LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — The church has been in a “predicament” for 2000 years, with its continuing faithfulness determined by its commitment to stand firm despite that predicament, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said during Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s fall convocation Aug. 27.
Mohler, Southern Seminary’s president, drew from 1 Corinthians 11:18-31 in an address titled “The Christian Predicament,” noting that the church is considered foolish and scandalous for its commitment to the cross of Christ — and that is exactly what God intended in His wisdom.
“We are in a predicament, and God meant it that way,” Mohler said. “It is to His glory. In that predicament is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation.”
During convocation, Mohler announced the inauguration of two endowed faculty positions featuring central figures in both the Southern Baptist Convention and Southern Seminary: Mark Dever as the Duke K. McCall Professor of Pastoral Leadership and Robert L. Plummer as the Collin and Evelyn Aikman Professor of Biblical Studies.
Additionally, three faculty members signed the Abstract of Principles, the seminary’s historic doctrinal foundation.
In his address, Mohler emphasized the unique challenge facing every era of the Christian church: that the world will consider them “foolish” for their core doctrinal beliefs.
In his epistle, the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians with candor, Mohler said, about that church’s many factions, debates and controversies, knowing that the Gospel was at stake, and the only solution was sound doctrine.
The doctrine that Paul emphasized was the centrality of the cross, which is the same doctrine the church must fight for today, Mohler said. Such theology is not popular to the world, he said, but it is crucial to the church’s vitality and faithfulness to God’s calling.
“Brothers and sisters, we are in a pinch, because the world will not like what happens on this campus. And the more they get to know what happens on this campus, the less they’re going to like it,” he said. “The exhortation [from Scripture] is that we live in such a way that we are never the scandal. But we preach Christ crucified — foolishness, scandal, stumbling block. That is our predicament, and that predicament is going to frame the rest of your lives as Christians and the entirety of your ministries.”
The church’s predicament is a universal one, Mohler said, as all fallen human beings hate the cross; People who do not understand the power of the cross find it horrifying, and no church in any age can escape this.
This predicament is honorable, Mohler said, because it sets the church apart for a sacred mission. The closer one looks at the cross, he said, the more it pictures the honor, righteousness and wisdom of God, regardless of what the world thinks.
“If we’re worried about our honor, let’s go home,” he said. “Our honor isn’t going to survive, but God’s honor will.”
Starting this semester, Mark Dever is now the Duke K. McCall Professor of Pastoral Leadership at Southern Seminary. He will continue as senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C., where he has served since 1994. He is the president of the 9Marks leadership and church health ministry and author of numerous books.
Dever earned a master of divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a master of theology from Southern Seminary and a Ph.D. from Cambridge University.
Mohler voiced gratitude “that the Lord has brought together this provision for a new endowed professorship in this form, and for the service of Dr. Mark Dever — long a friend of this institution, and now a friend and colleague in this special role.”
The new Collin and Evelyn Aikman Professor of Biblical Studies, meanwhile, is named for the Alabama couple who members of Grace College Baptist Church in Robertsdale.
Collin Aikman graduated from Georgia Tech University in chemical engineering and served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force after graduation. He worked as a process chemical engineer at Union Carbide in West Virginia and finished his career as vice president and general manager in the Mobile office of BE&K Engineering.
Robert Plummer, as the inaugural Aikman professor, has taught New Testament, hermeneutics and Greek at Southern Seminary since 1999 and is the founder of the Daily Dose of Greek internet resource to help pastors and seminary graduates maintain their knowledge of New Testament Greek. He holds master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southern Seminary and an undergraduate degree from Duke University.
During convocation, Matthew J. Hall, senior vice president of academic administration and provost, signed the Abstract of Principles, along with Ayman S. Ibrahim, Bill and Connie Jenkins Professor of Islamic Studies and John M. Klaassen, associate professor of global studies.