R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, offered an “urgent exhortation” about the challenge of passing along faithful Christianity to today’s generation in the midst of growing cultural hostility during a Feb. 11 chapel message at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Preaching on Jesus’ question in Luke 18:8—“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”—Mohler invited his listeners to consider, “What must be necessary for it to be true that when the Son of Man comes, He finds faith on earth?”
Prior to Mohler’s sermon, Southwestern Seminary President Adam W. Greenway introduced him to the chapel audience, noting the relationship between Southern and Southwestern, the two oldest seminaries in the Southern Baptist Convention.
“I said at my inauguration as president here that while Southern Seminary is our Harvard, Southwestern Seminary is our Yale,” Greenway said. “And it is good, I think, when, despite whatever uniquenesses and distinctives we have as institutions, the president of ‘Harvard’ comes to ‘Yale’ and finds a common cause in the things that matter most—our commitment to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture as the Word of God, a shared commitment to confessional fidelity, a passion for the Great Commission, and for cooperation.
“If there is a time where Southern Baptists need to see us working together, coming together, pulling together for the challenges that we face, I believe it is now.”
Mohler concurred, saying in his sermon’s opening, “I’m very proud to be here at Southwestern. And, indeed, over the course of the entire history of this institution and most of the history of Southern Seminary, we have been partner institutions in a great cause. … Southern Baptists need a constellation of seminaries serving in a great cause, the great purpose of raising up the next generation of ministers and pastors, preachers, and missionaries, and servants of the church.”
In addition to Mohler, Southwestern also welcomed in its chapel service the Fellowship of Southern Baptist Convention State Convention Executive Directors, as the group was holding its annual meeting on the seminary’s campus this week. Greenway characterized these individuals as leaders “who help to shepherd the work of state missions and ministry across the Southern Baptist Convention.”
He added that these state executives are “our true partners in our cooperative work” and fellow champions of the Cooperative Program.
In his sermon, Mohler recounted his experiences growing up as a Southern Baptist, noting that members of his parents’ church prayed for him before he was even born. This point was made more poignant by the fact that Mohler’s mother, Janet Mohler, passed away unexpectedly last week, and he was planning to depart Fort Worth following chapel to travel to south Florida to preach at her funeral on Feb. 12. He said he was raised by godly parents and spent up to 13 hours a week attending church functions, including Sunday School and Vacation Bible Schools. He was further nurtured, he said, at Samford University and Southern Seminary.
Calling it an “immersive” experience to be formed as a Southern Baptist starting from before his birth, Mohler said, “If it took all that I described to produce a faithful Southern Baptist baby boomer in a very, very different culture that was then far friendlier to biblical Christianity and, at least officially, felt itself obligated, in some sense, to biblical Christianity, how much is it going to take for Southern Baptists to produce faithful disciples now?”
Directing his attention specifically to Southwestern students, he continued, “What do you think is going to be required of you and your ministry to produce faithful Christians going into the headwinds of a society that is not only subversive to biblical Christianity but increasingly, genuinely hostile?”
“It defies my imagination to think that we will need less to produce faithful Christians in the context of an infinitely more challenging age,” he said, even while making the point that the former era should not be seen as a “golden age” in every respect.
Noting the competing claims on the time of families and children, Mohler said that if church leaders give “less and less” in terms of ministry offerings, then there are going to be “fewer and weaker” Christians.
“We’re headed into a period when the acids of modernity are going to require the greatest level of conviction and the most stupendous level of clarity,” he said. “And it’s going to require a courage that was never required of Southern Baptists before us.”
Mohler identified this courage as “the courage to be disliked by our neighbors” due to unwavering convictional commitments, although he disagrees with those who attach the label of persecution to the challenges faced by American evangelicals today.
Returning to Jesus’ question in Luke 18, Mohler asserted that Jesus answered His own question in Matthew 16:18—“on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
Mohler explained, “We’re going to need all the Gospel, all the Scripture, all the Holy Spirit, and all of Jesus all the way to the gates of hell. Between here and there, we have a lot of work to do. Let’s get at it.”