Russell Moore’s biggest problem is his mouth. He comes across as condescending—smug. That is a major problem when you are in a job where you need to exhort people to an elevated involvement in political and ethical issues. While Dr. Moore’s defenders are trying to make this about race, the real issue is Dr. Moore.
Years ago, where I attended church had a committee to fight the state lottery plebiscite. I was on that committee and I remember the pastor at the time urging us in our discussions with Christians and non-Christians to do as the Bible commanded and “Let our speech be always with grace.” That verse from Colossians 4:6 is important, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Russell Moore has the salty part—he isn’t insipid. But I’m not so sure he has the gracious part. N.T. Wright in his commentary warns that if your speech comes off as lacking the required graciousness then “the argument may be won, but the person lost.”
Wow. That sounds like Dr. Moore to me. His rhetoric might win an argument much like how he showed off and insulted a questioner at last year’s Southern Baptist Convention question time, but that rhetoric has lost the confidence of the average Southern Baptist.
There is significant confusion with Dr. Moore’s job. He isn’t an Old Testament prophet calling out everyone’s faults. His job is in many ways to exhort his fellow Christians to do better. How does calling men like Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffress and other Southern Baptists heretics by saying Trump voters are followers of the Prosperity Gospel or they compose the Jimmy Swaggert wing of Evangelicalism help? How does it win anyone over?
In fact, all he has done is alienate most of the Southern Baptist Convention membership who voted in the last election.
Dr. Moore’s worldview is the problem
An incoherent worldview is the culprit in this mess. Dr. Moore is a Democrat (doubt that? Then read what one person who knew Dr. Moore while at Southern had to say). You cannot hold a rational Christian worldview and vote for Democratic candidates. Why? There are two issues which for Christian voters should disqualify any political candidate or party—religious liberty and abortion. Life and liberty are key concepts that govern a Christian’s involvement in society. To vote for a Democratic candidate (even one who claims to be pro-life) is to enable the Democratic Party to pursue its agenda and expand abortion by putting people like Sen. Schumer and Nancy Pelosi into leadership positions. Need proof of that?
“In 2006, Moore wrote an article in which he referred to Democratic congressman Gene Taylor as the ‘greatest public servant I have ever known.’… In 2010, Moore donated $4,800 to Taylor’s reelection campaign. Taylor twice voted for Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the house and voted with Pelosi 82% of the time. Is it a Southern Baptist value to support a partisan like Nancy Pelosi?” lifelong Alabama fan Seth Dunn wrote.
This is the inevitable conclusion of Dr. Moore’s efforts—empowering Democrats who work to destroy life and our religions liberty. It is fair to ask if Dr. Moore’s Democratic ties unduly influence his political theology and political involvement?
It would appear it does.
Dr. Russell Moore condemned conservative political figures like Kim Davis and Roy Moore over their resistance to government policies. In their cases, Dr. Moore encouraged Christians to resign instead of refusing to do their jobs. However, where was Dr. Moore’s condemnation of politicians like the Democratic Attorney General of Kentucky who recently refused to do his job and defend in court the state’s new pro-life law?
Notice the trend? There is one set of standards for Republicans and social conservatives and another for progressive Democrats.
It is not about race. It is not about Trump. It is not about immigration. This is about Dr. Moore. Attempts to spin this into a racial issue will fail because Southern Baptists aren’t racists, and such allegations say more about those leveling racism charges than the recipients of the charges. We are better than this.
Such polarization makes the case crystal clear how important it is to put Dr. Moore’s terrible tenure at ERLC behind us and move forward. We need leadership that unites us on key issues and can use the bully pulpit of the ERLC to urge us through gracious language to do better on issues including challenging ones like race and immigration.