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Culture Friday - What’s happening with the SBC?

WORLD Radio - Culture Friday - What’s happening with the SBC?

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler discusses recent developments in his denomination


Pastor Ed Litton, of Saraland, Ala., answers questions after being elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. Mark Humphrey/Associated Press Photo

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday, July 16th, 2021.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

It’s Culture Friday and we have a special guest. You know him from The Briefing podcast, which is on its July hiatus. You probably also know him as an author and theologian … president of Southern Seminary and a member of the WORLD board of directors—Albert Mohler.

And I didn’t want to leave off another key biographical fact: He is summer camp director—special camp for Mohler grandkids—so I appreciate your taking a moment away from that work to pick up the phone.

Good morning to you!

ALBERT MOHLER, GUEST: Well, Nick and Myrna, good to talk with you. And yes, Mary and I are enjoying some time in the summer with our kids and grandkids. And it's pretty spectacular to have little ones about.

EICHER: I have to ask about the Southern Baptist Convention. You ran for president in a three-way race this summer, and then it was a two-man runoff and you weren’t among them. Can you draw conclusions about where SBCers are that they gave the presidency to Ed Litton?

MOHLER: Well, I'm not yet sure. You know, a little distance is going to be necessary. By the time we got to the convention and kind of felt that the tenor of the times, it was clear that an establishment candidate was not going to be the choice. I could do that math. But it is interesting, it was a fairly close race, if you look between Mike Stone running as a candidate of what's known as the Conservative Baptist network. And then Ed Litton, running is kind of a continuation of some younger pastors, and it's still a close thing in the SBC. It's a big question. I want to be clear, it's not a big question of whether the SBC is going to swing into becoming a mainline Protestant denomination. That's not it. But there are some subtle issues that won't stay subtle for long.

EICHER: Issues like what, for instance? Can you say?

MOHLER: Oh, sure. I think the biggest issue is the extent to which the Southern Baptist Convention can somehow rebrand itself in the context of increasingly hostile culture. And I do not believe we can do so. I don't believe that possible. There are always issues we have to deal with. But the bottom line is that Southern Baptists and others who are going to hold to any form of biblical Christianity are going to be increasingly seen as obstacles, as impediments, as regressive in this society that is so fast secularizing, and, frankly, moving left faster than anyone could imagine. And so there are limitations, I think, to what can be done here. And I think the issues we'll undoubtedly discuss today will help to make that clear. I think convictional conservative Christians are in the predicament of being considered by the world, to be what we are not accustomed to experiencing and that is, they're looking at us as people on the wrong side of history, people on the wrong side of morality, people on the wrong side of all the revolutions that are running their course these days. And I think there are limited options. I think being true to Biblical Christianity is is the only way to justify the existence of the Southern Baptist Convention, and there will be a heavy price for that.

EICHER: You mentioned “hostile culture,” that leads to one of the issues I wanted to raise: Did you happen to see the video that went viral: the San Francisco Gay Men’s Choir, performing a piece that’s subsequently been called tongue in cheek‚ but the idea that “we’re coming for your children.” Did you see that?

MOHLER: I did see it, Nick. And no, it wasn’t tongue in cheek. It was cheeky, as the British might say, but it wasn't tongue in cheek. They meant exactly what they were saying. And by the way, they have every reason to expect that they are winning this. They have every reason to expect they will have our children and our grandchildren, because they are winning in that larger cultural context. And, of course, so many Christian families and parents seem to be blissfully unaware of the fact that we are losing this because insofar as our children — and you can put just about any age on that — as they are increasingly living in a world that is defined by the cultural left, by the cultural production engines of Hollywood, and the symbolic industries of Silicon Valley. The reality is, they have reason to believe they can get to our children and they intend to.

BROWN: Interesting you say that, because I’d run across this story about the Chicago Public School system: when students return to classrooms this Fall in person, they’ll have a new item on their school supply lists: condoms! The board of education voted to make this mandatory for every public school with students as young as 5th graders. We’re talking 10 years old in some cases.

The state’s Department of Health calls the decision necessary to safeguard student health. I wonder about that definition.

MOHLER: Well, it is very interesting, Myrna, you used the word health, because that has been co-opted by the progressives, as they style themselves in our society so as to mean health defined in light of the new culture, sexual gender revolution. And so you have reproductive health, a woman's reproductive health now as a euphemism for abortion, and under the guise of sex education and the sexual "health" of children. Yes, it makes perfect sense to the experimenters with our children that they would put condoms in the hands of fifth graders.

You may know of the sex education controversy at the Dalton School, a very prestigious private school in New York City, where first graders are being told about things that I'm not even sure I should mention on this program. And in all of this as a part of health. Now, we shouldn't be really surprised by this. Because in the early 20th century, you look at the effort done to the Bolshevik Revolution, for instance, or in, in Nazi Germany, "health" became a euphemism for a vision of society. And that's exactly what we see taking place.

And I think American parents, and I'll include grandparents in this category, have to be very aware of the fact that the entire symbolic system of the society is now increasingly hostile to Biblical Christianity. And so the language used by many members of Congress, the worldview, the federal bureaucracy, the worldview of those who are not only teaching, but producing the teachers in our schools, and those who are running the schools, they're all sold out to this, this is a moral cause. And I think people, often conservative Christians fail to understand that what we face are people driven by a moral cause. They intend to revolutionize the entire world. And by the way, you have to start with the kids. It always starts with the kids.

EICHER: I want to switch gears now. I know you grew up in Florida, which has a large Cuban-American community. So I thought this might be a story that would be of special interest to you, this uprising inside Cuba. We heard, “down with the dictatorship!” We heard, “we want liberty!” This is a hard-core totalitarian state, and this uprising surprised me.

MOHLER: Yes, Nick, I did grow up with Cuban immigrants, both in Central Florida and also in South Florida where I went to high school and many of them have come fleeing the unrest that led to Castro in 1959. and thereafter. And there's a sense in which, Yes, I expected that at some point—at some point—these kind of protests would arise simply because of the absolute corruption, incompetence, and exhaustion of the communist regime now that both of the Castro's are basically off the scene. But thinking that it might happen in the last several days. No, that caught me by surprise. And this should give encouragement to us all. No one knows what the Communist Party is going to do there in Cuba. It shot his own people before. But you know, it's very interesting to have people hit the streets in numerous cities throughout Cuba, this past Sunday and cry out. "We are not afraid, we want freedom." That's the very cry that gave birth to the United States. And that's a that's a human cry we well understand and we should honor.

EICHER: Albert Mohler, host of The Briefing, president of Southern Seminary, an author and theologian and public intellectual. Enjoyed hearing from you.

BROWN: Thank you for giving us a few minutes today. Now go back and enjoy your grandkids!

MOHLER: Thank you, Nick and Myrna. Great to be with you. And now, yes, after this conversation, I turn to arranging fishing on the lake and reading a book about tractors. God bless you all.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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Salty1

A pastor is paid to write their own sermons and anyone copying another should be called out for it. Interesting how Litton’s apologists are so willing to overlook this - it isn’t just one or two sermons but a lot, where details are said clearly identifying it as plagiarism. It is interesting how World defended Litton and treated him as a savior to the denomination, but now we have this scandal appear. Being unwilling to fight the cultural battle, entertaining CRT thinking in the church, being soft on feminism, and treating Conservatives as divisive for raising these the issues, shows what you get by supporting this craziness. If you are unwilling to fight for the truth, just perhaps you really aren’t fighting on the right side. I can guarantee that the SBC is going to see much more problems in the coming years if this man stays in as the leader. Mark my words, and I would be willing to print this out and eat it if this is not the case! For their sake I hope I am wrong but I seriously doubt it.

NB Fry

Unbelievable! I listened to this interview very carefully and twice I will add. I then read the transcript just to be sure I wasn't mistaken on the content. Yesterday, Mary Reichard teased of a news story offering Al Mohler's opinion of happenings in the SBC. "I'll be sure to listen!" I thought. The headline reads, "What’s happening with the SBC?" What indeed! I ask, did this interview stay true to its headline by asking any significant questions of Albert Mohler related to the Southern Baptist Convention? As the president of the largest SBC seminary, he should be asked questions like:

1. Is allowing Ed Litton, a flagrant plagiarist and casually admitted liar, to remain the president of the denomination ethically right, healthy, or sane?
2. What is Southern Seminary's Moto? - Answer: For the truth. For the church. For the world. For the glory of God. Based on your school's moto and the revealed knowledge of Ed Litton's repeated lies in the pulpit, what are your thoughts in regard to his prominent role in the denomination.
3. Do you tacitly approve of Litton's plagiarism by remaining silent and not calling for action from the executive committee of the denomination?
4. How do you think this glaring silence on the part of all major leaders (with the exception of Jason K. Allen) in the conventions will play out in the next generation?
5. You have identified the SBC's effort to rebrand itself to appease or appeal to a hostile culture as the biggest issue their facing. Does this campaign surpass all other priorities for the denomination?
6. If, according to your analysis, the SBC cannot rebrand itself to stay abreast of the shifting cultural mores, should not the denomination officially deal with the divisive issue of Critical Race Theory by denouncing it as Godless and destructive?
7. What about Litton's ambiguous stance on the roles women in SBC churches? Are you willing to say this is merely an issue deference as Litton does?

Nick and Myrna seemed more concerned to distract from the substantial issues at hand in the SBC. This interview not only offers the current news of recent a gay community choir anthem and condoms in Chicago, it turns Mohler to an international topic, the uprising in Cuba, to shock and distract. Mohler hosts his own daily podcast providing, "a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview." Yes, he is on hiatus, but might he not have given his commentary on these unrelated topics during his own podcast time? I understood this interview to be focused on the turbulent innerworkings and dissention brewing in SBC. It seems that World New Group in intent on lobbing softball question at one of their own board members and completely dodging the pressing news involving the SBC today! World News has been deadpan silent on the recent issues regarding Ed Litton and so has Al Mohler. I've listened to his Briefing podcast each day during the development of this plagiarism news, and it never seemed to make the list of his top storied slated for analysis. Mohler offered only silence on the SBC all the way up to his sign off for the summer break.

In conclusion, Nick, Myrna, and Albert seemed to be lamenting the current state of society's sway on the next generation the church is raising. Of course secular culture is intent on coming for our children...they're taking orders from Satan. He wants our children's hearts. Yet, the issues of moral failings in the church are the REAL story. Can we expect our children to continue in the faith when it seems like most Christians around them are selling out for political expediency or failing morally? Where are those who would ask the hard questions of others and themselves, confess and forsake sin, and step down from lofty positions of leadership if disqualified? If we are not willing to do the hard work of heart searching, mourning, and confession, we can be sure our children will look to others who demonstrate REAL zeal for their morals and exemplify doctrinal fidelity. WNG, stay true to your mission of biblically objective journalism the INFORMS, EDUCATES, and inspires. Not all news is good, but bad news always precedes redemption.

Noah D. Fry

FIMIKINB Fry

Could it be possible that it's not quite the scandal that so many of Litton's detractors want it to be? Apparently Litton, Greear, and numerous other popular pastors whose names I recognize utilize a resource called Docent Research Group that offers, among other things: sermon series planning, illustrations, and outlines. Glenn Lucke, who runs the group, has asserted that "if a minority portion [of the sermon] is from another and you have permission to use the material without attribution, enjoy the gift." That was from an article published in TGC 11 years ago. There's fair questions to be raised about how much executive pastors should collaborate and work with groups outside of their church in their weekly sermon preparations, but for better or worse it seems like this is not uncommon and not unique to Litton.

FIMIKI

I don't think the Litton crowd is under any delusion that by "rebranding" the SBC we can be comfortable in the culture again. My understanding is that there's a strong desire to follow 1 Peter 3:14-16 - to be clear of any hint of sin or selfishness so that WHEN we are reviled - because most assuredly we will be - it will be clear to all the world that we are being assaulted because of the hope we have in Christ and not because of our political preferences or cultural comfort levels.

Tom Hanrahan

THANK YOU for this interview! Mr. Mohler seems here to be saying that in days ahead, it could become increasingly more clear who those are that stand for Biblical truth; because they (us) will be assessed in a very negative light by many. Stand firm, friends. Be kind, be loving, but stand firm.