I stood here twenty years ago… and I understood then, at least in part, what the moment meant and what the moment required. It required a manifesto, a declaration of principles, a declaration, it seemed, of war. That was clear in my mind…. The background was the crisis within the Southern Baptist Convention.Al Mohler, 2013 Fall Convocation, SBTS
Marking twenty years as president of SBTS, Al Mohler delivered the Fall convocation address in August, 2013, titled, “Don’t Just Stand There – Say Something: The Sin of Silence in a Time of Trouble.” The first half of the address was a review of his previous two addresses. The second half was drawn primarily from Ezekiel 3:16-27. I watched a recording of this address five years ago and still have the DVD on my shelf. It is a powerful, penetrating, leveled speech that has served me well in life and ministry.
This has made the past few years all the more troubling. When it came to the nature of Scripture and feminism, Mohler was a heroic figure of faithfulness. However, as CRT, intersectionality, and general “wokeness” infiltrated the SBC, many of us notice how uncharacteristically silent Mohler’s speeches, books, and podcasts were. He refuted CRT in one episode of “The Briefing” last year – but honestly, that’s about it. Statements here and there, but nothing major. Nothing like the fight we saw two decades ago.
If “wokeness” was not a major issue in the SBC, I wouldn’t have a problem with that. It is not feasible, or responsible, to identify every possible way truth can be perverted, and preach a 5-part series against it. But that’s not the mire our SBC churches have found themselves wading through. No, they are neck-deep in an atheistic ideology called Critical Theory. Their seminaries have been taken hostage, via backdoors, by spawns of Marx, and consequently their pulpits have often been found neutered.
It is the crisis in the SBC at this time, yet Mohler has been silent. He is standing there as President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, but he is not saying anything. “The Briefing” has done little to bolster Southern Baptists against the woke tidal wave. I say all of this with pains, because I really expected Mohler to behave differently. Take it from him, not me:
To fail to say something, or to be silent in a time of trouble, is sin…. It costs more to speak the truth. It will cost more every year to bear witness to the Gospel of Christ, to the exclusivity of that Gospel… to the moral teachings of God’s Word.Al Mohler, 2013 Fall Convocation, SBTS
But today, there is silence on seminary lawn. Politics seem to have the old guard chained at the ankle. I just want to grab Mohler by the shoulders (respectfully, albeit) and sing: “Rise Up, O Man of God! Have Done With Lesser Things!”
So before the SBC blows up about Own Strachan’s recent video series against “wokeness” (in which he clearly called it sin // see Session One here), let’s make sure these comments are not forgotten:
If we fail to call sin, “sin” – if we fail rightly, and accurately, and openly, even if expensively, even if boldly, even if now required to be courageously, to declare what God declares to be sin, then people will not know that they are sinners, and they will not know of their need of a Savior, and they will die in their sins. This is not merely about some cultural conflict over moral questions, it is about an eternal conflict over the souls of men and women. Nothing less is at stake.Al Mohler, 2013 Fall Convocation, SBTS