Mohler Strikes Again

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Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Dave Roberts » Sat Mar 07, 2015 9:48 am

I was fascinated yesterday by how easily the SBTS president can offer perfect judgment on people and churches of which he knows nothing for the decisions made by adults who might have grown up in that church.

http://baptistnews.com/faith/theology/item/29880-mohler-says-churches-to-blame-when-youth-leave-the-fold

The protest that there is somehow a failure to teach or to prepare young people because they decide to become members of Christian groups other than Baptists or "evangelical bodies," as Mohler expressed it, seems filled with a hubris that does not become any of us. The idea that we who educate children and young people are responsible for making certain that they do not leave the fold as adults cuts across the grain of the doctrine of free will and that of personal responsibility, so glorified by conservatives.

I have been personally acquainted with some of the pastors from First Baptist in Elkin, NC, over the past forty years. They have hardly been drones who did not discuss theology and Christian practice, as Mohler implies. In fact, it has been a leading church in NC for giving to Baptist mission causes across the last century, the developing ground for a number of ministers who now serve in Baptist life, and a church that has sought to offer an informed faith. It ill becomes the guru of all things conservative to criticize a church over what was published about two brothers who have chosen non-Baptist paths to express their faith. Does he still believe in the old SBC address from around 1950 that Southern Baptists are "God's Last and Only Hope?" If so, he needs to get out of the ghetto once in while.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Tim Bonney » Sat Mar 07, 2015 11:14 am

Outside the SBC Al Mohler, if he is known, has become an example of what is most wrong with some Baptists.

The opinions he expresses here are incredibly condescending, divisive, and judgmental not only towards Anglicans and Roman Catholics but to anyone who felt led to leave their Baptist family for another Christian denomination.

Also since Anglican doctrine is essentially Methodist doctrine, with a few shifts in emphasis on grace and holiness, most Methodists could look at his statements as an attack on our denominational teachings as well.

The best thing Mohler does for me in the article make me glad not to be a Southern Baptist and that the Bishop and the Priest in the article found their way out too.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby KeithE » Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:04 am

Guess he has to blame the attendance loss in the SBC to something:

Image
(I’ll fit in a plot anytime I find one!)

God certainly would not have pre-destined such losses (oh wait, He must have).

My son Todd left the SBC-fold because of his preference for Wesleyan theology and the Calvinistic trend in the SBC (Mohler being its chief advocate)

My daughter Brandy left the SBC-fold due to her marriage into a Catholic family (mother essentially runs that Catholic Church). But they plan to join Todd’s church after re-appointment in June, if he is somewhere close. Both families are cool with whatever their choices are. Interesting that my son-in-law does the lighting for Casting Crowns (popular Baptist rock group) and his dad runs the audio at Whitesburg BC (possibly the most conservative BC in HSV).

Now if Mohler were to know this and know about my church’s current story, he would certainly call the departures as strong evidence for coercive (or at least forceful) brainwashing efforts (God I guess not being powerful enough).
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby William Thornton » Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:22 am

Unless a parent or congregational leader is perfectly comfortable with his tradition or whatever else comes along that might attract those in his or her charge, I would think that one would expect the leader of our flagship seminary, whom we expect to train and educate the young theologs most of whom will have responsibility for maintaining orthodoxy from the pulpit and educating others as to a biblical faith and practice, to say such things and issue such warnings.

Why wouldn't we warn that failure to properly instruct and educate in our churches easily leaves our members open to faith and practice not in accord with biblical revelation? Why wouldn't we expect our leaders to speak candidly about public cases like this one?

If being a baptist has nothing more biblical than catholic faith and practice then I would agree with the criticism of Mohler.

It is not polite to actually say that as baptists we are more biblical in that we believe scripture teaches that many catholic doctrines are false; however, either we believe it or we don't and if we act as if we don't there's not a lot to discuss.

There are many factors in individuals leaving the faith tradition of their family. Inadequate teaching and indoctrination (as in catechism) is one.

The graph of SBC declining membership is common to mods, libs, and cons. Straight line consistency from the halcyon days of the baby boom '50s. Nothing relevant there to this discussion...but a nice graph nonetheless.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby William Thornton » Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:25 am

Would any of my mod/lib friends not admit that travelling from Baptist to Catholic involves a considerable sacrifice of doctrines we hold dear?
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Haruo » Sun Mar 08, 2015 12:30 pm

Yeah, like the priesthood of the female believers....
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Haruo » Sun Mar 08, 2015 12:54 pm

The hubris involved in thinking that the Baptist take on God is "the faith once for all delivered to the saints" and the Catholic take is not is, to me, mind-boggling. I have no doubt that both Mohler and Francis, if they could get in a room with a neutral interpreter and Jude, would find they had much more in common with each other than either of them had with the epistle-writer, in terms of what the "faith once for all delivered to the saints" contained. As for the Bible, I think they would find that Jude was heterodox as to canon.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Tim Bonney » Sun Mar 08, 2015 1:01 pm

William notice the language.
“We are losing far too many evangelical young people as they reach older ages because they are simply not adequately grounded theologically in the Christian faith,”
The bold is my emphasis.

If you read Mohler you get the distinct impression that he doesn't believe that the theology of Catholics or Anglicans is "Christian." I've heard enough of Mohler lately claiming liberals are part of a different religion than he is that I pretty much figure he is saying that Catholics and Anglicans aren't real Christians. If he had even said "grounded in Baptist theology" I'd find that a heck of a lot less offensive. He kept, in fact, using the term "Christian doctrine" rather than Baptist doctrine.

Also note that he lumps the Anglicans and the Catholics together when the doctrine of the Anglican Church is much more Protestant. Which means Mohler likely thinks the same thing about Methodist, Presbyterians, etc.

This kind of language is the usual Southern Baptist triumphalism. It teaches the underlying idea that the SBC is really the one true Church. This is far different than saying that each Christian should be grounded in the faith of his own denomination. Mohler doesn't say that. He equates Christian Doctrine=SBC Doctrine. The arrogance of that is pretty staggering.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Tim Bonney » Sun Mar 08, 2015 1:05 pm

William Thornton wrote:Would any of my mod/lib friends not admit that travelling from Baptist to Catholic involves a considerable sacrifice of doctrines we hold dear?


As Hauro said, the role of women. But remember again, the other brother was Anglican. They have women priests and now women Bishops. Mohler lumped a Protestant denomination and the Catholic Church together in his acting as if Baptists are the only ones with "Christian Doctrine."

When I was in the ABC we often called the SBC "the Catholic Church of the south" and now you know why.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby KeithE » Sun Mar 08, 2015 2:03 pm

William Thornton wrote:Would any of my mod/lib friends not admit that travelling from Baptist to Catholic involves a considerable sacrifice of doctrines we hold dear?

Because my daughter is not into Catholic (or Baptist) doctrine but finds the support for her family at Good Shepard Church (specifically, music training and social justice talks geared for her 8 and 5 yr old). She does miss Baptist style Sunday School and the small group atmosphere it entailed. Occasionally she has come to classes at our Church (and we get the kids!, her husband usually on tour with Casting Crowns).

The way some of you think, is as if Jesus taught a doctrinal system and said all must buy into that. Perhaps we better hold “love” and “mercy” and “justice” more dearly than our doctrinal stances.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Haruo » Sun Mar 08, 2015 3:09 pm

Amen. Doctrine kills, but the Spirit gives life. Biblical teaching is all about love overcoming death and reconciling enemies and finding and restoring the lost.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Tim Bonney » Sun Mar 08, 2015 4:18 pm

The best Churches/Denominations are those who understand and admit that they don't have all the answers. Beware of any group claiming to have THE direct pipeline to God and right doctrine.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Dave Roberts » Sun Mar 08, 2015 5:26 pm

Mohler's hubris makes him very unpalatable. The pride that he has all the correct answers leaves me very cold.

William, I was brought up in a Baptist home, a strong Baptist church, and I was educated in two Baptist schools. The thing I heard repeatedly in all of them was that a Baptist by upbringing had to become a Baptist by conviction. If I could not be a Baptist by conviction, then I needed to find my way to another place in the Christian faith. I would never be comfortable in a Catholic church, but I have found that I have lots of brothers and sisters who have found their place in it. It takes a great deal of ego to say that God could never lead one to express the Christian faith in something other than a Baptist church.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby William Thornton » Sun Mar 08, 2015 6:21 pm

I'm getting a reading from my friends that is more anti-Mohler than any content in the article. Mohler, as I would expect him or most of us to do, defends evangelical, Protestant Christianity. There's nothing that is particularly baptistic about his evaluation of the twin's faith journey.

He says:

Becoming an Anglican doesn’t necessarily mean in any sense the denial of the very essentials of the gospel that would be at stake in terms of the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church — in terms of those Reformation principles that we believe to be at the very heart of the gospel: of justification by faith alone, by grace alone, by the work of Christ alone, knowable by the authority of Scripture alone, and ultimately to the glory of God alone.”


Do any of my friends here wish to argue that Luther wasted his time and effort? Maybe we ought not to protest Catholic doctrine and be one big ecumenical catholic body and look to il Papa for truth.

I think my brethren will have to look elsewhere for hubris, or quote Mohler for me in his offending words.

The problem seems to be that anyone dare question another's faith decision no matter how far it departs from the convictions we hold as Bapsists (or Methodists). The twins put their story out there. Mohler made a reasonable, sensible, and expected lesson out of it.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Tim Bonney » Sun Mar 08, 2015 6:55 pm

William, Sure I don't like Al. I don't think his legacy will in any way stand up to his predecessors at SBTS. But I'm not at all seeing what you are seeing. The statement you quote was at best a grudging recognition at the possibility that Anglicans might be Christians. (And by inference, Episcopalians and Methodists.)

Becoming an Anglican doesn’t necessarily mean in any sense the denial of the very essentials of the gospel
What?? When would being an Anglican ever mean denying the essentials of the gospel? Has Al ever read the Articles of Religion? Seriously?

Al Mohler is the Bobby Knight of the SBC. I used to think it was Paige Patterson. But compared to Al in recent years Paige is starting to sound like a statesman.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Ed Pettibone » Sun Mar 08, 2015 7:23 pm

Ed: Tim, Methinks thou to be tilting at windmills.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Tim Bonney » Sun Mar 08, 2015 7:43 pm

Ed Pettibone wrote:Ed: Tim, Methinks thou to be tilting at windmills.


How so Ed? The ABC/USA has always been a very ecumenical body of Baptists. Has your conservative theology made your more sympathetic to Al and his "we are the only good Christians" kind of lingo?
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby KeithE » Sun Mar 08, 2015 8:58 pm

William Thornton wrote:I'm getting a reading from my friends that is more anti-Mohler than any content in the article. Mohler, as I would expect him or most of us to do, defends evangelical, Protestant Christianity. There's nothing that is particularly baptistic about his evaluation of the twin's faith journey.

He says:

Becoming an Anglican doesn’t necessarily mean in any sense the denial of the very essentials of the gospel that would be at stake in terms of the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church — in terms of those Reformation principles that we believe to be at the very heart of the gospel: of justification by faith alone, by grace alone, by the work of Christ alone, knowable by the authority of Scripture alone, and ultimately to the glory of God alone.”


Do any of my friends here wish to argue that Luther wasted his time and effort? Maybe we ought not to protest Catholic doctrine and be one big ecumenical catholic body and look to il Papa for truth.

I think my brethren will have to look elsewhere for hubris, or quote Mohler for me in his offending words.

The problem seems to be that anyone dare question another's faith decision no matter how far it departs from the convictions we hold as Bapsists (or Methodists). The twins put their story out there. Mohler made a reasonable, sensible, and expected lesson out of it.


I for one will take Pope Francis over Al Mohler any day of the week.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Sandy » Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:30 pm

Timothy Bonney wrote:If you read Mohler you get the distinct impression that he doesn't believe that the theology of Catholics or Anglicans is "Christian." I've heard enough of Mohler lately claiming liberals are part of a different religion than he is that I pretty much figure he is saying that Catholics and Anglicans aren't real Christians. If he had even said "grounded in Baptist theology" I'd find that a heck of a lot less offensive. He kept, in fact, using the term "Christian doctrine" rather than Baptist doctrine.

Also note that he lumps the Anglicans and the Catholics together when the doctrine of the Anglican Church is much more Protestant. Which means Mohler likely thinks the same thing about Methodist, Presbyterians, etc.

This kind of language is the usual Southern Baptist triumphalism. It teaches the underlying idea that the SBC is really the one true Church. This is far different than saying that each Christian should be grounded in the faith of his own denomination. Mohler doesn't say that. He equates Christian Doctrine=SBC Doctrine. The arrogance of that is pretty staggering.


I think your opinion and perspective of Mohler colors the way you read what he said. I'll have a discussion with my friend who is an Anglican clergyman in Washington, DC. His kids used to go to my school when he was an associate minister here, and I've had him in our chapel service on several occasions. Since he got his MDiv from Southern, I'll ask him for his take on this story.

There are notable and significant distinctions between the various branches of Protestant traditions, and even more so between Protestants and Catholics. And when it comes to becoming ordained clergy, there's really relatively little travel between the various traditions, especially across the line between denominations which still hold to the church tradition of administering sacraments, and those whose belief in priesthood of the believer does not see church practices as sacramental, but symbolic.

For a seminary president, who sees the potential of young Christians growing up in our churches as a resource for the church leadership and missionary personnel of the future, Mohler's position is understandable. Churches are key to providing the early training that children and youth need in order to sense their calling, and as we've heard all our lives, they are the "future leaders" of the church.

Of course, there's a lot of exchange the other way. The pastor of my home church for six years when I was a teenager had converted from Catholicism in his 20's while serving in Vietnam, and though he would never question any person's individual faith experience, he made no bones about his feelings that Catholics had to separate the tradition of the church from Biblical teaching in order to find true faith in Christ. In my December graduating class at Southwestern, there were more than a dozen former Catholics, along with probably close to a third of the group who had been raised in mainline Protestant traditions. My current pastor, ordained in the CMA, converted from Catholicism while a college student, and essentially believes its sacramental system and tradition to be "false religion."

I'm a bit more concerned about the fact that the younger generation is abandoning the church altogether.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Sandy » Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:38 pm

KeithE wrote:Guess he has to blame the attendance loss in the SBC to something. God certainly would not have pre-destined such losses (oh wait, He must have).


Be that as it may, I think a lot of denominations, like the Methodists, D of C, UCC, ELCA, TEC, and PCUSA would put "Baptist" on their sign and baptize by immersion if they could reduce their membership and attendance losses to the size of that now being experienced by the SBC.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Dave Roberts » Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:23 am

I would not for one moment disagree with Al on the importance of teaching children and young people. My initial problem is with his assumption that if such teaching is done well, there will not be departures from the Baptist/evangelical camp. We live in an adult world where people often change religious affiliations. Sandy may have hit the point, the numbers joining the "nones" or "dones" is far greater. Indoctrination does not get it.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Ed Pettibone » Mon Mar 09, 2015 8:44 am

Dave Roberts wrote:I would not for one moment disagree with Al on the importance of teaching children and young people. My initial problem is with his assumption that if such teaching is done well, there will not be departures from the Baptist/evangelical camp. We live in an adult world where people often change religious affiliations. Sandy may have hit the point, the numbers joining the "nones" or "dones" is far greater. Indoctrination does not get it.


Ed: Dave does indoctrination not get it, or do the "nones" or "dones" have a better indoctrination programs? :wink:
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Tim Bonney » Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:04 pm

Sandy wrote:Be that as it may, I think a lot of denominations, like the Methodists, D of C, UCC, ELCA, TEC, and PCUSA would put "Baptist" on their sign and baptize by immersion if they could reduce their membership and attendance losses to the size of that now being experienced by the SBC.


No Sandy, we have more integrity than that. And I'd say you've lived in the south too long.

There aren't many Baptists in this neck of the woods. The entire US isn't blanked by the SBC like the south is. The SBC isn't a symbol of success in this area. The three biggest groups here are RCC, ELCA, and then UMC. The RCC is the success story up here.

But, as my grandfather said, "you can put any label on an empty bottle." If you believe the teachings of your church or denomination matter, than you aren't going to be willing to lie about who you are just to get members unless your bottle is really empty.

Even at that, when I perform adult baptisms in the UMC (and I've performed several in the last couple of years) I offer all three forms of baptism (immersion, pouring, sprinkling) and I've yet to have anyone take me up on immersion. In fact they were all sprinkled.

Also, if you think any mainline denominations have "SBC Envy" you don't know mainliners very well. If you hung out in a few Facebook groups for mainline Christians it appears to me that most of them think that SBC membership is about as desirable as becoming a Mormon since the Fundy takeover.

The SBC has done a lot of damage to the word "Baptist" in the last several decades. When I was in the ABC I was constantly having to reassure midwesterners that "No, we aren't those kind of Baptists." Being "southern" anything doesn't sell that well in the upper midwest, maybe with the exception of southern BBQ. :wink:

Among mainliners, articles from people like Al Mohler are read with disbelief and shock at best and with derision and laughter at worst. He makes y'all look really bad. You'd be better off with Bobby Knight as a symbol for your denomination. At least Bobby won games.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Ed Pettibone » Mon Mar 09, 2015 2:09 pm

Tim, Bonny wrote "Even at that, when I perform adult baptisms in the UMC (and I've performed several in the last couple of years) I offer all three forms of baptism (immersion, pouring, sprinkling) and I've yet to have anyone take me up on immersion. In fact they were all sprinkled."

Ed: Of course many baptist would say you haven't really Baptized any one in the past few years. :lol:

As I have said before I am persuaded that you are far too enamored with the term "mainline Denominations".

And I think some former SBC pastors who work hard at justifying their move, have done more damage to the name Baptist than has the SBC itself.
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Re: Mohler Strikes Again

Postby Tim Bonney » Mon Mar 09, 2015 2:26 pm

You really do miss my points pretty badly at times Ed. Much of the time I think we are just talking at cross purposes or cross understandings even. Why on earth would I try to justify being a former SBCer?? I'd be more likely to try to justify why I was ever in the SBC in the first place. :roll:

And yes Ed, I recognize your unorthodox view of baptism that most American Baptists no longer accept. :wink: Two of the three ABC churches I pastored recognized non-immersion baptisms as valid. And that is in ABC-IN, a rather conservative region.

As to the use of the term "mainline denominations," I'm just used since the 1920s. Your denomination is in the list of the "seven sisters of the mainline" so I'm not sure why you don't like it. (Or maybe that is why you don't like it?)
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