Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dr. Albert Mohler’s second visit to BYU: or Balaam’s second chance

Well, here we are again, addressing the issue of Dr. Albert Mohler’s foray into Mormonism. Oh, to be sure and to make it clear, the message given was not in any way caving into any form of recognition of Mormonism (but then neither were Balaam’s messages, they too were spot on). The message itself is not the issue, just as Balaam’s messages were not the issue. To use another blogger’s grandiose title, we have Dr. Albert Mohler, a great “defender of the faith” standing with a crowd of the enemy of that faith (again, much like Balaam standing with the Moabites, enemies of God’s people the Israelites).

What is to be gained by this interchange? Mohler would have us to believe it is to garner support, common cause of moral values, to have future cell mates. Is Mohler so ignorant of Mormonism to think that they would not, for the sake of expediency change their position on certain moral issues when they clash with society? Look at Mormon history. From its founding polygamy was the norm, was their teaching, was necessary for the propagation of future worlds, but then came Utah’s statehood desires. Obviously, polygamy had to go in order to gain acceptance, so the powers that be rescinded polygamous beliefs and monogamy was the order of the day. That was in the decades leading up to the Utah’s 1896 statehood. Fast forward to the 1960’s, now we have the civil rights issue of the segregation of blacks. In Mormon teaching, blacks were not capable of becoming Mormons. They were a despised race, but then came those societal pressures again, and voila, the powers that be came through in a pinch and blacks were accepted. Is there any reason why we should believe the outcome would be different for the societal issues of our day such as homosexual marriage? Utah is already being confronted with the acceptance of homosexuality, do we really think that the Mormon elders will resist to the point of being jailed? But I digress a bit.

I wish to draw our attention to these couple of statements; “You are a university that stands, as all great universities stand, for the importance of ideas and the honor of seeking after the truth. I come to honor the importance of ideas and the centrality of the search for truth with you.” And then in closing, “I pray that God will use this lecture to his gloryand I pray God’s blessings upon you until we meet again.” (emphasis mine)

Really, Dr. Mohler, BYU is a university “seeking after the truth”? Is there any professor at BYU that is teaching Christian doctrine concerning Jesus Christ, the Son of God? Is there any professor laying bare the fallacies of Mormon doctrine? If not, then there is no way that it could be said that they are “seeking after the truth.” This is a Mormon institution of higher learning preparing the next generation of Mormons to propagate Mormon doctrine, not to propagate or seek after the truth.

The closing phrase of Mohler’s speech rings rather worthy of John’s condemnation, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” (II John 10, 11)

I call our attention to this quote,

The proper response to such false teachers is a major concern of John’s second epistle. John is directly concerned with one particular way of denying the gospel, refusing to confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. John says that many people (presumably, people who view themselves as Christians) do not make this confession. Such persons, says John, are deceivers and antichrists (2 John 7). They do not have God (2 John 9).

John’s teaching cannot be limited to only Christological errors, however. The problem with denying that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is that it eviscerates the gospel. This is a different way of denying the gospel that the one that Paul encountered among the Galatians, but the response of the two apostles is decidedly akin. The similarity of their reactions suggests that their attitude ought to be directed toward all those who profess Christ while denying the gospel.

John cautions his readers to beware lest they lose their full reward (2 John 8). At first glance, this caution is puzzling. How would such a loss be incurred? John hints at the answer to this question in his instruction about proper responses to those who teach apostasy. John tells his reader not to receive these teachers into their houses nor even to give them a civil greeting (2 John 10). (emphasis mine)

Most likely these prohibitions are intended to apply to ministry relationships rather than social interaction. Nevertheless, they probably seemed as severe to John’s original readers as they do today. Then or now, what John required is a violation of basic civility. He demanded that no recognition or encouragement at all be given to someone who was teaching a false gospel, not even the encouragement of a civil greeting. (emphasis mine)

John had his reasons. Even the most insignificant encouragement to someone who is proclaiming a false gospel brings one into fellowship with the evil that follows (2 John 11). Apparently Christians can gain a share in the evil that apostates do. The apostate and the one who encourages the apostate have a common stake in the results of the false gospel. That is probably why John warned his readers about losing their reward. God would hardly reward someone for helping to spread apostasy.

We might debate some of the implications of this passage, and in a full discussion some qualifications would be appropriate. Still, I think that one thing is reasonably clear: Christians who make a habit of encouraging apostate teachers are hardly models of Christian discernment. We should treat them as people who have a share in the evil of apostasy. (Four Views on The Spectrum of Evangelicalism, pp. 39, 40)

The author of this passage has continued to give Mohler a pass on his indiscretions and I don’t expect him to change even with Mohler’s second foray with Mormonism. He will in all likelihood find some “loophole” to try to wiggle through (like, Well, Mormons aren’t truly apostates therefore the passage in II John doesn’t apply with Mohler and Mormonism. Never mind Mormonism’s attempts at Christianizing their doctrine and their damning of millions of adherents to an eternity in hell by their Godless beliefs).

I have made allusions to Balaam along the way and I find Mohler’s foray into Mormonism in a bit of a parallel. Oh, the invitations are different, to be sure, but will the outcome be any different? Balaam’s messages were spot on, “thus saith the LORD.” Mohler’s messages have been spot on in his proclaiming exclusivity to the faith found in the Scriptures. But does anyone hold up Balaam as a paragon, an example to follow, one to imitate? No, the Scriptures are clear in their renouncing Balaam. Should we not be doing the same with Mohler? Or will there continue to be those within Fundamentalism who will make excuses for Dr. Albert Mohler because he’s been such a “defender of the faith”?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mohler’s Homo Ratio

It seems as though Dr. Albert Mohler has taken some heat for his recent foray into Mormonism by speaking at BYU. I say this because here recently he wrote an article which amounts to an apologia for his speaking at BYU (you can find the article here). I’ve already weighed in on the foolishness of Mohler of going to BYU in the first place (article here).

Let’s look at Mohler’s apologia.

One would think that since Dr. Albert Mohler is president of religious institution of higher learning, that he is a self-professed believer, that he is a minister,  that he is a Baptist, that he would go the Scriptures for any justification for his actions/words. Yet, this is not the case. Instead, he uses an ancient maxim, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” as the reason, the justification for joining hands with Mormons concerning the societal attack on marriage.

Mohler cites the foreign policy of the Allied powers in World War II adopting this maxim with their joining with the Soviet Union in order to defeat Nazi Germany. Any cursory study of that relationship clearly shows the Allies and the Soviet Union were not “friends” by any stretch of the imagination and in the end that alliance did irreparable damage to the countries which would eventually become the eastern bloc of nations as the “Iron Curtain” fell across Eastern Europe after the war. Read the sailor’s report of this “friendship” as they arrive in Murmansk or Archangel with matériel for the Soviet Union or the pilot’s accounts of treatment as they landed in the Soviet Union either by deliberate plans or by an emergency and one quickly comes away with the understanding we were not “friends.” For instance, the account of plane eight of the Doolittle Raiders who bombed Japan in April of 1942 as they land near Vladivostok. The Soviet Union was no “friend” to this American crew. The five crewmen would eventually plan their own escape and reach Persia in May of 1943. This maxim is hardly an “indispensable” or “inevitable” mandate to be used in foreign policy or anywhere else for that matter.

Mohler concludes his article by stating, “In a time of cultural conflict, the enemy of my enemy may well be our friend.” No, Dr. Mohler, the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend, especially when we are at odds with the Truth found in the Scriptures. Sorry, Dr. Mohler, your “reasoned” approach using an ancient, flawed maxim to justify your stance with Mormonism on marriage does not pass the test, the Biblical test (for starters, Rom 16:17; II Thess. 3:6, 14; II John 7-11). The Mormon church stands diametrically opposed to everything a Christian holds as Truth. They are indeed an enemy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Any kind of accommodation of Mormonism will only enrich Mormonism’s positions to the detriment of the Truth, just as the Allies accommodation of Stalin lead to the detriment of Eastern Europe’s freedom and plunged the world into a decades long Cold War.

There is a serious problem when men who supposedly stand firmly on the self-sufficiency of the Scriptures go off into human reasoning to justify their positions/actions. So much for Sola Scriptura being the call words of evangelicals, Mohler has shown us that it is homo ratio instead. Mohler has betrayed the very basic, the primary distinctive that Baptists have clung to for centuries, that the Bible is the sole authority for faith and practice.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mohler joins hands with Mormons

We have Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, the guiding citadel in the SBC for graduate work, being asked to come and speak at Brigham Young University, the guiding citadel for educating Mormon young people. And what brought about this meeting? Why, the heated debate concerning marriage, of course. Because of the ungodly push to pervert the institution of marriage, Mohler was invited to BYU to speak on behalf of traditional marriage.  Now some who call themselves fundamentalists have chimed in to say that there’s nothing really wrong with this picture, that Mohler at BYU to speak on marriage is just perfectly fine (see here and here) or not wise (see here and here). Now this same professor also stated once that he too could speak at a Mormon gathering without any qualms, given certain caveats which it seems Mohler was given or at least took since he distanced his theology from Mormon theology.[1] Mohler sound so similar to another evangelical, actually the father evangelist of evangelicalism, Billy Graham. Graham had this to say in his autobiography concerning the controversy over the 1957 New York crusade, “My own position was that we should be willing to work with all who were willing to work with us. Our message was clear, and if someone with a radically different theological view somehow decided to join with us in a Crusade that proclaimed Christ as the way of salvation, he or she was the one who was compromising personal convictions, not we.” (Just As I Am, pp. 303, 304)

Mohler is to be applauded for his unwillingness to share any theological commonality with his audience. And far too many are quick to laud him and let this incident stand as something quite acceptable. We must however, look at what brought Al Mohler to BYU. The issue at stake that brought Mohler to BYU is the onslaught of damage being done to the institution of marriage by our modern culture. True enough, a worthy topic to be spoken on by Christians. But do we have common ground with Mormons concerning Biblical marriage? The answer is a clear, unequivocal, NO!

What is Biblical marriage? Well, let’s let the Bible do its own speaking. Genesis. 2:18-24 records the first marriage, instituted and instigated by God Himself with Adam and Eve. We see that it was one man, one woman, for life. They were to leave their parents and embark on a new life together as one. In the Gospels we find Christ reiterating this understanding of marriage (Matt. 19:3-6) and we find that marriage is for this present life only, there are no continuing effects of marriage in heaven (Matt. 22:23-30).

Now, is this also the Mormon view of marriage? And the answer is…NO. What was the audience thinking when Mohler spoke of marriage? Well, Mormon doctrine taught them that we were initially spirit babies begotten by our Heavenly Father and Mother. Eventually, these spirit babies make it into the temporal world as humans living on this earth. The Mormon understanding of marriage is that they are to make their marriage a celestial marriage by having a wedding ceremony in a Mormon Temple which will seal their marriage for time and eternity.

 Celestial Marriage essential to exaltation Another thing that we must not forget in this great plan of redemption and exaltation, is that a man must have a wife, and a woman a husband, to receive the fullness of exaltation. They must be sealed for time and all eternity in a temple; then their union will last forever…

“Parents will have eternal claim upon their posterity and will have the gift of eternal increase, if they obtain the exaltation. This is the crowning glory in the kingdom of God, and they will have no end…No man shall receive the fullness of eternity, of exaltation, alone; no woman shall receive that blessing alone;…No man can obtain that exaltation without receiving the covenants that belong to the priesthood.” (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, pp. 40, 43 &44 {as quoted in The Bible and Mormon Doctrine, Sandra Tanner, p. 8})

So, were Al Mohler and the Mormons actually talking about the same thing when talking about “marriage”? Like so many other common words used by Christians and Mormons, they don’t mean the same thing to both groups. Believers, or more specifically the Bible has one meaning for words and Mormons, using those same words, have a completely different meaning. Mohler and the Mormons were not even on the same page in the conversation that they had. Which ultimately begs the question, Why DID Al Mohler accept the invitation to speak at BYU?

Now, for some marriage is a social, cultural issue, or at least they are trying to paint it as such so as to avoid any theological entanglements with some. But is it just a social, cultural phenomena? Well, here are the passages of Scriptures cited earlier which speak on the subject of marriage.

Genesis 2:18-24

18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Matthew 19:3-6

3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Matthew 22: 23-30

23 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,

24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother:

26 Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh.

27 And last of all the woman died also.

28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.

29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

Hebrews 13:4

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

Is it not possible to view from the Scriptures a “doctrine” of marriage? Do we not gather other portion of Scriptures and label them, “the doctrine of _________”?  Is not the very concept of one man+one woman=one flesh (marriage) a Biblical truth and not just a social construct? We get our understanding, our beliefs concerning marriage, what it is, what constitutes it, etc., from the Bible and as such, it is then a teaching, a doctrine, if you will. Al Mohler went to BYU to arguably unite together with Mormons to push back at the societal devolution of the definition of marriage. He yoked himself together with Mormons on the topic of marriage. This is not just an “unwise” decision. With the differences of beliefs as to what “marriage” is that exists between the Bible and Mormon doctrine, one then really wonders just what was Mohler doing there in the first place. He spoke of the differences that exist in other beliefs yet he ostensibly seeks to equate the Biblical definition of marriage with the Mormon definition since he does not address the vast differences between said beliefs as he speaks of marriage. Should we really be esteeming this man Mohler?

[1]Yes, anywhere means anywhere. If the Mormons seriously invited me to their Tabernacle to defend biblical Christianity (including Fundamentalism), I would go—subject to certain considerations. First, I would have to be free to say whatever I thought was the truth, including that Mormonism is a cult. Second, they should never expect me to recognize them in any way as Christians, or to imply that we were seeking some common ground. Third, they should never expect any return invitation from me, especially not if it would give them an opportunity to present their views” (taken from comments at SI, can be found here).