Jan 03 2014

Al Mohler and the Irony of a Neo-Calvinist

Nelson Mandela died recently.

It is inconceivable that people haven’t heard that Nelson Mandela passed away because if you are alive and in the United States, it should be almost impossible to miss the lovefest pouring out from the American media for the one-time president of South Africa.

Of course, whenever the American media starts having orgasms over a public figure, my bullshit meter starts pinging in the back of my mind. If for no other reason, the only people the American media venerates are political leftists. When CNN, NBC, CBS, ESPN, and the Ethernet equivalent outlets are heralding someone’s “great accomplishments,” chances are high that the person leans politically closer to Lenin than say Limbaugh, closer to Pol Pot than say Palin.

As an American, I knew the required parts of the Mandela mythos and South African politics: Mandela as the second coming, apartheid, and the evils of the racist white man. I learned the important stuff from the highly instructive morality play called Lethal Weapon 2 with Joe Pesci and Danny Glover. “You’re blek. He’s blek”

And the all-time best movie line:

Evil white dude: “Diplomatic immunity!”


Roger Murtaugh: “It’s just been revoked!”

(By the way, if you freeze the movie just after the gunshot, when the evil, racist white guy is holding up his diplomatic creds, you can see that the bullet goes through the creds before it goes through the guy’s head.)

Anyway, so as I was saying, I knew all the politically correct parts of the Mandela lore, or at least all the parts that resident white people are supposed to know and not challenge, ever: only white guys are racist. And lest we forget, white guys are evil racists, so of course whatever Nelson Mandela actually DID in his life should never be challenged.

Ergo and so forth, being appropriately subdued by white guilt, I was going to let the mythology go unchallenged. I got the message from the social cops: Move along, nothing to see here. No spiritual tyranny to address. Right?

That was until my friend and partner in Neo-Calvinist eye-poking Paul Dohse wrote this article: Albert Mohler, Nelson Mandela, and the Crusade for a New Calvinist Host.

In the article, Paul asks an innocuous question that got me to pondering. Why is Al Mohler weighing in on the Nelson Mandela dealeo? Paul has his own take. I’ll let you take a peek at what he said.

But indeed, why was Al Mohler getting on the national Mandela bandwagon? What does a preacher from Louisville, Kentucky have to do with the price of beans in South Afri—oops, China?

I decided to take a quick gander at Al Mohler’s full article. And I must confess, after reading it twice, I still wasn’t sure what Al was trying to do. He had some classic Mohler-esque argumentative non sequiturs and the ever present obsession with a “fallen world” that so many Calvinists tout without a blush of shame. There was this one sentence that made my eyes narrow: “It is unlikely that anyone is going to try to help them [Americans] think about these questions and to think about them as Christians.”

Did he say “help” people think?

You people in the Southern Baptist Convention need Al Mohler’s “help” to think?

That would explain a lot, I guess. But . . . >shrug< . . . if SBC folks are gonna feed off the Al Mohler intellectual teats, then they are welcome to their cognitive indigestion.

Ehem . . .

Considering most everyone else was slobbering over Mandela, I will say that I was impressed by Mohler’s “honest” treatment of Mandela’s life. Mandela was a Marxist terrorist and Mohler got that part of his life right. Well, he got the terrorist part right (sort of), but he didn’t cover the Marxist part in any detail. (This is a crucial distinction.) However, he treated the terrorist part with such . . . ease (?), such caution, such moderation that for a minute I wasn’t sure this was THE Dr. R. Albert Mohler. Dr. Al tends to be a pretty emphatic soul, so what caught my attention was his moderation as he gave the overview of Mandela’s terrorist life and the subsequent Christian lesson.

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    1. 1

      Ok, printed out and on my way to bed for some nighttime reading. Previewed earlier–looks good.

    2. 2

      That was excellent, John. And by the way, that first comment from Dr. Al…that wasn’t too subtle. The moral relativism was positively pungent.

      If you get a moment, would you mind checking out my latest post? You article, like so many of them, utterly inspired me! :-)

    3. 3
      John Immel

      Thanks Argo,

      And you are right … Molher’s moral relativism is not subtle if you know what you are looking for and have an ounce of critical review while reading. the article is anecdotal for what I have pointed to repeatedly: The doctrine’s of original sin/ pervasive depravity are merely the flip side of the antinomian coin.

      I am glad I inspire. and I am reading your article now.

    4. 4

      “So to an America who chose not to get into World War I and II Niebuhr preached against “isolationism” because it was selfish of America to abandon the “world community” in the name of its own “self-interest.” ”

      You know what is so fascinating about this? How long it took Non Germanic Europe to admit the Reich was evil and dangerous to them. Why is that? Because of their history and lack of focus on individual rights. The “nation” (code speak for the rulers) always took precedence over the individual person and their rights. When it is about “nation” it is easier to see why the Reich would decide the Sudenland was really theirs or that Poland was expendable, etc.

    5. 5
      John Immel


      Yes, this is a great observation. America wasn’t the only “Isolationist” country. The driving force of European “Isolationism” was the collectivism implicit to their governmental world view. In the decades leading up to National Socialism in Germany, England was engaged in its own mad dash into socialism. Hitler considered the British his Arian brothers. This is the biggest reason he didn’t invade England when he had the chance. He thought he was really showing mercy to his ideological allies. (Well, this was one factor why Hitler left the western front and started his war with Russia.)

      Whatever the divergence between Hitler and the rest of the continent the most certainly agreed with hitlers governmental premise: Man must sacrifice for the greater good.

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