Former top church official warns Christianity is in ‘crisis’ if people think quotes from Jesus are ‘liberal talking points’
Russell Moore, formerly of the Southern Baptist Convention’s ERLC, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and now editor-in-chief of Christianity Today believes Christianity is in crisis.
I don’t disagree with Mr. Moore that these are difficult days for the Church. It’s the “why” that we might differ on.
He said, “multiple pastors” have told him the “same story” about being approached and questioned after their preachings on the Sermon on the Mount, one of the more popular teachings from the Gospel of Matthew that, among other lessons, teaches people to “turn the other cheek.”
Moore told NPR that pastors are being asked, “Where did you get those liberal talking points?”
“And what was alarming to me is that in most of these scenarios, when the pastor would say, ‘I’m literally quoting Jesus Christ,’ the response would not be, ‘I apologize,'” Moore told NPR. “The response would be, ‘Yes, but that doesn’t work anymore. That’s weak.’ And when we get to the point where the teachings of Jesus himself are seen as subversive to us, then we’re in a crisis.”
If that is what was said, then yes–it is troubling. It is troubling on many levels, the least of which is political.
From a pastoral perspective, are these people so unfamiliar with the Words of Jesus that the Sermon on the Mount felt like new information? Could they not look down and see it in writing and have foundational trust in the veracity of God’s Word? Are they so suspicious of their pastor that his messages are assumed to be political?
If multiple people in separate encounters conveyed essentially the same message, that the Words and ways of Jesus are ineffectual and weak, then we have far greater problems.
And while one may be able to retrace the steps of this crisis back and find nationalism among the factors, it is conveniently one-sided to only see nationalism.
And that is why this is worth a post. Russell may be right on tribalism and nationalism and the effects of politics on evangelicalism, but I have to wonder is he willfully choosing to overlook the effects of liberalism, progressivism, and Marxism on evangelicalism, or does he truly not see it? And I ask that as someone who was a long-time fan of Moore and the ERLC, as someone who publicly rebuked pastors endorsing Trump in the primary and who did not vote for Trump in 2016.
I get it. I see it. Believe me.
But I also see the “peril in the pews” as something that is coming from all sides, within and without. I remember hearing from the conventions that Moore participated in, actual “liberal talking points,” both from pastors and the ERLC. I remember seeing pastors we knew and admired leading confessionals and re-education “Bible studies” to address inherent whiteness, I have seen churches hanging every social justice banner from their rafters and windows until the banner of Christ is hardly discernable.
Russell Moore sat with a fellow “accidental exile” last week and I very much remember them and their family literally weeping over both the shame of Trump’s presidency and the profound sense of pride in having elected Joe Biden, though his platform was godless, his leadership gutless and his character corrupt. Are you kidding me, Russ? You don’t see a lack of discernment in Christian leadership as a crisis as well?
To think that the Words of Jesus say anything that allows for racism is wrong and should be rebuked. But to think that the Words of Jesus have nothing to say about transgender ideology, critical theory, or any one of the current “liberal talking points?” Also, wrong. Also deserving of rebuke.
White nationalism is the primary ill of evangelical churches–according to progressives. The primary ill to the rest of us is a Gospel that has been watered down into the most ecumenical, least offensive form; a Savior that has been stripped of discernment and holiness and replaced with an ancient universalist social justice warrior; and salvation that has become unnecessary in a world that has no sin and eternity that has no Hell.