A generation ago, David Wells offered a severe and accurate indictment of Western civilization. We have become, he argued, a culture in which there is no place for truth.
A generation before David Wells, Francis Schaeffer famously argued that Christians must now defend the very existence of true truth – truth that is actually true.
Now, at Southern Seminary and Boyce College, we face the honor and challenge of raising up a generation of young Christian leaders, preachers, ministers, and missionaries who will be people of the truth.
Just about every trend in our society makes this even more of a challenge. All this would be bracing enough if such trends shaped the consciousness of the world, but not of the church. Yet to our shame, the modern secular worldview has wrought destruction within the church as well. The modern attempt to dominate truth has given way within sectors of the church to the postmodern rejection of truth itself. Indeed, in many denominations and churches, notions of orthodoxy and heresy have become “conceptual emptiness.” The boundaries have vanished. The very possibility of heresy is dismissed in many circles within mainline Protestantism, and many evangelicals seem to have no better grasp of the moral imperative to honor the truth and to oppose error. Matters of truth and falsehood are not matters of moral indifference to the Christian church. We are to contend for the faith, and the love of the truth is an essential mark of the believer. An attitude of indifference, whether based in postmodern deconstructionist theory or simple epistemological apathy, is a scandal to the gospel and a looming threat to the church.
Christians are called to love the truth and refute error, not in a spirit of pride and vindictiveness, but in a spirit of humility and faithfulness. Our responsibility is clear, as articulated well by Blaise Pascal: “It is as much a crime to disturb the peace when truth prevails as it is to keep the peace when truth is violated. There is therefore a time in which peace is justified and another time when it is not justifiable. For it is written that there is a time for peace and a time for war and it is the law of truth that distinguishes the two. But at no time is there a time for truth and a time for error, for it is written that God’s truth shall abide forever.”
Our determination is that Southern Seminary and Boyce College will be trusted – trusted for truth. That is how we have built this faculty and academic program. That is how we present ourselves to the world. That is how we are accountable to the Southern Baptist Convention and its churches.
We are bold to be trusted for truth when the world around us defies the very notion of truth. We are honored to raise up a generation who will be trusted for truth, for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for the full measure of the Christian faith.
We will devote our lives to the keeping of this trust, and be ever thankful for the glory of this calling. Thank you for all you do to make Southern Seminary and Boyce College possible. I hope we will see you on our campus very soon.