LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Many American Christians are giving the wrong answer to Jesus’ question, “Will you also go away?” R. Albert Mohler Jr. said Feb. 1 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s spring convocation service.
“We need not look very far to see denominations and churches and institutions and preachers who are obviously offended by the gospel,” said Mohler, Southern Seminary’s president. “How do we know they are so offended by the gospel? It’s because of the distance they have put between themselves and the gospel.”
In John 6, Jesus told his hearers that he was the bread of life, and they must eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have eternal life. Many of his followers went away after hearing these words. Jesus then turned to his disciples and asked, “Will you also go away?”
It is a question that Christians must face time and time again, Mohler said. “It comes to a preacher every time he stands in the pulpit to preach.”
Christians will answer the question one way or another, and that answer will be visible for all to see.
“The answer to the question means everything,” Mohler said. “There is the temptation to repackage the gospel — to soft-sell the truth, to bring in a little marketing advice, to translate, to explain, to qualify, to dilute.”
Over the last two centuries, Christians have often failed to answer the question correctly. “There has been a sustained pattern of rejection and compromise and accommodation,” Mohler said. “The doctrines of inspiration and revelation and substitutionary atonement have been discarded.”
Many Christians don’t even believe in hell, because “it simply isn’t culturally significant anymore,” Mohler said.
Likewise, doctrines such as the trinity, justification by faith and imputed righteousness have become increasingly difficult to find in American churches and “run counter to the American mind.”
Perhaps the greatest compromised theological truth is the exclusivity of the gospel, Mohler argued. “It is one thing to say that Jesus is a savior, but that is not scriptural. Jesus is either the savior or he is no savior at all.”
Mohler said liberal Protestant churches have so abandoned the gospel that it would be a “miracle” for anyone to hear the authentic gospel in those places.
But sadly, this theological compromise is even influencing evangelicals, Mohler said.
“We have so many feel-good churches. We have so many empty, empty sermons,” he said. “Most evangelicals these days know better than to offend by heresy. And so they solve the problem by speaking no theology at all.”
Southern Baptists must carefully guard against this spirit of accommodation, Mohler said. They must “admit that the only way it will not happen is by the grace of God and not by our own ingenuity.”
Mohler stressed that Christ remains the only way to God and the only hope for sinners.
“I pray that as a seminary we stand without apology, without compromise, without embarrassment and without hesitation upon this truth,” he said. “And we recognize that in doing so we will offend some, and we will offend, perhaps, many. I pray, if so, we will offend all the right people and for all the right reasons.”
Mohler said Southern Baptists must echo Peter’s response to Jesus’ question, found in John 6:68: “To whom else would we go? You have the words of eternal life.”