Southern Seminary releases documentary on Mohler presidency

Communications Staff — October 17, 2013

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary today released a new 25-minute documentary film that tells the story of R. Albert Mohler Jr.’s presidency of the seminary. The film, Recovering a Vision: The Presidency of R. Albert Mohler Jr., looks at Mohler’s 20-year tenure within the school’s own history and the history of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

When Southern Seminary began in 1859, its founders established the school with a confession of faith — the Abstract of Principles — to define its theological commitments and to set “boundaries of acceptable belief for the faculty.” But, despite their precautions, many of the school’s faculty members departed from the school’s confession.

By the 1960s, Southern Seminary’s faculty was thoroughly and decidedly liberal in its theological commitments. And the progressive trajectory of the faculty continued into the 1980s.

When, in 1993, Mohler became president of the seminary, the school’s board of trustees charged him with returning the school to its founding commitments. But Mohler’s task came with a high cost.

Recovering a Vision, produced by Southern Productions in cooperation with the seminary’s Office of Communications, documents the seminary’s drift to liberalism and Mohler’s fight to recover the school in the face of severe opposition. The film also places the struggles of Southern Seminary within the Conservative Resurgence movement in the SBC, particularly examining the inherent and symbiotic relationship between the convention and its seminaries.

The documentary features interviews with historians and first-hand accounts of the events by students, faculty and SBC leaders, including Gregory A. Wills, Jimmy Scroggins, Timothy George and Paige Patterson.

The release of the film coincides with the seminary’s Heritage Week activities, most of which centered this year around Mohler’s anniversary. The school inaugurated Mohler ninth president of Southern Seminary on Oct. 15, 1993. Other events for the week include the seminary’s semi-annual meetings of its board of trustees and the Foundation Board. Both boards held banquets honoring the Mohlers.

The film is among a collection of resources released to commemorate Mohler’s 20th anniversary as president. Other resources include:

  • a special edition of Southern Seminary Magazine with articles on the theme, “R. Albert Mohler Jr.: Vision at the Twenty Year Mark”: reporting on the seminary’s progress since 1993, “A Vision Reaffirmed,” highlights the seminary’s growth in academics, finances and campus facilities; historian Gregory A. Wills’ essay, “Twenty Years of Denominational Statesmanship,” surveys Mohler’s role in the Southern Baptist Convention as a key leader on many formative bodies since 1993; “Innovative Communicator of Evangelical Conviction” traces Mohler’s multi-media cultural engagement, always employing the latest communications technologies, from fax machines to social media; and “Thursday Night Lights” tells the story of Mary Mohler’s establishment and leadership of Seminary Wives Institute training nearly 2,500 student wives since 1997; and
  • a special issue of Towers, the campus news magazine, including a profile of Mohler, based on an extensive interview with him, and a photo essay of a day in the life of Mohler on Aug. 20, 2013.

Recovering a Vision is available for viewing on the Southern Seminary Resources Web page: www.sbts.edu/recovering-a-vision.

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