The SBC’s “Noah Webster”: Russell Moore
** Editors Note – This article by Bud Ahlheim was originally posted at john316.rocks, and is being reposted here with permission.
It’s a two-pronged approach that’s destroying the Southern Baptist Convention, and the definition of words has nothing to do with it. Rather, it’s the disregard of words … actually, disregard of THE WORD.
On one front, Ronnie Floyd, current SBC president, is running warp-speed to coalesce the convention with any and all who proclaim the adjective “Christian” as a self-descriptive term. Floyd’s ambition is pushing faux unity for the noble purpose of an awakening in America. (A reformation in the SBC ought truly be our prayer. But that’s not how Floyd views it.)
So the SBC is hand holding with 21st-century apostles who, fully “gifted” with such things as healing, tongues, raising the dead, and revelatory prophecy, are only too willing to invite Floyd to the dais. His eager participation adds legitimacy to their heresy while diminishing historic, traditional SBC stands against such false teachings.
On the other front, Russell Moore leads a similar charge in the socio-political arena, pushing mainly social justice issues (well, except for that asinine “animal rights” thing!) while eagerly commingling such efforts with a frequently obliging Roman Catholic endorsement. (No, Russell, we do not need Rome to bolster our stand against abortion, or gay marriage, or any other issue. We stand with God alone, on His Word. We need no demographics from heresy to join with us.)
Today Moore headlined an editorial post in the Washington Post (Link: HERE) …
“Why This Election Makes Me Hate The Word ‘Evangelical”.
Moore laments the horror of misusing the word “evangelical” by “evangelical” leaders who dare apply the label “Christian” to a current candidate for President. While much of Moore’s argument is sound, the problem is that… well… Moore is doing the same thing, only different. It’s one thing to wrongly laud a secularist; it’s quite another, methinks, to laud a professing member of an apostate church.
(For those of you familiar with Moore’s frequent Catholic feigning, the fact that he even considered himself evangelical may itself be a surprise.)
In August 2015, the North American Mission Board hosted a Nashville event called SEND North America, an event that over 13,000 pastors and leaders attended. The Baptist Press featured a few articles about this missional living conference. Everyday Missionaries Urged To Proclaim Jesus highlights the purposeful evangelistic intent of the gathering. Evangelism is what used to be the priority for Southern Baptists (and it was refreshing to see such a well-attended conference with this Great Commission focus).
Russell Moore took the time to inject politics into this evangelism-focused event. He took to the platform to individually interview two Presidential candidates. Of course, most folks will know that he did not choose to interview the two actual Southern Baptist candidates in the race, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee. Instead, Moore chose the two Roman Catholic Republicans in the race, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. Hmmm.
That Moore has been visibly boisterous against Donald Trump is well-attested. Okay. How any Southern Baptist leader would have the gall to tell any other Southern Baptist whom to or not to vote for is one matter (one which uncomfortably places the SBC in the non-profit-status-risking sights of the IRS), but for Moore to tacitly endorse Marco Rubio (See THIS recent article, and THIS one, and, oh, there’s THIS one), a ROMAN CATHOLIC, for the Presidency over and against the remaining Southern Baptist in the race, is, to use Floyd’s term justifying his own SBC-non-typical hand-holding efforts, “even beyond”.
(When it comes to Moore, frankly it’s “even beyond” to figure out exactly how a former Democrat congressional staffer got the nod for leadership of the ERLC in a convention where 64% of members identify as Republican, or Republican-leaning, according to a 2014 Pew Research poll)
Well, with Floyd embracing the heresies of charismania and Moore embracing (endorsing) the heresy of Rome, it seems evident the leadership of the SBC has determined what Scripture says isn’t really what Scripture means. “Have nothing to do with them” is, apparently, an unpleasant exegetical reality for these men but one which may be altogether ignored because … “awaken America” and … “election”. (Sorry – “circumstantial hermeneutics” is not a valid interpretive technique, fellas.) Ecumenism rules the SBC … to its own demise … thanks to the kum-ba-ya, cultural relativism embraced by these two, umm, leaders.
In his “I’m not an evangelical” missive today, Moore states:
“I watched one evangelical leader pronounce a candidate a Christian, though he explicitly states that he has never repented of sin, because he displays the fruit of the Spirit in job creation. That’s not a political problem; it’s a gospel problem.”
At first, I thought I was reading a “confess and repent” statement about Moore’s own behavior. Is he actually apologizing for implying that the Catholic in the Presidential race is a bonafide, Southern Baptist sort of Christian? Umm, no, that’s not what he was doing.
Speaking about Trump and those horrible “evangelical leaders” who declare him “Christian”, Moore indeed scores a point in argumentative battle, only to lose the war. Let’s point that same “Gospel test” at Moore’s preference, Rubio. While his great Iowa primary testimony is lauded by Baptist preachers across the country, the claim he made in a Christianity Today interview is avoided, because it’s so, so much more worrisome …
“I’m a Roman Catholic. I’m theologically in line with the Roman Catholic Church. I believe in the authority of the church…”
Hmm. Mr. Rubio, that statement, well, that’s a problem for a New Testament Southern Baptist protestant evangelical type. But it’s not a problem to Russell Moore, who has joined arm in arm with Rubio like the two were wading the waters of a baptistry together. Moore fully embraces Rubio as a Christian. Hmmm.
When we examine someone who makes a “Christian” profession, be it Trump, Rubio, or even Moore himself, we must also be diligent to determine what that word means to them. Just because one uses the descriptor “Christian” doesn’t mean they’re an actual, New Testament Christian. There are lots of folks who claim “Christian” as a label for any number of social, cultural, or survey reasons. Some even claim it when running for the Presidency!
When Trump claims to be a Christian, I realize he has no clue what it means. Most true Christians discern the same thing. When Rubio declares himself a Christian, I recognize that it’s a self-applied label adopted by an apostate church that in no way means what it means to me. Those who embrace Catholicism, in its fullness, cannot, by definition, be Christian. (OH, what he said there! Likewise, Ronnie, there are lots and lots of “Jesus-es” out there, claimed by many; but if it ain’t the RIGHT Jesus, it’s false.)
Moore seems to have forgotten the Reformation, and the historic reason for the “protest” in protestant. It’s why we do not accept papists as “Christian”. Just because Rubio, or the Pope, or the current POTUS, even, can spout the proper evangelical lingo, fervently using Christian-ese words that “sound” legitimate, our judgment of their claim must be tempered by Scripture itself. Otherwise, their claim is insufficient, faulty, and to be avoided (unless you’re sharing the Gospel with them, which is most certainly what they need.)
Rubio claims to be “theologically in line with the Roman Catholic Church”. He claims to believe in the authority of the church. Are these things remotely acceptable to a Southern Baptist theology? Are there not glaring compatibility issues? Has Moore forgotten what the “protest” was all about?
Here’s a truth. When someone is regenerated by God, we believe, we KNOW, the Holy Spirit begins a work in that person that changes them, changes their desires, convicts them of ongoing sin, empowers them against sin, and gives them His fruit as evidences, assurances of their salvation. Good stuff.
But another thing the Holy Spirit has done, and will continue to do, is to not let the regenerate soul remain mired in false teaching or heresy. He will not save you and let you remain a Jehovah’s Witness, or a Mormon, or an animist, or a Buddhist, or or or … Neither will He allow you to remain a Roman Catholic who fully endorses Roman Catholic theology. You simply cannot be Christian AND Roman Catholic. The terms are antithetical.
Catholicism is NOT orthodox Christianity. It is false; it is “another” gospel; it is heresy.
If Rubio is regenerate on the basis of grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (“Sola fide” is a foundational truth of orthodox Christianity that the Catholic Church anathemtized in the Council of Trent, and has not subsequently recanted) , then he would not remain in league with the heresy of Rome. Perhaps, just perhaps, Rubio is merely using the right language, delivered with convincing passion, to woo evangelicals? Could that be a possibility? Methinks it’s more likely than, for the first time in history, he’s the first authentic regenerate the Holy Spirit has chosen to leave mired in the heresy of Rome.
Another very good quote from Moore’s article is this:
“Evangelical means a commitment to the truth of God’s revelation in the Bible and a conviction that the blood of Christ is offered to any repentant, believing sinner as a full atonement for sin.”
Okay, that’s acceptable. But, where in the Word are we told to revere a pope as infallible? Where are we encouraged to pray to dead saints? Where in the Word are we allowed to disregard the second commandment? Where in the Word are we told that Scripture is only equal to what the church teaches? Where in the Word are we told to massacre Christ over and over again in a vulgar Eucharist Mass where we actually believe the literal blood and body of our Savior is being sacrificed?
Where in the Word are we told to disregard such matters as these? Where does it say that a profession of faith alone is sufficient to verify possession of faith?
In fact, doesn’t the Word tell us to beware of false teachers and false proclaimers? Those warnings are replete in Scripture. And the uppermost, number one answer on any NAME THE HERESY BIBLE quiz? Roman Catholicism.
So, while Moore judges those other “evangelical” leaders for their failure to honor the supposed tenets of “evangelicalism”, he shines as the supreme example of modern Pharisee-ism. Intentionally showing preference to, and subtle endorsement of, a man who may sound good, but intentionally aligns with heresy is not an “evangelical stance”. Neither is it a “Gospel Christian” stance, Moore’s new term of self-identification.
If Moore were truly certain of our God’s sovereignty in all things, a fundamental SBC doctrine (in case y’all forgot), what motivation should there be for him to disregard the “avoid them“, “have nothing to do with them” commands of Scripture? Why, too, would Floyd embrace the very types we’re explicitly told to avoid?
I so badly, at this point, want to quote the infamous church lady, and say, “Could it be …. SATAN?”, but the fact of the matter is not so frivolous, not so light. The SBC has leadership actively engaging in alignment with “known and vital error”, as Spurgeon called it. We’re careening in a downgrade that would’ve made Spurgeon’s similar woes seem trite. The SBC, its members, its pastors, and its leaders ought to wake up, because the enemy isn’t sleeping.
When Moore coddles a Roman Catholic as he does Rubio, he gives implicit endorsement that he is “Christian”. This is decidedly no different that someone declaring Trump a “Christian”. Neither statement is true. But for Moore to hammer those “evangelical leaders” on the one hand for absolving an evident secularist with the “Christian” adjective, he himself does the same thing with equal vigor for someone who aligns with a much greater threat, the apostate church of Rome.
Indeed, in his woeful lament against the faulty use of “evangelical”, Moore needs to go no further than his own pharisaical, mirrored image.
Moore has found the evangelical enemy, and it is HE. (And Baptists ought beware.)
[Guest Post by Bud Ahlheim]