Changing One's Mind

I read this sort of curious post about Albert Mohler about how he came to be a complementarian not too long ago. In it, Mohler describes how he was initially something of an egalitarian. According to Mohler words he was very against a move to reaffirm complementarianism in his denomination,

“In 1984, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution (a very contentious moment) on women. It was the first time that this denomination as a whole in terms of its annual meeting in such an official way had made a declaration that the office of pastor was restricted to men as qualified by Scripture.┬áThat incited one of the most incredible denominational controversies in the midst of that great controversy of the 70?s, 80?s and 90?s that one could imagine.

Many people took umbrage at that statement. Many people were hurt and outraged and stunned that the Southern Baptist Convention would say that a woman ought not to be pastor.

I was one of them.”

So here we have a young Al Mohler opposing a position that he clearly now holds. What happened? Mohler goes on to describe a chance encounter he had with an older theologian who does little more than shake his head and predict that Mohler will one day be embarrassed about having been an egalitarian. Apparently this was all it took for Mohler to have some kind of crisis and go reread a few things and make a 180-degree change in his views in some 12 hours or so.

There are a couple things that arrest my attention in this account:

1) As a seminary student at the time, Mohler had surely read up on the topic of women in ministry before this, although he claims that this night of theological crisis was the first time he had really looked at the matter. All the same, according Mohler, he did not really acquire any new information, he merely re-examined what was already available to him.

2) This was not the result of a rhetorical battle, Mohler did not suffer a stunning defeat at the hands of a skilled debater, he was just told that he would change his mind and regret his earlier opinions. Is shouting our opinions a waste of time?

3) How much of this story is about how Mohler regarded Carl Henry, that the man could make a single remark and cause Mohler to question his own assumptions? I had never heard of Henry before reading this anecdote, so his name has done nothing to cause me to question my own egalitarian opinions. On the other hand I wonder, which people are those in your life or mine, do they know they wield this power? By power I mean the power not to necessarily change minds, but to cause them to become uncertain about previously strongly-held positions.

4) Was it not so much the authority that Carl Henry had in Mohler’s eyes but perhaps the mere shock of his rebuke that cause Mohler to rethink? Much of the time we study more to bolster our own positions than to make some kind of neutral inquiry. Perhaps some kind of equivalent of a cold water splash to the face is needed for us to try to approach an issue outside of our own biases.

Often I find that when I have had a change of opinion it happens pretty gradually. Anyone else here done a 12-hour complete reversal on something that they seriously held as a belief?