The ‘things revealed’ by God are the only source for Christian knowledge and education, said Mohler at spring convocation
God’s revelation about himself through Scripture is the primary basis for all Christian knowledge and education, said R. Albert Mohler Jr. at spring convocation for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Feb. 5.
Mohler, who is president of Southern Seminary, delivered a convocation address titled “The Things Revealed Belong to Us and To Our Children Forever.” Preaching from Deuteronomy 29:29, Mohler said Christians recognize two central tenets about human knowledge, both found in this verse: Human beings cannot know everything (a realm of knowledge called the “secret things” that only God knows), and humans can know and treasure the things God has chosen to disclose to them (called the “things he has revealed” in Deuteronomy).
“What it means to be the body of Christ is that we are a Scriptural people and that we are defined by the ‘things revealed,’” Mohler said. “Amongst the great joy of Christ’s people in the congregation — in our singing, in our worship, in our preaching, in our conversation, in the ministry and missions of the church — everything comes down to the great confidence that ‘the things revealed belong to us.’ We know how to tell people to come to Jesus. We know how to diagnose the human problem as sin. We know how to point people to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know how to tell the story of Jesus — conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. We know how to point to the empty tomb.”
All reality is divided into categorical distinctives, according to Mohler — light and darkness; life and death. One of the most important is the distinction between the “secret things” and the “things revealed” in Deuteronomy 29:29. But modern culture does not concede this distinction, Mohler said. Modern scientists and philosophers believe there are no such borders to human knowledge, and humankind could know everything if it had enough time and resources to explore. But Christians do not think this. Believers who affirm a biblical worldview must not only admit these limitations but embrace them, Mohler said.
“You can close your eyes at night because the ‘secret things’ belong to God. You can open your eyes in the morning because the ’secret things’ belong to God,” Mohler said. “When the secular world can look at the world and see nothing but accident and randomness, you see the ‘secret things’ that belong to God. That is a tremendous comfort.”
Christian theology has long observed two categories of revelation, or God’s disclosure about himself to humankind: General revelation (knowledge about God observed in nature) and special revelation (knowledge about God observed through Scripture). As the Apostle Paul explained in Romans 1, God has revealed in nature even his invisible attributes, so human beings are without excuse in their sin. This includes a deeply ingrained sense of right and wrong, Mohler said, noting that in every culture, a two-year-old boy who does something wrong knows he must hide.
But human beings are saved only because of special revelation, according to Mohler, who noted that the surrounding context of Deuteronomy 29 makes it clear that the “things revealed” are special revelation. And this special revelation is found in Holy Scripture, the existence of which is an act of divine love, Mohler said.
“God has intended every word of Scripture for every one of us — that is really good news. This is God’s gift, this is grace,” Mohler said. “[The things revealed] don’t belong to a cast of us, they don’t belong to a few of us, and they are not given to a priestly order or a magisterium. [Deuteronomy teaches] ‘the things revealed belong to us.’ All of it.”
Drawing from the late Baptist theologian, Carl F.H. Henry, Mohler said that God’s self-disclosure is a forfeiture of “personal privacy” that human beings might know him. God could have created the entire world — and everyone in it — without revealing anything about himself. But he chose not to do that, Mohler said. And that revelation should be treasured and passed on to the next generation, both through faithful Christian parenting and faithful Christian teaching. Southern Seminary, Mohler said, is a one-of-a-kind institution because it takes the Bible seriously.
“What does this mean for us, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College? It means that, without apology, the Holy Scriptures are what we believe,” he said. “It means, without apology, that we are not trying — in any class, any endeavor, any course, in any way — to outgrow the Scriptures. We are completely dependent at every point upon the things revealed, and it is our responsibility ... to make very clear the biblical nature of everything that is taught, tying it to the ultimate authority of Scripture.”
Audio and video of the convocation address are available at equip.sbts.edu.