The Ultimate Goal of Theological Education is Holiness, Mohler says at Spring Convocation
Studying theology at the deepest level is not an end to itself but is ultimately a means to the learner’s holiness, Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler told students and faculty Tuesday at the school’s annual Spring Convocation.
Drawing on 1 Peter 1:13-25, Mohler said studying the Word of God is such a high privilege, angels long to obtain such knowledge. The president’s address was titled, “Preparing Your Minds for Action: The Means and Ends of Christian Learning.”
“I don’t think it’s wrong to think that there are angels that are envious of you,” Mohler said to students and faculty, (envious) of those who are going to be able to dive deeply into the truth of God’s Word, to look deeply into the truths revealed in Scripture, to know the doctrine and teaching of the church deeply, to understand the gospel more comprehensively.
“Angels long to look into these things. Angels—beings created for the glory of God—have a knowledge certainly, but the knowledge given to us in Scripture is superior to their knowledge.”
In 1 Peter and many other places in Scripture, such as Leviticus 11:44, God commands his people to be holy because he is holy. Mohler said this is the ultimate goal for all study of God’s Word. He noted that theological education is merely the means to the end of holiness, and the two must never be confused.
“Books, classes, lectures, teachers, schools, colleges, universities, seminaries—even the most godly—are simply means, not ends,” he said. “Means to what? Means to the preaching of the gospel and the fulfillment of the Great Commission? Yes. Means to the edification of the saints and to growth in godliness? Yes. Means for planting churches and feeding churches? Yes. But even those are penultimate. The end is holiness.”
Mohler encouraged students to prepare their minds for action, to apply rigorous efforts to their studies, preparing for ministry to the glory of God.
“It’s a good word at the beginning of an academic term,” he said. “You can’t just lazily enter Christian learning and expect to get learning. You can’t lackadaisically enter the classroom. You can’t just unenergetically accept this as the use of time.
“Something explosive is going to take place. The mystery of learning is beyond our comprehension—how is it that God allows our mind to comprehend his revelation? It is, of course, the imago dei, it is his condescension to us, his grace and mercy to us.”
Learning by no means ends when a student completes seminary, Mohler said. Seminary merely furnishes a graduate with tools to continue lifelong digging, studying, researching, and learning the things of God. Theology lessons will only be complete in eternity.
“You are going to leave here with more learning to learn,” he said. “But you will have learned the tools of learning. You will have received a foundation for learning that will propel you into a life of preparing your minds for action. Ultimately, our knowledge is only completed on that day and only by the Lord Jesus Christ.”
But those who are studying God’s Word must be careful to make certain they are studying for transformation, not merely for information.
“If we are to be found in this life believing these truths, saved by this gospel, followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we had better no longer be conformed to the passions of our former ignorance,” Mohler said. “Rather, as Paul would say, we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds.”
You may view the entire convocation here.
During the service, two professors signed the Abstract of Principles, the seminary’s historic confession of faith which faculty members agree to teach in accord with and not contrary to the doctrines contained in it.
In signing the Abstract, professors promise to teach its doctrines “without hesitation, mental reservation, nor any private arrangement” with seminary leadership. Mohler said that signing the document is a sacred moment for professors because of the public nature of the act.
Signatories were Joseph C. Harrod, Associate Professor of Biblical Spirituality, and John D. Wilsey, Associate Professor of Church History and Philosophy.
Mohler also welcomed two new members to the faculty, both of whom began this semester: Dustin W. Benge, Associate Professor of Biblical Spirituality and Historical Theology, and Eric C. Smith, Associate Professor of Church History.