Wearing a Funny Cap

The commencement address is a type of public speech that stands in a genre all by itself. Typically, a luminary tries to give graduating students a glimpse of what is to come for them, and tell them how that they are to accomplish their dreams. I’ve been to two graduations where commencement speeches have been given—I’ll attend a third tomorrow.

I don’t remember much about my high-school graduation except for a nosebleed that I had at a most inopportune time. Senator Bill Frist was the speaker when
I graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1997, and he did a pretty good job, as I recall. The president of my seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler, will address us tomorrow, which should prove to be very stimulating.

There are a few commencement address that are floating around the web which range from the cliched to the absurd to the magnificent. I’ll let you decide which categories to put Conan O’Brien and Will Farrell’s Harvard commencement speeches in. As for magnificent, Ken Myers’ address to Westminster Theological Seminary is quite challenging:

Many of you will in a short time be serving within churches in a pastoral capacity. Others will be involved in ministry as teachers or counselors, or in a capacity as yet undefined. But all of you have the training to be leaders within the Church of Jesus Christ, and you have the opportunity to assist in the equipping of saints using all of the assets that an education here has established in you. I urge you to remember always the breadth and depth of the difference the gospel makes. Our Lord is the Maker, Sustainer, and King over all; there is no corner of the universe concerning which He is indifferent, no aspect of our lives whose meaning is not derived from His creative Word.

But there will be those you encounter who think that religion should be kept on a short leash, people who are content to receive the gospel as a therapeutic salve to soothe the abrasions caused by the friction of life after the Fall, or who want preaching and teaching to be little more than a pep talk, motivational insights for living that will get them from one week to the next. Far too many American Christians are invested in a social or cultural status quo that is deeply compromised by what the New Testament calls worldliness. They are willing to honor Jesus in their hearts, but reluctant to consider the consequences of his claims in the ways they make money, play, shop, vote, eat, and drink.

I hope that I will heed such cautions, and allow all that I’ve learned in seminary to infom my whole being. Christ came to transform the whole person, and this funny cap that I’m wearing is only a milestone in that transformation.

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