Christian News • Christian Living • Theology • Reviews

Words from the Fire, by Al Mohler, a review.


by Jason Smathers on September 18, 2009

Dr. Mohler has served as the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in Louisville, KY since 1993. Dr. Mohler brought reformation to the then liberal seminary and has returned the seminary to teaching the theology of the Southern Baptist founders—the theology of the Bible.
In Words from the Fire, Dr. Mohler expounds the 10 commandments for us. The purpose of the 10 commandments has been a debate for a long time. Calvin and Luther disagreed on this issue and evangelicals today continue to disagree. We can all agree that the law was given to us to point to Christ and to guide our secular law. However, the debated question is does the law teach Christian today? Mohler points out an interesting fact that although Luther denied this third use of the law, he still practiced this use of the law. Mohler concludes the law does teach us today, which is the basis for the rest of the book.
Throughout Words from the Fire, Mohler does an excellent job at showing Christ in the commandments. Jesus is there in each commandment, thank you for showing Him to us Dr. Mohler. Another common theme throughout Words from the Fire is God’s glory, and rightly so, God’s glory is a theme throughout scripture as well. Mohler clearly declares the chief end of man: “We are called to know and love the God who made us for His glory. And that is the highest privilege any human being can know.”
Yesterday I covered Mohler’s discussion on images of Christ separately. I completely agree with his exposition of the second commandment and commend him for taking a stand on a sin so prominent among Christians.
I also agree with Mohler on his discussion of the fourth commandment, the Sabbath. However, he left me a bit disappointed in his conclusions here as I was hoping to get some more clear direction. Being the only commandment not reinforced by Jesus in the New Testament, I can understand the confusion around the commandment. Mohler tells a story of washing his car on the Lord ’s day as a young man and was lectured on Sabbath breaking by his mother for doing so. Mohler concludes by saying he still does not know if this was a sin. I do not know either, but when I read this chapter, I was hoping he knew. I do not see a clear affirmation of the SBTS Abstract of Principals in Mohler’s exposition of the fourth commandment. I doubt washing your car is a work of necessity or mercy.
The Lord’s Day is a Christian institution for regular observance, and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, resting from worldly employments and amusements, works of necessity and mercy only excepted.
Mohler’s work is presented well and is theologically sound. His contribution will surely edify the church for many years. My only criticism is the few places where no concrete position is taken. I may not have a concrete position either, but I am not writing a book. That being said, I highly recommend Words from the Fire, and I am adding it to my list of possible teaching material for my Sunday school class. I believe it would make for a great 10 week series of Sunday School classes.

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