Knowledge of Christ is the center of true education, says Mohler at Southern Seminary’s fall convocation
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — There is no true education when Jesus Christ is not recognized as the center of all learning, said R. Albert Mohler Jr. at his August 29 convocation address for the 2017-2018 academic year at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Preaching from Colossians 1:13-23 in an address titled “And in Him All Things Hold Together: Jesus Christ as Beginning and End of Knowledge,” Mohler said that Jesus Christ is not only the source of a “coherent” Christian faith, but the source of all coherence.
In a scientific age that places comprehensive authority on scientific knowledge, physicists even pursue a “unified field theory” to explain everything about the natural world. But according to the apostle Paul, only Jesus Christ explains all reality. Christ therefore should be the centerpiece of all higher education, Mohler said.
“That’s really an astounding claim; I realize what I’m saying,” he said. “I am saying that, when you look across the landscape, true education is happening here [at Southern Seminary] and it’s not happening elsewhere.”
While Mohler admitted that non-Christians can certainly know true things and observe the created order in all its complexity, they cannot understand how everything “holds together,” in the words of Colossians 1, without knowing the Incarnate Son.
“You can know true things without knowing the Truth,” Mohler said. “You can know that two plus two equals four, but only if you know that in him all things hold together do you understand why two plus two equals four.”
But, Mohler said, if true education is fundamentally theological, Christian institutions face a problem. Many of the most famous American institutions were formerly Christian before experiencing a gradual but decisive drift from the faith. There is a pattern of disengagement of Christian institutions from the church, Mohler said, resulting in a school detaching its curriculum from the explicit preaching of the Bible and eventually leaving its confessional moorings. The way to avoid such degradation is confessing the centrality of Christ.
He argued that since knowledge of Christ is the basis of all human knowledge, then Christ must be taught in every academic discipline — not just in theology or biblical studies. An institution’s curriculum should be built on theological and Christological foundations, with the ultimate goal not just mental acknowledgment, but worship.
“There is not one of us — entering student at Boyce or Ph.D. faculty of long standing — who does not need always to hear the preaching of the word of God, and we need to hear it together. As a student, if you are not even more faithful at church than you are at school, then you won’t hold together.”
Ultimately, Mohler said, the need to produce faithful preachers of the Word of God should drive all education. The Christian institution should be a factory for producing expositors, since that is the most important task of any school.
“Any school, any college, any university, any seminary, any educational institution that reduces the teaching of preachers to a sideline is an institution that is forfeiting true education,” he said. “I’m certainly not saying we don’t joyfully teach others who [are not called to preach], I am saying that we teach preachers most importantly and primarily. That’s the one thing we have to do.”
Three professors sign Abstract of Principles, five faculty members introduced
Prior to Mohler’s convocation address, three professors elected to the faculty during the spring trustee meeting signed the Abstract of Principles, the seminary’s confession of faith. R. Scott Connell, associate professor of music and worship leadership at Boyce College; Charles T. Lewis Jr., associate professor of church music and worship at Southern Seminary; and Brian K. Payne, associate professor of Christian theology and expository preaching at Boyce, became signees No. 258, 259, and 260 of the Abstract.
Mohler also recognized five new faculty members for the new academic year: Southern Seminary professors Kyle D. Claunch, assistant professor of Christian theology at Southern Seminary, and Tyler R. Wittman, assistant professor of Christian theology, along with Boyce College professors Tyler Flatt, assistant professor of humanities; Adam Howell, assistant professor of Old Testament interpretation; and Andrew Rogers, assistant professor of biblical counseling and program coordinator for the Boyce biblical counseling major.