Mohler: religious freedom vital for Christianity – News


NASHVILLE (BP) – A theology of conversion, such as Christianity, requires religious freedom because regeneration of the heart cannot be achieved by coercion, Albert Mohler said Tuesday June 15 during “Baptists Thinking Biblically: A Conversation on Religious Liberty ”.

The late-night event, hosted by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at Music City Center in Nashville, featured Mohler, president of Southern, and Andrew Walker, associate professor of Christian ethics and apologetics and associate dean of the Southern School of Theology.

“In the history of Western civilization,” said Mohler, “religious freedom as we know it really stems from a culture committed to understanding human beings as imago Dei – made in the image of God – of a conversionist faith which, although obscured in the Middle Ages, still distinguished between those who professed the faith and those who did not.

Originally, religious freedom didn’t mean the freedom to reject belief in God “because it wasn’t even an intellectual option,” Mohler said. It meant a freedom “not to be constrained – especially after the Reformation – to a particular denomination, whether Catholic or Protestant”.

Religious freedom seems so strange to many now “because the default position is no longer theistic belief but the secular condition,” Mohler said.

Walker, who is also director of the Carl FH Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement at Southern, said even secular historians would say that ideas of human rights and human dignity “are inseparable from the advent of Christianity taking on special cultural importance “.

“So, for the first time, the human person is not just someone who can be rejected,” Walker said. “They are not a cog in the status collective. They have a conscience. They are possessed of reason.

Human beings “come to conclusions on really important issues on their own terms,” Walker said, “and if so, that inherently means you can’t force faith. Forced faith is a contradiction in terms.

Baptists, Mohler says, are tempted to do two things with religious freedom.

“The first is… to advocate for religious freedom for the right people and not for the wrong people without recognizing that unless religious freedom is within constitutional limits for all, then you have a de facto sanctioned church. by the state, ”Mohler said.

“The other thing I think Baptists spoil is that when we become dominant in a culture we tend to fall into cultural Christianity and then we find out that there really is no denomination or conversion here. This is one of the reasons why southerners are so surprised [about what] continues with social transformation because they thought all of these people were Christians. Well it turns out no, they actually weren’t, “Mohler said.

Such people simply acted like Christians because society suggested that was how they were supposed to act, Mohler said, and now that society says not to act that way, “they don’t act. more that way “.

Mohler asked Walker what good religious freedom is if no one wants to live by the Scriptures anyway. Walker said this gives Christians the opportunity to encourage their neighbors to honor God by appealing to the order of creation and natural law.

“We need to be able to have these arguments to bring them into the public arena and tell the world, ‘We are not the type to believe that men and women are fixed and unalterable biological categories. , ‘”Said Walker.

“What are we commanded to do in exile in Jeremiah? To seek the well-being of the city. What does the search for the well-being of the city look like? This does not necessarily mean revolutionizing society through utopia. It means a slow and laborious work of forming families, of rooting in your communities.

At its root, religious freedom is about the ability to share the gospel without hindrance, Walker said.

“It is the ability to receive the gospel with as few obstacles as possible, and it is the ability to live aspects of the gospel in the form of our obedience,” Walker said.

Mohler touched on the fact that evangelicals might find themselves in a different world around this time next year if the Equality Act is passed.

“I don’t think the average evangelist understands that their Christian school could fundamentally disappear,” Mohler said. “… You can say, ‘Well, that would never happen with the Supreme Court.’ Well, let’s put it this way: it means that nothing stops the outright denial of religious freedom except a majority of Supreme Court justices, we hope.

Walker said if Tories and Christians look to the US Supreme Court as their last resort, “it’s a false hope” because by the time a case gets this far all other remedies have failed. amid the deterioration of culture.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Baptist Press.

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