Video Interview with Al Mohler

Video Interview with Al Mohler December 11, 2012

This is a video interview I recorded with Dr Albert Mohler about his new book and his views on leadership.

We spoke a bit about the ideas I wrote about in a post on of “influencers” and those with “authority” as there is perhaps some overlap with his concept of “Believers” and “Leaders”.

It was a fun interview, and I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did recording it!

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  • Stephen

    2 questions.

    1. What role does the Gospel of Jesus Christ play in your view of leadership?
    2. How do you measure success?

  • 1. There is a tension in any seminary between courses that are academic and those focused on the practical needs of ministry. Some schools have moved over almost entirely to “practical” courses in the name of being “relevant”, giving scant attention to Biblical languages and systematic theology. Where does Southern stand in this area?
    2. Sometimes students can “dry out” spiritually at seminary. What do you do to stop that happening?
    3. How have students have changed over the years in terms of what they are looking for from a school. Is there more focus on getting good grades rather than grapple with the core issues of Scripture?

  • Hannah

    How come the Southern Baptists have banned missionaries who speak in tongues, when at one time they were allowed to do so?

  • clarence

    what are the main reasons that you are not charasmatic in your theology?

  • Why have you chosen to lead Christians down the harmful dead end of Young Earth Creationism? Why can’t you at least acknowledge that there are reasonable alternative ways to interpret the early chapters of Genesis? For instance, have you read Johnny Miller & John Soden’s “In the Beginning… We Misunderstood: Interpreting Genesis 1 in Its Original Context”?

  • I have no interest in asking Al Mohler any questions. But I want to know why Adrian is giving him this opportunity to publicise his book. Al Mohler has been a significant person in attacking equality for women. He stirs up hate against other faiths. eg

    “Well, I would have to say as a Christian that I believe any belief system, any world view, whether it’s Zen Buddhism or Hinduism or dialectical materialism for that matter, Marxism, that keeps persons captive and keeps them from coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, yes, is a demonstration of satanic power.”

    I live on the edge of Leicester, we do not want the likes of Al Mohler coming her like the EDL. We live in a multicultual city that benefits greatly from “minority” populations (in speech marks as they are not in the minority here.

    Here the different faiths work together on issues of justice and community building, we recognise that we have many common aims and beliefs. We stand together against the hatred of groups like the EDL.

    I was in hospital last weekend. I was cared for my people of all faiths and no faith, including who have come from other countries. They were without exception kind, caring and skilled.

    Let Al Mohler keep his hate for small town America.

    • I don’t think that Mohler is in any way intending to be hateful in that quote. He can love people without agreeing with their theology.

      • Come and talk like that about other faiths in a city like Leicester and only the EDL will love you.

    • Frank

      What he said is true.

  • Scott

    Looking back on your time at Southern, what are the 3 skills that proved the most helpful to you early on as a young leader, and what steps had you taken in order to cultivate those skills?

  • Sorry guys the time went so quickly I don’t think I got to any of your questions! Hope you enjoy it though as much as I did recording it. Thanks Al!

  • Huge and I believe incorrect assumption just after 4 minutes in. Both of you make the claim/assumption that because you are extreme your have convictions and it is only people who are extreme who have convictions.

    I am totally convicted (convinced) of the truth of the Gospel, of God’s grace, of the assurance of sins forgiven, of new lift in the Spirit, of my experiences of God at work today, of God’s thirst for justice, peace, mercy, compassion, of the someday return of Christ and of life eternal. Totally convicted.

    Yet I don’t need to couple those with extreme views that condemn others, that require me to reject equality for all, that exclude others from the Christian Community, that stop me working with people of different faith, other faiths or no faith.

    Equating conviction with extremism is a false view.

    • Conviction is not the same as extremism. People can be very convicted about all kinds of things! I reckon if you watched the whole video you’d have less to disagree on!

      • I have watched the whole video. I didn’t find it very helpful or encouraging and the views expressed are as narrow as I expected with plenty of plugs for our few best friends.

      • Adrian,

        “Conviction is not the same as extremism.”

        But you are both extremists in your views within the Christian Church and the tone and words make it clear that it is only people who believe as you two do that are acting properly out of conviction. and you confirm this with your comment “People can be very convicted about all kinds of things!” in other words people who are not like us are convicted of wrong things.

  • Dave, I really don’t think that either Al or I stand as “extremists” in the stream of Christianity that goes back to the Reformation or beyond! Neither of us are in any stretch of the imagination fundamentalists! Would you call Roman Catholics extremist too because they hold conservative views on all kinds of issues (including a view that would make you and I both ineligible to be priests because we are married!)

    Actually, I think that the whole point about a conviction is that you believe others are wrong! I have written quite a bit about the notion that lilly-livered ecumenicalism and inter-faith dialogue where we all pretend we think the same thing has no interest to me! It also has no interest to those from other faiths who actually believe the doctrines handed down to them. I sat next to a Muslim at our school’s Christmas Nativity. Was she offended by the Christian content of the songs etc? NO! Did she agree with it? NO! Does she understand that I want her to become a Christian as much as she wants me to become a Muslim (if not more?) YES, I think so.

    Lowest common denominator “tolerance” where actually we do not tolerate anybody who is actually convicted about anything will not work in the 21st century. Muslims, Hindus, those of other faiths will respect us much more if like them we say “We are actually convinced of the truths of our faith’s claims but we respect your right to think differently.”

    Ironically, you seem absolutely certain that Mohler, me and others are “wrong”! So perhaps you have convictions after all!

    But, would Jesus himself meet your definition of extremism when he said “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by me!”?

  • Adrian,

    What you are saying is far too scary for me to reply properly here where I have no control over my comments. I’ll reply on my blog later.

    However, I’ll just say you have ignored all I wrote above about my convictions and you like Al Mohler must be a poster boy for the EDL.

    • I’m rather confused Dave. In my experience speaking with for example Muslims to talk with then about areas where we agree and areas where we disagree is very helpful in building relationships. They like not feeling patronized and they like it when you show a genuine interest in understanding what they really do believe. This “meeting of minds” does not require us to deny what Jesus said about being the only way to God and as for example what Bob Roberts gets involved with it certainly doesn’t prevent us from working with those of other faiths. Incidentally we have a good relationship with a local Baptist Church where the minister is a woman and again there are no issues with us having different opinions. Muslims (Just as one example) have very strongly held beliefs. They would not be impressed by someone who “softened” their own views. I really don’t get what it is that I have said that is “scary” or especially unusual.

      • And one more thing…I find it deeply offensive that you could imply that I would be an ally of a racist party. I attend a multicultural church lead by a black senior pastor and with around 50 nationalities represented so I rather hope my anti-racist credentials are fairly robust!

      • “In my experience speaking with for example Muslims to talk with then about areas where we agree and areas where we disagree is very helpful in building relationships. They like not feeling patronized and they like it when you show a genuine interest in understanding what they really do believe.”

        Exactly, but that is not what Al Mohler says. He says their faith is “a demonstration of satanic power.” and he writes this publicly.

        So how do these Muslims you know react when you talk areas where you disagree and you tell them that their faith is “a demonstration of satanic power.”?

        What have I said that would imply those who do not agree that the faith of a Muslim is “a demonstration of satanic power.” therefore patronise Mulims? Do some reasearch into the St Philips Centre here in Leicester to find out what is really possible.

        This view that all other faiths are “a demonstration of satanic power.” is exactly the sort of thing I mean when I say you are an extremist.

        I have never accused you of being racist. I have said the EDL will love you because Christian who say things like all other faiths are “a demonstration of satanic power.” can be used by them to claim that Christians are also against people of other faiths and against “foreigners” and “immigrants”.

        • Ok, first up that’s not a phrase I used. I’m not sure it’s wording I’d particularly want to use myself, although I think it would mean something very different in a Christian context to a non Christian one. So for example I believe that Satan is involved in influencing me in all kinds of ways even though I’m a Christian. But if I talk about it carelessly to someone who doesn’t understand what I mean it would make me sound like a crazy man. I think all Mohler was probably referring to is what Paul says when he says the god of this age blinds unbelievers. One of the challenges of today and this is something Bob Roberts majors on is that we can no longer have a private conversation among friends who understand our worldview. Instead we must appreciate that when we speak or blog the whole world could be watching and so figure out ways to actually communicate and bridge build by what we are saying. Check out my post “did God have sex with Mary?” For an example of this.

          • Al Mohler did not say this in a private conversation, he said it on the radio and it was reported in the press as the link I gave shows.
            I don’t think it means something different in different contexts. I think that some think this is ok to say in private to Christians and then lie about face to face with Muslims, Jews, Sikhs etc. To do that would be patronising and hateful.
            When you invite extremists like this for interviews and praise them and promote their books then what are people supposed to think about your views?

            Oh and the more I think about what I remember of the video (I hate video, it is so slow and difficult to quote compared to the written word) I think that unsurprisingly Al Mohlers understanding of Leadership is just as bad. I can’t recall any mentions of teamwork, of collaboration of bringing out the best in others, of delegation. His reading of the Bible ignored the approach of Jesus in building a team and sending people out in pairs. It ignores the way that right from the beginning the Church resolved disputes as a team. It ignores all the people who worked alongside Paul and who he trained, delegated to.

            Typically just what you would expect from an understanding of leadership built on male bravado and male headship.

          • Dave. The point is that the way in which the point Mohler was making (which is valid) in an age where about the only understanding of the work of demons is seen in movies like the excorcist means that I think you can’t simply say that phrase really without explaining what you actually mean. I’m sure all he means is that as a Christian he doesn’t believe other faiths come from God in the same way Christianity does, that as much as their adherents are sincere, and faith of any kind does more social good than unbelief, ultimately if we believe Christianity we have to believe that the devil and his minions are subtly at work behind the scenes in myriads of ways seeking to influence people of faith and no faith alike to turn away from Jesus. C’S Lewis book the screwtape letters imagined what this looks like. If Mohler meant that to the extent another’s religion stands in the way of him coming to Jesus it is to him a work of the enemy of our souls, just as much as me being distracted by too much blogging from important persuits might be the work of the same enemy, is that really such a terrible thing to say? It’s not that we have to lie, just that we have to explain what we mean. And also, that we ask those listening to be patient, and trusting of us a little, so as not to jump to a conclusion without checking that what they thought we meant really was what we actually meant!

          • In thirty minutes we couldn’t cover all aspects of leadership. Teamwork IS vital to biblical leadership. But especially in a large organization strong leadership (which you seem to imply is a more male trait!) is vital. It’s not machismo it’s just reality. Without leaders nothing happens!

  • Adrian,

    Read the transcript at your attempt to explain away or justify what Al Mohler said does not work.

    If you don’t mention anything about any form of working with others or building them up in 30 minutes on leadership then your model of leadership has very little to do with the gospel.

    Strong leadership that does not work with others or build them up is a male headship trait (ie not male but belonging to a system of thinking that Al Mohler believes in where only men can lead). It is machismo, it is not gospel leadership. We should have one leader in the Church and that is Christ who is part of a team, Father, Son and Spirit who always leads as that team.

    Stop pandering to US extremists. Challenge their thinking and behaviour just as you would challenge anyone else.

    • Working as a team does not preclude having a leader for that team. Can you show me even one large church or any other organization for that matter that doesn’t have a leader? Anyway Mohler does talk about raising up other leaders as being a critical test of a leader in our talk. What’s that but teamwork? Committees don’t get anything accomplished, however.

      • Adrian,

        Whoa. For someone as against abortion as you are you throw a lot of babies out with bathwater.

        The more I read about Al Mohler and his leadership style the more I discover how far from any form of leadership I admire it. See for lots of examples. Not least is the clear picture that all this wonderful extreme “leadership” has not achieved anything in terms of turning around a shrinking church.

        I have not said no leaders, I have not said leadership is just committees (and to simply denigrate all committees is a cheap and silly accusation). The best leadership is not about bravado, it does not think it is more right (convicted) because others disagree. There is nothing to admire about and little but negative examples to learn from these strong male headship leaders like Driscoll and Mohler who suppress criticism and other views almost as strongly as they suppress women.

        Again you ignore my question about why the more extreme someone is (and the Christianity Today article shows how extreme Al Mohler is) the less likely you are to challenge them on anything and the more likely you are to pander to them and promote their books.

        • Dave. I don’t think that the Christianity Today article makes Mohler out to be an extremist. Many many people feel similar to him. I don’t “challenge” him because on most things I agree with him. Not everything, but a lot!!

          • as I have said before your understanding of what is extreme is scary!

          • If taking Jesus at his word when he says he’s the only way to God is extremist then call me extremist all you like!

          • “If taking Jesus at his word when he says he’s the only way to God is extremist then call me extremist all you like!”

            Talk about trying to avoid the point!
            – Initiating hate against other religions as Al Mohler (who does that and you say “I don’t “challenge” him because on most things I agree with him.” is not the way of Jesus (see John 4, Mark 7)
            – Being a leader that leads in a different way to what people were expecting to take a whole denomination in a different direction, one that excludes many and massively restricts women is extreme, but not the way of Jesus.

            As I see both you and Al see Conviction = good and that Conviction is defined as you disagree with everyone else and place yourself at an extreme. Yet the key teaching of Jesus what he described as the two greatest commandments gets lost in the process.

          • Al Mohler does not advocate hate against other religions and nor do I. You shouldn’t make false accusations. Was Paul an extremist when he said the reason people are not Christians is because “the god of this age” has blinded the eyes of the unbeliever or when he said that a messenger from Satan had been tormenting him? It is very possible to be convicted about the truth and yet to love someone. I hope that you don’t hate me, and yet you seem very convicted that I am wrong!

  • We will have to disagree. I think saying that other faiths are a “demonstration of satanic power.” is hateful.
    Interesting that as so often you don’t quote Jesus, only Paul – why is that. Maybe because this is certainly not the way Jesus acted towards people of other faiths. His strongest criticism was to the religious figures of his own faith who placed heavy burdens on ordinary people.
    Of course you are also selective when you quote from Paul, so you miss out Acts 17:23 for example.
    Of course you can be convinced someone is wrong and still love them – but calling their religion a “demonstration of satanic power.” is not doing that. Doing it on radio and in the press is stirring up anger and hatred. Not challenging someone who claims to be able to write about leadership on the way they have acted is to pander to them.

    • The testimony of the entire New Testament is clear. This is the scandal of particularity. The first quote is from Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman:
      “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” (Joh 4:22 ESV).
      “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Joh 14:6 ESV).
      “So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them” (Joh 10:7-8 ESV).
      “”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (Joh 3:16-18 ESV).
      “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (Joh 3:36 ESV).
      “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (Joh 20:30-31 ESV).
      “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”” (Act 4:12 ESV).
      It is not hatred to tell people that there is salvation in Christ alone.