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Mohler exhorts pastors to be scandalous for God

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–The church needs scandalous ministers who boldly preach the cross of Christ, R. Albert Mohler Jr. told a group of pastors Oct. 14 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
“There ought to be a scandal in our ministry,” said Mohler, president of Southern Seminary. “It’s the scandal of those who hear what we preach and see what we teach and observe what we represent and say, ‘That’s nuts.’”
Mohler addressed about 200 pastors at a complimentary luncheon as part of Southern’s annual Pastor Appreciation Day. In addition to the luncheon, the event featured a chapel service with James Merritt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Snellville, Ga., and seminars by seminary faculty.
Ministry in the third millennium will be much the same as it was in the first century, Mohler said, as “the task given the minister in Scripture hasn’t changed.”
“Ministry in the third millennium must of necessity be an apologetic ministry,” Mohler contended. “The minister who is not ready to exercise an apologetic ministry in this generation is going to be roadkill in terms of ministry in post-secular, postmodern America.”
Mohler preached from 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 and gave pastors four lessons from the passage.
First, he said the cross is the great divide between Christians and non-believers.
“The divide is between those who look to the cross and see it as foolishness and those who look to the cross and see it as the power of God,” Mohler said.
What’s troubling, Mohler said, is that the cross “not only divides out there in the culture. It divides within those who claim the name of Christ.”
He cited the recent flap caused by the International Mission Board’s publication of a prayer guide to help Baptists pray for the conversion of their Jewish friends. In today’s culture, Mohler said it’s considered rude to insinuate that some people are going to hell.
“Of course it’s rude,” Mohler argued. “Rudeness in our society is measured by failing to follow the etiquette of the culture. And the etiquette of our culture is let someone die rather than confront them with the truth.”
Mohler urged pastors to preach the objective truth about Christ’s atonement on the cross.
“The world is not threatened by a message of a subjective atonement,” Mohler said. “The world is only threatened by the message of the Christ when it is preached in all of its biblical wholeness, when on the cross the innocent lamb of God shed his blood and actually paid an objective penalty for an objective sin. …
“The church is to be a counter-cultural people, and what matters is the cross. The cross makes us a different people.”
Secondly, Mohler said the wisdom of God contradicts the wisdom of the world.
“[The Apostle] Paul reminds us that the wisdom of God is not just a different wisdom than the wisdom of the world,” Mohler explained. “It is a wisdom that is in direct confrontation with the wisdom of the world. You cannot set the wisdom of God alongside the wisdom of the world. They are not compatible.”
The task of a Christian minister, Mohler said, is to tell people that everything they think they know is wrong. “That’s a tough word, isn’t it?” he asked. “Refuse to negotiate with the wisdom of the world. Any negotiation with the wisdom of the world amounts to surrender.”
Thirdly, Mohler said that what the world most demands ministers cannot give. Every pastor feels the temptation to dilute the message to accommodate a culture that doesn’t want to hear the truth.
“The central mark of an authentic Christian ministry is the refusal to pander,” Mohler said. “And yet that’s exactly what the world demands of us.”
Finally, Mohler told pastors that the church is the testimony to God’s refutation of the wisdom of the world.
“God chooses to transform the likes of us in order to disprove the wisdom of the world,” Mohler said. “It isn’t wisdom that gets us into the kingdom. It’s foolishness — the foolishness of the cross. It isn’t strength that gets us into the kingdom. It is weakness. The only way to come to the cross is to admit our utter inability to do anything for ourselves.”
God works in such a way, Mohler said, so that he may receive all the glory by confounding the wisdom of the world.
“Is your ministry scandalous?” Mohler asked. “I hope so. … Be scandalous to the glory of God with the right scandal, and preach the cross without compromise.”

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth
    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.Read All by Tim Ellsworth ›