I have several thoughts on the cover story on Al Mohler by Molly Worthen in the October 2010 edition of Christianity Today entitled, "The Reformer." Earlier, I posted my thoughts on some pre-publication criticism offered by young, restless, and Reformed icon, Justin Taylor. I also included a link to Trevin Wax's essential agreement with Taylor albeit Wax was more nuanced in his criticism and offered some considerable reasons why he believed Worthen was "condescending" toward Mohler, Southern seminary, and the Conservative Resurgence. Take a look and see what you think.
For now, I note an interesting tension between Ed Stetzer's view of Calvinism and Mohler's view. Worthen queried Stetzer on Calvinism's significance as an issue in the SBC:
"Calvinism is a small issue," says Ed Stetzer of the SBC's LifeWay Research. "On the scale of theological diversity, it's not that big of a distinction."
On the other hand, Al Mohler thinks Calvinism is quite a consequential chunk. In fact, according to Worthen, Mohler believes non-Calvinist Southern Baptists hold less than a full deck of theological cards. Worthen writes:
Mohler believes that the only intellectually robust defense of biblical inerrancy lies in the Reformed scholasticism that emerged from the Synod of Dort (1618) and enjoyed its apogee at late-19th-century Princeton Theological Seminary, where James Boyce trained. Non-Calvinist conservatives, Mohler says, "are not aware of the basic structures of thought, rightly described as Reformed, that are necessary to protect the very gospel they insist is to be eagerly shared." He thinks that Reformed theology's appeal to young people proves its unique imperviousness to the corrosive forces of 21st-century life. "If you're a young Southern Baptist and you've been swimming against the tide of secularism … you're going to have to have a structure of thought that's more comprehensive than merely a deck of cards with all the right doctrines."
So, on the one hand, Ed Stetzer, the statistical guru of the SBC, holds Calvinism apparently as a tertiary issue. But on the other hand, Al Mohler insists non-Calvinist theologians like Paige Patterson, Malcolm Yarnell, and/or David Allen--not to mention Conservative Resurgence leaders like Adrian Rogers and Jerry Vines among others--along with 90-95% of Southern Baptist pastors and churches remain unaware of the "basic structures of [Reformed] thought...necessary to protect the gospel..." (emphasis mine). In fact, non-Calvinist theology is likened to a faulty deck of cards.
Either Stetzer better dump the vacuous, tertiary line that Calvinism is a "small issue" with "not that big of a distinction" or brace himself for a wake-up call from Louisville!
If Mohler is correct, and Calvinism is intrinsic to the theological construct of a necessary biblical doctrine--in this case, biblical inspiration--there is no middle ground available, no "small issue" to negotiate. A legitimate either/or exists.
There is little question where Mohler's theological presupposition leads--the complete Calvinization of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Mark it down.
It may already be too late.
With that, I am...