Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Albert Mohler at CNP: Freedom To Preach Gospel Threatened By 'Erotic Liberty'

The secretive Council for National Policy (CNP) and the Conservative Action Project, right-wing coalitions that are trying to figure out how to get conservative evangelicals united around one of the many GOP presidential candidates vying for their support, met outside Washington, D.C. late last week to vet the presidentials and strategize for 2016.

While most of what happens at CNP gatherings is kept behind closed doors, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) was happy to brag that its president, Albert Mohler, had received the 2015 Edwin Meese III Originalism and Religious Liberty Award from the Alliance Defending Freedom on Friday. The award was presented by ADF’s Alan Sears and the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, identified by the SBTS as president of the CNP.

Meese, who played a major role in the rise of the Federalist Society and the right-wing school of constitutional interpretation known as “originalism”— colloquially referred to as “strict constructionism” — was on hand for the event.  According to the SBTS account, Meese said originalism and religious liberty “go hand-in-hand” and asserted that “religious liberty is under attack as never before” in America.

That was also the theme of Mohler’s remarks, which took their title, “The Gathering Storm: The Eclipse of Religious Liberty and the Threat of a New Dark Age,” from Winton Churchill’s account of the period leading up to the World War II. “We are not facing the same gathering storm,” Mohler declared, “but we are now facing a battle that will determine the destiny of priceless freedoms and the very foundation of human rights and human dignity.”

Other excerpts from Mohler’s speech:

A revolution in morality now seeks not only to subvert marriage, but also to redefine it, and thus to undermine an essential foundation of human dignity, flourishing, and freedom….

Already, religious liberty is threatened by a new moral regime that exalts erotic liberty and personal autonomy and openly argues that religious liberties must give way to the new morality, its redefinition of marriage, and its demand for coercive moral, cultural, and legal sovereignty.

A new moral and legal order is ascendant in America, and this new order is only possible, in the arena of American law and jurisprudence, if the original intent and the very words of the Constitution of the United States are twisted beyond recognition….

We are in a fight for the most basic liberties God has given humanity, every single one of us, made in his image. Religious liberty is being redefined as mere freedom of worship, but it will not long survive if it is reduced to a private sphere with no public voice. The very freedom to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake, and thus so is the liberty of every American. Human rights and human dignity are temporary abstractions if they are severed from their reality as gifts of the Creator. The eclipse of Christian truth will lead inevitably to a tragic loss of human dignity. If we lose religious liberty, all other liberties will be lost, one by one. I am a Christian, and I believe that salvation is found in no other name than Jesus Christ and in no other gospel, but I will fight for the religious liberty of all.

 

Jim Daly Claims Satan is Behind Push for Same-Sex Marriage

Focus on the Family president Jim Daly hosted Al Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Focus on the Family board member, to discuss same-sex marriage and its supposed threat to religious freedom. Daly claimed that Satan himself is promoting same-sex marriage since “he hates marriage because it’s a reflection of God’s image.” “The Enemy hates that, it’s disgusting to him,” Daly said, “and with that, he wants to break it down, he wants to destroy it.” Later, Mohler maintained that “same-sex marriage is going to be the greatest challenge to religious liberty in our lifetimes” and will replace religious liberty with a more limited freedom of worship:

Daly: When you look at human sexuality, someone suggested to me the other day, they said, if you think about it, the Enemy of our soul, yes we refer to this entity as Satan, that he hates marriage because it’s a reflection of God’s image. In other words, in the Scripture it talks about us being made in God’s image, male and female, and when we come together in lifelong commitment to marriage we become one flesh, that the Enemy hates that, it’s disgusting to him and with that, he wants to break it down, he wants to destroy it.



Mohler: There’s no doubt that religious liberty is now very much on the line. As a matter of fact, same-sex marriage is going to be the greatest challenge to religious liberty in our lifetimes, and both sides on the controversy know it. You can look at the papers, the law articles, the kinds of things that are already on both sides of the argument. There’s a fundamental, shared understanding that this is going to be the big issue. You mentioned Christians running bed and breakfasts, Christians in any kind of employment situation or public services, photographers for weddings and frankly even churches are going to be very much on the line because what we’ve seen in recent political decisions is that religious liberty is really being reduced, and listen very carefully to what people are saying, is a freedom of worship. Religious liberty means much more than freedom of worship.

Just Say No ... To The Phrase "Gay Christian"

Last year, Chuck Colson announced that he would no longer use the phrase "gay marriage" because "there is no such thing" and even using the phrase undermined the institution of marriage by weakening the definition.

Today, Denny Burk, an associate professor of New Testament at Boyce College - which is the undergraduate arm of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - endorses a similar approach by writing in The Baptist Press that Christians ought to stop using the phrase "gay Christian": 

First, the phrase designates an unbiblical identity. Christians are new creations. They are those who have died with Christ and whose lives are hidden with Christ in God (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:19-20; Colossians 3:3). Our primary identity, therefore, is not any sin but Christ. For this reason, Christians never speak of "lying Christians," "adulterer Christians," "fornicating Christians," "murderer Christians," or "thieving Christians" -- even though we know sadly that Christians are capable of all kinds of sins. It's unseemly to create labels that define Christians by sins from which they actively and self-consciously seek deliverance. We can be honest about our sin without speaking of it as if it were our identity. The phrase gay Christian creates an identity category that we would not accept for any other sin.

Second, the descriptive sense of gay Christian is not well-established. The dominant sense of this term is the one denoted by Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, and a host of others who have distorted in various ways what it means to be a Christian. Because the normative sense is the most common sense, Bible-believing Christians who use the phrase risk being misunderstood. And in fact, some people who don't want to be pinned down on the issue take refuge in the ambiguity of such expressions. Christians who want to be clear about what the Bible teaches should steer clear of this phrase (2 Corinthians 2:17).

There is no good reason to risk being misunderstood when alternatives are available. At best, gay Christian risks ambiguity. At worst, the phrase might be taken as a wholesale sanction of homosexuality. For these reasons, I would argue that Christians committed to the Bible would be wise to drop the phrase altogether.

AFA Writer Challenges Homophobia, Will Fischer Get The Message?

Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently caused much controversy in the conservative world when he said that Southern Baptists need to repent for their “form of homophobia” and that many in the church have “lied about the nature of homosexuality and have practiced what can only be described as a form of homophobia.”

Mohler received support in an unexpected place last Friday, when American Family Association blogger Elijah Friedeman posted a blog entitled “Let’s be honest, a lot of Christians are guilty of homophobia.”

For some reason there is an irrational fear of and extreme aversion to homosexuals in a lot of churches. We may not come right out and say that we think homosexuals are nasty creatures, but if you read between the lines, it's pretty easy to pick up on. This is homophobia.

Despite this, Friedeman still called homosexuality a sin and a disorder of those with “addictive personalities.”

Maybe Friedeman should share this with his fellow-AFA blogger Bryan Fischer. Just hours before Friedeman’s posted his blog, Fischer released a statement rebutting everything that Mohler had said about the nature of homosexuality and homophobia in the Southern Baptist Church. Fischer claimed the church was “pander[ing] to the homosexual lobby” and was sending “disturbing signals” about homosexuality. This is rather tame language for Fischer, who is widely known for his anti-gay rhetoric, much of which can be seen in this “best of” Fischer hate rant compilation:

Youssef Calls On Christians To Leave The Presbyterian And Episcopal Churches And "Deliver These Institutions To Satan"

Writing for the American Family Association’s One News Now, Michael Youssef of Leading The Way ministries is urging Christians to quit the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) after the denomination voted to allow the ordination of gay and lesbian ministers. Youssef, who previously declared that the Episcopal Church couldn’t be Christian because of its support of gay rights, is now insisting that Presbyterians and Episcopalians leave their churches because “these denominations have chosen darkness” and are committed to “the spread of apostasy.” Youssef lamented that the churches submitted to “this Chinese water torture method of homosexual lobbying,” they have sealed their own demise:

All true Christian believers, whether they are Presbyterians or not, must be weeping right now over the spread of apostasy. Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, accurately refers to it as "following Jesus while rejecting the Bible."

Many of us have seen this Chinese water torture method of homosexual lobbying in both denominations coming for many years. We have known that it's only a matter of time. And yet, when it becomes reality, it is so hard to comprehend.

Today, I'm appealing to all faithful Presbyterians in the PC(USA) and Episcopalians to vote with your feet and get out of these churches as fast as you can. As I mention in my latest book The Greatest Lie, this type of preaching is now invading many mainline and evangelical churches.

There can be no excuse.

No, you cannot stay and be a witness.

No, you cannot stay and try to change things.

No, you cannot stay and hope that you will be a light.

These denominations have chosen darkness, and they need to experience what true darkness is all about by not having any believers inside their walls.

To modify slightly the words of the apostle Paul, the faithful believers ought to deliver these institutions to Satan by walking out as fast as they can. (1 Corinthians 5:4-5)

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Mohler: It's Inevitable That Marriage Equality Will Be "Normalized, Legalized, and Recognized"

Today, Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, joined Focus on the Family's Jim Daly on his radio program to discuss the news that the Obama administration would no longer defend DOMA in court.

During the discussion, Mohler said that it is all but inevitable that day is coming when marriage equality will "become normalized, legalized, and recognized in the culture" and that Christians had better be prepared for living in a nation where they find themselves in the minority:

Daly: Do you think, as we look at those demographics and the polling data and all the other things, as the Christian community, is this something that is inevitable? I know this is a tough question here on Christian radio but I think it's time to start talking about what if.

Mohler: Well Jim I appreciate your candor in that because I think a lot of Christian conservatives are going to try to deny the obvious. I mean, when we're talking about same-sex marriage, we're talking about something that is already legal in one form or another in basically twelve states. So whether they call it marriage, as they do in a few states, or marriage lite as they have now in twelve states, the reality is that a good number of Americans are living where they're already facing not just the inevitably, but the reality, of same-sex marriage. I think it's clear that something like same-sex marriage - indeed, almost exactly what we would envision by that - is going to become normalized, legalized, and recognized in the culture. It's time for Christians to start thinking about how we're going to deal with that.

I think in the United States, Evangelical Christians in particular, have kind of grown accustomed to having our beliefs and moral convictions and ways of life supported by the state, by the larger culture and we're going to have to learn what it means to live faithfully as Christians when we do not have those supports. You know, it's one thing to live believing that you're in the majority position - everything comes pretty easy that way ...

Daly: A Christian nation.

Mohler: That's right. But when you live in a situation where we're clearly a minority holding to certain convictions that the larger culture either doesn't hold or doesn't hold tenaciously or as very important, we're going to find out just where we stand as Christians.

Mohler: It's Inevitable That Marriage Equality Will Be "Normalized, Legalized, and Recognized"

Today, Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, joined Focus on the Family's Jim Daly on his radio program to discuss the news that the Obama administration would no longer defend DOMA in court.

During the discussion, Mohler said that it is all but inevitable that day is coming when marriage equality will "become normalized, legalized, and recognized in the culture" and that Christians had better be prepared for living in a nation where they find themselves in the minority:

Daly: Do you think, as we look at those demographics and the polling data and all the other things, as the Christian community, is this something that is inevitable? I know this is a tough question here on Christian radio but I think it's time to start talking about what if.

Mohler: Well Jim I appreciate your candor in that because I think a lot of Christian conservatives are going to try to deny the obvious. I mean, when we're talking about same-sex marriage, we're talking about something that is already legal in one form or another in basically twelve states. So whether they call it marriage, as they do in a few states, or marriage lite as they have now in twelve states, the reality is that a good number of Americans are living where they're already facing not just the inevitably, but the reality, of same-sex marriage. I think it's clear that something like same-sex marriage - indeed, almost exactly what we would envision by that - is going to become normalized, legalized, and recognized in the culture. It's time for Christians to start thinking about how we're going to deal with that.

I think in the United States, Evangelical Christians in particular, have kind of grown accustomed to having our beliefs and moral convictions and ways of life supported by the state, by the larger culture and we're going to have to learn what it means to live faithfully as Christians when we do not have those supports. You know, it's one thing to live believing that you're in the majority position - everything comes pretty easy that way ...

Daly: A Christian nation.

Mohler: That's right. But when you live in a situation where we're clearly a minority holding to certain convictions that the larger culture either doesn't hold or doesn't hold tenaciously or as very important, we're going to find out just where we stand as Christians.

The Rise of Al Mohler: From D. James Kennedy to Seminary President

Christianity Today has a long profile of Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, that focuses largely on theological battles within the denomination, but also contains some interesting information ... like the fact that at the age of 15, he was taken under the wing of D. James Kennedy:

At age 15, R. Albert Mohler Jr. had a crisis of faith. Two years earlier, his family had moved from the conservative idyll of Lakeland, Florida, to the other end of the world: Pompano Beach, 200 miles south ... In Pompano Beach, torn from everything he knew, Mohler found himself in class sitting next to the children of rabbis and Roman Catholics, the high-school honors curriculum stirring in his mind the biggest questions of existence.

The curious teen's youth pastor offered the diversions of his megachurch's bowling alley and gymnasium, but had no answers to his questions. He took the boy to meet the minister of a fast-growing congregation down the highway in Fort Lauderdale: Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. D. James Kennedy listened to Mohler and knew just the antidote to his anxieties. Francis Schaeffer's He is Not Silent "had an absolutely determinative impact on my life as a young teenager," Mohler says. "Not that I understood everything that Schaeffer was saying, but it came with incredible assurance that there were legitimate Christian answers to these questions." Schaeffer became a hero; Kennedy, a lifelong mentor. At 15, Mohler was already a friend of culture warriors and a citizen of the wider evangelical world—yet still a born-and-bred member of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBC), where the culture wars seemed remote and evangelical was a "Yankee word."

The article also explains how, in the early 1990s, Mohler became head of the SBC as conservatives were solidifying their control after the bruising battles of the 1980s. At the time, some were hopeful that Mohler would be a moderating influence because "in 1984 lent his signature to a full-page ad in the Louisville Courier-Journal protesting the SBC's recent resolution condemning female ordination" ... but they were quickly disappointed, as Mohler had become heavily influenced by "presuppositionalism" and set about purging the moderates from the faculty: 

Presuppositionalism is a system of thought that boils down to the slogans advocated by that other prominent presuppositionalist, Francis Schaeffer: There is no such thing as neutrality. Every worldview is predicated on certain founding assumptions, and those of Christianity are incompatible with those undergirding the secular humanist worldview. Studying Barth's effort to mediate between the presuppositions of Christianity and those of secular modernity hardened Mohler's conviction that "mediating between modernity and Christian orthodoxy doesn't work."

After graduation, Mohler's stint covering SBC news at the Christian Index convinced him that the battle between conservatives and moderates was not a matter of politics or personalities but of presuppositions. He saw that "these are two fundamentally different understandings of the Baptist faith, Baptist identity, and the future of the SBC," he says. When he took office at Southern Seminary in 1993, compromise and accommodation were not strategies he had in mind.

Within three years of Mohler's inauguration, Southern Seminary's faculty and administration had turned over almost completely. He asserted control over the seminary's hiring and tenure processes, insisting that even inerrantist evangelicals hired as compromise candidates were unacceptable if they supported women's ordination. "It was like John Grisham's The Firm," says Carey Newman, director of Baylor University Press, who joined Southern's faculty in 1993 but left after five tense years. "Al recruited young lieutenants, students who were spies in the classes who would report back to him what was being said in every classroom."

The seminary's Abstract of Principles did not address women's ordination, but Mohler and the trustees believed that faculty should conform to what they considered the prevailing sentiment among Southern Baptist laypeople. Through a combination of forced resignations and "golden parachute" retirement packages, Mohler purged the School of Theology, closed the School of Social Work, and replaced moderates with inerrantist faculty who agreed with him on abortion, homosexuality, women's ordination, and his brand of Reformed theology.

Of course, this sort of hard-line stance doesn't come as much of a surprise given that Mohler is equally opposed to Christians who practice yoga or associate with Mormons.

Mohler: Christians Who Practice Yoga Are Endangering Their Spiritual Welfare

A few weeks back, Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, issued a warning to Christians about just how dangerous it is for them to be partnering with a Mormon like Glenn Beck in seeking spiritual renewal and religious revival for America.

Today, he is back with a new warning for Christians about just how dangerous it is for them to be practicing yoga:

To a remarkable degree, the growing acceptance of yoga points to the retreat of biblical Christianity in the culture. Yoga begins and ends with an understanding of the body that is, to say the very least, at odds with the Christian understanding. Christians are not called to empty the mind or to see the human body as a means of connecting to and coming to know the divine. Believers are called to meditate upon the Word of God — an external Word that comes to us by divine revelation — not to meditate by means of incomprehensible syllables.

...

When Christians practice yoga, they must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga. The contradictions are not few, nor are they peripheral. The bare fact is that yoga is a spiritual discipline by which the adherent is trained to use the body as a vehicle for achieving consciousness of the divine. Christians are called to look to Christ for all that we need and to obey Christ through obeying his Word. We are not called to escape the consciousness of this world by achieving an elevated state of consciousness, but to follow Christ in the way of faithfulness.

...

The embrace of yoga is a symptom of our postmodern spiritual confusion, and, to our shame, this confusion reaches into the church. ... Christians who practice yoga are embracing, or at minimum flirting with, a spiritual practice that threatens to transform their own spiritual lives into a “post-Christian, spiritually polyglot” reality. Should any Christian willingly risk that?

Mohler on Beck: "We Have A Problem"

Yesterday, I wrote a post noting that while the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land was calling Mormonism "the fourth Abrahamic faith" in explaining his willingness to work with Glenn Beck, other SBC leaders were decrying Beck's revival rally as a "scandal" and Mormonism as a "cult."

Shortly thereafter, Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Tweeted that he would be appearing on The Janet Mefferd Show to talk about the issue of Evangelicals joining with Beck in seeking revival. I missed the first part, but I managed to record the second segment in which the two discussed just how dangerous and outrageous it is for Christians to partner with a Mormon like Beck in calling for spiritual renewal:

This turn toward spiritual renewal is just out of the blue and [Beck] obviously feels that he has some divine destiny here in terms of him talking about this, God told him to do this, this is a divine moment. Well, again do Christians understand what he is talking about there? When he's referring to God? And you're talking about someone who clearly identifies with Mormonism and was a convert to Mormonism? There is something very strange going on here and I don't understand the disconnect on the part of Christians.

You know, when you look at this Janet, for instance when you hear Glenn Beck, much of what he has to say on economics and politics makes a great deal of sense to us. And I'll tell you, he really gains a lot of points and deserves credit for identifying many really horrible and very dangerous liberal ideas. But just to debunk liberal ideas does not give you then the authority to be taken at your word, or at just your media presence, to be speaking truth when then you talk about the Gospel. That's where he just have to be mature Christians to say "let's look at the Scripture, let's look at what is being said here. We have a problem."

You know, [Beck's Mormonism] actually comes out at times in his conversations such as when he talks about Native Americans and their language being rooted in ancient Biblical Hebrew. You know, there are a lot of Christians who listen to that and go "well that sounds interesting." Well, it's not interesting; it's wrong. It's right out of the Book of Mormon. You also have other things going on here, far more important than Jesus visiting the Native Americans and that has to do with what the meaning of the cross was and exactly who God is. How many American Christians who are watching that and resonating with the call to spiritual revival know that the man who is up there speaking, using words about God, and Gospel and all the rest believes that there was a male and female deity? That the Godhead is a reproductive pair? That eventually we will be divine ourselves if indeed we follow the path of righteousness? What you have here is a complete confusion of the Gospel ... Christians have to understand: it is Jesus Christ who is the Alpha and the Omega. There is no successor. There is no completion. There is no new book we're waiting for.

This is just an edited excerpt of the discussion - if you want to listen to the entire segment, you can do so here:

Land Calls Mormonism "The Fourth Abrahamic Faith" While The SBC Calls It a "Cult"

Yesterday I wrote a post highlighting a recent column by Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in which he blasted the idea that Evangelical Christians would support a Mormon like Glenn Beck as he called the nation to revival. 

Moore called it a "scandal" and shortly after it appeared online Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Tweeted his support for Moore's article, which got me wondering about Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, because I know that Land has been among those working closely with Beck in recent weeks:

A few weeks before organizing a massive rally on the Mall that had the feel of a religious revival, Glenn Beck sought the blessing of some of the country's most prominent conservative Christian leaders.

The Fox talk show host wanted their support as he shifted from political commentary to a more spiritual message, he told the group of about 20.

This is where God is leading me, Beck declared, according to Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, who was there, along with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.

Land said most in the group found Beck's faith genuine and heartfelt, although not everyone agreed to embrace him publicly.

"We walked back to the hotel after and said: 'That was extraordinary,' " Land said of his conversation with Dobson after the dinner in Manhattan. "I've never heard a cultural figure of that popularity talking that overtly about his faith. He sounded like Billy Graham."

Today, Land sat down with NPR's Robert Siegel and disputed Beck's claims that President Obama's Christian faith is unrecognizable while also claiming that though Mormonism is not a Christian religion, it is an "Abrahamic faith": 

SIEGEL: Glenn Beck is a Mormon. Is that brand of Christianity as distant or more so from yours than the National Council of Churches mainline Protestantism you...

Dr. LAND: Probably more so.

SIEGEL: More so.

Dr. LAND: And look, Glenn knows this. He said, look, I'm a Mormon. Most Christians don't think that I'm a Christian. And so, you know, I'll quote the pope, when he's talking about liberation theology.

I do not think Mormonism is an orthodox Christian faith, with a small O. I think perhaps the most charitable way for an evangelical Christian to look at Mormonism is to look at Mormonism as the fourth Abrahamic faith.

SIEGEL: Not a Christian faith.

Dr. LAND: Not a Christian faith.

Really? That is pretty amazing that Land would place Mormonism on par with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, especially considering that the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board labels Mormonism a "cult" [PDF]:

Southern Baptist Leader Calls Beck Rally a "Scandal" Driven by the Spirit of the Antichrist

Russell Moore is Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and he does not approve of all those self-proclaimed Christians who are disgracing their faith by aligning themselves with the false and dangerous teachings of a Mormon like Glenn Beck: 

A Mormon television star stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial and calls American Christians to revival. He assembles some evangelical celebrities to give testimonies, and then preaches a God and country revivalism that leaves the evangelicals cheering that they've heard the gospel, right there in the nation's capital.

The news media pronounces him the new leader of America's Christian conservative movement, and a flock of America's Christian conservatives have no problem with that.

If you'd told me that ten years ago, I would have assumed it was from the pages of an evangelical apocalyptic novel about the end-times. But it's not. It's from this week's headlines. And it is a scandal.

...

To Jesus, Satan offered power and glory. To us, all he needs offer is celebrity and attention.

Mormonism and Mammonism are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They offer another Lord Jesus than the One offered in the Scriptures and Christian tradition, and another way to approach him. An embrace of these tragic new vehicles for the old Gnostic heresy is unloving to our Mormon friends and secularist neighbors, and to the rest of the watching world. Any "revival" that is possible without the Lord Jesus Christ is a "revival" of a different kind of spirit than the Spirit of Christ (1 Jn. 4:1-3).

For the record, in citing 1 John 4:1-3, Moore is saying that Beck's effort to unleash revival in America is operating under the spirit of the Antichrist: 

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

I guess I should also point out that Moore's piece was posted on the American Family Association's OneNewNow website, so it seems as if the AFA is not particularly comfortable with Beck's Mormonism either.

UPDATE: I see that Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has Tweeted his support for Moore's article.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Hey, Carrie Prejean is getting married this weekend!
  • Aw, Miley Cyrus ruined herself, says that AFA.
  • This is what you get when Maggie Gallagher meets Focus on the Family.
  • Andrew Breitbart apparently has $100K to waste and wants to spend it acquiring an archive of the JournoList. Pathetic.
  • For a change of pace, Wiley Drake isn't rejoicing about how his prayers helped to kill a Democrat.
  • If you insist that your member of Congress really, really likes shooting guns, then Pamela Gorman is your candidate.
  • Finally, the quote of the day from Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: "There's really nothing conservative -- and certainly nothing evangelical -- about a laissez-faire view of a lack of government regulation, because we, as Christians, believe in sin. That means if people are sinful, if all of us are sinful, then all of us have to have accountability -- and that includes corporations. Simply trusting corporations to go about their business without polluting the water streams and without destroying ecosystems is really a naive and utopian view of human nature. It's not a Christian view of human nature."

Baptist Church to Be Cut Off Over Female Pastor

Back during the last presidential election, questions were raised about the Southern Baptist Convention's position that women are subservient to men, especially as it related to Mike Huckabee and his support for the belief that "a wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ."

The issue came up again when John McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate, with people like Tony Perkins and Richard Land saying it was perfectly acceptable for Palin to possible be VP, but not okay for a woman to serve in a leadership position within the church.

Well, the issue is coming up once more, as the Georgia Baptist Convention is considering cutting ties with a local church where a husaband and wife team have been serving as co-pastors:

A more than 95-year-old church in Atlanta may be ousted from the Southern Baptist Convention over a woman pastor.

The Rev. Mimi Walker has been serving as co-pastor at Druid Hills Baptist Church with her husband, the Rev. Graham Walker, since 2003. But earlier this month, leaders of the Georgia Baptist Convention recommended cutting ties with the local congregation.

...

Dr. Richard Land, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said the Baptist Faith and Message does not state that "women are to be subservient to men." They are of equal worth before God, he stated earlier.

And though women are gifted for service in the church, Land says the New Testament teaches that "a woman is not to usurp authority over the man" and thus women are not to serve as pastors.

It was just last year that Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, warned that the SBC risked dying out if it did not find a way to stop losing members. 

Of course, that was said just weeks after the SBC had kicked out a church due to the fact that it was insufficiently hostile to gays.

It should also be noted that this would be the second time in a year that the Georgia Baptist Convention has severed ties with a local church over a female pastor.

The Right's New Manhattan Project

It seems that Chuck Colson has gathered together a group of right-wing activists and clergy for something called the "Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience" in order to create a unified front in fighting the culture war

The manifesto, to be released on Friday at the National Press Club in Washington, is an effort to rejuvenate the political alliance of conservative Catholics and evangelicals that dominated the religious debate during the administration of President George W. Bush. The signers include nine Roman Catholic archbishops and the primate of the Orthodox Church in America.

They want to signal to the Obama administration and to Congress that they are still a formidable force that will not compromise on abortion, stem-cell research or gay marriage. They hope to influence current debates over health care reform, the same-sex marriage bill in Washington, D.C., and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

They say they also want to speak to younger Christians who have become engaged in issues like climate change and global poverty, and who are more accepting of homosexuality than their elders. They say they want to remind them that abortion, homosexuality and religious freedom are still paramount issues.

For some reason, the headline of the New York Times article is "Christian Leaders Unite on Political Issues" instead of "Right Wing Activists Unite On Political Issues," which would have been far more accurate considering that a significant number of those who signed on to this declaration are standard Religious Right political activists:

Chuck Colson Founder, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview

Jim Daly President and CEO, Focus on the Family (Colorado Springs, CO)

Marjorie Dannenfelser President, Susan B. Anthony List (Arlington, VA)

Dr. James Dobson Founder, Focus on the Family (Colorado Springs, CO)

Dr. William Donohue President, Catholic League (New York, NY)

Dinesh D’Souza Writer & Speaker (Rancho Santa Fe, CA)

Rev. Jonathan Falwell Senior Pastor, Thomas Road Baptist Church (Lynchburg, VA)

Maggie Gallagher President, Institute for Marriage and Public Policy and a co-author of The Case for Marriage (Manassas, VA)

Dr. Robert P. George McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University (Princeton, NJ)

Rev. Ken Hutcherson Pastor, Antioch Bible Church (Kirkland, WA)

Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr. Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church (Beltsville, MD)

Dr. Richard Land President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC (Washington, DC)

Rev. Herb Lusk Pastor, Greater Exodus Baptist Church (Philadelphia, PA)

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, KY)

Tony Perkins President, Family Research Council (Washington, D.C.)

Alan Sears President, CEO, & General Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund (Scottsdale, AZ)

Mark Tooley President, Institute for Religion and Democracy (Washington, D.C.)

The Declaration can be found here:

While the whole scope of Christian moral concern, including a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, claims our attention, we are especially troubled that in our nation today the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.

Because the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife, and the freedom of conscience and religion are foundational principles of justice and the common good, we are compelled by our Christian faith to speak and act in their defense. In this declaration we affirm: 1) the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life; 2) marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society and; 3) religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.

We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty.

"Loose Forth the Blood-Drenched Sword of Jesus Christ"

In the post I wrote last week featuring audio excerpts from the right-wing anti-Islam conference call organized by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, Lou Engle, and Tony Perkins, there was an exchange near the end that I didn't manage to record due to technical problems. 

The exchange came when Cindy Jacobs was leading the prayers near the end of the call, and fortunately Beliefnet caught it

On Thursday evening, officials from the Family Research Council and the National Day of Prayer Task Force hosted a national call-in prayer-a-thon in which one woman prayed, "We take together (God's) sword and break the sword of Islam over this nation, and we loose forth the blood-drenched sword of Jesus Christ."

On a related note, I thought this article about Al Mohler warning that Christians should not recognize or honor Muslim holidays was rather interesting, especially his claim that Muslims do not really understand Islam:

On a recent radio broadcast, Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr. tackled the issue, saying it is dangerous and confusing when Christians adopt the practices of other religious beliefs which do not acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord. Instead, Mohler said Christians must focus on Christ and sharing the gospel with Muslims.

"It is the love of Christ that leads us to love our neighbor enough to share the gospel with them, which takes on the very tangible expression of seeking to have them, by means of the gospel, come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. That is love, in that God loved us so also we love our neighbor -- and love of neighbor is not just in terms of living peaceably among our neighbors," he contends.

"From a Christian perspective, from a New Testament perspective, loving our neighbor is not just not putting our grass clippings on his lawn; it's loving our neighbor enough to share the gospel with him, to be motivated to share the gospel."

Mohler said many Muslims do not understand the true nature of Islam.

I don't know about you, but when I am looking for someone to explain the "true nature of Islam," the first place I turn is to the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Southern Baptists Must Change or Risk Dying Out

So says Al Mohler:

The president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary says at least two-thirds of Southern Baptist youths are leaving the church between adolescence and adulthood.

In a speech at the seminary in Louisville, Ky., the Reverend R. Albert Mohler warned that the Southern Baptist Convention will die out unless that trend is reversed.

The problem, he said, is that many of today's young people have reduced Christianity to a vague belief that God just wants them "to do well, and to do right and to be happy." Mohler said Southern Baptists have an image problem, coming across as "cranky" instead of joyful.

But he added, "If we stand by the Scriptures, we are going to have to say hard things to a culture around us that will consider us backward, unloving, intolerant."

Focus Speaks Out (Very, Very Quietly) On Sanford

Yesterday we noted that the most influential Religious Right group in South Carolina couldn't decide if Gov. Mark Sanford should resign.

Dan Gilgoff wrote a semi-related post on the same topic, commenting on the noticeable silence coming from Religious Right goups on the issue:

One week after Mark Sanford admitted to his affair with an Argentine woman—and a day after he called his mistress his "soul mate" and acknowledged further indiscretions—I'm struck by the total silence of pro-family groups.

The Family Research Council has been completely quiet on the South Carolina governor's affair. So has Concerned Women for America. Ditto for Focus on the Family.

The wall of silence is all the more striking given that 10 Palmetto State senators in Sanford's own party have called for him to step down. Does the pro-family movement burn up credibility if it looks the other way when Republican allies own up to extramarital affairs?

Today, Gilgoff writes that Focus on the Family took exception to his claim:

Focus on the Family's vice president of communications E-mails to protest my post about the silence of family values groups on Mark Sanford's affair. Focus, he says, has hardly kept quiet, responding to interview requests from Politico, the Washington Times, and a small New England newspaper.

Gilgoff wisely notes that these few examples are not particularly impressive "given what Focus's powerful media ministry is capable of," but I'd take it a step further by pointing out that I can find no article from Politico quoting the organization on Sanford's affair and the Washington Times quote doesn't exactly take what anyone would consider a particularly strong stand:

Focus on Family's Carrie Gordon Earll agreed.

"If anything, it hurts the nation," she said. "Any time you have an elected official who has a moral failure, I think it affects people's general confidence in leadership. Decisions have consequences, and Gov. Sanford is experiencing that today."

She said voters have one standard when it comes to marital fidelity, regardless of party. "Adultery is a moral failure, and I think the pubic doesn't have a stomach for it," she said.

Maybe Focus spoke out more forcefully in whatever small New Englad paper it is referring to, but if it did, I haven't seen it.

Until today, the only Religious Right leaders we had seen call for Sanford's resignation was Rob Schenck:

I humbly offer to you this pastoral advice: First, when these sins overtake us and ruin what is best of our lives, it is better to say less to the public and more to God and to those who have been injured by us. I urge you to now observe an extended period of public silence and address your interior spiritual life and the repair of your family. I also admonish you to immediately step down from public office. It has been my experience and that of many others in the ministry, that such turbulent and injurious human failings, such as this one in your life, require our complete and undivided attention.

And now this call has been echoed by Al Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:

Governor Sanford is no King David, and the people of South Carolina -- as well as the watching world -- now observe the sad spectacle of a man who, while admitting to wrongdoing, shows no genuine repentance. As the Christian church has long recognized, true repentance is reflected in the "detestation of sin." This is a far cry from what we've heard from Governor Sanford.

If the governor is really serious about demonstrating character to his four sons, he should resign his office and give himself unreservedly to his wife and family. He must show his sons -- and all who have eyes to see -- how a man is led by the grace and mercy of God to hate his sin, rather than to love it. Until then, the governor must be understood to indulge himself in wistfulness for his affair and in a desperate determination to maintain his office. His remaining days in office are like a Greek tragedy unfolding into farce. The whole picture is just unspeakably sad.

Despite it claims to the contrary, aside from this one article on FOF's CitizenLink discussing efforts to voice support for Sanford's wife, Focus has been noticeably silent on the entire issue.

The End of Christian America?

In recent days there have appeared two pieces that have generated a lot of attention suggesting that the Religious Right days as a political and cultural force are coming to an end.

The first was Kathleen Parker’s column covering the recent skirmish between right-wing radio host Steve Deace and Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family about James Dobson's and Focus on the Family’s support of John McCain’s presidential campaign. In this fight, Parker sees evidence that “the Christian right [might be] finished as a political entity”:

Deace's point was that established Christian activist groups too often settle for lesser evils in exchange for electing Republicans. He cited as examples Dobson's support of Mitt Romney and John McCain, neither of whom is pro-life or pro-family enough from Deace's perspective.

Compromise may be the grease of politics, but it has no place in Christian orthodoxy, according to Deace.

Put another way, Christians may have no place in the political fray of dealmaking. That doesn't mean one disengages from political life, but it might mean that the church shouldn't be a branch of the Republican Party. It might mean trading fame and fortune (green rooms and fundraisers) for humility and charity.

Deace's radio show may be beneath the radar of most Americans and even most Christians, but he is not alone in his thinking. I was alerted to the Deace-Minnery interview by E. Ray Moore -- founder of the South Carolina-based Exodus Mandate, an initiative to encourage Christian education and home schooling. Moore, who considers himself a member of the Christian right, thinks the movement is imploding.

"It's hard to admit defeat, but this one was self-inflicted," he wrote in an e-mail. "Yes, Dr. Dobson and the pro-family or Christian right political movement is a failure; it would have made me sad to say this in the past, but they have done it to themselves."

A somewhat similar article appears as the cover story of the upcoming issue of Newsweek in which author Jon Meacham predicts that the most recent American Religious Identification Survey showing a rise in the number of self-identified non-believers signals that the United States may be moving into a “post-Christian” era:

This is not to say that the Christian God is dead, but that he is less of a force in American politics and culture than at any other time in recent memory. To the surprise of liberals who fear the advent of an evangelical theocracy and to the dismay of religious conservatives who long to see their faith more fully expressed in public life, Christians are now making up a declining percentage of the American population.

Much of Meacham’s piece is predicated on concerns raised by Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who notes that, according to the survey, “the Northeast emerged in 2008 as the new stronghold of the religiously unidentified” which signals that “the historic foundation of America's religious culture was cracking:

"The post-Christian narrative is radically different; it offers spirituality, however defined, without binding authority," [Mohler] told me. "It is based on an understanding of history that presumes a less tolerant past and a more tolerant future, with the present as an important transitional step." The present, in this sense, is less about the death of God and more about the birth of many gods. The rising numbers of religiously unaffiliated Americans are people more apt to call themselves "spiritual" rather than "religious."

Evangelical Christians have long believed that the United States should be a nation whose political life is based upon and governed by their interpretation of biblical and theological principles. If the church believes drinking to be a sin, for instance, then the laws of the state should ban the consumption of alcohol. If the church believes the theory of evolution conflicts with a literal reading of the Book of Genesis, then the public schools should tailor their lessons accordingly. If the church believes abortion should be outlawed, then the legislatures and courts of the land should follow suit. The intensity of feeling about how Christian the nation should be has ebbed and flowed since Jamestown; there is, as the Bible says, no thing new under the sun. For more than 40 years, the debate that began with the Supreme Court's decision to end mandatory school prayer in 1962 (and accelerated with the Roe v. Wade ruling 11 years later) may not have been novel, but it has been ferocious. Fearing the coming of a Europe-like secular state, the right longed to engineer a return to what it believed was a Christian America of yore.

But that project has failed, at least for now. In Texas, authorities have decided to side with science, not theology, in a dispute over the teaching of evolution. The terrible economic times have not led to an increase in church attendance. In Iowa last Friday, the state Supreme Court ruled against a ban on same-sex marriage, a defeat for religious conservatives. Such evidence is what has believers fretting about the possibility of an age dominated by a newly muscular secularism. "The moral teachings of Christianity have exerted an incalculable influence on Western civilization," Mohler says. "As those moral teachings fade into cultural memory, a secularized morality takes their place. Once Christianity is abandoned by a significant portion of the population, the moral landscape necessarily changes. For the better part of the 20th century, the nations of Western Europe led the way in the abandonment of Christian commitments. Christian moral reflexes and moral principles gave way to the loosening grip of a Christian memory. Now even that Christian memory is absent from the lives of millions."

I have to say I find this temptation from commentators to write the Religious Right’s obituary after every Republican electoral setback rather remarkable.  For one thing, as we pointed out not too long ago, these sorts of pieces appear every few years, only to be overtaken a short time later with pieces marveling that the “sudden” and “unexpected” resurgence of the “values voters" crowd. In addition, despite the gloominess from the likes of Mohler and Deace, the Religious Right is more committed than ever to regrouping as a “resistance movement” to fight for its agenda and eventually regain its position as an influential and powerful political and social force.

And that day may come sooner than many realize. While it might seem at the moment that the Religious Right is on its way out, it is important to remember that the GOP has lost exactly one mid-term election and one presidential election and Democrats have controlled Congress and the White House for less than three months.  

Doesn’t anyone else remember all the talk following George W. Bush’s election, and especially his re-election, about the “values voters” and coming of a “permanent Republican majority” which would give the GOP ironclad control over the reigns of government for decades to come?

Remind me again: how did that all work out?  

The point is that political fortunes change … and often change rapidly. It is far, far too early to be declaring the Religious Right to be dead based on two elections and three months of Democratic government.

Frankly, the Religious Right’s political clout has never really been tested and so it is hard to know just if they are losing power because whenever the GOP wins elections, the Right is quick to claim credit for mobilizing grassroots support, but when the GOP loses the Right is quick to chalk the loss up to the party’s failure to embrace the right-wing agenda.

There are really only two scenarios under which predictions about the Right’s demise can reliably be made.  The first is a situation in which the GOP nominates a hard-line, right-wing true believer - someone like Rick Santorum - as its presidential candidate and sees that candidate get destroyed nationwide on Election Day.  The second is if the GOP can manage to actually nominate a presidential candidate who is fundamentally unacceptable to the Right – someone like Rudy Giuliani – and then have that candidate go on to win election to the White House.

But until the GOP nominates a true-believer and loses or right-wing heretic and wins, the Religious Right will continue to maintain a very significant amount of control of one of our nation’s two main political parties … and no amount of punditry announcing its demise will change that fact.

Mohler's Lament: The Right is Losing the Culture War Along with the Next Generation

In the past, I have taken issue with the conventional wisdom that there is some sort of “new breed” of evangelicals emerging on the political scene led by figures such as Mike Huckabee or Rick Warren. As we’ve tried to point out repeatedly, just because there might be a new batch of conservative religious leaders on the scene who talk about issues like poverty or human rights, that doesn’t mean that they are any less opposed to equality or reproductive rights.

As such, I have tended to dismiss such stories and will continue to do so until there emerges a bona fide movement or organization that can demonstrate an ability to get a significant number of traditionally conservative sectors of the electorate to start embracing more moderate positions on contentious political issues.  

I don’t have much faith that this is anything we are going to be seeing any time soon … but then again, I don’t work with traditionally conservative students on a daily basis, whereas Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary most certainly does.  And in this discussion with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Mohler seems downright scared that the Religious Right is on the verge of losing the next generation of evangelicals and, along with it, the culture war:

AM: I’ll tell you, the older Evangelical leadership is in danger right now of looking really old, and old not just in chronological terms, but more or less, kind of acting as if the game hasn’t changed, as if we’re not looking at a brand new cultural challenge, and a new political reality. And so I would say that the younger Evangelicals that I look at every single day, and they are so deeply committed, so convictional, they’re basically wondering if a lot of the older Evangelical leaders are really looking to the future, or are really just kind of living in the 80s while the 80s are long gone. So I think there’s a crucial credibility issue there.

HH: Okay, now having…I want to skip back again, focusing on this younger generation of Evangelical leaders. Do they esteem the old leadership, and by esteem, I don’t mean merely honor, but listen to them? And in this regard, well, there are usual suspects. I’m not going to run down them, we all know who they are. Do they still listen?

AM: You know, I think the honest answer to that is they listen occasionally. And you know, when you look at some of the older names, it’s just amazing what kind of generational transition we’re looking at now. Jerry Falwell has now been dead for as long as some of these people have been adults. It happens so quickly. And then you start looking at some of the other big names, they love so many of the big names. They love John McArthur and John Piper and so many others. But when it comes to many of the people who have been deeply involved in the issues that you and I are talking about, the reality is that they are not listening to them in the same way.

HH: Do they care about them? Do they care about abortion?

AM: They care deeply about abortion. And looking at the students on my campus, they are passionately concerned about abortion. They’re not just concerned about not having abortions, they’re concerned about having babies. This is a generation ready to have a much larger family than the average Evangelical family of the last twenty or thirty years. They’re pretty comprehensively pro-life. They’re afraid, however, that just being anti-abortion sends a signal that’s just not enough. And so I’m glad to say that they’re very, very pro-life, and I must give a word of warning, that among some younger Evangelicals, that’s just not true. So the ones who come here, they know where we stand on these issues. But the reality is that especially on the issue of homosexuality, even more than the issue of abortion, this is a generation that is thinking in different terms. Not necessarily about the theological or Biblical status of homosexuality, but about how we should respond to it in the culture.

HH: Well, I’ve had that said to me many, many times at the Prop 8 referendum in California, may have been the last victory for a pro-marriage agenda, because the rising age cohort just doesn’t care. Are you confirming that, Albert Mohler?

AM: I’m definitely confirming that, but not…I wouldn’t put it in the fact they don’t care. I wouldn’t say that. I would say that what you have is a group of younger Evangelicals, and I disagree with them on this, Hugh, and they know it, a group of younger Evangelicals, many of whom simply don’t think that’s the right fight to fight.

HH: Wow.

I don’t know how much of this is real and how much is just your typical right-wing “the sky is falling” rhetoric, but I am inclined to believe Mohler when he says they are losing many of these battles, especially as it pertains to homosexuality.

Granted, there could be a myriad of explanations, caveats, and rebuttals to Mohler’s assessment of what sort of transformation is taking place, if any at all.  But Hewitt and Mohler don’t seem to have any idea why this is happening, as evidenced by the fact that “they kids today are expecting the End Times and so they don’t care” is the best explanation they could come up with:  

HH: Let me ask you about a pretty controversial proposition. I’m not sure if I believe it or not. Dispensationalism, in other words, End Times theory, for those who are not in this world. Do you think that’s sapped some of the energy and purposefulness out of the commitment of Christians to politics in the here and now?

AM: Well, I think it’s part of it. I don’t think that’s a ridiculous argument at all. I think if you are focuses on the fact that you are absolutely certain that the Lord’s going to be coming imminently, very soon, and that this age is going to come to a conclusion very soon, then you’re not going to give much to investment in building a culture for the future. And I really think that is a matter of Evangelical concern.    

Actually, I suspect that it is exactly that sort of answer that is leading the current generation to ignore the “old leadership.”

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