Mohler’s election signaled the reemergence of commitment to Scriptural inerrancy at Southern.
Upon Honeycutt’s retirement, seminary trustees elected two-time alumnus R. Albert Mohler, Jr. to serve as the seminary’s ninth president. It fell to him to remake the faculty until the seminary was entirely transformed to support the full inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures, and evangelical, Baptist orthodoxy.
Under his leadership, all faculty would be required to honor their confession that the Bible is without error, and that the seminary’s Abstract of Principles and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Baptist Faith and Message faithfully expressed the teaching of the Bible.
Mohler recruited faculty to Southern who excelled both as scholars and as effective ministers — adding such distinguished professors as Tom Nettles, Bruce Ware, Tom Schreiner, and Robert Stein to the faculty — and orchestrated the formation of the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Missions and Church Growth. Mohler also attended to the transformation of the physical plant through renovations of major buildings, the addition of Chiles Hall (which added a dining hall and banquet hall) and the Duke K. McCall Pavilion, and the transformation of Rice and Judson Halls into a conference center. Mohler also reorganized Boyce College, which had since 1974 functioned largely to provide basic theological courses to adults. In 1998, Boyce became a four-year accredited college that now draws growing numbers of students who seek collegiate education founded on the Bible and oriented toward Christian service.
Having recovered its original vision, Southern Seminary today is one of the world’s largest theological seminaries, with a total enrollment of more than 5,000 students from more than 70 nations.
1993 – R. Albert Mohler, Jr. becomes the seminary’s ninth president.
1994 – The Billy Graham School of Missions and Church Growth is established.
1997 – Chiles Conference Center opens with new cafeteria and Heritage Hall meeting facilities.
1998 – Boyce College opens as an accredited four-year undergraduate institution.
1999 – Broadus Chapel opens.
2002 – Legacy Hotel and Conference Center opens.
2009 – Duke K. McCall Sesquicentennial Pavilion is dedicated on the seminary’s 150th anniversary.
2014 – Mullins Hall is renovated and opens as new home for Boyce College.
A Confessional Seminary Begins with Faculty
The most significant accomplishment of R. Albert Mohler, Jr.’s tenure is Southern Seminary’s faculty. When Mohler first arrived at the seminary, many of his critics predicted that the school would lose both its accreditation and its academic credibility. They maintained that top-tier evangelical scholars would not embrace Mohler’s vision and would refuse to join the faculty. Mohler proved them wrong. He recruited to the faculty men and women who stood in hearty agreement with the Abstract of Principles and with Mohler’s vision. The academic and intellectual life of the seminary flourished, and its influence in the Southern Baptist Convention and in the broader evangelical world was clearly evident. Today, Southern Seminary’s faculty is one of the most respected and well-published in the evangelical world — comprising scholars who subscribe to the Abstract of Principles without reservation and who are committed to training faithful and courageous ministers of the gospel of Christ, who will give their lives for the truth, for the church, for the world, and for the glory of God.
Any historical record of the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention, and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is incomplete without an honest telling of their complicity in American slavery and racism. For more on that story, read here.