article on Mohler’s BYU visit

Just a heads up in case you don’t follow Proclaim & Defend every day (you should!)… I put up a post today raising questions about Al Mohler’s recent appearance at Brigham Young University.

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Comments

  1. T. Pennock says:

    Don,

    Read your article on Mohler’s speech and thought it was good.

    What’s Mohler doing now?! To laud a cult for a view of marriage that is so unscriptural is outrageous. Biblical marriage has no more to do with Mormon marriage than Biblical communion has to do with Roman communion.

    tjp

  2. Brian says:

    Regardless of the adjectives attached to describe evangelicals, evangelicals do what evangelicals do and that is misapply, misunderstand the doctrine of separation as outlined in the Scriptures. Mohler is doing what other evangelicals do and that is interact with a broad spectrum beliefs with disregard for the Scriptural admonitions to the contrary.

  3. d4v34x says:

    Marriage is not a Christian institution.

    • Hi Dave

      That is true, but surely you see a difference between Mormon marriage and Christian marriage?

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  4. d4v34x says:

    I’m not sure I know what Christian marriage is. Are a Mormon husband and wife not married in the eyes of God? When an unsaved couple who was married by the judge (or however the civil marriage works in Canada) is converted and joins your church, do you encourage them get Christian married?

    The Mormon understanding of marriage is different than that of the Christian understanding, of course But the basic (official) model of both is one man, one woman for their whole lives (give or take an exception clause).

    And since we’re talking co-activism in the temporal realm that doesn’t involve granting Christian recognition to cult members, please help me see why the Mormon celestial superstitions matter.

    • Hi Dave

      Good questions, I’d say.

      By Christian marriage, I mean what marriage is by Christian theological definition. There is a vast difference between Christian and Mormon theology on this point and I don’t think we should affirm that their view of marriage is the same as ours.

      Insofar as any human marriage is a true marriage in the eyes of God, a Mormon husband and wife are married in the eyes of God, but that isn’t at issue here, in my opinion.

      As far as co-activism in the temporal realm is concerned, I am basically antagonistic to co-activism on the temporal realm. I am quite content to be ‘activistic’ on subjects of concern, but I will not pool my resources or join hands with cultists or false religionists to do so. I think the superstitions do matter and what we are activisting (!!!) for are not the same things.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  5. d4v34x says:

    I” reiterate what I said elsewhere. I’m no fan of co-belligerence either. I don’t know why Mohler is, imo, spending his time on this rather than other things. I’m sure he’s satisfied with his reasons.

    I’ll also reiterate that political party membership for the Christian is basically co-activism with unbelievers. Republican (in the US) Christians, incuding fundamentalists, have never seemed too bothered by that.

    I think Dr. Doran made some fair points about the appearance of sanctioning Mormonism, but I don’t know if that’s a compelling reason not to do what Mohler did.

    Finally, you say that civil marriage or marriage based on other religious understandings being true marriage or not isn’t the issue. I would contend it is, at least sort of. What Mohler wants is that US civil marriage laws mirror marriage as instituted by God as closely as possible. For all practical purposes, that’s what the LDS (officially) wants as well. Both parties believe it will do our society good to follow that model. Mohler is willing to invoke philosophers, novelists, etc to make his case. This is what politicians and activists do when they are involved in the political realm.

  6. Don,

    As a fundamentalist, don’t you wish you got the same kind of forbearance from fundamentalists as non-fundamentalist Albert Mohler gets from fundamentalists? I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that he is a big name (like Jack Hyles once was a big name, because fundamentalists, especially young ones, aren’t attracted to bigness, no way) and that he gets along so famously with continuationists, baby-sprinklers, amillennialists, Billy Graham, etc. etc. Should it amaze me that there is a huge defense of Mohler, and a pounding attack of people more separated than he? Does it have anything to do with his being a compromiser?

    Here’s my take on the Bauder article on his In the Nick of Time. First, why write about it in a way to defend Mohler? Why? Why do we need to defend Mohler? Shouldn’t he just leave it completely alone? Second, by defending Mohler, he’s going after the article on FBFI (by you). Why go after you? Are people going to be worse off if they listen to you about Mohler? I don’t think so. Third, his 1 Cor 5 argument is in error. 1 Cor 5 applies to the world, to the secular, to the non-religious, to the non-church. Mormonism is very badly in error, but Mormons think they are Christians, profess to be Christians, profess to believe in Jesus Christ, and call themselves the church of Jesus Christ. When you talk to Mormons, which I’ve talked to I’d say 50-100 on about 3 dozen different occasions, you are pinpointing their “false gospel.” They preach a false gospel, so this is different than being around unsaved people. That is so wrong by Bauder that it is astounding to me. People are attempting to make this non-religious, when even Mohler knows it is religious. Fourth, Mohler didn’t do the worst possible someone could have done, but that is a low bar for a Christian. He didn’t obey Scripture. He was disobedient to God, the true God, and the only Jesus.

    • Kent:

      You asked, “Here’s my take on the Bauder article on his In the Nick of Time. First, why write about it in a way to defend Mohler? Why? Why do we need to defend Mohler? Shouldn’t he just leave it completely alone? Second, by defending Mohler, he’s going after the article on FBFI (by you). Why go after you?”

      Because that is what Kevin Bauder does, it is an established pattern for him. Defending Mohler for several years now such as he did over Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration. To ignoring some of the worst like sitting as chair for Billy Graham’s 2001 crusade and the recent convergence Mohler had with Rick Warren.

      LM

  7. Larry says:

    He didn’t obey Scripture. He was disobedient to God, the true God, and the only Jesus.

    Kent, how so? What Scripture did he disobey?

    I remain unconvinced that he should have done this, but I have yet to see a biblical argument that he sinned by doing so. Ironically, Don dings Mohler for not citing biblical authority in an article that does not cite biblical authority. So I wonder, what Scripture makes this a matter of obedience/disobedience, rather than a matter of wisdom?

  8. Hi,

    I don’t have it out for Mohler in a unique way. Generally, I’m closer to him than about 90 plus percent of most people in America. We would be more on the same side of things than not relative to most. I’m saying the opposite of Kevin Bauder regarding a 1 Cor 5. He says that 1 Cor 5 says be with the world, but not with any man that calls himself a brother who is such a one as an idolater, covetous, etc. Mormons, as I mentioned above, call themselves brothers, say they believe in Jesus, say they’re Christians, call themselves a church. I understand that Mohler said he wasn’t in fellowship with them, but he did cooperate with them in this. If he believes in the universal church, which he does, and he’s a seminary president and they’re a religious college, which they are, he’s fellowshiping with them. He’s not there preaching against them. He’s there aiding and abetting. He’s there accommodating. He’s perhaps infiltrating, utilizing that type of strategy. “I have come to Brigham Young University because I intend with you to push back against the modernist notion that only the accommodated can converse.” Do Mormons really love and respect biblical Christians as Mohler said? No. This was not the truth. Is not telling the truth disobedient to Scripture? Is infiltration and cooperation disobedient to Scripture? At least there, he disobeyed. There is even more, I believe, but that’s a start.

  9. Larry says:

    Thanks Kent, But there’s no Scripture there, is there? What I was asking for is which Scripture he disobeyed.

    You cited disagreement with Bauder on 1 Cor 5. Fine. But I would tend to side with Kevin, at least in principle. But 1 Cor 5 is a local church context, concerning people you normally associate with; it does not refer to situations like this. It seems to me that you (of all people) can’t apply that here can you? Don’t you have to deny that that applies outside the local church? The people envisioned there by the command to dissociate are members of the church; not members of a false religion. So whatever that passage might teach, it doesn’t seem to apply here.

    You call Mohler’s speech cooperation, but that’s not necessarily wrong. The biblical prohibition is against ministry cooperation, isn’t it? That’s why we call it ecclesiastical separation. It deals with the ekklesia. It doesn’t deal with things like this. There’s no ministry here and no fellowship here, at least in the biblical definition of fellowship. As I read it, it was a social order speech given by a professing Christian to a university/academic setting regarding social policy and religious persecution in which he clearly made his differences known.

    You doubt (apparently) that Mormons actually love and respect Christians. Yet I have never met one who doesn’t. Granted I haven’t met a lot, but I have met some and they are kind and decent people. I have never even heard of any who don’t love and respect others. So your experience may be different, but that doesn’t seem to mean he is not telling the truth, at least as far as what knows and has experienced from Mormons.

    So we are back to the original question: What Scripture did Mohler actually disobey here? What moves it from the realm of wisdom to the realm of disobedience?

    • Larry,

      I’ve approved this last comment, while noting that conversations between commenters can quickly lead a thread away from the original post. So… if a conversation develops that drifts, I may have to end it.

      Having said that, carry on.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  10. Larry says:

    Thanks Don. I understand that. And hopefully this won’t stray from that topic. My question is about the biblical basis for the charge you (in the P&D post that this is about) and Kent (in his comment here) made about the charge of disobedience on the part of Mohler.

    My response to Kent was to explain why I don’t think that answers the question of biblical obedience. I will refrain from further discussing that.

    • No problem, I just want us to stay on topic. I can see this heading off into other things quite easily. But in this case, I’ll wait a bit to give Kent a chance to respond, then give something of my own.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  11. But there’s no Scripture there, is there? What I was asking for is which Scripture he disobeyed.

    I would agree that if we speak, we should speak as the oracles of God, and I wasn’t attempting to avoid that, just that I would deal with you like you knew verses, for instance, on telling the truth. There are lot of places in the Bible that teach to tell the truth and not to lie in the both the Old and New Testaments. There is different type of truth and different type of lies. A doctrinal falsehood or lie or deceit for whatever reason can be worse than other kinds. Flattery is a kind of lie, where you say things that are not true about someone you want to cozy up to. There are a lot of verses like that too. I can provide references if you need them.

    You cited disagreement with Bauder on 1 Cor 5. Fine. But I would tend to side with Kevin, at least in principle. But 1 Cor 5 is a local church context, concerning people you normally associate with; it does not refer to situations like this. It seems to me that you (of all people) can’t apply that here can you? Don’t you have to deny that that applies outside the local church?

    I’m not questioning Bauder’s interpretation, but his application, to be clear. Mormons claim to be Christians, but I applied it only in how Bauder or Mohler, universal church guys, would apply it. It would be even harsher for their own position, it would seem. However, I believe 1 Cor 5 deals with people from outside the church too, because it says people who call themselves brothers, which is wider ranging than church membership. The false teachers who entered Corinth were not from there. They were from out of town. I also believe it violates 2 Cor 6:14-7:1 because of the cooperation. He did say they weren’t saved, yes, but he is still cooperating with them that in his own explanation reads as cooperation (the reason for the quote of him). The Mormons see this as ecclesiastical. Mohler admits that it is ecclesiastical, because he says it is a Mormon university. Is BYU ecclesiastical? Is it under Mormon authority? Is the SBC seminaries under the SBC? I think this is obvious. Sure, I don’t do parachurch, so this doesn’t enter in to me, and that is more foundational than what I’m talking about, but when I enter this fray, I’m entering it on your terms, because this is what you believe. It’s why I don’t usually write about this at my blog. It’s a non-issue. I don’t need to write about this with Mohler. He’s already way out of the loop. But he isn’t for fundamentalism.

    You doubt (apparently) that Mormons actually love and respect Christians. Yet I have never met one who doesn’t. Granted I haven’t met a lot, but I have met some and they are kind and decent people. I have never even heard of any who don’t love and respect others. So your experience may be different, but that doesn’t seem to mean he is not telling the truth, at least as far as what knows and has experienced from Mormons.

    I admit here that I have an issue with a wrong definition of love. You can’t love if you don’t abide in God. So Mohler says they love him, when he knows they can’t love him, so he dumbs down the definition of love, which is another lie, to make them feel good, which reads like flattery to me. This is why cooperation doesn’t work. You’ve got so many differences doctrinally — love, marriage, truth, respect — that you have to redefine to get with them. He’s willing to do that, and in so doing, he’s going to go wrong, unless he comes in with both barrels blazing, which he didn’t do.

  12. Larry says:

    Thanks Kent. (Enumerated for the sake of ease, and then I will bow out unless there is something earthshaking.)

    1. I know the verses on truthtelling. I don’t see that as an issue here. I don’t see how Mohler lied or didn’t tell the truth, aside from the definition of love (where he used a standard colloquial definition). But even so, it doesn’t answer the question. Don’s and your point (as I understand it), was that it was sin to go. It had nothing to do with whether or not he told the truth about them being loving (or anything else). So even if he had not said anything wrong, it would still have been sin to go. (Correct me if I am wrong, Don.) So my question is why was it sinful for him to go? I have a hard time seeing how truthtelling is not a rabbit trail.

    2. On ecclesiastical, first, it’s strange that you want a narrow definition of “love” to make a point, but a loose definition of ekklesia to make a point. That seems inconsistent to me. But more directly to the point, BYU, so far as I know, is a school, and I think academic contexts are different than church contexts. That doesn’t necessarily excuse it, but it certainly colors it differently. I suspect Mohler was invited as one with expertise in social issues, particularly marriage. I don’t know any way to argue this is a ministry partnership. It is customary for schools to invite experts on issues to address them, without any implication or expectation that there is agreement on all other things. And Mohler clearly noted his disagreement. So I think you strike out on making this some sort of ministry partnership.

    3. 2 Cor 6:14-7:1 comes closer as a biblical warrant, but I wonder how this is an unequal yoke, or a yoke at all for that matter. I am not trying to be obtuse here, but I don’t see the yoke. Mohler was invited as a one-time guest to speak on a topic of social concern to an academic context and he clearly noted his theological differences. Sounds like he was almost going out of his way to deny a yoke.

    In the end, Kent, establishing that it was disobedience to go to an unbelieving group of people, clearly acknowledge your differences, and then talk about a social issue is going to be very difficult, IMO. I am willing to entertain the idea, but I don’t know how you would make it from Scripture, and for me, what you have tried so far is not convincing.

    Again, don’t read my comments as a defense. The more I think about it, the more agnostic I become. I am not sure he should have, but I am not sure there is a biblical prohibition of it. But thanks for the exchange.

    • Hi Larry

      Ok, let’s list some things I’d agree with you on:

      1. Not a ministry partnership
      2. Not an unequal yoke (i.e, not in an ongoing partnership)

      Here’s some things I disagree on:

      1. BYU isn’t just an educational institution

      2. I don’t buy the argument that you get a pass if its academic, not ecclesiastical (I disagree with that en toto, i.e., I don’t think it is a defense in any situation)

      As I suggested in my article, this seems similar to the Moral Majority. Evangelicals have adopted compromise with error as an ethos, they see no problem crossing divides if the cause is good and they think the cooperation will help the cause. This is more of the same.

      Paul told us not to go to the idol’s temple. In some ways I’d see this as a 1 Cor 8-10 problem, although there isn’t anything neutral about the Mormons.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  13. Hi,

    I have other problems with Mohler doing this, but I came on mainly defending Don. I was giving brief examples. If he disobeys scripture, that’s a sin. I don’t think “interpreting different” is an excuse. The love is just an example of what goes wrong. You disagree, Larry, I get it.

    Yes, I believe church is local only. Isn’t the defense of parachurch organizations the universal church? And so I ask about a Mormon ministry and an SBC ministry working together. Don and Larry, you’re both saying that is not yoking together. I say it is. Mormons call themselves brothers. And there’s a conflict on love, on truth, on Jesus, on church, on marriage, on about everything. That was my point of the love issue.

    • What I meant by not an unequal yoke is that there is no formal partnership ongoing as far as I know. I suppose that isn’t all that is meant by the term, so I take back at least half of that point of agreement with Larry!

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  14. Hey Don,

    Something to add to the equation:

    http://www.religionnews.com/2013/10/30/evangelical-visits-byu-signal-new-evangelical-mormon-detente/

    Is it possible confusion comes out of this for others watching? Mohler said he was careful with his wording, but it wasn’t anything noticeable to those who need carefully parsed sentences.

  15. Don,

    I’m not in your conversation over there at SharperIron, but I saw how that they are questioning you about the definition of fellowship. If anyone comes over here to read, why would Eph 5:11 say, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness if you can’t fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness?” If there is a warning against fellowshiping of righteousness with unrighteousness, then why is there an argument about not being able to fellowship with an unbeliever? Somebody should be embarrassed. Mohler is yoking together with the Mormons for a stated purpose. Granted he’s not getting together with them for the gospel, but he’s yoking with them for marriage and other moral issues. I think I’m looking at this objectively. I’m thankful for Mohler taking SBTS away from liberalism, the conservative resurgence. We like the direction, but it is also alluring. Someone could think, “Well, he’s done this conservative thing, so now we can approve.” That’s the problem here.

    • You’re right. The argument is so patently ridiculous that I have mostly just not bothered. But very good verse to use. Maybe I’ll come back with it.

      It is astonishing to me to hear so many say “I wouldn’t do it / am uncomfortable with it / my conscience would bother me… Etc… But Don is still wrong!” What a crock.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  16. d4v34x says:

    Kent,
    I just need to warn you that your partnership with unbelievers in the SFYSO board is disobedience. After all: “it is NOT Christian fellowship. But that’s just the problem. Christians are called to abstain from fellowship (partnership / cooperation) with unbelievers.”
    Resign today, or face being featured on Proclaim and Defend.

    • Now Dave, that’s really not the same kind of thing, unless the orchestra is a religious institution and the association is addressing religious issues.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  17. d4v34x says:

    You are contradicting the necessary implications of your own statement (which I quote).

    Religious freedom is a civil issue. Traditional marrige is a civil-political concern. If co-activism with unbelievers in promoting these matters is disobedience, then so would be any partnership the other matters.

    • I don’t recall saying that. Where does it come from?

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

      PS, consistency , you know….

      • d4v34x says:

        No, the second paragraph of my previous post is mine. I quoted you “in quotes” in the poste before that. I should have said, “which I quote above.” Sorry for the confusion.

  18. d4v34x says:

    PS: Capriciously, you know . . .

  19. D4,

    My first thought is, “Are you kidding me?” I said I agreed with Bauder’s interpretation, that is, we will be with believers of this world. We will. But it’s different with those who call themselves brothers. That’s 1 Cor 5. Mormons call themselves “brothers,” Christians, a church, believers in Jesus, and if you heard them talk, they sound very close to us, really no different at all unless you start probing them. They sound better in certain ways than certain independent Baptists I’ve talked to.

    Then 2 Cor 6:14-7:1. This all relates to the idol worship in Corinth. Do not yoke together with unbelievers. Was the idol house a church? No. And yet it is called fellowship. Paul didn’t even want them to eat meat offered unto idols, which is less associative than participating with them, cooperating with them for moral reasons.

    Move to my work with West Point parents association, the boards of YPSO and BYO, coaching in the Hercules summer basketball league, my kids being on a soccer team — all the same thing — they are not religious, ecclesiastical, places of worship, institutions of worship. I have to admit — I have a hard time believe I’m explaining this to you. If I lived in Utah, and my kids were in orchestra, and I was on the board, that wouldn’t be any of that.

    If Mohler were a political figure or he were doing this in a tea party meeting with other Mormons/Catholics, it’s fine. I just signed a petition in CA against transgender bathrooms, and there are, I’m sure, unbelievers there, but this isn’t partnering with a religious group. Anyway, go whatever way you want. Don’t believe me. Encourage Mohler. It might work. Of course, when the church at Corinth allowed it, it severely hurt their church, so he wrote against it. But Mohler is Calvinist, intellectual, and big time. He couldn’t leave SBC because he grew up in it, it was family, his heritage, and he was offended that fundamentalists said nasty things about the SBC when he visited their church. That wasn’t nice. What’s nice is saying nice things about everybody.

  20. Well, gentlemen, I’m very late to this. My job is snowing me under these days, and real ministry! I’m way, way behind on these kinds of topics. I gather there’s an SI discussion. I guess Bauder wrote something. Can’t follow it all, and don’t want to.

    I know this. II John is problematic. It just is. It is talking about false teachers, those who don’t have the doctrine of Christ. Presumably everyone here would agree that describes the Mormons and BYU.

    Verses 10&11 tell us not to even “bid them God speed” (give them greeting) so you don’t become a partaker of their evil deeds. It’s hard to see how being their guest is ok when you aren’t supposed to have them as your guest, how public statements about the good things they are doing does not make you a partaker of their evil deeds.

    THEY don’t separate the good things they do from their doctrine. THEY talk about how their good deeds validate their doctrine in the eyes of the world. So why should believers be praising their good deeds when we KNOW they are going to use those same good deeds to spread evil lies?

    If someone responds to this, I promise to read it, but I don’t promise to respond further. I am very, very busy right now.

  21. You are right on Jon. But….

  22. Larry says:

    Kent said: If he disobeys scripture, that’s a sin. I don’t think “interpreting different” is an excuse.

    Back in briefly to clarify that I absolutely and unequivocally agree about this. That’s why I was asking for Scripture that prohibits what Mohler did. The Scripture has to be the authority. If we are going to be people of the book, then that has to matter. The disagreement is over whether or not this is disobedience, and so far, I have seen no Scripture offered that I am convinced that puts this in the realm of obedience.

    Jon has brought up 2 John. The reason why I am not (yet, at least) convinced that applies is because 2 John is talking about something (people who come to you and do not bring this teaching whom you welcome into your house [probably church]), and what it says applies directly to what it is talking about, namely, the church, not a political or social endeavor. To apply it to something else, such as this event, an argument must be made that the principle applies because of the similar factors. That hasn’t been done (yet). In other words, what John is speaking about does not describe this situation. John is not saying that we must never recognize someone’s common civil good. He is not saying that we must never participate in any civil endeavors with unbelievers. Also to Jon’s point, I am not sure why it is hard to be someone’s guest when you won’t let them be yours. John doesn’t speak of going to them at their invitation, clearly defining your differences, and speaking on a civic matter of common interest in which you hold some expertise. So again, if you want to apply 2 John, an argument has to be made that these are similar situations.

    So it seems the question is whether or not this is an ecclesiastical or ministry endeavor. If you think it is, then it is disobedience. If I thought this was ecclesiastical or ministry, I think it would be sin. I am not convinced it is by (1) the nature of BYU (academic), (2) the nature of the encounter (one-time speech on a civil matter of common agreement in which the speaker is recognized as an expert and invited for that reason), and (3) the clear demarcations and limitations in the speech. I could be wrong.

    And Don, I think this is where your most recent attempt also falls short of convincing. You take the socio-political-religious culture of Israel and try to impose it on the church in a way that is less than convincing, particularly for a dispensationalist. As with 2 John, if you want to apply that, then the argument has to be made by showing that the two situations are similar. And as a dispensationalist, I don’t know how you do that.

    The point I disagree with Kent on is that his conscience on a matter equals the mandate of Scripture for everyone. Kent, you don’t seem to entertain the possibility that you might be wrong. I know you don’t think you are (as I don’t think I am wrong), or you would change (as would I). But we, even at our best, are still fallen in our minds and we might have concluded wrongly, even in good conscience. I agree with you that all truth is true, and that there is only one truth. Where people differ, both are not correct. Where I differ is that you alone have the truth and everyone who differs from you is wrong. And I differ that this is clearly a sinful thing rather than a wisdom issue.

    The point about love is a case in point. You are insisting on a very technical definition that isn’t the way the word is typically used in our context. And context always defines usage (that’s a basic hermeneutical axiom without which communication is impossible). In this context, it is Mohler’s meaning of love that determines whether or not he didn’t tell the truth. You say he is lying because you are forcing your definition on his usage. I think that is illegitimate. The reason I am not willing to say he was lying is that I understand “love” has a meaning that is not tied to the biblical meaning. You are saying he is lying because of your definition, not his. But when he uses the word, it is his definition that matters. That your conscience uses another meaning is not his problem.

    Again, thanks for the interaction.

    • Larry, I’d like to respond to the dispy points, but I am on my phone at the end of a night shift, so if I forget, I hope you will jog my memory

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

    • Hi Larry

      And Don, I think this is where your most recent attempt also falls short of convincing. You take the socio-political-religious culture of Israel and try to impose it on the church in a way that is less than convincing, particularly for a dispensationalist. As with 2 John, if you want to apply that, then the argument has to be made by showing that the two situations are similar. And as a dispensationalist, I don’t know how you do that.

      Ok, back in the land of the living. Do you think that the God who told Israel to depend on Him alone, not to rely on human alliances, has changed with the New Testament and now advises or permits his people to rely on political alliances with cultists in order to achieve spiritual ends?

      Good grief – the parallel is so striking that I can’t believe you are so dismissive of it.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

    • Larry, we’ve had this discussion before. First, to hold your view strongly, you have to believe that II John is written to a church and not an individual. The evidence for this is hardly conclusive, and if you are wrong, this is a general principle for all of Christian life. But let’s assume you are correct. In that case, this is a strongly ecclesiastical injunction for the local church.

      But then you have to answer some questions.
      1. If you aren’t a local church only guy, why do you believe II John has no application for how the universal church should behave?
      2. If the Scriptures are sufficient, surely they must provide some guidance in principle, at least, for this type of situation. Where is that guidance? How do you know II John is not providing a specific application (in the church) of a general principle (absolute non-endorsement of/withdrawal from false teachers) with broad application?
      3. Where in Scripture do we see any apostle or prophet engaging in or approving this kind of extra-church cuddling up to false teachers, even when they get some things right? Is not the entire tone of Scripture (and many direct commands) in regard to false teachers to beware of them (Philippians 3:2) to warn against them, to have nothing to do with them? What in Scripture says this kind of thing is a good idea?
      4. Specifically about II John, bidding one “Godspeed” has no impact on how God views the false teacher, obviously. It goes beyond a restriction on providing practical help. The clear point is that you don’t do anything that endorses false teachers in any way that gives approval of their doctrine or “ministry” (in the eyes of man). Do you believe it is ok outside the local church to in any way give approval to the doctrine or “ministry” of false teachers (in the eyes of man)?
      5. In this specific case, do you believe that Mohler gave approval to the “ministry” of Mormons in any way, or to any of their doctrine, such as their doctrine of marriage, in the eyes of man?
      6. Do you believe the Mormon doctrine of marriage is an unfruitful work of darkness? If not, why not? And if so, why is Ephesians 5:11 not relevant?
      7. Do you care if Christian schools maintain separation, and if so, why? What Scripture tells Christian schools (or mission boards, etc) not to associate with false teachers?

      For me, it is not ok outside the church to do or say things that give, in the eyes of man, approval of false teachers and especially their doctrine. For me, II John forbids that with a broader prohibition than merely within the local church. For me, Ephesians 5 says their doctrine of marriage should be reproved, not fellowshipped with. For me, the Scripture does not say to find the points where we agree with false teachers and emphasise them, it says to reprove, rebuke, to mark and avoid.

      Fortunately, nobody answers to me. But if we’re going to discuss these things, we should at least find Scriptures to support what we are saying. I’ve cited Scripture that I believe guides these types of situations in principle. Where is A) the error I’m making and B) the Scriptures that indicate this was an appropriate thing for Mohler to do? If we’re going to be guided by Scripture, we not only need to avoid those things that Scripture specifically forbids, we also need to actively reflect the principles it gives in situations it doesn’t directly address.

      • Excellent, Jon. I’m thinking that Peter’s rebuke of Simon Magis is instructive on this point as well.

        Maranatha!
        Don Johnson
        Jer 33.3

  23. Larry says:

    Do you think that the God who told Israel to depend on Him alone, not to rely on human alliances, has changed with the New Testament and now advises or permits his people to rely on political alliances with cultists in order to achieve spiritual ends?

    Good grief – the parallel is so striking that I can’t believe you are so dismissive of it.

    First, standing against same-sex marriage is not the achievement of a spiritual end, but the pursuit of a cultural and social objective, namely protecting and honoring the fabric of a civil society. We should not make the mistake of thinking that preventing same-sex marriage will somehow achieve a spiritual end. I think you have redefined the issue.

    Secondly, and more to the point here, the question, to me, comes down to whether or not we are actually dispensationalists. If we are, then we recognize that Israel was not just a religious institution, but also a political one. Which means that politics and religion mix. In the NT church, politics and religion are separate. Their commands against political involvement were actually commands against religious involvement. God had promised to protect them politically because of his religious commitment to them. By turning to another nation, they were in fact turning away from their allegiance to God and their belief in his promises, and turning to belief in another god. God has made no such promise to the church. We, as Baptist (at least me), believe in the separation of church and state, and as a dispensationalist, the fundamental dichotomy between Israel and the church. You appear not to. I am not sure if you claim dispensationalism (I don’t recall you ever discussing it), so perhaps I erred in the assumption, though I imagined you would be. I know dispensationalists can differ on certain issues of interpretation, so I am not trying to be pejorative with that. It just seems to me to miss the fundamental point of dispensationalism–the dichotomy between Israel and the church.

    If you want to claim a parallel, then you have to see Israel as a nation making political alliances for national protection being parallel to the church as a nation making political alliances for national protection. But that falls apart here for a lot of reasons such as (1) Israel is a nation and the church is not; (2) Israel was a political/religious entity and the church is not; (3) that God’s commands and promises to the Israel are also his commands and promises to the church; (4) Al Mohler is an individual not the church, so any parallel now has to argue that a political/religious nation is equivalent to an individual acting as a believer in his political society. There are more, but I think these are sufficient to show the inadequacy of your argument.

    Your argument works well for a non-dispensationalist, though they typically don’t make it. I don’t see how a dispensationalist can make it.

    • Larry, your reasoning is preposterous. To follow your logic, one should never preach out of the Old Testament at all.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

      • Larry says:

        Well, that’s one way to address it, Don.

        But if you are interested, I have spent the better part of the last three months, and a large part of the last year working on a section of my doctoral project on why and how a dispensationalist should preach the OT. In fact, I just put down Longenecker’s article on reproducing the exegesis of the NT which I working through for the third or fourth time trying to answer a few questions on the debate concerning apostolic hermeneutics.

        In addition, yesterday I preached my 26th message from the book of Exodus which was on Exodus 20:1-4.

        So, it seems you misunderstand my logic if you think it leads to never preaching out of the OT. I am not saying I always do it right, but I do it, and I see no logical issue with what I said above and preaching the OT. I regularly preach the OT. I would imagine that over the last few years, my preaching is probably close to 50% from each testament. The NT has been primarily Mark and Galatians, and the OT has been Exodus and 2 and 2 Samuel.

        I would actually like to see how you respond to the arguments I made. It might indeed serve to clarify my thinking. I can stand all the help I can get since I will be defending my project in front of people who have already told me they don’t understand how a dispensationalist can preach the OT.

        Isn’t a key dispensational argument that part of the fundamental dichotomy between Israel and the church is tied to exactly what I said … that Israel was a socio-political theocracy and the church is not? Was not Israel’s turning to other nations in political alliances a turning away from her religious commitment bound up in the covenant? Is it not impossible for Christians who are not a nation with a socio-political theocratic structure to do the same thing?

        • Hi Larry

          Ok, now I have a bit of time for a more thorough reply. First, from your response to Jon

          Let me ask you this: What if Mohler had been invited to go to the University of Louisville to speak on creation (as a six-day young earther? Would you have the same objection? Why or why not? (Don, please answer as well if you can.)

          I would say that is an entirely different scenario. As a secular institution, the U of Louisville wouldn’t be attempting to use Mohler’s creds to puff their own Christian legitimacy. They would be more likely to be sincerely interested in the exchange of ideas.

          2. Where does the NT require believers to avoid civil and cultural engagement with those who teach falsely on religious matters? Where does it forbid us from working towards the same goal, and encouraging unbelievers to work towards a goal alongside of us?

          The NT doesn’t know anything about democratic government or activism, being entirely written under the dictatorship of the Roman Empire. It could hardly be expected to give explicit instructions either for or against any of these practices. Consequently, we must make our decisions based on principles derived from tangential passages.

          4. Why does our alma mater get a pass on inviting someone (the very issue in 2 John if you want to be precise) whereas Mohler gets attacked (don’t read too much into that) for doing something that 2 John doesn’t even address?

          As far as I can recall, no one was asked to speak at BJU as a Catholic to promote “shared values”. Any Catholic speakers I can recall were political people seeking votes. As I have said repeatedly, I don’t have a problem with that.

          Now from a couple of your comments to me:

          First, standing against same-sex marriage is not the achievement of a spiritual end, but the pursuit of a cultural and social objective, namely protecting and honoring the fabric of a civil society.

          If you don’t think marriage is spiritual then I don’t think we can have a discussion at all.

          1 Corinthians 6:16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” 17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

          These matters are spiritual matters.

          Isn’t a key dispensational argument that part of the fundamental dichotomy between Israel and the church is tied to exactly what I said … that Israel was a socio-political theocracy and the church is not? Was not Israel’s turning to other nations in political alliances a turning away from her religious commitment bound up in the covenant? Is it not impossible for Christians who are not a nation with a socio-political theocratic structure to do the same thing?

          No, this is mere sophistry. 1 Corinthians 10:6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. If the Old Testament has any use for us at all, it has a use as an exemplar. When God rebukes Israel for her sin and compromise, we can learn lessons for our own use as well. It doesn’t matter that we are distinct from Israel and to use the OT scriptures to inform us about our actions as NT believers is completely legitimate and is indeed what the apostles themselves did all the time.

          Maranatha!
          Don Johnson
          Jer 33.3

          • Larry says:

            Thanks, Don. Let me try to finish out (again) with this limited response.

            First, I doubt Mohler speaking at U of L is “entirely” different than BYU. U of L is engaged in a far greater false teaching in some regards because it is more foundational and it a more mainstream. But that’s a side issue. I was just curious what distinction you would make. I am not sure why you are saying that BYU is using Mohler to “puff their own Christian legitimacy.” I haven’t seen anyone say that other than you. I doubt that would help them much, if that’s what they wanted.

            I agree that we must make decisions based on principles from passages, but those passages have to be rightly used (which I imagine you agree with). And sometimes, the understanding and application of such principles are wisdom decisions about which men of good conscience and equal commitments can differ (Kent notwithstanding). That doesn’t mean both are right of course. But in this light, I am not following how we legitimately get from Israel’s abandonment of God in a political-religious alliance to Mohler speaking at BYU in defense of traditional marriage where no alliance is established (to my knowledge) aside from sharing a common view. That’s a pretty big jump given the vast differences in the two contexts.

            Regarding Catholics at BJU, I was actually thinking of Cal Thomas, who is not a Catholic but an evangelical. Hardly a separatist in any case. Probably less of a fundamentalist than Mohler. Alan Keyes is a Catholic who was seeking votes, but went out of his way to make it about religion. But I am not sure the difference in any case. Mohler was at BYU speaking as a cultural commentator on an issue about which he holds some expertise; so was Cal Thomas.

            Wasn’t Mohler was there for political purposes, to address the national political debate concerning marriage, and the potential loss of religious freedom? How different is that from making political speeches about these things? More specifically, given your allowances, if Mohler had been running for office, and said the exact same thing, you would say it was okay, right? But because he isn’t running, it is wrong? I don’t follow that.

            If you don’t think marriage is spiritual then I don’t think we can have a discussion at all.

            That’s not actually what I said. I said “standing against same-sex marriage is not the achievement of a spiritual end, but the pursuit of a cultural and social objective, namely protecting and honoring the fabric of a civil society.” In other words, if we completely banned same-sex marriage, there is no spiritual end gained. That is not the same as saying that marriage isn’t spiritual. But the verse you cite (1 Cor 6:16), is probably more about sex than marriage since it is a prostitute in view, not a wife.

            No, this is mere sophistry.

            Calling it “mere sophistry” is no more helpful than calling it “preposterous.” Neither does anything to answer the questions or address the issues involved, and that’s what I am actually interested in.

            There is no doubt that the OT has an exemplary use, and we can and should learn lessons from them, though it is inaccurate to say its only use is exemplar. Paul makes clear in 2 Tim that it also leads to salvation through faith in Christ. But that’s a side issue.

            It seems to me that if the actions of Israel are going to inform us (and I think they should), then the actions of Israel should be similar or parallel. It is hard for me to see the parallels. For Israel to make a political alliance, they had to abandon their religion. For a Christian to make a political alliance, they do not have to abandon their religion. That means these things are substantively different. That of course doesn’t mean that Mohler was right to do what he did. It simply means that we shouldn’t misuse a text, even if the point is right. Ironically, that’s in line with how Pete Enns argues for his position on the NT use of the OT, that it really doesn’t matter if that’s what the text said; it was a common hermeneutic of the day. I reject it there as well.

            In the end, I don’t see how a dispensationalist can make the argument you are making, but I want to understand given my current focus of study. So if you wouldn’t mind, I really would appreciate an answer to my questions. (Feel free to ignore the rest; it probably isn’t profitable for much.) As a dispensationalist in the midst of writing on this topic, I would like to know how people who do not share my dispensationalism would answer the questions. It would be of great benefit to me to anticipate responses I might get from others.

            Thanks again, Don.

  24. Larry says:

    Jon, thanks for responding. That’s a lot. Hopefully Don will tolerate a brief response (brief to each question). Forgive the length, but remember, it’s your fault; you asked all the questions. :)

    1. If you aren’t a local church only guy, why do you believe II John has no application for how the universal church should behave?

    Not sure why you think I don’t believe John has no application for the universal church. I do. But I think it applies to the church (whether local or universal). I am not convinced it applies (necessarily) to other situations, though the principles of it might inform our wisdom.

    2. If the Scriptures are sufficient, surely they must provide some guidance in principle, at least, for this type of situation. Where is that guidance? How do you know II John is not providing a specific application (in the church) of a general principle (absolute non-endorsement of/withdrawal from false teachers) with broad application?

    The guidance for this type of situation comes from the Bible’s instruction on how Christians are to live and interact in society. The reason I don’t see the principle of absolute non-endorsement of/withdrawal from false teachers is because it is not the pattern of the NT or of church history. There are illustrations in the NT of believers engaging false teachers on their turf, such as Jesus or Paul teaching in the synagogue and with the Pharisees who were clearly false teachers, Peter using the platform of Solomon’s Colonnade to challenge and rebuke the false teachers at Pentecost and thereafter (admittedly a public gathering place, which is much like a university today in some ways); Paul on Mars’ Hill using their platform and their invitation to critique their belief. I don’t think the Pharisees doctrine of Jesus or the Greek philosophers doctrine of Jesus was any more acceptable than the Mormons.

    Now, you would say these aren’t exact parallels, as would I. And that’s my point. 2 John is not an exactly parallel, and yet you want to invoke that. But you don’t want to invoke other non-exact parallels. Like Kent and the “love” issue, you want to invoke something when it helps you, but ignore it when it doesn’t. I find that less than convincing.

    I find it hard to accept that John is prohibiting something that is (1) outside of his topic, and (2) not in line with the (short) historic practice of the church up to his time. Would anyone have read 2 John and said, “We must not go to an educational institution and speak to them about civil matters”? I doubt it.

    Let me ask you this: What if Mohler had been invited to go to the University of Louisville to speak on creation (as a six-day young earther? Would you have the same objection? Why or why not? (Don, please answer as well if you can.)

    3. Where in Scripture do we see any apostle or prophet engaging in or approving this kind of extra-church cuddling up to false teachers, even when they get some things right? Is not the entire tone of Scripture (and many direct commands) in regard to false teachers to beware of them (Philippians 3:2) to warn against them, to have nothing to do with them? What in Scripture says this kind of thing is a good idea?

    Answered above. The commands against false teachers in Scripture seem to relate to their false teaching and ministry cooperation with them. It doesn’t seem to call on a believer to withdraw from the public square. Living in a political and civil culture unanticipated by the NT has complicated some things. To ask the opposite question, where does the NT require believers to avoid civil and cultural engagement with those who teach falsely on religious matters? Where does it forbid us from working towards the same goal, and encouraging unbelievers to work towards a goal alongside of us? I know of no place that does that. The NT’s concern is with the church, not with individuals per se.

    4. Specifically about II John, bidding one “Godspeed” has no impact on how God views the false teacher, obviously. It goes beyond a restriction on providing practical help. The clear point is that you don’t do anything that endorses false teachers in any way that gives approval of their doctrine or “ministry” (in the eyes of man). Do you believe it is ok outside the local church to in any way give approval to the doctrine or “ministry” of false teachers (in the eyes of man)?

    But bidding them “godspeed” (a rather awkward and misleading translation; it actually means to greet, not to send out with blessing), is in the context of the church … Welcoming (kairo) someone with approval of their teaching. We must not do that. I am not sure who disputes that, but it would be helpful to see their argument. In this case, Al Mohler did not invite them to his church (or even school) and he did not greet them with a blessing, and he specifically addressed their teaching and stated that he was not welcoming them on a religious basis. So it seems to me that he dealt with the issues that John was talking about.

    I think when someone is pursuing civic good, it might be acceptable to praise them for it (though it might be unwise, as I have said about this). To ask it another way, should we praise Muslim Imams who discourage their people from violence? I would say, “Yes,” and I would hope you would. That doesn’t mean we approve anything they say. But would it be acceptable to lecture to a group of Muslims on the ideals of a peaceful and civil society in which separation of church and state means we have religious freedom to peacefully co-exist, even though we disagree on some very fundamental things?

    5. In this specific case, do you believe that Mohler gave approval to the “ministry” of Mormons in any way, or to any of their doctrine, such as their doctrine of marriage, in the eyes of man?

    I honestly don’t know. This is why I say I think it was perhaps unwise. I haven’t seen any comments other than from the fundamentalist side, so I don’t really know what it did. I think it had the potential to because people don’t read what was actually said. But I tend to think most probably would never suspect that Mohler agreed with the anyway. Even though people might not know what Baptists and Mormons believe, they know enough to believe it’s not the same thing. And remember, it may have been clarifying for some since Mohler clearly called them non-Christian and clearly said they were not going to heaven. So for those interested, Mohler made it clear that they are not Christians, in spite of what they claim.

    Remember, we are back to the 2000 campaign when people blasted Bush for going to BJU and not condemning their interracial and “anti-Catholic” policies, even though no one had for years, and even though other candidates did similar things. It was a faux charge. No one suspected that Bush, by going to BJU, was endorsing everything BJU believed. And it is doubtful that anyone viewed Mohler as endorsing everything Mormons believe. And I imagine you and Don and Kent agree with that. You don’t think Mohler endorses or agrees with them. But you probably think other people aren’t as discerning and wise as you are. But why would you think that, particularly when Mohler was explicit about the differences and said they weren’t going to heaven because they didn’t believe the gospel?

    6. Do you believe the Mormon doctrine of marriage is an unfruitful work of darkness? If not, why not? And if so, why is Ephesians 5:11 not relevant?

    Yes. But remember, Mohler was not there affirming their doctrine of marriage. He was there speaking about a very narrow issue—traditional marriage and same-sex marriage and its threat to culture and religious freedom. And for the Mormons, they are in favor of the very same things we are: traditional marriage and religious freedom.

    7. Do you care if Christian schools maintain separation, and if so, why? What Scripture tells Christian schools (or mission boards, etc) not to associate with false teachers?

    Yes, to be short. In full, I think academic contexts have different sorts of applications. I don’t think there are any Scriptures that tell Christian schools not to associate with false teachers, mostly because there are not Scripture that speak to the issue of Christian schools per se. Here is where I think “ecclesiastical” matters. And for all our talk about the local church and the ekklesia, I think we get pretty loose with it.

    But I note again that when our alma mater (Don’s and mine) had a Catholic to speak, nothing showed up on Don’s blog about it. When I asked him about it, he didn’t even respond to it, as I recall. Why? Why does our alma mater get a pass on inviting someone (the very issue in 2 John if you want to be precise) whereas Mohler gets attacked (don’t read too much into that) for doing something that 2 John doesn’t even address? (BTW, I wasn’t particularly troubled by this, either the invitation/event or Don’s not addressing it.)

    To close, let me hit a couple of questions for specifics if you have time for a brief response to help me more understand:

    1. What if Mohler had been invited to go to the University of Louisville to speak on creation (as a six-day young earther? Would you have the same objection? Why or why not? (Don, please answer as well if you can.)

    2. Where does the NT require believers to avoid civil and cultural engagement with those who teach falsely on religious matters? Where does it forbid us from working towards the same goal, and encouraging unbelievers to work towards a goal alongside of us?

    3. Should we praise Muslim Imams who discourage their people from violence? Would it be acceptable to lecture to a group of Muslims on the ideals of a peaceful and civil society in which separation of church and state means we have religious freedom to peacefully co-exist, even though we disagree on some very fundamental things?

    4. Why does our alma mater get a pass on inviting someone (the very issue in 2 John if you want to be precise) whereas Mohler gets attacked (don’t read too much into that) for doing something that 2 John doesn’t even address?

    I hope you have a blessed Sunday tomorrow.

    • Hi, Larry.

      Your reply to my #2.
      A) There is a difference between Jews in the synagogue who have not heard the Gospel yet and Mormons who have rejected it.

      B) Mars Hill is not remotely relevant. There was no claim to being Christian. I Corinthians 5 makes clear that there is a difference between how we treat pagans and those who claim to be Christians. Mormons claim to be Christians. That is the difference that brings II John into play (in principle) here.

      This is not the University of Louisville, not just some university, or like Mars Hill. Mohler’s own words: “I come knowing who you are—to an institution that stands as the most powerful intellectual center of the Latter-Day Saints….”

      Your reply to my #3.
      Either I’m obtuse, or you didn’t answer it. In none of the examples did Christ, the apostles, or prophets say, “Well, we disagree on the vital things, but I’m here to talk about all the things where we are in agreement.” Any discussion of agreement in those places was a prelude to highlighting the differences. In this case, the acknowledgement of the differences was a prelude to highlighting the agreements.

      Also, you said this: “The NT’s concern is with the church, not with individuals per se.” That seems very naive. Mohler was not invited because he is an individual who has some good ideas. He was invited because he is perceived as a spokesperson of the universal church.

      Your answer to my #5 & 6.
      Mohler said this: ” We stand together for the natural family, for natural marriage, for the integrity of sexuality within marriage alone, and for the hope of human flourishing.” And this: “We share love for the family, love for marriage, love for the gift of children, love of liberty, and love of human society.”

      Not having made any distinction at all between their doctrine of marriage and his, that is effectively an endorsement. I am sorry, but if the Mormons have love for marriage then “love” has been redefined.

      Your answer to my #7.
      You’ve not supplied any Scripture supporting Christian schools, etc, practicing separation. All you’ve said is it is complicated. You don’t think the Scripture forbids them associating with false teachers, but you want them to be separated anyway? I think I’ve not followed you here.

      Your questions.

      1. U of Louisville. Answered above. There is a clear distinction between our interactions with pagans and with professing Christians. Relevant to that, from the article Kent linked above (which should make any believer uncomfortable): ““It’s not just the fact that evangelicals are being more curious about Mormons and being more willing to listen to them and learn from them, but it’s also a matter of the Mormon leadership itself wanting to be part of the American Christian mainstream,” he said.”

      2. Wwrong questions. We should not be asking, “Where does Scripture forbid something?” We should be asking, “If you start from Scripture and seek to apply it faithfully, would you really do that?” There are many things not specifically forbidden in Scripture which aren’t all that compatible with the general principles of Scripture. I’m probably called by many a “legalist” for thinking Mohler shouldn’t have done this, but your question is the legalistic one. If we love God, do we want to cozy up to those who lie about Him, even if they are right on some things?

      3. I would not do the lecture you suggest, because I would only be invited because I am a pastor, and would be introduced as a Christian leader. But it is not as egregious as doing it with the Mormons because Muslims are not claiming to be Christians.

      4. I agree with Don that it is not the same thing for the reasons Don gave above. Those speakers are not seeking validation of their religious views in the eyes of Christians, as the Mormons are. However, I do not endorse BJU doing it. I believe it is unwise and risks providing some measure of validation.

      I am glad Mormons oppose some of the same things we oppose. I’m not against saying so. But I won’t sacrifice the clarity and integrity of the Gospel message in the eyes of others by helping false teachers mainstream themselves, merely for political gain. (If, indeed, any political gain was made, which seems dubious.)

      Finally, I’ll say this. It seems strange to me how many people will defend this action even though instinctively they know it was a bad idea, and wouldn’t do it themselves.

      [Note from Don: edited for formatting only.]

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