ERLC / Sam James — P&P
The ERLC, headed by Communitarian Russell Moore, is one of the most despised entities of the Southern Baptist Convention because of it’s stance on social issues. It’s known to take unbiblical positions such as his push for illegal immigration, racial justice (white privilege), and “creation care” environmentalism, which, to Moore and the ERLC, take precedence over the proclamation of the Gospel. While there are many who disagree with Moore and his Southern Baptist intelligentsia, only a handful have the courage to speak out against him with a loud and clear voice. One of those who loud and clear voices has been the Pulpit & Pen website, a blog that is known for not mincing words when it comes to defending the truth. P&P has been highly critical of the ERLC and their socialist agenda, and has ruffled quite a few feathers among the elites by doing so.
Enter Samuel James. James, who’s blog has been coined “ERLC-Watch-Watch” by Fred Clark, has attacked P&P in the most nonsensical ways possible, on nearly every post that criticized the ERLC. James, being a complete suck-up to the ERLC, while staunchly and blindly supporting everything Russell Moore stood for, was in return rewarded with a position within the ERLC. Notice what he says about Russell Moore and his co-horts:
… the people running the show at the ERLC are top-shelf. This is not only true of Dr. Moore but of his staff.
Well now, he obviously includes himself as being on this “top shelf.” In his article, Why I’m Joining the ERLC, James explains that he has been hired by Moore as a “Communications Specialist,” to “help the ERLC in its mission to produce Gospel-faithful, culture-relevant and church-empowering content.” Let me translate that for you. He’s been hired by Russell Moore, because he’s licked enough boot to prove himself worthy, to unabashedly promote Moore’s agenda without question. And nothing’s changed.
In a recent piece by James, titled What Not to Do When a Fellow Christian Embarrasses the Rest of Us, he continues his ebullient service to the ERLC without shame by basically telling all of us little white-trash discernment bloggers to shut up, and listen to the overlords or else. He writes:
People who take the name of Christ and identify with His church are going to say or do something so inexplicable, so ridiculous, and so embarrassing that the rest of us will either shake our heads in disbelief or groan in frustration. Sometimes it’s something silly. Sometimes it’s more serious, and even blasphemous.
So, by fabricating this image right off the bat that some of these people who say these ridiculous, and embarrassing things simply may not be Christians, who represent the Church, leaves the rest of his piece open to interpretation. It already brings into question that the “watchdog bloggers” he’s refers to probably aren’t as intelligent enough as he is to discern whether or not something should be written about. As he goes on to say this:
Sometimes it won’t even be necessary to respond, but other times, people around us need to know that this particular person does not speak or act on behalf of the church. Discernment and common sense will usually illuminate when that kind of response is necessary. When it is, I’d like to offer a simple list of some “Do Nots.”
So James is here to offer up that “discernment and common sense” that we so desperately need. He so graciously and mercilessly offers up a list of “Do Nots” for when, what he now refers to as a fellow Christian, embarrasses the Church. Among his “Do Nots” are to not use the person’s error as leverage, don’t apologize for it, don’t legitimize suspicion towards the church, and of course, make sure you don’t ever start a watchdog blog. You know, a blog like James‘ at Patheos.
What James wants to do is silence all dissenters of the ERLC. This is the typical behavior of scurrilous authority figures. It happens in politics, in the workplace, and it’s happening in the SBC. The powers that be in the SBC have made it clear that anyone who questions their authority, or any of their decisions, are either ignored, marginalized, and if you still don’t submit to their will, they will relentlessly attack you. Such as the case with James, and his relentless attacks on the Pulpit & Pen. He views himself as superior to the rest of the proletariat in the Church. Therefor, for James, on the other hand, it’s okay if he has an obscure blog that nobody reads that criticizes watchdogs like P&P who are critical of his organization, because, again, he was gnawed his way all the way up, and is eating directly out of Russell Moore’s hand, and you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you. This is not surprising though, since polishing apples at the ERLC has apparently been his dream for quite some time. In his article about joining the ERLC, he says this:
Excitement is really too small a word. This move represents a thousand different blessings coming through many people. I won’t get very personal, except to say that this opportunity could not be timelier or more desired. It is a tremendous moment.
So he has spent his days groveling to the ERLC through his blog, and then comes out to say that nobody else should be doing what he does, because he’s better than the rest of us, and he’s discerning enough to know when something should be criticized. Forget about morality in the Church, in one paragraph James states:
Don’t ever, ever, ever, EVER even passively, suggestively, or indirectly legitimize or rationalize bitterness and suspicion towards the church. If someone says to you, “This is why I don’t go to church,” they might think they’re telling the truth, but they’re not. They don’t love the church because they don’t love Jesus. Saying, “Yes, you have a point, church can be so frustrating” feels like empathy, but it’s not. It’s self-preserveration at the cost of slandering Christ’s body.
Many responses via Twitter are telling to how James, and apparently the organization he represents, thinks about morality. James must not understand the difference between the true Church, and the man-made organizations that claim to represent the Church. It’s as though he uses his organization, or the SBC, interchangeably with “Church.” He claims he wants to preserve the image of the Church, and that we should not be speaking out against it, but it isn’t the true Church that us so-called watchdogs are criticizing, it’s the man-made organizations, (i.e. the ERLC), and specifically the elitist leadership among them. So what James really means here is that he wants to preserve the image of his organization. He couldn’t care any less about the image of the Church. Scripture is absolutely clear that the image of the church cannot be tarnished. The gates of Hell shall NOT prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). So then what is he so worried about? Lo and behold, if you speak out against the status quo of the ERLC/SBC industrial complex, you might give the rest of the world the appearance that we aren’t unified. To James, it doesn’t matter if we’re unified around the wrong things, so long as we’re attracting cash cows, who will pay tithes and bring in more money. We’d hate to be unified around the truth of the Gospel alone, as the Church has been commissioned to proclaim to the world. No, we have to push a socialist agenda through the ERLC, and anyone who isn’t on board with it just needs to keep quiet, don’t speak out against it, and definitely do not start a watchdog blog. The crux of the matter is that by us speaking out against Russell Moore, etc., we are making them look bad–and that’s the issue.