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At age 15, R. Albert Mohler Jr. had a crisis of faith. Two years earlier, his family had moved from the conservative idyll of Lakeland, Florida, to the other end of the world: Pompano Beach, 200 miles south, where Christian faith was by no means universal and the fleshpots of Miami beckoned. In Lakeland, life had revolved around Southside Baptist Church, a traditional congregation that treasured its "tall steeple, pipe organ, and things done decently and in order," says Mohler.

He entered the church rolls while still in the womb, as "Baby Mohler," and later joined every age-appropriate church activity, from the Royal Ambassadors to summer camp at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center. "It was an intact culture, so the messages I was receiving at home and church were the same messages I was receiving in public school," he says, "and I just considered that's the way the world was and always would be." In Pompano Beach, torn from everything he knew, Mohler found himself in class sitting next to the children of rabbis and Roman Catholics, the high-school honors curriculum stirring in his mind the biggest questions of existence.

The curious teen's youth pastor offered the diversions of his megachurch's bowling alley and gymnasium, but had no answers to his questions. He took the boy to meet the minister of a fast-growing congregation down the highway in Fort Lauderdale: Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. D. James Kennedy listened to Mohler and knew just the antidote to his anxieties. Francis Schaeffer's He is Not Silent "had an absolutely determinative impact on my life as a young teenager," Mohler says. "Not that I understood everything that Schaeffer was saying, but it came with incredible assurance that there were legitimate Christian ...

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October 2010

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