The Eclipse of God at Century’s End: Evangelicals Attempt Theology Without Theism -- By: R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 01:1 (Spring 1997)
Article: The Eclipse of God at Century’s End: Evangelicals Attempt Theology Without Theism
Author: R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

The Eclipse of God at Century’s End:
Evangelicals Attempt Theology Without Theism

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and recently edited Theological Education in the Evangelical Tradition (Baker, 1997) with D. G. Hart. This article was given as part of a series of lectures at First Baptist Church, Wheaton, Illinois in April 1997. It will appear in the forthcoming The Future of Evangelical Theology (Crossway).

The sense of an ending is not a fact of nature, observed Frank Kermode, it is a feature of human consciousness.1 We ascribe meaning to the turn of a new century, and feel a sense of ending as the twentieth century comes to a close. If a sense of ending is not a fact of nature, it is certainly a fact of our experience.

As the last century closed, Friedrich Neitzsche proclaimed that God was dead, and that we had killed him. The twentieth century has not been an era of great theological achievements. The romantic liberalism of the early decades gave way to the unstable half-way house of neo-orthodoxy, which in turn surrendered to a host of radical and revisionist theologies, united only in their denial of classical

The century also saw the development of a resurgent evangelicalism in English-speaking Protestantism. Matured and chastened by the theological controversies of the century’s first fifty years, the evangelicals coalesced into a formidable intellectual, evangelistic, and cultural movement. If the radical and revisionist theologians were united in their rejection of classical orthodoxy, the evangelicals were defined and recognized by their fervent commitment to the classical, evangelical, orthodox, and biblical convictions of historic Christianity.

As the century draws to a close, the radical theologians have been even further radicalized, and the revisionists continue their program of eviscerating the historic claims of Christianity. The declining precincts of “mainline” Protestantism are not safe territory for the supernatural claims of Scripture, or for the doctrinal foundations of classical orthodoxy.

What about the evangelicals? The second half of the twentieth century began with great promise. The newly resurgent evangelical movement quickly produced a credible body of theological literature in the defense of Christianity’s historic doctrines. Alarmed by the massive theological accommodation of the age, the evangelicals contended for biblical truth and claimed an intentional continuity with the classical Christian tradition of orthodox doctrine.

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