Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Al the Christian" faces death

David Van Biema interviewed Al Mohler for Time magazine regarding Dr. Mohler's recent hospitalization and near death. Dr. Mohler's words are a fine example of the practicality of serious theology. Those who dismiss the importance of doctrine in Christian discipleship should read this interview very carefully and be challenged to rethink their views. His words are also very helpful in showing how Calvinism is not simply is not in any sense a detraction from biblical Christianity, it is a humble and imminently practical submission to what the Bible teaches about the nature of the Christian faith.


Tom Bryant said...

I had a unsaved friend who asked me if knew this "Al Mohler guy" he had read the article and was impressed with how a Christian faced death. Had a good opportunity to share the gospel with him.

scripturesearcher said...

Because we care, we share.

I have informed dozens of people of this very helpful testimony by our mutual friend, Al Mohler.


peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Ascol,

I very much appreciate Dr. Mohler's testimony of faith during this crisis in his life. Surely all of us learn from personal tragedies as these.

Yet, I am baffled precisely how his following words are supposed to contrast Calvinist and nonCalvinist's response to pain.

To the query "How would a Calvinist have viewed your successful recovery versus a non-Calvinist?"

Dr. Mohler curiously responds:

"Some non-Calvinists might say, I'm glad he survived, but I'm so sorry this accident happened to him. A Calvinist would say 'God had something for him to learn through this that will be important for his formation for eternity.'"

As a nonCalvinist, I'm not quite sure how--because I may express my sorrow for the pain a person is going through--such an expression is supposed to cancel out lessons one learns from God in the daily affairs faced. For me, I simply do not get the point.

It was C.S. Lewis--The NONcalvinist--who wrote so eloquently that pain was "God's megaphone" to get our attention.

In addition, I've known few believers--whom I was confident he/she was a dedicated believer--who did not accept, at least in some measure, that life's painful things were a learning moment for them to consider.

In the end, I'm confused how this particular point was framed into Calvinism/nonCalvinism issue.

Peace. I trust you preach well this evening. With that, I am...


Cornelius Lover of DOG said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DoGLover said...

Peter, I can't speak for Dr. Mohler, but I can offer a perspective, if I may. I think it's partly a matter of priorities - what comes to mind first - rather than a question of absolute terms. Most Christians (regardless of brand-names) would feel concern for his personal well-being. Many Christians of all labels would also also wonder why God allowed it to happen & what good might come from it. The difference may be that a Calvinist would generally assume that God had a purpose for the incident, and then come to the question of condolences. That's not to say that all Calvinists would respond the same way or that it's exclusively so for Calvinists & no one else.

I recently had a conversation with a brother about a particular issue. He asked, "Why does this have to happen?" I said that God allows these things & even plans them to teach us, show us, or reveal Himself or some lesson we need for our spiritual growth. His only answer was to repeat the question. He saw no purpose and assumed there was none to look for. He was disturbed by the trouble. I was at peace because I was (& am) convinced that God's in charge & has our best interest at heart - & our best interest is his glory.

I hope this helps in some small way.

Ol'Geezer said...

I recommend "Lessons Learned in a Crisis of Life" @

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Doglover,

Thanks for the words. I do hear them.

I think back through the years as I was Pastor and called upon to come quickly in an emergency. Yet, I never, at least as I can remember, met the person whose life had just been tragically struck with "What do you think God is teaching you?" Not that we did not get there but it was not the first thing.

I think, the first thing was as would be now, "I'm very sorry for your pain..." Perhaps that was not being a good Pastor or, more specifically, a pastor-theologian.

Yet, at least from my perspective, there is no contradiction between being sorry for one's pain and blessing God through it all. Job was not so jolly at first about his loss "cursed be the day I was born" but only later learned "when I am tried I will come forth as gold."

Thanks again, Doglover. With that, I am...


Aaron L. Turner said...

Brother Tom:

Thank you for posting this. I had not read this interview but followed the link, after readhing this blog.

Peter, as a calvinist, I to would express my sorrow over the pain that my people are going through. I don't think that is being a bad "pastor/theorlogian."
The sovereing Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, wept with his family.

I think Dr. Mohler's point was that there is comfort in knowing that God's is sovereignly for His glory and our good is working in all things, even those thing about which we are sorry.

I also know that there are alot of people who would not consider themselves 5 point calvinists, who would believe that God is working their good in accidents, and sickness, as well as in the pleasant things.

Peter, I have read many of your posts. While we are in opposite "camps", I appreciate the thoughtfulness, and gentelness in your posts.

I appreciate the respect that you express to the administrator of this blog. May your tribe increase among both Calvinists and non Calvinists alike.


Aaron L. Turner

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Aaron,

Well said, my brother. And thank you for the warm encouragement. I too believe we fare much better repsecting each other.

Grace for this evening, Aaron. With that, I am...


Joseph Botwinick said...

"Some non-Calvinists might say, I'm glad he survived, but I'm so sorry this accident happened to him. A Calvinist would say 'God had something for him to learn through this that will be important for his formation for eternity.'"


I am not Al Mohler, so I cannot speak for him. I think, however, that he might be alluding to the different perspectives about what happened to him that flow from the different theological POVs about God and his absolute sovereignty. Whereas non-Calvinists such as Warren would argue that this could have been simply an accident, something that was out of the control of God, and even, as he argued in a column about Katrina, took God by surprise, the Calvinist would state that this was totally in the hands of God and that he even caused it for a purpose. I think he was mostly pointing to a theological perspective which, in tunr, shapes our reactions to things which happen around us and even to us.

SelahV said...

Anyone: I just wish the interviewer had been clearer in follow-up questions so we could have known exactly what Dr. Mohler meant.

It struck me as odd the phrasing Dr. Mohler used regarding Calvinist and "some" Non-Calvinists. He didn't say "all". He said "some". I am one of those folks who always ask what is God doing here? What have I done? What does He want me to do? What and who is He trying to teach with this circumstance? Those questions flooded my broken heart when we were called by the state police and told our son was dead. My pain was intense--beyond any I'd ever experienced in my life. Questions immediately came to mind. I questioned why. But I trusted and trusted and trusted that whether I ever knew why, that He was still God and I could still trust Him--no matter what was going on in my life.

It doesn't get easier. Each day I must lean all the more. I must yield my own pain, my needs, my questions to Him and His grace which is sufficient to meet my needs. And when I can't pray for the pain blocking my heart, and I can't think for the millions of memories flooding my mind--His Spirit makes intercession for me. And I rest in Him.

He told me I could. SelahV

SelahV said...

P.S. I'm sorry for getting emotional. But life and death is very real to me. Living with death is far more relevant to life than most people realize. Every day life becomes magnified. Little things are very important. Time becomes far more significant. And whether I'm a Calvinist or Non-Calvinist hasn't changed my assurance that I am God's child or that when I die I will be with Him for an eternity. selahV

Mike McIlwain said...

The reason you feel the way you do about wanting to know God's purpose and have a desire to seek His will is because you share the same identity as Dr. Mohler. You are not SelahV the non-Calvinist. You are SelahV, the Christian.

Those of us who are Calvinist love and appreciate all of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are on this journey with us. We are all growing in grace and still learning as we walk with Christ on this journey

SelahV said...

Mike McIlwain: Thank you, brother. It wasn't until late last Summer I realized I wasn't a Calvinist. Until then, and I mean this with all due respect, I thought Calvinists were an off-shoot from most Baptist theology. I knew nothing of Founders and Reformed faith. I think this is why my comments on an earlier post were met with such misinterpretation.

I do not dismiss "reformed" theology as non-existent or baseless. I just really hadn't met any who verbally or actively demonstrated their theology as I find folks do here. I understand my walk with God as a walk that will not end till I meet my Saviour face to face. I see everything in my life as a validation of His presence. Even my wanderings off the path. He always leaves crumbs for me to get back to where He is.

I don't even like referring to myself as a non or referring to others as Calvinists. Even that distinction with believers takes the focus off the Truth of who they are and Whose they are. It seems like that is the important thing to most folks in the Kingdom of Blogland, though. Labels. Distinguishing doctrines. Confessionals. Theologies.

I'm quite content just being a Christian. Thanks for seeing that in me. It's all I care one sees anyway. May God's grace abound. SelahV