Archives For Al Mohler

Our EFCA 2017 Theology Conference was excellent. We learned, we worshipped, we were encouraged – and we encouraged one another, and we were equipped.

Resources

Resources from the Preconference have been posted: Genesis and the Age of the Earth: Does the Bible Speak Definitively on the Age of the Universe?

On the website you will have access to the recordings of the discussion between Al Moher, who answered the question “yes,” and Jack Collins, who answered the question “no.” You will also be able to peruse or download the Notebook, which consists of information about the speakers, an introduction to the Conference, and bibliographies from the two speakers.

Listen, Discuss and Learn

After listening to the presentations and responses of Mohler and Collins, we spent the third and final session in discussion groups. It is one thing to carry on this important discussion in an academic setting as we did. But it is another thing when this discussion happens in the same local church, around an elder table.

To gain the most from this session, here is a suggested format for thought and discussion with others.

  • Read the introduction to this preconference found on pages 14-15 of the Notebook.
  • Listen to the presentations and responses of Mohler and Collins. Discuss what you learned.
  • Read “Continuing the Discussion in the Local Church – A Case-Study” on pages 24-25 of the Notebook, and respond to the seven questions related to the case-study.
  • In order to give this discussion a context in the EFCA, read the additional resource “Creation, EFCA Statement of Faith and Evangelical Convictions” after having read the case-study and before discussing the questions. This is found on pages 25-26 of the Notebook.
  • Read and discuss “The Doctrine of Creation: Pastor and Elder/Leadership Affirmations – An EFCA Example,” consisting of Theological Foundations, Scientific Foundations and Pastoral Implications, on pages 26-29 of the Notebook. (This is an example of something you could use in your local church. It has no authority and has not been adopted by any church. It was written, in conjunction with the theology conference, for the purpose of providing a resource for this important discussion which serves as a model for what might be done in a local church. It is intentionally thorough, so you can see the breadth of issues to include, and then you can, based on your own situation, determine what to use that is most helpful to you, meaning all of it, some of it, or none of it. But even if you do not use any of it, you will have been made aware of the breadth of the issues.)

Conclusion

We affirm without reservation or equivocation the biblical truth “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). We profess with conviction, “We believe in one God, Creator of all things” (EFCA Statement of Faith, Article 1, God). We also profess with that same conviction “the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged” (EFCA Statement of Faith, Article 2, The Bible). With these foundational and essential truths, we humbly and charitably engage in dialogue and debate regarding the question, “Does the Bible speak definitively on the age of the universe?”

Most every remembrance and celebration by Christians of certain events in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ the media will also have something to say. Most often this occurs around Christmas and Easter, two of the most well-known by both Christians and non-Christians and the most celebrated by Christians.

More often than not the secular media seeks to present articles that will call into question the historicity of these events, doubting the supernatural/miraculous. In essence, since they begin with a presuppositional bias against the miraculous when they encounter the miraculous in the Bible they read and interpret it according to their bias: it is mythical, legend, fabricated, etc. It is unlikely they approach other historical documents in the same manner, but redemptive history as recorded in the Bible often gets “special” treatment.

This year the attack was not against the Christ of Christmas but the Bible. And it was not just the Bible’s account of Jesus’ miraculous conception (importantly, this is not the immaculate conception) and virgin birth but the Bible in total. Kurt Eichenwald wrote the lengthy cover article for Newsweek: “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin.”

In this particular instance, it is not just that Eichenwald has a different view of the Bible than Evangelicals do, but that he misrepresents the Word of God and those who affirm its authority and sufficiency. This is an example of writing from caricature and ignorance (I do not use the term with moral overtones), not honestly dealing with potential or apparent problems with the Bible. On the one hand it is so over the edge and such a misrepresentation of good, careful research, even if he does not affirm the Bible as the Word of God, that it is difficult to take it seriously. But on the other hand, since it appears in such a magazine and people will read it and conclude it is an accurate portrayal of the Bible, it is imperative that we respond to it.

It is not that the Bible cannot be questioned or that Christians are opposed to questions or objections being raised against the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word and can stand up to any and all questions and objections. God’s Word is true (Ps. 119:160; Jn. 17:17), like a fire and hammer (Jer. 23:29), living and active (Heb. 4:12) and a whole lot more (cf. Ps. 119).

Here are a number of excellent responses I commend to you. However, before you read these responses, I encourage you to read Eichenwald’s article and find the problems in it and develop a response to it, if even only mentally, before reading these below. Once you have done your own homework, then read and learn from these others.

Michael Kruger, A Christmas Present from the Mainstream Media: Newsweek Takes a Desperate Swipe at the Integrity of the Bible (Part 1)

Michael Kruger, A Christmas Gift from the Mainstream Media: Newsweek Takes a Desperate Swipe at the Integrity of the Bible (Part 2)

Al Mohler, Newsweek on the Bible — So Misrepresented It’s a Sin

Daniel Wallace, Predictable Christmas fare: Newsweek’s Tirade against the Bible

Ben Witherington, News Weak—- The Problems with Mr. Eichenwald’s Article

And then once you have done this, follow a similar exercise with the elders and other leaders of the church. Help them to think through these important matters related to the Bible, how to defend its authority and sufficiency, and how to respond to the common-day objections to it.

Finally, please plan to join us for our upcoming Theology Conference, January 28-30, where we will address this and many other matters in our focus on The Doctrine of the Scriptures.

The Scriptures are replete with exhortations, illustrations and examples of the importance of singing.

Think of the Psalms.

Think of Paul’s exhortation to engage in worship of our great God through our Lord Jesus Christ by/in the Holy Spirit to the believers in Ephesus: “be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Eph. 5:18b-20). And think of his exhortation repeated to those in Colossae: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Col. 3:16).

One could summarize that redeemed people sing.

But there are a number of appropriate questions that arise from this foundational truth. Questions like:

  • What are we to sing?
  • Are we to sing only Scripture?
  • How do we determine what to sing?
  • How do we distinguish between what is fitting and appropriate to sing and be edified, and to edify others, for the Christian, or for a Christian concert, and what is fitting and appropriate to sing for the church, the gathered people of God?
  • Since singing consists of lyrics and melody, how do we discern what is biblical, what is God-honoring, what is people-edifying?
  • How does one discern between one’s own preferences and a biblically faithful theology expressed in music, and, as importantly, how does one respond?

These are all important questions to consider as we think about music and singing in our own lives as Christians, the place of music in our own spiritual lives and the singing of music corporately as the people of God.

Recently The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (NCFIC) sponsored a conference on “The Worship of God.” During a panel Q & A a question was asked about Reformed rap artists, the questioner pointing out that though the style may be offensive to some, the doctrine contained in the lyrics of the songs is sound.

This form of music was condemned by all of the panelists. The conclusion was that these artists are “disobedient cowards,” they are “serving their flesh,” and through this means of artistic expression “follow the world” and manifest “a picture of weakness and surrender.” In many ways, these panelists reveal how not to think through such matters.

If you were asked this question, how would you respond? Why? How would you support your response biblically?

Here are a number of responses from those who defend this form of music and musical expression. Though this sort of music and musical expression is not my preference, though it is my son’s, and though it is a form that is not particularly conducive for corporate singing, it is a form that abides by Paul’s exhortations above. This is also affirmed by the statements made by these respondents below.

Mike Cosper, “Creation, Culture, Redemption, and Hip Hop: A Response to the NCFIC Panel

Ligon Duncan, “The Holy Hip Hop Hullabaloo

Carl and Karen Ellis, “A Letter to Our Young Brothers and Sisters

Al Mohler, “Thinking about Thinking about Rap – Unexpected Thoughts over Thanksgiving

Owen Strachan, “Did a NCFIC Panel Really Say That Reformed Rappers Are ‘Disobedient Cowards’?

Douglas Wilson, “Rap Tide

Here are two posts that attempt to summarize some of the major rejoinders to the panel’s response, both defending and affirming Christian rap.

Thabiti Anyabwile, “A Round-Up of the Holy Hip Hop Squabble

Joe Carter, “Debatable: Is Christian Hip Hop Ungodly?

I appreciate Mohler’s explanation of how he processes this followed by his summary:

No, I allow myself those arguments in my head when I want to absolutize my preferences and satisfy myself in the righteousness and superiority of my own musical taste and theology. The problem for me is that my theology of music will not allow me to stay self-satisfied on the matter, and by God’s grace I have not made arguments out loud that would violate that theology.

Rap music is not my music. I do not come from a culture in which rap music is the medium of communication and I do not have the ear for it that I have for other forms of music. But I do admire its virtuosity and the hold that is has on so many, for whom it is a first and dominant musical language. I want that language taken for the cause of the Gospel and I pray to see a generation of young Gospel-driven rappers take dominion of that music for the glory of God. I see that happening now, and I rejoice in it. I want to see them grow even more in influence, reaching people I cannot reach with music that will reach millions who desperately need the Gospel. The same way that folks who first heard Bach desperately needed to hear the Gospel.

The good, the beautiful, and the true are to be combined to the greatest extent possible in every Christian endeavor, rap included. I have no idea how to evaluate any given rap musical expression, but rappers know. I do know how to evaluate the words, and when the words are saturated with the Gospel and biblical truth that is a wonderful thing. Our rapping Gospel friends will encourage one another to the greatest artistic expression. I want to encourage them in the Gospel. Let Bach’s maxim drive them all — to make (their) music the “handmaid of theology.”

Bach’s English Suite No. 3 in G Minor is playing as I write this. It makes me happy to hear it. But knowing that the Gospel is being taken to the ears and hearts of new generation by a cadre of gifted young Gospel rappers makes me far happier.

For the final statement on this matter, I encourage you to read the testimony of one of these Reformed rappers, Lecrae Moore in “Lecrae’s Arresting Call to Serve Christ.” God miraculously spared and saved him by the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was literally arrested for possession of drugs and it was through that experience that the Holy Spirit arrested him spiritually as well.

Lecrae’s conversion resulted in the conversion of everything about him and his life. This is true and real transformation. All is made new (2 Cor. 5:17). He began serving through singing at juvenile detention centers. He has since served at numerous Billy Graham crusades. He notes,

It is very humbling that I get to do this, and I don’t want to get used to it. People are hungering and thirsting for something. I want to serve them with quality music, and more importantly, deliver a message that will challenge and inspire change in their lives.

He prepares for the gospel message through song at these crusades in the following manner:

I spend time in prayer and meditate on God’s truth, and allow that truth to penetrate my heart. If I don’t believe it can change anyone, they are just empty words.

Though Lecrae is one of the better known Christian rap artists, he never wants to forget what he once was, and what he now is through what God has done for him.

have to remember what God did for me. He loved me when I was unlovable. I feel fortunate to have a huge family that extends beyond race and culture. Now, I also have a Father who shepherds us all. When I think about that, it blows my mind. There’s nothing like it.

God, Marriage and the Supreme Court

Greg Strand – March 27, 2013 3 Comments

This week the Supreme Court has before them two major decisions that address the legalization of same-sex marriage. As Christians, we need neither the vox populi, the voice of the populace, or the lex rex, the law as king, to inform us of what God’s revealed truth states about men and women, about husbands and wives, and about what marriage is.

But, we do live in this world (Jn. 17) and we do live under governing authorities (Rom. 13), so the decisions do matter.

Al Mohler, “Marriage in the Dock—The Supreme Court Considers Same-Sex Marriage,” explains the two issues before the Supreme Court: the federal Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8.

Mohler explains further:

Both cases are significant. Together they represent a monumental set of issues for the justices. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed by huge majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate back in 1996. It was then signed into law by President Bill Clinton. DOMA requires the federal government to define marriage exclusively as the union of a man and a woman, and it makes clear that no state is obligated to recognize a same-sex union conducted in any other state. President Obama, whose constitutional responsibility requires him to defend the laws of the United States, has ordered his Attorney General not to defend DOMA in court. It will be defended by attorneys representing the House of Representatives.

Proposition 8 was adopted by voters in California in 2008, effectively reversing a decision by that state’s Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage. A federal district court in San Francisco later found Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional and a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sustained that decision. It will now be up to the Supreme Court to decide.

As these significant issues are discussed, debated and decided, I have pondered and prayed often with 1 Timothy 2:1-4 in mind and heart:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

We pray specifically for . . .

• Those in high positions, the Supreme Court.
• Those who profess faith in Christ, that we will rest in the Lord and be godly and dignified in every way.
• Those who profess faith in Christ, that we will please the Lord in our beliefs, our speech and our behavior, that all would be based on God’s truth.
• Those who need to be saved that they will come to the knowledge of the truth.

Cultural Pressure and Gospel Faithfulness

Greg Strand – February 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Tim Tebow recently cancelled a speaking engagement scheduled at First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX. A statement issued by First Baptist stated that Tebow spoke with Robert Jeffress, the senior pastor, “saying that for personal and professional reasons he needed to avoid controversy at this time but would like to come to First Baptist Dallas to speak at a future date.”

On Twitter Tebow addressed the reason for his cancelled appearance which was based on “new information that has been brought to my attention,” and stated that “I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day.”

It is not clear what the “new information” was. It could have been the outspoken pastor’s statements about Roman Catholicism, and because Tebow’s parents have an active ministry in the Philippines among Roman Catholics he felt it best to withdraw the invitation. It could be the statements made by the pastor about same-sex marriage. It is not known. Even if the pastor has been outspoken in a strong, sometimes caustic way that some would not emulate or appreciate, he has spoken strongly on the exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus Christ and that homosexuality is a sin, two truths strongly affirmed by Evangelicals.

Al Mohler, “Tebow’s Big Fumble,”  noted these issues in Tebow’s withdrawal, and he also mentioned Louie Giglio’s disinvitation of praying at President Obama’s Inauguration. Mohler states, “Both did so in an effort to escape a controversy that threatened to hinder their efforts to represent Christ in a winsome way. Both decisions are understandable in light of the pressures, but neither Giglio nor Tebow can escape the question that the larger world is not pressing upon them: What exactly do you believe about homosexuality?”

At our recent EFCA Theology Conference on “Sex Matters: The Theology of Human Sexuality,” one of the things I stated in my introductory lecture was the following:

We live in a day that when morality is addressed, the sin of homosexuality and same-sex marriage must be addressed or one’s silence will be heard as support of it. But then when one does communicate it over and over, which is necessary as it is the moral issue of the day, then one will be criticized for having only one note that is played incessantly on our moral instrument.

Mohler rightly and wisely applied this to all those who profess that Jesus Christ is Lord and affirm that the Bible is the ultimate authority.

The massive moral shift taking shape around us is fast eliminating any neutral ground on this issue. Those celebrating the moral normalization of homosexuality will demand an answer from us all. Giglio and Tebow withdrew from controversial appearances, but they will not evade the demand to answer the fundamental question, and any Christian who will not join the moral revolution will be marginalized as a moral outlier in the larger society.

Evangelical Christians are now called upon to think strategically about what it means to speak truthfully and lovingly to a society that increasingly sees us as the moral outlaws. Clearly, we must watch our speech carefully, measuring every word for truth and tone and avoiding incendiary sound bites. We must also guard our hearts toward the persistent temptation towards self-righteousness. But, at the same time, even the most humble statement of biblical truth can now be turned into a sound bite described as hate speech and a refusal to affirm the normalization of homosexuality is turned into repulsive intolerance. We now face no shortage of arguments for capitulation, but abandoning the truth of God’s Word is not an option. We deny the gospel if we deny the sinfulness of sin. That sin. Every sin. Our sin.

Our Theology Conference had this goal in mind mentioned by Mohler as evidenced in one of my closing introductory statements:

Our prayer for attendees is that the Lord will use this Conference to inform, educate and equip you to address these issues in a biblically faithful, theologically informed, and pastorally sensitive manner, all the while standing firmly on the Word of God.

Amen and amen!