Friday, April 26, 2024

It’s Friday, April 26, 2024.

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

Part I

Jontay Porter Receives Lifetime Ban from the NBA: A Necessary Move by the Commissioner, But Isn’t It a Bit Hypocritical?

While every dimension of human life comes with deep worldview significance, there are issues we need to confront in every single human endeavor. One of the most interesting is sports, and that’s because in the concentration of human energy, curiosity, indeed even devotion, to sports, you find out a lot about what people really believe. And furthermore, in the expression of sports in a society, you find out both by the rules that are kept and the rules that aren’t, how a moral universe reaches down into even the intricacies of sport. And frankly, at every level. We’re talking here about the NBA as well as Little League.

Of course, in recent days there’s been a lot of conversation about the NBA, and in particular about Jontay Porter who finds himself now banned from the sport for life for his involvement in betting. And what makes this particularly interesting is that he was found guilty of being involved in sports betting in which basically it came down to the fact that he had to fail in order for those with the financial interest to win the bet. It was organized corruption. It involved not only his own team, it involved himself as a player, and he found out the hard way that involvement in that kind of gambling is at least one line that the NBA says you can’t cross. Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA, announced that just in recent days, he is now banned for life from the sport. David Aldridge at The Athletic suggested that what had happened is that Jontay Porter committed the cardinal sin. And in this case, he said the commissioner rightly, not only through the book at this player, but through the whole library at him, his career is over in the United States, in the NBA.

Now, just to take the obvious, what he did was wrong at every level, deeply wrong. What he did was dishonest, and what he did was nonetheless motivated by gambling. One of the remarkable things we need to see here is the hypocrisy of the commissioner of the NBA acting like the NBA doesn’t bear responsibility for the very problem that Jontay Porter here exemplifies.

The NBA has decided like so many other sports leagues, and this includes also increasingly collegiate sports such as the NCAA, how long is it before there are betting pools, I mean in this case, organized, orchestrated, legalized, advertised when it comes to your son’s Little League teams or your granddaughter’s soccer team. The reality is we’re talking about gambling now infecting sport at just about every level. And it couldn’t happen in this case without the complicity of the sporting leagues themselves. Big sports, big business. Gambling, big business. The intersection of big business sport and big business gambling, it is going to be absolutely toxic.

One of the things that has proved to be true over time is that the sporting world is inherently susceptible to absolute corruption by gambling. And so, one of the conceits, one of the false arguments that is made by many is, “Okay, so we need to legalize it in order to control it, in order to legislate it, in order to regulate it.” But for every Jontay Porter who is caught, how many others are not caught? And it’s not just that. The gambling investment here, it begins to corrupt the entire system. You actually never know why any player is doing anything, especially when there is an unexpected turn in a game, an unexpected turn in a match. There is something, that might be quite beneficial to some who are placing bets, but doesn’t necessarily make any sense on the court or on the field. We are really talking about something we all know is real.

And so what I’m saying here is that Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA, undoubtedly did the right thing in handing down what amounts to a ban for life to Jontay Porter for his absolutely egregious involvement in the gambling industry. But I think it’s dishonest when the very same sporting enterprise seeks to make money off of organized gambling, knowing by the way that it’s not just the corruption that comes with gambling, it’s not just a thrown game. It’s not just someone who says he’s sick when he’s not and goes off the court. Quite frankly, it’s the other side of the gambling industry that is where you have fathers who are putting the entire family’s income at risk when they go into a casino, or they place a bet with a bookie, or for that matter now, when they do it legally.

As we know, the biblical worldview is very clear about this, making the link in terms of economic gain between labor and reward. Those who are honored in Scripture, just consider the Apostle Paul for example when he is talking to Timothy. He talks about the example of a farmer. He talks about the example of an athlete. He talks about the example of a soldier. They’re all about noble work, and they’re rewarded for their faithfulness in that work. You have Jesus in the parable speaking very clearly about a sower who goes out to sow, and you have constant examples in the Old Testament and in the New of workers who are worthy of their hire. That is extremely important.

Even in the parables of Jesus, there’s a very clear understanding of the link between investment and reward. Just consider the Parable of the talents. The thing we need to understand is that gambling upsets all of that. It turns the entire moral system on its head. Now, there are other people going to jump in and say, “But you know, it’s one thing if indeed you have a parent ruining the life of a family, in terms of a gambling addiction, or a pattern of gambling. It’s one thing if there are persons who like with drinking, they simply destroy their lives by it.”

It’s another thing if you have just a friendly betting pool or whatever. I’ve heard those arguments for years. The problem is, right now you have the open acknowledgement that there is a crisis in legal betting when it comes particularly to young men. And we’re talking especially about young men in their 20s, we’re talking about young men of college age, who by the way have been involved in this gambling in many cases when they are legally too young to do so anyway, as if that should be the critical dividing line. And you also have it now filtering down even into high school sports, and among high school students. Again, just because it’s not legal doesn’t mean it’s not happening, and you and I both know it.

So that’s one aspect of how our worldview helps us to understand what’s going on in the engagement between sports and gambling. But there are other big issues as well.

Part II

The Detrimental Professionalization of College Sports: How Big Money is Changing the Game of Intercollegiate Athletics

For example, the New York Times recently ran a headline, the Future of College Sports could be Paychecks, Drafts, and Firings. Billy Witz is the reporter in this case, and it’s really interesting because he’s saying out loud what a lot of people are talking about as they discuss collegiate sports. It is being transformed into another professional league. It’s being transformed into another commercial enterprise. And quite frankly, it’s being transformed in a remarkably short amount of time.

You have the NIL issue in terms of name, image and likeness. You have income. You now have booster groups that are openly raising millions of dollars to come up with income in order to get star recruits to come to a team. You have the recruits that are acting like professional athletes moving from one team to another. And quite frankly, you have the coaches who are adapting their entire business model, as well as their athletic strategy in order to meet this new reality. And quite honestly, you’re looking at the fact that these student athletes, as they have been historically defined, are increasingly acting like and being treated as professional athletes and commercial agents. And whether anyone wants to acknowledge this or not, we really are talking about the transformation of sport, particularly when it comes to amateur sport and particularly when it comes to something like collegiate sports. Because just about everyone knows that there’s going to be a shifting out in this entire process, and the winners are going to look a lot more like the NFL than the old NCAA.

And there’s some people who would simply look at that and say, “You know, it’s inevitable. Look how much money’s involved. Look at how much talent’s involved. Look at how much opportunity there is for gain.” That’s exactly the same argument that takes them into the gambling industry. But at the very least, we need to recognize what is being lost, and that’s the entire idea of the student athlete. The loss of that conception is going to come with an enormous price. And understand it’s going to be done in the name of 18 to 22 year olds, but it’s not going to be to the long-term gain of these 18 to 22 year olds.

Part III

Organized Corruption at the Olympics? China’s Swimming Doping Scandal

But okay, while we’re talking about this, let’s just go to outright fraud. And of course I’m talking about the Chinese swimming team, that it turns out had tested positive for a banned substance, but had been cleared by Chinese authorities and they went on to win Olympic medals. And the big question is, were they deserved? Was this corrupt? You have American swimmers who are now saying we were robbed. You have others who are saying this is just another example of what went on for decades with the Soviet Union and its satellite nations, such as Romania, routinely using illegal substances, routinely using growth hormones, routinely gaming the system. And that stretches all the way not only back to the Soviet Union, but to today’s Russia where of course sanctions against Russia will continue even at the next Olympiad beginning in just a matter of weeks in Paris.

You just have to wonder how dishonest can we be, not just in this case to each other, but to ourselves when it comes to sport. The Olympics is supposed to be about the ideal of amateur sport, but in an increasing number of these sports, you have people who are now being paid to participate in the Olympics. You also have people who had been amateurs who would’ve been ineligible if they had begun working in professional leagues, but increasingly that’s untenable, at least in many sports. And so you have people who are paid professionals who show up for a matter of days to play amateur.

But I have to tell you, when I look at this, what is perhaps most depressing is the fact that you have organized corruption at so many levels of sport, and just about everybody knows it. And that includes the Olympics, but quite frankly, it can be filtered down to just about every single level. We’d like to think that at least while we’re watching a competition, that it’s an honest competition. If it’s not honest, it’s not even interesting. And yes, that’s as true on the Little League field as it is in the Olympic Stadium or at your local college or university, or your local sporting league. It is a sign of our times that all of this is becoming not less, but more morally suspicious and morally corruptible. Rather than putting limits on where that corruption can raise its head, it is now becoming an argument that we can’t afford not to be in this. So with the Paris Olympics coming up, well, just brace yourselves. But frankly, you might need to brace yourself when you think about your next collegiate athletic event, or the game right down the street.

Part IV

If You Had to Preach a Mini-Sermon on the Work of Christ, What Text Would You Choose? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Alright. Next we’re going to turn to questions, and the first question comes from Jack. And Jack says that he’s a sophomore in high school and he and his friends are hosting a three-day outreach to spread the gospel throughout the school. How great is that, Jack? God bless you. He says, “On one of the days I’m giving a ten-minute mini sermon on what Jesus accomplished.” He says, “I was thinking I would use John 19 and John 20. I was wondering what passage you would use or how you would go about tackling this question in 10 minutes.”

Jack, what a fantastic opportunity. I’m glad the Lord has opened this door for you. And you cannot go wrong, of course, going to any biblical text. You certainly can’t go wrong in this case looking for a summary of the Gospel to go to the Gospel of John. But if you’ve got 10 minutes, I’ll just tell you one text that certainly comes to mind for me is 1 Corinthians chapter 15. Let’s just say the first seven or eight verses, because what the Apostle Paul says there in 1 Corinthians 15 is that there are two things we have to keep in mind as a first priority: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that God raised him from the dead according to the Scriptures.

So there you’ve got it. What did Christ accomplish for us? He died for our sins according to the scriptures. And then you think of a passage like John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believers in him him might not perish but have everlasting life.” Christ accomplished that for us. How did he do so? Well, He did it by dying in our place. He died for our sins according to the Scripture. And then He was raised from the dead according to the Scripture. The Apostle Paul says those are the two things we have to say, if we’re going to talk about what Christ accomplished for us. If Christ died for our sins and was still in the grave, then we’re still dead in our sins and trespasses, the Apostle Paul says that right in this very chapter. But because Christ is raised, then the forgiveness of sins is preached in his name.

So Jack, God bless you. I would certainly look forward to having you as a student at Boyce College and I’m going to pray the Lord will use you in a very clear way in the 10 minutes you have to preach the gospel. Stand up and do it. God bless you.

Part V

Should Christians Avoid Watching the Olympics Given the Recent Support for Paganism Behind It? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Alright. Very interestingly, we talked about the Olympics, we talked about sports just a moment ago, and now we’ve got a question. David from Oklahoma City asked, “Given the paganism that is behind the Olympic Games and given the paganism that was recently cited evidently on Twitter or X from the official Olympic Games account,” and as David says, this statement, “featured a woman calling on the Greek gods and goddesses to bless the city of Paris and all those involved with the upcoming games.”

Well, you know what? That’s exactly the kind of confusion I would expect from the Olympic committee. That’s exactly the kind of nonsense I would think that the modern Olympic committee, in all of its secular confusion, might cite when thinking about the 2024 games in Paris. But you know what? I think we have the authority of the Apostle Paul here, for example. The fact that that doesn’t mean you can’t watch the games. You can’t enjoy even watching the Olympic festivities.

Quite honestly, I think if we are candid, an awful lot of what takes place at Collegiate and at the level of professional sports in the United States is quasi pagan in itself. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that involvement in the sport is pagan. And I think one of the ways we can see that is that in Scripture, and I made reference to this earlier having no idea this question was coming, that you have passages such as Paul speaking to Timothy, in which he uses the image of something like the Olympic Games, of an athlete who is running and he’s running to win. That’s not the only place the Apostle Paul uses that kind of language. It was available and accessible of course to those living in the first century there in the Greco-Roman world that fully understood what the Olympic Games had been, and fully understood the role and importance of sports and athletic endeavor in a society. So, yeah, I don’t think you become pagan by watching the Olympics, but you would certainly be pagan if you sacrifice to the pagan gods, which you won’t.

Part VI

How Do We Understand the Relationship Between God’s Promises to Israel and the Church? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Okay. A lot of the questions that come to Christians come down to, how do we rightly read the Bible? And there’ve been some very interesting arguments of course throughout Christian history on many texts and many questions. One of those, in say the last 200 years has been particularly hot at times, and that is about how we understand the relationship between the promises made to Israel and the promises made to Christians, promises made to the church, the promises of the Old Covenant, the promises of the New Covenant. And so, Luke writes in asking about the promises that are given to Israel and what he calls a gap. And that is a gap between which promises are now extended by God’s grace in the New Covenant to Gentile believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and what of the promises are unfulfilled when it comes say to some of the promises made to Israel? What’s going to happen to those promises?

So Luke, I really think it’s a good question. That’s one of the reasons why I’m a pre millennialist, and it’s one of the reasons why I believe that salvation redemption, the covenant of redemption, the New Covenant is indeed the covenant by which we are saved, the covenant of grace. I do believe that in that sense, the redemption accomplished by Christ fulfills all of the promises and the covenant of old for salvation. I believe there were particular promises given to Israel having to do even with territorial promises. And I believe those will be fulfilled in God’s good timing, many of them at the end of the age, because I believe that God, faithful to His word, is going to fulfill all those promises given to Israel as a nation. But I think it’s just abundantly clear that the covenant of redemption is the covenant whereby sinners are saved by the grace and mercy of Christ, and that includes, and fulfills all the promises of redemption and salvation, given to Israel.

And now, thankfully as the Apostle Paul says, we’ve been grafted onto those promises. And those are now promises to us as well. So I will say to you, when it comes to many of the say territorial promises given to Israel, historic promises in space and time in history, I believe that we should not worry, because every single one of them is going to be fully fulfilled. That might not be great English. I do think it’s good theology.

Part VII

What are Your Thoughts about Forgoing College to Pursue a Trade? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters From Listeners of The Briefing

Okay, a fantastic question that some people may think puts me on the spot. A 17-year-old young man writes me and says, “I was curious of your opinion on not going to college. I’m 17 years old and planning on working as an electrician right out of high school instead of going to college.” He’s more or less asking, “Is that right or wrong?” I want to say there’s everything right about that. And I’m really glad you addressed the question to me. I’m going to speak to you as a seminary and as a college president. I’m going to tell you that if I didn’t believe in a collegiate education, I wouldn’t be president of a college. I believe that it’s a very important mission. I do not believe that it is for every Christian.

And so I will simply say we need people who are electricians, we need people who are skilled in the trades. And I think it’s a very great thing for a lot of young men to go into those trades because I think it is just good, honest work. And quite honestly, I’m not sure that I know exactly how that training should work for you, but it sounds like you’ve already worked that out. My encouragement to you would be that if you go into one of these trades immediately after high school, and by the way, again, I want you to hear me say, I think that’s a very good thing. It’s not for every young man, not for every young person, but for some I think it’s just a very good thing and it’s noble work. And quite honestly, you can make a very good living in many of these trades.

I would simply say, I would encourage you to continue your education beyond the trade in order as best you can to be faithful in every dimension of life. And I’m not saying you need to go get a baccalaureate degree in addition to say your certification and involvement in the trade. I’m just saying, you know what? I think there are a lot of, I’ll just say, young men in this case who really need the collegiate education, otherwise I wouldn’t be a college president. But you know what? They also need someone to teach them how to drive a nail. And there are other young men who can teach them how to drive a nail and yet also need to learn how, for instance, to participate fully in the community, in the life of the mind, and frankly in the leadership of a local church in just in terms of even lay involvement.

So this encourages me, and I thank you for putting me on the spot. If I didn’t believe in college, and I mean really believe in a collegiate education and think that for most young Christians that is exactly the right path, if I didn’t believe in that, I wouldn’t be president of a college. But I also want to be right up front and say the big issue for Christians is, how you use the gifts and callings and interests God has given you for his greatest glory. And I think for a lot of young men, for a lot of young people, young men and young women, but particularly for young men, entering a trade is a very, very good thing. And I believe you can honor the Lord doing so.


How Do I Navigate Being a Christian at a School Whose Faculty is Made Up of Theological Liberals? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

But next I want to go to another young man who wrote me, in this case just a little bit older, and right now a student at what he identifies as a large Baptist university. He identifies as a conservative Christian and he says there is a conflict because what is happening in the classroom, is not compatible with conservative Christianity, but is rather evidence of theological liberalism. He asked me, “Any thoughts on how to navigate this?”

Well, I want to tell this young man, the good news for me is that you know that the Bible’s the inerrant infallible word of God. And I don’t think it’s likely you’re going to be shaken from that conviction by a rather weakly presented liberal theology. The sad thing is, there are so many students who do not have your convictions, and do not have your maturity, and do not know that what they’re being given. is just warmed over theological liberalism, and quite frankly is subversive of Scripture and the truth of the Christian faith.

And by the way, there’s nothing new here. You mentioned that some professors talk about the supposed contradictions in Scripture. Others ask whether Paul actually wrote his letters and others accuse the Bible, and even as you say here, they accuse God of being anti-women. Well, I’ll just tell you, there’s nothing new under the sun in terms of the modern age. I confronted the very same things as a very young man. I’m going to pray that you come out of this with your faith in Scripture, and your commitment to Christ, your commitment to live to the glory of God ever more evident. I’m also going to pray that confronting these teachings in the classroom, you are ardently steeled not only to resist them, but quite frankly to understand what’s at stake. And so you will understand what’s going on in these universities in the classroom context, and you could be prepared to give good advice to others about how they should see such things.

But of course, the big issue here in this young man’s question helps us to face this head on is the fact that there are too many institutions that claim to be Christian higher education, and their Christianity is just not biblical Christianity. They put off the signals of conservative Christianity while in the classroom it’s being undermined. It’s just really important that you understand what an institution actually believes, what it teaches, what it requires of its faculty, what it does with faculty who teach something contrary to what is true and what is confessional and what is right. And honestly, it’s quite infuriating to know how many schools get away with this generation after generation. And I’ll simply come back to the point I made earlier. It’s inexcusable, but I’ll tell you, I worry less about the students who understand what the problem is. I worry more about the students who don’t understand the problem.

Part IX

How Do Voucher Programs Differ from Accepting Federal Funding? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Finally, today, I was very glad to hear from a mom, writing on behalf of a family, and having to do with the voucher programs, having to do with education, and especially at the state level. And the question from this mom is based upon the fact that I’ve been really clear that the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College don’t participate in any federal funding, any student funding programs. That puts us in a very small number of schools that reject all taxpayer funding. But we do so, and I’ll just come back to this, we do so, I want to say this mom, to maintain the integrity of the institution. I don’t want to put this institution within the reach of Caesar’s regulations. I’ll just put it that bluntly.

But I want to go back. You mentioned the voucher situation, and that’s a little bit different. In other words, when you talk about taxpayers being given vouchers, or the voucher money being channeled to taxpayers based upon the investment that those taxpayers will make in the education of their children, I think it’s a very different thing. You’re the deciding factor. You don’t have to sign on to anything ideological. No one’s going to come in and give you an ideological test for receiving that voucher. And you’re also a taxpayer. So in one sense, that money is just coming back to you. And I think in a very helpful way, that assists us in offering educational choice, which I think is a very, very good thing at every single level. So unless the government says you have to play by these rules, you have to adopt these principles, and we can interrogate you on your beliefs, I don’t think the voucher system is wrong. I think that’s actually an example of what conservative Christians should understand is a rightful government understanding of parental responsibility in education.

The moment those voucher systems become ideologically committed, well then we’ll all have a problem. And state by state, I will simply say that a part of, I think, increasing the liberty of Christian families and respecting the responsibility of Christian parents, one clear sign is the educational choice programs that are in place in several states, and that includes sometimes the voucher programs. And so I want you to hear me to say I don’t think it’s the same thing at all. I think for an institution, that requires an official relationship with the state. And by extension, you become to some degree an agent of the state. That’s very different when it comes to parents because I believe your responsibility, by the way, is not given to you by the state. It’s merely recognized by the state that authority is given to you by God. And I’m thankful every Christian parent who exercises that responsibility in making the right educational choices for children, our children, your children.

Thank you for your questions and 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

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

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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