Mohler is a native of Lakeland, Florida. As a child he attended Lake Yale, a Florida Baptist campground. During his Lakeland years he attended Southside Baptist Church. Mohler attended college at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton in Palm Beach County as a Faculty Scholar. He then received a Bachelor of Arts from Samford University, a private, coeducational Baptist-affiliated college in Birmingham, Alabama. His graduate degrees, a Master of Divinity and Ph.D. in Systematic and Historical Theology, were conferred by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, also known as Southern Seminary.
In addition to his presidency at SBTS, Mohler was the host of The Albert Mohler Program, a nationwide radio show "devoted to engaging contemporary culture with Christian beliefs." He is former vice chairman of the board of Focus on the Family and a member of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Christianity Today recognized Mohler as a leader among American evangelicals, and in 2003 Time called him the "reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S." Mohler has presented lectures or addresses at a variety of conservative evangelical universities.
Mohler joined the staff of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky in 1983 as Coordinator of Foundation Support. In 1987, he became Director of Capital Funding, a post he held until 1989. While still a student he had served as assistant to then-President Roy Honeycutt. In February 1993, Mohler was appointed the ninth President of the seminary by the institution's board of trustees to succeed Honeycutt.
In 2004, Mohler hosted a symposium at Southern Seminary honoring Paul Pressler, the former judge from Houston, Texas, who was a prime leader in the Southern Baptist Convention Conservative resurgence that began in 1979, a movement which ultimately toppled the moderate faction from its control over the SBC. At the symposium held on the 25th anniversary of the Conservative resurgence, Pressler attributed rank-and-file church members for reversing the trend toward theological liberalism in the denomination. Mohler said that without the Conservative resurgence, the SBC would in time have become as liberal as the Episcopal or the Methodist churches. Mohler said that because members of local churches are the ultimate decision makers in the denomination, the concerned laypeople were able to reverse the direction of the SBC.
Mohler served as editor of The Christian Index, the biweekly newsletter of the Georgia Baptist Convention. From 1985 to 1993 he was Associate Editor of the bi-monthly Preaching Magazine. Mohler also served on the Advisory Council for the 2001 English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible. Mohler previously blogged on Crosswalk.com, a web site maintained by Salem Web Network of Richmond, Virginia. Mohler currently blogs on his website and hosts "The Briefing," a daily podcast on current events from the Christian perspective. Mohler also hosts "Thinking in Public," an extended interview podcast on theological and cultural issues.
In 2008, Al Mohler declined to sign An Evangelical Manifesto, publishing a lengthy explanation for his decision. Mohler is an evangelical and an exclusivist, which means that he believes Jesus is the only way through which an individual can attain salvation or have a relationship with God the Father. As a Calvinist, Mohler believes that human salvation is a free gift from God which cannot be earned by human action or will and is only given to the elect. He has publicly advanced this position with respect to Judaism, Islam, and Catholicism. He recently stated that "any belief system, any world view, whether it's Zen Buddhism or Hinduism or dialectical materialism for that matter, Marxism, that keeps persons captive and keeps them from coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, yes, is a demonstration of Satanic power." He believes Muslims are motivated by demonic power and in the months after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Mohler characterized Islamic views of Jesus as false and destructive:
I'm no specialist in Islamic theology. I'll let those who are debate whether or not there is that kind of militancy and warrior culture within Islamic theology. But I want to say as a Christian theologian, the biggest problem with Islamic theology is that it kills the soul.
The bigger problem with Islam is not that there are those who will kill the body in its name, but that it lies about God [and] presents a false gospel, an un-gospel… These are difficult things to say. This is not polite.
The secular world tends to look at Islam as a function of ethnicity which means seeking to convert these people to Christianity is an insult to them. But Christianity is a trans-ethnic faith, which understands that Christianity is not particular to or captured by any ethnicity, but seeks to reach all persons.
The secular world tends to look at Iraq and say, well, it's Muslim, and that's just a fact, and any Christian influence would just be a form of Western imperialism. The Christian has to look at Iraq and see persons desperately in need of the gospel. Compelled by the love and command of Christ, the Christian will seek to take that gospel in loving and sensitive, but very direct, ways to the people of Iraq.
Mohler appeared on MSNBC's Donahue on August 20, 2002. The subject was Christian evangelization of Jews. Mohler and Michael L. Brown, a Messianic Jew, debated this subject as well as Mohler's insistence that salvation lies exclusively in the personal acceptance of Christ before the afterlife with Donahue, a Roman Catholic, and Shmuley Boteach, an Orthodox Jew.
On April 15, 2003, Mohler was interviewed by Time on the subject of evangelizing Iraqi Muslims in the form of Christian aid groups.
On May 5, 2003, Mohler appeared on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross to ponder the issue of evangelization of the Iraqis. At issue was whether the coupling of evangelizing with basic human aid relief might be perceived as aggressive or coercive by the Iraqi people, and whether such a perception, if widespread, might place other relief workers in jeopardy. Mohler argued that biblical, evangelical Christianity is not uniquely American, but exists as a movement throughout the world, so that Christian witnessing is not, in his view, to be interpreted as a move on the part of any single nation against the religion of another. At the same time, however, Mohler acknowledged the need for "sensitivity," and distanced himself from the idea that religion coerced. When pressed, Mohler expressed support for the idea of religious freedom as a theoretical matter of law.
On December 18, 2004, Mohler debated retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong on Faith Under Fire, a program hosted by Lee Strobel and appearing on PAX, a Christian television network. The subject was the historicity and truthfulness of the Bible.
On December 19, 2013, Mohler appeared on CNN to discuss the controversy surrounding comments made by Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty. GLAAD National Spokesman Wilson Cruz was also on the program.
On November 8–9, 2004, Mohler spoke at the annual meeting of the Florida Baptist State Convention.
On May 21, 2005, Mohler gave the commencement address at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Mohler told graduates they could display the glory of God by telling and defending the truth, sharing the gospel, engaging the culture, changing the world, loving the church and showing the glory of God in their own lives.
On February 25, 2014, Mohler delivered a Forum Lecture in the Marriott Center Arena at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The title of Mohler's lecture was, "Strengthen the Things that Remain: Human Dignity, Human Rights, and Human Flourishing in a Dangerous Age."
Mohler was on the board of directors of Focus on the Family. In this role he was one of the principal organizers of Justice Sunday, a nationally televised event broadcast from Highview Baptist Church, Mohler's home church, in Louisville on April 24, 2005. Mohler shared the stage with Charles Colson and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson. U. S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist appeared at the event via videotape. Another host of the program was Family Research Council president Tony Perkins.
The purpose of the broadcast was to mobilize the conservative base in lobbying the United States Senate to curtail debate on the nominations to the federal judiciary made by George W. Bush.
We want to communicate to all that we are not calling for persons merely to be moral. We want them to be believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, because we don't just need instruction, we need salvation. Now, because of that, something has to explain why we would take this time on a Sunday night to talk about something like the federal judiciary. I want to make clear why there is such a sense of urgency that we would do this. It's because so much that is precious to us, so much that is essential to this civilization, this culture, this great democratic republic is in the hands of the courts. And we know that means that much is at risk. Because we have been watching. And we have been learning. For far too long, Christians have been concerned to elect the right people to office, and then go back home. We have learned the importance of the electoral process, and yet we're also discovering that that third branch of government, the judiciary, is so very, very important. We have been watching court cases come down the line. In 1973, Roe v. Wade [declared] a woman's right to an abortion. We now know in the aftermath of that decision, that Justice Harry Blackmun, who was the author of the majority opinion, even has admitted that they were determined to legalize abortion, and they just went to the Constitution to try to find an argument that would get them where they wanted to go. And they did. Now, that was a wake-up call for Americans to say, now wait a minute, there's nothing in the Constitution about abortion. By no stretch of the imagination did the founders of this nation and the framers of that document intend for anyone to be able to read those words and find a right to kill unborn children.
In 2017, Mohler signed the Nashville Statement.
During a 2000 television interview on Larry King Live, Mohler said of the Holy See and the Pope:
As an evangelical, I believe that the Roman Catholic Church is a false church. It teaches a false gospel. And the Pope himself holds a false and unbiblical office.
And during a March 13, 2014 podcast of The Briefing:
Evangelical Christians simply cannot accept the legitimacy of the papacy and must resist and reject claims of papal authority. To do otherwise would be to compromise biblical truth and reverse the Reformation.
Mohler asserted that he was one of the original signatories of the Manhattan Declaration because it is a limited ecumenical statement of Christian conviction on the topics of abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage, and not a wide-ranging theological document that subverts confessional integrity. He emphasized that he signed the document in spite of the fact that he has deep theological disagreements with the Catholic Church.
Mohler has denounced Pope Francis for his supposed left-leaning leadership.
Mohler spoke in June 2004, about married adults who choose not to have children.
The Scripture does not even envision married couples who choose not to have children. The shocking reality is that some Christians have bought into this lifestyle and claim childlessness as a legitimate option. The rise of modern contraceptives has made this technologically possible. But the fact remains that though childlessness may be made possible by the contraceptive revolution, it remains a form of rebellion against God's design and order.
Mohler has also been critical of birth control methods that prevent implantation of the fertilized egg, which he believes "involve nothing less than an early abortion." He has attempted to bring about a new reflection on the topic within Evangelical opinion.
According to Mohler, yoga practice is not consistent with Christianity.
When Christians practice yoga, they must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga. The contradictions are not few, nor are they peripheral. The bare fact is that yoga is a spiritual discipline by which the adherent is trained to use the body as a vehicle for achieving consciousness of the divine… The embrace of yoga is a symptom of our postmodern spiritual confusion…
Mohler was surprised by feedback from Christian proponents of yoga.
Mohler has argued that libertarianism is idolatrous, and as a comprehensive world view or fundamental guiding principle for human life, is inconsistent with Christian ideals. He is a proponent of personal liberty, but believes such liberties can run into problems when applied in the political sphere. The more limited economic libertarianism, on the other hand, can be consistent with the "comprehensive world view that Christianity puts forward."