15 Responses to Christianity Today’s Piece on Dr. Mohler: Not Liberal Enough

  1. Les Bollinger October 4, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    Jim, Your thoughts on the Worthen piece echo my own, albeit better said than I could have. I had to read the snide comment on presuppositionalism twice, since I couldn’t believe that she would so crudely and condescendingly write off a serious approach to apologetics. And the first thing I thought was, “how did her editor at CT let her get away with that?” As I thought it about it more, given the overall stance of the piece, I came to the conclusion that it didn’t merely slip past the editor, it had to have met his/her approval. Although CT clearly has a “big tent” understanding of evangelicalism, I wonder whether there is room in that tent for men like Dr. Mohler, or you or me for that matter?

  2. Eric Nygren October 6, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    Thanks for your well written and thoughtful response to this article. I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog.

  3. Adam Parker October 6, 2010 at 9:40 am #

    I’m really glad you said this stuff, Jim. These were precisely my thoughts when I first read the article. I was particularly appalled at the suggestion that his library was meant to make people merely think he was an intellectual. An absolutely disgraceful example of a ‘profile.’ Everyone in journalism school should read the “The Reformer” as an example of how NOT to do a profile on a religious leader.

  4. Scott W. Kay October 6, 2010 at 10:04 am #

    Jim, your response and analysis of Worthen’s article is spot on. You covered every single thing about it that made me shake my head in incredulity on each page of that article. Thank you for giving public voice to my own thoughts.

  5. Fr. Bill October 6, 2010 at 10:27 am #

    As I read this article, I found myself cheering in the way that a capitalist would cheer when reading a communist’s carping about the economic power and productivity of capitalism.

    Decades ago, I departed Southern Baptist Christianity for ecclesiastical climes that were more robustly Biblical, less good-two-shoes moralistic. If Al Mohler had been around SBC circles back then, I’d likely still be in that fold today.

  6. C. M. Sheffield October 6, 2010 at 10:28 am #

    Could not have said it better myself. “The Reformer” was a ‘hit piece’ plain and simple. CT owes Dr. Mohler an apology and Ms. Worthen should do so publicly.

    I would also like to say that I believe this represents a watershed moment for CT. I’ve noticed their slide for some time. But never anything so brazen as this article which castigates the president of a leading evangelical seminary and someone who many view as evangelicalism’s titular spokesman. This indeed may be the beginning of the end.

  7. John Knox October 6, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    Perhaps we should send her a copy of Piper’s new book; Think.

  8. Bruce October 6, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    Great article, but I am a bit confused by your second paragraph, unless you mean something different by “liberal” than what I usually understand.
    What form of liberal are you referring to? From my stance, looking particularly at liberal politics, which I think flow from a general liberal ideology, then her article is entirely classic liberal dialog. They never argue specific points, all the more so if their point can’t stand any scrutiny. And I think your post points out that her comments in fact can not withstand any scrutiny.

    • Jim Hamilton October 6, 2010 at 2:47 pm #

      The people of the left have hijacked a good word. The word “liberal” has to do with free inquiry done by free people who are humane. That’s the sense in which I’m using it,


  9. Joshua Butcher October 6, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

    Well put, excepting the part about Ms. Worthen being subtle, unless you consider flaming arrows a subtle metaphor for rancorous speech.

    Did you mean to be kind in omitted Ms. Worthen’s woefully overgeneralized claim that John Calvin’s “own theology is distinct from that of his followers. It is far from clear, for example, that he believed in limited atonement, the L in Dort’s famous TULIP” (p. 24, third column)? The product of Ms. Worthen’s education at Yale resembles Mohler’s when he was a student: fashionably one-sided (or rather more like the Emperor’s new clothes?).

  10. OFelixCulpa October 6, 2010 at 5:13 pm #


    It seems that your objections to Worthen’s article focus on her use of two words: “fundamentalist” and “pugnacious.” I think you are over-reacting to them.

    The latter word she used only once, and that to describe Mohler’s position in “a recent speech” in which he argued unapologetically for a young earth position. While other words could have been substituted, I don’t think pugnacious is either unfair or pejorative in that context.

    The former word, i.e. “fundamentalist” is perhaps more upsetting to some, but I don’t think she is using it in the way that Evangelicals are most familiar with (a ‘polite’ substitute for various profanities which communicate utter disgust for the person in question). She seems to be using it to denote a strongly conservative theological position rather than as a relatively meaningless aspersion. Interestingly, one of the uses of the “f” word is a citation from Danny Akin, who uses it to describe the bureaucracy which the conservatives in the SBC set up in place of the defeated moderate bureaucracy–clearly not an aspersion.

    It is true that Worthen does not describe Mohler from the position of a follower or even a sympathizer–it would not be good objective reporting if she did. I actually think she did a pretty good job of describing both Mohler’s position and that of his moderate critics fairly.

    • Geoffrey Dennis October 6, 2010 at 9:31 pm #

      Well, that makes one of you so far. Thanks for the good article Jim!

  11. Sarah Moore October 11, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    The article on Dr. Mohler is an embarrassment. Surely someone with less of an idealogical ax to grind could have been found to write the story. At minimum, some judicious editing could have helped mitigate Molly Worthen’s thinly disguised disdain for her subject. Poorly done, CT.


  1. Responses to the CT Cover Story on Mohler – Justin Taylor - October 6, 2010

    […] Jim Hamilton makes the observation that CT’s piece is not liberal enough—in the older, classical sense of the term. He writes: “[Molly Worthen's] piece is not liberal enough because she does not engage arguments and evidence but resorts to rhetorical fallacies and framing comments that mock what she does not appreciate. The liberal thing to do would be to treat all positions and arguments with the respect one wants to be shown to oneself, then state clearly why one is persuaded by one argument rather than another, or how the evidence supports this conclusion not that one.” […]

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