Thursday, April 17, 2008

T4G Day Two--Concluded

Al Mohler has been the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky for about 15 years now. He is a brilliant man, praise be to God, and his address last night was heavy, intellectual, penetrating, and in some ways overwhelming. Kevin commented that it was like drinking from a fire hydrant.

To be honest, unless you have studied (and like) philosophy or theology, you will probably not enjoy his message. But it was an important one. In it he demonstrated the depth and seriousness of the debate over the reality and meaning of the atonement of Christ, and he persuasively argued that we cannot give ground on this one.

There was one thing that grieved me: part of his critique was leveled at Joel Green's book Recovering the Scandal of the Cross. Joel was a professor of mine and we also worked together on grant-writing for the seminary. He was a good friend and mentor, and he helped me many a time to survive as a Bible-believing evangelical at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. I am deeply indebted to Joel on several levels--more than he knows.

But the sections Al Mohler read from his book concerned me very much. I remember a couple of years ago when Mark Dever wrote an article in Christianity Today about this issue and leveled several serious criticisms at Joel. I wrote Joel and asked him about these matters, and his answer was satisfying to me. (I don't have the time to go into the details, sorry about that.) But the paragraphs--yes, paragraphs not sound bytes--that Dr. Mohler read last night were clear and problematic. So I'm feeling a tension between my love for and commitment to biblical truth and my love and appreciation for Joel Green. The tension is not whether to cling to truth or to love my brother. By the grace of Christ, I'm committed to truth no matter what the cost. It's just that this is a man I love, admire, and am indebted to and I'm deeply concerned and grieved over what I heard from his pen last night. And now I must decide how to respond. Please pray for me as I think through the issues and how I should proceed.

Well, Kevin and I are off for the final session or two. John Piper is next, followed by C. J. Mahaney, and then we'll be heading home. Thanks again for your prayers, please pray that we will finish well.

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