Southern Seminary celebrates the late Billy Graham’s long-time relationship with Southern Seminary

Communications Staff — February 26, 2018

R. Albert Mohler Jr. celebrated the life of the late Billy Graham in a February 22 chapel service at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, highlighting the famed evangelist’s relationship with the seminary. Graham died Wednesday, February 21, at the age of 99.

Mohler, who is president of Southern, began the service reflecting upon Graham’s immense influence in the history of Southern Seminary.

“To you, the Southern Seminary and Boyce College family, I want you to know that what took place on this campus beginning in 1993 with the recovery of this institution with a very clear doctrinal identity and a very clear confessional direction, Dr. Billy Graham was absolutely instrumental in helping that to take place,” Mohler said.

“I grew up hearing Billy Graham preach. I’ve never known my evangelical existence without Billy Graham. But I recognize that’s not true for many of you here in this room. So I want us to stay in this room, and connected to Southern Seminary, and through the years, I want you to hear something of what Billy Graham had to say to students at Southern Seminary.”

Mohler shared video clips of Graham’s addressing the school’s student body, two of which happened at the same pulpit at which Mohler stood in Alumni Chapel. In the clips, Graham said:

— From April 25, 1974: “We communicate the gospel by the authoritative proclamation of the gospel. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. If I have criticism of modern American seminaries it’s this … I don’t think we are putting the emphasis enough on preaching and proclamation. Where are the preachers today?”

— From Dec. 8, 1982: “If you are faithful in proclaiming the gospel — I don’t care how bad of a preacher you are — if you are faithful in proclaiming the gospel, the Holy Spirit is going to use it because it’s the gospel. It’s the power of God unto salvation. And you don’t have to water it down and dilute it and try to be relevant. The day for relevance is finished.”

— Dec. 8, 1982: “If I thought that Christ was coming back tomorrow, I wouldn’t change one thing if I were you. I’d just study. If that’s where God led you, and you’re in the will of God, study. But while you’re studying, on the side, study the word of God for your own soul, not just for classes, not just for grades. Fill your heart with the Word of God. I’ve found that the ones who know the Scriptures are the ones who have the power today.”

— Oct. 14, 1993 (at Mohler’s inauguration as president of the seminary in Louisville’s historic Freedom Hall): “We want to join hands with Southern Seminary in both theology and evangelization, and we’ll do everything in our power to support Dr. Mohler and the faculty and the staff and the trustees of this great institution. You certainly have my love and my prayers.”

Mohler said Graham’s words continue to convict him.

“He was making a very clear statement,” Mohler said. “And in allowing the establishment of the Billy Graham School, he was making a very clear statement. Throughout the years he continued to be of immense help and encouragement here. He became a very dear friend, a friend to whom I am very indebted, a friend whose friendship continued, and through his organization, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, continues even now. But time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away.”

“Now he is with the Lord he so faithfully preached,” he continued.

Video from the day’s chapel service, including the clips of Graham’s sermons, is available at

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