The resurrection of Christ clarifies our task, Mohler says in fall convocation address
By Jacob Pearcy/SBTS
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – The opening convocation for the fall 2023 term of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College Aug. 29 was marked by a spirit of exuberance as the Southern Seminary community gathered in Alumni Memorial Chapel. As the faculty processed in to the opening hymn, the newly restored Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ was on full display.
Albert Mohler, Jr. delivered a commencement address that resonated with gratitude. In his welcoming remarks to the assembly of faculty, students, trustees, and families, he emphasized the profound significance of coming together to consecrate the upcoming semester to the Lord. Mohler’s address connected the activity of Southern Seminary and Boyce College back to the history of Christian faithfulness, even as the institution celebrates the present and looks forward to the future. “We are here for the prophets. We are here for the apostles. We are here for the evangelists and missionaries. We are here for the faithful throughout all the ages,” said Mohler.
Preaching from 1 Corinthians 15:19, Mohler placed emphasis on the cornerstone of Southern Seminary and Boyce College’s purpose: the resurrection of Christ. Building upon the apostle Paul’s argument, Mohler expounded that if not for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the teaching, the studying, the singing, and all else we do would be meaningless. “On the third day, He rose from the dead. That makes all the difference in the world,” said Mohler.
The resurrection of Christ, Mohler affirmed, not only forms the core of Christian belief but also clarifies the stakes. “It’s a matter of life and death.” It is because of what is at stake that Southern Seminary and Boyce College exist as an institution in service to the church. Mohler concluded, “It is our task to raise up preachers and teachers of the Word of God, servants of God in a multiplicity of disciplines – an invading force of young Christians going into the world to make a difference not just for time, but for eternity.”
During the service, three Southern Seminary and Boyce College professors signed the Abstract of Principles, the seminary’s founding confession of faith: Paul M. Akin, Associate Professor of Christian Missions, Provost, and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration, Kyle D. Claunch, Associate Professor of Christian Theology, and Adam J. Howell, Associate Professor of Old Testament Interpretation.
In signing the Abstract, professors agree to teach its doctrines “without hesitation, mental reservation, nor any private arrangement” with seminary leadership. All faculty sign the abstract before teaching at Southern Seminary and Boyce College, but those elected by the Board of Trustees sign the original document with ink and quill. The public signing of the Abstract of Principles in the original professors’ book clarifies the faculty member’s full commitment to this confession.
During the event, Mohler introduced four new faculty members: Erin E. Austin, assistant professor of business and marketing; Roberto A. Carrera, assistant professor of biblical studies; Brent J. Small, assistant professor of business administration; Jason A. Thacker, assistant professor of philosophy and ethics. These new faculty members are a demonstration of the continued vitality of Southern Seminary and Boyce College.
The opening convocation was also the occasion for the seminary to welcome two new members of its trustee board: Christopher B. Davis of Reisterstown, Md., and D. Oran Woodworth of O Fallon, Mo.
Following the convocation ceremony, faculty, trustees, students, and staff joined Mohler in front of the Boyce Centennial Library to celebrate its reopening to students after a renovation that began in December 2021.
We are a Gospel people, Allen preaches in convocation address
By Brett Fredenberg/MBTS
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) – Midwestern Seminary inaugurated a new academic year during a convocation service Aug. 29, featuring a sermon by President Jason Allen on the centrality of the Gospel for life and ministry.
From Acts 9, Allen presented one of the most well-known conversion stories of all time, namely, the conversion of the apostle Paul. As he said, “Something happened in these verses that not only changed this man’s life but changed the world. These verses radiate the amazing grace of God.”
Allen reminded attendees that no matter how much activity happens at Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College, the Gospel always takes precedence. From singing and teaching to working and studying, the Gospel is at the core of it all.
“We are a Gospel people,” he said. The Good News of Christ’s work to bring dead hearts to life is the foundation for all the activity at the Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College.
Additionally, he said, “We are conversionists.”
“We must come to a point in time where we encounter Christ – when our sin becomes real, repentance becomes urgent, submission becomes obvious, delight in Christ becomes attractive, and our lives are changed by Jesus.”
Allen challenged attendees to consider their own faith, and if they find themselves not in Christ to repent and believe.
He said, “The same Gospel that reached Saul in such a dramatic fashion is the same Gospel that is reaching people today. Regardless of how far from Christ you find yourself this morning or how near to the things of God you find yourself this morning, if you are not in Christ there is hope through the Gospel of Jesus who saves.”
Allen then spoke of Saul’s past. Saul was not looking for Christ in this narrative, he said, he was looking for Christians to put to death.
He encouraged attendees to consider the depths of their own sinfulness and to marvel at the riches of God’s grace in the Gospel, for Jesus loves to set His affection on those whose hatred is set on Him.
He went on to share that these verses indicate how God radically converts a sinner.
Just as with every sinner called to salvation, nothing was attractive about Saul before Christ. In the Gospel, Saul goes from being the hunter to hunted, the persecutor to persecuted, the despiser to the despised. Everything changed for Saul in the Gospel.
Allen concluded his sermon by discussing two responses from Saul and Ananias.
Saul responded in simple obedience, Allen said.
“To see the glorified Lord in all his splendor is a blinding experience. Perhaps the Lord is teaching Saul a sense of humility and dependency. Perhaps this event cements in Saul’s heart that something radical has happened. In response, Saul is committed. He moves and follows the Word of the Lord.”
Allen shared how Ananias initially responds out of fear, reminding of how people often attempt to limit God’s work.
“The Gospel can reach anyone,” he said. “But our tendency is to be like Ananias and limit the power of God. In contrast, though, we should not be surprised when the most aggressive, belligerent, anti-Christian people in the world today are reached by Christ in the Gospel. God loves to reach the otherwise unreachable, to show forth His amazing grace.”
Prior to his address, Allen presented several matters of institutional updates to the seminary and college community.
Allen recognized and welcomed four new trustees to the seminary, each of which serve as local church pastors: Jeremy Pellum, Roderick Suite, David Taylor,and Casey Williams. Midwestern Seminary trustees serve five-year terms with the opportunity for one reappointment, allowing trustees the opportunity for a decade of leadership and service to the seminary.
Moreover, three newly elected seminary faculty members signed the institutions Articles of Faith during the service: Brett R. Akright, Joe M. Allen III, and Sam Bierig.
To view the entire convocation address, visit mbts.edu/events/chapel