Nov 22, 2010

Albert Mohler: Epistemological Dictator

So Albert Mohler wrote himself a blog entry about attempts at reconciling Christianity and evolution, in response to an article on Biologos.  In the Biologos article, the writer complains of:
Particularly coming from the head of the largest Southern Baptist seminary, Dr. Mohler’s repeated implications and suggestions, if not outright pronouncements, that I and anyone else who does not reject evolutionary processes are, therefore, not Christian in any but a nominal or diminished way, not authentic followers of Jesus no matter what we say and despite the evidence of the Holy Spirit both in us and working through us, seems to me to fly directly in the face of one of the central facets of Baptist tradition—that my salvation and relationship with the Father is not a matter for rulers or authorities or institutions to decide.
Mohler quotes him in part and then proceeds to eviscerate a strawman in righteous indignation:
Can these people read?  I defy anyone to locate a single sentence where I have ever questioned the salvation of anyone in any context where I have addressed anything related to BioLogos. I have never questioned their salvation, nor have I attempted to interrogate their hearts.
But the substance of the criticism--"I and anyone else who does not reject evolutionary processes are, therefore, not Christian in any but a nominal or diminished way"--is of course true.  Mohler has flatly stated of all attempts to reconcile evolution and Christianity: "This is not biblical Christianity."  Granted the way that Mohler and others of his ilk use the term 'Biblical Christianity', this complaint is right on the money.

Now, I'm not really interested in Biblical Christianity--I'm interested in God.  To find God--to find the truth of anything--we have to look at evidence and be willing to change our mind.  That's science in its essence.  The Biologos article invites us to 'come and see': like Peter, to drop our preconceived notions of what the gospel is, go to Cornelius and see what God is doing among the Gentiles, or at least with those who embrace science.  It invites us to reconsider our position based on the evidence.  Mohler responds:
I am willing and eager to enter into any conversation that serves the cause of the gospel. But a conversation that serves the cause of the gospel cannot avoid talking about what the gospel is ... They now have the audacity to ask for a pass from theological responsibility. That is the one thing they may not have.
In other words--almost in so many words--Mohler flatly denies any possibility of reconsidering his position based on evidence: theological responsibility, as arbitrated by himself, supersedes evidence.  If it contradicts the Bible then it is false a priori, and I am the arbiter of the Bible's one true interpretation.  Christ will not work among the Gentiles because my theology precludes it.  Evolution is irreconcilable to God because I say.  I will not come and see--whether the evidence for evolution or anything else.

As Slacktivist would have it:
Such intense commitment in the face of constant refutation might be admirable if it were the genuine dedication of a theologian, however misguided, but what we're seeing here is something else -- the determination of a salesman. Al Mohler is selling something.
That makes him worse than just another deluded ignoramus who believes that there is a dome above the stars keeping out the water, or that humans and chimps were zapped into being 6000 years ago with the same broken gene for synthesizing vitamin C.  That makes him a fraud, a fraud whose goal is power rather than money, a fraud willing to rot the brains of his followers, work against the scientific development of his nation and drag the religion of Jesus Christ into a dead-end just so he can play the petty lord of its "intellectual cul-de-sac."

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