Should Russell Moore be fired?

I had hoped that the rancor that had characterized the recent presidential campaign, and had caused political division among some Christian leaders was now, well, history. It seems I was overly optimistic.

Russell Moore is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. During Donald Trump’s campaign he was highly critical of Trump’s unrepentant admissions of immorality and apparent lack of any sign of Christian character while claiming to be one.

This past September in a New York Times op-ed, Moore suggests Trump’s claim of being a Christian is out of political expediency, that he has a mixed track record on the issues concerning evangelicals, and has a host of self-professed moral failings, saying, “To back Mr. Trump, these [evangelical] voters must repudiate everything they believe.”

Since Trump garnered 81% of the white evangelical vote Moore’s opponents say he is out of step with the denomination’s rank and file, and his past criticisms may become a roadblock to any future cooperation with the new administration.

To his credit Moore clarified his remarks by saying, “There’s a massive difference between someone who enthusiastically excused immorality and someone who felt conflicted, weighted the options based on biblical convictions, and voted their conscience.”

Moore is right. While several prominent Christian leaders bent over backwards to excuse Trump’s inconsistent claims to Christianity, Russell Moore held Trump accountable. Russell Moore did what any Christian, especially a leader of an ethics commission, should have done.

It seems to me there are leaders within the SBC that need to decide whether or not they want the denomination to devolve into a political party, or continue its vision of churches cooperating to fulfill the Great Commission of Christ. Jesus told us to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,” not “Go and make political activists of all the nations.”

These same leaders will stand around befuddled as to how a nation that once commanded a Christian consensus has become a people the majority of which are unchurched with a disdain for organized religion. Could it be they have become overly involved in things the church was not called to do?

Like Russell Moore I believe a Christian citizen has a responsibility to weigh the political issues in the light of our biblical convictions, and then to vote our conscience, but politics for the Christian were never meant to supplant our primary calling to spread the Gospel.

We need to be reminded of Esau who sold his spiritual birthright to his brother Jacob for a single meal of stew and the Scriptures tell us, “Thus Esau despised his birthright,” Genesis 25:34.

Christians have been blessed with the only message that promises help for the present and hope for the future, we should not barter away our spiritual birthright to share the Gospel for a single meal of political stew.

Russell Moore’s opponents should leave him alone; we have bigger fish to catch.

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2 thoughts on “Should Russell Moore be fired?

  1. Gary B. King:
    I would like to join with you in your conclusion that Russell Moore be left alone. If the religious community does not support individuals such as Mr. Moore, I am afraid that we will end up as Dallas Willard writes in his book, The Divine Conspiracy. (Thinking our loud, we might be already there.)

    Here is an excerpt:

    Derek Bok was president of Harvard University for many years, and in his “President’s Report” for 1986– 1987 he referred to some well-known moral failures in financial circles and the political life of the nation. He wondered out loud what universities might do to strengthen moral character in their graduates. “Religious institutions,” he continued, “no longer seem as able as they once were to impart basic values to the young. In these circumstances, universities, including Harvard, need to think hard about what they can do in the face of what many perceive as a widespread decline in ethical standards.” 1

    Willard, Dallas (2009-02-06). The Divine Conspiracy (p. 2). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

    Derek Bok, The President’s Report 1986– 87 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987), pp. 2– 3. Compare with the last chapter of his The Cost of Talent (New York: Free Press, 1994).

  2. Thank you Paul for your encouraging words. I was introduced to Dallas Willard during my studies as Rockbridge and I enjoyed reading his books. He is one of the more insightful theologians I have read.

    Moral character is lacking in American culture today. I told another pastor who responded to this article in another forum that it remains to be seen whether or not Trump may adopt and implement polices that make America great again, but America will not become great again following his moral compass.

    I think many have been too quick to jump on Trump’s bandwagon. I will back him as our President with a cautious wait-and-see perspective. Be blessed Paul!

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