Dr. Mohler spoke at the chapel service on Friday and discussed the question, Are Southern Baptists Evangelicals? Here are the notes that I took from his impressive call to the next generation of Southern Baptists (of which I assume I am a part).
Luke 18:8 – “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”
In 1989, Albert Mohler wrote an article entitled, “Are Southern Baptists Evangelicals?” Even though there were some misgivings about this term, in regards to the overall options to be identified with the only place we fit is Evangelical. That term still has meaning for us. The options are Liberal, Evangelical, or everything else. We don’t want to be in the everything else category, so the evangelical moniker fits. Other identification discussions also centered around the truth party vs. liberty party debates (coherent truth vs. soul liberty). The bottom line of these introductory comments for Mohler is that in 1989 it was good to know that we had friends in the evangelical world in the midst of the debates surrounding the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention. But Mohler mentioned that twenty years after this article was published, he would not write the same thing today. Today his title would bee, “We REALLY ARE BAPTISTS!”
We live in the midst of a culture and a religious experience that is marked by the following:
- Confusion over religious branding and over the purpose of denominationalism
- Weakness of parachurch organizations
- Evangelical identity issues.
And thus the Southern Baptist Convention is headed for a crisis. And this crisis will be focused on the forging of a new identity for the denomination. Currently, across the board, we are seeing the death of cultural Christianity, which counted on people being involved in denominations and the religious experience just because it was the way it is culturally. This is no longer the case.
Today’s crisis is a generational crisis and a new slogan will not suffice. What is needed now is not a new slogan, but a resurgence in the Great Commission. Only the cause of the Gospel will keep us together and strong enough to endure. The gospel is the only message that saves. We must ask the hard questions of ourselves. We have been called to be a church on mission.
This new generation is a Generation of Social Transformation, Historical Significance, and Global Responsibility. Thomas Friedman recently wrote an article identifying three “bombs” that threatened the new generation. Those bombs are the nuclear bomb (still a threat), the climate bomb, and the debt bomb. But, according to Dr. Mohler (and I agree with him), the 800 pound gorilla, or the proverbial pink elephant, in the room is what are we going to do for the cause of the Gospel!
According to author Christian Smith, today’s generation is marked by a “moralistic therapeutic deism”. This is a problem. Again referring to Smith, Mohler mentioned that we are less sure even about the deism part. Today’s generation does not reject the gospel, but simply a shrug of indifference. This is the Generation of Institutional Disinterest and this is the Generation that the Southern Baptist Convention’s new generation is called to reach.
Mohler implored the new generation not the leave the Southern Baptist Church, but to save it. We are to give ourselves not to the Southern Baptist Convention, but to Christ.
This next Generation is the Generation to Go Deep! Deep ecclesiology, deep missions, deep passion. There can be no easy believism. We should not give ourselves to the culture wars, the culture is lost and gone! We are to give ourselves the Gospel ministry – all of us.
When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? Will he find a powerful demonstration of faith in the Southern Baptist Convention? It is Dr. Mohler's and my prayer that Christ will indeed find such faith upon the earth!