Friday, August 20, 2010

Must Christianity Change Or Die? The Mohler - Spong Smackdown

I am no particular Spong fan, but I think he was on top in this argument. Mohler (and later Strobel, via a foundationalist natural theology) was arguing himself into a difficult place, and Spong knew how to lead him there! But ... you decide (did the video squeak like mad at the end through your speakers, too?)

14 Comments:

At 8/21/2010 12:17 AM, Anonymous Nick Norelli said...

I don't think that Spong was on top but I do think that Strobel undermined Mohler in his concluding comments. Mohler was taking more of a presuppositionalist approach to his apologetic in stating that Scripture is the Word of God and it's inerrant therefore it's authoritative. Strobel was playing the Josh McDowell type evidentialist in saying, "look at all the evidence; see how much it lines up with the Bible?" On Strobel's view the Bible is subordinate to the "evidence" while on Mohler's the Bible is as high an authority as we can find.

 
At 8/21/2010 12:22 AM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Hey Nick,
Yes, right - I think you are spot on in your distinction there. I do not know Strobel or Mohler very well, so perhaps this trend represents their views elsewhere?

 
At 8/21/2010 2:32 AM, Anonymous Nick Norelli said...

I don't know much about Mohler other than he was the president of the Southern Baptist Convention and he's a staunch conservative, both politically and theologically. Strobel on the other hand is a bit of a hack journalist. But what he said at the end of that program represents everything he says in his books (which are little more than interviews with evangelical scholars) and on every other show he produces. I personally do not find the arguments about "mathematical probabilities" with regard to the fulfillment of prophecy to be very convincing. I think it makes folks look kind of stupid to be honest. But I generally appreciate that Strobel interviews believing scholars and skeptical scholars alike. I can't say that he always presents the skeptics in the best light but at least he lets them be seen.

 
At 8/21/2010 2:24 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

Nice clip Chris.

I was impressed by how foundationalist both sides of the debate were. I was counting the seconds, then the minutes, until someone mentioned Jesus Christ. Spong won that competition by speaking of him once, although he did then deny that we knew much about him. Mohler opened himself up for a slam dunk by querying how we knew about Jesus apart from the Bible, but Spong of course could not reply "through revelation, by God, that the Bible tends to speak of quite a lot..."!


Mohler is typical of the widespread biblicism over here that is so difficult and destructive these days--a bunch of white guys telling everyone what the text says. They have a terrible track record socially and ethically. Spong really should have asked him about slavery. The Southern Baptists are interesting on that one. I find my mind turning increasingly to Jesus's critique of the Scribes and Pharisees these days. (I hope this doesn't mean that I'm turning into one.)

 
At 8/21/2010 3:04 PM, Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Since I dislike both Spong and Mohler strongly, my biggest reaction was to hope this important debate would be carried on by others who are more Christian.

Mohler was never president of the SBC, but of its flagship seminary--my alma mater before he destroyed it. He was a liberal who decided to be a "staunch conservative" because that's who was winning. So, I never know whether he really believes what he says, or is just trying to make capital of a situation. I've known him since he was a doctoal student and I was an M.Div. student. He worships power--nothing else.

Spong's character is better, but he's so extreme in his liberalism that he's a virtual cartoon.

 
At 8/21/2010 7:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Mohler is typical of the widespread biblicism over here that is so difficult and destructive these days"

I am sorry that you think actually believing in the Bible and your religion is destructive.
"Christian" liberals should just leave the faith and become deists.

 
At 8/21/2010 8:16 PM, Anonymous Nick Norelli said...

Michael: I stand corrected on the presidency issue. Thanks.

 
At 8/22/2010 6:03 AM, Blogger markbe said...

i don't think that Spong was on top in his argument, nor do i think that Mohler was persuasive either- for different reasons. it was really just painful to watch. Spong did seem more interested in having a genuine conversation/debate but i got little substance from his statements. Mohler was spouting party line rhetoric that talked past rather than engaging the few interesting points Spong was making. i could barely keep up and i'm quite familiar with Mohler's arguments, about half of which i agree with. Strobel finished with his typical evidentialist spiel and it was all kind of a mess for me. i doubt anyone got anything out of this other than possibly a false bolstering of positions already held.

 
At 8/22/2010 2:41 PM, Blogger T.B. Vick said...

It's interesting that there is no middle ground represented in this video. On the one hand you have two flaming fundamentalists (Strobel - who I know personally, and Mohler) and one flaming extreme liberal (Spong). I did not think either group was cogent in what they were trying to communicate, but I did feel for Spong because Mohler would never shut up longenough for Spong to get two sentences in.

 
At 8/22/2010 4:58 PM, Blogger Mike W said...

Hmm, I like being Australian.

Must Christianity change or die?
Since when was 'dying' such a big threat to a resurrection faith?

 
At 8/25/2010 3:09 PM, Blogger Hendrik said...

actually I would say, that no one was better in his arguing. Both were bad, may be Mohler even a bit worse.

No one of both, Spong or Mohler, really answered the question that was asked. The whole discussion is worthless. Especially because none of both really listened to the other.

And to have a third person to give a statement after two others discussed a subject is never fair. No one can answer.

 
At 8/26/2010 1:43 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Thanks, Hendrik, yea, agreed

 
At 8/26/2010 4:44 PM, Blogger Nazaroo said...

Spong lost it at the start, when he tried to claim he didn't choose to be an Anglican bishop, but that the Anglican church chose him. Where are my hip-waders?

After that, what credibility is left for Spong? Imagine if the president said, "I didn't choose to be president. The people picked me. I had nothing to do with it."

 
At 9/20/2010 8:05 AM, Anonymous RobKashow said...

I think they both are off their rockers. But I like when Spong says, "I think Matthew is like a country preacher..." hahahah.

 

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