I wanted to share some thoughts about another book I’m reading as part of the Father’s Day Blog tour. The Disappearance of God by Dr. Al Mohler is a book about culture, the church, and our response. First of all, I have the utmost respect for Dr. Al Mohler and his leadership at Southern Seminary. I feel that reformed theology definitely should have a place in the Southern Baptist Convention. I was excited about reading this book and I really wanted to like it, but with anything that I read or review, I must share my honest opinion.
Let’s start off with what is great about the book. In describing problems with the church, Dr. Mohler accurately calls out churches who neglect to preach and teach about sin and Hell. He also shares about the need to return to Biblical church discipline. I feel like we are seeing a return to Biblical truth in many churches that were once more concerned about not offending people. I pray that the trend will continue. Here are a few quotes that I definitely agree with:
- page 20, “A country without a sense of shame or of sin does not have a sense of what is right or wrong, just what is useful or what you can get away with or not get away with.”
- page 28, “Where sin is not faced as sin, grace cannot be grace. What need have men and women of atonement when they are told that their deepest problem is something less than what the Bible explicitly teaches? Weak teaching on sin leads to cheap grace, and neither leads to the gospel.”
- page 38, “Our responsibility is to present the truth of the Christian faith with boldness, clarity, and courage – and defending the biblical doctrine in these times will require all three of these virtues.”
In this book, Dr. Mohler examines different areas of spiritual openness that are dangerous to the church. He spends a considerable part of the book examining and discussing the emerging church. This is where I clearly have a different opinion. Dr. Mohler paints with a broad brush as he discusses everything that is wrong with the emerging church movement. He uses Brian McLauren as the leader and representative of the entire emerging church (page 91). McLauren is admittedly a very polorazing pastor who does not hold to traditional theological beliefs, but he is not representative of the entire movement.
Dr. Mohler also makes no differentiation between emerging and emergent, two terms that have come to mean very different things in the church today. Emergent churches are more aligned with the Emergent Village, and tend to be theologically very liberal. Emerging churches are a very broad group, with some holding to very traditional biblical theology. Both Ed Stetzer and Mark Driscoll have done a great job examining the differences, as I have posted about before. I feel that Mohler is driving a wedge between the traditionalism that is rampant inside of the Southern Baptist Convention and others who are trying new methodologies with the same truth. It is not healthy or beneficial to the body to paint the entire emerging church as liberal theologians who do not hold to the inerrancy and authority of scripture, when the most pressing characteristic is new methodology.
And finally, although I enjoyed the book, I kept waiting to read his thoughts on how we can turn the tide. On how the church can make a difference in the post-Christian culture that America is quickly becoming. The hope and plan are simply not the focus of the book. He ends with encouragement to preach expository sermons, but even effective preaching to empty churches will not change the culture we live in. I still believe that the church must be the church, and engage the culture if we want to make a difference. As pastors, we must preach with boldness, clarity, and courage as Dr. Mohler challenges us, but we can’t lose hope. Here is some information about the book from the publisher.
More faulty information about God swirls around us today than ever before. No wonder so many followers of Christ are unsure of what they really believe in the face of the new spiritual openness attempting to alter unchanging truth.
For centuries the church has taught and guarded the core Christian beliefs that make up the essential foundations of the faith. But in our postmodern age, sloppy teaching and outright lies create rampant confusion, and many Christians are free-falling for “feel-good” theology.
We need to know the truth to save ourselves from errors that will derail our faith.
As biblical scholar, author, and president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler, writes, “The entire structure of Christian truth is now under attack.” With wit and wisdom he tackles the most important aspects of these modern issues:
Is God changing His mind about sin?
Why is hell off limits for many pastors?
What’s good or bad about the “dangerous” emergent movement?
Have Christians stopped seeing God as God?
Is the social justice movement misguided?
Could the role of beauty be critical to our theology?
Is liberal faith any less destructive than atheism?
Are churches pandering to their members to survive?
In the age-old battle to preserve the foundations of faith, it’s up to a new generation to confront and disarm the contemporary shams and fight for the truth. Dr. Mohler provides the scriptural answers to show you how.