I am basing my answer the question in the title on many months of listening to his excellent “The Briefing” podcast.
And what I’ve learned from all this listening is that he is very skilled at identifying interesting problems and threats to the Christian worldview, but he rarely or never brings in evidence from outside the Bible so I can discuss these things with non-Christians. Why not? In my experience of listening to him on his podcast, he is not capable of opposing any of the things that he wrings his hands about in any way other than blaming “The Fall” and reminding his listeners what the Bible says. His notion of a “Christian worldview” really just means reading the Bible, and never linking it to science, economics, history, etc. Maybe he is afraid that too much learning about these other areas will crowd out the Bible verses out of his memory. I don’t know.
I still think it’s good to listen to his podcast, but he’s of no value in fixing anything he complains about, unless you’re already a Christian.
Here’s what a conversation with Al Mohler and the liberal supreme court judges would be like:
- Al Mohler: So, I heard you guys voted to overturn the Defense of Marriage Amendment.
- Liberal SCOTUS justice: That’s right.
- Al Mohler: Would you like to hear what the Bible says about that?
- Liberal SCOTUS justice: Actually, no.
- Al Mohler: Are you sure?
- Liberal SCOTUS justice: Pretty sure.
- Al Mohler (turns to the choir): See? We live in a Genesis 3 world!
- Liberal SCOTUS justice: What does that even mean?
- Al Mohler: Oh! Oh! Oh! I know that one! It means -
- Liberal SCOTUS: Is that from the Bible? Because if it is, I don’t want to hear it.
- Al Mohler: Boooo!!!! Phooey!!!!
Al Mohler is a smart man, and very good to have around if you are evangelizing fundamentalist Christians. But with anyone else, he is not in a position to be convincing. The best he can do is wall Christianity off from non-Christianity, but in my opinion, he’s not able to persuasive to the part of culture that he just walled off. OK, that’s the end of my satire of Al Mohler.
Anyway, let’s take a look at this post from Think Apologetics blog, which explains more about this attitude. Note: Eric does not necessarily endorse my snarky satire of Al Mohler.
He quotes from this interview between two evangelical heavyweight New Testament critics:
[Ben] Witherington says:
You speak frequently about a change, even among the laity, in what I will call the mood of the culture when it comes to Christianity. What are the telltale signs in your mind? How do you see a book like this addressing that change, especially if we are now moving into a post-Christian, post-Biblical era in America?
[Craig] Blomberg says:
When I was working on my various educational degrees in the 1970s, we were still reeling as a culture from Vietnam, Watergate, Woodstock and a generation of young adults who were often very disenchanted with traditional authority, including religious authority. Yet they were truly open-minded. They were interested in exploring religious options other than Christianity but they were also very open to exploring the evidence for Christianity, especially when it was combined with an authentic, relevant Christian lifestyle. So mixed among other kinds of hippies were a large number of “Jesus people,” many of whom had come out of alternative lifestyles.
If you organized an event on a secular college or university campus with a winsome, compelling speaker and did a reasonably good job at publicizing it, there was a good chance you would draw a large crowd and that a significant minority of the non-Christians in the audience would take significant steps closer to becoming followers of Jesus if not make the commitment on that very day. And those who didn’t at least had some general knowledge, even before they came to the event, of the worldview they were for the time being, at least, choosing to reject.
Today we see the children of that generation as young adults on the same campuses with the same Christian organizations, with even more compelling speakers and evidence on which to draw, and yet in many instances it is extremely difficult to get a good crowd, if you do you are lucky if even a few unbelievers come, and luckier still if any of them are drawn toward the faith. But it is not as if any new evidence has emerged that we didn’t know about a generation ago to make the case for faith weaker. Instead, people have grown up with less awareness of biblical claims, with more prejudice against Christianity, with an eagerness to embrace the most outlandish charges against the Bible without even wanting to research them at all, which really shows that they are looking for reasons not to believe rather than engaging in serious inquiry.
Then Eric says this:
Did you notice that both Witherington and Blomberg acknowledge we are living in a post-Christian, post-Biblical era in America? I wish the rest of the Church would wake up and stop just giving Christians more Bible verses and Bible sermons. I love the Bible. But as I have said elsewhere:
If pastors keep assuming that the average person in the culture thinks the Bible is authoritative, they are living in denial. This is not the 1950’s! When we as Christians assume everyone outside the four walls accepts our starting point, then we are kidding ourselves. I would love to see more pastors spend at least one month or more a year teaching their congregants on the reliability and authority of the Bible.
For example, let’s say we have thousands of seminary students who graduate who are very skilled at exegeting the text. However, the problems is that the majority of these people (and teachers) start with a set of presuppositions that a fairly large part of our culture rejects. Here are our starting points:
1. God’s existence: God exists because the Bible says so.
2. Epistemology (the study of knowledge): God gives us knowledge of Himself by revelation. The Bible tells us this as well.
3.Miracles: Christianity is a revelatory religion. Without miracles (such as the resurrection) being both possible and actual, our faith is really not very unique. What about other miracle claims in other religions? There is an overall skepticism towards miracles in the West. How do we answer these issues?
4.History: Is history knowable? What historical method are we teaching our students? And as far as miracles, can history evaluate a miracle claim such as the resurrection?
5. Hermeneutics: Can we arrive at objective meaning in the text?
6. Ethics: Is the Bible a source of ethics for us? How would we explain this to the world around us.
If we continue to start with the Bible itself without Prolegomena, we will end up causing thousands of Christians to beg the question to those we minister to. To beg the question is to take for granted or assume the truth of the very thing being questioned. My advice for seminaries is to make it mandatory for all students to take a class on Prolegomena.
I love the Bible too. But I also know how to have a conversation with a non-Christian about science, economics, politics, etc. I know how to talk about the findings of mainstream science and how they point to a Creator and Designer without dismissing it all as the Devil’s handiwork. I know how to make a case for the pro-life view or for chastity or traditional marriage or the free-market system without requiring that my audience assume that the Bible is the inerrant word of God (which I think it is). We need to get to the point where we can have conversations about things with people who don’t go as far as we do on inerrancy. I think that when they see that we actually know what we are talking about in these other areas, that will open the door for them to listen to us on spiritual things, too.