BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (KT) – The expertise and knowledge of Southern Baptist Theological President Dr. Albert Mohler was on full display Thursday night on the campus of Western Kentucky University in an engaging presentation that “exceeded expectations,” organizers said.
Mohler, speaking to several hundred students in the packed-out Downing Student Union, answered questions for more than two hours in a gospel-centered question-and-answer format called “Ask Me Anything.”
He spoke with a balance of grace and truth, said co-pastor Lance Parrot of Christ Fellowship who partnered with CRU – the campus crusade organization at WKU – to bring Mohler to Bowling Green.
“It definitely exceeded our expectations,” Parrot said. “We did some of the groundwork and CRU did the legwork on campus. They handed out more than 7,000 postcards and used some other creative ways to get the word out.”
The student center was full of students loaded with tough questions, and most reading them from their Smartphones. came looking for answers. Mohler never flinched on any of the questions and each time centered his answers back to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“He made Jesus look beautiful in all of it,” Parrot said. “It was not about the seminary or about him. It was about Jesus question after every question. He found ways to make the main questions of who our identity is and why we’re here about the gospel. It was great.”
Mohler said: “I was really impressed by my visit to Western Kentucky University for the Ask Anything Tour. The crowd was huge and the interest really strong. I was most impressed with the students, who asked really intelligent questions and we dealt with many of the deepest questions we can confront. As believing Christians, faithfulness means that we run into the questions, not away from them. I really appreciate the thoughtfulness of the students who came and those who asked questions.”
Mohler set the tone from the beginning by saying that “God made us to ask questions and those questions press us to the ultimate issues. The assumption of the Christian worldview is that there is an answer,” he said. “It can be found in Jesus Christ.”
Mohler said there are four questions every human being must consider:
Why is there something rather than nothing?
What’s going wrong in the world?
Is there any hope?
Where’s history headed?
“He came across as a great ambassador for Christ,” said Tommy Johnson, the Baptist Campus Minister at WKU. “He articulated in a marketplace of ideas, like the university campus, how the Christian worldview and the claims of Christ deserve the consideration of every thinking person.”
“The tone and the spirit was friendly and engaging. I think he represented Christianity with grace and truth.”
Mohler also displayed compassion. When one autistic man struggled while trying to ask a question, he was patient and thoughtful. The young man asked a simple question: What does it mean to trust in Jesus? Mohler thanked him for asking the question and answered that it only takes believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins on the cross.
“The way he handled the young man with autism was just beautiful,” Parrot said. “One of the CRU people backstage told me when he asked that question, what it means to trust in Jesus, one of Western’s security guards asked: ‘Is that really all it takes?’’’
Johnson said he was sitting on the same row as a freshman he had shared with during the Great Exchange, where students asked others their beliefs and then shared the gospel with them. The student said he was an agnostic but was open to spiritual things. “He shared afterward that this event had given him a lot to think about. It really touched his heart.”
Barry Fields, a WKU alum and former Kentucky Baptist pastor who is working on his doctorate, was impressed with Mohler and the student’s engaging questions that touched on just about every hot-button issue.
“Dr. Mohler is at his best when he’s in Q-and-A mode,” Fields said. “If you go to a preview day (at Southern), they will put him on stage and basically say, ‘Ask me anything.’ Hardly anyone is quicker on his feet. I don’t know if we have more of an intellect in the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) than that guy. There’s a breadth and depth of knowledge about him. The insight he has on a host of issues is pretty incredible.”
Alicyn Newman, a WKU senior from Scottsville, called the event “a great opportunity for believers and non-believers alike. The questions asked covered a lot of topics and Dr. Mohler handled his answers very tastefully. There was truth to his answers and graciousness. He was well prepared, considering the depth of some of those questions. It’s another reminder of I have so much to learn.”
McDonald said Mohler’s ability to handle the diverse questions “reflected a lifetime of devotion to the Scripture and of thinking deeply about ultimate questions.”
The event was made possible as CRU was the student sponsor organization.
“I was also deeply impressed by the presence of such strong Christian students on the campus, and the presence of such faithful campus ministries there — and strong gospel churches in the area. They clearly love students, and it shows,” Mohler said. “There is no greater privilege than to have young people entrust their questions to you.”
Johnson said it wasn’t an intimidating event to the students because of Dr. Mohler, who used his quick wit to make it light when it needed it.
“When you have an apologetic, it helps lower barriers for the non-Christian, but also strengthens the faith of Christians,” Johnson said.
Parrot said he’d read of similar events at the University of Louisville and UCLA and thought to himself, why not the WKU campus? He made the initial contact and found Southern to be interested.
“I don’t see why we shouldn’t try to be doing this at other (state) campuses?” he said.
Fields said he was “encouraged” by the event. “There were several area pastors there but, by and large, it was a sea of college students. If this many people take seriously the gospel and its implications, I think we have a lot of hope.”