What is it like to have a coffee with one of the world’s greatest theologian and cultural commentator? I don’t know. But I do know what it is like to have coffee while listening to one of the world’s greatest theologian and cultural commentator, Dr Albert Mohler.
For most, Al Mohler needs no introduction. The President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr Mohler is a recognized voice in theological education, church leadership, and the media. He has appeared on some of the world’s most popular TV shows such as ‘Larry King Live’ and ‘Good Morning America’, and is a frequent columnist/commentator on other prominent newspapers like The New York Times and The Wall street Journal. He was the doktorvader of another prominent evangelical voice Dr Russell Moore (President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC) and is also responsible for the likes of Dr Gregory Thornbury (President of Kings College, New York). Al Mohler’s influence and reach cannot be overstated and his personal influence over me is most vivid through his daily podcast, The Briefing.
Here are 3 reasons for why I think you should check it out.
i) Christianity needs a credible voice.
The Western world has become increasingly hostile towards religion in general and Christianity in particular. Given our differing worldviews, this is to be expected. However, in the midst of diversity and discussion, Christians need a credible voice who can clearly articulate the Christian position well on a variety of issues. And in my opinion, Dr Mohler fits the bill.
The Briefing explores current news and events from the Christian worldview, with Mohler reading bits of headline news while providing some commentary on it. He briefly outlines the issue at hand and explains how Christians can think about the matter.
This is helpful firstly because Mohler clearly provides a good Christian position on the matter. It is therefore no surprise that he is often quoted by mainstream media when they are after a Christian perspective. Secondly, by doing so, he is teaching his listeners how to read culture and news and how to think ‘Christianly’ about these things.
ii) The Briefing teaches us theology and apologetics.
I’ve been told that Al Mohler does not read off a script for his daily podcast. In fact, what happens is that his research assistants scan through key news headlines and sends them to him. And all he does is sits down, switches on his microphone, and begins recording. This is incredible because on most days, you could never tell (there are some days when his thoughts are less processed and refined, but given how he works, I think it is forgivable).
In doing so, I believe he provides a good model for how Christians can do theology and apologetics. In his commentaries and responses, he weaves together a biblical and theological response and presents it in a manner that is truthful, thoughtful, and loving. This shows that extended and careful study of Scripture and God’s Word can train a person to interact with culture ‘on the spot’.
So listen in and see how he ‘theologises’ and hopefully that can shape how you think about contemporary issues over some time.
iii) It keeps you up to date on current news.
I find it difficult to sit down and read the news. I mostly flick through my Twitter and Facebook feed for headlines but that’s about it.
Listening to the Briefing means you’re getting updated on most recent news while receiving commentary on the side. The weakness in this is that you’re at the mercy of Al Mohler’s choice of coverage, which means that you won’t get all the news you need. Specifically, I think Mohler has a bias towards news surrounding Planned Parenthood and gun control law, and for good reason. But for Australians, these issues are less prominent. That being said, I think the ethical truths are universal and his framework for reaching the conclusions are helpful.
Further, I think it is important for Christians (and pastors in particular) to stay updated on the news. I believe it was John Stott who spoke of a ‘double exegesis’, that of the Bible on one hand and a newspaper on the other – namely, to exegete God’s Word and the culture in our preaching.
I’ve had many opportunities to share a ‘Christian view’ on various matters at work and school and I’m deeply indebted for Al Mohler and The Briefing for preparing me for those conversations.
Get listening and get trained to offer a defense for the hope that is within you. Check it out here.
Other parts of this blog series:
1. 5 Minutes in Church History with Dr Stephen Nichols