“But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the Gospel, I said to Peter before them all…” -Galatians 2:14
(The message above was preached at the final evening session of the Reformation Fire Conference. It closes with a discussion of Dr. Albert Mohler’s signing of The Manhattan Declaration and his astonishing pronouncement of millions of Catholics being saved despite their ongoing participation in idolatrous sacraments and rituals. You can hear Dr. Mohler’s own voice as he tragically mishandles Romans 10:9 and declares millions of unrepentant, Roman Catholic, sacrament celebrating idolaters to be repentant believers who are saved through a simple faith and trust in Jesus.)
With Great Influence There’s Great Responsibility
Wikipedia accurately describes Dr. Albert Mohler as “one of America’s most influential evangelicals.” He has long been known as a champion of the Gospel and the Protestant Reformation. For well over a decade, I’ve taken my sons and groups of men from our church to sit under and be edified by Dr. Mohler’s preaching at the Shepherds’ Conference. As of late, he’s been traversing the earth preaching at historic sights and events commemorating the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation. He recently preached Romans 3:21-26 while standing in the pulpit above Martin Luther’s entombed body in the Schlosskirche (Castle Church) in Wittenberg (see photo).
It would seem Dr. Mohler has his Ephesians 6:10-20 armor on, is wielding the Sword of the Spirit faithfully, and is leading the evangelical way in the Reformation battle; however, there are a few alarming chinks in Dr. Mohler’s Gospel and Protestant Reformation armor. In April of 2017, Dr. Mohler and I discussed these chinks. To his credit, he confessed the most significant chink to be a “mistake” on his part, and yet that credit becomes greater debt every day he does nothing to correct or counteract his “mistake.” For the love of Christ, the love and protection of Christ’s true Church, and the love of 1.2 billion perishing Roman Catholic souls — I urged Dr. Mohler to correct his “mistake.” Bear in mind, this isn’t just any mistake, it’s a Gospel undermining, Protestant Reformation reversing mistake. It’s unconscionable for Dr. Mohler to recognize and call this a “mistake” and leave it uncorrected for eight long years. It’s worse yet for him to recognize and call this a “mistake” privately and then continue to defend it publicly on the World Wide Web to this day. It pains me to write this, but it is bold hypocrisy for Dr. Mohler to post a picture of himself preaching over Luther’s body on the World Wide Web while refusing to remove his longstanding compromise of Luther’s Gospel and Luther’s Reformation from the World Wide Web.
It’s been six months since my interaction with Dr. Mohler. The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is drawing near. It’s time for Dr. Mohler to correct his “mistake.”
With Great Mistakes There’s Great Accountability
What is Dr. Mohler’s great “mistake?” He signed his name to The Manhattan Declaration. He signed his name to a declaration framed by the same ecumenical enemies of the Gospel that penned ECT 1 and ECT 2. He signed his name to a declaration that unites Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants together in “our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness.” He signed his name to a declaration that unites Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants together with a “clarion call to the church” and all “Christians” to fight hand in hand together on moral and social issues. The astounding problems with that should not need to be explained. We may find agreement on a few moral and social causes, but not partnership, because when it comes to the cause of Christ the Protestant Reformation is not over and we are yet at war. The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches are enemies of Christ, enemies of His true Gospel, and enemies of His true Church. They are not partners in Christ’s Gospel. They are at war against Christ and His Gospel. They are not co-laborers on the mission field “proclaim[ing] the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in it’s fullness.” They are the mission field.
Dr. Mohler is no intellectual or theological slouch, he’s a brilliant thinker and theologian. His “mistake” is not one of ignorance, it’s one of inconsistency in Gospel conviction. His signing of The Manhattan Declaration is a direct contradiction of his own teaching at TGC17 regarding the danger of ecumenical cooperation that results in the pulling back of “theological conviction in order to meet some other end.” It’s one thing to make a mistake, even a serious Gospel mistake (consider the Apostle Peter). It’s another thing entirely for Dr. Mohler to confess a serious Gospel “mistake” and then continue to defend it with an extensive explanation and justification that repeatedly commits the same fundamental error that The Manhattan Declaration does. In his defense of signing the declaration he refers to the non-Christian Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox signers of the declaration as “Christians” again and again. Here are a few of the Reformation undermining, Gospel blurring references from his own article, followed by examples taken from the declaration itself:
Christian churches, denominations, and institutions . . . The statement calls for all Christians to “be united”. . . the statement includes a humble admission of our own Christian complicity . . . we cannot and will not abandon or compromise our Christian convictions . . . Christian leadership . . . Christian liberties . . . Christian convictions . . . Christian ministries . . . Christian beliefs.
After overtly and repeatedly pronouncing Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox non-Christians to be “Christians,” Dr. Mohler then offers a carefully crafted clarifying statement that catastrophically suffers from not being clear at all about the idolatrous and soul damning nature of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox antichrist churches, priests, doctrines, sacraments, and rituals:
My beliefs concerning the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches have not changed. The Roman Catholic Church teaches doctrines that I find both unbiblical and abhorrent — and these doctrines define nothing less than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But The Manhattan Declaration does not attempt to establish common ground on these doctrines. We remain who we are, and we concede no doctrinal ground.
Dr. Mohler claims that “The Manhattan Declaration does not attempt to establish common ground on” the Gospel, and that no doctrinal ground has been conceded — and yet the declaration clearly declares the union of Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants as “Christians” and “church[es]” who are standing together in “our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness.” If somehow a brilliant man like Dr. Mohler missed this blatant discrepancy when he initially signed the declaration, we can be sure that it is not lost on him now. Both Dr. John MacArthur and Dr. R.C. Sproul’s explanations as to why they did not sign the declaration show Dr. Mohler to be in obvious, Gospel compromising, Reformation reversing error.
Although I obviously agree with the document’s opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, and other key moral problems threatening our culture, the document falls far short of identifying the one true and ultimate remedy for all of humanity’s moral ills: the gospel. The gospel is barely mentioned in the Declaration. At one point the statement rightly acknowledges, “It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season” — and then adds an encouraging wish: “May God help us not to fail in that duty.” . . . Instead of acknowledging the true depth of our differences, the implicit assumption (from the start of the document until its final paragraph) is that Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant Evangelicals and others all share a common faith in and a common commitment to the gospel’s essential claims. The document repeatedly employs expressions like “we [and] our fellow believers”; “As Christians, we . . .”; and “we claim the heritage of . . . Christians.” That seriously muddles the lines of demarcation between authentic biblical Christianity and various apostate traditions. The Declaration therefore constitutes a formal avowal of brotherhood between Evangelical signatories and purveyors of different gospels. That is the stated intention of some of the key signatories, and it’s hard to see how secular readers could possibly view it in any other light. Thus for the sake of issuing a manifesto decrying certain moral and political issues, the Declaration obscures both the importance of the gospel and the very substance of the gospel message.
Some signers have stated that this is not a theological document. However, to make that statement accurate requires a redefinition of “theology” and serious equivocation on the biblical meaning of “the gospel” (2 Cor. 11:4). The drafters of the document, Charles Colson, Robert George, and Timothy George, used deliberate language that is on par with the ecumenical language of the Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) movement that began in the 1990s. The Manhattan Declaration states, “Christians are heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God’s Word,” and it identifies “Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelicals” as “Christians.” The document calls Christians to unite in “the Gospel,” “the Gospel of costly grace,” and “the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness.” Moreover, the document says, “it is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season.” Without question, biblical truth must be proclaimed and the gospel preached prophetically to our nation. But how could I sign something that confuses the gospel and obscures the very definition of who is and who is not a Christian?
With Great Mistakes There’s Great Opportunity
Thomas Cranmer has shown us that the great mistake of signing Gospel compromising, counter-reformation declarations can (by the grace of God) become the foundation and fuel of a great Semper Reformanda fire that will burn for decades or even centuries to come. Having recognized and admitted that it was a “mistake” to sign The Manhattan Declaration, it’s time for Dr. Mohler to turn what is likely the greatest mistake of his Christian life and ministry, into his greatest declaration and defense of the Gospel. It’s time for Dr. Mohler to “bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:8). It’s time for our erring brother to exercise his influence through radical public repentance (2 Cor. 7:9-11), leading the way for other noteworthy men who have compromised with the apostate Roman Catholic Church and her doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1).
With Great Repentance There’s Great Semper Reformanda Fire
It’s the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It’s time for Dr. Mohler to correct his “mistake.” It’s time for Dr. Mohler to find a high hill, to hold The Manhattan Declaration high in the air, and to burn it before all. It’s time for Dr. Mohler to officially and publicly remove his signature from The Manhattan Declaration. It’s time for Dr. Mohler to take a Semper Reformanda stand against himself, The Manhattan Declaration, and the Roman Catholic Church. It’s time for Dr. Mohler to remove his terrible defense of his Gospel undermining ecumenical compromise (Why I Signed the Manhattan Declaration) from the World Wide Web. It’s time for Dr. Mohler to write a new article in which he joins Dr. R.C. Sproul and Dr. John MacArthur in their public stand against the declaration’s obvious assault on the Gospel and the Protestant Reformation. It’s time for Dr. Mohler to light a great Semper Reformada fire, and play the Gospel declaring, defining, and defending man that we all believe him to be.
All of Dr. Mohler and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s declarations of “Here We Stand” are empty boasts while Dr. Mohler’s signature yet stands on The Manhattan Declaration. Yes, it’s 500 years after the Protestant Reformation, and it’s vital that we ask, “where do evangelicals stand, and what do we stand for?” It’s time for all those who love Christ, love His true Gospel, love His true Church, love Dr. Mohler, and love 1.2 billion perishing Roman Catholic souls — to actually say “HERE WE STAND!” — and to start a white hot Semper Reformanda fire that makes no compromise for “trusted” friends, but rather demands that friends be consistently trustworthy with the foremost treasure entrusted to us, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Men who compromise the Gospel of Jesus Christ and refuse to correct their “mistake,” cannot be trusted to stand in our pulpits, to preach at our conferences, to train our men to be ministers of the Gospel, or to be our voice to the world. Nobody gets a free pass to compromise the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Dr. Mohler, it’s time to stand like Cranmer, it’s time to stand like Luther — it’s time to burn The Manhattan Declaration!