Thursday, July 16, 2009

Al Mohler and The Southern Baptist? Seminary, Pt. 2

James P. Boyce and the founders of Southern Seminary were in no way unclear in regards to their beliefs about Holy Scripture. Living, as they did, in a different age with a unique set of temptations to deny the full trustworthiness of Scripture (or miracles, or any aspect of historic Christian belief), these men did not waver. Nor did they see any inconsistency in summarizing in confessional form what they believed the Bible to teach. On the contrary, Boyce viewed such an action as altogether necessary to ensure the long-term faithfulness of a school that would belong to Southern Baptists themselves. He did not mandate that all Southern Baptists agree with the form of doctrine expressed in the Abstract of Principles - only that those who taught in the seminary should have no public or personal reservation in adhering to that statement.

The 1995 call for a new seminary was strange indeed. Knox clearly faulted Mohler for seeking to be true to the founding vision of the seminary. This founding vision did not meet the liking of Knox nor had it been faithfully upheld at many points in the seminary’s history. Yet, while the theology of the seminary’s founding fathers may be viewed as passé or irrelevant (which it is neither), it is a strange argument to say that such theology is inherently un-Baptist. In indicting Mohler and his adherence to the theology of the Abstract of Principles, Knox likewise indicted the very founding of the seminary he regrettably wanted to abandon.

Today, Southern Seminary continues to have the name “Baptist” on the sign out front. And this is no mere hat tip to a denominational identity that in reality has been shed in the days of the Mohler presidency. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary looks with gratitude to God for His providential guiding of men such as Boyce, John Broadus, Basil Manly, Jr., and William Williams. These men believed that, as important as the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer is to Baptist identity, it should never be turned into “freedom” to espouse things contrary to the revealed will of God. Baptists share certain beliefs in common with each other, and they share first-order beliefs in common with Christians from all generations. Both Baptist distinctives and articles of universal Christian confession are clearly laid out in the Abstract of Principles. President Mohler has led the seminary to stand upon this founding document, and it is because of this that the Southern Seminary of 2009 is a confessional and vibrant Baptist institution. We thank God that no new seminary is needed in this generation for Southern Baptists.

1 comment:

Dr. Fink said...


You believe in Limited Atonement? Well, you can be wrong if you want to.

Sincerely Yours,