Dr. Albert Mohler on 9/11 and Truth Telling

This is just an excerpt. To read this entire sermon please go to Albert Mohler’s website at AlbertMohler.com

Dr. Mohler preached this message on September 13, 2001–two days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011. It is republished in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of those attacks. An extended reflection on these events from the perspective of 2011 will follow.

Preachers are expected to speak when no one else has any idea what to say. This is not an enviable position. Standing at the graveside, the dying bedside, the scene of the accident, the preacher is supposed to know what to say, when nothing seems right to say.

Sometimes, saying nothing is best. We can be too hasty to speak, too eager to explain, too superficial in our answer, or too arrogant in our presumption. At other times, silence would be mere cowardice and the abdication of calling and responsibility. To fail to speak in these moments is to deny one’s calling and to fail the supreme test of authentic ministry.

Thousands of preachers will stand in pulpits this Sunday and speak with trembling lips to congregations loaded with expectancy. It could hardly be otherwise. The pictures are replayed in our minds and on our television screens again and again and again. We are watching the unbelievable transformed into the undeniable.

Modern airliners filled with passengers fly through a beautiful sky right into two of the tallest buildings on earth. We watch transfixed, and watch over and over again. The human mind can take only so much reality at any one time. We soon saw images of a burning Pentagon building and then the unimaginable-two 110-story skyscrapers falling into the ground, reduced to a horrific mound of rubble and debris.

We knew that thousands of human beings were dying as we watched. We had seen persons jump from windows, preferring the quick death of a fall to the terror of the fire. And then we saw the collapsing towers, one by one, with disintegrating concrete, glass, and steel reduced to particles of dust and fragments of debris.

The symbolism was unavoidable. These two towers represented the might and energy of the American economy, sending a message to the world of our national power and influence. Like modern towers of Babel, they represented our ambition to build great towers that would touch the sky and defy gravity. Now, millions of pieces of paper floated through the sky like grotesque confetti.

The Pentagon is so powerful a symbol that the name needs no further explanation. The Pentagon can unleash the power of the world’s greatest military force. Now, the Pentagon sits like a wounded giant on the ground. The world’s last remaining superpower doesn’t look so powerful through a veil of smoke.

We know that the world will never be the same after this. We do not want to exaggerate, but exaggeration seems almost impossible. There are no words adequate to convey the horror, the grief, the outrage, or the sense of disbelief.

Oddly enough, at the very same time we cannot help talking. We are glued to our televisions and computer screens, afraid to miss what may come next. We are a nation of voyeurs watching a pornography of death and destruction. It hardly seems right to watch, and it hardly seems right not to watch.

This is a crucial test for the Christian church. We must measure our words carefully. We must think biblically and seek a proper perspective into which we can put all of this. This is not easy, but authentic ministry often comes down to saying what you know to be true when people are desperate to hear it and no one seems to know where else to look.

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