The Battle of Ideas Is a War for Our Souls, Mohler Says in Fall Convocation Address

Communications Staff — August 26, 2021

The battle of ideas is not a matter of intellectual strength but is most fundamentally a spiritual war in which our very souls are at stake, SBTS President R. Albert Mohler Jr. told students and faculty gathered Tuesday morning for fall convocation at Alumni Memorial Chapel.

Southern’s convocation marked the return of in-person chapel for the first time since March of 2020 when twice-weekly services were interrupted by the pandemic. As in the past, SBTS will hold chapel worship services on Tuesday and Thursday each week throughout the fall semester.

“By the grace of God, we are here, and we give him thanks for this incredible privilege,” Mohler said. Mohler preached to a packed chapel from Philippians 4:8-9, “Think on These Things: How to Keep Your Soul While Expanding Your Mind.”

“We’re in a battle of ideas and that becomes ever more apparent to us,” he said. “(Southern Seminary) was born into a battle of ideas in 1859. Throughout its history, it’s been part of that battle of ideas—sometimes even central to that battle of ideas.

“Every single class that’s taught, every single book that’s read, paper that’s written, test that’s taken, every single conversation is in some sense a battle of ideas. And in the battle of ideas, our determination is that truth prevail.”

You may watch Mohler’s entire address here.

During the service, five Boyce College and SBTS professors signed the Abstract of Principles, the seminary’s historic confession of faith which faculty members agree to teach in accord with and not contrary to the doctrines contained in it.

In signing the Abstract, professors agree to teach its doctrines “without hesitation, mental reservation, nor any private arrangement” with seminary leadership. Signing the document is a sacred moment for professors, Mohler said, because of the public nature of the act.

“This is public,” Mohler said. “There is no secret arrangement. This is a public declaration.”

Signatories were:

  • Bryan E. Baise, associate professor of philosophy and apologetics
  • David A. Bosch, professor of business administration
  • Robert D. Jones, associate professor of biblical counseling
  • Oren R. Martin, associate professor of Christian theology
  • Michael E. Pohlman, associate professor of Christian preaching

Mohler also welcomed new trustees and introduced several new faculty members for Boyce College and the seminary.

New trustees are William L. Behrens of Washington, D.C.; Danny R. Hernandez of Chino, California; Gabriel J. Molnar of Louisville, Kentucky; Scott A. Nichols of Carol Stream, Illinois; John C. Piwetz of Elizabethtown, Kentucky; Robert W. Pochek of Charlottesville, Virginia, and Benjamin S. Stubblefield of Jackson, Alabama.

New faculty members include Jonathan B. Austin, assistant professor of law; Alisha M. Biler, assistant professor of English and linguistics; R. Scott Connell, professor of church music and worship; Bradley G. Green, professor of philosophy and theology; John M. Henderson, associate professor of biblical counseling; Justin A. Irving, professor of leadership; Abraham Kuruvilla, professor of Christian preaching, and Stephen O. Presley, associate professor of church history.

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Campus life grew much busier two weeks ago as college and seminary students moved into campus housing, and two major events welcomed Boyce students and new doctoral students.

SBTS Welcomes 31 New PhD Students

In Broadus Chapel last Thursday, Southern inducted 31 students into the PhD program. After hymn singing and reciting the Apostles Creed, President Mohler, who holds a PhD from SBTS, highlighted the role of Southern’s PhD in serving the church.

“Where you find the most serious Christianity, you find the most serious scholarship,” he said. “Where you find the continuation of Christian orthodoxy, you find the most intentional Christian scholarship. Where you find the church rightly teaching and preaching the Word of God, you find those who are rightly teaching and preaching to the preachers and the teachers.

“Southern Seminary was committed from its beginning in 1859 to be an institution where that would take place to the glory of God for the service of the church.”

Southern has conferred more than 2,000 PhD degrees over the past 125 years. Graduates have gone on to teach in universities, colleges, seminaries, and serve in churches all over the U.S. and around the world.

Southern currently has more PhD graduates in teaching roles within ATS accredited institutions than any other evangelical seminary and ranks third among all mainline seminaries for PhD graduate placement.

Stephen Presley, director of research doctoral studies, also spoke to the inductees.

“What ultimately sets Southern apart are three key traits,” he said. “Quality instruction, a community of scholars, and a confessional fidelity. There is no better place to pursue doctoral education than right here at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and it is with great joy that we welcome you into the doctoral program.”

All 31 students signed their names to a document committing themselves to keeping the charge of doctoral studies.

Said Mohler to the inductees, “You’re an encouragement to those of us who’ve walked this road before you. And you are the successors to those who are now in glory.”

Boyce Commissioning Ceremony

Incoming Boyce College freshman weathered the heat of move-in day and were commissioned Thursday night in Alumni Chapel. The service featured worship, a current student testimony, and an address by President Mohler.

Mohler’s message from Luke 2:41-51 centered on the various stages of life.

“A new chapter is about to be written, and it’s a chapter in an individual book of increasing in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and man,” he said.

Liz La Voie, coordinator of events, activities, and traditions at the college, applauded the work done by volunteers and emphasized how excited she was to see new faces joining the campus community.

“It’s been great to see current students and volunteers serve the incoming class” said Voie. “It’s exciting to know these students are joining an environment where they will experience deep Christian community.”

After a welcome and time of singing, Mohler spoke to the packed room—encouraging parents that Boyce students are in trusted hands.

“Boyce College is intentionally, and by design, an oasis amid a desert,” he said. “The desert is becoming more like a desert therefore the oasis must be evermore like an oasis. This institution exists in order that the right teachers would be with the right students at the right time for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ to be made more faithful.”

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