Should we applaud Al Mohler speaking at Brigham Young University?

106 posts / 0 new
Last post
Offline
Since
Thu, 2/11/10
Posts: 2374
Should we applaud Al Mohler speaking at Brigham Young University?

Tags: 

Offline
Since
Tue, 6/2/09
Posts: 77
Yep ...

Mohler is a theological liberal who fails to laud the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

I guess we should have known it all along ..............

 

Ken Fields

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3532
Oh good grief

I come as a Christian theologian to speak explicitly and respectfully as a Christian—a Christian who defines Christianity only within the historic creeds and confessions of the Christian church and who comes as one committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to the ancient and eternal Trinitarian faith of the Christian church. I have not come as less, and you know whom you have invited. I come knowing who you are—to an institution that stands as the most powerful intellectual center of the Latter-Day Saints, the most visible academic institution of Mormonism. You know who I am and what I believe. I know who you are and what you believe. It has been my great privilege to know friendship and share conversation with leaders of the LDS church, such as Elder Tom Perry, Elder Quentin Cook, and Elder Todd Christofferson. I am thankful for the collegiality extended by President Cecil Samuelson at this great university. We do not enjoy such friendship and constructive conversation in spite of our theological differences, but in light of them. This does not eliminate the possibility of conversation. To the contrary, this kind of convictional difference at the deepest level makes for the most important kind of conversation.

I mean, I suppose he could have taken the invitation to attack the theology of the LDS leadership, the LDS church, the graduates of BYU, and the families there to celebrate the students' achievements (and rightfully so), but he wasn't there to talk about theology.  He was there to:

...[with you] to push back against the modernist notion that only the accommodated can converse. There are those who sincerely believe that meaningful and respectful conversation can take place only among those who believe the least—that only those who believe the least and thus may disagree the least can engage one another in the kind of conversation that matters. I reject that notion, and I reject it forcefully.

With 'friends' like these...

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Offline
Since
Mon, 3/7/11
Posts: 332
Likewise

If one supports Dr. Mohler's belief that he can have a meaningful, respectful conversation that matters with Mormons, then certainly you would also have that same type of conversation with or about Don either here or at his blog.

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3532
Actually

The comments are closed at P&D, Brenda. 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

TylerR's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 9/7/12
Posts: 1016
Speech

The speech was excellent in every respect. However, if this is but a prelude to some sort of cooperative endeavor to stand for traditional values with Mormons, then that is going too far. Believers must not be yoked together with unbelievers. Future plans aside, the speech was good.

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

Offline
Since
Thu, 9/3/09
Posts: 105
Should we applaud...

While some feel Mohler should have spoken at  BYU, and it is hard to criticize his desire to have something to say to Mormons as an evangelical, one wonders exactly if his goal was achieved.  And shouldn't Mohler now feel ethically bound to invite a prominent Mormon leader to speak at Southern Baptist Seminary?  That's the way ecumenical dialogue works, isn't it?  I try to influence your thinking, and you try to influence mine -- thesis and antithesis, and who knows, we may reach a synthesis.   I personally think that all that needs to be said can be said in books, bulletins, and blogs.  Paul's discourse on Mars Hill with non-Christian, Greek philosophers was clearly an attempt to convert them.  He highlighted the one thing that challenged their thinking -- the resurrection and the need to repent and believe on the Christ of revelation.  Some understood and were saved.  But none were left doubting what his purpose had been, it seems to me.  I am not sure Mohler had the same objective or even left the Mormons with a clear idea that conversion to the Christ of Scripture was the point.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture
Offline
Since
Thu, 6/4/09
Posts: 1733
TylerR wrote: The speech was

TylerR wrote:

The speech was excellent in every respect. However, if this is but a prelude to some sort of cooperative endeavor to stand for traditional values with Mormons, then that is going too far. Believers must not be yoked together with unbelievers. Future plans aside, the speech was good.

Tyler,

Where exactly are you going to draw this line? We are essentially already "yoked" together as citizens of this country. Does your application of this verse preclude the believer from voting? Can we "yoke together" in membership in Sam Club since it is filled with unbelieving members and owned by a secular company? How did you justify your previous "yoking" with unbelievers in the military? You see where I'm going with this? I am not sure this verse would prevent me from joining a political pursuit with a Mormon, or with any other lost conservative.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Offline
Since
Fri, 11/5/10
Posts: 93
Question for Don

I am assuming that Don is reading over here, so I'd like to put forth a question to try to understand his thinking on this matter a little more fully. Given your suggestion that the idea of Mohler (an evangelical) speaking on a cultural-political topic in a non-religious convocation at a Mormon institution (BYU) is not acceptable, how would you view a non-evangelical speaking on a similar topic in a non-religious convocation at an evangelical/fundamentalist school?

I ask this sincerely and, as I've stated elsewhere, from a stance that sees an academic context differently than an ecclesiastical one. I've not objected when a Catholic politician or lawyer speaks to evangelical/fundamentalist student body regarding matters of politics and law. It seems that you would, though. Or at least that you'd subject the exercise to the same set of questions. Am I mistaken or misunderstanding something?

DMD

TylerR's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 9/7/12
Posts: 1016
Local Church Context

Chip:

When I say this, I'm speaking from the context of the local church. The local church has a responsibility to not engage in cooperative endeavors with unbelievers, or those with deviant Christian beliefs. When I first saw Don's article on his blog, I knew immediately the battle lines would be drawn around the issue of separation, and this is what has happened. I am a Baptist, so understand where I'm coming from here:

The spheres of civil government and the church are clearly separate (Mk 12:13-17), and Baptists have historically recognized this disjunction, so your analogy of voting is void.

Your military example is likewise specious, because a military man is not engaged in ministry pursuits, but merely living his life. We are called to separation, not isolation, after all (Jn 17:15-16).

Cooperative ministry with unbelievers gives them legitimacy. It also undermines the Gospel; where is your justification for combating secularism? Isn't it the Scriptures? Mormons are not Christians; they are polytheists. Therefore, any sort of cooperative ministry would necessarily involve engaging in vague platitudes about "shared values" rather than Biblical truth, to avoid offending any party. This is madness.

Again, I liked the speech and Dr. Mohler's uncompromising stand for Biblical truth. If a future cooperative endeavor with Mormons is in the cards, however, than that is too much. I seriously doubt any such thing is planned, though.

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

DavidO's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 5/3/10
Posts: 734
TylerR wrote

Believers must not be yoked together with unbelievers.

Does that mean believers must depart membership of any political party?  After all, many members of a given party, which is essentially a "cooperative endeavor to stand for [shared] values", may/will have wildly differing bases for those values.

Offline
Since
Fri, 2/19/10
Posts: 999
to Dave Doran

Dave Doran wrote:

I am assuming that Don is reading over here, so I'd like to put forth a question to try to understand his thinking on this matter a little more fully. Given your suggestion that the idea of Mohler (an evangelical) speaking on a cultural-political topic in a non-religious convocation at a Mormon institution (BYU) is not acceptable, how would you view a non-evangelical speaking on a similar topic in a non-religious convocation at an evangelical/fundamentalist school?

I ask this sincerely and, as I've stated elsewhere, from a stance that sees an academic context differently than an ecclesiastical one. I've not objected when a Catholic politician or lawyer speaks to evangelical/fundamentalist student body regarding matters of politics and law. It seems that you would, though. Or at least that you'd subject the exercise to the same set of questions. Am I mistaken or misunderstanding something?

Hi Dave

I've been in a meeting all day so unable to get on here. Going through internet withdrawal symptoms...

 

To answer your question, I think we have to ask ourselves in what capacity and for what purpose was Dr. Mohler speaking at BYU. There are probably several different scenarios that could be proposed but I'll suggest three, there could be more, I suppose.

  1. Was he speaking as a politician for a political purpose, to gain votes or support for a political cause?
  2. Was he speaking as an academic in his field of expertise to inform the students about a particular academic subject?
  3. Was he speaking as a Christian minister to speak to matters of common ground on an issue where there is some potential of cooperation in promoting a religious cause?

As I said, perhaps there are other alternatives, but you can see how I see it, no doubt.

As a corollary to those questions, I have another:

What common ground do Christians have with Mormons on the issue of marriage given the egregious false doctrine Mormons hold to on marriage?

 

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

Offline
Since
Fri, 2/19/10
Posts: 999
to all

I should mention that while we do not have open discussion at P&D, I have created a referrent article on www.oxgoad.ca that provides for moderated discussion of my article. Yes, I am the moderator. Yes, my moderation is subject to my fair and balanced whims.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

DavidO's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 5/3/10
Posts: 734
Don Johnson wrote:What common

Don Johnson wrote:
What common ground do Christians have with Mormons on the issue of marriage given the egregious false doctrine Mormons hold to on marriage?

 

They both believe in the traditional version of marriage like most other conservatives.  This, IMO, is the genius of Mohler's speech.  He carves out the great and fixed theological gap, then reasons from the light of nature re: an issue of common concern.  Rather 2K of him, and, if one must go about co-belligerency, might just be the way to do it without making common Christian cause.

 

Or can Christians make no common political cause with other non-Christian conservatives?

 

Offline
Since
Tue, 9/14/10
Posts: 10
recognition as a church?

Was anyone else bothered that Dr. Mohler referred to the LDS as a "church?" I understand that within first century Rome, multiple assemblies existed, thus giving the word some overall flexibility; that said, hasn't the word taken a theological significance since that time, making it rightfully reserved for those that preach the gospel, rightly practice ordinances, etc? Nevertheless, since his comment came in the context of contrasting the "Christian church" with the "LDS church," I'm willing to give his comments a charitable reading.

Besides my quibble with that single statement, it seems that our brother has navigated these rough waters without wrecking the ship, i.e. compromising the faith at any level. Seemingly, his success in this regard should be an opportunity for us to rejoice, even if we question the wisdom of his participation or would not have accepted it ourselves. 

 

Jim's picture
Online
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 6634
Fundy Envy ....

Fundy Envy .... 'wish we would have been invited'

Offline
Since
Fri, 2/19/10
Posts: 999
to DavidO

DavidO wrote:

Don Johnson wrote:
What common ground do Christians have with Mormons on the issue of marriage given the egregious false doctrine Mormons hold to on marriage?

 

They both believe in the traditional version of marriage like most other conservatives.

Hi David, see this article. Tell me if you think there really is common ground between the Mormon view of marriage and the Christian view.

DavidO wrote:
Or can Christians make no common political cause with other non-Christian conservatives?

I am not sure about this. I think that it is one thing to do politics in the political arena, but quite another to do politics in the quasi-religious arena, as this seems to be.

However, you have to realize that I am one who opposed the Moral Majority. While the Moral Majority did contribute to some good results, I think the long term effect, especially the spiritual effect, was negative. 

 

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

DavidO's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 5/3/10
Posts: 734
Hi Don, Don't have time to

Hi Don,

Don't have time to read the article right now, but I suspect the basic Mormon view today is that marriage is between a man and a woman.

I'm not much one for Christian political activism either.  Point being, we can only go so far in demanding believers un-yoke from unbelievers in common moral/ethical cause because of differing bases for those causes.  

Chip Van Emmerik's picture
Offline
Since
Thu, 6/4/09
Posts: 1733
TylerR wrote:Chip:When I

TylerR wrote:

Chip:

When I say this, I'm speaking from the context of the local church. The local church has a responsibility to not engage in cooperative endeavors with unbelievers, or those with deviant Christian beliefs. When I first saw Don's article on his blog, I knew immediately the battle lines would be drawn around the issue of separation, and this is what has happened. I am a Baptist, so understand where I'm coming from here:

The spheres of civil government and the church are clearly separate (Mk 12:13-17), and Baptists have historically recognized this disjunction, so your analogy of voting is void.

Your military example is likewise specious, because a military man is not engaged in ministry pursuits, but merely living his life. We are called to separation, not isolation, after all (Jn 17:15-16).

Cooperative ministry with unbelievers gives them legitimacy. It also undermines the Gospel; where is your justification for combating secularism? Isn't it the Scriptures? Mormons are not Christians; they are polytheists. Therefore, any sort of cooperative ministry would necessarily involve engaging in vague platitudes about "shared values" rather than Biblical truth, to avoid offending any party. This is madness.

Again, I liked the speech and Dr. Mohler's uncompromising stand for Biblical truth. If a future cooperative endeavor with Mormons is in the cards, however, than that is too much. I seriously doubt any such thing is planned, though.

Tyler,

I think the key, if I read you correctly, is the idea of cooperative ministry. How would you see this as a possible beginning to cooperative ministry that unbiblically yokes believers with unbelievers instead of an acceptable civil activism among like-minded citizens that is more akin to your service in the military? In other words, what would make this "ministry" within the realm of the church in your mind instead of simply citizenship?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3532
A logical jump too far?

How would you see this as a possible beginning to cooperative ministry that unbiblically yokes believers with unbelievers instead of an acceptable civil activism among like-minded citizens that is more akin to your service in the military?

I think that this is the key question.  Tyler and probably Don see this as the beginning of 'cooperative ministry'.  I don't think that Dr. Doran, Chip, or myself do.  Personally, unless it's formally declared as 'cooperative ministry' - or there are clear instances of joint ministry - I find it hard to describe it as such, which is why I had the reaction that I did.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Offline
Since
Fri, 11/5/10
Posts: 93
Follow up

Don,

Thanks for your answer. I hate to read into it, but it seems as if you're saying that the real point of my original question (should an evangelical/fundamentalist school have in someone who is not a believer to address cultural or political issues) is moot because Mohler isn't a politician or an academic expert on marriage. Am I right about that?

Just to clear up any question of what I think about Mohler speaking there, I am not a fan of it. The LDS have been very clear about their desire to be perceived as genuine Christians and welcoming well-known evangelicals to a platform they provide helps them craft an image. While I greatly appreciate the distinction that Mohler drew between his beliefs and Mormonism, this has the potential to be a win for the LDS in terms of their image with nominal "Christians" (i.e., the kind of "Christians" they are seeking to win over to Mormonism). Most of those people will never read what Mohler said, but they will hear about Mohler's presence. Further, this was not Paul at Mars Hill--it is a massive stretch to tie the purpose and content of Paul's message to Mohler's.

All that said, whether I like it or not really isn't the point. The main part of my question was whether separatist institutions have violated separatist principles to host speakers in a manner similar to what Mohler did at BYU.      I have never thought so and benefited significantly from hearing lawyers and public policy leaders speak while I was a college student (including tackling religious freedom issues though not all the speakers agreed on what the Bible taught about the gospel). While not fully a neutral context, it was not an ecclesiastical context, so I thought it was permissible. So, Don, giving it a broader scope, what are thoughts about whether there is a legitimate place for a believer to step into a context like Mohler did or for a school to have someone from across the theological aisle speak on a subject of public interest or common good?

DMD

TylerR's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 9/7/12
Posts: 1016
Jay

I thought the speech was good. I only said that if this went to the next step and included some kind of cooperative endeavor in support of traditional values, then it goes too far:

Again, I liked the speech and Dr. Mohler's uncompromising stand for Biblical truth. If a future cooperative endeavor with Mormons is in the cards, however, than that is too much. I seriously doubt any such thing is planned, though.

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 781
I remember an FBF leader a

I remember an FBF leader a couple of years ago saying the Mormon Mitt Romney best represented people with conservative values in light of the Presidential election.

 

Al Mohler did not pull a Dave Barton and embrace the Mormons in the way Barton did.

There is room to agree or disagree with his decision to speak at BYU.

The observations Mohler made were powerful.  His description of the thinking in this late modern age is helpful and sobering.  His point that we are experiencing an unprecedented decline ought to drive us to pack out our churches and seek the Lord's help in prayer at a time when most church prayer meetings are on life support.

 

 

Greg Linscott's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 5/22/09
Posts: 2271
If it were going to be done...

Whether or not you agree with Mohler's decision, I think you have to acknowledge that if a Christian is going to speak in that kind of a forum, Mohler exemplified how it should be done. He did nothing to affirm their beliefs- in fact, he made it very clear not only that he believed them to be in error, but what the eternal consequences of continuing that error would be.

Co-belligerence can be a messy thing. BJU received their fair share of criticism several years ago when they invited devout Roman Catholic politician Alan Keyes to address the student body. While Mohler isn't a politician, I think in similar fashion, he intentionally uses his influence in arenas broader than specifically ecclesiastical settings.

I think Mohler's behavior in this setting can and should be commended, especially in light of previous decisions where things did not appear to be as clear as they are in this setting (Manhattan Declaration).

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3532
Thanks

TylerR wrote:

I thought the speech was good. I only said that if this went to the next step and included some kind of cooperative endeavor in support of traditional values, then it goes too far:

Again, I liked the speech and Dr. Mohler's uncompromising stand for Biblical truth. If a future cooperative endeavor with Mormons is in the cards, however, than that is too much. I seriously doubt any such thing is planned, though.

Ah - I see now.  Thanks for clarifying, Tyler.

The way I see it, there are a couple of ways to view this event.  Here's the list of options.

  • Appearance at BYU constitutes an endorsement of cooperative religious efforts that violates Biblical norms (Is this you, Don?).  Theology trumps all other concerns, so purity is the utmost priority.  Think resistance cells in Nazi-occupied France...all cells wanted France liberated, but they may or may not collaborate as a means to achieving their goal.
  • Appearance at BYU to discuss the secularist threat to both parties as acceptable as a matter of social concern but does not equate theological cooperation (Me).  This does not necessarily mean that we are co-belligerents, although we would both oppose the secularist norm.  Other concerns may be shared as a result of differing theological beliefs, but encouraging each other on one topic does not necessitate cooperative efforts.
  • Appearance at BYU is fine, theologically speaking. To borrow the famous line - "No doctrines were violated in the making of this speech" (and no one should care even if they were).  I think we'd all disagree with this.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Offline
Since
Fri, 2/19/10
Posts: 999
to Dave Doran

Dave Doran wrote:

Don,

Thanks for your answer. I hate to read into it, but it seems as if you're saying that the real point of my original question (should an evangelical/fundamentalist school have in someone who is not a believer to address cultural or political issues) is moot because Mohler isn't a politician or an academic expert on marriage. Am I right about that?

Yes, I think that is correct. Apples and Oranges and all that.

Dave Doran wrote:
Just to clear up any question of what I think about Mohler speaking there, I am not a fan of it. The LDS have been very clear about their desire to be perceived as genuine Christians and welcoming well-known evangelicals to a platform they provide helps them craft an image. While I greatly appreciate the distinction that Mohler drew between his beliefs and Mormonism, this has the potential to be a win for the LDS in terms of their image with nominal "Christians" (i.e., the kind of "Christians" they are seeking to win over to Mormonism). Most of those people will never read what Mohler said, but they will hear about Mohler's presence. Further, this was not Paul at Mars Hill--it is a massive stretch to tie the purpose and content of Paul's message to Mohler's.

So to further clarify, you are basically agreeing with me in questioning Mohler making this move, right?

Dave Doran wrote:
All that said, whether I like it or not really isn't the point. The main part of my question was whether separatist institutions have violated separatist principles to host speakers in a manner similar to what Mohler did at BYU. ... So, Don, giving it a broader scope, what are thoughts about whether there is a legitimate place for a believer to step into a context like Mohler did or for a school to have someone from across the theological aisle speak on a subject of public interest or common good?

Quite frankly, appearing on the Mormon's turf is not simply "across the theological aisle". They serve a different god. They preach another gospel. The only legitimate message you can bring in such a context is the full gospel. Mohler made a statement: I don't think you are going to heaven. He never told them how to get there.

Ravi Zacharias spoke at the Mormon Tabernacle a few years ago. He defended it by pointing to D. L. Moody preaching in the same venue in 1899. If you read Moody's own account (click on link, search page for 'Mormon'), you'll find it, I think, pretty unimpressive.

That is the best anyone has ever done on the Mormon's turf. Perhaps you can justify Moody or Zacharias (certainly can't justify Mouw, who appeared with Zacharias and apologized for Christian treatment of Mormons), but it seems to me that even their efforts were failures as well.

So, no, I don't subscribe to the notion that "I'll go anywhere to preach the gospel" because most who claim it never do. Mohler certainly didn't, erudite and intelligent as his speech was.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

Offline
Since
Tue, 6/30/09
Posts: 487
In my reading of the speech

In my reading of the speech there were some brilliant lines of argumentation.  I think Mohler made it clear where he stood.  Mohler is correct that theistic people of many stripes will be prosecuted in the future for opposing the militant secularists in government and education.  Mohler's purpose I am certain was noble.  The question regards BYU's purpose.  Are they attempting to appear mainstream by bringing in someone of Mohler's stature?  Perhaps so.  For that reason alone I wouldn't go myself (nor would I ever be asked).  Mohler is a cultural icon of sorts and is attempting to mold public opinion  in his various communications.  He is pushing back hard against the secularists and pagan influences.  I didn't think BJU was wrong for bringing in Keyes as a potential presidential candidate.  Everyone knew the purpose and distinctions of that meeting.  This one is not quite so clear.

Pastor Mike Harding

Offline
Since
Fri, 11/5/10
Posts: 93
Still didn't answer, but so be it

Don,

You didn't answer my question, but I'll leave it alone rather than keep trying.

I think I made it clear that I don't think speaking at BYU is a good move, but my thinking that isn't really that important. The crucial question is whether this constitutes a violation of Scripture. There is some room between unwise and unbiblical. Lots of people do lots of things that I wouldn't do for prudence reasons, but it takes it to another level if one suggests they have violated the Scriptures. For me, I don't think I can make the case that speaking in a context like he did on a topic like the one assigned violates the Scriptures. Same basic point regarding the Christian institution that brings in an unbeliever to speak on a topic like that in a context like that. (And for the record I really don't see Catholicism as being on the same side of the aisle as biblical Christianity). 

I think you shifted the argument unfairly at the end of your last post. I have not seen anywhere that Mohler claimed he went to BYU to preach the gospel. He addressed the topic that, I'm sure, he was asked to address. To do something other than that would have been unethical and in violation of the biblical principle that "we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men" (2 Cor 8:21). You have erected a false standard for evaluating the speech in two ways: (1) judging it as a gospel message when it wasn't one; and (2) thinking that the Bible is only used if it is quoted or cited (cf. the way in which Paul uses OT Scripture in his sermon in Acts 17--all allusions and use of biblical language without quotation or citation).

Well, got to go, so I'll bow out now.

DMD

Greg Linscott's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 5/22/09
Posts: 2271
BYU's intentions

I understand Mike's reluctance to accept the invitation were it extended to him, because I do not doubt for one minute that BYU has an agenda. If you doubt that at all, read this article in the Deseret News. There have been other prominent evangelicals around the campus, like Richard Land, Ravi Zacharias, and Richard Mouw. I actually think, though, that is why it was wise for Mohler to attend, if for no other reason that to make this kind of explicit statement:

I'm not here because I believe we're going to heaven together. I do not believe that. I believe that salvation comes only to those who believe and trust only in Christ and in his substitutionary atonement for salvation. I believe in justification by faith alone and Christ alone. I love and respect you as friends and as friends we would speak only what we believe to be true, especially on matters of eternal significance. We inhabit separate and irreconcilable theological worlds, made clear with the doctrine of the Trinity...

That's not something that other figures have always made clear. He did, and it needed to be said.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Offline
Since
Fri, 2/19/10
Posts: 999
Dave Doran wrote: Don, You

Dave Doran wrote:

Don,

You didn't answer my question, but I'll leave it alone rather than keep trying.

Dave Doran wrote:
So, Don, giving it a broader scope, what are thoughts about whether there is a legitimate place for a believer to step into a context like Mohler did or for a school to have someone from across the theological aisle speak on a subject of public interest or common good?

Do you mean this question? But it is really two questions, isn't it? I think you are trying to ask a "gotcha" question with the second part. But to answer the first part of the question again, I think there really is no place for a believer as such doing what Mohler did. If he was a politician seeking votes, the question entirely changes. But he was not, he was appearing on the platform of one of the chief institutions of a cult as a Christian theologian/preacher/leader. I think lending credibility to cultists falls under 2 Corinthians 6.

As for the second part of your question - I think I have answered in posts above. If someone is speaking on a matter of their expertise on a subject promoting the common good, that may be permissible. Or if someone as a politician is seeking votes, I think such events are also possibly legitimate.

But really, your second part of the question really is not the issue at hand.

Dave Doran wrote:

I think you shifted the argument unfairly at the end of your last post. I have not seen anywhere that Mohler claimed he went to BYU to preach the gospel. He addressed the topic that, I'm sure, he was asked to address. To do something other than that would have been unethical and in violation of the biblical principle that "we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men" (2 Cor 8:21). You have erected a false standard for evaluating the speech in two ways: (1) judging it as a gospel message when it wasn't one; and (2) thinking that the Bible is only used if it is quoted or cited (cf. the way in which Paul uses OT Scripture in his sermon in Acts 17--all allusions and use of biblical language without quotation or citation).

My point in "shifting the argument" is this: If there is any legitimacy to appearing at such a venue, it would be to preach the gospel, a la Paul on Mars Hill. Previous attempts, in my opinion, have fallen short, so I am dubious that any figure could pull it off today.

What Mohler did in making his appearance was make common cause with cultists and didn't come close to preaching the gospel. In my view that would be the only thing that would make such an appearance legitimate. I agree that if he had done so without announcing his intentions ahead of time, that would be unethical, but I wouldn't accept any invitation that implied directly or indirectly that I was barred from preaching the gospel.

I never said Mohler's speech was a gospel message. I am saying that if it could have legitmacy, it should have been.

With respect to #2 above, my criticism was that Mohler constantly cited human authorities rather than the Bible in his message. It is a small part of my criticism, but the point is that someone on the other side can make a similar speech likewise citing human authorities and all you have is two competing opinions. When you cite the Bible, you have The Authority and all the authority you need.

I, too, have to go, so that will be all for now.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

Offline
Since
Fri, 8/2/13
Posts: 9
Holy Spirit Leading? Yes or No?

 I commend Mohler for going into the "enemy" camp with truth.  I doubt anyone in that auditorium would read a thing written by Mohler but for a few minutes they were somewhat compelled to listen.  Perhaps one or more listeners would desire to seek the truth for themselves.   God has His ways of doing business and uses people to get it done.   Mohler is fully equipped to handle the environment and has the stature to hold his own.   I suspect many Christians cast their vote for a Mormon candidate in the last election unless they stayed home out of conscience.   Most I know say they voted for the Mormon.   I will also suggest this.    We have no way to know what the Lord's purpose behind Dr. Mohler's presence at BYU but I am glad he went.   I also think the Apostle Paul would gladly engage anyone in any forum to communicate truth.   Our Lord did as much with the despised Samaritans and the tax collectors and the Centurions.   Can Mohler do less?  Can we not assume this brother, this well trained brother, was led by the Spirit of God to go?    And could that same Holy Spirit not hindered Brother Mohler had the case warranted it?  

Offline
Since
Tue, 6/2/09
Posts: 786
Fundamentalist Criticism and Commentary

I just read Kevin Bauder's comments on this and found it to be a more accurate evaluation than one that included unfounded speculation concerning Al Mohler's motives. 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3532
Good Nick

Bauder's Nick this weekend is very good.  Here's the link, and here's the takeaway:

If the Bible forbade Christians ever to join with non-Christians in any endeavor, then every Christian would have to resign from nearly every political, commercial, and cultural activity. Christians would not be able to run for congress, fly an airliner, or play in a decent symphony. Rather than requiring this kind of separation, however, the Bible explicitly disavows it. Believing people are not to cut themselves entirely off from the wicked people of the world—indeed, if they had to, they would need to leave the planet (1 Cor. 5:10).

What the Bible requires is sometimes called ecclesiastical separation. The idea behind ecclesiastical separation is that those who are reckoned as part of the true ecclesia (church universal) must never pretend to Christian fellowship with those who are not. Thus, Paul pronounces an anathema upon those who teach a false gospel (Gal. 1:6-9), while John forbids Christians from giving even mild encouragement to gospel deniers when they come to spread their false doctrine (2 Jn. 10-11).

...Was his appearance at Brigham Young University simply a repetition of the same error? Mohler’s words indicate otherwise. From the beginning of his address he emphasized the contrast between Christianity and Mormonism. He neither stated nor implied that Mormons should be recognized as Christians. Quite the contrary, he stated that Mormonism and Christianity occupied “separate and irreconcilable theological worlds.” He insisted that he did not believe that Mormons would be in heaven together with Christians. He stated clearly, “I believe that salvation comes only to those who believe and trust only in Christ and in his substitutionary atonement for salvation. I believe in justification by faith alone, in Christ alone.”

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Offline
Since
Fri, 2/19/10
Posts: 999
well...

KTB wrote:

If the Bible forbade Christians ever to join with non-Christians in any endeavor, then every Christian would have to resign from nearly every political, commercial, and cultural activity.

But then, that is not what I am arguing, is it? Which would make this what kind of an argument?

KTB wrote:
What the Bible requires is sometimes called ecclesiastical separation. ...

Correct. The question is, is this a breach of that requirement?

KTB wrote:
...Was his appearance at Brigham Young University simply a repetition of the same error? Mohler’s words indicate otherwise. From the beginning of his address he emphasized the contrast between Christianity and Mormonism. He neither stated nor implied that Mormons should be recognized as Christians. Quite the contrary, he stated that Mormonism and Christianity occupied “separate and irreconcilable theological worlds.” He insisted that he did not believe that Mormons would be in heaven together with Christians. He stated clearly, “I believe that salvation comes only to those who believe and trust only in Christ and in his substitutionary atonement for salvation. I believe in justification by faith alone, in Christ alone.”

So... does the fact that his speech contained these words justify the appearance? Overall, would you say that Mohler's purpose was to preach the gospel on this occasion and try to convert Mormons to Christ? If not, what was his purpose?

 

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

Offline
Since
Tue, 1/1/13
Posts: 340
To me in comes down to the

To me in comes down to the expertise issue. Mohler is known because he is the president of a Christian seminary. As far as I know he isn't a legal expert or political science major. I don't think that as the president of a seminary you can be divorced from that identification. It would seem to indicate to the uninitiated that there is some type of cooperation implied. Granted his speech would dispel that idea.

Greg Linscott's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 5/22/09
Posts: 2271
Poly Sci?

josh p wrote:

To me in comes down to the expertise issue. Mohler is known because he is the president of a Christian seminary. As far as I know he isn't a legal expert or political science major.

Why would he need to be a legal expert or political science major to speak to the issue of marriage in this country? 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Offline
Since
Tue, 1/1/13
Posts: 340
He wouldn't. But that might

He wouldn't. But that might be something a person might have an educational background in if they were speaking on that subject. He is a seminary president. That is what he is known for. To me it seems like a bad idea. As I said I believe his message demonstrated there is no religious cooperation planned or expressed. 

Greg Linscott's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 5/22/09
Posts: 2271
Expertise Relevant

It seems to me that his expertise would have decided relevance, because the legal matter being considered is a moral one, with a decidedly Biblical concept undergirding it. 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Offline
Since
Tue, 1/1/13
Posts: 340
If that is the case then I am

If that is the case then I am more against it. That would sound more like religious cooperation. I don't understand what the argument would be. "we don't agree on the cardinal teachings of the Bible and in fact you are repudiating them but let me argue based on my knowledge of it". Maybe I am thinking of this weird but it doesn't make sense to me.

Greg Linscott's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 5/22/09
Posts: 2271
Faith Informs Practice, Right?

Does your belief as a Christian have any impact on matters of politics and public policy? 

My wife and I are adoptive parents that worked through the state of Minnesota's foster-to-adopt program. We make no effort to hide that our beliefs as Christians were quite influential in our decision to pursue that opportunity. Yet, we have been willing to speak in settings that aren't especially Christian to speak in a favorable way about foster parenting in community settings. I haven't had the opportunity at this point, but I could imagine that someday, there might be an occasion where a group with religious connections in our area might like us to share our experiences with them. I would consider it, even if we were not in doctrinal agreement. My assumption is they would want to hear what I had to say on an issue we both felt was important, in spite of our differences on very significant matters.

I se it no differently with Mohler. He is an outspoken defender of traditional marriage, and has principled reasons for being so, He is being called in to articulate that support. I don't see that as religious cooperation. That's co-belligerence.

 

 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

TylerR's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 9/7/12
Posts: 1016
Greg

Well said.

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

Offline
Since
Tue, 1/1/13
Posts: 340
Greg Linscott wrote: Does

Greg Linscott wrote:

Does your belief as a Christian have any impact on matters of politics and public policy? 

My wife and I are adoptive parents that worked through the state of Minnesota's foster-to-adopt program. We make no effort to hide that our beliefs as Christians were quite influential in our decision to pursue that opportunity. Yet, we have been willing to speak in settings that aren't especially Christian to speak in a favorable way about foster parenting in community settings. I haven't had the opportunity at this point, but I could imagine that someday, there might be an occasion where a group with religious connections in our area might like us to share our experiences with them. I would consider it, even if we were not in doctrinal agreement. My assumption is they would want to hear what I had to say on an issue we both felt was important, in spite of our differences on very significant matters.

I se it no differently with Mohler. He is an outspoken defender of traditional marriage, and has principled reasons for being so, He is being called in to articulate that support. I don't see that as religious cooperation. That's co-belligerence.

 

 

I don't think your illustration is apples to apples. In your scenario you are being asked to speak as a fellow adoptive parent (side note we are too. PTL) not because of your position as a pastor. Would you be willing to attend a Mormon conference and teach on marriage because of your credentials as a pastor? 

Greg Linscott's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 5/22/09
Posts: 2271
Depends...

I guess it depends on what the teaching constitutes. I would be willing to speak on something like why we need to support the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman (an issue we faced here recently in Minnesota).

In your scenario you are being asked to speak as a fellow adoptive parent (side note we are too. PTL) not because of your position as a pastor.

Maybe. I think there are people, though, who wonder if their religious beliefs will cause difficulty if they participate in the state system. That is an area I'd be willing to speak to and share our experiences with.

As I said earlier, though, too: I think that Mohler used the occasion, not only to address a matter in which there could be legitimate co-belligerence, but to boldly clarify that there is a significant distinction between Mormons and Evangelical Christians, something that others before him had left far less clear. I do think that is significant, his actions clarifying the truth from their error and essentially condemning them, albeit in about as polite a way as he possibly could have.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Offline
Since
Tue, 1/1/13
Posts: 340
Fair enough. Thanks for the

Fair enough. Thanks for the discussion. 

Offline
Since
Tue, 6/2/09
Posts: 77
Mohler Didn't Preach the Gospel???

Don Johnson wrote:

Dave Doran wrote:

Don,

Thanks for your answer. I hate to read into it, but it seems as if you're saying that the real point of my original question (should an evangelical/fundamentalist school have in someone who is not a believer to address cultural or political issues) is moot because Mohler isn't a politician or an academic expert on marriage. Am I right about that?

Yes, I think that is correct. Apples and Oranges and all that.

Dave Doran wrote:
Just to clear up any question of what I think about Mohler speaking there, I am not a fan of it. The LDS have been very clear about their desire to be perceived as genuine Christians and welcoming well-known evangelicals to a platform they provide helps them craft an image. While I greatly appreciate the distinction that Mohler drew between his beliefs and Mormonism, this has the potential to be a win for the LDS in terms of their image with nominal "Christians" (i.e., the kind of "Christians" they are seeking to win over to Mormonism). Most of those people will never read what Mohler said, but they will hear about Mohler's presence. Further, this was not Paul at Mars Hill--it is a massive stretch to tie the purpose and content of Paul's message to Mohler's.

So to further clarify, you are basically agreeing with me in questioning Mohler making this move, right?

Dave Doran wrote:
All that said, whether I like it or not really isn't the point. The main part of my question was whether separatist institutions have violated separatist principles to host speakers in a manner similar to what Mohler did at BYU. ... So, Don, giving it a broader scope, what are thoughts about whether there is a legitimate place for a believer to step into a context like Mohler did or for a school to have someone from across the theological aisle speak on a subject of public interest or common good?

Quite frankly, appearing on the Mormon's turf is not simply "across the theological aisle". They serve a different god. They preach another gospel. The only legitimate message you can bring in such a context is the full gospel. Mohler made a statement: I don't think you are going to heaven. He never told them how to get there.

Ravi Zacharias spoke at the Mormon Tabernacle a few years ago. He defended it by pointing to D. L. Moody preaching in the same venue in 1899. If you read Moody's own account (click on link, search page for 'Mormon'), you'll find it, I think, pretty unimpressive.

That is the best anyone has ever done on the Mormon's turf. Perhaps you can justify Moody or Zacharias (certainly can't justify Mouw, who appeared with Zacharias and apologized for Christian treatment of Mormons), but it seems to me that even their efforts were failures as well.

So, no, I don't subscribe to the notion that "I'll go anywhere to preach the gospel" because most who claim it never do. Mohler certainly didn't, erudite and intelligent as his speech was.

What about this line?

“I believe that salvation comes only to those who believe and trust only in Christ and in his substitutionary atonement for salvation. I believe in justification by faith alone, in Christ alone.”

If this isn't the gospel ... what is it?

Ken Fields

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3532
slightly confused

josh p wrote:

If that is the case then I am more against it. That would sound more like religious cooperation. I don't understand what the argument would be. "we don't agree on the cardinal teachings of the Bible and in fact you are repudiating them but let me argue based on my knowledge of it". Maybe I am thinking of this weird but it doesn't make sense to me.

It would seem to me that there's only 'cooperation' if a plan is laid out and implemented by both groups.  Seeing as Mohler simply detailed the situation, I don't see how this jumps to the level of 'cooperation'.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

TylerR's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 9/7/12
Posts: 1016
Jay

Yes, I agree. Mohler was invited, came, took the opportunity to present an uncompromising stand for authentic Christianity even though that was not the explicit point of his presence, then departed. Well done.

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

Offline
Since
Tue, 1/1/13
Posts: 340
Really? I guess I see it

Really? I guess I see it differently. If I went and attended mass I think I would be cooperating with false religion. I realize that he was not there attending a religious service so maybe that's not a good comparison. 

My understanding of the situation boils down to this: If he was there as an expert in the field- seems like a bad idea since it could give the impression to some that there is some type of agreement between them ( which he explained clearly is not the case). if he was there as a Bible teacher to explain the Biblical position it seems like a really bad idea. 

My reading of his speech puts it in the first category and I do admit that he was clear  in highlighting their differences.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture
Offline
Since
Thu, 6/4/09
Posts: 1733
Josh, You already hit on one

Josh,

You already hit on one flaw in your comparison. The other is that you would not be in the lead at mass, while Mohler was given an open mic and free reign. I would not attend mass either. But, if I was invited to come present a parenting class at a catholic church and given a free mic to do so, I would certainly pack my Bible and show up to teach. You can bet that my lesson on parenting would begin with an understanding of the necessity for a right personal relationship with God for the parents and that goal for the children, and that it would be presented from scripture. I fail to see how anyone could consider this a cooperative ministry by Mohler when he frankly told everyone in attendance they were headed to hell and they needed to ditch their cult religion and turn to the truth of the Bible. Just doesn't seem very cooperative to me.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Offline
Since
Tue, 1/1/13
Posts: 340
As I said in an earlier post

As I said in an earlier post I believe he was there because he is considered knowledgeable on the subject he was speaking about. I don't think it was religious cooperation. I think it was a bad idea. What I was reacting against (probably unclearly) was the idea that Greg suggested; that Mohler was there teaching in a moral capacity and arguing from scripture. That to me would be strange since L.D.S. do not recognize the Truth or His word. 

 

Offline
Since
Tue, 6/2/09
Posts: 1739
The only legitimate message

The only legitimate message you can bring in such a context is the full gospel.

I wonder what the basis for this is? Can Christians have no other topic of conversation? Obviously, you would say they could, so what is it about this context that means the only legitimate message is the full gospel? Is it the size of the audience? Is it the location? The sponsorship? What is the line here? I think that is an argument that needs to be made, not just asserted.

But more directly to the point, you (Don) say of heaven, <b>He never told them how to get there.</b>.

Yet in Mohler's speech (as has already been pointed out), he said, "I believe that salvation comes only to those who believe and trust only in Christ and in his substitutionary atonement for salvation. I believe in justification by faith alone, in Christ alone."

Is that not the gospel? Is that not how to get to heaven? How can you say he didn't tell them how to get there when he explicitly told them that justification was by faith alone in Christ alone, in his substitionary death?

Did you just overlook what he said? What is the reason behind that comment?

If someone is speaking on a matter of their expertise on a subject promoting the common good, that may be permissible.

Is not Mohler considered somewhat of an expert on cultural issues and social from an evangelical perspective? He is a published author on the topic of culture, of the new sexual tolerance (which is directly related to marriage), as well as speaking and writing on marriage in a number of different places, and I think he has a book coming out soon on the topic as well. Isn't that why he is routinely invited on national talk shows and why he receives invitations such as this? If it's not because he is considered an expert, then why does he get invited to speak on these topics? And if you don't think this qualifies him as an expert, what would he need to do to become one? Where is the line on that?

By comparison, did not our alma mater invite Cal Thomas a few years ago to speak to the student body. How is that different? He occupies a position much like Mohler (teaching and preaching duties aside; he functions as a cultural commentator). They did get a little heat from some quarters for inviting the guy from Hobby Lobby to speak, but I am not sure what kind of expertise he brought to the campus.

I suppose to put the question more directly, why is our alma mater apparently given a pass for this kind of thing while the BYU/Mohler situation is condemned? I am not sure I see the logic (biblical or otherwise) there. To be clear, I don't really have a problem with our alma mater doing it, and I am not sure Mohler should have done it. So please don't read that as a defense of one and a condemnation of the other. I am simply questioning the difference.

What exactly is the disobedience that he is being charged with?

Lastly, you say concerning the Manhattan Declaration that "According to some, Mohler now thinks signing this document was a mistake, though a clear confession of that mistake is difficult to find."

Perhaps you are not aware that on p 84 (or 85, I can't remember which), he said he came to realize that signing the document was both "unwarranted and unbiblical"? How is that not a clear confession that signing it was a mistake? I could be wrong, but it sounds clear to me. I don't think Mohler would say it was unwarranted and unbiblical and also would say he should have done it anyway. Do you? Isn't that statement a "clear confession of that mistake"?

 

 

 

Offline
Since
Fri, 2/19/10
Posts: 999
to Larry

You ask a lot of questions as usual. I don't have time for a detailed answer, but I will offer a few comments.

First, you admit that you are not comfortable with Mohler's action. Why?

Second, do you not see differences between Mormonism and Christianity? What are they?

Specifically, do you not see differences between Mormon theology concerning marriage and Christian theology of marriage? Do you think there is any common ground that can be held? Do you think Christians should actively seek to be involved in co-belligerency with Mormons on the marriage question given those differences?

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

Offline
Since
Tue, 6/2/09
Posts: 1739
I don't have time for a

I don't have time for a detailed answer, but I will offer a few comments.

Thanks, Don. I certainly understand the time issue, and I don't have much myself. My questions are simply my (assuredly awkward) attempt not to tell others what to believe, but inquire for reasoning behind something. I will gladly await your comments.

First, you admit that you are not comfortable with Mohler's action. Why?

I haven't given it a lot of thought, but it seems like it could cast confusion for those who see him speaking there but don't know what he said, and those who don't read what he said, but only read what others say about it. I am simply not sure that makes it sinful. It seems to be a question of wisdom, to me: "Is my participation here likely to cause significant and irremediable confusion for those over whom I have influence?" If the answer is "yes," then caution should rule. However, it seems untenable to ask, "Will anyone misunderstand what I am doing here?"

Second, do you not see differences between Mormonism and Christianity? What are they?

I think there are a lot of doctrinal differences; in fact, almost all, right? I don't think we have much in common. But in practical living, our lives end up looking much the same.

Specifically, do you not see differences between Mormon theology concerning marriage and Christian theology of marriage?

In some ways, yes. But I am not sure that difference is borne out in any real way. Mormon marriage and Christian marriage seem, to me at least, to look very similar on the surface. Their theology of marriage is really "behind the scenes." It's effects, so far as I know, do not show up in their families or the cities/cultures that they live in (since I think they have done away with polygamy in all but the most extreme parts).

Do you think there is any common ground that can be held?

Yes, I think both share a common ground against same-sex marriage and adoption, and both share the possibility of political fallout from their shared conviction against same-sex marriage.

Do you think Christians should actively seek to be involved in co-belligerency with Mormons on the marriage question given those differences?

Actively? Not sure. I haven't faced that, and haven't thought about it. I think it is possible that in some sense Christians (as citizens, not as the church) could be involved with Mormons (as citizens, not as the church) on the issue.

But I am not sure Mohler actively sought this out. Perhaps you know. I was under the impression that Mohler was invited, not that he asked to be a part of this. I could be wrong.

 

Thanks Don.

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3532
FBFI Frustrations again

Mohler:

Religious liberty is already severely compromised by modern political regimes that claim to be democratic and respectful of human rights. Given the shape of current arguments for sexual expression and liberty, religious institutions, especially schools, colleges, universities, welfare agencies, and benevolent ministries, are already under fire and under warning. Some have already been forced to make a decision: forfeit your convictions or forfeit your work. Some have chosen one, some the other. One way leads to an honorable extinction, the other to a dishonorable surrender. Both are violations of religious liberty.

The conflict of liberties we are now experiencing is unprecedented and ominous. Forced to choose between erotic liberty and religious liberty, many Americans would clearly sacrifice freedom of religion. How long will it be until many becomes most?

This is what brings me to Brigham Young University today. I am not here because I believe we are going to heaven together. I do not believe that. I believe that salvation comes only to those who believe and trust only in Christ and in his substitutionary atonement for salvation. I believe in justification by faith alone, in Christ alone. I love and respect you as friends, and as friends we would speak only what we believe to be true, especially on matters of eternal significance. We inhabit separate and irreconcilable theological worlds, made clear with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity. And yet here I am, and gladly so. We will speak to one another of what we most sincerely believe to be true, precisely because we love and respect one another.

I do not believe that we are going to heaven together, but I do believe we may go to jail together. I do not mean to exaggerate, but we are living in the shadow of a great moral revolution that we commonly believe will have grave and devastating human consequences.

Don,

I'm not meaning to pile on, but Larry and others have a very strong point.  It's all well and good for you to write a blogpost on your own website with your opinion, but to write one on behalf of the FBFI - especially when you seem to miss the thrust of Mohler's arguments so spectacularly - makes the entire FBFI look bad.  It's one of the bigger reasons why I continue to look askance at the FBFI and would not join it.  It perpetuates an vision that the only thing that the FBFI is really only concerned about with is "capital F Fundamentalism", as defined by the FBFI - a vision that I'm not sure they have even really defined, and I say that as a guy who received FBFI's Frontline Magazine for years.

I know the obvious and expected come back - the FBFI is a Fundamentalist organization, after all.  But it seems to me - and probably a few others - that the FBFI is failing to communicate a vision here of what they are and where they stand.  So you disagree with Mohler...OK.  You think that religious liberty is under attack, based on other FBFI writings.  What makes your position better or stronger than his?  Why should I move over to the FBFI side of things and disagree with Mohler?

Arguments like "is this a PR stunt?" and references to Mohler's (long since recanted) support of the Manhattan Declaration - especially when this kind of stuff is looked up on the internet so easily - end up destroying the credibility of the FBFI.  This is a terrible thing.  After all - the readers of SI would (generally) be receptive to the FBFI, and if you are getting a difficult reception here, how will the FBFI ever communicate clearly with those who have not chosen to identify with the FBFI readership?  What is going to draw people over from the Conservative Evangelical/TMS "side" to "our" side?  Or does P&D serve as a platform by the FBFI leadership to communicate solely to those who are already FBFI members?

This article is great at defining 'the enemy' (which I use in quotes because Mohler isn't an enemy, and I don't think that you define him as one).  It will encourage people who already agree with you.  But it's not going to attract people who are not in your camp or those who may blow off the FBFI as extremist reactionaries.

I think that one of the reasons why T4G, The Gospel Coalition, and other sites get wide reading and dissemination is that they are generally 'positive' articles - here's a problem, and here's what we can do about it.  Here's why we're doing these things.  Here's an interesting concept that this church is working out.  I would encourage you to change P&D to me more positive and encouraging than it is about fixing the things that are broken in Fundamentalismville.  In short - why would I want to move to "Fundamentalismville" of your kind?  That's the point that the FBFI needs to start making.

I'm not trying to be adversarial here...I am just trying to communicate that the FBFI can do things better, and I'm trying to help you with that.  Please take this post in that way and with that goal in mind.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Greg Linscott's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 5/22/09
Posts: 2271
Repercussions?

I respect Don's right to express disagreement with Mohler's actions, even though I personally don't share his conclusions. I would be curious to learn what the repercussions for something like this behavior might be. Is this one more substantial reason to avoid all fellowship with Mohler and conservative SBC types? Is this something that if it were someone like Mark Minnick or Stephen Jones instead of Mohler, it would be an action you would be uncomfortable with but would not be cause to cut off all fellowship with him over?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Offline
Since
Mon, 3/7/11
Posts: 332
Disclaimer

At the end of Don's article over at Proclaim &  Defend it states

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

Offline
Since
Fri, 2/19/10
Posts: 999
to Larry and others

First, thanks to Brenda for replying to Jay for me. I would point to the same thing. Both Greg Linscott and Kevin Bauder are on the MBA board. Would you say that every article they might publish in an MBA paper is the official position of the MBA? Hardly.

Now to Larry:

It seems to be a question of wisdom, to me

Yes, at least that. I assume you would be willing to call it unwise, then? But that is kissing cousins to foolish, isn't it? Would you be willing to call it foolish?

Mormon marriage and Christian marriage seem, to me at least, to look very similar on the surface. Their theology of marriage is really "behind the scenes." ... Yes, I think both share a common ground against same-sex marriage and adoption, and both share the possibility of political fallout from their shared conviction against same-sex marriage.

How far behind the scenes must something be to become a moot point? And so for you opposition to same-sex marriage is sufficient common ground to do what? You already said you were uncomfortable with this, enough to say it is a question of wisdom, implying at least that it was unwise. So... there can't be enough common ground to do this (i.e., to say it is wise) and still not enough common ground to do it (i.e., to say it is unwise), can there?

I don't think it matters whether he was invited or sought it out. Either way it is wrong, in my opinion.

To Greg,

I think you are really reaching with your hypotheticals. Larry and DMD are at least trying to distract me with real life examples, but I'm not biting on those either.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

Greg Linscott's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 5/22/09
Posts: 2271
How can I better put it?

I'm not trying to trap you, Don, or even counter your position. I understand and respect your right to criticize. It was a notable event. I'm wondering, though, if this were done by someone in the FBFI, let's say- it doesn't even matter who- would this be reason to see that they were formally separated from by the organization, or would it be a matter of criticizing but continuance of fellowship... I'm just trying to determine how serious you consider this matter to be.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3532
Well...

Brenda T wrote:

At the end of Don's article over at Proclaim &  Defend it states

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

But if Don is posting in his capacity as both an employee (namely the person responsible for the P&D blog) and Board Member (since he is one) using FBFI resources (their blog), then isn't it fair to say that this is a little more substantial than just Don writing on his personal blog?  Even if he did write about it on his personal blog and then link to it at P&D?

I'm not playing 'gotcha' - it just seems that articles on the official blog of the FBFI would seem to carry the imprimatur of the organization's approval.  As Greg mentioned, if I were Mohler, I would look at this as a pseudo-positional statement by the FBFI, no matter what the disclaimers are.

It doesn't matter to me either way - feel free to ignore/disregard my advise or comments as you please.

Don,

Larry and DMD are at least trying to distract me with real life examples

I don't think that they're trying to 'distract' you.  I think they're trying to understand.  I know I am.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Offline
Since
Tue, 6/30/09
Posts: 487
I did not have a problem with

I did not have a problem with BJU inviting various presidential candidates to speak at BJU.  Those candidates shared BJU's politically conservative positions and they were brought in that context.  We did not hold Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush or Alan Keyes to a religious test.  I had no problem with Bob III endorsing Romney for president.  To be fair to Mohler he went to speak on cultural and political issues regarding religious liberty, marriage, and the results of the sexual revolution upon American.  He clearly distinguished himself completely from his audience on a religious and theological level.  I don't believe Mohler sinned in this case.  Yet, I think it confusing to the public at large for a prominent conservative evangelical to be speaking at the intellectual center of Mormonism.  For that reason alone, I would strongly advise against it. Mormonism is trying to appear mainstream in this endeavor.

Pastor Mike Harding

Greg Linscott's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 5/22/09
Posts: 2271
Not my intent...

As Greg mentioned, if I were Mohler, I would look at this as a pseudo-positional statement by the FBFI, no matter what the disclaimers are.

I don't remember saying that. If I did, that wasn't my intent.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Offline
Since
Fri, 8/2/13
Posts: 9
Holy Spirit

Can it not be assumed that a brother in Christ, Dr. Mohler, was led by the Spirit to go to BYU and proclaim as much of the truth of Christ as allowable in that forum?   Where does anyone get the authority to disapprove or question a man believed to be a servant of the Lord given the words that he spoke to a room full of unsaved and deceived people?   Had he said anything that indicated a common spiritual ground in faith, then that would not have been of the Spirit.  But he spoke truth which is of God.   I'm much the layman but I despair over the continual conflicts among believers over such as this.   If Mohler was wrong to go to the Mormon venue, then no one with Spiritual authority should go into any enemy camp with truth.   I don't think the Lord would have used me for that mission to BYU.  Instead, he selected a far better equipped soldier for that task.  

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3532
Greg's right

Greg is right.  I was writing in a hurry and thinking that he was saying that [Mohler] would be formally separated from as a result of this.

Greg Linscott wrote:

...I'm wondering, though, if this were done by someone in the FBFI...would this be reason to see that they were formally separated from by the organization, or would it be a matter of criticizing but continuance of fellowship... I'm just trying to determine how serious you consider this matter to be.

I totally misunderstood his point. My apologies to all.  It is a very good question, though.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Offline
Since
Fri, 2/19/10
Posts: 999
there's an old saw about this...

Greg Linscott wrote:

I'm not trying to trap you, Don, or even counter your position. I understand and respect your right to criticize. It was a notable event. I'm wondering, though, if this were done by someone in the FBFI, let's say- it doesn't even matter who- would this be reason to see that they were formally separated from by the organization, or would it be a matter of criticizing but continuance of fellowship... I'm just trying to determine how serious you consider this matter to be.

Associations matter.

We all know that. When an FBFI connected individual appears in a place or with people who seem at odds with its objectives, questions are asked. We hear about them all the time here on SI.

At some point, it becomes very serious and people have to make decisions about future fellowship.

In this case, I am raising questions because at best the choice by Mohler seems unwise or foolish. Other observers should think about these questions and consider how much moral/spiritual influence from Mohler they ought to allow. Should other Christians listen to Mohler as a spiritual guide? He says some good things, that is true. But is his judgement trustworthy? Is he someone people should follow?

Personally, I think not. YMMV.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

Greg Linscott's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 5/22/09
Posts: 2271
You're still not giving me a straight answer

Don,

I understand associations matter. Not the question I'm asking. The question is, if someone you currently do enjoy fellowship with were to have made this specific move or something quite similar, would that be grounds to break off all formal association? Not whether or not you are uncomfortable with it, would counsel against it, etc. etc.  As far as you are concerned (and I understand you personally do not speak unilaterally for the FBF), would it be grounds for formal separation?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Offline
Since
Tue, 6/2/09
Posts: 1739
I assume you would be willing

I assume you would be willing to call it unwise, then? But that is kissing cousins to foolish, isn't it? Would you be willing to call it foolish?

When I say a wisdom issue, I am putting it in the category of "not a biblical command." I am not drawing a conclusion on the wisdom of it or pointing to a conclusion. I don't necessarily contrast that with foolish (in the biblical category). I think there are various degrees of wise. Something can be unwise without being foolish (again, using the biblical categories), and one thing may be wiser than another thing without either being sinful. So I am not sure I would call this foolish. I think I would say I am not sure it was best. But that's a "not sure." But I am with Pr. Harding in saying, I don't think he sinned by doing it.

How far behind the scenes must something be to become a moot point?

I don't really know. I think it depends on context and issue. Not trying to dodge that, but I simply don't know. On something like this, I think their theology of marriage is so far behind the scenes that no one looks at them and thinks of celestial marriage. They are more likely to think of special underwear or the Osmonds. Or both. So I think their marriage doctrine is unknown enough to be taken off the table for this discussion. I think the issue is whether Mohler's appearance there granted them credibility as Christians. I would say no, unless one didn't read the speech.

And so for you opposition to same-sex marriage is sufficient common ground to do what? ...

Don't know precisely for me personally. I tend to stay out of the public eye on this stuff. I think churches need mostly to stick to disciplemaking, and I am unconvinced pastors can have a life in the public eye apart from being pastors.

Having said that, I think all people can benefit from Mohler's teaching on the issue of marriage, and so solidifying the beliefs and principles behind the opposition to it socially could be sufficient ground to have Mohler to speak on it, and for Mohler to go. After all, even though we won't go to heaven together, we do live in the same country, and it is worth having people who know why same-sex marriage is bad. Mohler is certainly equipped to lecture on that.

So... there can't be enough common ground to do this (i.e., to say it is wise) and still not enough common ground to do it (i.e., to say it is unwise), can there?

I apologize. I am not following this question. If I understand you correctly, I think there is enough common ground in social opposition to same-sex marriage and defense of traditional marriage to at least entertain the idea that it might be beneficial to go. At the same time, I think there are sufficient differences and sufficient danger of irremediable confusion to question whether or not it is wise to go.

My suspicion is that this is a bit of a Rohrshach test of sorts. Those who are inclined to suspect Mohler of being weak and liberal will view this as confirmation that he is exactly what they thought; they will not cut him any slack (even though this is a "first-time offense," so far as I know). Those who are inclined to see Mohler as bold for the faith and courageous in the public square will see this as confirmation that he is exactly what they thought; they will trust his judgment. They will see him as bold for clearly stating his differences and using their platform to say they are going to hell, and bold for publicly stating his view on a contentious moral issue of our time and raising the spectre of persecution and jail for it. Either way, no one's mind is likely chabged by this.

I don't think it matters whether he was invited or sought it out. Either way it is wrong, in my opinion.

My point in bringing this up was your wording of "actively seek ..." I don't think Mohler actively pursued it. He was approached. I would not actively pursue something with Mormons. But perhaps there is some context in the non-church realm where we would find ourselves in agreement on something that we are both working on. Of course, that's hypothetical.

I will bow out here. I have spent more time than I intended. Thanks for the exchange.

Offline
Since
Tue, 6/2/09
Posts: 786
Why?

Why did Don write this article?

Was it to rebuke a disobedient brother (Mohler) in an attempt to have him turn from what Don perceives as a sin? If that's the reason, it will be ineffective as I don't think that Al Mohler is aware of the FBFI or Don.

Was it to warn the brethren of the the perceived sin of Al Mohler and have them separate even further from him with the purpose of  ????????.

The zeal with which some fundamentalists publicly denounce the perceived sins of some of their brethren is not an asset.

 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3532
Don Johnson

Don Johnson wrote:
Associations matter.

We all know that. When an FBFI connected individual appears in a place or with people who seem at odds with its objectives, questions are asked. We hear about them all the time here on SI.

At some point, it becomes very serious and people have to make decisions about future fellowship.

Don,

I'm still trying to understand where you're coming from.  What do you mean by the terms "associations" and "fellowship"?  I don't think that making an appearance at an LDS graduation ceremony is an association - there would have to be a consistent pattern of appearances or endorsements for me to say it would be an association.  Shopping at Wal-Mart doesn't "associate" me with the music that is played in the store there, does it?  So why would we define this differently?

I'd argue that fellowship - true biblicial koinoneia - can only happen when there are two groups of believers.  Since that didn't happen, can we really credit this as "fellowship"?  Especially since most people's interaction with Mohler comes via audio files or book?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Offline
Since
Fri, 2/19/10
Posts: 999
Jay, by that kind of logic

No one could criticize Billy Graham for anything he ever did. If he associated with liberals, no true koinonia existed, so it doesn't matter.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

DavidO's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 5/3/10
Posts: 734
Don, I think Jay's only half

Don,

I think Jay's only half wrong.  The part about true koinonia is mistaken but this:

What do you mean by the terms "associations" and "fellowship"?  I don't think that making an appearance at an LDS graduation ceremony is an association - there would have to be a consistent pattern of appearances or endorsements for me to say it would be an association.

stands, I think.

If you must categorize what Mohler did as disobedient, then any Christian who holds political party memberships, participates in silent roadside abortion protests, and chairs a community arts partnerships must also be disobedient.  Which is why this from Bauder

If the Bible forbade Christians ever to join with non-Christians in any endeavor, then every Christian would have to resign from nearly every political, commercial, and cultural activity.

is far from the straw-man you decry it as.  After all, what Mohler did was far closer to the activites he and I list than any offer of fellowship or Ecclesiastical association.

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3532
Transition

I wasn't as clear as I could have been earlier.  Let me rephrase, with clarifications in underline:

I'd argue that fellowship - true biblicial koinoneia - can only happen when there are two groups of believers.  Since that didn't happen, can we really credit this presentation of Mohler's as "fellowship" with the LDS?  Or even as "fellowship" between Mormon and IFB types if they attend a rally for a joint concern?  Can we argue for 'fellowship' with Mohler if our only interaction comes via his audio files or books?

So there's a couple of questions -

1.  Is it really fair to Dr. Mohler argue that there is an 'association' between Mohler and BYU on the basis of a speech given at the school for graduation?  It seems to me that there needs to be more cooperation before we can start arguing that there are "associations".

2.  Is it really 'fellowship' if we were to attend a pro-religious freedom rally (or pro-life rally, or pro-marriage rally) with others who are not independent Fundamental Baptists?  What if IFBs attended a pro-religious freedom rally with Catholics or even Conservative Evangelicals? (quelle horreur!)

I don't have my copy of Logos open, but someone did some spadework on the term koinoneia and it seems to me that the term can only be used when you are referring to something that occurs when you have two groups of believers (2 Cor. 6:14, 8:4; Gal. 2:9, Eph. 3:9, Phil. 1:5, 2:1, 1 John 1:3, 1:6-7) .  Grouping unbelievers and believers for any reason wouldn't seem to apply to the way you want to use the terms.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Offline
Since
Fri, 2/19/10
Posts: 999
Jay, you still don't get it

Jay wrote:

1.  Is it really fair to Dr. Mohler argue that there is an 'association' between Mohler and BYU on the basis of a speech given at the school for graduation?

It wasn't a graduation speech. Most schools don't graduate in October.

Either way, speaking in a venue communicates a message. Perhaps if it were a graduation speech it would be more problematic, not less.

Jay wrote:

2.  Is it really 'fellowship' if we were to attend a pro-religious freedom rally (or pro-life rally, or pro-marriage rally) with others who are not independent Fundamental Baptists?  What if IFBs attended a pro-religious freedom rally with Catholics or even Conservative Evangelicals? (quelle horreur!)

It wasn't a rally either.

Jay wrote:

I don't have my copy of Logos open, but someone did some spadework on the term koinoneia and it seems to me that the term can only be used when you are referring to something that occurs when you have two groups of believers (2 Cor. 6:14, 8:4; Gal. 2:9, Eph. 3:9, Phil. 1:5, 2:1, 1 John 1:3, 1:6-7) .  Grouping unbelievers and believers for any reason wouldn't seem to apply to the way you want to use the terms.

Jay, there is no problem when true fellowship occurs. There is a problem when you extend fellowship (i.e., partnership on some level) to those who are not your fellows.

The debate isn't whether fellowship occurred, the debate is whether it was right, wise, unwise, foolish or sinful. Take your pick of terms, or pick one somewhere in between the cracks of those terms.

 

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3532
But...

Don Johnson wrote:
Jay, there is no problem when true fellowship occurs. There is a problem when you extend fellowship (i.e., partnership on some level) to those who are not your fellows.

The debate isn't whether fellowship occurred, the debate is whether it was right, wise, unwise, foolish or sinful. Take your pick of terms, or pick one somewhere in between the cracks of those terms.

So this 'fellowship' you're discussing exists because...you say that it does?  Your position seems to be that 'fellowship' exists in this instance even though what happened doesn't seem to fit the definition of fellowship in the New Testament.

I think we've got a definition problem here.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Offline
Since
Fri, 2/19/10
Posts: 999
I give up

You're just being obtuse, Jay. 

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

Mark_Smith's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 4/29/13
Posts: 428
One of the things

Al Mohler was trying to do, it seems to me, was to rally with the LDS church around "traditional" marriage. The problem is, when I think of Mormon marriage I don't think of it like Christian marriage. So, to that end I don't think Al Mohler exercised good judgment in going to BYU.

 

That being said, how many SBC churches, for example, take a hard line on divorce and remarriage? When I see people on a 2nd or 3rd marriage I'm not associating that with what I believe is a biblical marriage either. Are we being consistent in the body of Christ?

Offline
Since
Tue, 6/30/09
Posts: 487
Meeting

I spoke with one of my fellow fundamental baptist pastors yesterday about this issue. He serves the Lord fulltime in Utah and personally met with Dr. Mohler for coffee in Salt Lake subsequent to the speech at BYU.  Mohler may be planning a return visit sometime next year.  Mohler stayed up very late the night before (almost 4:00 AM) refining the wording of his speech.  He knew the speech would be carefully read by many.  According to that meeting, Mohler wanted to make it very clear in the wording of his speech that there was no Christian fellowship implied or recognition given by his appearance.  His main concern was that BYU, the intellectual center of Mormonism, would not "cave" on the homosexual marriage issue.  He sees them as an ally in that regard.  However, there is mounting pressure inside Mormonism to cave in.  They are potentially just one "new revelation" away from such a stance.  This meeting gives some insight as to what was going on in Mohler's mind regarding his motive for accepting the invitation.  I still maintain that BYU's motive is to be perceived as more mainstream and that is where the danger lies.

Pastor Mike Harding

Greg Linscott's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 5/22/09
Posts: 2271
Question

Mike,

Would circumstances have been better, worse, or equal if he had given a similar speech at Notre Dame?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Offline
Since
Tue, 6/30/09
Posts: 487
Everything else being the

Everything else being the same, the situation would be less startling simply because the differences between Catholicism and Mormonism are substantial.  One is blatant false teaching; the other is cultic.  Pick your poison.

Pastor Mike Harding

Joel Tetreau's picture
Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 654
Koinonia - Fellowship and Sphere's of influence

A short observation. While I (because of conscience) probably could not have done what Mohler did, I'm not sure at all how what Mohler did at BYU could at all be viewed as fellowship/koinonia or even leading to fellowship/koinonia. As a citizen of a democratic/republic, one religious leader was invited to challenge other religious leaders about common threats to there different religions. Mohler essentially told the Mormons's - "your not going to heaven with me" but if we don't stand together in the area of political issues "you might be going to jail with me" (implication I'm making based on Mohler's comments). Don - your comment that there is no debate that fellowship occurred is very much indeed .... debatable! Your comments reveal that in your mind you cannot separate a Christian leader being with other American/Religionist leaders talking about issues that impact a variety of groups as conservative American's without lumping this into some ecclesiastical relationship.

There was no Christian/koinonia based fellowship - just a speech. Don - Jay is not the one being "obtuse" here. 

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Baptist Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Greg Linscott's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 5/22/09
Posts: 2271
I understand the concern...

I still maintain that BYU's motive is to be perceived as more mainstream and that is where the danger lies.

That is why it is important that Mohler said what he did where he did. And concerns aside, the reality is that the information cannot be misconstrued anywhere near as easily as it could when television and print media were pretty much the exclusive sources of information. The LDS may want to portray themselves as more mainstream, but whatever else, they cannot claim that Mohler would be complicit in those efforts, and if they try to, Mohler's words are easily accessible to demonstrate otherwise.

The thing I find troubling about this matter and the way it was addressed in the original citation is not the disagreement with the appearance, but the sense of "Aha! Gotcha!" that seems to accompany it. This is what I am trying to get at by asking the question Don refuses to answer specifically. We need to understand that whether or not you agree with Mohler's decision to speak, we should in a very real sense desire to identify with the clear division he articulated between LDS and Christian theology. Every story is not about whether or not someone is a "true Fundamentalist" (or whatever specific label you want to use) or not. When it comes down to it, though I don't plan to join the SBC or make any alterations in formal fellowship, when it comes to matters of national significance like this, what really separates us from being generally identified by Joe Q. Public with someone like Mohler? Anything? Men like him and John MacArthur (most recently on the Charismatic issue) right now are the ones making hard separating kind of statements  in the public spotlight.

Whether or not we think this choice was wise, this is nothing at all like Billy Graham's ecumenical evangelism. The perceived attempts to portray it as such is what is discouraging, because it seems that the concerns in the end are designed to strengthen territorial interests (separatist Fundamentalists vs. SBC evangelicals), rather than affirming the truth that was declared that we can and do support, regardless of whether or not we agreed with the choice of venue.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

TylerR's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 9/7/12
Posts: 1016
Religious Liberty

I have been doing some reading in Baptist history lately, and have been struck by just how tenaciously English and American Baptists fought for religious liberty in the state-dominated churches of their day. In many instances, Baptists found themselves proudly fighting for the religious liberty of false religious systems (e.g. Roman Catholicism) out of a bid for basic fairness; how can a man deny the very freedom of religion to a heretical group he would indignantly claim for himself if the tables were turned?

For instance, Thomas Helwys, a founding member with John Smythe of the first Baptist church in modern history (and a man who died in prison for his Baptist convictions), supported religious liberty for Roman Catholics, Jews and even Muslims! He wrote:

Let them be heretikes, Turcks, Jewes, or whatsoever it apperteynes not to the earthly power to punish them in the least measure.

To bring this to the BYU context; was Dr. Mohler really acting incorrectly by stating a willingness to stand with Mormons for traditional marriage values, or for mutual religious liberty?

In this city, I am honored to come among those who, though of a different faith, share common concerns and urgencies. I come as a Christian, and I come as one who is honored by your kind and gracious invitation. I come in the hope of much further conversations, conversations about urgencies both temporal and eternal. I am unashamed to stand with you in the defense of marriage and family and a vision of human sexual integrity. I am urgently ready to speak and act in your defense against threats to your religious liberty, even as you have shown equal readiness to speak and act in defense of mine. We share love for the family, love for marriage, love for the gift of children, love of liberty, and love of human society. We do so out of love and respect for each other.

That is why only those with the deepest beliefs, and even the deepest differences, can help each other against encroaching threats to religious liberty, marriage, and the family. I guess I am back to Flannery O’Connor again. We must push back against this age as hard as it is pressing against us. We had better press hard, for this age is pressing ever harder against us.

The fact that Dr. Mohler offered this support, while at the same time standing firm upon Christian exclusivism, makes criticism of his position less effective. Greg noted, above, that comparisons to the Billy Graham issue are specious, because ecumenicalism and inclusivism are precisely what Dr. Mohler took pains to repudiate. Does Dr. Mohler's position really give legitimacy to Mormonism, or is he merely following a long Baptist (and Biblical) tradition of standing firm for religious liberty in general?

I'm thinking out loud here . . .

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

Chip Van Emmerik's picture
Offline
Since
Thu, 6/4/09
Posts: 1733
Tyler, I think you have hit

Tyler,

I think you have hit on a very important aspect of this decision. Frankly, we Baptists have generally done a terrible job in the last 50 or so years fleshing out what we mean by individual soul liberty - other than to use it in the BAPTIST acrostic when we make a passing attempt to teach Baptist distinctives.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3532
Agree

Men like him and John MacArthur (most recently on the Charismatic issue) right now are the ones making hard separating kind of statements in the public spotlight.

Which, again, is why I was confused as to the purpose of the P&D Statement.  I mean, how often does the FBFI or someone affiliated with it get contacted to present the 'biblical' or 'christian' response to current issues?

I do not say that to knock anyone...I just don't understand why we have to tear down anyone who isn't sufficiently separated enough when they are presenting a Gospel-oriented response to a current issue (even if the response isn't as strong as we'd wanted it to be).

If Paul can rejoice that people are spreading the gospel out of malice (Phil. 1:12-18), why must we be offended or concerned if a SBC guy does it, when he's a lot closer to our position than, say, a Catholic bishop?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Offline
Since
Tue, 6/2/09
Posts: 383
Thanks for the link

Don, I've been out of the country.  Missed this event.  Thanks for the link to Mohler's speech.

After Prop 8, the LDS Church was hammered.  A national target.  Marches.  Demonstrations.  Taking the brunt of mud-slinging.  And dealing with swelling pockets of liberal LDS internet voices.  A common thought was "where were the evangelicals to speak up?"

Since that experience, LDS have been proactive, promoting traditional marriage but likewise acknowledging the very loud LGBT voices.  SLC led the way for crafting city ordinance clauses that recognize housing and employment equality for LGBT.  Other cities underneath SLC's shadow have followed suit. 

This year has been a tumultous year for the LDS in seeking to broker some temporary peace within the Boy Scouts of America.

As far as I know, Mohler is the first conservative evangelical since Prop 8 to acknowledge LDS affirmation of traditional family values in such a setting.  It's interesting.  If the I-15 corridor caves here in the West on this issue politically, I sincerely think that American politics will no longer have room for openly promoting traditional morality.  We will go the way of Europe.  I say this politically.

From a theologically sense, I consider the I-15 corridor perspective on the family as idolatry.  And that is an altogether different burden that weighs heavily upon my heart. 

Ok, gotta go.

Offline
Since
Fri, 2/19/10
Posts: 999
to Joel T.

Joel Tetreau wrote:

A short observation. While I (because of conscience) probably could not have done what Mohler did, I'm not sure at all how what Mohler did at BYU could at all be viewed as fellowship/koinonia or even leading to fellowship/koinonia. ...

There was no Christian/koinonia based fellowship - just a speech. Don - Jay is not the one being "obtuse" here. 

First, let's talk about what koinonia means: it is cooperation / partnership / joint activity.

In his speech, Mohler makes it clear that he was joining with BYU in these ways:

I have come to Brigham Young University because I intend with you to push back against the modernist notion that only the accommodated can converse.

I do not mean to exaggerate, but we are living in the shadow of a great moral revolution that we commonly believe will have grave and devastating human consequences. Your faith has held high the importance of marriage and family. Your theology requires such an affirmation, and it is lovingly lived out by millions of Mormon families. That is why I and my evangelical brothers and sisters are so glad to have Mormon neighbors. We stand together for the natural family, for natural marriage, for the integrity of sexuality within marriage alone, and for the hope of human flourishing.

I come in the hope of much further conversations, conversations about urgencies both temporal and eternal. I am unashamed to stand with you in the defense of marriage and family and a vision of human sexual integrity.

Yes, he distinguished areas where there is no common ground, but he clearly intends to call them to action and join with them where he perceives common ground. If that isn't cooperation or partnership, what is?

At the same time, it is NOT Christian fellowship. But that's just the problem. Christians are called to abstain from fellowship (partnership / cooperation) with unbelievers.

That is what makes this action wrong, in my opinion.

You have said that you could not do what Mohler did because of conscience. What do you mean by that? Do you mean that your conscience tells you something is not right about this? Do you think your conscience is right or wrong in its judgement?

If I am wrong as to why this is wrong, that is one thing. If I am wrong to think this is wrong, that is quite another. You all are arguing vigorously against me, acting, seemingly, as if I am wrong to think this is wrong (or to say that this is wrong).

But then at the same time, "Because of conscience, I couldn't do it." Or "I'm uncomfortable with it."

 

Well, which is it? 

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

Offline
Since
Fri, 2/19/10
Posts: 999
To Tyler - one note of clarification

TylerR wrote:

 Greg noted, above, that comparisons to the Billy Graham issue are specious, because ecumenicalism and inclusivism are precisely what Dr. Mohler took pains to repudiate. 

I just want it to be clear what I am saying here, since I invoked the BG word earlier in the thread. I am NOT comparing what Mohler did to what Graham did.

I was arguing against Jay's bizarre argument that since Mohler by definition could not have true fellowship with Mormons, no fellowship occurred, therefore there was nothing to criticize.

This would be the same as ARGUING that since Graham by definition could not have true fellowship with liberals, no fellowship occurred, therefore there could be  nothing to criticize there either.

 

I was attacking Jay's argument, not Mohler, with that comparison.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

TylerR's picture
Offline
Since
Fri, 9/7/12
Posts: 1016
No Problem

I understand! I was just pondering if Dr. Mohler's appearance, and any future cooperation for the sake of religious liberty, would be within the bounds of "acceptability" as long as he maintained a strong, exclusivist Christian stance. In other words, when does a principled stand for religious liberty for ALL FAITHS constitute cooperative ministry? 

Most of the discussions on separation seem to take place only within the context of 20th century fundamentalism/evangelical controversies. Perhaps a broader perspective, especially that of the struggle of English and American Baptists with state churches in the 17th century, would shed more light on this matter. Yes, I realize this may go against what I wrote earlier! 

I'm in danger of going beyond the point of this thread, so I'll stop here. It was an interesting thought. 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

Offline
Since
Fri, 2/19/10
Posts: 999
further to my point

It isn't just me who is seeing this as a new cooperation.

 

Evangelical visits to BYU signal a new evangelical-Mormon detente

 

For more than a decade, Mormon and evangelical scholars have discussed their differences and similarities, and even written books together. But leaders of the two faiths appear to have reached a new juncture, with some on both sides seeing benefits in more public engagement.

...

The recent evangelical appearances in Utah have sparked online debates, with some welcoming them and others warning they hurt traditional Christianity. A moderator for the unofficial LDS.net who calls himself “prisonchaplain” concluded the meetings were more civil than groundbreaking.

“As far as ‘fruit’ goes, these events sure beat the cold theological wars of the past,’’ he said.

And there’s more to come: Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias, who spoke at the Mormon Tabernacle in 2004, will be at BYU in January, followed by a second appearance by Mohler the following month.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3532
Don Johnson wrote: I was

Don Johnson wrote:

I was arguing against Jay's bizarre argument that since Mohler by definition could not have true fellowship with Mormons, no fellowship occurred, therefore there was nothing to criticize.

This would be the same as ARGUING that since Graham by definition could not have true fellowship with liberals, no fellowship occurred, therefore there could be  nothing to criticize there either.


Hi Don,

You're responding to an argument that I didn't and wouldn't make re: Graham. Mohler did not give them any leeway in terms of where they stand before God or our theological differences. That's why the paragraphs I cited are so important.

I would find this more problematic if Mohler hadn't made the statements about the differences in our theology as explicitly as he did. If he had talked strictly and solely on marriage without the statements on the Trinity and other things, I would be singing a far different tune.

For the record, I agree completely with Todd's assessment and that is a part of why I'm inclined to give Mohler some slack. Politics, unfortunately, does make for strange bedfellows.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3532
Also...

Just for consumption and discussion...I have occasionally found that by discussing the differences in my theology with those of different belief has given me opportunities to give the gospel very clearly. If I had refused to discuss my beliefs with one Muslim in particular - and to indirectly attack her beliefs by asking questions - we never would have discussed Christ at all. Would that be more advantageous?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3532
Fellowship

My point is that it is confusing to label what Mohler did as "Fellowship" when the term, as defined in the NT, doesn't and can't exist there since they are unbelievers. It would be better to label it as a visit or just about anything else. It isn't koinoneia, which is what I think most readers will take away when you use that term.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Pages