Why Calvinist Al Mohler Wrote the Preface for Paige Patterson’s Anabaptist Festschrift

Sometime last year was a report that B&H Academic was going to publish a festschrift in honor of Paige Patterson. The festschrift is now available. Edited by Malcolm Yarnell, professor of systematic theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the book is entitled, The Anabaptists and Contemporary Baptists: Restoring New Testament Christianity, Essays in Honor of Paige Patterson.

Some may wonder who would endorse such a book given the eternal theological in-fighting among Southern Baptists – I know I did!

Well, inside the cover you will find endorsements from Calvinist Michael Haykin to the Calvinstic Daniel Akin and Russell Moore to Mennonites John Rempel and John Roth. There are various contributors, all of whom I am not familiar. But it is no surprise that Malcolm Yarnell and Emir Caner are listed in the table of contents given their push for Anabaptist theology. It may surprise some that even Rick Warren contributed.

Turn a few more pages and find the “Preface” written by Calvinist Al Mohler. Some may be surprised that Mohler wrote the preface while others may not be knowing of the long-time friendship between Mohler and Patterson.

Even so, some may ask why Al Mohler wrote the preface in honor of Paige Patterson when they seem so far apart theologically. How was Mohler able to do so? Mohler explains from the preface.

I am honored to have the privilege of writing this preface, but my authorship might seem incongruous to some readers. They know of my love, respect, and friendship with Paige Patterson., but will scratch their heads at the thought of a committed Calvinist praising the man who would far prefer the influence of the Anabaptists in our midst.

I am a Baptist and a thankful Southern Baptist. I stand indebted to the Radical Reformation in ways that cannot fully be calculated. Though Reformed in soteriology, I recognize that my decidedly Baptist ecclesiology has far more in common with the Anabaptists. I stand with the Anabaptists in their insistence on the baptism of believers only and the necessity of the personal confession of faith in Christ. I reject Calvin’s understanding of church and state and side without apology with those who died at the hands of those used the states as an instrument of the church, or the church as an instrument of the state. I stand with them on the sole final authority of Scripture, even when it means standings against the received tradition.

If this seems incongruous, just remember this wonderful collection honors a gun-toting Anabaptist. Enough said.

I read the endorsements and the preface of this book and I am encouraged for Southern Baptists.

Yet, my flesh wants to ask – why the hell can’t Southern Baptists get along on blogs and other venues? 

But as a good Southern Baptist I’m not allowed to talk like that (even though divisiveness is from hell). So, I’m left wondering if Southern Baptists on all sides of our theological debates can learn to disagree in a more godly manner. Can we learn to get along better from the Mohler – Patterson friendship?

More importantly, can we learn to come together for the sake of the gospel?

Here I blog…


tagged as , , , , , in Arminianism,Baptist,books,calvinism,Christianity,Church Issues,politics,Southern Baptist,theology

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 clarkdunlap October 1, 2013 at 1:50 pm

People don’t get along as well on blogs because, they are not all as gracious as some of our leaders, and they are often devious in their motives and brutal in their ad hominem addresses.  What else would you like to know?  😉

2 rhology October 1, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Here’s an even better question: Why be associated in any way with Emir Caner?

3 Mark Lamprecht October 1, 2013 at 1:58 pm

clarkdunlap Interesting that leaders don’t often address problems with other leaders in the same “household” yet Joel Osteen and Oprah as always easy targets.

4 Scott Shaver October 1, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Mohler claiming affinity with Anabaptists …..your kidding right?

5 Mark Lamprecht October 2, 2013 at 11:16 am

@Scott Shaver Do you think Mohler is wrong? How so?

6 sshaver October 3, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Mark Lamprecht , I don’t think Mohler is wrong about what he finds admirable in Anabaptist history.  I just think he’s a little disingenuous. For the purpose of praising Patterson, he identifies himself with historic baptist convictions that he’s belittled continuously throughout his career as a “Southern Baptist.”
He may not share Calvin’s view of the state, but his reformed  mindset certainly doesn’t seem to  have a problem imposing the kind of confessionalism which has historically resulted in state-church environments.
Kinda like a Houston Texans fan saying I’m really a Cowboy.

7 clarkdunlap October 3, 2013 at 2:48 pm

“historic baptist convictions that he’s belittled continuously”
So are you going to say that about Broadus and Boyce and Basil Manly?  There is much crossover between reformed Baptists and Anabaptists.

8 sshaver October 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm

clarkdunlap I believe if you’ll read my comment Clark it was intended exclusively for Mohler.  Broadus, Boyce and Manly have been dead for years.

9 clarkdunlap October 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm

sshaver I’m slapping my forehead that I was so obtuse that you didn’t get my point.  I’ll be clearer. You need to repent for your judgmental and offensive language. Unless you can justify the comment “Belittled continuously.”

10 Mark Lamprecht October 3, 2013 at 3:17 pm

sshaver Thanks for answering. The first question that comes to mind is whether or not Dr. Mohler has ever wholly (or in part?) distanced himself from Anabaptists. 
Second, I’m not sure what you mean by “historic baptist convictions”. Do you mean Anabaptist? American Baptist? Southern Baptist? Oddly, one of the things Mohler did at Southern was enforce the founding confession of faith – the Abstract – of Southern Seminary during the resurgence. I’m not sure how much more historic Mohler could get in that particular setting. Also, historically speaking, if Mohler follows the SBC founders theologically and ecclesiastically, how much more denominationally historic can he become? 
Glad you admit Mohler does not share Calvin’s view of the state. What type of confessionalism are you talking about? Are you referencing Southern? Is he outside the historic precedent with the Abstract when it comes to Southern?
Ironically, confessionalism which built state-church environments died long ago. E.g. See Europe.

11 sshaver October 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm

clarkdunlap   LOL. I wouldn’t sit around holding my breath waiting for capitulation your demands for “repentance” Clark.
I simply refer you the voluminous materials (articles, confessions, papers, opinions, theological treatises etc) which bear the signature of Albert Mohler.
Beyond that, you can do your own homework.

12 sshaver October 3, 2013 at 3:24 pm

As for Broadus, Boyce, Manly, I believe the trajectory of Southern Baptist History shows definite movement away from their high calvinist frames of reference.  Sorry.

13 sshaver October 3, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Mark Lamprecht  By the way Mark, I did not remember admitting any view on my part that Mohler does not share Calvin’s view of the state.  My intent was to imply that he says he does not.
Who know’s what goes in the mind of Mohler?

14 Mark Lamprecht October 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm

sshaver Does a move away from the position of  these men erase the historical foundation they laid?

15 Mark Lamprecht October 3, 2013 at 4:30 pm

sshaver You may not know what goes on in the mind of Mohler, but you sure know – or think you know – enough to claim he is a “little disingenuous”.

16 sshaver October 3, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Mark Lamprecht sshaver 
That’s fair. Yes. Based on his history (observed and documented) in SBC matters over the last 20+ years I would definitely say the man has, at many times and in my judgement, been “disingenuous” about his “baptist” inclinations.
Rather than demand repentance from me (as some would have it) why not simply treat my opinion like a belly button?… everybody’s got one.

17 clarkdunlap October 3, 2013 at 4:42 pm

sshaver Are you gutless? Just wondering. ​To “belittle” means something. Its not just disagreement its making light of something, or denigrating it in a flippant way. IF you’re accusing someone of this kind of unchristian behavior you ought to at least back it up. 
And then there is “Continuously.” Seriously? Does anyone you know take you seriously? I kinda doubt it if you are often this accusatory and ambiguous at the same time.
Mark: I think Mr Shaver is the answer to your question, “why the hell can’t Southern Baptists get along on blogs and other venues?”

18 sshaver October 3, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Mark Lamprecht sshaver Absolutely not. But like all history, the objective (spiritually speaking) is to remove that which is not valuable while retaining those things which are. 5-Point Calvinism was spurned collectively by the SBC during the last 3/4 of its history.
Those who want to emphasize a return to it have nothing to offer about why the trajectory was away rather than toward. You might find some good reasons (as could be coming to light in modern SBC life) for this historic pull away from high-calvinism post Broadus-Boyce, Manly.
Consequently, factoring the absence of any confidence in the doctrines of “soul competency” or HS anymore in SBC circles, the confusion/tirades/claims of heresy etc., continue.
IMHO … of course.

19 sshaver October 3, 2013 at 5:07 pm

clarkdunlap sshaver 
Clark, I refer you again to the numerous works Mohler has written, statements from newspaper interviews throughout his history as a Southern Baptist dating back to his days as state paper editor.
See especially his comments on soul competency and removal of “Christ as criterion of biblical interpretation” in the last SBC offering in galloping creedalism.
I don’t know whether you, Clark, are personally “gutless” … but you sure are lazy about doing your own research, you keep demanding it be done by those with whom you desire to interact.
Your questions about my “gutlessness” could only be answered definitively in a more personal interface. You’re talking now to a computer.
“Why the hell can’t Southern Baptists get along?” 
My guess would be they don’t know how to spot each other after 10 or 15 years of “Mohlerisms” etc.

20 clarkdunlap October 3, 2013 at 5:12 pm

sshaver Mark Lamprecht You’re right everyone does have one, unless its been surgically removed. And I have had far more opinions than I have had navels. But when someone is labelled disingenuous and continuously belittling, I just think your opinion goes a tad too far in this kind of forum. I have heard Patterson become quite aggressive toward reformed baptist thinking. I didn’t like his tone. But I certainly can’t call it continuous, and I wouldn’t think of calling him disingenuous because that’s out of line. I have disagree with him on several matters but I can still admire and respect.
I have also heard Mohler go on at length about various topics without once belittling common baptistic understandings.
And, furthermore, just because there is a resurgence of reformed baptist theology doesn’t mean there has been none for 150 years. There are a number of people who can postulate as to why the movement was away from instead of towards a more reformed understanding. But suffice it to say here, that ideas wax and wane, and as there were some different strains of baptistic thought 150 years ago there are various strains today. 
It is interesting to note how reformed E Y Mullins could sound even while championing Soul Competency. And while Mohler has written on his disagreements with Mullins on that point, there is still much agreement between them  I have not read enough of Wayland and Williams to know how reformed they were.

21 clarkdunlap October 3, 2013 at 5:23 pm

sshaver clarkdunlap replied to this post in email. Not sure if you will get it.

22 sshaver October 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm

clarkdunlap sshaver don’t want it Clark. Think we’re done here.

23 sshaver October 3, 2013 at 5:59 pm

clarkdunlap sshaver Mark Lamprecht   Well Clark, I didn’t know this forumn existed for the purpose of censoring opinion.  I thought it was an open and intellectual exchange on the subject of Al Mohler penning the preface to a new book.
If you are the moderator and my opinions are out line or “tone”. Simply invoke the ban.

24 Mark Lamprecht October 7, 2013 at 11:17 am

sshaver If the following statement is true, Christians have a larger problem. 
“But like all history, the objective (spiritually speaking) is to remove that which is not valuable while retaining those things which are.”
The acceptance of moral decline in this country including the attempt to re-define marriage shows the attempt to remove foundational cultural beliefs in the U.S. Your position seems to relay that a move away from morality is a good thing – a move away from “that which is not valuable while retaining things which are.”
For the most part American Christianity seem to be more spiritually wanting than Christian in places like China where prosecution exists. The largest church in the U.S. is led by one of the most shallow, unbiblical teachers. Yet, your position would seem to indicate the spiritual state of American Christianity is a good thing. It is a move away from “that which is not valuable while retaining things which are.”

25 sshaver October 7, 2013 at 11:59 am

Mark Lamprecht sshaver Thanks Mark:
I may have not been clear enough about “the objective of history (spriritualy speaking)”.  My intent with the statement was not so much a consideration of the overall “moral decline” in this country which you and I would probably agree about at every point.
My intent was more focused on how the individual Christian grows in discipleship and spiritual maturity across the space of his or her lifetime.  At some point, like it or not, all of us (as regenerate believers) make individual decisions about how we’re going to understand, approach, and “follow” this common calling to God in Christ.  
I sometimes wonder how people can get so distracted by theology, authority, cultural relevancy, orthodoxy, and confessions to the point that the dynamic operation of the Holy Spirit is seldom mentioned, trusted (i.e. discounting any relevancy of personal experience, putting date and time stamp limitations on HS, et), or relied upon.
So No. At this point I’m agreeing 100% with you on your statements.  And I think your conclusion is correct about what appears to be a more powerful expression of the Holy Spirit’s work ongoing in some of the more difficult cultural environments like China.

26 sshaver October 7, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Mark Lamprecht sshaver 
An appeal for greater emphasis on third person of trinity probably would not equate to a “move away from morality.”
Heaven forbid.


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