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Al Mohler

Can Al Mohler Save The SBC?

This is not the article that I want to write. As someone who is not Southern Baptist, I find myself having a more vested interest in saving the Southern Baptist Convention than most Southern Baptists. In the post-game analysis of the Annual Southern Baptist Convention, I see the true Christians largely leaderless in the fight to save the SBC. Last year, I disavowed the Conservative Baptist Network as a viable voice for Christian to take back the SBC. As a result of the convention this year, I only see one viable path for Christians to take back the SBC. It’s not an ideal strategy. It’s a high risk strategy that doesn’t promise any return on investment. The strategy is Al Mohler.

CBN Folly

I remember speculating on who would be nominated to challenge Bart Barber’s reelection bid. One of the names I mentioned was Al Mohler. The name that was not mentioned was Mike Stone. I did not foresee the strategic folly of nominating the man who lost in 2021 and gave the nominating speech to the losing candidate in 2022. Perhaps they viewed Bart Barber as invincible, but at no point did Mike Stone come close to making a compelling case as to why Bart Barber did not deserve a second term. Thus the CBN has further tainted their brand with a pitiful performance in the South.

The Case For Al Mohler

The case for Al Mohler is not built on his ability to save the SBC, as Al Mohler is a major contributing factor to all that plagues it. It is however built on idea that an Al Mohler presidency would give the conservatives who elected him a seat at the table and two years of getting some appointments as opposed to zero appointments. Bart Barber created the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force, and its unclear who in that task force isn’t a liberal. Al Mohler might represent a jump from 0% to 20%. If you are thinking this doesn’t sound like an appealing strategy, then you are reading correctly. But there does not appear to be a better alternative. Additionally, an Al Mohler presidency could shift the Overton Window in the SBC in a more conservative direction.

Electability

In 2021, Al Mohler was embarrassed to come in third place in the first round of voting. However as I noted when pondering candidates:

Al Mohler has made clear inroads with the the Conservative Baptist Network and last year at the convention was ceded the mic by Bill Ascol, Tom’s brother, to defend the SBC against women pastors. Feminism will be a major issue in 2023, and Al Mohler’s track record on this issue is quite consistent. Electorally speaking, Bart Barber never becomes president if Mike Stone and Al Mohler’s voting bloc was consolidated in 2021. This is a compelling narrative for a formidable candidate.

Indeed the math of Nashville favors Al Mohler in Indianapolis. This brings me to a prescient point: location, location, location. Part of why Al Mohler made a run in 2021 is the proximity to Louisville. It made him a more viable candidate. Indianapolis is even closer to Louisville, Kentucky than Nashville, meaning Mohler can mobilize his people to show up. In a potentially crowded field, Mohler has a considerable bloc willing to vote for him and the inroads he has made with the CBN would supplant the Mike Stone type of vote from 2021.

Conclusion

Ultimately, this move is not about saving the Southern Baptist Convention as it is about buying time and building a farm system of leaders. The conservatives, like Dusty Deevers, kept appealing to Al Mohler on the convention floor, in a desperate attempt to win the room. Although I am not sure they don’t realize that Al Mohler is not one of them, they are playing a political game. What I argue is to play the political game as best you can if it’s to be played.

The conservatives are leaderless, titleless, and ultimately running out of time. Meanwhile the liberals are building a deep bench of company men that shape the denomination for the foreseeable future. If you are to stay, then fight. I commend conservatives for improving the situation from last year. Ultimately, a difficult decision needs to be made with regards to strategy, and unfortunately I do not see a preferable option than to leverage a voting bloc in order to get concessions from Al Mohler.

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