Thursday, April 01, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Visiting Louisville

The Pastor’s Perspective

Vol. 33 Num. 13

“Visiting Louisville

First Published: March 14, 2000

Last week, I mentioned my recent visit (Tuesday, March 7) to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. The President of the Seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler is a dear friend and brother in the Lord. Dr. Mohler kindly invited me, a number of months ago, to come preach the Seminary chapel service. I was delighted to do so, not only because of my love and esteem for Al (who is a winsome, intelligent and articulate spokesman for the Christian faith¾perhaps you have seen him on TV news and talk shows), but also because of my excitement about the “turnaround” of Southern Seminary.

Many of you may know that in the 1970’s a movement began to return the Southern Baptist Convention to its historic, conservative, evangelical roots. Liberals (who liked to call themselves “Moderates”) had taken over the denomination’s agencies and institutions. Rank and file Southern Baptists would have been shocked if they had known just how left-leaning were some of the theological “leaders” in those days. As a young self-consciously conservative Presbyterian, I attended a university that was then affiliated with the State Baptist Convention in South Carolina (Furman) and was regularly irritated by the spectacle of liberal Baptist religion professors who took particular delight in wrecking the faith of young Southern Baptists.

At any rate, that was often the case at Southern Seminary in those days. There were faculty members who denied fundamental Christian doctrinal truths, as well as a general anti-conservative spirit on the campus. Indeed, I had many friends that went from Furman to Southern to prepare for ministry, who had their faith in the Word of God weakened by their experience in the classrooms at Southern. For instance, the last time I stood on the platform in Alumni Memorial Chapel at Southern in Louisville was in 1982, when the Furman Singers were on spring tour. That very year, a close friend who was a student there had his Christian faith shaken to the foundations, simply by taking an Old Testament and New Testament introduction course!

Into that situation, Dr. Mohler was called as President in the early 1990’s. He was only 33 years old at the time. He was hand-picked as one of the brightest young leaders in the Convention and as a conservative evangelical. Al determined, in humble reliance upon divine grace, to restore the original vision of the institution (as expressed in the Abstract of Principles). God has blessed his labors abundantly. Though Al has been brutally attacked and maligned by the secular press and by opponents of historic Christianity within the church, his mission has been prospered beyond our wildest dreams. Today, Southern is a bastion of evangelical orthodoxy and evangelistic missionary zeal. The campus has managed to achieve new heights of academic excellence and at the same time foster Bible-believing Christianity in the classroom. It was such an encouragement to see what is going on there.

I have known of Al, since he was the editor of “The Christian Index,” the State Baptist periodical in Georgia. Our mutual friend, Dr. Mark Dever (who preached the Mid-South Men’s Rally last year) introduced us. So, I was thrilled at the invitation to come preach. The chapel service was filled with about 900 students, spouses, faculty and staff. These services are broadcast twice weekly on the local Cable TV network. Al tells me that many Christians who live in the “Kentuckiana” area and are hungry for expository preaching tune in regularly. May the Lord prosper his work there!

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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