Albert Mohler and Southern Seminary: A Word of Thanksgiving

I know Thanksgiving is a month away, but I cannot help but give thanks today for the impact Southern Seminary and Albert Mohler have had on me. This week marks President Mohler’s twentieth anniversary at Southern Seminary, and the folks there have put together an excellent twenty-five minute video chronicling the journey of this great school.

I cannot begin to express how much Southern Seminary and its president, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, have had on me. For the last nine years, Southern has invested pearls of wisdom and truckloads of biblical gold into my heart and life. So great is Southern’s impact on me, there’s not a day that goes by which I do not think of Southern, its faculty, my peers, and the truths I learned there. 

A Word of Thanksgiving

Every good thing comes from God, but God uses means. And in my life, one of the greatest conduits of grace has been that school.  Let me just list a few reasons: While at Southern, I met my wife at the old coffee shop (where Edgar’s is located today); I learned so much about God, the Bible, theology, and ministry there; I had my first tastes of ministry at Southern; I got to work alongside and learn from godly, gifted leaders; and I finished two degrees while there.

As I watch this documentary and think about all that God did through Dr. Mohler at SBTS, I am deeply moved. The impact of Southern’s turn-around is incalculable. My life is one of thousands who have been impacted personally and eternally. And beyond the students who have walked under the Beech trees, the world has been impacted by Southern’s new fleet of pastors, missionaries, and church leaders.

A Word of Apology

Sadly, there are some Southern Baptists who still look down at Southern and its theology. With anecdotal evidence transmitted too often through misunderstood caricatures, some have disparaged Southern as a seedbed for that vile weed “Calvinism.” Interestingly, while such ‘Calvinistic’ convictions were one of the reasons I came to study with Bruce Ware, Tom Schreiner, and others, my nine years focused on biblical theology, biblical exegesis, and biblical exposition. To say it more plainly, while at Southern the ‘Calvinists’ gave me the Bible and a passion for evangelistic ministry.

Such commitment to the Bible is Southern’s gift to the Southern Baptist Convention and to the world at large. Yes, there are many Calvinistic teachers at Southern—men who delight in the doctrines of grace and gladly articulate their theology from the Scriptures. But the instruction that I gained there was a far cry from a narrow-minded indoctrination of some system of theology. I was taught a biblical worldview, coupled with biblical counseling/preaching/leadership/etc., such that I could take a biblical gospel to a lost and dying world.

A Word to the Disgruntled

I pray that those who may still wonder what is going on at Southern would hear the story of her turn from liberalism and give thanks for the renewed emphasis on the Bible and all of its glorious truths.  When we consider the personal sacrifices made by Southern’s president, when we remember that the Bible is once again the bedrock of the curriculum, and when we honestly assess how many evangelists Southern sends out every year, it is hard—or is it shameful?—to point fingers at Southern. Far more appropriate is a response to praise God for the work that he has done at the SBC’s flagship seminary.

It should move us to pray for a double-portion of his grace at Southern and other schools, such that God-besotted, Bible-saturated evangelist-theologians would fill our pulpits and flood the nations. Take time to hear the story and give thanks to God for his work of grace at this theological university.

If you have time, you can read more about the last two decades here: Twenty Years and Counting: Mohler Reflects on His Presidency of Southern Seminary.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

One thought on “Albert Mohler and Southern Seminary: A Word of Thanksgiving

  1. Thanks for taking your time to write this article. I have been a Southen Baptist for 33 years (now am 57) and I’m so encouraged by what you have to say. My grown children have already gone to greener pastures (theologically speaking) and I have been worried that my husband and I would also be forced to leave. How wonderful to hear that we have reason for hope!

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