After an article has formed in my mind, I try to think of a catchy title—something that will make the average person at least wonder what the piece is about (while at the same not being a bait-and-switch). As this one continues you will probably be able to guess what I intended to have in the place of "Doofuses" in the title, but it just wasn't meant to be. Although as an elementary school child I used the now-personally-banished term as a form of "jerk" (and a mild one at that), a little research on the web confirmed my fears about its origin. It was actually a bit more worrisome to find that another replacement I might have chosen also originally referred to the same body part. I'm not sure what is worse, the fact that people don't hesitate anymore to use curse words or that (even in the more "innocent" decade of the 70's) a goody-two-shoes grade schooler was unwittingly a potty-mouth.
Either way, one would have to be pretty insulated from all forms of media to not have heard of the Twitter behavior of a soon-to-be-former U.S. Representative, Anthony Weiner. What I did not expect to see in the aftermath of his reprehensible actions (both in the tweets and in the lies that followed) was someone as respectable as Dr. Albert Mohler being dragged into the conversation. Strangely enough, it too was a tweet that got some people a bit cranky with him.
What did Dr. Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Seminary, say in 140 characters or less that caused angst and anger?
Dear Congressman Weiner: There is no effective ‘treatment' for sin. Only atonement, found only in Jesus Christ.1
Dr. Mohler's statement was a reaction to Congressman Weiner's decision to take leave from his duties and (per his spokesperson Risa Heller) "to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person."2
She continued: "In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well."3
Now, if you can't believe Dr. Mohler's micro-missive could cause much of a reaction, just Google for "mohler weiner twitter" and see if you get over 63,000 hits as I did. Sure, that doesn't mean every one of those is about this incident, but if you start clicking on the links even many pages into the Google results you'll see that yes, both supportively and disapprovingly, the college president caused a minor earthquake.
For instance, USA Today Faith & Reason writer Cathy Lynn Grossman didn't hide her disdain:
It's the kind of opportunistic evangelism talk we haven't heard since Brit Hume's comments on Fox News Sunday in 2010 schooled adulterous golfer Tiger Woods to forget Buddhism and find Christ.4
That declaration at least shows consistency on her part, Grossman clearly finding Brit Hume's statement about the fallen (and once greatest) golf professional just as repulsive as Dr. Mohler's tweet.
She wrapped up her short piece with:
This reads as an evangelism tactic, riding in on the Weiner headlines but aimed at people like Jews such as Weiner, Buddhists like Woods, and many others, such as Weiner's Muslim wife, who hold different ideas about salvation, different approaches to atonement.
DO YOU THINK … the Weiner scandal is an opportune moment for turn-or-burn evangelism?5
Ignoring the implicit mischaracterization of Dr. Mohler's tweet as "turn-or-burn evangelism" (there is no mention of fire, or hell, or even judgment for that matter),6 how do you answer her question? Is an extremely public sin the right time to prominently point people to your faith, especially if you feel it has an exclusive "treatment" for the disease at hand?
How about otherwise? Is it ever appropriate for someone, in a religious context (or a spiritual context if you have aversion to "religion") to make an assertion that plainly says, "Your path is wrong"? Or, is that the ultimate affront, worse than any four-letter word too many of today's grade schoolers are aware of?
Near the end of his response to those annoyed (or infuriated) by his only-Jesus-saves tweet, Dr. Mohler gives a Christian perspective on the brouhaha:
The exchange on Twitter is another sign of how politically incorrect biblical Christianity is becoming in our times. Christians do understand that non-Christians disagree with the Gospel. We also understand that other religions claim "routes to restoring righteousness." But biblical Christians cannot accept that these "routes" lead to redemption, and the only righteousness that saves — the righteousness of Christ imputed to the believer, who is justified by faith in Christ alone.7
Four-letter words no longer offend. A five-letter word does…especially when followed (or preceded) by an otherwise innocuous four-letter word:
And…perhaps as equally offensive…you aren't really a Christian if you can't agree with those two simple statements.
1 Mohler, A. (2011, June 14). Theology, Therapy, Twitter, and the Scandal of the Gospel. AlbertMohler.com. Retrieved June 17, 2011, from http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/06/14/theology-therapy-twitter-and-the-scandal-of-the-gospel/
4 Grossman, C. L. (2011, June 12). Baptist to Jewish Weiner: Christ is the only "treatment." USA Today Faith & Reason. Retrieved June 17, 2011, from http://content.usatoday.com/communities/Religion/post/2011/06/anthony-weiner-sex-christ-mohler/1
6 It should also be noted that Dr. Mohler says the message was not for Congressman Weiner, but for those who follow him on Twitter. Initially I was a little incredulous about that explanation, but as I considered it it made sense, even starting with "Dear Congressman Weiner."