Al Mohler’s Change of Heart on the Women’s Issue

Dr. R. Albert MohlerIt is widely known that Dr. R. Albert Mohler is a staunch proponent of complementarianism. What is not so widely known is that Dr. Mohler was at one time a staunch proponent of egalitarianism.

On his “Conventional Thinking” weblog, Dr. Mohler recounts the story of a conversation with Dr. Carl F. H. Henry in the mid-1980’s that provoked his change of heart.

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.

I launched myself on a massive research project, reading everything I could get on both sides . . .

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.

Here is a great story about what we should all be willing to do when faced with a situation in which the scripture contradicts our preconceived notions. Dr. Mohler’s story is a compelling one, so I hope you will take time to read the rest of “Frank Page–Caught in the Act of Changing His Mind.”

(HT: Russell Moore)

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12 thoughts on “Al Mohler’s Change of Heart on the Women’s Issue”

  1. The logic of inerrancy=complementarianism doesn’t work. It has a ring of it like inerrancy=6 day creationism, or inerrancy=Calvinism, both of which are advocated by some. I think we have to be more careful in our theological talk, precisely because statements like these (like the one Henry made) enforce a particular theological view with the assumption that it is THE view of God, when clearly He has left us room for disagreement. It is perfectly fine for one to be complementarian, but it is also Scripturally legit for one to be egalitarian.

  2. Dear TM,

    I don’t mean to imply that Complementarianism equals inerrancy. We all know plenty of people who affirm inerrancy and who affirm egalitarianism. Nevertheless, I would argue that egalitarian hermeneutical approaches often lead to a diminution of biblical authority, despite their claims to the contrary. Also, it seems to me that disdaining inerrancy and disdaining complementarianism often go together. For some reason, some evangelical egalitarians that I know of have a love/hate relationship with inerrancy. Inerracny is treated like the crazy uncle that shows up at family reunions and embarasses the family, but whose presence must nevertheless be tolerated.

    Complementarians and egalitarians make opposing claims. This whole debate is about which side is being most faithful to what the Bible teaches. It’s logically impossible to say that both complementarianism and egaliatarianism are “Scripturally legit” (unless of course one thinks the Bible contradicts itself and affirms both).

    Maybe you mean to say that both complementarians and evangelical egalitarians make arguments that appeal to scripture? That’s true enough, but that’s not the same thing as saying that both views are equally valid. They are not.

    Thanks for the comment.

    Denny

  3. Sorry to go off on a tangent here, Denny, but should a man be trusted if he blatantly lies and twists the words of someone? Should he be trusted or quoted AT ALL?

    If the answer is yes, then I guess Mohler is a go to guy.

    However, if the answer is no, then I hope that you will do your best to find a full transcript of Barak Obama’s speech at the Call to Renewal. Then find Mohler’s comments on said speech.

    His comments were nothing shy of blatant word twisting in order to make someone from the opposite political party look bad.

    I don’t expect much more from Rush Limbaugh because he’s not touted (or touting himself) as a man of God.

    However, When Albert Mohler does it, he is disobeying scripture and mocking his fellow Christians. As a Christian leader, or as someone who wishes to be one, he should be held to a higher standard and hold himself to a higher standard still.

    That you give this man further forum is both sad and tragic. No matter what else he says and how on target or off target he may be, we as Christians should shun him until he repents. That is Biblical (that apostle Paul guy had some things to say about that), and that is just.

    Sorry.

  4. Paul,

    I’m not sure Mohler twisted Obama’s words as much as you suggest. I’m not sure misinterpretation of someone’s words, however, is worthy of being shunned.

    Later,

    Jason

  5. Jason,

    I would go farther than misinterpretation, and go clearly to misrepresenting. And, yes, I’ve seen Mohler’s comments and what Obama actually said. Misrepresentation is a proper statement of case.

    And since that is the case, why isn’t Mohler repenting for blatantly lying about his fellow brother in Christ?

    It’s shameful at the very least.

  6. Paul,

    What do you think Obama meant by the following quotation?

    “Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, to take one example, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.”

    It seems to contradict 2 Timothy 3:16-17. If Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training, and equips for every good work, then I need no other source for argument.

    Until then,

    Jason

  7. Jason,

    What Barack means is that you need to be able to translate your concerns into overarching concerns which go beyond “simply” the religious point of view. Which makes sense in…

    1) a supposedly secular society

    and

    2) a society which is supposedly open to the viewpoints of other religions.

    So, our Christian viewpoint SHOULD be the centerpiece of our political discourse. However, we cannot stop at that point. Using abortion as the example:

    We as Christians can say scientifically that life begins at conception and that life is sacred, as God gave us life and we should not play God and take it away.

    However, in a secular society, the counter is usually in first and second trimester abortions that those children could not survive outside of the womb. So, it is ALSO necessary to point out the following concerns of secular society:

    a) The health and the life of the woman can both be put at risk during an abortion. Many women have ended up infertile after an abortion procedure. Not to mention, the psychological traumas that coincide with abortions also should be a major consideration.

    b) after all, abortion IS murder. Objection to murder has usually been an objection that has crossed all religious and political lines. One reason why I am continually so upset with the intentional sabotage of the partial birth abortion ban was the fact that if worded correctly, it would have, at the very least, saved a few lives every year. And, as we both agree, life is sacred.

    So, what Obama was getting after was the fact that you can’t just say “God says it’s wrong!” You have to go after the secular person’s point of view as well. He never said that we as Christians should abandon the Christian point of view. As I see what he said (and as the other Christians that I showed his speech to agreed) he simply implied that we SHOULD ADD SECULAR ARGUMENTS TO OUR CHRISTIAN POINT OF VIEW TO PRESENT AS FULL OF AN ARGUMENT AS POSSIBLE.

    If Mohler feels that is wrong, I feel he must be too simple to fully grasp the argument. If he can’t provide commentary to non-Christians, that is his problems, not Obama’s and certainly not mine.

    However, I am sure that I am right in assuming that he absolutely can communicate with non-Christians. That only leaves me with one other possibility then: that he intentionally misrepresented Senator Obama’s comments. And there’d only be one reason for that: Political gain. And there’s only one reason for that: he is yet another “Christian” seeking to poison the religious discourse by tying Christianity to one political party.

    And if that is the case, he should be ashamed of himself.

    And if that is the case, he needs to repent.

    And if that is the case, he has no business calling himself a Christian until he does repent.

    And if that is the case, we have no business paying him any credence until he does repent.

    Until then,

    Paul

  8. Paul

    1) Why is murder an objection in a secular society? I think it is rooted in religious themes.

    2) What is the secular argument supporting the statement that abortion is murder? I think most pro-choice advocates would not agree with your reasoning.

    3) Somewhat related to the original topic, do you think Obama believes in the inerrancy of the Bible?

    Until Then,

    Jason

  9. Jason,

    Even if the idea that murder is wrong has its roots in religious thought, it has surely spread to the vast majority of the, ahem, spiritual or even atheist crowd.

    You’d be shocked by what you think you know about the pro-choice crowd vs. what is the case with many in the pro-choice crowd. To be sure, there are some pretty twisted individuals who choose to ignore science in the name of being able to continue calling abortion an okay way to terminate a pregnancy. I know some of them. But the vast majority of the “pro-choice” people I know would fight to help a friend consider keeping a child or putting that child up for adoption before killing it. And it was one of those people who put it like so: just because someone is pro-choice doesn’t make them pro-abortion. And that is the truth. And certainly, as the past 30+ years have proven, just because someone is anti-abortion doesn’t mean that they’re at all pro-life.

    It’s easy to villify the opposition in order to make your side look better. And that’s why it’s been done so much by the likes of Mohler (and yourself, Jason. I’ve seen you do it on this very board).

    However, I think it is more Christ-like to try to know the heart of a man.

    And, that, my friend, is why I cannot answer the question about Obama’s thoughts on Biblical Inerrancy.

    I do know, for a fact, however, that he does answer his e-mail. You should write him and find out.

    Until then,

    Paul

  10. Paul,

    If you and your side feel villified by anything I’ve said, then I apologize. I only respond because I, myself felt villified and sensed the need to speak up in response to your posts on this very board.

    To that end, since you can’t answer in response to Obama’s thoughts on inerrancy, I’ll agree not to misinterpret by just ignoring them. But how can you be so certain in Mohler’s intentions (or my own) if you cannot interpret Obama’s thoughts yourself? Perhaps it is best to say that if you cannot comment on Obama’s words, then why comment on Mohler’s?

    Should be working,

    Jason

  11. Jason,

    1) you should only feel villified if you too find yourself blatantly and boldly lying about the statements made by senators that you don’t support. I was saying that ALBERT MOHLER (and not you, Jason) was seeking to villify the other side (liberal Christians, democrats, you name it) by misrepresenting their views. And we both know that either Mohler misrepresented what Obama had to say or he’s a complete idiot. I’m going to go with misrepresentation, as I don’t think for a second that he’s stupid.

    As for Obama’s take on inerrancy, you speak as if you already know the answer. If that’s the case, I’d love to know.

    Until Then,

    Paul

  12. Paul,

    Firstly, the first sentence of your last thread doesn’t make any sense. I tried to reason through it, but to no avail. Maybe you mistyped something.

    Secondly, if you were only speaking about Albert Mohler and not myself, how do you explain this quote . . .

    ‘ And that’s why it’s been done so much by the likes of Mohler (and yourself, Jason. I’ve seen you do it on this very board). ‘

    Sounds like you were talking about me.

    I really don’t need your explanation, however, I have decided responding to your posts is not worth the effort. You are simply here to antagonize all those that disagree with you. I’ll let you do that on your own blog and cease the dialogue.

    Have a nice day,

    Jason

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