Evangelical and Southern Baptist Theologian Dr. Al Mohler is Wrong About Christianity and Libertarianism Because He Fails to Realize Libertarianism’s Divergence of Thought
by Lee Edward Enochs
The Libertarian Shaman,
Princeton, New Jersey
(This is an updated and expanded version of my piece on Mohler’s Statements Against Libertarians I posted a few days ago).
On October 31 1517, an unknown priest and scholar named Martin Luther approached the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nailed a piece of paper to it containing the 95 revolutionary opinions that would begin the Protestant Reformation.
Today, I am using this blog post in an attempt to spark a similar revolution and reformation in the Souhern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Evaneglical denomination.
As a Southern Baptist and graduate of a Southern Baptist seminary, I am personally grieved by much of the bizarre and kooky nonsense that is transpiring in the SBC today.
Despite the fact that brazen fundamentalists have hijacked and taken over a formerly great denomination, a growing movement is now occurring across America to call the Southern Baptist Convention back to moderation and tolerance.
Since the hostile takeover and fundamentalist purge of dissenting opinions and moderates in the Southern Baptist Convention, wild statements and activities have gone unchecked.
In this blog post, I call out Dr. Al Mohler, a former friend who has brazenly attacked Libertarians and called us pagan and un-Christian.
Because of my sphere of influence online in certain Libertarian circles, I have received many questions about Al Mohler’s controversial comments on Libertarianism.
Dr. R. Albert “Al” Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary — the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.
On March 5, 2016 Dr. Mohler appeared as a guest on “Up For Debate” show with Julie Roys on the Moody Radio Network. Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Dr. Al Mohler debated Norman Horn, founder of the Christian Libertarian Institute who argued that “Libertarianism is the most consistent expression of Christian political thought.” On this same radio program, Mohler addressed the issue of whether or not Christians can be libertarians.
On this radio program and elsewhere, Mohler has boldly proclaimed that Christianity and Libertarianism are incompatible with each other and mutually exclusive world views with antithetical presuppositions.
Among other shocking assertions, Mohler asserts that “Libertarianism is idolatry” and “denies the gospel.”
As a Christian Libertarian and a graduate of a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Class of 2014), I take great umbrage with Mohler’s dogmatism and reckless statements regarding Christianity’s compatibility with Libertarianism. After listening to Mohler attempt to wax eloquent on the subject, it is apparent to me and other astute students of Libertarianism, that Al Mohler does not know what he is talking about.
The tragic thing about Mohler and his take on Libertarianism is that many Evangelicals hold him up to be some sort of “intellectual” and authority on cultural matters. Truth be told, I know Mohler on a personal level and have been a guest in his home at his ostentatious mansion on the campus at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Mohler controversially came to prominence in the SBC and was placed in his current position at Southern Seminary as a very young man during the fundamentalist / moderate power struggle that ripped the Southern Baptist denomination asunder.
In that titanic ecclesial and theological battle, the fundamentalists, by sheer pragmatism and numerical superiority, led by uber-authoritarian Texas firebrands Judge Paul Pressler (Princeton graduate, 1952), and former Criswell College President Paige Patterson, perpetrated a bloodless coup and were able to ruthlessly take control of all the Southern Baptist seminaries and denominational infrastructures.
Al Mohler was part of the cabal of SBC leaders who plotted to take over the Southern Baptist Convention and egregiously fired female professors such as Dr. Molly Marshall-Green and Dr. Sheri Klouda and kicked out the moderate theological voices in the denomination.
Fundamentalist Mohler himself was involved in the firing of scores of allegedly “moderate”professors at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary during the mid 1990’s, so his reckless comments regarding Libertarianism and Christianity, are not surprising to me since Mohler and his fundamentalist Southern Baptist brethren are dismissive of any view that they see is incongruent with their narrow and medieval worldview.
The long held myth about Al Mohler in Evangelical and Southern Baptist circles is that Mr. Mohler, because of prominent position at Southern Seminary, is an expert on every subject known to humanity. To many Evangelicals and Southern Baptists, Mohler is a celebrity rockstar who can do no wrong.
I have personally been to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for extended visits and read Mohler’s hand typed doctoral dissertation on an “Evangelical Appraisal of Karl Barth” and was not impressed with his level of theological reelection and sophistication. There are far better theologians on Karl Barth and Christian theology such as Princeton Theological Seminary’s Bruce McCormack and George Hunsinger.
In fairness to Mohler, my own wretched and intolerable experience at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and in certain fundamentalist Southern Baptist circles, makes me recalcitrant to give him much credit for anything, but do see him to be infinitely more scholarly and culturally astute than Paige Patterson and his fawning fundamentalist followers.
Yet, it is clear that Al Mohler misses the mark badly on Libertarianism and I am left wondering if he has really spent much time reading widely on the subject.
I am left with the impression that Mohler equates Libertarianism with Ayn Rand’s Objectivism as though they are one and the same.
Mohler says many young people are being “tempted” by what he calls the “idolatrous” non-Christian system of Libertarianism, but does not do a good job and qualifying his statements and giving a clear definition of what Libertarianism is.
Nor does Al Mohler attempt to differentiate the various species of Libertarian thought within the overall movement.
Mohler, if he is a a true scholar, needs to be cognizant of the fact that Libertarianism in the United States is not monolithic and that there tremendous divergence of opinion and thought on crucial matters.
For example, when esteemed Libertarian scholar Walter Block spent time with us Libertarians here at Princeton, he clearly showed in articulating his view of “Evictionism,” that not all Libertarians necessarily support abortion rights or have the same views on the right to life.
I wonder if Mohler believes fellow Kentucky resident and current U.S. Senator Rand Paul is less than Christian because he has distinctly Libertarian views on politics and economics and is the son of Libertarian icon Ron Paul.
Mohler is guilty of the shoddy pseudo-scholarship that is all to common in Southern Baptist and Evangelical circles because his taunted as some sort of intellectual titan and authority on every subject known to women and men.
Yet, it is obvious that Mohler is misinformed badly about Libertarianism and needs to cease pontificating on the matter since he doesn’t realize that Ayn Rand’s objectivism and Libertarianism are not one and the same.
Libertarinism is one of thr fastest growing political movements in America and is now making a tremendous impact across the nation as evidenced by recent polling that shows presumptive Libertarian Party Presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson tracking at 11% as a presidential candidate nationwide.
Mohler needs to know that while it is true that Ayn Rand was a militant atheist, it has to be made clear to Mohler that not every Libertarian is a Randian objectivist.
Furthermore, while most Libertarians believe in maximum freedom and minimal government interference in their personal affairs, there is a wide divergence of opinion on the finer points of this fast growing ideological movement. For example, there is disagreement amongst Libertarians on whether the government should tax its citizenry at all.
I am personally perplexed as to why Mohler would think this Libertarian is an “idolater” and apostate from Christianity simply because I believe in low taxation and non-interventionism.
Mohler needs to read widely and more carefully in Libertarian thought before calling us all idolaters and blasphemous sons and daughters of perdition.
Also, before Mohler attempts to police the Christian world and set himself up as the final arbiter of who is a true Christian in America, Mohler needs to clean up his own Southern Baptist house of cards. It is an indisputable fact that the Southern Baptist Convention has supported some of the most heinous and barbaric practices in America’s storied history such as slavery and support for unjust wars.
I must point out to Mohler and his Southern Baptist supporters that it was not very long ago that African Americans could not even attend or earn degrees at Southern Seminary.
It should be noted that Al Mohler did nothing to confront Richard Land, former president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public-policy arm of Southern Baptist Convention, when Land shockingly lent support to George W. Bush’s failed Iraq War, a military disaster of Biblical proportions that murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi’s and caused the rise of the terrorist group ISIS.
I think Mohler’s Southern Baptist Convention’s close ties and fraternization with the Republican Party has blinded Mohler from the social justice aspects of Christian ministry and before he calls Libertarians pagan idolaters, he needs to clean up his own ecclesiastical den of iniquity.
I for one, am a Christian Libertarian and believe in the authority and inerrancy of Scripture as well as the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all things. I just want the government out of my personal and monetary affairs. Mr. Mohler, I have personally encouraged many students to attend Southern Baptist Seminary, many students who are leaders on your campus now and I take offense to you calling me less than Christian simply because as a Libertarian, I support non-interventionism.
Al Mohler’s critique of Libertarianism is not substantial and is of little importance since he fails to realize that there is divergence of thought within the movement.
I have been a Libertarian all my life and have vigorously opposed statism, collectivism, socialism, government interference in the private and economic sectors since the days of my youth. Contrary to Mr. Mohler’s sentiments, I am a Christian who loves God and His church deeply. I affirm free speech, freedom of religion, non-interventionism, Constitutional fidelity, free market capitalism and champion Liberty.
Lee Enochs (B.A., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), is a Libertarian writer and activist living, going to graduate school and loving life in Princeton, New Jersey. Lee is also managing editor of Liberty Conservatives Magazine and is Editor-in chief of “The Libertarian Shaman.” Lee is the author of two books, “The Case for Rand Paul” and “A Biblical Defense of Capitalism.”