Christianity Today's cover story on Al Mohler ["The Reformer," October] was one of your best, providing good news to those of us who are concerned by the church's willingness to overlook biblical teaching to go along with the culture. I'm surprised by what one man has been able to do to redirect such a large body of believers.
By no stretch of the imagination can Mohler be called a "fundamentalist." Molly Worthen correctly notes Mohler's admiration for Carl F. H. Henry, whose The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism played a major role in the launching of neo-evangelicalism. Evangelicals, including Mohler, rejected the pugnacious stance of fundamentalists toward those they disagreed with. Many scholarly evangelicals believe in biblical inerrancy, complementary roles for men and women, and a seven-day creation. Though not shared by other evangelicals, these convictions do not amount to fundamentalism.
G. Wright Doyle
I am not a Southern Baptist and have never attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS). I don't have a dog in this fight. Nonetheless, I was disappointed with the tone and content of Worthen's profile of Mohler. Her thinly veiled condescension toward Mohler and his "fundamentalist" cronies was disturbing. A reader with no previous knowledge of Mohler, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), or SBTS would have walked away with a caricature of all three.
Worthen provided a fair and accurate summary of the SBC schism, recounting the controversy in such an insightful way, with such polar opposite perspectives on how and why it unfolded. However, it's impossible to capture the depth of pain for those who were marginalized by the new SBC. I left it in the late 1980s in part because it was so painful. The question remains: When worldly techniques are used to wrest power from people perceived as enemies, is this being faithful to the gospel?
R. Elliot Ayres
I was excited when I saw the title of CT's Spotlight page, "Getting Obama's Faith Wrong" [October]. I cannot convince many fellow churchgoers that Obama is not a Muslim. Now I can cite a source that my fellow believers consider reputable. Your graph clearly shows a growing problem among evangelicals. There are now more evangelicals who think Obama is Muslim than who think he is Christian, despite the 2008 campaign uproar over the church he once attended.
If James was so concerned about the tongue (1:19-20, 26), I wonder what he would say about inflammatory chain e-mails?
Lecturer, Baylor University
Christine Scheller raises excellent points in "How Far Should Forgiveness Go?" [October]. Pastors and church leaders who sexually abuse are usually defined as manipulative and not able to change (repent). Many of them have previously offended, and will continue to do so unless criminal sanctions are severe. They cannot expect churches to soon embrace them, and may need to find a spiritual community known for walking with offenders on the long road ahead.
Several passages in Proverbs say shame is never absolved or forgotten. It reminds us of the long-term consequences for the offender and the offended communities. Grace is not cheap. Neither should be forgiveness.
Tea Party Tempest
David Brody and Wendy Wright gave simplistic answers in the October Village Green. Brody mentions charges of racism in the tea party, but instead of providing evidence for why this criticism is unjustified, he says Christians "would be concerned" if it were true. Isn't he ignoring the fact that most of our churches are still segregated by race?
Meanwhile, Wright's opening quotes ["Spread my work ethic, not my wealth"; "Compassion is voluntary, not compulsory"] repeat the slogans of people who think their wealth comes solely from their own hard work. She goes on to mix and match Bible verses with mini-lessons on government, another logically incompatible response unless one believes the U.S. should be a theocracy or ever was one.
It saddened me to see leaders so quickly respond with catchphrases to our country's complex problems.
A distinguishing feature of the Village Green debate was the level of invective.
Brody and Wright remained focused, stressing "federal government overreaching and fiscal indiscipline." David P. Gushee, meanwhile, could not resist the temptation to rant about "birthers" and racists, while Brody and Wright were kind enough not to mention the "9/11 truthers" and Marxists who oppose them.
C. James Favino
Where We Read
I appreciate what Christianity Today is doing in today's technological world, and I realize that producing a digitalized version of CT could save a lot of money. But a computer screen just isn't the same as the printed page. Moreover, most of us do not have laptops sitting by our beds or in the bathroom, where we happen to do a lot of reading. My husband is a programmer and spends most of his day in front of a computer, yet does his non-work-related reading in the bathroom.
All this to say, we much prefer the print edition of CT.
Correction: The name of a contributor to the November Village Green was misspelled. Our apologies to David Johnston.
What got the most comments in October's CT
27% Mosques in Middle America by CT Editorial
Readers' take on "The Reformer"
"Israel made the Exodus and Passover events central to its remembrance of God's work. Would the parts about blood and death have been omitted?"
Derek, arguing that parents should include evil and death in stories for their children.
Her.meneutics: "Why There's No Narnia in Our Home," by Elrena Evans
"The majority of Christians who are not from Westboro [Baptist Church] will continue to love people unconditionally while holding that homosexuality is not God's plan. And the media will continue to call us 'hateful' for it."
Doug Jolly, on increased media attention to anti-gay bullying.
Political Advocacy Tracker: "Bullying Blame,"
by Tobin Grant
"We don't have to change the world in order to make our 'mark.' Our mark was made at our baptism, when we were marked with the sign of the cross and identified as God's children."
Mike P., on Christians' misguided efforts to "change the world."
SoulWork: "Insignificant Is Beautiful," by Mark Galli
"Let Disney do the big productions. Let the church love people for the glory of God."
Jim Mather, on the financial woes of Robert Schuller's California megachurch.
CT Liveblog: "Crystal Cathedral Files for Bankruptcy," by Sarah Pulliam Bailey
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