Is Al Mohler Responsible for the SBC's Drop in Baptisms?
I believe Dr. Al Mohler at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary may be one reason why baptisms are down in the Convention.
Baptist press outlets report that baptisms among Southern Baptists are down 4.15%. LifeWay President Thom Rainer said, "Southern Baptists should view this report as a wakeup call.”
Dr. Rainer is right. However, the first "wakeup" might need to be at Southern Seminary, Dr. Rainer's old employer. Dr. Mohler has been president of the seminary for over ten years.
Mohler has done a marvelous job in some ways. He has hired faculty that actually believe the Bible instead of paying lip service to it. I commend him for this.
Unfortunately, Mohler went outside the SBC for much of his faculty hiring, and retained several professors who adhere to the heresy that a person must be born again before placing faith in Jesus Christ. Bob Ross and I have written about this extensively on this blog. Consider the following facts.
- Dr. Tom Schreiner is a Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern who teaches the "born again before faith" heresy. Dr. Schreiner is one example, there are other professors at Southern who teach the same thing. Luckily for Mohler, Southern Baptist churches have not yet discovered that this "interpretation" of the new birth at Southern Seminary is rejected by nearly all Southern Baptist churches. It will be interesting to find out what happens once the truth gets out.
- Mark Dever, another "born again before faith" advocate, is a trustee at the Seminary. Dever is a strong promoter of the "born again before faith" heresy.
- Dr. Mohler had R. C. Sproul, a Presbyterian and chief proponent of the "born again before faith" view, to speak at Southern Seminary. Dr. Mohler had great praise for Sproul's ministry. In Sproul's study Bible, he says that "Regeneration precedes faith. Infants can be born again, although the faith that they exercise cannot be as visible as that of adults"
- Dr. Mohler preached for the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) at their 1999 meeting. Most PCA pastors strongly adhere to the theology that a person is regenerated before placing faith in Jesus.
- Extreme/hybrid/hyper Calvinism as typified by the "born again before faith in Christ" theology taught at Southern Seminary, produces small, dead churches. Bob Ross has written extensively about this.
Dr. Mohler is the man responsible for what is being taught at Southern Seminary. As president, he had to put his stamp of approval on faculty hiring. In some cases, he and his staff recruited extreme Calvinists from outside the Southern Baptist Convention. These men were not Southern Baptists but became one in order to get a job.
The Southern Baptist Convention is now bearing the fruits of Dr. Mohler's tenure. His professors have been turning out "preacher boys" for several years now. Following the lead of Dr. Mohler himself, these "preacher boys" are good at blogging but not so good at building Southern Baptist churches. (A prime example is Timmy Brister, a SBTS student and United Parcel Service employee who blogs about Calvinism and Reformed theology almost every day but rarely about his preaching and witnessing activities. The SBTS has so many student bloggers it even allowed Timmy to sponsor his very own blog conference).
For verification, visit the blogs of Mohler's graduates. They are skilled at arguing the ordo salutis but have trouble baptizing more than a few a year. They are concerned about church discipline but cannot discipline themselves to use the Word of Life to bring faith to sinners in order that they might believe and be saved! They go on mission trips for the "glory of God," a la John Piper, and have little or no results when they get back. They trash Southern Baptist presidents who have large churches such as Bobby Welch and Jack Graham but praise "Dr." James White, a Reformed Baptist who preaches for Hardshell Baptists.
In my opinion, Mohler's tenure has been a disaster for the Convention. He is praised for turning the seminary from liberalism to a more conservative theology, but it takes no real skill to hire professors who believe the Bible. What is needed at Southern is a president who hires professors that believe the Bible, are right on the theology of the new birth, and know how to grow churches.
Dr. Mohler's seminary is churning out Blogging Calvinists and Reforming Calvinists but where are the church growing Southern Baptists? For the answer to why baptisms are down, Southern Baptists need to examine Southern Seminary and Dr. Al Mohler.
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