Apology, unity plea doesn’t solve ERLC, Dr. Moore’s problems

Loser Russell Moore of failed #ERLC had to apologize twice. Sad! Ok, just kidding. Dr. Moore’s statement released Monday by the ERLC was a marked improvement of his December non-apology apology that blamed everyone else for not being smart enough to understand him. However, Dr. Moore’s statement and the statement by the ERLC trustee executive committee failed to address key issues of accountability, openness, and the leftward, progressive policies advanced by the ERLC under Russell Moore’s leadership. The statement will not deliver unity because it does not reform or fix the main problems at today’s ERLC. Also, don’t let the statement distract you—this isn’t about Donald Trump or the 2016 election. This is about systemic issues with Dr. Moore and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The statement is a positive because of Dr. Moore’s tone. During the election, Dr. Moore engaged in name calling and insults with political opponents—opponents typically who were Christians and targeted because they disagreed with Dr. Moore’s preferred presidential candidates and policies. So, we should commend Dr. Moore for the change in tone.

“As I thought about my own role in this division, I attempted in December to write a reflection on how I sought to go about the task of attempting to speak to issues of conviction for me during the tumult of an election year. Some who saw things differently than I did received those words, and we’ve gladly joined arms in unity. Others didn’t receive them, not because of any deficiency of grace on their part, but due to my own fault. So, I want to share my heart in trying both to foster unity and to explain what I was trying — and sometimes failing — to do,” Dr. Moore wrote in a statement released by the ERLC and published by BP.

That is good. We should operate out of a desire to have unity. However, we can’t let our desire for unity mask the fundamental problems.

The ERLC, Dr. Moore and other Southern Baptist entities have refused to answer questions or act in any way accountable to the local churches. (See: Attn: Dr. Russell Moore, Servants Answer Questions) Simple questions or complex questions were routinely ignored. And don’t you dare ask about the salaries of top Southern Baptist executives—that isn’t any of your business. Your business is to write the checks. So, get busy doing it.

The ERLC under Dr. Moore has pursued a host of leftists political issues that included working with liberal organizations who were attacking a Southern Baptist academic, silencing evangelical scholars (see Facebook post by Professor Robert A. J. Gagnon), and pushing an immigration agenda out-of-step with typical Southern Baptists. The list goes on and on and on.

The point here is that Dr. Moore is unfit in both temperament, style or policy substance to remain as head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

But there is more than Dr. Moore’s tenure at stake here. The trustees released a statement too, and that is even more revealing. The statement reveals they are concerned—they know they are out-of-touch with your average Southern Baptist, but they don’t seem to care. They even released an absurd defense of the trustee system—tantamount to an admission that mounting criticism of the trustee gravy train, good-old-boy insider system has them worried.

“In many respects, it was the trustee system that allowed for the Conservative Resurgence in our denomination. As committed Southern Baptists with a great appreciation for our Convention, we take our fiduciary responsibility as trustees of the ERLC as a sober and serious stewardship,” the trustee statement said.

That’s some revisionist history. The Trustee system slowed the Conservative Resurgence. If the denomination were not controlled by elites, but more responsive to the people, then the resurgence would: 1. Never have needed to happen; 2. Or, would have happened faster with trustee boards with quicker turnover. So, the trustees mount an absurd defense of their existence. That indicates they know criticisms of the Southern Baptist trustee system is accurate, but they had to say something—anything to justify the insider-dominated system.

There is one other major issue with the statement. It centers on the term prophetic.

“But in terms of leadership and support, Dr. Moore is the man to whom it has been entrusted to lead this entity — —speaking prophetically both to our culture and to our Convention. He will continue doing so with the confidence of our support,” the trustees said.

I find this is sort of spiritual arrogance a major problem in evangelical circles today. There is a stratification where some elites think they know better than the rest of us. We are judged to be either lacking discernment or racist or some other bad thing by our evangelical superiors who attend elite colleges and think like coastal Leftists in New York or LA or DC (isn’t that where the ERLC trustee chairman lives? DC?). We are then told that when one of these elites speaks and we don’t like it that we should just be silent, continue to give because that man is speaking prophetically and we are sinners for not immediately deferring to their spiritual wisdom. I find it sad for our future as a denomination that this has become the norm for the SBC.

We need to get away from the idea of speaking prophetically and start speaking with exhortation in mind. This nonsense where insulting people passes for an appropriate way to dialogue with Christians must stop. We must speak to edify, and speak with love. Not having any love or grace in our speech makes any sort of prophetic words nothing. Didn’t an Apostle try to tell us that?

Tip: the words of the Apostle applies to those “speaking prophetically” as well as us deplorables in the pew. Also, it might be good to try winsome with the folks who pay the bills and not just with liberals. Just a thought.