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10/9/97 Mohler says biblical preaching key to racial reconciliation

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Biblical preaching is “the central weapon in our arsenal” for Christians seeking to bring about racial reconciliation, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said at an Oct. 7 conference in Louisville, Ky.
Speaking on the topic “Preaching in Perilous Times” at the seventh annual Cooperative Ministries Worship and Evangelism Conference, Mohler said the Apostle Paul ministered to people in first-century Corinth whose situation was quite similar to that of Americans at the end of the 20th century.
“Peril is one of the hallmarks of our age,” Mohler said. “It’s perilous these days to be a young man on the street. It’s perilous these days to be a policeman or a policewoman on a beat. It’s perilous these days to be a student in school. It’s perilous to be a fetus in the womb. It’s perilous to be an elderly person in a nursing home.”
Like the Roman culture of Paul’s age, America’s “fall is imminent,” Mohler said. Quoting former U.S. drug czar and education secretary Bill Bennett, Mohler added, “We’ve become the kind of country civilized nations used to send missionaries to.”
Sponsored by the Kentucky Baptist Convention, this year’s cooperative ministries conference focused on “The Ministry of Reconciliation in Perilous Times,” with particular attention paid to racial and cultural issues. The meeting attracts Southern and National Baptists seeking to build bridges of racial reconciliation, according to KBC consultant Lincoln Bingham.
By focusing attention on believers’ “vertical relationship” with God and their “horizontal relationships” with fellow Christians, reconciliation can take place, Bingham said in an interview. “When one is vertically reconciled to God, there should be a manifestation of that in racial and cultural reconciliation as well.”
Preaching from 1 Corinthians 1:18-29, Mohler asserted the dangers of the current age have infected the church.
“In a particular way, this is an age of peril for the church because the church, in essence by identity, stands for everything this culture is rejecting,” Mohler said. While the church once was the center of the culture, “Now the church is just one more voice, one more institution, one more agency, one more set of programs, one more interest group, one more political constituency among many others,” he said.
During such perilous times for the church, rather than accepting the advice of those who offer compromise with the culture, Mohler said modern-day Christians should follow Paul’s example of preaching the “foolishness of the cross.”
“A major problem in the contemporary church is that we try to make the cross of Christ something less than foolishness to those who are perishing,” Mohler explained. “We want to redefine it, or transform it, or repackage it in such a way that those who are perishing would not see it as foolishness. And Paul said that is foolishness.”
Mohler said the “major divide” in the human race is how people view the cross: “those who see the message of the cross as foolishness and those who see the message of the cross as the power of God.”
Throughout its history, Mohler noted African American churches have known the power of God is in the cross of Christ and the importance of preaching the Word of God. Just as it did for the underground church in Nazi Germany, sermons centered on the Bible held blacks together during centuries of oppression in the United States.
“If Paul is right, the central weapon in our arsenal is preaching,” Mohler said. Paul didn’t tell his young protege, Timothy, to go to a conference in Chicago, or to get the right program going in his church; “he told him to preach the Word,” Mohler added.
The church has “crawled into a shell, abandoning biblical preaching,” Mohler said. “In some quarters you see a redefinition of biblical preaching. In other quarters, you see an unconscious deflection of biblical preaching. Biblical preaching is very difficult, it requires enormous effort. But Hebrews 4:12 says it is the Word of God that is sharper than any two-edged sword.”
Admonishing pastors, “Preaching is not worth much at all if it is not biblical,” Mohler declared. “If you want to stand out in today’s culture, preach the Word.”

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  • David Porter