Tag Archives: al mohler

Christianity Today Covers the SBC Calvinism Debate

Just yesterday, Christianity Today published coverage of the recent debate over a statement on Calvinism:

A statement by a non-Calvinist faction of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has launched infighting within the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, and tensions are expected to escalate Tuesday as church leaders descend on New Orleans.

While the election of the denomination’s first African American president in its 167-year history will dominate the meeting’s headlines, water-cooler talk is sure to be fixated on a theological dirty word that, for the past two weeks, has spiked the blood pressure of theologians as much as it has Baptist visits to Wikipedia.

The May 30 document, “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” aims “to more carefully express what is generally believed by Southern Baptists about salvation.” But both Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler and George W. Truett Theological Seminary professor Roger Olson, in separate blog posts, said that parts of the document sound like semi-Pelagianism, a traditionally heretical understanding of Christian salvation.

Read the whole thing.  This is careful reporting on an important issue.  And please pray for the SBC, meeting this very week, that the convention will be biblically grounded to the core and will not sacrifice unity in the gospel.  Satan roams like a lion, and does not need any help in his work of devastation and disunity.

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Gospel Shrewdness: Why Churches in University Towns Are Highly Strategic

Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, just preached a gripping sermon on what he called “gospel shrewdness” from Luke 16:1-13.   I heard Dr. Mohler speak on this subject in the White House when I worked for the same some years back; his brief remarks then stuck with me.  I had not heard them developed in a full-blown sermon until last week.  Listen to this sermon–it is inspiring and fun.

Speaking of being shrewd in a distinctly Christian sense, I just saw this in the monthly update of City to City, the church planting network of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan:

University towns like Oxford, Cambridge or Palo Alto may not technically be classified as “global cities,” but it’s hard to deny their importance to global culture, shaping the nation’s next generation of thinkers, politicians, and thought leaders. College graduates flock to cities for jobs and become a large part of the center-city population. The questions heard on college campuses are often the same ones heard in places like London, New York, or Hong Kong.

This also makes universities excellent training ground for church planters and evangelists. C. S. Lewis spent most of his life in Oxford, became a Christian there as a result of a friendship with several Christian professors (including J.R.R. Tolkien), and many of his most brilliant insights were sharpened by his academic training.

During the week of February 6-10, the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (OICCU), an umbrella group of Christian ministries at Oxford which has existed for over 130 years, sponsored “This is Jesus,” an annual week-long outreach of talks and Q&A sessions on some of the biggest questions students have about Christianity. The speakers were Michael Cain, pastor of Emmanuel Church, Bristol, and Timothy Keller, who together with his wife Kathy and son Michael (currently a college pastor in New York) spent a full week meeting directly with students and wrestling with their questions.

I deeply appreciated these remarks.  It would be my own argument, based on my experience at an academically tough and very secular college, that there is a nearly desperate need for church planting and revitalization in university towns.  There is a terrific need in New England, for example; look, for example, at the colleges that belong to the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), the so-called “little Ivies.”  Many of these schools have no strong, gospel-preaching church nearby.  There are literally thousands of future cultural leaders on such campuses, and while various parachurch organizations courageously minister to them (see the excellent work of the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship, for example), there are few God-exalting congregations in such locales.

It will take a strong measure of what Mohler has called “gospel shrewdness” to reach such places.  These schools, like the Ivy League institutions and other leading educational outlets, are intense environments.  A strong culture of tolerance pervades many of them.  Academic credentials are highly valued; faculty are graduates of elite programs, and many students are from prestigious prep schools.  Like ministry to Oxford and Cambridge, these places call for wisdom and discernment.

The need of such schools, however, is remarkably simple: the gospel of Jesus Christ, preached, guarded and exalted in local congregations that care for God’s people and offer haven in a secular world.

Are our hearts not stirred within us as we read of the Kellers’ work in the UK?

Are enough young planters and future pastors thinking about their ministries with “gospel shrewdness?”


Filed under church planting, evangelism

Reflecting on the Reformed Resurgence: Band of Bloggers 2012

Timmy Brister, the mastermind/head/visionary behind Band of Bloggers, recently made this announcement:

We are excited about this year’s Band of Bloggers (on April 10, 2012, just before Together for the Gospel starts).  Each panelist has played a pivotal role with Band of Bloggers and the Young, Restless, and Reformed Movement.  At our first Band of Bloggers (April 2006), we were thrilled to have Tim Challies, Justin Taylor, Albert Mohler, and Russell Moore as panel speakers, and six years later we are even more happy to see that Justin and Tim will be joining us again.  Collin Hansen who coined the phrase “young, restless, and reformed” and wrote a journalistic book about it will also be joining us.  And for the first time, Kevin DeYoung, perhaps the most prominent Reformed blogger online has agreed to contribute his thoughts as well.  And I’m grateful for my good friend and fellow moderator, Owen Strachan, will be helping me lead the discussion at this year’s gathering.

If you want to go to BoB, you need to register ASAP.  Last I heard, the event was 2/3 full a day or two after it was announced.

I’m looking especially forward to this year’s gathering, because we’re going to reflect on the reformed resurgence and how blogging has contributed to it.  It will be fun to do that with some young leaders, and I know that many who join us will have made meaningful contributions to the broader movement.  The whole point of this is that we’ve witnessed “a thousand points of light” come to life in the last 5-6 years, a development that has allowed the books, talks, sermons, and discussions of the reformed world to spread like wildfire all over the world.

That, my friends, is a beautiful thing, one worth celebrating in six weeks’ time.

By the way, I think Southern Seminary still has some spots open in the special Together for the Gospel class.  It’s led by Russell Moore, Dean of SBTS, and will allow students to hear some great material, attend some pre-conference panels with a range of Southern faculty, and then attend the full conference.  You get three credit hours from SBTS.  It’s a fantastic bargain and has people enrolled from all over the country.

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Carl Henry’s Quest for the “Evangelical Harvard” and Other ETS 2011 Topics

For the small but vibrant community of people known as “evangelical theologians” or “theology aficianados” or “those zealous about the extracalvinisticum,” the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society is a big deal.  I love ETS.  This year’s meeting, centered around the theme “No Other Name,” will be held this week in San Francisco, California from Wednesday, November 16-Friday, November 18.

There are a number of fascinating topics on the docket this year, as there always are.  Andy Naselli has listed one such event, a panel on the “spectrum of evangelicalism” that features several contributors to this notable and needed book on the same topic, just published by Naselli and fellow TEDS alum Collin Hansen.

Perspectives on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism

Thursday, November 17, 2011 | 3:00-6:10 pm | Parc 55 – Divisadero

Moderator/Introduction: Andy Naselli (The Gospel Coalition)


R. Albert Mohler Jr. (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary): A Conservative Evangelical View on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism
Kevin T. Bauder (Central Seminary): A Fundamentalist View on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism
Carl Trueman
(Westminster Theological Seminary): Response to Albert Mohler and Kevin Bauder

This panel should be very interesting.  You can also see Andy’s carefully enumerated reasons to attend ETS.  He is characteristically thorough.  I would add a fifth reason–because it’s fun!–but I would not wish to do untold violence to his list.

Here’s the full listing of everything happening at ETS 2011.  Wednesday morning–11/16/11–at 10:10am in Yerba Buena 7 (I have utterly no idea where this is), I’m going to do a paper on this: “Of Holy Grails and the ‘Evangelical Harvard’: Carl Henry, IFACS, and the Untold Story of the Great Christian University.  I’m one of four presenters in the Church History: American Christianity section alongside historians A. Donald Macleod of Tyndale Seminary and John Hannah of Dallas Theological Seminary.  My topic stems from my dissertation on the re-enchantment of the evangelical mind in the mid-twentieth century, which ranges over figures like Harold Ockenga, Carl Henry, and others.

Wherever you end up at ETS, I’m sure that this year’s meeting will be richly profitable.  The fact that it’s in San Francisco doesn’t hurt anything, either…

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Media Is Here from the Mohler-Wallis Debate (Link)

Audio and video has been posted from the Mohler-Wallis debate hosted by the Henry Center of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (HT: @carlhenrycenter).  I just checked the video and it looks great.

A basic question at the heart of the debate is this: Is social justice an essential part of the mission of the church?

The Henry Center for Theological Understanding, in its Trinity Debates forum, is pleased to provide a public venue for addressing this question by hosting two prominent voices from competing perspectives. Jim Wallis will answer “Yes” and R. Albert Mohler will answer “No.”

Debate Media: Audio | Video

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Mohler-Wallis Debate Media Here in 10-14 Days

According to the Henry Center, media from last night’s Mohler-Wallis debate on social justice will be up in 10-14 days.

Here’s what the Center just published about the debate from Thursday night:

The ATO chapel of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School was filled to capacity as over 600 people attended the stimulating debate between Jim Wallis and Al Mohler on the question: Is Social Justice an Essential Part of the Mission of the Church? An even larger audience was able to view the debate through our live-stream. Dr. Chris Firestone, philosophy professor at Trinity International University, was excellent at moderating the event. Many people in attendance agreed that the discussion clarified in a helpful way the important theological and social issues that are at stake.

For those of you who missed the conversation, we’ll be posting the free audio and video of the entire event within two weeks here.

You better believe I’ll have it on this blog when it hits.  The conversation was the most significant public discussion of the issue that has happened in a long time; hundreds were on the live-stream, which featured discussion as lively as did the actual event.

Let’s hope the conversation continues and sparks a generation of Christians who prioritize proclamation of Christ’s gospel and realize that the truly converted person cannot help but have a passionate interest in the welfare of others, in a physical and especially spiritual sense.


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This Week at TEDS: Mohler-Wallis Henry Center Debate & Alistair Begg

(Update: Post corrected thanks to Tyler Wittman)

Thursday night at 7pm CST (8pm EST), the much-anticipated (and widely-covered) debate between Al Mohler and Jim Wallis takes place.  The Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is staging the event.  Anyone and everyone can watch the live-stream here starting at 7pm on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

I would encourage readers to pray that this event will lead to gospel clarity on a confusing issue.

Here is the event description:

North American Evangelicals have recently experienced a revival of interest in issues of social justice. The growing sentiment among many today is that Jesus preached “good news to the poor,” and was indeed among the poor and marginalized. These Christians believe that the implications of these facts should renew the church’s understanding of the gospel and its mission. Rightly or wrongly, this interest in social justice is transforming the blueprint and vision of ecclesial ministry.

For others, this blueprint conjures up concerns about 20th century liberal Protestantism and a watering down of the gospel’s message of salvation. The defining mission of the church, for them, continues to be the sharing of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to all nations, generations, and social classes. The issue of social justice, though important, is not to be considered as an essential part of the mission of the church.

A basic question at the heart of the debate is this: Is social justice an essential part of the mission of the church?

The Henry Center for Theological Understanding, in its Trinity Debates forum, is pleased to provide a public venue for addressing this question by hosting two prominent voices from competing perspectives. Jim Wallis will answer “Yes” and R. Albert Mohler will answer “No.”

Tomorrow is a big day for the Henry Center.  Alistair Begg will speak in the Scripture & Ministry lecture series at 1pm CST, the premier lecture series of the HCTU.  His talk, entitled “Inadequacy: The Surprising Secret to Being Useful to God,” looks excellent.  I’m guessing you’ll want to get the media in a few weeks’ time.

Here is Begg’s blurb (he references the NBA!):

The NBA champions this year was a team made up of fewer stars and less glitz than their opponents. We might say that humility triumphed over hubris. There are lessons-a-plenty in this for an evangelical church that routinely produces all-stars. Such an approach endangers the recipients of such adulation and discourages those who are by-passed in the process. In this lecture, Alistair Begg will consider God’s pattern of using unlikely and ordinary characters and address the possibility that what we regard as a hindrance may be the key to usefulness in God’s service.


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Kenneth Kantzer of TEDS Predicted Inerrancy, Evolution Crises in 1987

A little while back I mentioned Kenneth Kantzer, founding dean of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  In the course of my research on Kantzer and his fellow neo-evangelicals, I came across this documentary fragment that will be of interest to many who are following current evangelical battles over inerrancy, theistic evolution, and the historicity of persons and events in the book of Genesis.

In a talk Kantzer gave on October 4, 1987 to the TEDS advisory committee, he included a section entitled “Theological Changes That Could Affect Evangelical Seminaries.”  He listed the following (this is a word-for-word reproduction):

1. Limitations on inerrancy
2. Theistic evolution
3. An historical Adam and Eve
4. A freer view of introduction problems like: the historicity of Noah, the author of Ecclesiastes, the Pentateuch, and the Psalms
5. Premillennialism

If I’m not mistaken, he went five for five–or very close to it.  Inerrancy has come under fire through the Enns-Westminster controversy and the writing of Kenton Sparks.  Theistic evolution is the subject of a major debate between Southern Seminary president Al Mohler and the BioLogos Foundation.  The necessity of the historicity of Adam and Eve was recently questioned by Westmont College Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman.  The other OT “introduction problems” mentioned by Kantzer in his fourth point, especially the authorship of the Pentateuch, are the subject of much discussion among biblical studies faculty in evangelical seminaries.

Premillennialism is not as viscerally debated as are others on this point, but evangelical institutions and leaders are very much puzzling through whether it should remain “on the books” in statements of faith and other confessional documents as the eschatological position required of professors.  The Evangelical Free Church of America came within a hair’s breadth of removing it from their confession a few years back (EFCA Canada did remove it from theirs); influential pastor Mark Dever suggested a few years ago that it was a sin for churches to require members to assent to a premillennial position.

So again, I think Kantzer went five-for-five.  That’s a remarkable record.  This is one more indication that he was a uniquely wise leader and one who is worthy of significant historiographical consideration.  One is moved by this list to pray for the future health of evangelical seminaries, whether TEDS itself, Gordon-Conwell, SBTS, Reformed Theological Seminary, Westminster Theological Seminary, or others.  We pray that these schools will not give ground to the culture where it begs it from them, but that they will uphold the life-giving teachings of God’s Word.


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Paige Patterson on the Need for Personal Ministry Training

I saw this link a while back on Al Mohler’s Twitter feed and found it helpful.  It’s from the Southern Baptist Texan and written by Tammi Ledbetter.  The article, entitled “Patterson: Preparation for Ministry Requires Sacrifice,” includes the following helpful commentary from Southwestern Seminary president Paige Patterson:

“Pastoral ministry, evangelism, missions, counseling and music are all, by the nature of the disciplines, incarnational, not mechanical,” Patterson added. To think otherwise is as ludicrous as believing the Navy SEALS who took down Osama bin Laden had received all of their training online, he observed.

“There’s never going to be a day when we train special ops or the common soldier without taking him to a base, out of his comfort zone, and instilling certain disciplines that can never be instilled online.”

Read the whole story.

There is much that one could write about this subject.  Many of us are thankful for the way that online education allows people who would not otherwise be able to study from faithful teachers to do so.  But I think that Patterson has an important point here.  I like his linkage of ministry training to Navy SEAL preparation.  If we take military training so seriously that we require future SEALs to effectively give up their former lives to qualify as elite soldiers to serve their country, why would we take spiritual training in service of our Savior less seriously?

We should in fact take it more seriously.  There is nothing that more bears upon the health of the church of Jesus Christ than the preparation of its ministers.  The seminary is far more important than we might think.  The instruction that one receives from real, live professors who model what they teach, meet students outside of class for discipleship, and generally exude a Christlike spirit cannot be calculated in value.  It costs us, yes, to enter into such a course of study, but isn’t that the point?  What are we doing in ministry but taking up our cross to follow Christ–in order that others might do the same?

Should such an act be light, weightless, easy, convenient?  One might argue that it should not.  We are not gluttons for unnecessary punishment, but the minister of the cross should be more than willing to bear hard burdens in order to steward heavenly realities.

The seminary fills a vital role; the costs it requires are vital costs.


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Mohler v. Wallis October 2011: Is Social Justice the Church’s Mission?

I don’t know if you’ve seen word of this, but this debate, sponsored by the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, looks great.  It’s between Al Mohler and Jim Wallis and will cover the role of social justice in the mission of the church.  The debate will be held on October 27, 2011 at TEDS.

Here’s the description of an event that will surely attract a good deal of attention, and should.

North American Evangelicals, long focused on sharing the gospel as the essential mission of the church, have recently become very interested in issues of social justice. A growing sentiment among some today is that Jesus, when he lived on Earth, was indeed among the poor and marginalized, and this fact has, or at least should have, implications for the church’s self-understanding and mission.

Rightly or wrongly, this interest in social justice is being transformed into a blueprint for a new vision of ecclesial ministry. For those holding this position, social justice is not only a burning concern as we seek to embody a pure and faultless religion, but also an essential part of the mission of the church. For others, this new blueprint conjures up concerns about liberal Christianity and a watering down of the gospel, not unlike what took place in Europe in the 20th century. The defining mission of the church, for them, continues to be the sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ to all nations, generations, and social classes. The issue of social justice, though important, is not to be considered as an essential part of the mission of the church. A basic question at the heart of the debate is this: Is social justice an essential part of the mission of the church?

The Henry Center for Theological Understanding, in its Trinity Debates forum, is pleased to provide a public venue for addressing this question by hosting two prominent voices from competing perspectives. Jim Wallis will answer “Yes” and R. Albert Mohler will answer “No.”

I look forward to watching this debate, which most likely will be webcasted.  The Henry Center continues to produce events that are of great importance to the faith and practice of the evangelical church, and is definitely a center worth following (on Twitter, for example).


Filed under henry center, social justice