#ChurchToo: Correcting Albert Mohler on the Sin of Silence

The Southern Baptist Convention is in an uproar over allegations of blatant misogyny, its long-standing failure to denounce domestic violence, and accusations of rape and cover-up on a seminary campus.

The current turmoil is around Paige Patterson, architect of the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC from the late ’70s through the ’90s. It has recently come to light that Patterson knowingly sent women back to abusive husbands. As these and other past remarks came to the surface, thousands of Southern Baptists women signed a petition for Patterson to be removed as the keynote speaker at the upcoming national convention. (For what little it’s worth, Patterson issued a statement half-heartedly apologizing for any offense.) All of this before it came to light that Patterson punished a rape survivor while taking no action against her attacker.

The past month culminated in Patterson’s removal as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. (He will still receive housing, a salary, and a job as “Theologian-in-Residence” because the seminary trustees refuse to take these accusations seriously.)

All of this has led Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, to issue a statement on sexual assault and the SBC’s many failings.

What is it about pastors like Mohler that make them so arrogant even when apologizing?

Mohler writes:

When people said that evangelicals had a similar crisis coming, it didn’t seem plausible—even to me. I have been president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for 25 years. I did not see this coming.

And yet he is the same man who has mocked abuse survivors who spoke out against Sovereign Grace Ministries and repeatedly defended CJ Mahaney.

The allegations of abuse in Southern Baptist and “neo-Reformed” circles are open secrets. The allegations against SGM have gone on for years, and yet Mohler provided cover. Patterson spoke openly and frequently, and Mohler was silent.

Albert Mohler is a co-conspirator in the active attempt to silence survivors and to spread the pernicious lie that women are objects.

He admits that he was wrong only to double down on the very doctrine that has led to so much strife, that has sheltered abusers, that has led to broken hearts, broken bodies, broken spirits.

Let me be very clear about this: complementarianism, the doctrine that women are inferior to men and should be subservient, is a perversion of Scripture, a lie from the pits of hell. And it lies at the very heart of the SBC’s many, many failings. Complementarianism systematically tells abusers that women are people of lesser worth. It systematically tells women that their voices don’t matter.

As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.

 


If you are the survivor of sexual abuse and need support, call 1-800-656-HOPE. If you or someone you know is fleeing from domestic violence, call 1-800-799-7233.

For more information on abuse in the Church, consult Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE).

The Spirit is on the Move

A Homily for the Feast of Pentecost

Texts: Acts 2:1-21; St. John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15


Grace to you and Peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Risen Lord, who sends us the Holy Spirit, another advocate, to lead the Church. Amen.

Last Sunday, we read Saint Luke’s twin accounts of the Ascension, those scenes in which Christ led his disciples out away from the city and was taken up from the face of the earth. “Well now what?” they must have asked.

What comes next for the Church, now that Christ is seated at the Father’s right hand? Continue reading “The Spirit is on the Move”

The Triune God, the Holy Spirit, and Gender

Question: The pastor called the Holy Spirit “she.” What’s up with that?

Language is tricky, translation trickier still, and translating language about God is trickiest of all. Relational terms like Father and Son, describing the First and Second Persons of the Trinity respectively, describe the intimate relationship between parent and child but in ways that can, at times, limit our understanding of the Triune God. Trickier still is how we understand the Third Person, the Holy Spirit, and what pronouns to use.

Short Answer: While human language is limited and translations complicate the matter, there are linguistic reasons to refer to the Holy Spirit using feminine pronouns, and the practice was common in parts of the early Church. Continue reading “The Triune God, the Holy Spirit, and Gender”

Well Now What?

A Homily for the Feast of the Ascension, Transferred

Texts: Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:15-23; St. Luke 24:44-53


Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Risen Lord, who has ascended to the right hand of the Father. Amen.

Kimbell_Ascension_Rabbula_Gospels.jpg

Have you ever had one of those moments where you’re not sure what to do? Maybe just after starting a new job, or right after graduation, or you’ve just retired, and you’re not really sure what comes next. A time when you were left a little stunned, a blank expression on your face, with a sense of anxiety just beginning to creep in?

That’s sort of how I picture the disciples after the Ascension: craning their necks, heads tilted back looking into the sky. And one of them – let’s be honest, it’s Peter; it’s always Peter – says, “Well now what?” Continue reading “Well Now What?”

Feast of the Ascension: The Tension of Mid-Week Liturgies

Ascension_from_Vasilyevskiy_chin_(15th_c.,_GTG).jpg

There are holy days in the Church that we always make sure to celebrate on the day itself. Who among us would go to an Ash Wednesday service on a Tuesday morning, or a Maundy Thursday service on Good Friday? There are other feasts that are easy enough to observe precisely because they always fall on a Sunday: Easter and Christ the King spring to mind. And there’s one feast that we mark the night before: in most American congregations, Christmas Eve has become the principle service of Christmas, and few parishes assemble on December 25th.

There exist, though, some feasts that are important to the life of the Church but which are rarely observed on their proper day. Epiphany (the Sixth of January) rarely falls on a Sunday;  Reformation Day (the Thirty-first of October) and All Saints’ (the First of November) face a similar problem.* When these feasts fall on a weekday, they are often observed the following Sunday.

Then there’s the Ascension. Continue reading “Feast of the Ascension: The Tension of Mid-Week Liturgies”

The Met, Catholic Vestments, and Colbert

In case you missed it, the annual Met Gala this past week drew upon ecclesial dress for its theme. The gala itself is an annual celebration of high fashion, and this year was no exception. As you might except, the overlap between celebrity, fashion, and Catholicism was not without controversy.

Alongside the gala, the Met is featuring an exhibit exploring the ornate design of papal vestments. The exhibition offers a rare glimpse at the gorgeous garments on loan from the Sistine Chapel’s sacristy. The Church’s nuncio to late night, Stephen Colbert, got a guided tour behind the scenes: