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Mohler charges graduates to be ‘dangerous ministers’

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–A standing-room-only crowd packed into Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Alumni Chapel for the Louisville, Ky., institution’s 183rd commencement ceremony May 21.
The seminary’s faculty conferred 148 degrees to graduates representing 28 states and 11 foreign countries. The graduates earned 13 types of degrees, ranging from the diploma in theology to the doctor of philosophy.
At 8 p.m. on May 21, the seminary’s James P. Boyce College of the Bible held its first commencement since becoming a four-year college, conferring 27 associate of arts degrees and seven certificates.
The seminary’s commencement service included the annual recognition of the professor elected by a committee of faculty, students and one alumnus to receive the Findley B. and Louvenia Edge Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence.
Phillip Landgrave, professor of church music, smiled as he received the award amid a standing ovation. Landgrave, author of numerous musical works, has recently recovered from a serious skull fracture that not only threatened his life, but also threatened to prohibit — to no avail — the completion of a musical drama he was writing that had been scheduled for presentation long before the accident.
Mohler, introducing his commencement sermon from Acts 4:1-12, asked the graduates, “Do you see yourself as a threat to the powers of evil and darkness, and to the reality of lostness and the power of sin?”
He referred to the healing of the lame man by Apostles Peter and John as recorded in Acts 3, and then to the sermon Peter preached to onlookers.
“We certainly cannot accuse Peter of ‘user-friendly’ preaching,” Mohler said. “Peter is not trying to find what is going to tickle the ears of his congregation. Instead, he seizes the opportunity, and with a laser-beam accuracy he goes right to the heart of the matter and says, ‘What exactly do you expect of the God who is represented by this temple?’”
In chapter 4, the temple authorities — who were upset with the apostles’ teaching of the resurrection of the dead — sought to arrest them for healing the lame man.
There is an element of danger in such preaching and ministry, Mohler warned. “As you go out into the world, it is not just that you’ll be ministering among lambs, but among lions. There are long claws and long fangs and hungry appetites for you.”
Such was the fate of Peter and John, being imprisoned by some of the same officials who had sought to kill Jesus. Leading the inquisition was a “high priest with a low theology,” Mohler said.
Describing the Sadducees as “early modernists of the first century” and “demythologizers before demythologizing was cool,” Mohler said they were known more for “what they denied rather than what they believed.” The Sadducees denied and did not believe in the “supernatural in general,” especially the “resurrection — and these were the priests,” Mohler said.
“By what power?” was the question posed to the apostles, Mohler noted. “It is perhaps the most important question any minister of the gospel may be asked: ‘By what power, or in what name have you done this?’
“There are some ministries built on the power of charisma … [or] eloquence … [or] technique. … Some trust in the power of the media, [saying,] ‘Let us just send out some waves in the air … rather than to send out missionaries,” Mohler contended.
“It was not so for the apostles.” They preached, “and the lame leapt for joy. [And] thousands believed” because of the miracle.
“My exhortation to you is that you minister in the power of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, and that you refuse and you deny and you reject any other power — any lesser power. And in particular may every minister of the gospel be determined never to minister in our own power.”
Since the entire community was “abuzz” by the apostles’ miracle, the temple officials could hardly deny it, Mohler said. So the officials attacked the miracle workers by questioning their authority.
“’Who do you think you are? a couple of local yokels from the hill country [who] don’t have the right to come up here in the temple and declare anything in the name of the Lord. That’s our authority,’” said Mohler, offering his version of how the apostles may have been questioned.
Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, “’whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead’” was the name and the authority Peter cited, Mohler said.
“The name of Jesus Christ must be the only name in which we minister,” he said.
“The name of Jesus Christ is the brand the authentic minister of the gospel wears with what we can perhaps describe as ‘humble pride.’ Humble because it is not our name. Proud because it is the name of the one by whom redemption has been wrought.”
With Peter having treaded dangerous ground, Mohler charged the graduates “to be dangerous men and women for the sake of the gospel. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by his power, be dangerous. Be a threat to the world lost in sin and darkness … to the power and the dominion of sin … to death by the proclamation of the gospel of life.
“May the earth tremble when you preach. May the forces of sin and darkness flee your path in fear,” he said. “May you be disturbers of the peace as your are ambassadors of the gospel.”
Mohler cited the Methodist preacher Peter Cartwright, who before one of his sermons was told by deacons that President Andrew Jackson was in the congregation and was warned not to say anything that would offend him.
“’I understand that President Andrew Jackson is here,’” said Mohler, quoting Cartwright. “’I have been requested to be guarded in my remarks. Andrew Jackson will go to hell if he does not repent.’”
Jackson later told Cartwright, “’Sir, if I had a regiment of men like you, I could whip the world.’”
Mohler said that the prayer of Southern’s faculty and the hope of Southern Baptist churches is that “with a regiment of ministers like you, the world might come to know the name which is above every name — that Jesus Christ is Lord, the glory of God the Father.”

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  • Norman Miller