Who is R. Albert Mohler, Jr.?

In light of the controversy regarding a recent profile of Dr. Albert Mohler in the newest issue of Christianity Today (not yet online), I thought I would rework and release a brief bio which I did on Dr. Mohler a few years ago for a website of Tennessee Baptist conservatives.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr. became the ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary of Louisville, Kentucky in 1993 at the remarkably young age of 33. He is a graduate of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama (B.A.) and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div. and Ph.D.). Before becoming the president of Southern Seminary, Mohler served as editor of The Christian Index (the newspaper of the Georgia Baptist Convention).

Mohler, who was born on October 19, 1959 in Lakeland, Florida, was raised by Southern Baptist parents and has been active in church life from an early age. After he and his family moved to Pompano Beach, he became acquainted with the writings of Francis Schaefer through the ministry of D. James Kennedy. Schaefer’s writings were to become formative in the development of a Christian worldview in a young Mohler. This discipline of thinking biblically about all areas of life remains a prominent characteristic of this theologian today. While a student at Southern Seminary, Mohler became heavily influenced by the writings of the conservative evangelical scholar Carl F. H. Henry. The writings of Henry were a personal discovery, not something promoted by the seminary itself. In fact, Henry once spoke at a student event with which Mohler was involved and was snubbed by the administration. This became a lesson to Mohler of the moderates’ lack of tolerance toward conservatives and made a lasting impression on him.

When Mohler became president of Southern Seminary in 1993, he entered a volatile situation. Established in 1859, Southern Seminary is the oldest of the six Southern Baptist seminaries. Although historically and confessionally committed to doctrinal orthodoxy, decades of control by moderates had produced an environment in which conservatives were ridiculed as “fundamentalists”. Most of the faculty members were holdovers from the days before the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention. A few of the faculty were more recent additions from Northern Evangelicalism who were generally conservative in their theology, but were moderate on their views of women in pastoral ministry.  As a student at Southern, Mohler himself had once held the view that women could serve as pastors.  The aforementioned encounter with Carl F. H. Henry became the catalyst for reevaluation of this interpretation of Scripture (For a description of this event in Mohler’s own words, please see here.).  Now that he had become convinced from Scripture of a different perspective on this issue, it was Mohler’s turn to experience the moderates’ lack of tolerance toward conservatives.

Mohler’s assumption of the presidency at Southern in August of 1993 was greeted by protests from students and faculty alike. Undaunted by the opposition, President Mohler asserted his commitment to hold the faculty accountable to the expectations of the doctrinal positions of the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention, the seminary’s trustees, and the seminary’s own Confession of Faith (the Abstract of Principles). Mohler made it clear that teaching contrary to the school’s Abstract of Principles was not an option. Each professor in the seminary’s history has signed the historic document, but many in recent years had done so insincerely. Mohler understood the seminary’s doctrinal statement to be a matter of accountability to Southern Baptists who must be able to expect the seminaries which their Cooperative Program dollars fund to be biblically faithful. Any professors who taught contrary to the Abstract of Principles would not only be violating their covenant with the seminary, but also would cause the seminary to violate its covenant with the churches which support her.

Initially, Southern Seminary experienced great turmoil as those professors who had no intention of abiding to the school’s Confession of Faith began to leave in droves. They did not want to face the process of removal for their unorthodox teaching. Student enrollment also dropped in those early years of Mohler’s presidency. Today, however, Southern Seminary stands as one of the largest evangelical seminary in the world, with a record enrollment which has more than doubled since 1995. Dr. Mohler himself is established as one of the greatest theologians and observers of culture in the world today, with Time magazine calling Mohler the “reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S”. With his daily podcast applying a Christian worldview to daily news events, his popular blog providing analysis of contemporary cultural issues, and his regular contributions to discussions of the moral and religious issues of our day in the secular media, Mohler continues to have a positive influence on both the evangelical world and society as a whole. The world-class faculty of conservative evangelical scholars which Mohler has assembled has Southern poised to be a bastion of healthy theological education for generations to come.

Quick Facts:

  • Born on October 19, 1959.
  • Married to the former Mary Kahler.
  • Two children: Katie and Christopher.
  • 9th President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
  • Host of the nationally syndicated Albert Mohler Program from 2004 – 2010.
  • Writes for his personal blog and regular commentary on moral, cultural and theological issues
  • Regularly appears on national media to discuss religious and moral issues.
  • Served on the Program and Study Committee (SBC) whose recommendations for restructuring were adopted by the 1995 Southern Baptist Convention.
  • Served on the Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee which resulted in the production of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
  • Served as the chairman of the SBC’s Council of Seminary Presidents.
  • Served on the 2008-2009 Great Commission Task Force which made recommendations for restructuring the SBC for greater missional effectiveness.

Publications:

  • The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs in the New Spiritual Openness (Multnomah) Forthcoming
  • Desire & Deceit: The Real Cost of the New Sexual Tolerance (Multnomah)
  • Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists (Crossway)
  • He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World (Moody)
  • Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truths (Multnomah)
  • “The Pastor as Theologian.” In A Theology for the Church, 927-934. Edited by Daniel L. Akin. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2007.
  • “Modern Theology: The Disappearance of Hell.” In Hell Under Fire, 15-41. Edited by Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004
  • “Expository Preaching: Center of Christian Worship.” In Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship, 107-121. Edited by Philip Graham Ryken, Derek W. H. Thomas, and J. Ligon Duncan III. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2003.
  • “Being Baptist Means Conviction.” In Why I Am a Baptist, 58-64. Edited by Tom J. Nettles and Russell D. Moore. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001.
  • “Discipline: The Missing Mark.” In Polity: Biblical Arguments on How to Conduct Church Life, 43-56. Washington, D.C.: 9 Marks Ministries, 2001.
  • “Reformist Evangelicalism: A Center Without a Circumference.” In A Confessing Theology for Postmodern Times, 131-150. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2000.
  • “Contending for Truth in an Age of Anti-Truth.” In Here We Stand: A Call from Confessing Evangelicals, 59-76. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996.

Sources:

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