“An institution has to decide, and it’s not just an option, it’s a responsibility, how much diversity can be tolerated….When a denomination begins to consider doctrine divisive, theology troublesome, and convictions inconvenient, consider that denomination on its way to a well-deserved death.”
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. (born 1960) is an Southern Baptist, evangelical Calvinist. He presently serves as the ninth President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He has been a member of the board of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family since August 31, 2004. He is married to the former Mary Kahler. They have two children named Katie and Christopher.
Mohler is a native of Lakeland in central Florida. As a child he attended Lake Yale, a Florida Baptist campground. During his Lakeland years he attended Southside Baptist Church.
Mohler attended college at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, Florida as a Faculty Scholar. He then received a B. A. from Samford University, a private, coeducational Baptist-affiliated college in Birmingham, Alabama. His graduate degrees, a Master of Divinity and Ph.D. in “Systematic and Historical Theology,” were conferred by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, also known as Southern Seminary.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Southern Seminary)
Mohler joined the staff of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky in 1983 as Coordinator of Foundation Support. In 1987 he became Director of Capital Funding, a post he held until 1989. While still a student he served as assistant to then-President Roy Honeycutt.
In February 1993, Mohler was appointed President of the Seminary by conservatives on that institution’s board of trustees, succeeding Roy Honeycutt. The seminary soon saw a wholesale shift towards conservative theology (characterised by Mohler as a move toward “confessional fidelity”) and a rapid exodus (both voluntary and compulsory) of more than 60 percent of the faculty. Diana Garland the dean of a unit of the Seminary, the Carver School of Church Social Work, was fired over a conflict with Mohler. The Carver School was eventually dissolved as the new administration judged social work to be out of keeping with biblical doctrine. In 1999, nearly a million dollars of its endowment were returned to the Women’s Missionary Union in accordance with the terms of an undisclosed settlement.
One departing faculty member, G. Wade Rowatt, referred to the new regime as “a Baptist version of the Taliban.” (Mohler shakes up Southern Baptists)
Other, more conservative Baptist leaders were elated: Paige Patterson, another Southern Baptist Convention seminary president, said Mohler’s leadership “will mean that they recover their evangelical emphasis there” and that Mohler’s Presidency meant that “the worst of the problems” were over: “Al Mohler has the brains of Erasmus and the courage of Luther.”
The move to conservativism also proved much more appealing to those in the Southern Baptist Convention as enrollment has multiplied several times over since Mohler took office. The seminary is now one of the most endowed and largest seminaries world-wide.
The “Conservative Resurgence”
Mohler was also instrumental in the mid-1990’s restructuring of the Southern Baptist Convention, which saw the Convention shift from a mixture of moderate and conservative voices to a solidly conservative base.
He was involved in the drafting of the controversial 2000 revision of the Baptist Faith and Message, which added an exhortation to wives to “submit graciously” to their husbands, and removed a clause referring to Jesus Christ as the standard by which the Bible is to be interpreted.
A deadline was set for foreign missionaries to confirm their allegiance to the Baptist Faith and Message in written form. Those who did not were dismissed or resigned. Although adherance to and respect for the creed had been a matter of course historically, this marked the first time that a signed written statement of fealty was mandated in the form of an ultimatum.
Media and Editorial Work
Mohler served as editor of The Christian Index the biweekly newsletter of the Georgia Baptist Convention. From 1985 to 1993 he was Associate Editor of the bi-monthly Preaching Magazine.
Mohler served on the Advisory Council for the 2001 English Standard Version of the Bible (ESV.)
Starting July 29, 2003 and continuing to the present (November 2005), Mohler blogged on CrossWalk.com, a web site maintained by Salem Web Network of Chesterfield, VA.
He presently is heard on a nationally syndicated radio talk show, The Albert Mohler Program, and also maintains a web site, http://www.albertmohler.com.
Some references state that Mohler was initially liberal in his theology, particularly during his years as a seminarian, prior to the rise of the conservative movement within the Southern Baptist denomination. One source states that Mohler experienced a conservative epiphany growing from conversations with Carl F. H. Henry, whose essays Mohler later edited. (Realms of Faith: Christian Authors Database at propadeutic.com)
Shortly after his term as President began, Mohler drafted a policy (which was ratified by the trustees) that the Seminary would only hire professors who believed that the Bible prohibits the ordination of women as preachers. Some women already in teaching positions at the Seminary, or who served outside the Seminary in a missionary capacity, were stripped of their posts.
Theologically, Mohler respresents conservative fundamentalist Christianity, and for this I am thankful.
Because in a day where no one stands for much of anything anymore, Mohler stands for the Biblical truth – and through His ministry God has given myself and, I’d argue, an entire new generation of young men firmer footing in standing for the gospel as well.
Forever thankful for this man, especially his work with Together for the Gospel.