KANSAS CITY, Mo. (MBTS) – R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, delivered Midwestern Seminary’s annual Scudder Lecture on March 9, addressing the topic of “The Post-Christian Predicament.”
As Midwestern Seminary President Jason Allen stated, “We were delighted to host Albert Mohler for this year’s Scudder Lecture. Like the sons of Issachar, he’s one who understands our times and is devoted to helping other Christians do the same.”
Mohler located biblical Christianity within the context of the ever-changing American culture and outlined strategies to help faithful Christians know how to respond to the times.
Mohler began his lecture with an analysis of the current situation, “There is no set of circumstances that present a more dramatic challenge to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ than a post-Christian condition.”
As he clarified, “Our civilization is not post-Christ. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the sovereign, eternal Lord.”
Mohler led Midwestern students, faculty, and staff members through a survey of church history, examining the cultural impact Christianity has made on various points throughout history.
Beginning with the pre-modern view of Christianity, he stated, “The fusion of Christianity and the culture dominated the West in such a way that the very essence of its civilization and patterns of life were deeply fused with the understanding of the world that was provided by biblical Christianity. Christianity was the only available worldview to shape the civilization.”
At the dawn of the 16th century though, a major change occurred.
“The shortest and most important definition of the shift between the pre-modern and modern age is that in the modern age, worldviews are options. And all of these options were intended or originally defined as efforts to replace Christianity as that dominant worldview.”
Moving past the modern age and on to his central argument, Mohler defined a post-Christian condition as “one in which the driving engines of the culture no longer consider Christianity as an option.” As he summarized, “Christianity was the only option. Then, Christianity was an option among others. Now, at least according to the intellectual elites and the driving forces of the culture, Christianity is no longer an option.”
Noting secularization has accelerated this change, Mohler clarified, “Secularization is the process by which societies liberate themselves from the theistic fundamentals that had explained the origins of that very society. It is the decreasing binding authority of religion and the increasing absence of any religious claim as necessary for life in a society.”
“At some point, a crisis of epistemology becomes a crisis in ontology. This is now a war on ontology, on being, on creation. We are now in a full-scale assault on reality.”
Through the example of Ireland, with its drastic decline in church attendance, the importing of foreign missionaries to meet the pastoral needs of its population, and its declining Christian morality, Mohler stated that, “de-Christianization is something that happens evidently much faster than we might have imagined.”
“For so many people in the West, their social imaginary does not include anything that is distinctively or recognizably Christian.”
“We are facing a unique difficulty as Christians, especially those called to Christian service. The reality is the landscape to which we are called is one in which we will look increasingly odd and increasingly threatening. This is the post-Christian condition.”
In the face of this increasing challenge of the post-Christian condition, Mohler offered seven possible strategic responses: withdrawal, surrender, negotiation, second-phase negotiation, defiance, retrenchment, and recovery, with recovery being the preferred option.
Mohler defined recovery as meaning, “The church coming to its sense and preaching the Word, taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, telling people about Jesus, telling children how to sing gospel songs, getting teenagers in a room and infusing as much gospel and Scripture into them as we can, and most importantly training parents to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Plant gospel churches and celebrate the means of grace, the preaching of the Word of God, and welcome new believers by baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
Mohler concluded his lecture with a word of hope, “We’re not doomed, because Jesus is Lord. As you look back through church history, God has called his people to be faithful. God always gives his people exactly what we need for faithfulness in a moment.
“Our dependence is that God will give us everything we need for faithfulness day by day, as long as the Southern Baptist Convention shall be faithful until Jesus comes.”
To view the Scudder lecture, visit Chapel with Albert Mohler – March 9, 2022 – Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (mbts.edu).