a Mohler interview worth reading

Hugh Hewitt is a talk-show host who I can’t get on my radio anymore. His show used to be available by a distant and scratchy signal from Seattle, but the station changed formats on him and he is no longer carried in the Seattle market (as far as I know). I keep up with his thinking by regular visits to his blog.

The other day, he interviewed Al Mohler on the subject of the changing views of young evangelical types. I think the whole transcript is worth reading, but a few highlights follow:

HH: As you talk with two distinct cohorts, the leadership elites in the Evangelical, with whom you are in daily contact, and your students, what are the reactions in those two groups to the events of November?

AM: Well, I’ll tell you, the older Evangelical leadership is in danger right now of looking really old, and old not just in chronological terms, but more or less, kind of acting as if the game hasn’t changed, as if we’re not looking at a brand new cultural challenge, and a new political reality. And so I would say that the younger Evangelicals that I look at every single day, and they are so deeply committed, so convictional, they’re basically wondering if a lot of the older Evangelical leaders are really looking to the future, or are really just kind of living in the 80s while the 80s are long gone. So I think there’s a crucial credibility issue there.

Hmmm… sound familiar?

It seems that it isn’t just Fundamentalists who are having problems with their young people trusting them.

And how about this:

HH: Let me ask you about a pretty controversial proposition. I’m not sure if I believe it or not. Dispensationalism, in other words, End Times theory, for those who are not in this world. Do you think that’s sapped some of the energy and purposefulness out of the commitment of Christians to politics in the here and now?

AM: Well, I think it’s part of it. I don’t think that’s a ridiculous argument at all. I think if you are focuses on the fact that you are absolutely certain that the Lord’s going to be coming imminently, very soon, and that this age is going to come to a conclusion very soon, then you’re not going to give much to investment in building a culture for the future. And I really think that is a matter of Evangelical concern.

Interesting question, eh? Interesting response, too.

And this:

HH: Last question, Dr. Albert Mohler, and I know you have enormous influence on the younger age cohort, because I know who buys your books, and I’ve seen your students with you, et cetera. So take yourself out of this conversation. Who do young Evangelicals look to that you and I would be comfortable having them look to? Where are they getting their leadership cues from?

AM: Well, oddly enough, it’s pretty diffuse. In areas of their life, they’re going to read everything John Piper writes. They’re going to be out there really looking for the kind of cultural analysis that they might be getting from someone who you and I wouldn’t even know, simply because this is a peer-directed culture. They’re going to be saying are you reading this? Are you reading that? I’m not sure I can come up with a long list of names, because I’ll tell you, it’s not that there are so few, it’s that there are so many. This is a generation that reads a lot, absorbs a lot, thinks a lot, and I think it’s going to take some time before we really have a grasp on who all is influencing them in these ways.

This is right at the end of the interview. I think it is a most interesting question and a more interesting answer. It is most interesting that the young are widely influenced by

  1. Peers
  2. Diverse people of many persuasions
  3. Mohler himself doesn’t quite have a handle on who all these influences are

And as a result he can’t really comment on "Who young Evangelicals look to that you and I would be comfortable having them look to." I read a quote elsewhere this evening that went like this:

"The most marked difference from this country today, nearly sixty years down the slope [from 1939], is the absence of authority."1

In many subtle ways, this observation is true of all parts of society, including the church. Including the evangelical and the fundamentalist church.

The widespread influence of myriads of voices is thought to be, I think, somehow sophisticated, serious, and appropriate. I am afraid we have too many masters (Jas 3.1), and in so doing, we have none.

May our young people become mastered by the One teacher of the One Book.



  1. Woody West, "Decline in Authority … Demise of Democracy" Insight (November 18, 1996): 48, quoted in David L. Larsen, The Company of the Preachers, vol. 2, p. 848. []