Session 6 – Questions and Answers (Mohler)
The sixth session of the conference was a question and answer session with Dr. Mohler and Dr. Lawson.
Question: Has church autonomy been a benefit or detriment?
Answer: The Baptist church is characterized by strong associations which hold churches together in the gospel. Church autonomy is not the issue. Sometimes churches must withdraw from fellowship with other churches.
Question: What about pastors that are not prepared to go into the pulpit?
Answer: Where there is no prospect for recovering a church for the gospel those that love the gospel should be with people who are like-minded. False churches are revealed by their teaching and their lack of fruit. We need to be able to tell the difference between a congregation and a crowd.
Question: How engaged should pastors be with current events?
Answer: To the extent for the congregation to be faithful and no farther. The church is not a political action committee. But there are many issues that look political that are really Biblical – marriage being one.
Question: Being doctrinally precise is important. How much emphasis is placed on doctrinal precision in seminary?
Answer: Not all theological issues are at the same level. Certain things must be believed by all Christians. Other things vary among believers. We need to practice Christian triage. We can disagree over certain things. We must agree over other things.
Question: What are some things coming down the pike in terms of heresies to warn our congregations?
Answer: Here right now: 1) Can we trust the word of God to tell us all things, particularly in Genesis and the historical Adam? 2) Churches bending the rules of Biblical sexuality. Watch out for the CBF. The cultural and legal pressure will be huge. 3) The exclusivity of the gospel and Jesus Christ as the only way. Intolerance and exclusivity will be catch phrases. 4) The nature of justification. This is the heart of the gospel. Are there any saving works of righteousness? 5) The “Grace Movement” that denies the necessity of sanctification.
Question: Why does God call all people to repent? Why does God threaten things that He is not going to carry out?
Answer: God commands all men to repent because He is just. Just as He commands all men to obey.
All commands from God are impossible to obey. There is a special grace given to those who will obey, who will repent. Things that God says He will do that He is not going to do are a learning narrative for the hearer. He wants the hearer to contemplate what the implications are. It is God revealing Himself, not changing His mind.
Question: How has it affected you when students left and showed that they were not one of us?
Answer: It is horrifying when a parent sees a child go out and walk away from the faith. Likewise for a pastor to see a member walk away from Christ. We mourn every shipwreck, but we dare not turn our eyes away from them. We must strive to present every man complete before Christ. We must not have “product envy”. The congregation looks about the same week after week. Evidence is slow to come.
Question: What about Mark Driscoll and the affects of his teaching, particularly on youth and young people?
Answer: We must be a company of discerning men. Wherever the gospel is found we should rejoice. But we cannot agree on the all the implications of the gospel. We must be careful of over-contextualization, especially the contextualization we do not think about, such as being crude. There are things that do not need to be discussed because they have nothing to do with the gospel. There needs to be age discrimination, gender discrimination. And we need to talk about certain things in only a certain way. We also have a problem with hero-worship.
Question: How would you assess the state of the Southern Baptist Convention?
Answer: I (Mohler) am a willing and appreciative Southern Baptist. That being said, we are a messed up people. The SBC is at a very tender moment. Denominationalism is dying. Churches do not need from denominations what they used to – literature, etc. We were called together to do missions, which we still do well. We train ministers well. The state of the SBC varies by geographic region and by generational group. Younger people see no need for denominations and associations.
Question; What about the movement to be like the world?
Answer: We are all dressed like someone in the world. We cannot escape being like the world. What we must do is not be influenced by the world in an inappropriate manner.
Question: What about the cosmic child abuse charge? How do we answer this Biblically?
Answer: We have a slaughterhouse religion, we have a bloody cross religion. It would be true of any of us that if we willed the suffering of our son we would be guilty of child use. We must answer this question by refuting that God must meet human definitions of morality. But to pay from an infinite crime required an infinite sacrifice by God.
Question: What do you do for your soul to combat burnout?
Answer: Read. When I (Mohler) get tired, I read. It is not what I suggest for everyone. I read many things that I don’t read by choice. I rest by reading things I chose. I also feed my soul by preparing to preach the word of God. Praying scripture and memorization. Burnout is a disguised form of spiritual depression.
Question: What is meant for elders to have faithful children?
Answer: The pastor of a church should have an orderly, Christ-centered, reputable household. We under-interpret the text, and we over-interpret the text. It is not just an aspiration. But the issue can be over-interpreted related to children no longer in the household. The text addresses what is normative – married, children, no scandal. The pastor exerts first of all his pastoral authority in the home.
Question: What do you and Dr. Ligon Duncan talk about in regard to the covenantal family issue?
Answer: Too little water too early. We do not see the tie between circumcision and baptism in the New Testament that we would expect to see if infant baptism were appropriate. The New Testament is a sign of regeneration. However, there are benefits to children being in the household of parents who are part of the covenant.