B21 is happy to announce a new addition to our stellar lineup of panelists for our lunch panel at the SBC in Columbus: Dr. Albert Mohler.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.
Dr. Mohler has been recognized by such influential publications asTime and Christianity Todayas a leader among American evangelicals. In fact, Time.com called him the “reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S.”
In addition to his presidential duties, Dr. Mohler hosts two programs: “The Briefing,” a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview; and “Thinking in Public,” a series of conversations with the day’s leading thinkers. He also writes a popular blog and a regular commentary on moral, cultural and theological issues. All of these can be accessed through Dr. Mohler’s website, www.AlbertMohler.com. Called “an articulate voice for conservative Christianity at large” by The Chicago Tribune, Dr. Mohler’s mission is to address contemporary issues from a consistent and explicit Christian worldview.
Dr. Mohler has long been a friend of B21 and has participated in many of our panels. In 2013 he offered this gem on a biblical response to homosexuality. He featured the clip on his website with these thoughts:
During the Baptist 21 Panel at the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention in Houston I was asked about a Christian Gospel-centered response to homosexuality. Here is the video of that question and response. The challenge of homosexuality and related questions represents one of the most urgent challenges to Christian ministry — not just in terms of Christian ethics, but with the Gospel at stake.
The Baptist 21 event at the Southern Baptist Convention is one of the most important opportunities for public conversation in the life of the denomination. Be sure to attend the B21 event next year in Columbus.
The best movie I took my daughters to see in the past year was Big Hero 6. The story is about an orphaned genius named Hiro who loses his brother Tadashi in a fire, but befriends Tadashi’s invention – a loveable healthcare robot named Baymax. Baymax, Hiro, and a rag tag group of 4 other self-professed nerds team up as superheroes to find the man responsible for the explosion. The movie is gripping, tragic, funny and inspirational.
What I found most intriguing was the conclusion when Baymax sacrificed himself to save Hiro and a girl named Abigail. As we watched the film, my daughters gripped my arms with tears streaming down there face. It was heartbreaking. But, the film ends with Baymax being brought back to life (his computer chip was placed into a rebuilt robot so that he could live on).
It never fails to amaze me at how often Hollywood mimics the Christian story, the gospel. The good news of the Bible is that Jesus sacrificed Himself to save us from our sins and that He was brought back from the dead 3 days later on Easter Sunday. Hollywood replays this story every few years. After all, ET died, was brought back to life, and then ascended into the sky at the end of the movie. In the original Star Trek movies, Spock sacrificed himself to save the crew of the Enterprise, and then he came back to life, whereas in the recently rebooted Star Trek series, it’s Captain Kirk who sacrifices himself to save the crew of the Enterprise, and then he is resurrected. Similar storylines emerge in Guardians of the Galaxy, Harry Potter, and even Disney’s Frozen: Anna’s act of “true love” – sacrificing herself for her sister Elsa – breaks the curse and brings her back to life again.
Many skeptics look at this reality and conclude that it’s evidence that the gospel story is “too good to be true.” Scholars who study these things historically usually point to similarities in stories in other cultures, and they argue that the ancient Israelites (or early Christians) picked up these “mythological” themes in their cultural milieu and built their faith around these myths. They say other ancient civilizations had flood stories like Noah’s ark, or other cultures had resurrection stories like the gospel. After all, the ancient Canaanites, people around the same place and time as the Bible, celebrated the “death and resurrection” of Baal as seen in the harvest every year. There is also the story of the phoenix rising from the ashes. Scholars use these examples to try to disprove the historical accuracy of the biblical story. They say the gospel is theology based on a story, not actual history.
I encountered a similar argument my freshman year of college at the University of Kentucky. A guy in my English class wrote a paper entitled, “Why The Matrix Can Replace Christianity.” He observed that many themes in that movie run parallel to Christian teachings: there is an evil system, a forerunner like John the Baptist (Morpheus), a prophecy about a messianic figure (Neo) who just happens to die, rise from the dead and ascend into the sky at the end.
However, these similarities and “borrowings” should not surprise or scare the Christian, nor should they assure those who don’t believe the claims of Christianity. The Bible says that not only does all of Scripture point to the death and resurrection of Jesus (Luke 24:25-27), but Paul goes further when he tells the Ephesian Church that all things are being united in Christ (Eph. 1:10). Not just the Scriptures but also everything, all of creation, is being summed up in the Messiah, Jesus.
God designed the universe with Jesus as the goal, so there are bound to be cultural items like movies, books, sitcoms, songs, art, literature, and more that borrow themes from Jesus’ story. Far from disproving the Christian gospel, these themes show how the cosmos is being summed up in Christ. There is a reason why God made the world in such a way that the death of winter gives way to the new life of spring, and it’s not just because we need a break from the cold. There is a reason why our hearts jump for joy at depictions of sacrifice and resurrection at the movies. The world around us, the art that we consume, and the innermost longings of our hearts confirm what deep down we know to be true: the story of Jesus is too good to be untrue!
Jon Akin is the Pastor of Fairview Church in Lebanon, TN
Baptist21 is happy to announce the addition of Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The ERLC is an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention that is dedicated to engaging the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ and speaking to issues in the public square for the protection of religious liberty and human flourishing. Their vision can be summed up in three words: kingdom, culture and mission.
A widely-sought cultural commentator, Dr. Moore has been recognized by a number of influential organizations. The Wall Street Journal has called him “vigorous, cheerful, and fiercely articulate” while The Gospel Coalition has referred to him “one of the most astute ethicists in contemporary evangelicalism.”
Dr. Moore blogs frequently at his Moore to the Point website, and hosts a program called Questions & Ethics—a wide-ranging podcast in which Dr. Moore answers listener-generated questions on the difficult moral and ethical issues of the day. In addition, he is the author of several books, including Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ and Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches.
Dr. Moore’s wealth of wisdom on where culture is and where culture is going will add much to the discussion. We hope you will join us at the 2015 Baptist21 Panel.
Baptist21 is excited to once again host a panel during lunch at this year’s SBC in Columbus, OH. Our panelists will be discussing the most pressing issues facing the church and what these issues mean for our mission and engagement in the world.
In the last two posts, I mentioned a few of reasons why I love state conventions and what I’d like to see state conventions change. But change is hard. Yet, there are a few reasons why I think at this time state conventions are in a position to make more drastic changes than they could in the past.
I love the SBC. I’m all in with the SBC. That’s why I hope and pray the SBC will make drastic changes for the sake of the kingdom.