incalculable investment in Southern Seminary through her founding in 1997 of the Seminary Wives Institute, training nearly 2,500 wives of students to better equip women for their unique roles as ministry partners to their husbands; and
Whereas, Mary Mohler modeled grace, humility and steadfast allegiance, standing by and supporting Dr. Mohler during times of severe opposition, even sometimes when she and their children, Katie and Christopher, were the subjects of personal attacks; and
Whereas, the seminary community has watched as Katie and Christopher have grown from young children to young adults, and the Mohlers have been blessed this year with the marriage of Katie to Riley Barnes, while Christopher continues his studies at Boyce College; and
Whereas, Dr. Mohler reaffirmed his vision for the seminary in a report to messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston this year: “I want to stand before you now twenty years later and say that those commitments are not fulfilled; they are here reaffirmed, as we move forward in an age unprecedented to do what the Lord Jesus Christ would have us to do;” and
Whereas, Dr. Mohler cast his vision for the coming decade at Southern Seminary in his twentieth anniversary Convocation Address, “Don’t Just Stand There – Say Something: The Sin of Silence in a Time of Trouble,” delivered on August 20, 2013.
Now, therefore, be it Resolved, that the Board of Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, October 14-15, 2013, express our thanks to God for His kind providence in leading our predecessor trustees to elect Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. as ninth president of this institution; and
Resolved, that we give our thanks to God for blessing Dr. Mohler uniquely with the requisite spiritual gifts, insight, intelligence and character to provide the convictional leadership that was necessary to restore Southern Seminary to its Founders’ vision; and
Resolved, that we congratulate Dr. Mohler on his twentieth anniversary as president of Southern Seminary, with great hopefulness that God will continue to grant him health and perseverance to lead the school for many more years; and
Resolved, that we express our profound gratitude to Dr. Mohler for his faithfulness to his vision to restore The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as a school committed to the total truthfulness of God’s Word and fidelity to the institution’s founding confession of faith, The Abstract of Principles, and the Southern Baptist Convention’s confession of faith, The Baptist Faith and Message; and
Resolved, that we express our unqualified support for Dr. Mohler’s reaffirmation of his vision for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as an institution committed to the total truthfulness of God’s Word and fidelity to its confessional statements, The Abstract of Principles and The Baptist Faith and Message; and
Resolved, that we give thanks to God for trustees, faculty, students, administrators, friends of the seminary and others who played key roles throughout the last 20 years in providing support to Dr. Mohler as he led the restoration of Southern Seminary to the Founders’ vision; and
Resolved, that we extend our profound gratitude to Mary Mohler, Katie Mohler Barnes, and Christopher Mohler for their irreplaceable devotion and incomparable assistance to Dr. Mohler as he has led Southern Seminary for the last 20 years; and
Resolved, that the Chairman of the Board of Trustees send a copy of this resolution to Dr. Fred Luter Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Dr. Frank Page, president of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, with greetings from this Board and with encouragement that it be shared with the wider Southern Baptist family so that all may join us in celebrating this important milestone in the ministry of Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. and history of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Few people are indispensable, but theologian Carl F.H. Henry and his role in the evangelical movement can be described as just that, said Southern Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. at a Sept. 26 celebration of Henry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The daylong conference, “Carl F.H. Henry: A Centennial Celebration,” honored the legacy of Henry, who died in 2003 and would have been 100 this year. In addition to Mohler, the conference featured plenary sessions led by Gregory Alan Thornbury, Paul House, Richard Mouw and John Woodbridge.
In his address, “The Indispensable Evangelical: Carl F.H. Henry and Evangelical Ambition in the 20th Century,” Mohler compared Henry’s role in evangelicalism to that of George Washington during the American Revolution, describing Henry as “the indispensable evangelical,” the “brain of the evangelical movement” and the “theological luminary of the 20th century.”
Mohler reflected on his interactions with Henry as a student and later as Southern Seminary president, comparing Henry’s influence to that of a father. He also discussed Henry’s many ambitions, which Mohler labeled “evangelical, institutional, theological, cultural and political and personal.” Not all of these ambitions were realized, he said, but they live on in individuals and institutions that bear Henry’s influence.
“Our ambitions may be somewhat different than those of the evangelical movement’s founders, but they are no more noble,” Mohler said. “We stand not only in their debt, but in their shadows. In an age which will require of us an even greater theological clarity and theological wisdom, may we be worthy to pick up the mantle they’ve handed to us.”
Henry’s legacy in the evangelical movement is evidenced both in the speakers at the conference and the sponsors for the event, which both bear the mark of Henry himself. Conference sponsors included Southern Seminary, Beeson Divinity School, Fuller Theological Seminary, Union University, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Christianity Today, Crossway Books and Prison Fellowship.
A panel discussion with Russell D. Moore, David Dockery, Timothy George and Mark Galli answered any doubts about why Henry is remains relevant.
“What he was saying has ongoing relevance to the things that we’re all facing in evangelicalism right now,” said Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Moore’s debt to Henry, he said, is revealed by the copies of Henry’s groundbreaking book, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism, that he frequently gives away.
“Dr. Henry used to say, ‘We serve a God who is the God of both justice and justification,’ and I think that’s a message that is ongoingly needed for the church,” said Moore, former senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary.
For Dockery, president of Union University, the conference provided an occasion to honor and give thanks for the life of Henry.
“We give thanks for his amazing legacy and the way he’s touched all of us is through his prolific pen and the way he addressed so many key theological issues and ethical issues throughout his 50 years of publication,” said Dockery, former dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary.
Also on the panel was Galli, editor of Christianity Today, the magazine where Henry was founding editor, 1956-1968. Galli credits Henry for bringing “a sense of respect to CT,” and lauded Henry for the role he believed theology should play in public life.
“He was not satisfied with just talking with other people in the academy, he wanted evangelical theology to be spread far and wide,” Galli said.
While Galli considers himself “a happy recipient” of Henry’s legacy at Christianity Today, previous editorial staffs have not always been so highly esteemed Henry.
“When I first got to CT, frankly, there were conversations where Carl Henry was disparaged,” Galli said.
Conference attendees all received copies of the first issue of Christianity Today, published on Oct. 15, 1956.
George, the dean of Beeson Divinity School, said Henry knew that his convictions would bring opposition, but he also knew how to hold such convictions humbly and interact with opponents lovingly.
“He stood clearly and firmly for conservative, convictional beliefs, but he did so with irenicism, and a charity and an intelligence that could not be dismissed” by his opponents, said George, former professor of church history at Southern Seminary.
The conference began with Mouw, who recently retired from his long-time post as president of Fuller Theological Seminary, where Henry served as one of the founding faculty members.
In his presentation, “Toward a ‘Full-Orbed’ Evangelical Ethic: The Pioneering Contribution of Carl Henry,” Mouw argued that such a full-orbed ethic demands more than a merely generic evangelical theology.
Mouw called evangelicals to the “comprehensive revealed ethic, full-orbed as Christian theology" that Henry articulated in his writings. Evangelicals can do this, Mouw argued, by drawing from different theological traditions to develop a “thick” ethical understanding.
Woodbridge, research professor of church history and history of Christian thought at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, spoke on, “Carl F.H. Henry: A Biblically Faithful Theologian-Evangelist.” Woodbridge explored the reasons Henry believed both theologians and evangelists should strive to become biblically faithful theologian-evangelists.
Thornbury spoke on, “‘Vain Philosophy’? Carl Henry’s Plea for a Philosophically Informed Ministry.” In August, Thornbury, author of the recently released book, Recovering Classic Evangelicalism: Applying the Wisdom and Vision of Carl F.H. Henry, became president of The King’s College in New York City, a city that Henry viewed as a strategic location for an evangelical school.
Closing the conference was House, an Old Testament professor at Beeson Divinity School who formerly taught at Southern Seminary. His paper was titled, “Hope, Discipline and the Incarnational Scholar: Carl Henry’s Theological Method and Manners.”
Audio and video from the conference are available at sbts.edu/resources.
If not careful, even seminary students can hold a deficient understanding of the gospel, said Adam W. Greenway during his Oct.1 installation address as the new dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Greenway, 35, is the first dean of the school since it expanded as the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, combining the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism, established in 1994, and the School of Church Ministries, which began in 2009. The new Graham School officially opened in August.
Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. introduced Greenway, giving background to the Billy Graham School.
“The Billy Graham School will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year. It was 20 years ago that Dr. Billy Graham was present here in Louisville for the announcement of the establishment of that school as a part of my inauguration,” Mohler said. “The Lord has greatly blessed this school over the years. This is the Lord’s timing that as the Billy Graham School enters into its 20th year and as it’s aimed toward the future, Adam Greenway would be its dean.”
Greenway, associate professor of evangelism and applied apologetics, preached from 2 Corinthians 5 about “A Full Gospel Ministry.” This era may be the “golden age” for theological uncertainty and gospel compromise, he said, so students must confidently profess their beliefs about the gospel.
“If ever there was a time that we need a recovery of the gospel message, mandate and mission, it is in our day,” Greenway said.
He offered four aspects of a “full gospel ministry.” He emphasized that students who will enter ministry need to comprehend the greatness of the gospel.
First, Greenway said the gospel has a “divine origination.” Everything has its source in God, and he is the hero of the redemption story of Scripture. God delights in reconciling people to himself, Greenway said.
The gospel also involves a “divine declaration,” Greenway said, who is also the chairman of the board of trustees for LifeWay Christian Resources.
People are corrupted, and each time they sin, it is like swiping a credit card that needs to be paid, Greenway said. God would be just to charge a person’s sins to his or her account. But, he said, if God did that, humans would be doomed.
Greenway said that because of the declaration, the gospel’s third aspect is also necessary: a “divine transaction.” People need someone to pay their debt of sin, and Jesus accomplished this on the cross. Citing 2 Corinthians 5:21, he encouraged students to contemplate what it means that Christ became sin in order to reconcile sinners to God.
Greenway’s final aspect of a full gospel ministry is its “divine mission.” He pointed out the importance of obeying the Great Commission mandate of declaring the gospel. He said that too often students disconnect theology from evangelism.
Greenway said that the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry exists to help students apply theology to life, resulting in a full ministry of the gospel.
“Theology never finds its full expression until it becomes the driving force and passion that leads us to proclaim to sinners that there is salvation in Jesus Christ,” said Greenway.
He finished his address by expressing his thankfulness for the seminary and its faculty, who work together for the same goal in training students.
“I believe at Southern Seminary in general and the Billy Graham School in particular, there’s never been a greater assembling of God-called individuals who are passionate about the full range of the Great Commission: worship, evangelism, discipleship, leadership and missions,” Greenway said. “We’ve got the family together in the Billy Graham School, and we believe it is at the very heartbeat of God that our mission and mandate is to see the nations come to worship Christ.”
Mohler, at the conclusion of the service, presented Greenway with a plaque commemorating the installation.
Audio and video from Greenway’s message are available at sbts.edu/resources.