He is a double-minded man, unstable in all of his ways. – James 1:8
Russell Moore, the communitarian leader of the Southern Baptist Convention’s ERLC, recently made a video denouncing socialism by name. The problem is, Moore is a Democratic operative who has been advocating for Socialism for years. Don’t be fooled by this common tactic of the theological left.
Let me explain how this works. Theological subversives, like Russell Moore, will (1) spend years advocating for an ideology, but not necessarily by name. When criticized for holding to the aforementioned ideology, they (2) will put out a social media post, blog post, or video post denouncing the technical name of their ideology, while yet holding to its textbook definition. They will, therefore, be able to (3) reference back to their public denunciation of the term, while yet holding to the idea. From now on, when someone accuses the former Democratic staffer of being a Socialist, they’ll be called a conspiracy wonk (at best) or (at worst) accused of violating the 9th Commandment.
What Moore is doing, and what many theological leftists do, is a spin-off of the Word -Concept Fallacy. The Word-Concept Fallacy is a derivative of, but not identical to, the Etymological Fallacy (which embraces or rejects an idea based off of a definition that has changed over time). In the Word-Concept spin-off, the subversive ideologue will denigrate a term, while defending the definition. Or, in reverse, they will promote a term, while denigrating its definition.
In Marxism, this is called subversion. It is the means by which institutions are infiltrated and taken off guard by those who are believed to hold to conventional ideologies, but who behind-the-scenes are secretly and quietly subverting the assumed or established positions.
We have seen Danny Akin, for example, tweet much material over the last several months that directly refute the leftist ideology being promoted by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he is president. Many undiscerning people, who see his 280 character tweets, will simply not do the work of researching SEBTS’ Kingdom Diversity Department to consider that the two do not align. Likewise, we’ve seen Albert Mohler recently do a podcast against Critical Race Theory, even though that’s exactly what is promoted by a good deal of the material coming out of Southern Seminary and by those who (like Russell Moore) are promoted by Albert Mohler.
Moore’s video, in which he said that socialism has a “faulty view of human nature,” accomplished its purpose. The video of his poorly-watched YouTube channel made The Christian Post and other publications, which painted his position as “clarified.”
However, being double-minded is not “clarification.” It is obfuscation.
Moore is a Communitarian, which he acknowledges. In fact, even his Wikipedia page notes the fact. This isn’t a conspiracy; this is by Moore’s own repeated confessions. While different than Communism, Communitarianism is the ideological underpinning of both Socialism and Communism. Chiefly, it’s the notion that individual rights (including the right to property) must be subordinate to that of the society.
As Cody Libolt pointed in his post, Russell Moore’s Lobotomized Critique of Socialism Does More Harm Than Good, Moore did not define Socialism or really talk about what it is in the video. This should be a red flag to those who will hail Moore as being against things defined as Socialism just because he rejects the term.
Russell Moore calls himself a convinced capitalist, but something is missing. Does a convinced capitalist buy into the economic myth that the recent widening of income inequality in the US is due to free market capitalism? Does a convinced capitalist buy into the moral myth that sometimes inequality — as such — can be unjust?
Moore thinks the Christian scripture does not mandate a particular economic system. But what he omits is that the scripture does rule out 100% socialistic systems. And it does rule out semi-socialistic systems such as what the US has become (see here and here).
Dr. Moore rightly acknowledges that private property and individual rights are biblical. While we can appreciate Moore’s correct reading of scripture, his reading is general enough to be useless. Thus he avoids the ire of the political moderates and leftists he is often seen legitimizing and praising. Do Moore or his fans understand the meaning of private property and individual rights? Likely not.
Libolt is correct. Moore regularly argues for what amounts to wealth redistribution via taxation, but still opines negatively of what he calls Socialism. But, a rose by any other name still smells as sweet, and Socialism by any other name is still theft.
Moore goes on in his video to express the need for “reforms” to Capitalism. Which, as any good student of Capitalism knows, is code for “government interference.” And this, any good Capitalist knows, is not really Capitalism.
Read Libolt’s article for a more in-depth critique of Moore’s deflections on Socialism, but in the meantime, please learn an important lesson about subversive ideology. These men are double-minded. Machen warned us about this tendency by theological liberals a generation ago, and we should have listened.
“The plain fact is that liberalism, whether it be true or false, is no mere ‘heresy’ – no mere divergence at isolated points from Christian teaching. On the contrary, it proceeds from a totally different root, and it constitutes, in essentials, a unitary system of its own…Christianity is being attacked from within by a movement which is anti-Christian to the core.” J. Gresham Machen
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