Resurgence: 1993-Present

Carl F. H. Henry, R. Albert Mohler, and Billy Graham talking during the week of Dr. Mohler's inauguration

Carl F. H. Henry, R. Albert Mohler, and Billy Graham talking during the week of Dr. Mohler's inauguration

The effects of the resurgence first appeared on the Board of Trustees. By 1990, conservatives were the majority of the board. President Honeycutt had long fought this shift, and in 1985 declared a “holy war” against conservatives in his Convocation address. Honeycutt alleged that conservatives were departing from the heritage of Baptist freedom and compromising the denomination’s reputation. Though he spoke against the SBC’s shift, he could not stem it. Neither could moderate Southern professors, who departed in droves from the seminary during this period. Upon Honeycutt’s retirement in 1992, the seminary was poised for further transformation.

In this crucial moment, Southern needed a leader of conviction and courage. The trustees determined that two-time alumnus Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., editor of Georgia’s Christian Index, possessed the conviction, courage, and vision necessary to lead Southern. Elected in 1993 to serve as the seminary’s ninth president, Mohler had a profound trust in the Bible, a bold vision for the seminary, and a deep devotion to the SBC.

Thom Rainer, founding Dean of the Billy Graham School

Thom Rainer, founding Dean of the Billy Graham School

Mohler’s election signaled the reemergence of commitment to Scriptural inerrancy at Southern. Mohler gave first priority to the Word of God. Under his leadership, all faculty would be required to believe that the Bible is without error and that the Abstract of Principles, the seminary’s confession, and the Baptist Faith and Message, the SBC’s confession, faithfully expressed the teaching of the Bible. Second, Mohler sought to draw faculty to Southern who excelled both as scholars and as servants of Christ. Mohler added such distinguished professors as Dr. Tom Nettles, Dr. Bruce Ware, Dr. Tom Schreiner, and Dr. Robert Stein to the faculty. Third, Mohler oversaw the formation of the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Missions, and Church Growth and the reorganization of the School of Church Music into the School of Church Music and Worship. Dr. Thom Rainer served as the Graham School’s first dean. Fourth, Mohler spearheaded the transformation of the physical plant, the renovation of Norton Hall, Alumni Chapel, the construction of a new cafeteria and banquet hall, and the transformation of Rice and Judson Halls into a conference center.

In another significant move, Mohler restructured Boyce College, which had since 1974 functioned as an adult education center. Under Mohler’s direction, Boyce became a four-year accredited Bible college that now draws growing numbers of students training in their collegiate education that is founded on the Bible and oriented toward Christian service.

Southern has recommitted itself to the vision of her origins. The men who first charted her course prayed often for “heightened and broadened” kingdom work at the seminary. For this cause they gave their time, their energy, their lives. By the grace of God, their vision and sacrificial service bear fruit anew. Today, we speak through time to our founders that Southern marches on.

Norton Hall

Norton Hall

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