Progressives, Never Trumpers of the world unite in defense of Russell Moore and his ERLC.
In 2017 when megachurch pastors criticized Russell Moore, his friends in the progressive press and mainstream media rushed to his defense. And what do you know, this time is no different.
The Week attempted to explain the Russell Moore controversy to its readers. Of course, its summary was simple—Donald Trump. According to the Week,
“How could this man be the target of what many see as an attempted purge by his fellow Southern Baptists?
“Donald Trump, of course. Here’s what’s happening.”
Is the Russell Moore & ERLC Investigation about Donald Trump?
Yes and No.
Russell Moore’s Never Trumpism is part of it. However, combine that with an attitude problem, pushing progressive political policies and you’ve got the recipe for a huge conflict.
And the attitude issue is a big deal.
To call Russell Moore smug would be an understatement. There is a self-righteous condescension from Dr. Moore that is perhaps best exemplified by his attacks on Southern Baptist Trump voters. However, most memorable for many would be Dr. Moore’s verbal tirade at an SBC pastor who asked him a question about the ERLC supporting the construction of mosques.
Moore combined nastiness with sanctimony in the response.
Moore could’ve explained the political realities that led the ERLC to file the amicus brief in support of mosque construction. He could’ve explained that it was a religious liberty question because cities would use these ordinances to harass churches. He could’ve said it was a hard decision, but he believed it was the only way to help churches fight a growing threat from government intrusion.
He didn’t do that.
He ranted and belittled.
He dismissed the questioner.
This is the problem at the root of Dr. Moore’s ERLC.
So, if the Week really wants to understand the issues with Dr. Moore, then it requires you to understand that SBC Elites don’t think they are accountable to the “Little People.”
Southern Baptists reached out to Dr. Moore in 2016 to discuss his political rhetoric and what many felt was his insults to conservative Christian voters.
Some of those calls were answered.
Most of the attempts to call and write were unanswered. (These stories typically were told by smaller church pastors.) Southern Baptists don’t even know how much Dr. Moore is paid.
And this smugness permeates SBC Elites.
A former SBC President attacked the “Little People” last week and then as if he hadn’t offended enough Southern Baptists, he tweeted about “Little People” again. It is like the guy is tone deaf—or perhaps, he really thinks this way about fellow Baptists.
I have a lot to learn about a lot of things but one truth I have learned and seen firsthand displayed more than ever before is when little people are put in big positions the result is always chaos, consternation, confusion and conflict.
— James Merritt (@drjamesmerritt) February 22, 2020
Read the responses.
One wonders with Dr. Merritt’s attitude of humility, if he ever did anything wrong?
SBC Elites regularly tell the Little People to watch their tone, and then they engage in rhetoric like this. Merritt even called some Baptists barking dogs.
And yet, Dr. Moore is an SBC employee. Merritt is not. Average Southern Baptists pay Dr. Moore’s salary. Shouldn’t he reflect their views of politics and the Bible?
Perhaps this is the real issue.
Russell Moore’s Theological Malpractice
Dr. Russell Moore committed theological malpractice in 2016 through his opposition to Donald Trump.
Simply, in 2016 there were four options: Vote Republican, Vote Democratic, Vote Third Party or Not Vote.
The Vote Third Party and Not Vote option are essentially the same. They are a protest. A virtue signal. It is about soothing the conscience of the individual while ignoring the good of society.
It is the equivalent morally of standing on the shore watching a man drown and not throwing him a rope or life jacket.
One of two people would be President of the United States: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Clinton supported murder. Lots of it. And persecution of Christians. Donald Trump claimed to stand for pro-life and pro-religious liberty causes.
There is a reason the great theologians of our time: Dr. Norm Geisler, Dr. Wayne Grudem and Dr. William Lane Craig explained that lesser evil voting or as Dr. Geisler prefers Greater Good voting applied.
Dr. Moore ridiculed ideas of voting for a lesser evil.
However, that is, as Dr. William Lane Craig explained a fundamental element of moral philosophy. In a fallen world, we often face choices between bad things—and it matters if we pick the better or worse option.
I’ve proposed using Dr. Geisler’s Graded Absolutism as a model for Christian Voting. When picking candidates the Christian should obey God’s greater commandments. So, in 2016, Donald Trump’s personal sinfulness mattered, but it mattered a great deal less than wholesale murder.
Abortion is a primary issue for Christian voters because of God’s purpose given to the state. (Gen. 9:6). Protecting life is the first and preeminent duty.
All other moral obligations fall to lesser priority under this. God created the state to protect life. It is our duty as Christians to help the state fulfill that obligation.
And that is the core of Dr. Moore’s theological malpractice. He gets the state wrong. He gets the purpose of Christian participation wrong.
Our vote is not about us and how we feel. Our vote must be to establish the state on the foundation of Justice—the real justice of God’s design.
Conclusion: Conservative Baptists Must Unite
You can tell a lot about a man by those who defend him—and Russell Moore and the ERLC are defended by Leftists and Never Trumpers. Dr. Moore is supported by bureaucrats paid by the SBC—living in their Ivory Towers.
You can tell a lot about a man by those who oppose him.
Russell Moore and the ERLC are opposed by a broad coalition of Conservative Southern Baptists. These are small church pastors and bivocational pastors. Yes, there are some megachurch pastors too. What they all have in common is a desire to protect babies and religious liberty.
Conservative Southern Baptists also share a commitment to a biblical theology of voting.
They believe you can love Jesus and America. They believe patriotism is a good thing.
They believe a government is given responsibility for protecting its people.
Conservative Baptists must unite. The Elites are organized. They have the denominational bureaucracy.
In other words, they have a network.
Well, as in the words of General Stanley McChrystal: “It takes a network to defeat a network.”