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Mohler to SBC: Southern committed to theological fidelity of professors
June 15, 2007
By David Roach
SAN ANTONIO—The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary gladly uses the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 as a guide in hiring professors but holds professors to standards that go beyond the BF&M in order to ensure their commitment to God’s truth and their compliance with the wishes of the Southern Baptist Convention, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said June 13 in his report to the SBC in San Antonio.
“In the hiring of a seminary professor you do not want to ask those questions that will mean that we will hire those who merely meet the most basic requirements. If you’re going to hire a seminary professor, you want the one who most comprehensively embraces the truth taught by the Scripture and embraced by this denomination,” Mohler, who serves as president of Southern Seminary, said.
“That means that you would expect and you should demand that the presidents of your seminaries, as they do, and the boards of your seminaries, as they do, take that responsibility seriously to inquire of anyone who would teach at our seminaries what they believe on any conceivable issue to make sure that there be no error, that there be no heresy, that there be no lurking misconceptions that would do injury to the next generation of Christian preachers.”
Mohler had planned to report on other items but in light of discussion at this year’s annual meeting chose to speak about the hiring of seminary professors, he said.
Messengers adopted a statement June 12 acknowledging that “the Baptist Faith and Message is not a creed, or a complete statement of our faith, nor final or infallible” and that “it is the only consensus statement of doctrinal beliefs approved by the Southern Baptist Convention and as such is sufficient in its current form to guide trustees in their establishment of policies and practices of entities of the Convention.”
Mohler, who served on the committee that revised the BF&M in 2000, said he supports and is gladly guided by Southern Baptists’ confession of faith.
“I promise you that we are guided by the Baptist Faith & Message as we envision any issue that comes before us, as we envision the hiring process and the establishment of policies within not only The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, but all of our seminaries. I can assure you we are guided by the Baptist Faith & Message and gladly so,” he said.
In response to a messenger’s question, Mohler explained why seminaries need to ask questions of professors beyond the issues addressed by the BF&M. For example, though the BF&M does not address the practice of speaking in tongues, Southern Baptists want the seminary to ask whether prospective professors speak in tongues and not hire those who do, he said.
“We must go on to ask questions related to those who teach precisely because … there are issues that are not directly addressed in the Baptist Faith & Message that nonetheless are a matter of our accountability to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Mohler also reported that the enrollment in Southern’s master of divinity program, Southern’s central degree for training pastors, has achieved record levels of enrollment.
“There are now more young men studying at Southern Seminary in the master of divinity program than anywhere in any place at any time in the history of the Christian church,” he said. “That is a matter of tremendous pride and thanksgiving for Southern Seminary.”
Mohler concluded that the numbers of students studying at Southern along with the seminary’s commitment to doctrinal fidelity are evidences of God’s blessing.
“The Lord has blessed what has taken place on the campus of Southern Seminary, such that we are now experiencing a record enrollment. We will have over 4,400 students enrolled at Southern Seminary this year.”