Mohler at NRB: America is Witnessing a Collision Between Religious and Sexual Liberty

Albert MohlerWASHINGTON (NRB) — The most basic liberties enshrined in the U.S. Constitution are today “confused, contorted, and sometimes even condemned,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr. to Christian leaders gathered Thursday (May 3) for the National Religious Broadcasters’ First Amendment Lunch in Washington, D.C.

“Religious freedom, freedom of speech, and the freedom of the press — along with the other rights recognized and respected within the Bill of Rights — are all threatened even as other rights are marginalized,” said Mohler, who is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, during the event on Capitol Hill, sponsored by In Touch Ministries and held on the National Day of Prayer.

“Even more distressingly, a new regime of invented rights threatens to replace the rights that are clearly enumerated within the text of the Constitution,” he said.

Speaking specially to invited guests who were in Washington for events related to the National Day of Prayer, Mohler shared how religious liberty “becomes fragile in a secular age,” as do all liberties.

Religious liberty, he suggested, is viewed today by some as “problematic and out-of-date” and “injurious to human freedom, sexual liberty, transgender liberation, and a host of new imperatives.”

Some people think the freedom of religion is no longer a right, but a privilege, he added.

Mohler quoted a 2016 official report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in which the chairman, Martin R. Castro, writes, “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.”

Mohler noted: “The commission’s report included both religious liberty and religious freedom in scare quotes as if they are merely terms of art — linguistic constructions without any objective reality. We are now witnessing a great and inevitable collision between religious liberty and newly declared and invented sexual liberties.”

He went on to share past statements that predicted the inevitable conflict, and recent events that illustrate how the collision is now taking place.

Before concluding, Mohler encouraged Christian leaders to hold on to the truths expressed in the Declaration of Independence, and to defend these truths “that should be, but often are not, recognized as self-evident.”

And to the generation of young people who are committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ but assume that the defense of religious liberty is political, Mohler said they also need to be committed to the free propagation and voicing of the gospel, without which sinners will not hear the gospel.

“We’re in a fight that’s worth fighting,” Mohler said. “And we understand that as we contend for the freedom of religion, and the freedom of speech, and the freedom of press, again, we’re doing this not just for ourselves and for our children; not just for our churches, but for the world.”

He concluded: “Let’s pray that God will give us wisdom to hold these truths in perilous times.”

Steve Gaines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, after the event called Mohler’s address was the “greatest word I’ve ever heard on religious liberty. Grateful for him.”

Gaines, who is also an NRB member, gave the benediction at the event.

Editor’s note: This article has been edited with permission from NRB communications staff for the specific purposes of Southern Seminary. The original, full report appears here.

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Mohler: George Washington’s public virtue, though laudable, is insufficient

George Washington, the first president of the United States of America, embodied classic public virtues but also had one significant, staining flaw: his views on race. This is according to R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, who made this argument to a packed Heritage Hall on the campus of Southern Seminary during the Leadership Briefing, April 26.

Mohler suggested that, in many ways, Washington is the consummate American success story: He overcame great disadvantages in his upbringing and became a leader fit for a new model of government. Washington was not the most educated, eloquent, or ambitious of the Founding Fathers — but he left behind perhaps the strongest legacy.

“People listened to Washington because of his character and because of the importance of what he was saying — not how he would say it,” Mohler said.

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Trustees of SBTS elect first-ever African-American board officer, affirm strategic plan at spring board meeting

Members of the Board of Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary elected the first African-American board officer in the 159-year history of the school. By a unanimous vote during the April 16 board meeting, Alan “Keith” Daniels, a businessman from Texas and a member of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church (SBC) in Irving, became board secretary.

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The church must remain holy, urge evangelical leaders at T4G

Anyone who has grown up in the church has heard the command to be holy. It is one of the distinctive marks of Christianity, even in the derogatory intent behind the common secular claim that Christians act “holier than thou.” This is not by accident — the Bible’s call for holiness spans both the Old and New Testaments, from Leviticus to 1 Peter. Moses, Isaiah, Jesus, and Paul all talked about it. Numerous books have been written on the topic by evangelical giants such as the late R.C. Sproul.

Yet the church has a problem. The world still seems so alluring, and the church consistently struggles to balance Jesus’ desire in John 17 that his people be “in the world” but not “of the world.” Western culture only grows more resistant to Christianity.

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The SBC is a ‘force multiplier’ for local churches, argue Dever and Mohler at T4G

The Southern Baptist Convention is a “force multiplier” for local churches, argued Mark Dever yesterday during a public conversation with R. Albert Mohler Jr.

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Mohler at T4G: The church must hold itself to a holy standard

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Christians must guard themselves against the corrosive effects of sexual sin — both for the health of their souls and the reputation of the church, said R. Albert Mohler Jr. at his Thursday address at Together for the Gospel in Louisville, Kentucky, April 12.

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SBTS Press releases ‘Essential Reading on Leadership’

The secular world is preoccupied with leadership in the abstract, writes R. Albert Mohler Jr. in a new book from SBTS Press. The church’s approach to leadership is different, though — it comes from a passionate love for the church and a strong desire to teach God’s people. Essential Reading on Leadership, released today, challenges pastors and ministers to cultivate this kind of leadership.

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Boyce College announces summer academy program

Often the first major decision teenagers face in their lives is where to attend college. A new summer program from Boyce College will make that decision easier.

The Boyce Academy, starting in the summer of 2018, promises to give rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors the chance to experience a Christian college campus while earning course credit, announced R. Albert Mohler Jr. today.

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Dockery at Norton Lectures: Southern Baptists and evangelicals can learn from each other

Evangelicals and Southern Baptists are similar but distinct movements in conservative Christianity. Despite their differences, the two groups can remain complementary forces in the advance of the gospel, said David W. Dockery during the 2018 Norton Lectures at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, March 27-28. Both groups need to listen, eliminate stereotypes of the other, and work together and co-laborers for the growth of the kingdom, Dockery said.

“If we are willing to put aside our differences, we can mutually benefit and learn from one another,” he said.

Evangelicalism has primarily functioned as a parachurch organism marked by its transdenominational character, argued Dockery, president of Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois, and a former Southern Seminary faculty member. During the series of revivals during American history, from George Whitfield to Billy Graham — evangelicalism functioned without a developed ecclesiology, leading to inefficient church structures. Because of this, denominations remain important, Dockery said, because Christianity needs structures to survive. Duplicated effort, funding challenges, and mixed loyalties can hold the church back.

“While denominationalism may seem to be in decline, denominations still matter,” Dockery said. “If we focus too much on structure we’ll end up on one side of the ditch, but if we focus too much on the Spirit, we will move toward an amorphous, shapeless kind of Christianity.”

Evangelicalism is entrepreneurial in spirit and marked by a transdenominational character, according to Dockery. It provided the alternative to Christian fundamentalist separationism in the late evangelist Billy Graham, who gave the evangelical movement its open-hearted posture.

Historically, the evangelical movement emerged out of the fallout from the fundamentalist-modernist controversy in the early 20th century. In 1919, W.B. Riley — one of the heroes of the fundamentalist movement — argued that fundamentalists should emphasize more than doctrinal conviction. They also should also prioritize separation, he said. In response, evangelicalism pushed for ecumenism and non-separationism. The most obvious practitioner of this was Graham, whom fundamentalists rejected as apostate. Graham’s theological fidelity (contrary to liberalism) and ecumenical spirit (contrary to fundamentalism) light the way of the church forward.

“What is needed is a biblical orthodoxy, a historical Christianity, a faithful, intercultural, transcontinental, and intergenerational evangelicalism. Such a big-tent vision needs wisdom to avoid unintentionally moving in the direction of an unhealthy inclusivism or heterodoxical universalism,” he said. “Evangelicals need to prioritize their calling as servants, as agents of reconciliation in a world characterized by fragmentation.”

While the Southern Baptist Convention has long exemplified structural efficiency, its theological legacy has been up and down. It was founded on firm convictions regarding the infallible truth of Scripture, but veered away from that before the ship was righted in the second half of the 20th century. In his lectures, Dockery described the history of the Southern Baptist Convention and biblical authority, tracing the changes in understanding of the doctrine of Scripture from the 19th century to the present.

“For nearly 60 years, the SBC has lived with public controversy, regarding issues related to biblical authority, theological challenges, and denominational polity,” Dockery said.

The thinkers and shapers of the early Southern Baptist Convention claimed the Bible as truth without error. Re-affirming biblical authority, Basil Manly Jr. claimed in The Bible Doctrine of Inspiration, “An uninspired Bible would furnish no infallible standard of thought, no authoritative rule for obedience, and no ground of confidence for everlasting hope.”

The SBC entered second half of 20th century as a unified and efficiently run denomination, Dockery said, but the years between 1954 and 1979 brought controversy and questioning of the authority of Scripture from thinkers who emphasized the element of human authorship in the Bible. In 1979, a movement in the SBC called for a return to Manly’s position on biblical authority.

Decades of discussion and controversy culminated in a firm stance on biblical authority in 1993, when R. Albert Mohler Jr. was elected president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “He was elected with a commitment to the inerrancy and authority of Scripture and a commitment to the importance of the Abstract of Principles,” Dockery said. In light of its own theological reformation, the efficiency of the Southern Baptist Convention can go hand-in-hand with the open-handed evangelical movement that inherited the theological legacy of the Protestant Reformation.

Two of the touchstones of Southern Baptist life emerged at the same annual meeting in 1925 — the Cooperative Program, a funding strategy which unifies SBC giving efforts to efficiently send missionaries around the world, and the Baptist Faith and Message, which is the confessional document of the convention, since updated in 2000. Evangelicals can benefit from the ecclesiological efficiency and denominational distinctiveness of Southern Baptists, while Southern Baptists can benefit from the outward posture of transdenominational evangelicalism. Dockery believes the two movements can be fruitful “dialogue partners.”

“The SBC has clearly decided that the truthfulness of the Bible cannot be ignored, de-emphasized, or eliminated from the discussion,” Dockery said. “Together, Southern Baptist evangelicals, with Southern Seminary leading the way, can help churches enable and educate leaders, enhance worship in order to bring about renewal across the country and around the globe.”

Dockery dedicated his 2018 Norton lecture series to Mohler, who celebrates the 25th anniversary of his election as the ninth president of Southern Seminary this year.

While the Southern Baptist Convention has long exemplified structural efficiency, its theological legacy during the 20th century was up and down. It was founded on firm convictions regarding the infallible truth of Scripture, but veered away from that before the ship was righted in the second half of the 20th century through the Conservative Resurgence. In his lectures, Dockery described the history of the Southern Baptist Convention and biblical authority, tracing the changes in understanding of the doctrine of Scripture from the 19th century to the present.

“The SBC has clearly decided that the truthfulness of the Bible cannot be ignored, de-emphasized, or eliminated from the discussion,” Dockery said. “Together, Southern Baptist evangelicals, with Southern Seminary leading the way, can help churches enable and educate leaders, enhance worship in order to bring about renewal across the country and around the globe.”

The two movements — the Southern Baptist Convention and broader evangelicalism — can cooperate for the growth of the kingdom, he said. Dockery has lived out the balance between the Southern Baptist Convention and evangelicalism in his own academic career, having participated extensively in both Baptist institutions and the evangelical guild. He has previously served as a faculty member at Southern Seminary, the flagship seminary of the SBC, and is currently president of Trinity International University, a flagship institution of the evangelical world. He is also the president of the Evangelical Theological Society and has served on numerous Southern Baptist committees.

“Can you be Southern Baptist and an evangelical? My life says yes,” Dockery said. “[I’ve had] one foot in Southern Baptist life and one foot in the evangelical world, and [I am] comfortable in both places.”

Dockery dedicated his 2018 Norton lecture series to Mohler, who celebrates the 25th anniversary of his election as the ninth president of Southern Seminary this year.

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Moore: Weakness and irrelevance could save your life

Russell Moore thinks loneliness can save your life. Weakness and irrelevance, too. He explained this to a filled Alumni Memorial Chapel at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary during a March 20 chapel service.

Moore, who is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, preached a chapel sermon from 1 Kings 19:1-19. In this passage, the prophet Elijah finds himself a fugitive from the people whose God he just defended. Moore suggested that Christians should view Elijah’s isolation — his loneliness, weakness and irrelevance — immediately following his confrontation with the prophets of Baal as paradigmatic for life of following Jesus Christ.

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