JACKSON, Tenn. — Do not leave the Southern Baptist
Convention, save it, Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological
Seminary, told college students during chapel at Union University.
Mohler brought the closing address of the “Southern
Baptists, Evangelicals and the Future of Denominationalism Conference.”
He said the rise of secularism and the fall of cultural
Christianity in the deep South over the past two decades have conspired to make
the “20-something” generation crucial for defining the mission of the SBC in
the near future.
“You must be a part of forging a new identity for the
Southern Baptist Convention,” he said.
Speaking to a chapel audience that included his daughter
Katie, a student at Union, Mohler
said the heart of the denomination is a bigger issue than numbers: “the clarity
of our vision, the essential importance of our mission,” Mohler asserted.
“It is going to be yours, and you are going to decide what
to do with it.”
The SBC is experiencing the death of cultural Christianity
because the faith no longer holds the spiritual franchise it once did in the
Bible Belt, Mohler said.
“Any denomination that bases its future on the confidence of
cultural Christianity deserves to die with that culture when it dies,” he said.
“It (a new identity) is not something we can create with a
new slogan, for new slogans will not save us.
“There is a need for a resurgence of Great Commission
passion, vision, commitment and energy in our denomination.”
He said “the cause of the gospel” called Southern Baptists
together in 1845 and “only the cause of the gospel will keep us together, only
the cause of the gospel is sufficient as a reason for us to be together.”
To refocus a denomination on the Great Commission will be
costly, Mohler said, because it will require asking questions that have not
been asked within the SBC for several generations and dealing with issues not
“The vision before us is not the perpetuation of the
Southern Baptist Convention, but the call of the nations to exult in the name of
the Lord Jesus Christ,” Mohler said.
“The great dynamic of the SBC cannot be to make certain that
our statistics are healthy and that our charts point ever upward; it has to be
that the glory of God would be evident in persons hearing the gospel and responding
to the gospel and the establishment of godly churches that are ruled by Christ
through His word and to show all that the church is called to show in terms of
the fruit of righteousness and the power of the gospel.”
“Do not give your life to the SBC because your grandmother
was a Southern Baptist,” Mohler told the students.
“Please do not invest your energies in the Southern Baptist
Convention because you want to save something as an important artifact of
American religion and southern culture and whatever else.
“Give yourself to the SBC because you see this really can be
a denomination that is transformed by a resurgence of Great Commission passion
to reach the world for the glory of God, a denomination ready to ask the hard
questions and to let goods and kindred go in order to do what God would have us
do in the generation ahead,” Mohler urged.
“I am not imploring you to leave the Southern Baptist
Convention; I am imploring you to save it.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Robinson is director of news and information
at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)