Mohler Southern Baptist Convention

How the Young Restless & Reformed Crowd remade the Southern Baptist Convention from a conservative to progressive denomination all with the help of Al Mohler.

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” –Rahm Emmanuel, Chief of Staff to the Obama White House.

For about five years, the non-Calvinist movement led by Connect 316 and known as Traditionalists were the main opposition to the rise of Al Mohler’s influence on the Convention. The Traditionalists rightly critiqued how only men associated with Mohler were getting top positions within the SBC.

However, the movement imploded in 2018 with the defeat of Ken Hemphill and the War on Paige Patterson. With Patterson neutralized, Neo-Reformed forces seized control of yet another seminary—Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary—laid off about 30-percent of its full-time faculty and then over the next few months hired almost a score of new faculty including research professors, deans and others mostly connected with Mohler’s Southern Seminary.

This isn’t shocking. It was done repeatedly over the last decade. Leaders connected with The Gospel Coalition (TGC) took over SBC entities and proceeded to hire staff disproportionately connected with Mohler and the TGC.

Often the hires were accomplished after massive layoffs.

This matches how McLean Bible Church was transformed just prior to and after the arrival of David Platt.

Platt infamously led the downsizing of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board where over 700 experienced missionaries were let go, and then the IMB continued to place newer, younger and no doubt more Reformed (and Woke) mission workers on the field.

Platt’s efforts at IMB were transformative, according to one former official.

And according to former members of McLean Bible Church, it was the same story at McLean. Layoffs totaled about 132 over a calendar year just before and after Platt arrived at McLean as a Teaching Pastor. Of course, new hires followed the layoffs.

As one writer described it, “In a one year period at least 132 people were purged from the staff. While this was going on McLean Bible was hiring a number of Neo-Calvinists from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and elsewhere.”

And this is also what happened at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Traditionalists have privately complained about the new president’s layoffs of approximately 30% of its faculty (over 25 full time employees). This was followed with numerous new hires—many of the new hires coming from, yes, you guessed it, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

When Russell Moore arrived at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission he immediately hired five new aides. Four were associated with TGC—two of whom were not even Southern Baptists.

Connections with Al Mohler and The Gospel Coalition were more important than being Southern Baptist.

Celebrity and networking boosted some candidates, while relegating other non-TGC affiliates. One Southern Baptist denominational leader said he urged Mohler to include non-Calvinists, but Mohler ignored the advice.

A decade later, this decision became a clear tactic—the people Mohler platformed were given opportunities for advancement not open to others. Mohler spread his influence to new seminaries and entities with each job opening. Check out the map for the extent of Mohler’s influence.

What does all this mean?

It means that Dr. Mohler is largely responsible for this Woke infiltration and the rise of Identity Politics in the Southern Baptist Convention. (Woke is a term meaning awakened to the systemic oppression of certain minority groups by white Americans.)

Look at who he platforms.

Mohler’s got a serious problem at Southern. He has employees openly promoting Identity Politics. His Provost admits to being a white supremacist, and other professors are promoting Critical Theory.

Also, many of Mohler’s protégés (Daniel Akin at Southeastern and Russell Moore at the ERLC) are the greatest offenders of Southern Baptist sensibilities.

Mohler said on The Briefing, “The main consequence of critical race theory and intersectionality is identity politics, and identity politics can only rightly be described, as antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have to see identity politics as disastrous for the culture and nothing less than devastating for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If Mohler is serious in his critique of Identity Politics, then he must openly repudiate the greatest teachers of Identity Politics in the Southern Baptist Convention.

And do it by name.

He must use his influence to neutralize the spread of this godless disease.

He is responsible for its spread. Will he be part of the cure?



7 thoughts on “The Wokening of the Southern Baptist Convention”

  1. Is the writer suggesting a nexus between being reformed and woke. I consider myself reformed,in my soteriology and I am monergist in my over all theology. I consider wholeness antithetical to Christianity. Am I missing something?

    1. Some of the biggest opponents of the Social Justice Gospel/Wokeness are Reformed. So, I don’t mean to suggest this is about soteriology. Rather, I do believe there is a nexus between some Reformed, particularly around TGC, and the leadership of this problem. If pressed I think it has more to do with political theology (Russell Moore embraces a Neo-Kuyperian political theology) and eschatology than anything else.

  2. Calvinism will always inexorably gravitate towards liberalism because it is actually compatible with liberalism. Liberalism holds that certain people are victims of circumstance and environment, and can not be rightly held responsible and accountable for their actions because they could not do otherwise (i.e. it is their fate). And that is nothing more than a secular expression of Calvinism’s total depravity and belief that God ordains sin and the sinner could not do otherwise (i.e. it is their fate). There is no real meaningful difference between “born this way” and “ordained this way.”

  3. As a member of an SBC church and student at SBTS I can attest to this. The ousting of Patterson was very sad and dangerous. Not the least as dangerous as R. Moore and B. Moore however. They confuse and manipulate for the sake of some sort of gain. I used to enjoy R. Moore a lot, but the more I study and see who he associates with and the vagueness that he promotes, the worse it gets.

    Greenway said that SWBTS was not going to become another SBTS. No abstract of principles to sign, thus insuring all Calvinists. Sad though it seems to be the case.

    @TANDT, that is a excellent point. If you look at the history of SBTS, the first 4 men who started the seminary were solid Calvinists (slaver holders too) and their 5th prof, first one hired was Crawford Toy. He went liberal in his single life. Left due to the spirit of the age, evolution. Even Lottie Moon was about the marry him, but decided otherwise. Toy left SBTS due to unbelief and went to have a strong career at Harvard. It is impossible to get around the ‘born this way’, and ‘decreed this way’ mantra. Your assessment is apt.

  4. I’m a reformed Southern Baptist and not woke at all. The SBC was very reformed when it was formed, as evidenced by the Abstract of Principles of SBTS. Baptists in general were “reformed” for most of their history, as evidenced by the London Baptist Confessions and the New Hampshire Baptist Confession.

    Only from the 2oth century onward have Baptists leaned away from reformed doctrines, and that’s ok. Let’s just not blame “reformed doctrine” for the problem when the problem is liberalism.

    Another point: almost all CBF members are opposed to reformed doctrines.

    Reformed doctrine is not the enemy. Liberalism is, and it is found among reformed and non-reformed baptists. Please keep the effort against liberalism, not against reformed doctrines, which is what Baptists have historically been.

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