LOUISVILLE—Ministers of the gospel are not partakers in a career, but recipients of a divine calling, Albert Mohler Jr. said in his commencement address May 19 to the 2017 graduates of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
During 219th commencement exercises on the seminary lawn, 318 master’s and doctoral students received degrees. A week earlier, 149 Boyce College students graduated, with the combined 467 degrees representing the largest commencement in Southern Seminary’s history.
‘At every Southern Seminary graduation we remind one another of the great and essential fact that the Christian ministry is not a mere profession—it is a divine calling,’ Mohler, SBTS president, said. ‘The ministry is one of Christ’s gifts to His church. It is among the most serious—and indeed the most serious—and joyous of all callings.’
In an address titled ‘As It Had Been the Face of an Angel,’ from Acts 6:8-15, Mohler encouraged the graduates to be encouraged by Stephen’s example, who remained steadfast in the face of false accusations, his face shining like an angel’s.
The contemporary depiction of angels in popular culture often misses the point, Mohler said, as angles in the Bible are messengers of God who inspire awe and fear.
‘That is the ministry of the Word of God—the ministry we celebrate in these graduates today,’ Mohler said. ‘We dare to pray that when they preach, when they bring the message from God’s word, in this sense their faces look like the faces of angels—not cute, never harmless, not ready to jump off of a greeting card, but fearless, faithful, forceful to the end.’
During graduation, Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby and chairman of the board for the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., read a portion from the New Testament. His daughter Lauren and son-in-law Michael McAfee both were among this year’s graduates. Michael, an M.Div. graduate in the school of theology, is director of Bible engagement for the Museum of the Bible.
The 2017 graduating class also featured the 2,000th recipient of a doctor of philosophy degree in the 125-year history of Southern Seminary’s doctoral program.
David Casas, of Lawrenceville, Ga., earned his Ph.D. from the school of theology. Casas is a member of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Sandy Springs, Ga., and teaches Old Testament at Luther Rice University.
Also during graduation, Mohler presented the annual Findley B. and Louvenia Edge Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence to Jeremy Pierre, associate professor of biblical counseling and the seminary’s dean of students.
Pierre, a pastor at Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, has taught at Southern since 2011 and is the author of ‘The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life’ and co-author of ‘The Pastor and Biblical Counseling.’ (BP)