Convocation marks start of “year of living dangerously,” Mohler tells students

Communications Staff — September 3, 2008

As students gather for a new semester of classes with top-notch faculty in nice facilities, they may have a sense of safety and comfort at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Instead they should have a taste of danger, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said Aug. 21 in his fall convocation address.

“As we begin this year, we are beginning a year of living dangerously,” said Mohler, president of Southern. “We can delude ourselves into thinking otherwise. We can even, in unfaithfulness, live as if it were otherwise. Or we could decide to make this a year of living dangerously to the glory of God.”

In his address, titled “The Year of Living Dangerously,” Mohler challenged students to see and embrace the danger of the Christian life.

“Christian discipleship is inherently dangerous. Christ Himself told us that it was,” he said. “He said of His own disciples that He sends us out as sheep among wolves.”

“We are indeed surrounded by a host of enemies. It is no physical army that is encamped against us. It is, rather, far more significant than that. As Paul writes in Ephesians 6, our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. How much more dangerous can it get than that?”

Gregg Allison, associate professor of Christian theology at Southern, signed the Abstract of Principles, marking his receiving tenure at the seminary in April.

“This institution learned early both the price and the necessity of confessional accountability,” Mohler said. “One of the reasons we commemorate this signing in such a public way is lest we forget the responsibility that is entrusted to us.”

Mohler called believers “God’s resistance army,” noting that Paul urges people to put on the full armor of God.

“Paul didn’t say, ‘Don’t worry, be happy, be safe, be comfortable,’” Mohler said. “Following in the teaching of his Lord, he said ‘this is deadly, dangerous business.’ The Gospel has enemies. God has enemies. In this politically correct day, in the age of the harmonious, we need to recognize that there is disharmony because there is rebellion against God. There is danger for the one who would follow the call of Jesus to take up his cross.”

Students must reject the notion that the Christian ministry is a profession they graduate to, and instead must view it as a calling, a mantel, that they must bear, Mohler said.

“If we conceive of the Christian ministry as a profession, we will be seeking safety,” he said. “The logic of a profession is that we have earned the right to be respected. Professionals aren’t supposed to be in danger.

You are supposed to put your certificates on the wall, show your credentials to the world and go about your business.

“We ought not to seek security or status, recognition or worldly respect. We must be willing to forfeit all of these things and more. We need to have the spirit of Esther the queen, ‘If I perish, I perish.’ There is a trail of blood and it is the blood of the martyrs who have watered the church, beginning with Stephen and going forward until our own time, thousands, even millions of those who have forfeited their lives for the high calling of faithfulness to Christ.”

While faithful Christian ministers face danger and should live dangerously, they are also those who posses the greatest amount of security and are the only truly safe people on earth, Mohler noted.

“From the Gospel we also draw confidence that we are safe in the strangest sense,” he said. “We are safe in the arms of God. We are safe in terms of our eternal salvation and final destiny. We are safe by His grace and to His glory.

Thus we can say with Justin Martyr as he led members of his own congregation to be martyred for the faith: ‘fellow believers, brothers and sisters in Christ: remember, they can kill, but they can’t hurt us.’”

Mohler said Christian ministers should not only see and embrace danger, but should be those who are a danger to every enemy and opponent of the Gospel.

“I want us to be an institution that scares people,” he said. “We are gathered here at this place, with so many of us — it appears — who are committed to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; this is a dangerous place. The forces of evil and darkness and the enemies of the Gospel have more than met their match. Not because of who we are, but because of who Christ is. Not because we have any tactical skill, but because we follow a Lord who is going to vindicate His Gospel.”

Southern welcomed two new faculty members — James M. Hamilton, Jr., who serves as associate professor of biblical theology; and Jesse T. Adkinson, assistant professor of leadership and church ministry — and three new trustees: Philip Gunn, Bruce McCoy and John Thweatt.

Mohler also introduced new Boyce College Dean Denny Burk, who additionally serves as associate professor of New Testament at Boyce; Alvin Hickey, associate professor of Christian education and department chair of Boyce’s teacher education program; and Heath B. Lambert, instructor of biblical counseling and department coordinator of biblical counseling.

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