A recent Wall Street Journal story profiling twin brothers who followed separate spiritual paths — one to become an Anglican bishop, the other a Catholic priest — represents failure by the Southern Baptist church in which they were raised, according to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler.
Mohler, who posts a daily podcast commenting on current events on his personal website, saidMarch 6 he has no firsthand knowledge of First Baptist Church in Elkin, N.C., home church of the men now in their 40s featured in a March 3 article headlined “When We Leave One Religion for Another: How two brothers, raised Baptist, found their way to two different faiths.” But the story of young seeking answers outside their evangelical upbringing is all too common.
“We are losing far too many evangelical young people as they reach older ages because they are simply not adequately grounded theologically in the Christian faith,” Mohler said. “They may go to vacation Bible school, and they may go to Sunday school, but the question is, are they really grounded in the Christian faith? Are they well-grounded in the beauty of Scripture? Are they well-grounded in a knowledge of the deep theological convictions that define us as Christians?”…Mohler said failure to ground children in Christian doctrine leaves them vulnerable “to be led by their senses” rather than “a theological understanding grounded in the explicit teachings of Scripture.”
“When these two boys, identical twins, were asking deep theological questions, who was there to help them?” Mohler asked. “Who was there to guide them? Who was there as an evangelical thinker, apologist, theologian, friend, pastor and guide to help them to understand these questions?”
First, soul liberty, which is adored by Baptists like Mohler, leads to soul-liberty-preaching and soul-liberty-pastors who instead of knowing the church tradition think whatever they find in the Bible is what is supposed to be taught. So, first, the reason some leave is because of the essence of his kind of Baptist beliefs that growingly becomes more and more isolated.
Second, maybe their pastors were wise and pointed each of them to the great tradition of the church, a great tradition often ignored by Baptist approaches to theology. My own research (in Finding Faith, Losing Faith) on why evangelicals become Catholic revealed some crises were created when evangelicals discovered the minefield called church history and, in particular, the patristic era.