At year 150, SBTS is a tribute to God’s grace, Mohler says

Communications Staff — June 24, 2009

On Oct. 1, 1859, four young professors and nine students met for the first day of class as The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary opened its doors in Greenville, S.C.

One hundred and fifty years later, the seminary ministers in Louisville, where it moved in 1877 and the institution’s faculty numbers in the hundreds, its student body at well over 4,000.

In a service marking the seminary’s sesquicentennial anniversary June 24 at Alumni Memorial Chapel, President R. Albert Mohler Jr., said the school’s founders James Petigru Boyce, John Broadus, Basil Manly Jr. and William Williams, would be pleased to see their founding vision alive and well in 2009. They would see it as a testimony to God’s sustaining grace, he said.

“In the year 2009, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary stands as one of the leading theological institutions in the world, one of the largest theological institutions in the history of the Christian church, and one of the most venerable and respected institutions of the evangelical world,” Mohler said.

“All of this comes by the grace and mercy of God. A smiling providence marks this school’s celebration of such a consequential anniversary. We are a generation most blessed and most grateful.”

The seminary is thriving as a bastion of evangelical orthodoxy even though it was captive to liberal theology for much of the 20th century, Mohler pointed out, and stands as a living illustration of Hebrews 11:1-2, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.”

“Looking backward, we trace Southern Seminary’s history, not only to 1859 or 1845 (the founding year of the Southern Baptist Convention), but to the eternal purposes and assured promises of God,” he said.

“The hopes of those who founded Southern Seminary were hopes worthy of the people of God. They trusted God to fulfill his promises to His church, and they established this school in order that those promises might be realized in the faithful ministries of those who would serve the church.”

Mohler said the 150th celebration provides an opportunity for Southern to commit itself afresh to the vision, convictions, passions and pledges that brought the school into existence.

“Given the scope of opportunities now before us, we must be even more fervently committed to the Great Commission and the task of reaching the world with the Gospel,” he said.

“We must inspire a new generation with passion for evangelism and the joy of  seeing men and women come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must train a new generation in the glad calling of the ministry and in the central tasks of preaching and teaching the Word of God.

“We must train this generation to rightly divide the Word of truth and arm them to serve without the compromise of truth or integrity. We must strive to prepare a generation to be sensitive shepherds of the flock of God who are also warriors of the Spirit and soldiers of the cross.”

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