When last we visited the writings of Albert Mohler, he was speaking at BYU. He went out of his way there to make sure that while we were making common political cause with Mormons, they were theologically quite distinct – like everyone in the room and the world did not already know that.
Well, Albert is at it again, and this time his target is the Roman Catholics. In a post on his blog he goes to great length to describe the cultural and political stakes, but then asks:
So, are the other enemies of our enemies our friends? Mormons, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Jews, and a host of others share many of our enemies in this respect. But, to what extent is there a unity among us?
He mentions that of course we ‘ll work with anyone to save a life from a “burning house,” and that many of the social/cultural crisis facing the country are indeed on such a life saving level, but concludes these few paragraphs by saying, “And yet, our worldviews are really quite different.” And then he turns ugly:
With the Roman Catholic Church, our common convictions are many, including moral convictions about marriage, human life, and the family. Beyond that, we together affirm the truths of the divine Trinity, orthodox Christology, and other doctrines as well. But we disagree over what is supremely important, the gospel of Jesus Christ. And that supreme difference leads to other vital disagreements as well: over the nature and authority of the Bible, the nature of the ministry, the meaning of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and an entire range of issues central to the Christian faith.
Christians defined by the faith of the Reformers must never forget that nothing less than faithfulness to the gospel of Christ forced the Reformers to break from the Roman Catholic Church. Equal clarity and courage are required of us now.
In a time of cultural conflict, the enemy of our enemy may well be our friend. But, with eternity in view and the gospel at stake, the enemy of our enemy must not be confused to be a friend to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
You know, the first thing that strikes me is how utterly self-contradictory the post really is. He starts with the common illustration of our and England’s alliance with the Soviet Union in WWII. But the rest of his post reveals his apparent lack of deep understanding of the history of that “alliance.” It was not until after the Battle of the Bulge that there was any sort of communication on a military level between the western allies and the Sovs. Political communication was quite scant. There is massive historical documentation on our side about how carefully to deal with and handle the Soviet Union and how best to position the end of the war for the inevitable conflict we would have with them.
But, and this is a huge “but,” it was all classified material until well after the war. As far as the public knew we were bosom buddies with the Stalin gang. That first military mission to Moscow during/after the Bulge by western military leadership was kept secret for fear that the public learn there had been no prior military communication! In order to win the war, it was necessary to maintain an appearance of unity. Anything less would undermine the needed resolve on the part of the public.
Mohler, by declaring a partnership of sorts and then making sure everybody understands its a business only deal undermines the success of the enterprise.
In so doing he practically guarantees its failure. The last election was really a matter not of turnout, but enthusiasm. We have examined at length on this blog the fact that religiously motivated voters participated in the election but went through many contortions to avoid voting for Romney. The significant portion of the Republican base that is known as “Evangelical” seemed to accept Romney as the nominees, but they did not wholly embrace him, and that spelled the difference.
And now, Mohler wants to turn back the clock significantly and make sure that Evangelicals have the same sort of “Air Kiss” relationship with Roman Catholics?! That is even more troubling than the failure to elect Romney. Virtually all of the significant intellectual work being done on the religious/political front is being done by the Catholics. There are any number of religious drum beaters out there in the Evangelical political world (think FRC, et. al.) but can anyone doubt that the serious intellectual enterprises are centered on National Review? National Review has its share of non-Catholic contributors, but its heart belongs most definitely to Rome.
When the Republican party is working hard to pull itself together Mohler seems to want to make sure it is poorly stitched.
Finally, there is this to note. To have the sort of theological certainty about who is and who is not going to be with God in eternity that Mohler expresses is to my ears pharisetical and graceless. I have deep theological differences with my Mormon friends. I find myself increasingly compatible with my Roman Catholic friends, but cannot overcome some of the theological barriers that would permit me to affiliate with that church. But to declare that those theological differences hold those friends eternal fates somehow at stake is to make judgements that are reserved only for the Almighty.
Do I wish to convince my friends of differing theological views of the correctness of my own? Of course I do, but that does not prevent me from calling them good friend and deep ally. No “frenemies” here, only friends.