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Spiritual battles more consequential than military battles, Mohler tells trustees

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–America is in the midst of a military battle overseas, but Christian ministers worldwide are in the midst of a spiritual battle with far greater consequences, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said Oct. 16.

Speaking at the seminary’s fall board of trustees meeting, Mohler addressed Southern’s business matters, but first spoke about the seminary’s role in the world following tragic events of recent days.

“The minister of the gospel is going to face opposition far more intense [and] far more dangerous than that faced by the military soldier in battle,” he said. “The stakes are so much higher. In battle, life and lives are hanging in the balance. In the spiritual battle, eternity is hanging in the balance. That is a sobering reality.

“We want to send out our students better armed than the soldiers being sent to Afghanistan, better prepared and better trained because the stakes are ever higher. They are the stewards of the mysteries of God.”

Southern Seminary, Mohler told the board, is in great shape to do such service. He reported that the school has an on-campus enrollment of 2,066 students, an increase of 8.39 percent increase over the same time last year. Mohler also said that by the end of the year, the combined on-campus and off-campus enrollment should be somewhere over 3,000 students.

The events of Sept. 11 present those students — and the Christian church as a whole — with a unique opportunity to share the gospel, Mohler said. People today are “asking questions they would have been embarrassed to ask before. They’re having conversations with people they would have been hesitant to have had before.”

Mohler said much can be learned from Augustine’s book “The City of God,” written in the fifth century during the fall of Rome. Augustine said there were two cities: the city of God and the city of man. At the end of time, only the city of God will remain.

“I hope the graduates of Southern Seminary make a difference in the city of man,” he said. “I hope because of their ministries there is a difference made in the city of man. But that is hardly ultimate. Our ultimate concern should be that there are more persons in the city of God because the Lord — to his own glory and by his own sovereignty — used our students to bring persons through faith to his Son Jesus Christ.”

The fall of the World Trade Center towers should bring a sense of urgency to all Christians, Mohler said.

“I wonder how many people were waiting for the right opportunity to share the gospel with some of the people who were in those towers,” he said. “They were thinking that perhaps they needed to wait for a prompting of the Spirit [and] just wait until they thought somebody was ready to hear the gospel. I wonder how many of those people died without hearing the gospel, when there was someone who could have spoken the gospel to them.”

Mohler said that this sense of urgency extends to Southern Seminary.

“It’s a sobering reality for a theological seminary to think, ‘We better make sure that every single minute is rightly invested and not one moment is wasted.’ … We need, on behalf of those who are dying and know not that they are dying, to get as many people as possible out into the ministry and mission fields of the world and do so as quickly as possible.”

In business matters:

— Trustees approved, in principle and concept, a recommendation to reduce the number of board members from 65 to 45. The action authorizes the president to work with the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee to revise the seminary charter to provide for the change. The revision will be considered by the board of trustees in April 2002.

— Trustees approved a name change for the seminary’s school of Christian education and leadership. The new name will be the school of leadership and church ministry. Mohler said the name change will reflect a more “specific mission that fits the churches’ needs in this generation.”

— Mohler said the Rice and Judson Hall project, which will convert what used to be dorms into a conference center with guest housing, is on schedule. Mohler said the plan calls for the fall 2002 board of trustees meeting to take place in the new complex.

— Trustees passed a resolution honoring Craig Blaising and congratulating Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for his election. Blaising, a theology professor and associate vice president for doctoral studies at Southern, will join the Southwestern staff in January as an executive vice president and provost. Southwestern’s board of trustees elected Blaising to the position Oct. 16.

— Mohler announced that “Truth on the Line,” his weekly radio show, is moving to a new time and expanding to a full hour. The show, hosted by Mohler, will be broadcast Wednesdays at 5 p.m. The program will soon also be available on the Internet at www.truthontheline.com.

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  • Michael Foust