In Defense of Albert Mohler

I realize that I have criticized Albert Mohler pretty heavily in the past. However, I must take up the pen to defend him this time.

There was an article published today on American Vision’s website by Bojidar Marinov. Now, I have had dialogues with this man before, and, to put it bluntly, the man has views that are downright unorthodox. I don’t use that term lightly, but, if you go to my discussion with him, you will find that he denies the law/gospel distinction, and actually says that, when the state executes criminals, it is preaching the gospel. As you can see from my discussion with him, he thinks that, when you distinguish between law and gospel, you must separate law and gospel. I guess that means if you distinguish between the divine and human natures of Christ, you must separate his divine and human nature.

You will also find him saying that the law of God is the solution to our society. In the post from today he says:

Reformed Christianity can not be boiled down to a few theological propositions about man’s individual salvation; it is the Gospel of the Kingdom, a comprehensive cultural, historical, economic, political, etc. change based on the Bible and its law.

And in another post he says:

There is only one source of liberty: The Law of God. A true lover of liberty must always go to this verse in the Bible:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery (Ex. 20:2).
The Ten Commandments, and the laws following from them in the Pentateuch, and the applications of those laws as revealed in the whole Bible are the only transcendent standard for liberty. Men are fallen and sinful; their mutual agreements can not be trusted, and they must always agree with the Law of God to be considered valid and just.

In other words, according to Bojidar Marinov, liberty comes, not through the gospel, but thorough the law. The point of Exodus 20:2 is that God had freed them from bondage in order to serve him. In other words, we are not freed by the law. We are freed by the gospel in order to be obedient. However, the freedom must come first through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Not only does Bojidar Marinov deny this, but, if you read my discussion with him, you will find that he doesn’t believe the gospel justifies anyone. He says that the gospel is just a message. Again, how anyone can have knowledge of how language works and say that is beyond me. Also, how anyone can simply read Romans 1:16 and say that is completely beyond me.

Now, it is also important to recognize that Bojidar Marinov runs Bulgarian Reformation Ministries. In other words, a whole lot of his background comes from the fact that he has had experience with communist Bulgaria. The problem is that he reads that experience into everything. There were many people who held to a liberal, radical two kingdoms perspective that lead to the rise of communism, and it seems like he simply cannot see past that experience, and he goes too far the other way and denies the law/gospel distinction altogether. However, his teachings are clearly outside of the pale of orthodoxy. In fact, Steve C. Halbrook, who runs Theonomy resources, has criticized Steve Schlissel for denying the law/gospel distinction, and, in fact, has said that, in denying the law/gospel distinction, Schlissel has denied the gospel.

Hence, part of what I am writing here is to get Reformed and Theonomic people to be consistent. If you are going to criticize the Federal Vision for its denial of the law/gospel distinction, then you need to criticize Bojidar Marinov for his denial of the law/gospel distinction.

However, as I mentioned, he has gone after Albert Mohler today in a most unfair diatribe. First of all, I have heard Mohler speak on the topic of homophobia, and what he is referring to is the fact that many churches, when they learn that someone is a homosexual, treat them as if they are not to be ministered to, and just simply to be kept far away from the church. Mohler is right on this, and we as a church do need to learn how to minister to homosexuals, and not just ignore them.

However, Marinov goes on to compare Albert Mohler’s views with the radical two kingdoms views of folks like Michael Horton, R. Scott Clark, and others. This is a grossly unfair comparison, as I have heard Dr. Mohler actually have editions of the Albert Mohler program specifically dealing with elections. Marinov cannot understand how a person can distinguish between law and gospel, recognize that it is only one of those that saves, but that this salvation drives us to obedience to the law of God. Hence, he cannot recognize that, for the church to bow to the state, is to give up the gospel, the very thing that brings freedom to a society! Again, for Marinov, to distinguish is to separate.

I think Dr. Mohler would agree that nations should use the Bible to make its laws. The problem is that the changing of society does not come from the law of God. The changing of society comes from the gospel, which then enables us to do what is right and obey the law of God. Without the gospel changing the hearts and minds of men, there is no way the law of God will ever be a standard in any society.

I would propose that we should understand unchristian worldviews as faulty views of salvation. For example, the reason people believe in big government is because they are trusting in the government to save them. However, as with all gospels, it will cause us to obey a certain law. If you hold the false gospel of big government, then you must obey big government out of gratitude to them as your savior. If you believe that salvation comes through letting out your innermost desires, then your innermost desires are who you must obey as gratitude for your salvation.

In other words, the gospel to which you cling for salvation is going to be intimately related to [although distinct from] the law that you will believe is right. You become a slave to whoever redeems you. I remember Greg Bahnsen talking in his lectures on the Philosophy of Christianity about Philosophical Anthropology, and how, each system of Philosophical Anthropology is actually a false view of sin and salvation. What I would argue is that these false gospels also produce obedience to false laws. We are freed to obey, and if you have the wrong gospel, you will be freed only to obey the wrong law.

Albert Mohler’s version of the Two Kingdoms theology is not near as extreme as David Van Drunen’s. Marinov says that Mohler has high praise for Van Drunen’s book, but I cannot find that high praise anywhere [doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, though]. Still, Mohler’s actions over and over again have demonstrated that he is not in league with the radical two kingdom’s advocates, and even signed the Manhattan Declaration, something that the radical Two Kingdoms advocates would never do. Also, even if Mohler did praise VanDrunen’s book, exactly what did he praise it for? Also, why did he likewise praise D.A. Carson’s book Christ and Culture, since Carson’s position is hardly something that the radical two kingdom’s folks would be happy about [see p.212 of his book]?

Hence, Mohler is wrong about delay of marriage and deliberate childlessness. However, Bojidar Marinov’s criticisms of him in regards to his view of church and society are simply unfair.

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5 Responses to “In Defense of Albert Mohler”

  1. Shawn Mathis Says:

    “I would propose that we should understand unchristian worldviews as faulty views of salvation.”

    Exactly.
    Good article. I hope Marinov pays attention.

  2. Nathan Says:

    Thanks for this. Marinov has been my least favorite contributor to American Vision. Even when I agree with him somewhat, he always seems to come off harsh and unforgiving. He just doesn’t seem to get that you can disagree with someone, even rather strongly, and not kick them out of the Kingdom. This helped clarify that.

  3. otrmin Says:

    Shawn,

    Thank you. I have always said that the gospel is “prevenient” in reformation; that is, in reformation, the gospel goes before, and prepares people’s hearts for social reform. If there is no prevenient gospel, then people will remain in the hatred of God’s law, and all you will get is an insurrection.

    Nathan,

    Yes, I know what you mean. If you read my dialogue with him, you will find that he misrepresented me on multiple occasions, and when I corrected him, he acted as if he knew better what I believed than I did! I hold to a position very similar to that of Christopher J.H. Wright, and he made me out to be similar to a Lutheran!

    The same thing is true of Mohler. Because I have strongly disagreed with Mohler on the issue of delay of marriage and deliberate childlessness, I have listed to his programs regularly, and especially listened to all of his programs on homosexuality, as the topic of homosexuality and the law of God is of interest to me. To say Mohler is a radical two kingdoms advocate like Horton, Clark, and VanDrunen is as bad as saying I am a Lutheran in my view of law and gospel. Then, if you noticed the blog this morning, he gets upset when he thinks he is being misrepresented! Yet, who is going to correct Bojidar? That is why I hope that other Theonomists will take notice, and deal with this man’s misrepresentations and unorthodox theology.

    I think my theology teacher put it best. We as evangelicals seem to act like pendulum. We go from one extreme to the other extreme. Bojidar has rightly seen the dangers of the radical two kingdoms theology of men like Horton, Clark, and VanDrunen [and, I would say, has lived them over in Europe], and has rightly seen that it comes from a very dualistic view of reality. However, he has gone right from dualism to monism, where we can’t make any distinctions at all! The truth is somewhere inbetween.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  4. Daniel Ritchie Says:

    Adam,

    Thanks for an interesting post, though I would reserve judgment concerning some things you say (perhaps you are not always reading Bojidar’s comments in the most charitable light with respect to the law-gospel distinction?).

    However, I wanted to highlight one rhetorical flourish which you may want to think about removing: “the reason people believe in big government is because they are trusting in the government to save them.” Depends what you mean by “big”. If you mean totalitarian, then I agree. If, however, you mean a bigger role for the state than what Libertarians or small government conservatives advocate, then I believe that to be an error. Reformed establishmentarianism advocates a more paternalistic and interventionist state, not as the source of societal salvation, but as a means under God.

  5. otrmin Says:

    Daniel,

    By all means, if you can think of an interpretation of Marinov’s words that help me avoid the conclusion that I have drawn, by all means, I am willing to listen. I tried to read them as best as I could in the context in which his words were written, but I have to admit that I cannot make his words square with orthodoxy. In fact, when I challenged him in the comments section of American Vision’s blog, rather than saying I was misunderstanding his comments, he defended them. If I was misunderstanding him, I assumed he would have said so. Still, I do have to leave open the possibility that we were talking past one another, so, if you have an interpretation of Marinov’s words that make sense in the light of traditional Protestant orthodoxy, I am willing to listen.

    If, however, you mean a bigger role for the state than what Libertarians or small government conservatives advocate, then I believe that to be an error. Reformed establishmentarianism advocates a more paternalistic and interventionist state, not as the source of societal salvation, but as a means under God.

    The question is who will control when the government intervenes and to what extent it intervenes? You can say that we should follow scripture, but how do you know that the state will always follow scripture, or even that the state will seek to follow scripture? And what are you going to use so that the attitude of the state is such that it will seek to be obedient to the scriptures? The only solution is the transforming work of the gospel, such that the self-centered hearts of those in a society are taken out, and they are given hearts of willing submission to God. Unless the gospel is prevenient, then the tendency will be for the people in government and in society to make themselves God, even twisting and distorting the scriptures to their own ends. If a person cannot stand up with a Bible and say, “Your wrong” even to the government, and the government must listen because it is ultimately seeking to be obedient to the scriptures, I would say the result is totalitarianism.

    God Bless,
    Adam

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