|NASHVILLE (BP) -- Convocations are among the ways Southern Baptist seminary communities gather together at the start of each spring and fall semester to continue holding forth their Kingdom aims.
Reports from three seminary convocations follow.
SOUTHERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
Mohler challenges students to pursue faithful obedience
By Craig Sanders
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Neglecting personal discipleship for the purpose of seminary studies is nothing short of disobedience, Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said Jan. 29 in his 40th convocation since assuming Southern's presidency in 1993.
Mohler delivered a sermon, "The Obedience of Faith," from Romans 16:25-27, the epistle's benediction. Noting the inspired mixture of doxology and benediction in the verses, Mohler explained "the mystery of Christian worship is that which glorifies God most pristinely, blesses us most powerfully."
The doxological portion of that passage centers on God's exclusive ability to strengthen believers in faith. Mohler pointed out that, if not for this ability, there would be no one in attendance at Southern Seminary's Alumni Chapel.
Mohler focused his message primarily on the apostle Paul's reference to "the obedience of faith," which he identifies as the intended result of "the command of the eternal God."
"The command of the Gospel is the command to believe," Mohler said, noting how this command is contrary to cultural desires that faith remain merely an intellectual option. Lack of faith, however, is disobedience to God's command.
On the other hand, "faith produces a life of obedience," Mohler said, referencing Eugene H. Peterson's illustration of faith as a "long obedience in the same direction."
Mohler then challenged the perception that time in seminary is primarily a means of education, rather than spiritual edification.
"One of the most dangerous things we could imagine is that the time we spend in a school like this would be an interregnum in terms of our Christian responsibility and discipleship," said Mohler, defining interregnum as a period of transition before full-time ministry that neglects wholehearted spiritual devotion.
"Your time in seminary is not about what you come to know but who you come to be," he said, emphasizing that obedience is central to every area of life, including one's own personal relationships.
Returning to the doxology in Paul's exhortation in Romans 16, Mohler reminded the chapel audience of the only means by which obedience can be accomplished. "Our obedience of faith is not because we are capable but because He is able," he said. "It is to the glory of the only wise God through Jesus Christ."
Before his address, Mohler spoke briefly about the Abstract of Principles, the defining document in the seminary's history. He then introduced Heath B. Lambert, a member the seminary's Boyce College faculty since 2008, who signed the abstract, which contains the signatures of the institution's founders. Lambert is the third Boyce faculty member elected to tenure.
Lambert also serves as executive director-elect of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors and is author of "Biblical Counseling After Adams" and co-author of "Counseling the Hard Cases."
Craig Sanders is a writer for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
MIDWESTERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
Allen emphasizes "indivisible union" between churches & seminaries
By T. Patrick Hudson
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jason K. Allen preached his first convocation service as president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Allen, in his Jan. 29 message, noted that while the day was certainly one of pageantry, pomp and circumstance, such a service holds a much deeper significance.
"All of the pageantry of a convocation service reasserts our fundamental beliefs; it restates our core values and convictions; it also reminds us that this is a day of consecration -- to rededicate ourselves to God's task and ask for God's blessings on students, staff and faculty," Allen said.
Transitioning to his message, Allen spoke from Matthew 16:13-20 on the subject "For the Church: Theological Education and the Future of Midwestern Seminary." There is simply no way to think of the seminary and not think of the local church, he said; they are a co-mingled subject.
"There should be an indivisible union of interconnectedness between the seminary and the church," Allen said, noting, "For the seminary to know its mission, it must first look to the church and the church's charter -- Matthew 16."
Within the relationship between the seminaries and local churches, Allen said both institutions are currently in states of crises. Many seminaries in America are experiencing crises of funding, identity, mission and a lack of accountability to the church. At the same time, many local churches are experiencing stagnancy, weak leadership, shallow sermons, apathy and a lack of young men aspiring to the pastorate.
Matthew 16, Allen said, depicts a similar scene to today's circumstances -- a seemingly insurmountable task, but one for which Christ gives His followers confidence that His church will be built, will persist, and that His people will not be without a remnant.
The first major movement in this passage, Allen stated, is that the church will be built upon truth. In verse 16 when Peter declared, "You are the Son of the living God," a clear understanding of the truth of who Christ is revealed. For this understanding, Allen said Jesus praised Peter because He knew that this insight only came from divine revelation by the Holy Spirit.
From this, Allen said the first way the seminary serves the church is by teaching the truth of Scripture. Speaking of the liberalism that has overtaken modern-day seminaries, he said this liberalism has occurred at the expense of the local church.
A negative interpretation of Scripture, however, will not be a hallmark of Midwestern, Allen said. "We are a people who are committed to our confessional accountability to this denomination; we are committed to the local church, the pastorate, to training, encouraging and nurturing that call within our students."
The second movement of the passage, Allen said, is that the church labors with confidence. Jesus said in verse 18, "I will build my church ... and the gates of hell will not overcome it." Allen said Christ's great concern is the building of His church; it is His top priority. Continued...