Book Review: Culture Shift by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Culture Shift by Al MohlerDespite the avoidance and in some cases blatant rejection he has received from many fundamentalists, there is perhaps no greater figure in present day evangelicalism with a more thorough grasp on current issues than Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. He is currently the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and thereby a prominent leader in the Southern Baptist convention. He is a regular contributor to such nationally acclaimed periodicals as The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. The unique thing about Dr. Mohler, however, is that despite such an involvement on a national level, he is the figurehead of the conservative movement in evangelicalism as well as a fountainhead of conservative evangelical thought. Dr. Mohler’s blog and radio show are for many a standard for interpreting today’s most pressing issues in the light of Biblical thinking.

In the first book with him as the lone author, Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth, Dr. Mohler does exactly what its subtitle advertises.

There is a polarization in Christian thinking when it comes to contemporary cultural issues. On one hand, many Christians attempt to avoid cultural challenges by taking a strict stance away from the world into which they were called for the sake of the Gospel of Christ. On the other hand, there are those who delve into the culture without being first anchored by a Biblical mindset and reside in the world with nothing distinguishing them from the world. Dr. Mohler’s purpose in writing this book is to come directly between those two extremes.

The premise behind this book is a powerful one. Using the illustration of “Aristotle’s fish”, Dr. Mohler explains the impossibility of evading our surrounding culture. To the same extent, however, he affirms that it is futile to “embrace the culture without reservation.” Dr. Mohler states in the preface, “We cannot buy into the cherished myth of autonomous individualism, and we cannot compromise with a worldview based on the assumption that truth is relative or socially constructed.” He continues:

“At the same time, we remember that our Lord gave His church an evangelistic commission – to be witnesses of the gospel. Every single person we will try to reach with the gospel is embedded in some culture. Understanding the culture thus becomes a matter of evangelistic urgency.”

Culture Shiftis not a discussion of issues simply for the sake of discussion. Dr. Mohler is prompt and forthright in expressing the intrinsic necessity of a Biblical understanding of current issues to the believer’s Gospel calling. Such an awareness is essential if we as Christians are to engage the culture surrounding us as our Lord and Savior requested (Matthew 5:16).

Dr. Mohler, to my knowledge, has never identified himself as a fundmentalist. However, we cannot and, in my opinion, should not overlook his astute dedication to true expositional preaching, thoroughly Biblical doctrine and attention to today’s crucial issues. To do so is to disreguard an invaluable resource of modern Christian thought. Quite frankly, Dr. Mohler exemplifies what modern fundamentalism has been lacking for decades. Every criticism of him that I have heard or read has been a far cry from outweighing the good that God has done through him. I could not honestly say that I agree with everything Dr. Mohler has ever done or said. Some of his associations go farther than I think is necessary; I have a few reservations concering his tendency towards Reformed Theology. However, as I consider the world in which we live and to which we have been called, I cannot help but to thank the Lord for working in and through men like Al Mohler.

I would be very interested to hear other thoughts about the book.

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1 comment so far

  1. DT on

    Still haven’t finished reading the book (I know that’s pathetic considering its size), but it is very good. What you said about Mohler reminds me of David Cloud’s recent article in which he misrepresents Mohler, bashes him, and characterizes an entire movement based on his misrepresentation. Let it be clear: Al Mohler is more of a fundamentalist than David Cloud is, and at the rate he’s going, will ever be.


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