Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, joined me on the Generations Radio program to discuss what we as Christians face in an increasingly hostile culture.
Kevin Swanson: Dr. Mohler, welcome back to the Generations Radio program! We are privileged to have you on Generations Radio.
Albert Mohler: It is great to be with you and I am very thankful for your program.
Kevin Swanson: Let’s talk about the cultural landscape in America today. I see the 2012 elections as a pivotal moment in our history. I quoted you in my book Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West, when you said that “our message was rejected by millions of Americans who went to the polls and voted according to a contrary worldview”. Would you say that the 2012 elections were a pivotal moment in our culture?
Albert Mohler: Elections are like the country getting a physical examination; just as we go and see the doctor, receive an examination, and receive a battery of test results. Often some of the results on those tests are questions we were not even asking. This is what the 2012 elections did for us as a nation. It showed us a clear diagnostic revelation of the country even beyond things we expected to see. I put it this way, “we went to bed in America, and we woke up in Belgium”.
Kevin Swanson: The shift did not occur overnight, but as you said, there was something going on in the “body” over the previous decades or century. How did the culture shift occur?
Albert Mohler: Cultures do not shift quickly in terms of their basic worldview level, but we are now experiencing a rapid moral revolution, but that is only because the underlying foundations have been transformed. At the beginning of this nation, we were in a situation where we inherited a nation where the patterns of thought were highly consistent with a Christian worldview. But we are living in a culture now that basically thinks in a secular frame of mind; that shift in thought changes everything.
Kevin Swanson: How does the cultural shift tie into the political direction of the nation?
Albert Mohler: Many evangelicals think that politics drive the cultural issues. That is usually not the case. It actually works in the opposite direction for most voters. They vote with their cultural convictions and that influences the political outcome. For example, many who voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 election said that they were pro-life and pro-marriage when there was absolutely no evidence that Obama was going to be anything other than what he has been, the most pro-abortion president in American history. What took place at the deeper level was the secularization of thought.
Kevin Swanson: Let’s discuss the Christian’s involvement in culture and politics. Should Christians get involved in politics if they will be irrelevant in the cultural direction of the nation?
Albert Mohler: One of the things that I try to help American Christians understand is that not voting is voting and therefore not being involved in politics means that we vote for the wrong candidate. Politics cannot deliver much but what politics does deliver is still important. Elections have consequences and it does matter who the president is.
Kevin Swanson: At the same time, we have to engage the culture. We can’t just engage politics without engaging the culture. How do we get Christians to think wisely about culture?
Albert Mohler: If Christians do not know God’s Word, they will not be able to organize their thinking and live by the Word of God. I think the most important thing that Christians can do is teach and preach the Word of God. That is fundamental. Then, we must connect the dots between what Scripture says and what it means for culture and politics.
Kevin Swanson: If you stood up before a hundred future pastors and you were to give them a list of areas where the cultural battle rages most furiously today, what would those areas be?
Albert Mohler: Ground zero in the cultural battle right now is, and will be for some time, the issue of religious liberty. The freedom of a pastor to teach the Word of God will be very much in question in the years to come.
Kevin Swanson: What should a pastor be saying to their congregants on the various culture issues that face our nation?
Albert Mohler: The pastor needs to give a diagnosis the way that a doctor would give one. The pastor needs to know the illnesses and needs to be on guard against the ideological epidemics and the infectious ideas. The pastor needs to teach his congregation that there are dangerous ideas, that there are infectious agents out there, that there are toxic substances and that they need to know what those things are.
Kevin Swanson: As we engage with the culture, how do we answer this question: what is the standard of morality? What is the standard for law and what is the standard for right and wrong?
Albert Mohler: We must answer that the standard of morality is the righteousness and justice of a holy and omnipotent God. It is revealed in Jesus Christ, in the Scriptures, in his law and commandments.
Kevin Swanson: Where should we focus our efforts in the cultural battle today?
Albert Mohler: I must tell you that something is happening among young people from the age of 14 to 25. I see on the campus of the seminary where I am president, thousands who are standing for the Lord Jesus Christ. In many ways, this generation is being stripped of its pretensions and they are willing to bleed for the truth. But now, their friends are pagans. The situation of nominal quasi-spiritual Christianity is dying out. The culture is becoming either devotedly Christian or devotedly pagan. There is much less middle ground. Let us be thankful for this next generation. The most important culture to work on first, from a Christian perspective, is the home and church. These are eternal cultures and our responsibility starts with the family and church. This is where the kingdom of God is revealed.
Kevin Swanson: God is not done with us yet and we have another generation and battle ahead of us and Christ will have his church!
This interview originally appeared on Generations Radio on August 26, 2013.