If the Christian orthodox view that there is one true God is still held by Southern Baptists, the behavior exhibited by Russell Moore, President of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission seems to seriously undermine its claim.
By now you may know that Moore, via the ERLC, has aligned the SBC in support of Muslims in Bernards, New Jersey who are appealing the township’s denial of their permit to build a mosque. Moore, as a member of the Board of Directors of The Becket Fund For Religious Liberty, has joined hands with Muslims for the claimed nobility of ensuring religious freedom in America. For Moore, it seems, God reigns not from a throne in heaven, but one more closely resembling a marble edifice of justice in our nation’s capitol.
If you take a moment to review the cases handled by Moore’s buddies over at The Becket Fund, you’ll find an array of endeavors in support of what has become nothing less, for Moore, at least, the continued pursuit of the worship of the idol of religious liberty. From standing with the Little Sisters of The Poor in their Supreme Court case over mandated pro-choice elements of ObamaCare to defending an incarcerated Muslim’s rights to grow a beard, the firm engages in a wide array of religious freedom defenses with no regard for which god’s worship is being bolstered.
With regards to the amicus brief onto which Moore penned his support for the New Jersey mosque, he has also linked the SBC with organizations following, as Joshua wrote, “foreign gods.” Consider the offering plate passing before you with an appeal to give so that your cooperating SBC church can pay Moore to align with – as he has done – the following:
Interfaith Coalition on Mosques
International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Muslim Bar Association of New York
New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey
The ecumenical spirit of tolerance in America today demands such unholy alliances. Such are the things that Moore, with seemingly no regard for defending the worship of the one true God, supports by his board membership on a firm with no orthodox convictions, unless “worship whatever you want” may be considered “orthodox.”
Southern Baptists often seem thoroughly oblivious to what is being done in their name – via their tithes and offerings – by Moore. Perhaps, though, some vocal Southern Baptists with denominational visibility are taking notice. Moore’s behavior seems to be ruffling the denominational feathers of lauded unity within the ranks.
In his June 6, 2016, editorial, Gerald Harris, Editor of The Christian Index, the SBC newspaper for Georgia Baptists, penned an opinion entitled, “Do Muslims Really Qualify For Religious Freedom Benefits?” In citing Georgia’s 10th District U.S. Representative, and former Baptist pastor, Jody Hice, Harris posits the query as to whether Islam even qualifies as a religion itself.
Hice says, “Most people think Islam is a religion; it’s not. It’s a totalitarian way of life with a religious component. But it is much larger. It’s a geopolitical system that has governmental, financial, military, legal, and religious components.”
In his editorial, Harris highlights another quote by Hice in which the legal, geopolitical element is the decided intent of some Muslims. “This is not a tolerant, peaceful religion even though some Muslims are peaceful. Radical Muslims believe that Sharia is required by God and must be imposed worldwide.”
Harris summarizes his concerns that ought to be given due consideration by Moore:
“When we engage in a crusade to grant political Islam all the rights and privileges of other religions, we are not engaged on a level playing field. We are not comparing apples to apples. The more leniency we give in the present to Muslims who may desire Sharia Law, the less freedom we will be giving in the future to ourselves.”
If you’re like me, a pew-sitting, but Bible-reading, Southern Baptist in America, such an understanding of Islam’s goal for Sharia on a global basis is not only intolerable from a nationalistic basis; it’s a usurpation of our allegiance to the law of the one true God. How can a Southern Baptist agency possibly be in concert to help build a facility where the worship of a civilization-destroying “foreign god” will occur, and the tenets of their twisted system of Sharia will be taught?
Whether or not Islam qualifies for religious freedom in America may be, frankly, irrelevant. The question is, should Southern Baptists be actively supporting them as they seek to worship their false god?
For the ERLC, though, blinded by the idyllic hopes placed in a god enthroned in D.C. halls of justice, the necessity of unrestricted alliances in the increasingly hallowed name of religious liberty is clear. How can we possibly demand exclusivity? Even though our nation was born from a desire of devout worshippers of the Christian God seeking asylum from persecution, and even though our founding documents are clearly replete with Scripture-drawn truths, Moore, and the ERLC have succumbed – eagerly it seems – to the ecumenical spirit of the age. We must support others so they will support us. We’re in this together. In this case, though, the “god” of our legal ally is not the God of our true worship. In fact, we find ourselves in alliance with the very enemy of our God.
Lest you think this unbiblical spirit of ecumenism is merely a Southern Baptist foible, it is moving with increased vigor throughout the evangelical world, where doctrinal, orthodox convictions are being relegated to back seats, or even out the doors. In May 2016, an Anglican church in Melbourne offered the use of its parish to local Muslims after their mosque was burned to the ground.
Recall the appropriate furor that arose when the Washington National Cathedral hosted its first-ever Muslim prayer service in November 2014. As the Western Journalism website wrote, ‘for the first time ever, this prominent and powerful symbol of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage will host a Muslim prayer service.”
That such things are occurring in a world that is accelerating with ever greater velocity to a Noahic level of depravity is no surprise. That Southern Baptists would engage in an endeavor with the spirit of “imagine no religion” is quite another thing. Given such unholy alliances, the ERLC could hardly be chastised if they changed their logo to the more appropriate-to-it’s-behavior, and increasingly ubiquitous, “COEXIST” bumper sticker.
To be sure, the quest for, and defense of, religious liberty is not one that should go unattended. Southern Baptists, alongside other orthodox Christian denominations, ought vigorously speak up in the face of what is an enemy-inspired onslaught against the worship of our one true God. But in so doing, we must be cautious that our defense of a temporal freedom does not become merely the replacement of God with an idol of our own legislated making, that of religious liberty.
God has never been bound by the laws of governments. He institutes those governments. He ordains those authorities. Worship due Him has never been dictated by the legislated permission of our human institutions. Such was the very thing that prompted those first faithful Europeans to set foot on American shores, seeking escape from unbiblical government demands – especially those invoking ecclesiastical compliance.
There are no new shores for authentic believers to set sail towards. But no such shores are needed. What is needed is to heed the words of Joshua to the young, elect nation of Israel.
Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD, the God of Israel.” And the people said to Joshua, “The LORD our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” Joshua 24:22-24
Southern Baptists and orthodox Christians in America need to “put away the foreign gods” and alliances with those who worship them. If you love America more than you love God – even if you claim to be a Christian – you’ll find that exhortation unpalatable as you attempt, like Moore, to reconcile worship of the god of religious liberty alongside the God of Scripture. But, for those of us who believe His Word, know His power and sovereignty and understand what is happening in the world, there is but one choice … “His voice we will obey.”
The SBC is merely days away from its annual meeting. Pray that the imperative question from Joshua is repeated in St. Louis. “Choose this day whom you will serve.”
Somebody ask Russell Moore if he will continue on a path that makes undistinguished our God and our faith from the pluralistic presentation to the world he creates by unholy alliances. Must we hand-hold with evil for our God to prevail?
Will we choose to serve, trust, and obey the God who rules from His throne in heaven, or will we continue to join hands with foreign gods as we worship an idol enshrined in marble halls of Washington? What witness do we wish to give to a dying world? One that relies on tenuous legislated freedoms from a wicked government … or one that stands boldly, even if alone, on the power of the one true God for authentic liberty and eternal salvation?
Indeed, what is our Gospel witness worth these days in the SBC?
Contributed by Bud Ahlheim
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