February 7, 2013

A Critical Review of Kevin Bauder’s Open Letter to Lance Ketchum: Kevin Bauder, Al Mohler and the Manhattan Declaration

In a discussion thread under his Open Letter to Lance Ketchum Dr. Kevin Bauder claims that a brief statement, in an obscure book,1 proves that Dr. Al Mohler has “biblically repented” for having signed the Manhattan Declaration (MD).2  Before we address that claim in our next critical review in this series, let’s go back to the time of signing the MD, Nov. 2009.  Regarding that time Kevin wrote,
Al Mohler was one of the signatories of the Manhattan Declaration, which resulted in his extending Christian recognition to Roman Catholics. Mine was only one of a host of voices that questioned the theological integrity of this decision.”3
Kevin Bauder claims that he “questioned the theological integrity of this decision.” I have transcribed his remarks from an audio recording at a conference where he was speaking. Kevin made some brief personal remarks about T4G leadership and went on to say,

“Al Mohler felt liberty to sign the Manhattan Declaration. Other conservative evangelicals not only did not feel that liberty, but were critical of Mohler for doing that. Personally I think that in signing the Manhattan Declaration Mohler is acting inconsistently with his own principles, but I think we give a man a certain amount of liberty for an occasional inconsistency. Which of us isn’t occasionally inconsistent? I don’t think the occasional inconsistency is what establishes a position. I think we take Mohler and others in terms of their overall conduct not in terms of a single episode.”4
That transcription is the only known public statement available in which Kevin discusses Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration. From it we do not see any questioning of “theological integrity.” We do, however, recognize that Kevin dismissed the signing as merely an, “occasional inconsistencysingle episode.”
Can Kevin point us to a source, a point in time where he publicly questioned the theological integrity” of Al Mohler signing the MD? 
In the transcription above Kevin says that we need to “take Mohlerin terms of overall conduct.” Previously at IDOTG we documented that Al Mohler’s signing of the MD was no mere “single episode” or “occasional inconsistency.”5 We will review here and I believe demonstrate a pattern of “overall conduct” that proves, just as we did in 2010, that Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration was no “occasional inconsistency or single episode” as suggested by Kevin Bauder. For example,

Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism
Al Mohler became president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in 1993. In all fairness, therefore, arrangements for honoring Graham, the high-priest of ecumenical evangelism, by naming the school for him in 1994 probably preceded Mohler’s presidency.

Honoring a Liberal Theologian
In June 2009 SBTS celebrated its 150th anniversary. Following Dr. Mohler’s message, the seminary honored its seventh president Duke K. McCall by announcing the dedication of its new pavilion in his honor.

Billy Graham Crusade in Louisville, KY.
Dr. Al Mohler served as chairman for the 2001 Billy Graham Crusade in Louisville, KY. Billy Graham has turned thousands of (alleged) converts over to Roman Catholic and modernistic churches. Mohler knew this when he accepted the chairmanship of Graham’s Louisville crusade.

Al Mohler & Focus on the Family

Al Mohler still today sits on the board of directors of Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family is, “a component of the American Christian right, it is active in promoting interdenominational work toward its views on social conservative public policy.” (Wikipedia, [accessed, June 4, 2010].)

Al Mohler Praises the Vatican and the Pope
“I also appreciate the spiritual concern reflected in this document. The artificial and deadly dangerous game of ecumenical confusion has obscured issues of grave concern for our souls. I truly believe that Pope Benedict and the Congregation for the Defense of the Faith are concerned for our evangelical souls and our evangelical congregations...I actually appreciate the Pope’s concern.” (R. Albert Mohler: albertmohler.com, Courage and Controversy: The Vatican Takes on Feminism, August 4, 2004. (bold added) [accessed February 5, 2013])
From his 2001 paper, Standing Together, Standing Apart6 Dr. Mohler rightly condemns Evangelicals & Catholics Together (E&CT).7 He wrote,
But when the ECT statement was released, it was something very different from what I expected. The statement went into rather substantial detail on issues of doctrine and theology, claiming basic agreement, and promising even the possibility of common witness. I did not sign the statement. I could not in conscience sign the statement. The central objection is found with this partial paragraph: ‘All who accept Christ as Lord and Savior are brothers and sisters in Christ. Evangelicals and Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ’.”
His outright rejection of E&CT is powerful and compelling, but leads to confusion over why then he would have enthusiastically signed the Manhattan Declaration8 and vigorously defended his action. The MD did not have as blunt a “central objection” as E&CT, but it did cause men like Mohler to give Christian recognition to deadly “enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Phil. 3:18)

There are some additional excerpts from Standing Together, Standing Apart for our consideration.
“Withthe cultural challenges now before us, Evangelicals, Roman Catholics, and the Orthodox should stand without embarrassment as co-belligerents in the culture war. The last persons on earth to have an honest disagreement may also be the last on earth to recognize transcendent truth and moral principles—even the sanctity of human life itself.”
“Our agenda for cultural co-belligerence must include three dimensions covering philosophical, theological, and cultural challenges. The first two are necessary foundations for the third.” “At the theological level, we must contend together for the ontological Trinity as more than a metaphor....”
 “As Timothy George, my own church history professor at Southern Seminary, began his introductory class lecture, ‘My job is to inform you that there were Christians between your grandmother and Jesus—and that it matters’.”
Timothy George is the dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University and has been the dean since the school’s inception in 1988. He serves as executive editor for Christianity Today, the flagship voice for New Evangelicalism.  George, furthermore, was a co-author of the Manhattan Declaration. In that Al Mohler was at one time an impressionable student of Timothy George isn’t likely that some of George’s new evangelical mindset was adopted by Al Mohler?
“Seventh and finally, we must be ready to stand together in cultural co-belligerence, rooted in a common core of philosophical and theological principles, without demanding confessional agreement or pretending that this has been achieved.”

If Dr. Mohler had been a novice Christian signing the MD might be excusable. He is, however, a seasoned pastor with an established track record of ecumenical missteps, such as have been documented above.

Is it possible that all of these issues, which occurred prior to Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration, escaped Dr. Bauder’s attention and research? Possibly, but what we know for sure is that when it comes to the doctrinal aberrations and ecumenical compromises of Al Mohler, and the so-called conservative”
 evangelicals, Dr. Bauder has established his own pattern of tolerating, allowing for, excusing or ignoring what is going on there. With that as his track record does Kevin Bauder, as he claims for himself, have a
Duty to clean up the FBFI,”
 and that he (Kevin Bauder) is the last and best hope for old Fundamentalist institutions like the FBFI?9
In an upcoming article, in this critical review, we are going to delve into Kevin Bauder’s insistence that Al Mohler has “biblically repented” of having signed the Manhattan Declaration. Please continue to an Interim to the Critical Review of Kevin Bauders Open Letter: The Manhattan Declaration


1) The Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism, pp. 85-86.

3) Dr. Kevin Bauder: Open Letter to Lance Ketchum, Jan. 29, 2013, in a Sharper Iron comment thread interaction with another poster.

4) Foundations Conference, April 27, 2010

6) Stand Together, Stand Apart: This paper was originally presented at the Touchstone Conference, “Christian Unity & the Divisions We Must Sustain,” in November 2001 at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois.

7) “Evangelicals & Catholics Together is a 1994 ecumenical document signed by leading Evangelical and Roman Catholic scholars in the United States.”

9) Dr. Kevin Bauder: Comment #132 at the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Iron, February 2, 2013. 
I think a great many balanced, separatist fundamentalists will have a great deal of trouble with Kevins extended comment in which he claimed for himself to be a kind of crusading savior for Fundamentalism. 

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