Molly Worthen on Al Mohler

Molly Worthen is an up and coming scholar/writer. She has an interest in theonomy and reformed theology, but she is coming at them from a very mainstream place, attempting to describe them for a larger audience. She has a new article here about Al Mohler. Some of her past pieces include articles on:

New St. Andrews College and Doug Wilson

Mark Driscoll

R. J. Rushdoony and Reconstruction

She’s doing the writing that I wish I could do if I had time and credentials!


Here are some reaction’s to Worthen’s article, all from blogs that I don’t read and have never heard of, but I put them here for archival purposes:

A Long Profile in the Wrong Direction

Justin Taylor on the Christianity Today Cover Story on Al Mohler by Peter Lumpkins

Dr. Mohler and “Stalled” Church Planting

Thoughts On Christianity Today’s Profile of Albert Mohler

Christianity Today’s Piece on Dr. Mohler: Not Liberal Enough




12 thoughts on “Molly Worthen on Al Mohler”

  1. read article yesterday, good stuff. I’m a Mohler fan. shocked to see that he once protested on campus in favor of women ordination, until he changed his position after further study of Scripture 😉

    1. I’m not wild about Mohler, he’s OK. But I did like the article. I see that Worthen mentioned Van Til, who seems to be a common thread in her articles. She is on to what is going on in the Reformed world over the past 30-40 years, and I don’t know any other authors not in the tradition who get what is going on.

    1. Thanks Scott. I agree. Someone needs to write a good history of theonomy, Van Til, Kuyper, Bahnsen and on and on. She might be the one to do it, although I would like to!

  2. I read Kevin DeYoung’s reaction to the article as well:

    He had some interesting points, although I think that some of what he complains about can be attributed to Worthen’s breezy style; she can say a lot in a few words.

    When I read the article, I thought it was pretty fair, especially since CT has a wide audience. It was more critical on some of the stuff than I would have liked, but I thought that it really took Mohler seriously and showed him as a smart and concerned guy who’s also caused some controversy.

    1. I just read it and I think he is mainly wrong. As far as I know, Worthen isn’t a Christian or is a liberal (heterodox) Christian, so that explains some of her categorizations – “moderate,” etc. But she is a good and fair reporter IMO. As far as Van Til and presuppositionalism: I didn’t take her as saying that it boils down to slogans, but rather she was summarizing it via the slogan “there is no neutrality.” I think that is a fine summarization of Van Tillian thought and one that is often used amongst Van Tillians themselves. I’m not a CT reader, so I don’t know what their coverage is like generally, so perhaps this article would be better in the NY Times where she has written before. But all in all I think it was a good overview of the theological struggles of Mohler and the SBC.

  3. Molly Worthen is a good writer. But she does not know what Presuppositionalism is, that much is clear.

    And Joel, I wouldn’t worry so much about credentials. Some of the best writers in history never had the affirmation of “you are now a writer” bestowed upon them!

  4. Joel,

    I’ve recently read a Molly worthen article on Rushdoony for a presentation I have given on fundamentalism as part of my undergraduate Theology studies (half way through my B.theol – 3 years part time down, 2.5 to go!!)

    The Chalcedon problem: Rousas John Rushdoony and the origins of Christian reconstructionism By: Worthen, Molly. Source: Church History, 77 no 2 Je 2008, p 399-437.

    Worthen’s even-handedness and brilliant ability to cut through the hysteria expressed within the media and by ‘liberal’ commentators in the field is refreshing, as is her understanding and insight into the movement. Karen Armstrong is another who has written insightfully on Fundamentalism; treating the subject with similar evenhandedness, insight and dignity to that displayed by Worthen (all the more notable in Armstrong’s case due to her radically left of centre position.

    I find Gresham Machen, Van Til and Rushdoony fascinating both in terms of theology and their dynamic/personality/humanity call it what you will. Our campus (far from being a ‘fundamentalist stronghold’ has just purchased ‘Institutes of biblical Law – a little light reading over our southern Hemisphere Summer break.

    I cannot escape the fact that, though approaching a common concern from two conpletely opposing positions, these authors, and the framers of the Second Vatican Council were not as differently minded as one may at first think; after all, the rise of atheism, a social fabric in which the dignity of human life was under threat, a misplaced idolisation of tehcnology and scientific progress at the expense of a faith-based moral and ethical compass (among other issues was seen by both camps as calling for an immediate and urgent theological response – after all, it is the role of the theologian to be the interface between the sacred and secular, engaging both.

    If one reads, for instance, Lumen Gentium and Gaudium Et Spes, one who is also familliar with the concerns of the three Protestant reform thinkers here will recognize common threads. If there is one theologian I would dearly love to have been able to spend an hour with, it would have been Rushdoony, with Gresham Machen a close second.

  5. Sarah, I linked that article up in my post. It is a good one IMO. I would probably be labeled a fundamentalist or a Biblicist at least – not that I mind. I see Van Til and Rushdoony as carrying on from Kuyper, Bavinck, and ultimately Calvin and Augustine.

    I have not read Lumen Gentium or Gaudium Et Spes, but I should and will. You should read Peter Leithart, you might like him.

  6. Thanks Scott. I have a Google alert set for her, so I usually pick up whatever she writes that is new. I think she is doing some great work, even though I don’t agree with her POV.

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