Friday, May 3, 2024

It is Friday, May 3rd, 2024. 

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

Part I

Abortion and the Tale of Two States: Florida’s 6-Week Abortion Ban Takes Effect As Arizona Repeals 1864 Abortion Ban

Well, we need to turn to two very different states facing the same issue, and that is the issue of abortion. We need to look very quickly at recent developments in Arizona and in Florida. First of all, in Florida what is now one of the nation’s strictest bans on abortion went into effect this week. And you see the national media immediately coalescing around this, and not by accident. There are often these days throwing up a map of America talking about what they would define as abortion access, and all of a sudden they have turned Florida dark. And that tells you a lot about how the larger progressivist culture looks at the issue of abortion.

They look at those who oppose abortion, as being opposed to progress, as being opposed to human liberation, as being concerned with an ethical issue they don’t even recognize is an ethical issue. They see those who hold to a pro-life position as being anti-women’s rights because they define women’s rights entirely in terms of secular autonomy. But they also understand what many Christians don’t fully understand, and that is that the reason so many in this country are so committed to the abortion cause is because they are so committed to the sexual revolution. That is to say, to the revolution in sexual morality that took place, that largely defined the abortion rights movement, say, in the 1960s and 1970s. Think of Roe V. Wade in 1973.

Those who were trying to press for a revolution in morality on sex, and that meant liberating, in their view, human sexual expression from the restraints of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. In order to accomplish that agenda, they needed easy access to abortion. And the more access to abortion, the more liberation in their view. That’s one of the reasons why you see with the state of Florida right now, the mainstream media reacting as if the state of Florida has just decided to turn back the moral clock by a century or something like that.

And that’s exactly what we saw in Arizona. The headline after this week, the Arizona Senate joined the Arizona House in repealing the abortion ban there that the courts had ruled was still in place. The headline in the New York Times, “Arizona Lawmakers Repeal 1864 Abortion Ban.” NBC News, “Arizona Senate Passes Repeal of 1864 Abortion Ban.” In other words, this is clearly an effort to try to say that if you believe that abortion should not be the law of the land, you must be stuck back in something like 1864. The progressivist understanding is that such a moral position is effectively retrograde.

One big lesson we just need to note before the week ends is that in the Arizona House and in the Arizona Senate, it was a partisan divide that was clearly evident, but the only reason the measure of repealing the 1864 abortion ban, the only reason it passed in the house was because there were some Republicans who sided with all the Democrats basically in supporting the appeal, that is to say supporting abortion. The Democrats alone couldn’t have done it. It took some Republicans complicit in the house vote. And in the Arizona Senate, it was even more clear. There were only two Republicans who went to the pro-abortion side in this vote, but that’s all it took. Joined with the Democratic votes, that meant that the 1864 abortion ban was repealed.

Arizona’s Governor, Katie Hobbs, is going to sign this just as fast as she can. Even that repeal won’t take place immediately, but it is just a matter of time in terms of the processing and the way legislation moves through the process. This is a development with massive moral consequence, and we have to recognize this. It tells us a lot on both sides of the country right now, it tells us a lot about where we stand in the fight for life. Clearly, we have even more work to do and more ground to gain or regain than we had ever imagined as recently as, say, a couple of years ago.

Part II

Communist Cuba Flirts with Capitalism? Free Market, Human Flourishing, and the Failures of Communism

But before the week comes to an end, I want to make reference to a development with a lot of worldview significance. In this case, it was reported on the front page of the New York Times just this week, the headline, “Communist Cuba Grasps A Lifeline, Capitalists.” David C. Adams is the reporter on the story. And if you know the history of the Cuban Revolution and the communist revolution and the communist regime there in the island nation of Cuba, you understand that what’s being talked about here could be a ray of hope. But then again, there have been many rays of hope that have been extinguished. But what the New York Times is reporting on here is the fact that because Cuba’s economy is in such horrible shape, it is basically falling in on itself. Cuba is unable to feed its own people, to clothe its own people. But nonetheless, Cuba has been through decades and decades of deprivation, and frankly, harming its own people, harming them in terms of any number of issues traceable to all kinds of measures of human flourishing.

You just simply look at the fact that the nation’s regime has been more committed to communism than to serving its own people. But the breakdown right now is so utterly complete that even the communist regime there in Cuba’s had to allow some experiments in capitalism. And guess what? Surprise, surprise, they are working. The article begins by talking about a new modern grocery store that has food on the shelves and also a company that is making Cuban furniture that it’s selling to customers and other nations. “These ventures are part of an explosion of thousands of private businesses that have opened in recent years across Cuba. A remarkable shift in a country where such enterprises have not been permitted, and where Fidel Castro rose to power leading a communist revolution determined to eliminate capitalist notions like private ownership.”

Now, at one level, this is a really important story in terms of economics. The bottom line, Marxism doesn’t work. It is a failed economic theory. Now, as Christians, we have to understand that’s based upon an even larger failure in terms of the worldview of Marxism. Going back to dialectical materialism, what could go wrong? But this is not just about economic issues. This has a lot to do with moral issues that are really central, even theological and doctrinal issues that are central to the Christian worldview. So, let’s think about it for a moment. The headline in the New York Times article is that, “Communist Cuba is Now Grasping a Lifeline, and That’s an Experiment With Capitalism.” So, immediately people think, “Okay, we have two different economic theories. We have communism on the one hand, capitalism on the other side.”

And there is a sense in which capitalism is not exactly the wrong word here, but the more accurate description of what this article is talking about is a free market, which includes people operating on the basis of a certain amount of freedom in order to invest their own labor in something that will bring about good, something that others will actually pay for and that will lead to human good and human flourishing to not only those who are making the product and not only those who are selling the product, but also those who are buying the product or service. This is the big worldview issue here.

When you look at communism and you look at communist economic theory, the biggest problem is not that it doesn’t work. The biggest problem is that it is based upon an absolute insult to human beings being made in the image of God. The biggest problem with communism is that it sees human beings as accidents in an accidental universe who are stuck in a process of economic oppression, and need to be liberated. Now, in that sense, it’s not that Christians would look at the communists and say, “You’re wrong to think that human beings need to be liberated.” The question is, from what must we be liberated?

The Christian Gospel says, we must be liberated from the reality of sin, the grip of sin and the consequences of sin. And the Christian worldview goes on to say that as you look at God’s purposes, the Creator’s purposes in creation and making us in his image, he set us to work and that work is to come with an appropriate reward. The Bible doesn’t lay out a complete economic system, but it does lay out a complete doctrinal system in which we understand that human beings are made in God’s image and that work is a part of why God made us in the first place.

He made us to work and he created the universe as a moral universe in which labor brings appropriate reward. Or as the Scripture says, “The worker is worthy of his hire.” There’s dignity in that. There’s dignity in human beings because we’re made in God’s image, every single human being. There’s dignity in human work because that’s not an accident. We were made for work. There is dignity in human ingenuity in products, that’s why we have a patent system. There is good that comes in an economic system that rewards good behavior and punishes bad behavior.

Now, this front page article in the New York Times raises the specter that as soon as the communist regime is able to reassert control over the entire economy, it will. There have been similar openings or spring times in the past that have been shut down by the communist regime. But at this point, even the economists looking at the situation from the outside are saying, “The communist system is so broken, it’s very hard to imagine how it can reassert itself. The economic fundamentals are so weak.” And just think about this, you’re talking about an island that is only about 100 miles off of the southern coast of the state of Florida. It is not in trouble because of its climate. It’s not in trouble because it is an island nation off of North America. It’s in trouble because politics comes with moral consequences.

So, it’s going to be very, very interesting to see how this story pans out. But as a boy who grew up in Florida with many Cuban friends, including many who had fled the Castro revolution in Cuba, I have to tell you that I find this kind of story not only incredibly interesting, but also, in the truest sense, heartwarming. One of the things I quickly learned from my Cuban friends in Florida is that so many of them were worried about their families stuck back in Cuba. There may be here a sign of real hope. We must pray so.

Part III

Why the Paucity of Evangelicals on the Supreme Court? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Okay, now we’re going to turn to questions. And once again, I just appreciate all the questions that are sent in. Send in your question to or just go to the website and go to the question option there. 

We’re going to go first to a question from a young man, 16 years old in Ball Ground, Georgia, and he’s asking a question, by the way, I just love how this is introduced. He says, “I attended a men’s conference back in January.” Well, how good is that? Man, something’s going on that’s right in this young man’s life. And he attended a men’s conference. Listen to this. “One of the pastors said that all the current practicing Supreme Court justices identified in some way as Christian are Catholic. Why is this? And should evangelicals seek to place other Orthodox Protestants on the bench?” Yes, and I’ll simply say to this young man, you might be one of the answers to your own question. But I don’t know God’s calling in your life. I do know there’s a story behind why you have so many conservative Roman Catholics on the bench and a paucity of evangelicals.

And let me say this is a little complicated because one of the current justices, Neil Gorsuch, identifies as an Episcopalian or has been a member of an Episcopalian church, but he had a Catholic background and a largely Catholic education. So, we’ll just count him as included in your description of the question. So, number one, why this concentration of Roman Catholics? Just a couple of reasons. Historically, but also with some theological explanation as well. Roman Catholicism has a system of ecclesiastical law that is law that governs the Roman Catholic Church known as canon law, and has for centuries done a very good job of producing both internal and external lawyers in this sense. Canon lawyers inside the church and also lawyers in the legal profession on both sides of the Atlantic. And there’s a part of the intellectual structure of Roman Catholicism that just gives itself to this.

Now, there’ve always been Protestant lawyers, but quite frankly over the history of the legal profession, Protestant lawyers have been less Protestant than Catholic lawyers have been Catholic. And I think that’s a failure of Protestant theological engagement, frankly. The other thing is that within the Catholic system of say Catholic schools, and includes in the case of some of these justices pretty elite schools including Catholic boys schools, there is an ethos towards producing leaders in the society, and it’s built up in terms of the expectation and it’s built up in terms of the relationships that are made and societies that operate, say, offering friendship and recommendation and all the rest. I think there’s an awful lot there that Protestants can learn from Roman Catholics about what it means to be serious in producing young people who will maintain a confessional, a theological culture.

There’s a third aspect of this, which is that many Catholics have for a long time put their money where their mouth is on this. And so, there’s been a lot of financial support and honestly, I’ve been very aware of these circles. I know some of these donors, and they clearly see their mission as giving vast sums of money to help raise up a Catholic army on these issues. And so, a Catholic young person who might be inclined to the law might have, through certain connections, an awful lot of financial support in going to the right law school. Once there, having the right influences, being surrounded by some of the best influences. And once again, we are just not as good at this as we should be. I want to be honest about that.

On the other hand, there’s another aspect of this which is that there’s a reason why Protestants, why evangelical Christians don’t have the same kind of infrastructure and culture. And it is because we actually do have a different theology about what faithfulness looks like in this life. And there’s a downside in the sense that we’re not some of those in the elite professions who clearly understand themselves to be driven by a Christian worldview and Christian commitments. I’ve already said I think that’s a problem. We need to fix that problem. But however, we also understand that a part of the Reformation was understanding that there is virtue in every calling, and that means there is also incredible virtue in professions that the world does not value highly and are not highly esteemed. And there is also the imperative of faithfulness to Christ, which includes evangelism and missions in ways that just change the priority of many evangelicals.

And looking at that, you recognize there is a distinction and no doubt that distinction is given Roman Catholics quite an advantage in terms of prospects of ever sitting on the United States Supreme Court. Is that a problem we should fix? Yes, it is a challenge we should address. But the way to do that is, I would argue, and I really appreciate this question from a 16-year-old young man, and I mean when I say it, you can be a part of helping us to figure out how in your generation we can do better at this. I don’t know what God will call you to do, but I do know that I’m quite encouraged by the fact that you would ask this kind of question. Thanks for asking it.

Part IV

Do Roman Catholics Go to Heaven? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

But next, I’m going to turn to another question, and this also sent by a young person, but it’s a question we all need to think about. In this case, it’s a 12-year-old young man, a 12-year-old boy who asked the question. And I just have to tell you, I’m thrilled with the fact that he’s asking it from Queensland, Australia. And I just have to tell you I’ve rarely been so encouraged as when I read the first line of this email, “Dad and I listen to your podcast when he takes me to rugby training.” Well, I just have to say every word in that is encouraging to me. And so far as I know, you are the first rugby player to address a question to me on The Briefing.

Okay, the question this young man poses is this. He says, “When listening to your podcast, you mentioned a lot about Catholics and Catholic leaders and that they are very similar to us and what we believe, but they’re very different as well.” And here’s the bottom-line question he asks, “If they believe in Jesus and that he died for their sins, why are they not going to heaven?” Well, I’m going to phrase the question a little bit differently, and you might think of the question from a slightly different angle, but he hits the middle of the target in terms of asking how we understand this question in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, I want to turn back and say, the very first thing I need to say is that salvation comes to all who call upon the name of the Lord, who believe in their heart that Jesus Christ is raised from the dead. The Scripture gives us clear evidence that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. The calling upon the name of the Lord here doesn’t just mean saying the name of Jesus. That becomes a summary for what it means to respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ, to the good news of Jesus Christ in faith, and repentance, and in following Jesus. And so, we need to get the order straight. We need to understand that there’s not going to be a Catholic section of heaven, there’s not going to be a Protestant section of heaven, there’s not going to be a Baptist section of heaven, I’m not even sure it’s appropriate to talk about sections of heaven, but you know what I mean.

In other words, it’s just important to say that all who are in heaven are those who are saved by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and have come to him by faith. So, why is there such a distinction between the Protestant understanding of the Christian faith and the Catholic understanding of the Christian faith? It is because the Protestant understanding of the Christian faith, which I wholeheartedly unreservedly believe and defend, says that the simplicity of the gospel is that the gospel comes down to the work of Christ alone. It comes down to receiving Christ by faith alone. It comes to us by God’s grace and God’s grace alone on the authority of scripture and scripture alone.

And the point is that the reformers had responded to the Roman Catholic Church because the Roman Catholic Church denied the word alone after every one of those words. And thus, the reformers rightly believed that the Roman Catholic Church was teaching a false gospel. And I just have to say that the Roman Catholic Church today is in continuity with denying faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone, and Scripture alone. Furthermore, it’s really important to know that when we say Christ alone, we mean the merits of Christ alone. It means that we bring no merit to our salvation. It’s entirely by grace. It’s all accomplished by Christ. That, again, is contrary to official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. And it’s for that reason, we have two very different understandings of the gospel.

But I want to say to the young man writing this question, I believe that everyone who believes in Jesus, and comes to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ is going to be saved. And I want to state, I believe there will be an awful lot of people who had identified as Catholics who are in heaven. I also believe there will be an awful lot of people who thought they were Christians because they were affiliated with some Protestant church who were going to find out that they had never actually come to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, I want to state this very carefully. If a person holds to the understanding of the gospel officially taught by the Roman Catholic Church, officially worked out in terms of its priestly ministry, its theology of the sacraments, its theology of synergism, which is God’s will working with the human will, if indeed you hold to the official theology taught by the Roman Catholic Church, I don’t believe that’s the gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe it does not lead to salvation. The good news is I believe there are an awful lot of Catholics who actually don’t even understand all the complexities of Catholic teaching, but somehow we have to hope and pray the power of the gospel shines through. The biggest problem here is that the church actively denies what we believe to be the gospel.

Okay, but to explain the first part of what you said quite accurately, I mentioned a lot about Catholics and Catholic leaders and that we’re in total agreement on so many things, and that’s because when you look at the totality of all that Christ teaches and all that’s revealed in Scripture and all that we as Christians have learned that we need to believe and to teach on the basis of the word of God, there is a vast, vast overlap between what Protestants and Catholics believe. The doctrine of the Trinity, for example, the understanding of how we confess who Christ is. We have vast areas of doctrinal agreement. And quite frankly, we also have areas in which there were Roman Catholics who were ahead of Evangelical Protestants in thinking through some issues on the basis of a biblical vision.

And that includes understanding the priority of defending the unborn. And also, even having a rightful understanding of how to argue for marriage as the union of a man and a woman. And that’s to say I have an awful lot of Catholic friends, and they are very true and genuine friends, and we pray for each other, but I have to pray for them in terms of what I believe the Scripture clearly says about the gospel of Jesus Christ. And here’s the other thing I want to say to this 12-year-old. You want to know one of the happiest things? Where you have a truly Catholic-Catholic and you have say, a truly Baptist-Baptist, we actually respect one another because we’re honest about not only the areas in which we agree, but the areas in which we disagree, and that actually helps us to pray for one another.

Part V

Is the Bible Both Inerrant and Infallible? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Okay, so it’s not every day that in the question sent in, there’s a reference to the fact that it’s a bit of a time-sensitive situation, but a student sent in a question and it’s so good, I want to deal with it and I hope it’s still in time to be helpful. But the question has to do with the authority of Scripture. And this young woman says, “Currently, my friend and I have had a debate over biblical inerrancy. She’s currently writing a thesis on that topic at her Christian private school, and her position is that the Bible is infallible, not inerrant. While I strongly believe infallibility and inerrancy are in fact the same thing, and that the Bible is totally infallible and inerrant.” Well, she goes on to flesh out the question a bit, but I think this is just outstanding. And by the way, I want to say to this young woman, you are entirely right to believe that the Bible is both inerrant and infallible, and both of those words are absolutely necessary to speak about the total truthfulness and trustworthiness of the Word of God.

I do want to make one qualification on what you wrote when you say that inerrancy and infallibility are the same thing. I’m going to say no, they’re not exactly the same thing, but they require one another. In other words, if you truly believe in the infallibility of scripture, you’re going to believe in its inerrancy. If you truly believe in the inerrancy of scripture, you’re going to believe in its infallibility. But there’s a history to this debate, and it has to do with the fact that there have been some who have tried to say, “I believe the Bible is infallible,” that is to say it doesn’t fail, it doesn’t fail to communicate God’s word to us, it doesn’t fail to convey to us the full witness of Jesus Christ. The Bible can’t fail because it declares that it can’t fail. It’s God himself who says, “My word never fails to do what I send it to do.”

If you believe in the Bible is God’s word, you believe in its infallibility. But I also believe you must believe, and I want to say to my letter writer, you say you do, and I’m thankful for that. You also believe in the Bible’s inerrancy. And that is because the word’s a little bit different. Infallibility means the Bible can’t fail, and inerrancy means it includes no error. There’s no error in it. Now, the reason we’re having this conversation is because there were some people who tried to make what I believe is a false argument years ago trying to say, “I can believe the Bible’s infallible, but I don’t have to believe it’s inerrant. I can believe that some there can be errors somewhere in scripture that nonetheless do not mean that it will fail to rightly, trustworthily convey God’s self-revelation.” I think that’s a contradiction. I think that’s a failure in logic. And I don’t think, by the way, that position could hold for long.

And the evidence of that is the fact that you very rarely see that argument being made anywhere these days because it’s very hard to find someone these days who actually will argue for infallibility, if they know what it means, and deny inerrancy. And I want to say to this letter writer, I want to refer you to a document that I think might help. That document is known as the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. So, you can just Google that, the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. And it includes a document called Affirmations and Denials, and I really think it helps to clarify this very issue. I think it might be helpful not only to you, but to your friend.

And I appreciate the fact that you are engaging with a friend on an issue of this importance, and I pray that the Lord will draw you both even deeper into faithfulness to Him and in love for God’s word. And I simply say, we need both of you in the rising Christian generation, and we need both of you to affirm both the infallibility and the inerrancy of scripture. God bless you for sending the question.

Part VI

Is the Position of the Pope Analogous in Any Way to the President to the SBC? — Dr. Mohler Responds to Letters from Listeners of The Briefing

Okay, but today I’m going to close with a question and I have to say, this one just makes me very, very happy. It kind of ties all these things together. It is sent in from a listener from Washington DC. “I know we as Evangelicals have some strong opinions about the position of the pope. In light of that, I’m curious to know how that position is or is not analogous to the position of president of the SBC, of the Southern Baptist Convention.” Wow, what a question. I can just tell you, they’re not at all analogous. The pope is the head of the Roman Catholic Church, the supreme pontiff of the church. He’s the head of the magisterium. He is considered to be the vicar of Christ on earth through whom the sacramental ministry of the Roman Catholic Church takes its lead, and through whom there is the leadership at least of continuing revelation given by Christ to the church.

At just about every point, we, as Evangelicals just say, “No, we don’t believe that’s justified by Scripture.” There’s more to the papacy than that, not to mention the monarchical trappings and all the rest. But the biggest issue is the claim of a unique theological authority and the stewardship of the doctrine of the church. We don’t believe that stewardship belongs ultimately to a person. We believe that the keys are given instead to the church. The church bears that responsibility together. But the question was, “How is the position of being president of the SBC like or unlike the papacy?”

Well, in just about every way, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention is elected to preside at an annual meeting, makes a few appointments, those are key. Can also of course make public comments representing the Southern Baptist Convention during that two-year period. But the first way that the president of the SBC is different than the pope is that the president of the SBC changes at least every two years. The other thing is all he does is preside over an annual meeting. I don’t mean to depreciate that. I simply want to say we don’t have anything like a pope or a papacy anywhere you look. And I think that my explanation here would be heartily endorsed by the current president of the Southern Baptist Convention, whose term comes to an end, by the way, in June, and who is currently pastor of the First Baptist Church of Farmersville Texas, and who lives on a farm with his family and cows. 

And alas, most importantly, no papal throne.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing. 

For more information, go to my website at You can follow me on Twitter or X 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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