God’s Word is the authority on which we speak and teach, Mohler tells seminarians

Communications Staff — August 24, 2006

The fact that God has spoken is the only basis for hope in life and the only foundation for theological education, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said Aug. 22 during the school’s fall convocation.

The standing-room-only crowd also witnessed the announcement of Randy Stinson as the new dean of the School of Leadership and Church Ministry, the installation of three professors into endowed chairs and the introduction of nine new faculty members.

In addition, the seminary commemorated the 150th anniversary of James P. Boyce’s lecture “Three Changes in Theological Education,” which in 1856 set forth the principles on which Southern was founded three years later. Boyce was Southern’s founding president.

Preaching from Deuteronomy 4, Mohler said the world is experiencing a crisis today because many people do not believe there is any basis for human knowledge. But Christians must counter the world’s confusion by pointing to God’s Word—the Bible—as the basis for knowledge, he said.

“Christianity depends upon … a Christian theory of knowledge that is based in revelation alone,” Mohler said. “My colleagues, there is no greater challenge than this: to make certain as we begin this new academic year that we know on what authority we speak.”

Scripture teaches that obedience to God’s Word results in blessing and disobedience results in curses, he said. Mohler pointed out that humans don’t deserve to hear from God but receive His Word out of God’s mercy.

“The revelation of God is sheer mercy,” he said. “We have no right to hear God speaking. We have no call upon His voice. We have no right to demand that He would speak. There is mercy where God speaks.”

Because God has spoken, humans have an obligation to hear and respond to the Creator’s voice, he said. One response to God’s Word should be to recognize that all His instructions are for our good, Mohler said.

“God does speak words of judgment in the Scripture, and God does speak words of warning,” he said. “There are hard words in Scripture, but it’s all for our good. God spoke to Israel even the words of warning in order that Israel might hear the warnings and obey the Word and not suffer the inevitable consequences of disobedience.”

God’s Word is also for our redemption, Mohler said, noting that the Bible shows God saving and redeeming people throughout its storyline. In the Old Testament God brought Israel out of slavery in Egypt, kept the nation alive in the wilderness and allowed it to hear His voice yet remain alive—all acts of redemption, he said. In the New Testament God performed the ultimate act of redemption by sending His Son to die on a cross for sinners.

Another response to God’s Word should be obedience and trust, he said.

“We must fashion, because of the sprit of the age and because of the imperative of the health of the church, a clear defense of Scripture in terms of its inspiration and authority and perfection,” he said. “We must teach that, remind ourselves of that and be accountable to that. But in the end it all comes down to trust.”

A Christian’s response to God’s Word is not complete until he tells a lost world about the salvation offered in Christ, Mohler said.

“There is, as the Word of God makes so very clear, the mandate to go and to tell. If God has spoken, then we do know. If God has spoken, then we are accountable. If God has spoken, then it is by mercy and for our good. And if God has spoken, it comes with a commission and a command,” he said.

“Our task is not to go figure out what to teach. Our task is not to figure out where to find our meaning in life. It is to be reminded continually that we heard the voice of God speaking from the fire and survived, and thus we teach. This is the mercy of God.”

Mohler installed three faculty members into endowed professorships: Gary J. Bredfeldt as Gaines S. Dobbins Professor of Leadership and Church Ministry; Thomas R. Schreiner as James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation; and Mark A. Seifrid as Mildred and Ernest Hogan Professor of New Testament Interpretation.

Southern’s president also recognized several new Southern Seminary and Boyce college faculty members, including Steve R. Halla, assistant professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Theology and the Arts; Thom S. Rainer, distinguished professor of evangelism and church growth; Peter J. Richards, associate professor of theology and law and director of the Center for Theology and Law; Kevin L. Smith, assistant professor of church history; Michael S. Wilder, assistant professor of leadership and church ministry; Kurt P. Wise, professor of theology and science and director of the Center for Theology and Science; Robert K. Cheong, assistant professor of biblical counseling; Brian K. Payne, instructor of expository preaching and pastoral leadership; and Jeremy P. Pierre, director of the writing center at Boyce College.

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