Al Mohler has been a convenient target of fundamentalist ire in the degrees of separation game ever since he chaired a crusade (that excluded Roman Catholics and liberal Protestants) for a prominent evangelist a few years ago. Through that decision and a conversation with a fundamentalist leader in which he is said to have claimed that he would do it again, Mohler became a nifty link in a chain that stretches between folks like John MacArthur and the Pope. This is important to the fundamentalist doctrine of separation because it enables everyone from the Mohler on down the chain to MacArthur and beyond to be labeled a "disobedient brother" from whom we must separate.
Now, anyone who has read this blog for any length of time can pretty well guess whether I think chairing this crusade was a good idea. Would it stun you if I said that there are plenty of non-(movement)fundamentalists who share that opinion? Nevertheless, this dead horse is hardly worth beating any more than it already has been.
What all this has to do with T4G is the fact that I gained a tremendous appreciation for Mohler and what God has used him to accomplish, as we gathered near his home turf. Never mind the fact that he's one of the most articulate speakers you'll ever encounter. Never mind the fact that he has an uncanny ability to distill abstract concepts into simple statements—a veritable walking sound byte. Never mind the fact that he's addressing the kinds of issues that only fundamentalists talked about for decades—except he's doing it much more thoughtfully and biblically than (most) fundamentalists were doing back then.
The simple fact that crystallized in my mind was that Al Mohler was 33 years old when he became the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1993. In 1993, Southern was infested with rank theological liberalism in the faculty and the student body. What Mohler accomplished at that age in steering such a large ship back to theological conservatism is simply stunning. It made liberals so mad that they had to make a movie about it, levying all kinds of accusations of power politics and opportunism.
Now, I don't have any way to judge what Mohler's motivations have have been at any point in his life, least of all in 1993. I do know this: We're supposed to judge teachers by their works, not just their words. Maybe we who have not shed the blood and dripped the sweat that Mohler has in the spiritual battle of recovering a theological institution can find it in ourselves to grant a healthy recognition of what has been accomplished, even when we do find specific choices to criticize.
He was 33 years old. Just think about that for a minute.