We continue to be fascinated by Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mohler is a flat-out young-earth creationist, but as we’ve often said before, we’re impressed by his honest approach to the matter, which is entirely theological. Although he insists that the literal truth of Genesis is the essential foundation for his concept of Christianity, he never disgraces himself with the nonsense of creation science — he simply rejects science.
We used to respect him (“appreciate” may be a better word) because although he’s ridiculously wrong to reject science, he doesn’t bother anyone because he keeps his views within his faith, and — unlike a certain Seattle think tank — his life’s mission isn’t to crush science and establish a theocracy. But then we had to change our mind.
Earlier this year, during the Republican presidential primary season, he revealed a dark side. In Mohler Sides with Santorum Against Kennedy, we wrote about a column of his in which he said he opposed the separation of church and state. That showed him to be far worse than a harmless creationist — he’s a theocrat, the kind of personality that finds joy in creating hell on earth for those who lack the true faith.
Even so, why should we care? Well, we wouldn’t care if Mohler were nothing but a solitary street preacher wandering around wearing a sandwich board declaring that the end is nigh, while dreaming of torturing unbelievers on the rack. But Mohler is more than that. Much more.
Today’s news about Mohler appears in the Florida Baptist Witness. Their website says: “Since 1884, Florida Baptist Witness has been the newspaper of the Florida Baptist State Convention.” It’s part of the Southern Baptist Convention, which Wikipedia says “is the world’s largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members as of 2010. This also makes it the second largest Christian body in the United States, after the Catholic Church.”
We’re not entirely clear on the relationship between Mohler’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Florida Baptist State Convention for which the Witness is the official organ, but we assume that the relationship is a close one. The point is that when Mohler talks, people listen, which is why it’s worth knowing that the Witness has this new article: Mormonism’s ‘false gospel’ does not bar evangelical votes for Mormon candidates, Mohler says. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Evangelical Christians face an imperfect yet “clear option” in the 2012 presidential election, Southern Baptist theologian R. Albert Mohler Jr. told Florida pastors during an Oct. 16 conference call.
Mohler, a Florida native and president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., spoke to the pastors about election-related issues during an hour-long discussion organized by three Florida-based Christian radio stations affiliated with Salem Radio Network.
This is how block votes get mobilized. The article continues:
Asserting every voter has a “hierarchy of issues” when evaluating political candidates, Mohler said, “I can’t get past the issue of the sanctity of human life, and the integrity of marriage and the urgency of religious liberty.” In light of those issues, “The choice is very clear to me. And I will have no ethical or theological reluctance to vote the way that I will vote when it comes to November,”said Mohler, a member of the national editorial board of Salem [the radio network]
Mohler apparently has little interest in economic issues or foreign policy. For him, the presidential election is all about his religion and its views on abortion and gay marriage. He seems not to care that Romney isn’t a creationist — well, neither is Obama, so it’s not an issue. Let’s read on, because now it gets interesting:
Mohler said the 2012 presidential contest is forcing evangelicals to “grow up very fast to realize we really do believe that the government does not have a priestly role. That is Christ’s alone and it belongs to His church.” When evangelicals have asserted such a role for government “it was our theological error,” he said.
Whoa! Does that mean Mohler is backing away from his earlier theocratic position on church and state? The article continues:
In the conference call with pastors, Mohler strongly rejected Mormon theology. “I consider Mormonism in itself to be one of the most insidious, false gospels imaginable, to be almost – indeed calculated to be – one of the most subversive and I think manipulative false gospels,” he said. Calling the 2012 election a “real test” for evangelicals, he said the problem with Mormonism “is not that it might produce a political result. It’s that it leads people to Hell and to eternal destruction.”
Nevertheless, he’s willing to vote for Romney, despite his “subversive” and hell-bound creed, because Obama is worse on abortion and gay issues. Mohler certainly has his priorities straight. Here’s more:
Mohler cautioned pastors to be balanced in their role in educating church members about political issues. “The last thing we need is for pastors to forfeit all responsibility in terms of this kind of context,” he said. “We simply look back at the history of the Christian church and where the church has failed to speak to these issues in a moment of crisis it’s to our shame.”
He mentions the failure of preachers to speak out in Nazi Germany, but he acknowledges that example isn’t “entirely comparable” to the issues he’s worried about today. Mohler recognized that this isn’t the occasion for playing the Hitler card — but he managed to play it anyway. Then he says:
Still, pastors should not support churches becoming “political action committees. That’s the equal and opposite danger,” he said.
This whole thing is very tortured. Although he has utter contempt for Mormons, Mohler is urging Baptist preachers to support Romney because he’s the lesser of two evils — at least the way Mohler defines evil. But he still says that churches shouldn’t become “political action committees.” It’s difficult for Mohler to know where to draw the line — but he draws it. One more excerpt:
While pastors should not involve their churches in most political issues, “it’s shear cowardice not to deal with” key moral concerns “when they’re most at stake,” he said. The sanctity of human life, “integrity of marriage,” and the “defense of religious liberty … for everyone” are issues “where the love of God and love of neighbor I think compels us not to be silent,” he said.
In other words, Mohler tells his preachers not to get involved in political issues — unless he really cares about those issues. Then it’s necessary to get involved. All clear now?
Where does that leave us? We still think Mohler is a theocrat — although he probably thinks he’s not. And it’s safe to predict that Southern Baptists will be voting for Romney.
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