The Rev sat in on a conversation the other day. The Curate Zeal, (you remember him), was delighted that one of his theological heroes had finally seen the “Right” (his words; the Rev would never use such a ridiculous pun).
The Reverend Liberal was not happy however. The reason was that Albert Mohler, a big smell in theological parts in the US, had openly endorsed President Donald Trump in the run up to the November 2020 election.
As for the Rev, he sat on the fence. He didn’t know enough about Mohler or indeed about the US 2020 presidential election to forge an objective opinion. That being said, he never trusts anyone who feels the need to use “jazz hands”, but that’s another matter.
The Curate Zeal, a man after Wayne Grudem’s heart, was always a little perplexed that Mohler had not joined the Trump bandwagon in 2016. Prior to Trump’e election victory in 2016, Mohler raised concerns about Trump’s character. Yet now, he “plans to vote for Republican presidential candidates for the rest of his life.” Strong words, the Rev believes. He admires a man who is able to “pin one’s colours to the mast”. He wonders whether Mohler will be so convinced, should a republican reincarnated Nero contest for the White House.
The Reverend Liberal calls it “flip-floppery”. “Mohler’s done it all before”, he says. “He changes his mind more times than his underpants.” An ironic statement from a liberal and contrary to the Reverend Liberal’s over-used quote “If you never change your mind, why have one?” He loves pulling that out when the Curate is around.
The Rev has a standard by which he measures whether some one is a flip flop. The Rev calls it the “Josephus Measure”.
Josephus was a well known historian. “As a member of the priestly aristocracy of Jerusalem, he was sent to Galilee in 66 C.E. to serve there as one of the generals against the Romans in the first Jewish revolt. In the summer of 67, under the most suspect circumstances, he surrendered to the Romans and predicted that Vespasian – then only a competent general and not an obvious candidate for the purple – would soon become emperor. After his prophecy was realised, Josephus joined the propaganda bureau of the new imperial family. During the remainder of the war he attempted to convince Jews to surrender; after the war he explained why he did and why they did not.” (See here)
So against this standard, arguably the greatest change of mind in the history of history, how does Mohler compare? He changed his mind, that seems certain. However, was he vehemently fighting against Trump to begin with and is he now “prophesying” that Trump will win, hence the change? Does he have an ambition agenda which has prompted the change of heart?
In the run up to the 2016 election, Mohler called Trump a “sexual predator” who “fails the baseline test of character”. Harsh words indeed, but not exactly Josephus like. There is no evidence to suggest he backed Hillary Clinton (though, in a two horse race, if you denounce one horse, by default, you’re backing the other) and as such we can say that Albert Mohler is not Josephus like. He’s a wannabe flip flop at best.
“Hang on a minute!” insists the Reverend Liberal. “Do you not remember the 1984 Kansas City gathering?”
In 1984, in Kansas City, Southern Baptist Convention “conservatives introduced a resolution declaring that only men were qualified to serve as church pastors and that women should instead concern themselves with the “building of godly homes.” His opposition was so strong that he helped purchase an ad in the Louisville Courier-Journal declaring that God is “an equal opportunity employer.” The resolution passed despite Mohler’s fierce opposition (though he later preferred to say he merely “took umbrage”). Rather than fight on, Mohler simply changed his position on women in ministry. His capitulation paid off. In 1989, the new conservative ascendancy appointed Mohler editor of The Christian Index.“
“That proves it” said the Reverend Liberal. “Mohler is in ever bit as treasonous and duplicitous as Josephus. He not only fought against the neo-con evangelicals when he paid to have their resolution stopped, he then gets a job when he changed his mind. What more evidence do you need?”
“He still advocated against abortion and Row vs Wade which is one of the two most important marks of an evangelical!” the Curate replied. “He hasn’t rebelled entirely against “his people”, the church. In fact, he’s seen the error of his ways, that’s all.”
The Rev pointed out that another christian leader is throwing his weight into the ring of secular politics, a mere afterthought from a Biblical perspective. Why risk disaffecting congregations and followers when you share an opinion on a temporary issue which is so insidious and divisive? Josephus like or otherwise, there is no excuse for encouraging so much unsettling arguments within the church itself, let alone the example it sets to a viewership, already disillusioned by the church’s antics. It even leads to ridiculous blog posts, just like this one. “Oh Jerusalem Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets.”