Dr. Albert Mohler is wrong-sort of

4 Jun



Mohler is wrong.

Recently, I ran across an article that caused Rick Warren to publicly call out a seminary president for using a title in a blog post to disparage mega-churches. (link) It all revolved around an illustration that Andy Stanley used in a sermon. Tracking your evangelical heavy weights? If not, don’t worry, not central to this post.

The problem I have with American Evangelical cultural commentary is that it is simply, well, American. Which leads leading educators like Dr. Mohler to make uninformed, American centric commentary instead of sticking to the point.

Mohler states that “For the most part, however, the suburban evangelical megachurch is an American phenomenon.” Further, they are a social demographic related to the growth of Malls and other consumer culture icons.

I wish that he had stuck to the core of his argument about biblical inerrancy. Because using one false argument to augment another true one makes people question the strength of your original premise.

The church in Jerusalem on Day 1 was 3000 people. It soon grew to thousands more. Through the New Testament, that body is simply referred to as the church of Jerusalem. There have been “mega-churches” throughout history.

Perhaps numerically there are more churches of over 2,000 today. There are also more people than ever before. An interesting graph would be to plot the number of cities over 100,000 or 1 million versus the growth of large churches. But the reality is that churches numbering thousands of adherents can be found in every major urban area of the world, which Dr. Mohler mentions, then dismisses. From Seoul, where Yoiida Full Gospel numbers 750,000 under Pastor Paul David Youngi Cho, to Kiev, throughout the latin world, all across Africa, and even occasionally in Europe, there are “mega-churches” everywhere. In my own city of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, there are probably a few dozen churches of over 1000 members in this city of 6 million.

I suspect the reality is that there is still a bias against large churches in American religious culture. The growth and heart of American evangelicalism, particularly Baptist and Assemblies of God, remains in rural America, and most leaders still take their cultural identity from this expression of the church.

I respect leaders like Dr. Mohler for standing for biblical truth against cultural shift. Andy Stanley is my favorite communicator. Their discussion will be ongoing. But the discussion should remain centered on the cultural and biblical issues. The argument is weakened when Mohler picks a separate fight with his blog post title, and further weakened when he makes a totally undefensible cultural analysis of the emergence of large churches as an American phenomenon.  Unfortunately, he stands with most American evangelicals, who still believe that the US is the center of the world in terms of theology, missiology and soteriology.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world’s mega churches didn’t even know this discussion happened…

You can read the original article here, and the twitter salvo here.

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