Thursday, July 20, 2006

Al Mohler Has Changed His Mind on Gender Issues

Earlier in the summer, I watched a documentary on the conservative reformation at Southern Seminary. (See previous comments here.) Mohler attended SBTS in the 1980s during the seminary's theological nadir. The documentary accused Mohler of advocating women in ministry (egalitarianism) until his theological opportunism got the better of him. They alleged that Mohler's aspiration was to the presidency of SBTS, and when the conservative resurgence blew into the SBC, he saw an opportunity to get what he wanted only if he abandoned his egalitarianism.

After watching that documentary, I hoped I'd eventually have the opportunity to hear the other side. That came today when Mohler published a commentary on the subject, in the context of a similar change in position on the part of the new president of the SBC, Frank Page. Mohler shares his own story to offer some perspective on what might have happened in Page's mind.

Interestingly, Mohler credits Carl Henry, one of the founding fathers of neo-evangelicalism, with giving him a stiff shove in the right direction—towards embracing complementarianism and a return to biblical authority:
Thus, during my years as a seminary student, I accepted the position that was presented as “standard,” scholarly, and acceptable. Worse that that, I actually helped lead a protest of the 1984 SBC resolution on women in ministry.

Then, I also had to change my mind. Embarrassingly enough. I, too, was caught in the act of changing my mind.

It started with a general unrest in my thinking. But then it exploded with a comment made to me in personal conversation with Dr. Carl F. H. Henry in the mid-1980s. Walking across the campus, Dr. Henry simply stopped me in my tracks and asked me how, as one who affirms the inerrancy of the Bible, I could possibly deny the clear teaching of Scripture on this question. I was hurt, embarrassed –and highly motivated to answer his question.

[Discussion of the process that led to his new convictions omitted.]

Nevertheless, my study of the question led me to a very uncomfortable conclusion — my advocacy of women in the teaching office was wrong, violative of Scripture, inconsisent with my theological commitments, injurious to the church, unsubstantiated, and just intellectually embarrassing.

1 comment:

tjp said...

Ben,

This is a long shot. I mean a really--REALLY--long shot. But perhaps Kevin Bauder will do for the staunch, card-carrying secondary separationists what Henry did for Mohler.

I'm not a Mohler fan, but I appreciate his honesty.

Good stuff.

Thanks.