Mission, Transmission, And Confession: Three Central Issues In Theological Education -- By: R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 13:1 (Spring 2009)
Article: Mission, Transmission, And Confession: Three Central Issues In Theological Education
Author: R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

Mission, Transmission, And Confession: Three Central Issues In Theological Education

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

R. Albert Mohler Jr. is the ninth President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He hosts a daily live nationwide radio program on the Salem Radio Network and writes a regular, popular blog on moral, cultural, and theological issues. Dr Mohler is a frequent guest on national and international news outlets and is a popular preacher, teacher, and lecturer. He is the author of many articles and books, including Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth (Multnomah, 2008), He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World (Moody, 2008), Desire and Deceit: The Real Cost of the New Sexual Tolerance (Multnomah, 2008), and Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists (Crossway, 2008).

A magazine published by a seminary of the old Protestant “mainline” crossed my desk in recent days. The major theme of the issue was the adjustment necessitated by the fact that the seminary sold its majestic and venerable campus and is downsizing to a smaller campus, yet to be built. A faculty focus article featured a professor’s new book on the perils of monotheism.

The fault lines in American theological education are clear, and the most important of these dividing lines is, perhaps unsurprisingly, theological.

The mission of theological education, defined biblically, is the task of educating and preparing servants of the church and agents of the gospel. This is accomplished through the transmission of biblical, theological, and practical knowledge from one generation to the next. Viewed over the last 200 years, the history of theological education demonstrates that the one thing absolutely essential to that faithful transmission is a robust and regulative confessionalism.

This was already apparent when the founders of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary set out their design for this institution. The defection of some well-known theological institutions, almost all in the North, was well documented by the 1850s. These schools had exchanged orthodox Christian theology for Unitarianism or were embracing the new “higher criticism” of the Bible. The theological trajectory of these schools was all too evident.

James Petigru Boyce and Basil Manly Jr. had attended Princeton Theological Seminary, where they had studied under confessional Presbyterians. Basil Manly Sr., Southern Seminary’s first trustee chairman, was also a proponent of confessional theological education. In 1856, when Boyce presented his inaugural address at Furman

University, “Th...

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