Louisville, Kentucky (June 17, 1999)-The Rev. Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, tonight preached to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). In remarks based on Matthew 16, Dr. Mohler exhorted the commissioners and guests to cling to the truth; to seek the true power-that of endurance, even martyrdom; and to depend upon the sure and certain revealed knowledge that Jesus (the Rock) is indeed the Christ.
Dr. Mohler began his address by proclaiming: "As a citizen of Louisville, I'm so glad to have a Presbyterian group here that doesn't have a gay and lesbian caucus." Alluding to the fact that the liberal Presbyterian Church (USA) has its headquarters in the city, he said: "This is often, in terms of Presbyterianism, a most interesting place in which to live," adding, "The church has fallen on bad times."
President Mohler noted that ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church) "has gone into eclipse." He stated that in days gone by, "You could have a decent fight over ecclesiology." However, today "there's so little ecclesia you can't have a good fight anymore."
The Southern Baptist cited a recent poll which revealed that only 42 percent of professing Christians believe that Jesus is truly God come in the flesh. But the declaration of Scripture is clear: "'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God'-if that is not the confession of the church, it is not the church!" Lamenting the fact that "we live in an age of anti-truth," the professor posited that "there are organizations that call themselves churches that are not churches at all. This is a hard truth, yet it is a humbling truth."
But for those which proclaim the truth, there is power, so that even the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. The speaker referred to a PCA ruling elder, George Barna, whose books have become quite popular in the church growth movement. According to the preacher, Mr. Barna recently wrote that today's church "is incapable of responding to the current moral crisis" and that it must "reinvent itself or face oblivion in the twenty-first century." Dr. Mohler wryly commented: "Thank goodness for consultants! They came along at just the right time." By way of contrast to dependence upon such church growth experts, Dr. Mohler declared: "For the church to recover its influence, it must rediscover its voice."
In handling the controverted term "rock" in Matthew 16, Dr. Mohler said that the keys of the kingdom have been given to the church. These keys, preaching and discipline, "in our generation are unknown and neglected and unused. . . . We live in an age of personal autonomy. We assume that we have no right to speak to another's business." However, "the church is not simply a volunteer organization, it is the Body of Christ."
In a service that was marked by "contemporary" music with a strong beat, Dr. Mohler sounded a seemingly different note: "The church has been too submissive to the culture, to the state, to the business wizards, and to the marketing mavens." His sermon was sandwiched by loud "praise and worship" music, and a number of the commissioners and their families entered the auditorium only in order to hear the preacher and then left again at the close of the message.