Mohler gives statements about conservative Christianity and homosexuality at CNN Belief Blog June 22, 2012
CNN's Belief Blog posted an article about recent anti-gay pronouncements made in conservative churches, June 21, 2012. The CNN article notes the concern that gay-rights supporters voice in light of harsh words spoken against homosexuals from Christian pulpits. However, the article also highlights the concern that conservative Christians have about these kinds of statements, which includes Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Mohler explains that the gospel condemns homosexuality, not homosexuals. The article reads:
"The Gospel does not condemn homosexuals, it condemns homosexuality," said R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. "The Bible makes clear that homosexuality is a sin, in the context of making clear that every person is a sinner."
What preachers such as Worley and Knapp are doing wrong, he said, is that they are "not merely rendering a moral judgment on homosexuality but extending it to the condemnation of people. They are speaking with a certain venom and hatred."
Mohler goes on to call the sermons of those such as North Carolina pastor Charles Worley and Kansas pastor Curtis Knapp "reprehensible," saying they serve to harm and obscure the message and cause of conservative Christianity in America.
"What you're seeing here is a very dangerous fringe that does not represent conservative Christianity in America," he said.
The entire article, "Harsh anti-gay preaching alarms gay rights supporters and Christian conservatives alike," is available at CNN's Belief Blog.
The New York Times published a story this week about New Orleans pastor Fred Luter and his imminent election as the Southern Baptist Convention's first African-American president. The election will be held during the denomination's annual meeting in New Orleans, June 19-20, 2012.
Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. gives comment in the article about the significance of Luter's likely election for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC):
“It’s a shift from institutionalized racism and resistance to the civil rights movement among the vast majority of its members to the eager embrace of America as it is becoming.”
The Times article recognizes Luter's election as a milestone for Southern Baptists, noting that the denomination in 1845 was originally formed in defense of owning slaves and has since then been the spiritual home primarily of white people. Nevertheless, as the article reports, SBC churches have made efforts to reach people from various ethnic backgrounds.
"If, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said of the nation’s churches, Sunday morning is the most segregated time in America," the article's author Erik Eckholm writes, "the Southern Baptists have carried a special burden, giving added resonance to this week’s election."
The entire article, "Southern Baptists Set for a Notable First," is available at The New York Times website.
Mohler to discuss “Marriage and Religious Liberties” on Focus on the Family radio Tuesday, June 19 June 18, 2012
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will appear on the “Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast” radio program Tuesday, June 19, to discuss the topic, “Engaging the Culture: Marriage and Religious Liberties.”
The program will feature an interview with Mohler conducted by Focus on the Family president and CEO Jim Daly.
“Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast” airs on radio stations across the nation. Details about area stations and broadcast times are available here. The program will also be available at www.focusonthefamily.com
Strachan says Christ is hermeneutical key to the Scriptures in Gospel Coalition interview June 14, 2012
The Gospel Coalition recently published an interview with Owen Strachan, assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at Southern Seminary's Boyce College, about Christ-centered preaching. Strachan states in the interview that Christ is the apex of Scripture, but preachers should be careful to enrich their sermons with examination of linguistic and historical context. He explains:
The theological language that is used to talk about this idea is that Christ is the hermeneutical key that unlocks all your interpretation of the Bible. So, you start from there, but where you go from there can take you to very different places. You can either end up in a sort of reductionistic style of preaching where you're so jazzed up about finding types of Christ in the Bible that a lot of your sermon seems to center around that idea.
Or, you can do a form of preaching that very much plumbs the original context of the text, it gets into the history, it gets into the nitty-gritty stuff – what various events and institutions in the Old Testament, for example, would mean – and so you're unearthing that context. And then you're explaining the actual theological point to that text; you're bringing christocentric hermeneutics to bear as you conclude and sweep everything together.
Mark Coppenger, professor of Christian apologetics at Southern Seminary, presents his view of dinosaurs and the age of the earth in his June 12, 2012, Baptist Press article, "Did Noah's ark have dinosaurs?"
Coppenger, who is also director of Southern's Nashville extension center, suggests that the idea that Noah kept dinosaurs on the ark is plausible for four reasons: 1) the ark's size was more than three football fields in length and approximately 45 yards tall and 75 yards wide; 2) Noah brought aboard animals only according to general kinds, so this would not require every dinosaur species to be present on the ark; 3) if size was an issue, juvenile or baby dinosaurs would suffice; and 4) the dinosaurs' behavior would not be any more difficult than Noah, with God's help, controlling other animals' behavior.
So, why do some Bible-believing Christians still find problems with this scenario? Coppenger explains that whether one holds to uniformitarianism or catastrophism determines where one places dinosaurs on the historical timeline, particularly in reference to mankind. Typically, Christians who agree with the majority of scientists that the earth is an estimated 4.5 billion years old hold to a uniformitarian perspective, whereas Christians who hold to a young-earth position tend to hold to a catastrophist perspective. He writes:
Where you stand on this dispute depends in part upon your view of the behavior of the universe back through the centuries. If you take a "uniformitarian" view, you argue that the patterns we see now (such as radioactive decay or sedimentary rock formation) are reliably constant, and so we can extrapolate from our current experience back through the millennia to make claims about the fossil record, often postulating some form of God-directed evolution.
Those who embrace "catastrophism" beg to differ, saying that Noah's flood is a perfect example of how God has engineered great upheavals in the order of things, an event reflected in Psalm 104:5-9. They also say that death and decay – including the destruction of dinosaurs – didn't occur until after man sinned (Genesis 3), and that, besides, there may well be references to dinosaurs in the Bible (though the word, "dinosaur" didn't appear until the 19th century).
Noting that this discussion is no trivial matter, Coppenger concludes that, in spite of their differences on these matters, Christians can cooperate toward fulfilling the Great Commission. However, they should agree that "God is Lord of the universe and that He can form, alter and dispose of it exactly as He pleases," and that any position that is not consistent with Scripture they should discard.
The entire article is available at the Baptist Press website.
Southern Seminary's Hershael York contributed to a panel that discussed same-sex marriage on KET's "Kentucky Tonight," June 11, 2012.
On the panel with York were Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign; Kent Ostrander, executive director of The Family Foundation of Kentucky; and Derek Penwell, senior minister at Douglass Boulevard Christian Church in Louisville, Ky. Bill Goodman hosted the program.
York, who is Victor and Louise Lester Professor of Christian Preaching at Southern and senior pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, Ky., spoke about the biblical definition of marriage and family and their benefits for society.
Louisville's The Courier-Journal recently published an article about the dramatic growth in cremation in American culture. This, religion reporter Peter Smith notes, says something significant about spiritual trends as funerals and memorial services follow religious tradition less and less and become more and more customized. Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary, elucidates the Christian rationale for burial in the story.
Moore, who is also senior vice president for academic administration at Southern, states that burial — as opposed to cremation — is “a fitting earthly end to the life of a faithful Christian, a Christian who has been ‘buried with Christ in baptism’ and is waiting to be raised with him in glory.”
Despite the many amenities that modern-day megachurches offer, Moore observes that a hallmark of American churches is nowadays often missing — the graveyard. The article further unpacks his thoughts:
"Recognizing that cremation is sub-Christian doesn’t mean castigating grieving families as sinners,” Moore writes. “It doesn’t mean refusing to eat at the dining room table with Aunt Flossie’s urn perched on the mantle overhead. It doesn’t mean labeling the pastor who blesses a cremation service as a priest of Molech."
It does, however, mean "beginning a conversation about what it means to grieve as Christians and what it means to hope as Christians,” he writes.
“It means reminding Christians that the dead in the graveyards behind our churches are ‘us’ too. It means hoping that our Christian burial plots preach the same gospel that our Christian pulpits do.”
The entire article, "Red Casket, Blue Urn: Cremation's rise parallels national divergence in religion and politics," is available at The Courier-Journal website.
Baptist Press recently published Timothy Paul Jones' article "How were the books of the New Testament chosen?" In the article, Jones, associate professor of leadership and church ministry at Southern Seminary, considers how the church came to recognize some writings as authoritative and others as not.
"The question isn't whether God had any part in choosing the books; the question is, 'By what human means did these texts come to be viewed as authoritative?'," he writes.
Responding to the claim that no authoritative list containing 27 books existed prior to the fourth or fifth centuries, Jones states that hints of some sort of standard are evident in Christian writings as early as the first century. The primary criteria was whether or not the writings were connected to those who actually saw the Lord Jesus. He writes:
Long before Athanasius was even born, testimony that could be connected to eyewitnesses of the risen Lord was uniquely authoritative among early Christians.
Even while the New Testament books were being written in the first century A.D., the words of people who had actually seen Jesus – especially the words and writings of the apostles – carried special authority in the churches (see Acts 1:21-26; 15:6-16:5; 1 Corinthians 4-5; 9:1-12; Galatians 1:1-12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26-27). After the apostles' deaths, Christians continued to value the testimony of eyewitnesses and their associates.
The entire article is available at the Baptist Press website.
June-July “Towers” raps about hip-hop, the covenants June 4, 2012
The June-July 2012 “Towers” is now on stands and online.
It’s hard to miss the impact Christian hip-hop has on the current generation of (especially younger, Reformed) evangelicals. What began as a marginalized movement in the South now finds itself distributed by major music sellers – Christian and secular – and among the most talked about and energetic music movements. This issue of “Towers” offers a brief timeline of Christian hip-hop, and a conversation with rappers Lecrae, Trip Lee, Shai Linne and FLAME. And, in the spirit of the theme, the cover represents a Technics turntable, a widely used instrument among producers, DJs and rap MCs.
Also in the June-July issue, Southern Seminary professor Stephen J. Wellum and Peter Gentry discuss their new book, Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants; the History Highlight column surveys Southern's involvement in popular media, from radio to Twitter; and Josh Hayes profiles Bruce Ware, professor of Christian theology, in the June-July Southern Story.
Southern Seminary Resources publishes “Towers,” Southern Seminary Magazine and other seminary publications digitally as well as physically. Check out the Resources page for an improved online reading experience.
Southern Seminary's Russell D. Moore recently wrote about why men are addicted to pornography and video games at the Desiring God Blog. Moore, dean of the School of Theology and vice president for academic administration, states that the danger in the two mediums lies in their artificiality.
"There's a key difference between porn and gaming. Pornography can't be consumed in moderation because it is, by definition, immoral. A video game can be a harmless diversion along the lines of a low-stakes athletic competition," he explains.
"But the compulsive form of gaming shares a key element with porn: both are meant to simulate something, something for which men long."
The reason that both pornography and video games appeal to men is because each tantalizes longings rooted in creation that point to gospel realities. However, pornography creates a sexual experience apart from marital intimacy and video games frequently present combat scenarios with nothing real or right for which to fight. Moore suggests that the solution is to "fight arousal with arousal." The gospel is, after all, about "a Christ who loves his bride and who fights to save her." He writes:
"Pornography promises orgasm without intimacy. Video warfare promises adrenaline without danger. The arousal that makes these so attractive is ultimately spiritual to the core."
Moore's entire article, "Fake Love, Fake War: Why So Many Men Are Addicted to Internet Porn and Video Games," is available at the Desiring God Blog.