Friday, April 19, 2024

It’s Friday, April 19, 2024. 

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview. 

Part I

The Stock Market is Not Taking Sides in the 2024 Presidential Election? Economic Conditions are a Lagging Indicator of Moral and Political Terms

Does it matter whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden is elected President of the United States in November? Well, interestingly, right now, according to the stock market, it doesn’t appear to matter all that much. Big, interesting issue here.

The New York Times has the interest. Jeff Sommer wrote the article, the headline was this: Trump or Biden? The Stock Market Doesn’t Care. And that’s because the stock market feels like it’s done pretty well under President Biden, but it feels like it did pretty well under President Trump. It has to factor in the COVID-19 crisis and some other things. But the point is, the stock market at this point is not really taking sides in the presidential election.

Now, when you look at this, there’s some interesting worldview questions to ask. Number one, would there be circumstances in which the stock market really would have an opinion? And the answer to that is yes. For example, you go back to an election such as, well, 1972, George McGovern on the Democratic left versus Richard Nixon running for reelection as the Republican nominee.

Richard Nixon was no radical conservative, but George McGovern was, certainly by the standards of his day, a pretty radical liberal. That would’ve made a big difference when it came to the American economy, and the stock market pretty much had that figured out. You fast-forward to, say, 1980, the election between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. At that point, the investor class was pretty much interested in moving past Jimmy Carter. Ronald Reagan benefited from all of that.

And then, of course, you had changes in terms of the market environment. You had the development of individual retirement accounts. More Americans got more deeply involved in the stock market. But then you fast-forward to 2024, and, I mean, there’s a lot of difference between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. And yet, the stock market doesn’t, at least at this point, seem to have factored in much difference.

So what is the worldview angle on all this? Well, it tells us that even as you can’t separate economics from politics or morality, there’s a sense in which economics is a lagging indicator of political and moral issues. So in practical terms, yes, there are big differences between the economic policies of Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

Now, if you bring in someone who, for instance, is more of an open socialist, like someone like Senator Bernie Sanders, Bernie Sanders would say, “Look, the problem with the Democrats is that they’re too much like the Republicans.” George Wallace, the former governor of Alabama, running as a third-party candidate, said that, he was doing so, going back to the Nixon era, he was doing so, because in his words, there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the Republicans and the Democrats.

So you have people on the right and on the left. You have both someone like George Wallace and someone like Bernie Sanders saying, “The problem with the two parties is that in economic terms, they’re simply too close.” And there’s a reason for that. And the reason for that is, you cannot survive in office as President of the United States. You can’t certainly be reelected President of the United States if the entire business class has come to the conclusion that you’re going to be horrible for the economy.

Now, in worldview terms, there’s another very interesting aspect to this, and that is that different parts of the economy will tend to like different candidates. So, for example, you have candidates and officeholders that are far friendlier to, say, the fossil fuel industry, or you have incumbents such as the now retiring West Virginia governor, Joe Manchin, a Democrat who, by the way, is representing coal country. And yes, it shows.

And so, you have the more fossil fuel, traditional energy sector of the economy. It tends to have a pretty strong political preference for people who would continue to use fossil fuels and make them available. On the other hand, the Biden administration is now collecting friends on the one side, and enemies on the other side because of its rather radical decisions having to do with phasing out fossil fuels, and that means requiring Americans to jump into the purchase of electric vehicles and all the rest. All kinds of problems, frankly.

And this is a convoluted issue. When you look at the intersection of the climate stewardship issues, you look at the economic issues, you look at the impact on disparate parts of the American population, and frankly, even when you look at the honesty of some of the arguments being made, you really are looking at a complex situation.

But, the interesting thing is that at this point, the stock market, as a whole, has not yet taken sides. Now, it tells you that the stock market is rather adaptable in trying to figure out how to handle the political situation. But as we’re looking at this in terms of a worldview analysis, it does tell us that there are parts of the culture that lag others in terms of, say, indicating the moral position. The stock market is usually not the leading indicator of that particular dynamic.

And to understand that, just understand that the stock market has to find a way to respond to current economic conditions in a way that will somehow lead to investment opportunities and to economic growth. It’s got to find where that is and it’s got to exploit that. It has to find a way to put investors’ money into investing situations in which there is an opportunity for an investment gain.

But there’s another worldview dynamic in this, and that is that when you are looking at, say, the threat of war, you’re looking at the disruption of the transportation and shipping system, you are looking at threats to the, say, stability of the monetary system, well, all of a sudden, the stock market, it comes up with rapt attention.

And that’s one of the ways of saying that when you look, for example, at the Democratic likely nominee, the current president, Joe Biden, and you look at the likely Republican nominee, and likely here’s an understatement, and that is former President Donald Trump, you are looking at two people who are different in so many ways. And they’re holding to policies that are different in so many ways, different in terms of the understanding of trade policy; difference when it comes to taxation policy; differences when it comes to a general understanding of what would aid the future growth of the economy; differences when it comes to climate and energy questions; differences, obviously, when it comes to moral questions, like abortion, and an entire range of moral issues. When you look at the two candidates in that light and you look at the two parties, you are looking at two positions with a great, deep chasm that is only growing wider and deeper. 

But on a lot of issues of economic policy, well, this is where we recognize that there are differences. It will make a difference whether there is a Republican or a Democratic president. In economic terms, it will make a difference whether there is a Republican or a Democratic majority in both the houses of Congress. It does make a difference whether or not the governors of states are Democrat or Republican. But as you look at it, you recognize that when it comes to economic issues, it’s not exactly the same dynamic.

So we’ll be watching this. At this point, the New York Times article is simply underlining the fact that the stock market has not yet, in this election, basically, taken sides, but it well might, and that will be an interesting development in itself, and we’ll be tracking it with you.

Part II

‘The Same Lipstick on the Ideological Pig’: How Progressivist Educators are Finding Loopholes in State Sanctions over DEI

Okay, one more issue before we turn to questions today, and this has to do with the fact that in so many states, you have very good legislation, very urgently needed legislation in order to combat the DEI agenda, especially in so many public universities or universities where government funding is involved. That means most of them.

And DEI means diversity, equity, and inclusion. And it basically has been a way of smuggling in and making policy a very liberal, very leftist ideological position, so that under DEI, quite frankly, all kinds of mischief has been taking place. And when it comes to, say, LGBTQ issues and any number of other issues. Quite honestly, DEI is just a toxic ideology.

And what makes it even sadder is the fact that it’s been institutionalized in government-funded offices all over elite academia, and it’s then filtered down to, say, even your regional state university in so many states. You have this, first of all, massive, new, bureaucratic administrative staff, but this is one that is driving issues from a leftist ideological position. And frankly, it’s a very good thing that you have some conservative governors, particularly in red states, who have said, “That’s it. No more.” That would include states like Florida. The University of Florida, by the way, has responded by shutting down its DEI office. And you ask why? And it’s because it was forced to by the state legislature and the governor there. That’s a very good thing.

But now you have reports that what’s happening university by university, and not so much that they’re being shut down, even where you’ve had legislation pass and you’ve had governors and state leaders move into action to enforce the legislation, what many of these universities are doing is simply renaming the program, renaming the personnel, giving new titles to people. They’re still serving the same old ideological agenda.

Stephanie Saul, writing for The New York Times, tells us, “In what appears to be an effort to placate or even head-fake opponents of diversity and equity programs, university officials are relaunching their DEI offices under different names, changing the titles of officials, and rewriting requirements to eliminate words like diversity and equity. In some cases, only the words have changed.”

Now, let’s be honest. For a good number, if not the vast majority, of the readers of The New York Times, that’s going to be considered to be good news. But it does tell us how the law is subverted, and it tells us another way that the progressive left tends to win in this kind of situation. It’s because when you look at the alphabet soup of all these bureaucratic programs serving ideological agendas, you have legislators who, in good faith, and governors who, in good faith, say, “Stop it.” And yet, these progressivist educators don’t stop it. They just rename it and move on.

One of the examples that was given here is that of Louisiana State University, known as LSU. As Saul reports, “Louisiana State University also rebranded its diversity office after Jeff Landry, a Trump-backed Republican, was elected governor last fall.” “Its Division of Inclusion, Civil Rights, and Title IX is now called the Division of Engagement, Civil Rights, and Title IX.” So you throw out inclusion and you throw out any reference to DEI, and instead you just rename it the Division of Engagement and steam roll it right on.

At Florida State University in Tallahassee, the university, according to The Times, “Has reshuffled jobs and turned the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Office into the Office of Equal Opportunity Compliance and Engagement.” It’s almost as if George Orwell has written this new doublespeak into his famed work, Nineteen Eighty-Four. But this is 2024. This is the way the game is played now.

I think a very important comment was made by David Bray, identified as a finance professor at Kennesaw State University. And he said this, “It’s the same lipstick on the ideological pig.” He continued and said, “As soon as DEI was uncovered as political left, they now reinvent the language and have morphed into the ‘sense of belonging’ crew.” You look at this and you recognize it’s very important that intelligent, thoughtful Christians understand that this is the way the world works. You can have the legislature adopt a very clear law. The governor sign it into law, the responsibility then falls to the administrators of these universities, and the response is, put lipstick on the pig, or in other words, the battle continues.

Part III

How Can Christians Identify with Any Denomination Since Denominations are Not Found in Scripture? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Next, we turn to questions. And I’m always really interested to see what questions are sent in by listeners to The Briefing, and so many intelligent and important questions. We’ll get to as many as we can. We had a listener write in saying, “And since the Bible doesn’t mention the denominations we presently have, how can any Christian identify with the denomination? The denomination of Christ seems the only appropriate label to me. Your thoughts?”

Well, my first thought, Gregory, is that this has been something that’s been thought about for a long time. And there’s an important history to this question. There’s also a practicality to this question. And interestingly, this was very much a focus of what I taught in a class yesterday on the battle of the denominations. It’s a lot of fun talking to college and seminary students about how the denominational structure of Christianity came about.

So this is really fresh on my mind. And one of the things I’ve been telling people, in anticipation of that class period, is, “Look, I think these kids are going to be shocked how fascinating this is, because the story of American denominations is massive.” And here’s what we need to remember, that the denominational structure of Christianity is really uniquely American. That’s not to say there aren’t Methodists and Presbyterians and Anglicans in a place like Britain or Scotland. It is to say it’s quite different than what you have in the United States.

In the United States, as the late historian Sidney Mead said, “Denominationalism is the shape of Christianity in America.” And he helped to explain it in a way that I think is just extremely helpful. He said, “To understand why denominations exist in the United States, you just need to understand a matter of basic math.” And I have found this helpful ever since I first heard it when I was just a very young seminary student.

Sidney Mead said, “The math is this: Religious conviction plus religious liberty equals denomination,” “Religious conviction plus religious liberty equals denomination.” If you’re in a situation in which there is no religious liberty, you can be told that the only acceptable form of Christianity is one that, for instance, believes is baptizing babies. And that’s exactly the situation that helped precipitate the American experiment in religious liberty.

But if you have a difference of opinion, and here’s where, just to say the classic distinction, there’s a distinction of opinion about what is called infant baptism between, say, Baptists, and I speak as a Baptist, and, say, Episcopalians or Anglicans on the other side. And you can put Presbyterians on the other side, too, that are much closer to Baptists in terms of theological heritage.

But we have a major distinction, a major disagreement, sometimes even a major controversy in church history over whether baptism should be believer’s baptism only or whether it should also include the covenant baptism of infants. And both the Baptists and the Presbyterians, just to say the two, show up with a lot of theology behind the Baptist argument and the Presbyterian argument.

Now, here’s just a matter of fact: Both can’t be right. But in a situation of religious liberty, here’s the good news: Presbyterians can be Presbyterian and Baptists can be Baptist, and that’s a very important issue. And that’s why in America, particularly in the early age of the American republic, so when you’re looking at the history of the American colony, some of them did have state-supported churches.

And you had, for example, Virginia, which is basically an Anglican colony. You had Massachusetts, which was basically a Congregational state. And yet, you’re looking at the fact that after the American constitutional order came into place, and you had the First Amendment, and you had government recognized and defended religious liberty, well, then Presbyterians can be Presbyterian, Methodists can be Methodists, Episcopalians can be Episcopalians.

And you look at that and you recognize, “Well, this means that Baptists are willing for the condition of religious liberty to mean that Methodists, who are wrong on this question,” you know the spirit in which I say that, “are nonetheless able to be Methodists, to establish Methodist churches. They do so freely, and the same thing is true for the Baptists.”

In other words, religious liberty says, “The Methodists can be Methodists and the Baptists can be Baptists.” And I want to say to the listener who sent in this question, the problem is that you’re going to organize a congregation by one principle or the other just to take the issue of the question of baptism. You’re either going to be a Baptist congregation or you’re going to be, say, a Presbyterian congregation.

And I’m just talking about two among many options across the theological landscape. And if you are a Baptist congregation, well, in order to describe how your congregation differs from, say, the Presbyterian congregation, not to mention denominations, which are networks of those congregations, then guess what? You’re going to have to say, “Well, here’s a word that describes how we’re different.” And that’s how, by the way, the Baptists ended up being called the Baptists.

We were not those who said, “We want to take the name Baptist. We think that’s a brand we want to run on.” No. It was often simply the most essential word that characterized a group. And sometimes it was even used in derision, as in the methodical devotion of the Methodists. The Methodists were called Methodists, and it stuck. The Baptists were called Baptists, and it stuck.

So yes, the Scripture says clearly, and this is absolutely foundational, and it is eternally true. Jesus Christ said, “Upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” So here’s the most important thing we need to recognize. Baptists believe that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is made up of all blood-bought believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that includes some who differ with us doctrinally.

And so, if you find Baptists who are true New Testament Baptists, we don’t claim that the only Christians are those who are Baptists in Baptist churches. At the same time, Gospel-committed and theologically orthodox Presbyterians, some of whom are my closest friends in the world, they are not going to say that those who are not in Presbyterian churches and don’t consider themselves Presbyterians, that they’re not Christians.

So to this listener, I want to say, yes, the most important word is Christian, because the most important thing is that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. But when we organize congregations, we’re going to make decisions about the Lord’s Supper, about church government, and yes, about baptism, just because that’s the easiest and most visible thing to see. And you look at that and say, “Alright, whether we want to be Baptists or not, guess what? We’re Baptists, and we’re going to be called Baptists.”

I don’t know that Presbyterians always want to be called Presbyterians, but they’re Presbyterian, and thus that’s what we call them. Same thing for Methodists, and go down the line. None of these names says everything any denomination wants to say, but helpfully, they do point out the distinctions. So let me just go back to that math. If you have religious liberty and you have doctrinal conviction, before long, you have what can only be called a denomination, which, by the way, means, “This is what we call the thing.”

Part IV

Why Do Protestants Not Hold to Marriage as a Sacrament? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Alright. This is a fun question, and it was sent in by Brandon. And he asked the question. He says, “My wife and I were discussing the sacraments observed by Protestants versus Roman Catholics, and she asked me why we don’t. [That means evangelicals] don’t observe marriage as a sacrament. Brandon goes on to say, “I assume that Catholics observe it as such due to it pointing to the relationship between Christ and His bride. Why is it that evangelical Protestants don’t count it being marriage among the sacraments?” 

Well, Brandon, I want to say, first of all, the Roman Catholic Church holds to a sacramental theology, which is basically not replicated in any Protestant church, in any Protestant denomination. And it also holds to a model of the sacraments mediated through a priesthood, which, again, is not held by certainly any consistent Protestant. Maybe by some high-church Anglicans, but even that’s in conflict with the Anglican theological tradition.

And when it comes to the number of sacraments, well, the Baptists will come back and say, with full honesty, “We believe the number of sacraments in that kind of sense, using that kind of language is zero,” which is to say we don’t accept a sacramental theology. And so, Baptists would define baptism and the Lord’s Supper as ordinances, most importantly, meaning that they’re commanded by Christ, and they’re commanded of Christ to the congregation we believe.

And that’s where marriage is different. So, for instance, marriage is given in creation. Baptism is not given in creation. The Lord’s Supper is not given in creation. And even the more sacramental Protestant churches that would use the word sacrament say, Again, the Anglicans and the Presbyterians, and they’re not in exactly the same place, because most Presbyterians would be less sacramental than would at least be allowable in some Anglican circles.

But even when they’re talking about that, they’re basically in agreement with the Baptists that we’re talking about the ordinances. Now, it’s true that Lutherans are a bit less consistently Reformation-based on this historically than, say, the Reformed and the Baptists and the Free Churches. But the bottom line is, is that we do not believe in a priestly ministry with the dispensation of sacramental grace.

And marriage is not just given to the church, marriage is given to creation. And thus, marriage is a creation institution, and the church affirms it. The church celebrates it. The church may actually be the context in which a marriage is held, but we believe at the same time that marriage is a civic institution, the way we certainly do not believe that baptism or the Lord’s Supper is a civic institution. So it’s a great question. We don’t believe less about marriage, by the way, than the Roman Catholics.

I think we, actually affirming what I believe Scripture reveals, believe even more. I don’t think turning marriage into a sacrament actually helps the understanding of either the gospel or marriage. And I think one of the big problems is the role of one identified as a priest in terms of dispensing sacramental grace in that context. That’s just completely alien from the worldview of the Reformation.

Part V

How Should College Students Approach Answering Difficult Questions in the Classroom? Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

But next, I want to turn to a question sent in by Gabriela, a college student in Florida. And she starts out very nicely, and then says, “In my developmental psychology class, we were assigned a project to look into the end-of-life care and to ask our next of kin what they would do if we were ever declared brain-dead. In the articles that I’ve read, the Vatican has said that this is morally unethical to pull the plug on someone being sustained by life support. How should we approach this topic as Christians? Is there any specific guidance that you have for Christian college students struggling with moral questions brought up in their classes?”

I want to start at the end, Gabriela. Thank you so much for your question, and I’m so thankful for you listening to The Briefing and holding fast to Christian conviction and seeking to think as a Christian. Working backwards from this, I would say that I think it’s very dangerous for Christian college students ever to just be kind of stranded as a Christian college student. This is where we desperately need the local church preaching the Word and observing the ordinances, and experiencing worship and the preaching of the Word together in talking about these things.

Now, I’m a little perplexed by the first part of your question, because it’s talking about end-of-care when someone has been declared brain-dead. And that’s a very dangerous, slippery thing, and I think you recognize that, and that’s why you sent the question. And boy do I appreciate the fact you recognize that it’s slippery, because I think the slippery slope is this: I think, increasingly, there’s going to be a temptation and perhaps even a commercial motivation for medical personnel to declare someone brain-dead while the heart is still beating.

And this is a technical kind of question, but the question is, when is a body dead? And so, in this sense, I’m not sure that in the class, the term brain-dead is actually the right line to draw. But the point I want to make is this: The Christian worldview does not say that we keep a dead body hooked up to a, say, life support system. It does say that we make certain we know exactly what dead means, and that we do not redefine that in a way that hastens death, brings it about more speedily, or embraces it as a good in itself. That just is a complete contradiction of the Christian worldview.

I think one of the most dangerous things going on right now is that you have medical personnel who are looking at keeping bodies alive in terms of circulation, even after there is at least the argument that this person is no longer alive in terms of brain activity. You’ll have to take that question and taking it apart in terms of a different edition of The Briefing.

But at this point, I just want to say I’m thankful for your Christian conviction. I’m thankful you recognize a huge problem here, and I think this is where you need the wealth of the Christian tradition. It looks like you’ve looked up what the Vatican has to say. And in this sense, I think you would see the Vatican seeking to uphold a dignity-of-life ethic that I think most evangelicals and orthodox Protestants would find themselves in agreement with.

And so, in this, I think we have some very common concerns. But this is where, honestly, on the other side, the Roman Catholic Church has a way of ethical and theological maneuvering on this that I don’t believe biblically minded Christians have. And so, we need to gather together biblically minded Christians to think through these issues. And I do believe that pastors of local churches are going to have to talk about these things openly, or we’re going to find individual Christians finding themselves very much adrift.

Part VI

If God Never Sleeps, Why Did Jesus Sleep in the Boat Before He Calmed the Storm? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Question from 5-Year-Old Listener to The Briefing

Alright. I’m going to end with a question from a five-year-old. And again, the young among us ask some of the smartest questions, “If the Bible says God never slumbers or sleeps, why did Jesus sleep in the boat with His disciples before He calmed the storm?” Well, let me tell you what’s so encouraging about that, and Mom sent this question in. Just think about it for a moment.

You have a five-year-old asking that question. How does a five-year-old ask that question? That five-year-old has to be told a lot of Bible to get to asking that question. It’s so sweet. I am just so encouraged by this kind of question. And then we’re also talking about a five-year-old who’s listening. “If the Bible says God never slumbers or sleeps, why does Jesus sleep in the boat?”

Well, this is where we need to recognize, and I’m going to try my best to speak to a five-year-old here, that when Jesus came as a baby in Bethlehem, he needed to sleep as a baby from the beginning. And that is because a part of God’s love for us is that he loved us so much that he sent Jesus to become like us in taking on a human body. And that meant that just like a human baby, he had to sleep. And just like a human being, even when he was a grown-up, he had to sleep.

And for the same reason, Jesus also had to eat. And this is one of the ways God shows that he loves us, is that he sent his only son, who came from heaven, where he didn’t have to sleep and he didn’t have to eat, in order to be among us, in order to show God’s love for us, and to accomplish our salvation from sin. And in order to do so, he became like us. He never ceased being God. And right now in heaven, he doesn’t need to sleep anymore, and he doesn’t need to eat anymore. He did not set aside his deity, but he did take on true humanity.

And I’ll say to this sweet five-year-old, it is so sweet to know that God loves us so much that Jesus, God’s Son, who never needed to sleep in heaven, came as a little baby, and he did have to sleep as a baby and even as a grown man. And that’s a sweet thing, just to underline again how much God loves us.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at You can follow me on Twitter by going to For information on the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to 

I’ll meet you again on Monday for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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