Dissed by Dr. Mohler? (A Plea for Southern Baptists to Consider Congregationalism)
I was surprised at this repeat because Dr. Mohler ends every podcast asking for people to call in with their questions, seemingly wanting to address new questions each week. A week before the repeated question appeared online, I actually did call in with a question, which I thought he might address.
Here was my question:
When reading about what makes a Baptist a Baptist, one of the characteristics or distinctives regularly mentioned is the principle of congregationalism. Do you believe that congregationalism is properly biblical and baptistic? If so, how was this principle lost in Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy? What are some trends within Southern Baptist life today that may undermine the congregational principle?About a month has passed, and now (with a repeated question in the mix), I'm pretty sure that mine isn't going to appear on the podcast. I don't believe that my question was dismissed due to "congregationalism" being a specialized term: other questions have used specialized theological language ("covenant theology," for example), and Dr. Mohler hasn't expressed any reluctance about defining terms in his answers.
Ruling out the possibility that my question was dismissed due to "congregationalism" being a specialized term, there are a number of reasons why Dr. Mohler (or his staff) may not have allowed my question on his show. Here's a few I've considered:
1. The recording might have been garbled.
2. I may have read the question in an overly monotone voice, unfit for the podcast. (I have heard other callers evidently reading their questions, and I tried to use appropriate inflection, but mine might have been worse than others.)
3. Dr. Mohler (or someone on his staff) may have realized who I was and he may dislike me for things that I've written. As per the usual question format I only identified myself as "Andrew from Dallas, Georgia," so it seems unlikely that I would be particularly known, but someone may know me from my blog or Facebook. If it is the case that the question was rejected due to personal dislike (and I certainly do not expect everyone in the world to like me), then the feeling is certainly NOT mutual.
4. Dr. Mohler (or someone on his staff) may have realized that I'm friends with Timmy Brister, and he may have refused to let my question air on that basis. This would, of course, be an entirely reasonable reason for rejection.
[... that last possible reason was a joke.]
5. Dr. Mohler (or someone on his staff) may have not wanted to give the question consideration due to the controversial nature of ecclesiological questions within the Southern Baptist Convention.
Even if possible reason #5 was NOT the reason that my question did not air, I do think that the question-though possibly controversial-is important, and it should be addressed by those who have been placed in Southern Baptist leadership. All too often, when it comes to matters of how we act as churches, Southern Baptists have made decisions not on the basis of what is biblical, but rather on the basis of what seems to work. Many Baptist churches are now undermining the New Testament principle of congregationalism-a principle previously championed by Baptists-by growing networks of churches under a single pastor. (Even if, on paper, these various "campuses" of a single "church" are led by a pastoral staff, there is usually one charismatic bishop overseeing all the big decisions.)
Because I believe that congregationalism needs to be re-considered in Baptist life, it is my intention (Lord willing) to submit a formal resolution on this issue to be considered at the Southern Baptist annual meeting.