LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Countercultural Christianity is the necessary result of friendship with Jesus, said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“We have to go out as an insurgency,” Mohler said in his Feb. 2 convocation address.
Ministers of the Gospel “are likely to spend the rest of our lives spending social capital in the world around us and in the secular world’s mind in order to share the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in all its saving power,” Mohler said.
Preaching from John 15:12-26, Mohler said friendship with Christ is grounded in His choosing and preservation of believers, guaranteeing that they can fulfill the countercultural work to which they are called.
Mohler noted how differently he understood this passage as a teenager when Christianity carried social capital and no one objected to his call to ministry.
“Gone are the days when the aspiration of this institution would be to provide gentlemen ministers for a gentlemanly culture,” Mohler said. “What we’re left with now is preparing ministers of the Gospel for a church like is described in the Gospel of John chapter 15 … understanding that the only basis by which this can possibly happen is because we did not choose Him but He chose us.”
The cultural revolution has resulted in a “great displacement” — a loss of social capital for evangelical Christianity because of its commitment to biblical authority, Mohler said.
This loss, he said, illustrates that evangelicals in the past identified with the culture at their own peril. “If you can’t tell the difference between the church and the culture, it isn’t that the church has been victorious over the culture; it’s because the culture has been victorious over the church,” he said.
Allegiance to Christ will prove costly for Christians, Mohler said. In his introductory remarks, he welcomed new students to a “movement” and a “tribe,” reiterating in his address how the cultural majority perceives evangelicalism.
Mohler underscored an urgency for “building a different civilization” because of this loss of social capital.
“It will be to Christ’s glory that His church is understood to be so radically different than the world,” Mohler said. “I read the Book and that’s how it ends. I read the Gospel of John and that’s why Jesus went to the cross.”
Prior to his message, Mohler installed Ayman S. Ibrahim as the Bill and Connie Jenkins Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies. Ibrahim has served as the senior fellow of the seminary’s Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam since July 2015. He received his doctor of philosophy degree from Fuller Theological Seminary and is working on a second doctorate at University of Haifa.
“In the year 2016, in order to prepare ministers of the Gospel for ministry in this world, and in order to recognize the implications for missions, globalization, ministry and evangelism, a professor of Islamic studies is necessary at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,” Mohler said after installing Ibrahim in the endowed chair.
Mohler also announced the appointment of David “Gunner” Gundersen as assistant professor of biblical counseling at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of the seminary. Gundersen received his Ph.D. from Southern and his master’s degrees from The Master’s Seminary. He has served as director of student life at Boyce since 2011.
Audio and video of Mohler’s convocation address are available online at www.sbts.edu/resources.