Moore: Strangers in Exile

“The assumption that the larger culture agrees with Christians on values issues led to evangelicals’ minimizing the theologically distinctive aspects of Christian witness. It also set up evangelicals to be disappointed when the culture did not turn out the way many expected it to turn out. So our response ought to be that we are always, in every culture, strangers in exile.”

-Russell Moore

Moore: The Confederate Battle Flag

“I think the Confederate Battle Flag is a symbol that causes a great deal of division and reminds us of a really hurtful legacy and past… I think there are some Southerners, black and white, who feel as though the rest of the country looks down on the South as uneducated and backward. And for some people, that was a symbol of defiance against that.”

“I heard someone say that concern over the [Confederate] Flag is sensitivity to micro-aggressions, to which my response is to say that kidnapping and enslaving people, breaking up families, terrorizing families, if that’s not a macro-aggression, I don’t know what is.”

“I think we can remember our past without valorizing parts of our past that we ought to see as wrong.”

“The Apostle Paul says that we should not prize our freedom to the point of destroying those for whom Christ died. We should instead “pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom. 14:19). The Confederate Battle Flag may mean many things, but with those things it represents a defiance against abolition and against civil rights. The symbol was used to enslave the little brothers and sisters of Jesus, to bomb little girls in church buildings, to terrorize preachers of the gospel and their families with burning crosses on front lawns by night.

That sort of symbolism is out of step with the justice of Jesus Christ. The cross and the Confederate flag cannot co-exist without one setting the other on fire. White Christians, let’s listen to our African-American brothers and sisters. Let’s care not just about our own history, but also about our shared history with them. In Christ, we were slaves in Egypt—and as part of the Body of Christ we were all slaves too in Mississippi. Let’s watch our hearts, pray for wisdom, work for justice, love our neighbors. Let’s take down that flag.”

-Russell Moore

Moore: Religious Freedom

“Conservative evangelicals don’t want government support for our faith, because we believe God created all consciences free and a state-coerced act of worship isn’t acceptable to God. Moreover, we believe the gospel isn’t in need of state endorsement or assistance. Wall Street may need government bailouts but the Damascus Road never does.”

-Russell Moore

Moore: Adoption

“When we adopt—and when we encourage a culture of adoption in our churches and communities—we’re picturing something that’s true about our God. We, like Jesus, see what our Father is doing and do likewise (John 5:19). And what our Father is doing, it turns out, is fighting for orphans, making them sons and daughters.”

-Russell Moore

Moore: Soul Freedom for Everybody

At the Jul 2016 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, John Wofford, pastor of Armorel Baptist Church in Blytheville, Ark., asked Dr. Russell Moore during his ERLC report, this question:

“I would like to know how in the world someone in the Southern Baptist Convention can support the defending of rights for Muslims to construct mosques in the United States when these people threaten our very way of existence as Christians and Americans. They are murdering Christians, beheading Christians, imprisoning Christians all over the world,” the pastor said. “Do you actually believe that if Jesus Christ were here today, he would actually support this and that he would stand up and say, well, let us support the rights of those Baal worshippers to erect temples to Baal? Do you believe that, Dr. Moore?”

Dr Moore’s response was brilliant and prophetic.

“You know, sometimes we have to deal with questions that are really complicated and we have to spend a lot of time thinking them through and not sure what the final result was going to be. Sometimes we have really hard decisions to make. This isn’t one of those things.”

“What it means to be a Baptist is to support soul freedom for everybody, And brothers and sisters, when you have a government that says we can decide whether or not a house of worship can be constructed upon the theological beliefs of that house of worship, then there are going to be Southern Baptist churches in San Francisco and in New York and throughout this country who are not going to be able to build.”

“The bigger issue, though, is not one of self-interest. The bigger issue is the fact that we have been called to the gospel of Jesus Christ. A government that has the power to outlaw people from assembling together and saying what they believe: that does not turn people into Christians. That turns people into pretend Christians, and it sends them straight to hell. The answer to Islam is not government power. The answer is the gospel of Jesus Christ and the new birth that comes from that.”

-Russell Moore

Southern Baptist leaders issue joint statement on the death of George Floyd

NASHVILLE (BP) — Southern Baptist leaders have published a statement grieving the recent death of George Floyd and calling for the end of “racial inequity in the distribution of justice in our country.” 

The statement, co-authored by SBC president J.D. Greear and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary president Jamie Dew was unanimously signed by all SBC officers, entity heads and state convention executive directors.


Statement on the death of George Floyd

As a convention of churches committed to the equality and dignity of all people, Southern Baptists grieve the death of George Floyd, who was killed May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minn. 

While all must grieve, we understand that in the hearts of our fellow citizens of color, incidents like these connect to a long history of unequal justice in our country, going back to the grievous Jim Crow and slavery eras. The images and information we have available to us in this case are horrific and remind us that there is much more work to be done to ensure that there is not even a hint of racial inequity in the distribution of justice in our country. We grieve to see examples of the misuse of force, and call for these issues to be addressed with speed and justice. 

While we thank God for our law enforcement officers that bravely risk their lives for the sake of others and uphold justice with dignity and integrity, we also lament when some law enforcement officers misuse their authority and bring unnecessary harm on the people they are called to protect. We further grieve with our minority brothers and sisters in the wake of George Floyd’s death, pray for his family and friends and greatly desire to see the misuse of force and any inequitable distributions of justice come to an end.

Throughout the Old and New Testaments, the Bible speaks to matters of justice and human dignity. We are taught by Scripture that human beings are distinct among the rest of creation as those beings which bear the divine image. From the beginning of life to the end, all human beings, both male and female–of all ethnicities, colors and ages–are sacred beings that God values and loves.

Throughout the law, the prophets, the gospels and the entire canon of Scripture, murder is condemned and God’s people are called to protect the vulnerable. The Bible further condemns injustice and the misuse of authority and force. And in the example of Jesus Christ, God’s people are called to love others, care for their needs, grieve with them in brokenness and labor for the well-being of our neighbor. To follow Christ is to follow in these examples He puts before us. 

Therefore, as a matter of Christian obedience and devotion, followers of Jesus Christ cannot remain silent when our brothers and sisters, friends and/or people we seek to win for Christ are mistreated, abused or killed unnecessarily. 

Therefore, we pray for our local, state, and national leaders as they seek justice, and call on them to act quickly and diligently to ensure that these situations are brought to an end. As a people, Southern Baptists stand ready to help towards that end. May God give us His favor, help and strength in this effort. 

Co-Authors:

James K. Dew, Jr.
President, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

J.D. Greear
President, Southern Baptist Convention
Pastor, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, N.C.


Signatories:

Marshal Ausberry
1st Vice President, Southern Baptist Convention
President, National African-American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention
Pastor, Antioch Baptist Church, Fairfax Station, Va.

Noe Garcia
2nd Vice President, Southern Baptist Convention
Senior Pastor, North Phoenix Baptist Church, Phoenix, Ariz.

Kathy Litton
Registration Secretary, Southern Baptist Convention

John Yeats
Recording Secretary, Southern Baptist Convention
Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Director

Ronnie W. Floyd
Treasurer, Southern Baptist Convention
President & CEO, SBC Executive Committee

Paul Chitwood
President, International Mission Board

Kevin Ezell
President, North American Mission Board

O.S. Hawkins
President, GuideStone Financial Resources

Ben Mandrell
President & CEO, LifeWay Christian Resources

Jeff Iorg
President, Gateway Seminary

Jason K. Allen
President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Danny L. Akin
President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Adam W. Greenway
President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Russell D. Moore
President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Sandy Wisdom-Martin
Executive Director/Treasurer, Woman’s Missionary Union

Rick Lance, Alabama State Baptist Convention
Randy Covington, Alaska Baptist Convention
David Johnson, Arizona Southern Baptist Convention
J. D. “Sonny” Tucker, Arkansas Baptist State Convention
Bill Agee, California Southern Baptist Convention
Nathan Lorick, Colorado Baptist General Convention
Fred MacDonald, Dakota Baptist Convention
J. Thomas Green, Florida Baptist Convention
W. Thomas Hammond, Jr., Georgia Baptist Convention
Christopher Martin, Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention
Nate Adams, Illinois Baptist State Association
Steve McNeil, State Convention of Baptist in Indiana
Tim Lubinus, Baptist Convention of Iowa
Robert Mills, Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists
Todd Gray, Kentucky Baptist Convention
Steve Horn, Louisiana Baptist Convention
Kevin Smith, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware
Timothy Patterson, Baptist State Convention of Michigan
Leo Endel, Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention
Shawn Parker, Mississippi Baptist Convention
Barrett Duke, Montana Southern Baptist Convention
Kevin White, Nevada Baptist Convention
Terry Dorsett, Baptist Convention of New England
Joseph Bunce, Baptist Convention of New Mexico
Terry Robertson, Baptist Convention of New York
Milton Hollifield, Jr., Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
Randy Adams, Northwest Baptist Convention
Jack P. Kwok, State Convention of Baptists in Ohio
D. Hance Dilbeck, Jr., Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma
Barry Whitworth, Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania-South Jersey
Felix Cabrera, Convention of Southern Baptist Churches in Puerto Rico
Gary Hollingsworth, South Carolina Baptist Convention
Randy C. Davis, Tennessee Baptist Convention
David W. Hardage, Baptist General Convention of Texas
Jim W. Richards, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
Rob Lee, Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention
John V. Upton, Jr., Baptist General Association of Virginia
Brian Autry, Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia
Eric Ramsey, West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists
Quin Williams, Wyoming Southern Baptist Mission Network

http://bpnews.net/54877/southern-baptist-leaders-issue-joint-statement-on-the-death-of-george-floyd

Moore: Murder is an Assault on God

“There is no, under any Christian vision of justice, situation in which the mob murder of a person can be morally right. Those who claim to have a high view of Romans 13 responsibilities of the state to “wield the sword” against evildoers ought to be the first to see that vigilante justice is the repudiation not just of constitutional due process but of the Bible itself. And, of course, the Bible tells us, from the beginning, that murder is not just an assault on the person killed but on the God whose image he or she bears.”

-Russel Moore, read his entire post here:

https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/the-killing-of-ahmaud-arbery-and-the-judgment-of-god

Could the Persecuted Church Rescue American Christianity?

Christianity in this country is big, powerful, and familiar. We need it to become strange again.

An edifying article by Russell D. Moore.

“I was distracted at the Baltimore Orioles’ game the other night. At the end of the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), my wife and I joined friends at Camden Yards, but a new friend with us there in the stands kept driving my attention to a jail cell overseas.

A few hours earlier, that new friend, Naghmeh Abedini, had joined me on the platform of our gathering of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. I called the SBC to stand with her husband, Saeed, an American citizen who is imprisoned in Iran for his evangelical faith. As we ate hamburgers and watched umpires call balls and strikes, I wondered what was happening, at that very moment, to Saeed. Was he being beaten? Was he, like Paul and Silas of old, singing hymns behind the bars?

I couldn’t help but wonder if we were living a parable.

After all, before and after we had prayed for Saeed and the persecuted church on our knees on the convention floor, we had prayed for awakening and revival in our American churches. Southern Baptist baptism rates are robust compared to tanking mainline Protestantism, but they are anemic given our history and our aspirations of reaching our neighbors with the gospel.

It would be easy to assume that American evangelicals are the “strong” ones, standing up for our “weak” brothers and sisters imperiled around the world. In one sense, that’s obviously true. We can pressure the State Department to act. We can send relief to communities in peril. We can use information technology to alert the global community to what is happening to religious minorities (not only Christians) due to persecution.

But more and more American Christians are recognizing that we should not only advocate for our persecuted brothers and sisters; we should also learn from them how to live as Christians.

Evangelical leader Francis Schaeffer warned in the 1970s that affluence is spiritually dangerous for Christians. He pointed to the ancient words of the Hebrew prophets and said that those who need never to wonder where daily bread will come from soon stop praying for it — and turn to immorality.

It’s hard to question his diagnosis, especially since it echoes Jesus himself.

For a generation, American evangelicals have talked quite a bit about “faith” and “values.” We want “faith-friendly” movies and we build coalitions of “people of faith.” We talk about “traditional values” when it comes to policy questions. But “faith” and “values” aren’t necessarily praiseworthy. Jesus told us there are all sorts of faith responses to the Word he was preaching. He compared these to seeds that fall on different kinds of soil. The seed that falls on rocky ground, Jesus said, appears to be vital, until persecution comes and then the hearer walks away.

But what happens when there is no persecution?

We have grown accustomed to an American civil religion, nominally Christian, where in many places it does someone social good to join a church. To say “I’m not a Christian” has been in those places the equivalent of saying “I’m not a good person.” This has inflated membership rolls, yes, but it has done so at the expense of what Jesus calls the gospel: the call to carry a cross.

Moreover, this nominal Christianity has emphasized the “values” and “meaning” aspects of Christianity while often downplaying the “strangeness” of Christianity, namely the conviction that a previously dead man is alive and returning to judge the living and the dead.

This Bible Belt experiment will not long survive the secularizing of American culture, where increasingly even the “values” seem strange to the culture. The church will survive, and, I believe, flourish — but it will mean the stripping away of the almost-gospels we’ve grown accustomed to.

In the “religion” aisle at any given bookstore, one can see volumes promising “every day a Friday” and so on. Jesus is the totem to acquire what American culture has told us we deserve. This is closer to Canaanite fertility religion than to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have become the people Jesus warned us about.

When we encounter those persecuted around the world, we see a glimpse of what Jesus has called all of us to. We see the sort of faith that isn’t a means to an end. We see the sort of faith that joins the global Body of Christ, across time and space, in the confession of a different sort of reign. We see a gospel that isn’t the American Dream with heaven at the end.

When we pray for those in prison for their faith, we remember that the gospel came to us in letters written from jail. When we plead for those whose churches are burned in Egypt, we remember that our hope isn’t in building religious empires but in a New Jerusalem we’ve never seen. When we weep for those crucified in Syria, we remember that our Lord isn’t a guru or a life coach, but a crucified Christ. That can remind us of the gospel we signed up for in the first place, and free us from our fat, affluent, almost-gospels that can never save.

Maybe at next year’s denominational meeting, we’ll go to another ball game. And, I pray, it’s possible that not only Naghmeh but also her husband can join us — as a free man. We’ll celebrate, and we’ll pray for those still in chains. But then I think we’ll just ask him to preach.

We American evangelicals need our persecuted brother more than he needs us.”

-Russell D. Moore, http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2014/06/18/could-the-persecuted-church-rescue-american-christianity/32586