Before I give the substance of Al Mohler’s session, I have to address a comment that will not come out of the queue. It accuses Steve Lawson and Al Mohler of being Anabaptists. A quick lesson in history. The Baptists came from the magisterial Reformed tradition, NOT the Anabaptist tradition. The Anabaptists have their descendents in the Amish and the Mennonites. To confuse confessionally Baptist theologians (as in, London Baptist Confession Baptists) with the Anabaptist tradition is slipshod history. They are from two completely different swaths of the Reformation tradition.
His session is called “I’ve Got Half a Mind, Too.” The Christian mind is necessary for the Christian life. He wishes to conduct an autopsy on the mind of the age. He’s really dealing with the Noetic effects of the Fall. He notes that Bebbington’s definition of “evangelical” does not include anything in the way of distinctive thinking or whether evangelicals think at all. So, we need to think about thinking. This requires, of course, a great deal of intellectual energy. There is another factor, which is the difference that conversion makes in our thinking. We face an intellectual crisis of monumental proportions today, especially when it comes to postmodernism. People are skeptical now about whether it is possible to know anything. The Enlightenment has greatly affected the way we think. Now, we have supposedly left the postmodern way of thinking, and are now in the “Late Modern” period.
Mohler reflects on Romans 1:18ff. Here we learn that the knowledge crisis is not new, but rather ancient. That sin constitutes a conspiracy against the truth is vital knowledge for us. The Fall brought about a tremendous confusion in knowledge. As we deny the truth, the culturally collective tendency to rationalize our sin comes to the fore. Modern universities (such as Harvard) tell us that they are seeking the truth. However, it is a massive and intentional evasion of the truth. This is because the theme of Romans 1 is not about what people DO not know, but rather about what they WILL not know. Their ignorance is thoroughly intentional. We should therefore not use our conscience as our guide (Jimminy Cricket notwithstanding), because even our conscience is corrupted by the Fall. Idolatry is the end result of our corrupted thinking. This is because corrupt thinking inherently dethrones God.
1. The Fall affects our thinking. 2. It is genetic in our thinking. 3. Therefore, God has hidden certain things, even for our own good.
There are (at least) 15 Noetic effects of the Fall. 1. Our thinking is now opposed to God. All knowledge comes from God, so if our knowledge of God is corrupted, then so is our knowledge of everything else 2. Ignorance; 3. Distractedness (we all have theological ADD) 4. Forgetfulness; 5. Prejudice; 6. Faulty Perspectives; 7. Intellectual fatigue; 8. Inconsistencies; 9. Failure to draw the right conclusions; 10. Intellectual apathy (we are all apathetic about some knowledge); 11. Dogmatism and close-mindedness. 12. Intellectual pride; 13. Vain imagination; 14. Miscommunication; 15. Partial knowledge. Even when we know rightly, we don’t know completely. Mohler says there are fourteen, but in his speech I (LK) counted 15 effects of the Fall on our thinking.
One of the beautiful things about the Gospel is that Jesus Christ has started the rescue operation of how we can escape or neutralize or lessen these effects through the grace of God.
There are five principles of modern thinking: 1. anti-realism, especially in moral issues; 2. moral relativism; 3. therapeutic universalism (you’re either in therapy or in denial); 4. radical pluralism; 5. pragmatism. We have moved from impossible not to believe in God to possible not to believe to impossible to believe.
I (LK) have to admit that trying to keep on the train of thought is very difficult. He talks very fast, and he is so brilliant that he is trying to give us five thousand points in one hour. It’s like trying to get a drink of water from a fire hydrant.