Friday Five Interview: Russell Moore
Are conservative evangelicals rethinking their political engagement? We asked the newly elected president of the Southern Baptist's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

For today's entry in the Friday Five interview series, we catch up with Russell Moore, the recently-elected president of the Southern Baptist's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, replacing the recently retired Richard Land. Prior to accepting this position, he was the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Moore is a popular author and speaker. His latest book is Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ. He is a widely sought-after commentator and public speaker, frequently quoted in leading religious and secular publications.

Today we chat with Moore about the changing face of evangelical activism, his relationship with President Obama, and what he means by "convictional kindness."


You were recently elected as President of the Southern Baptists' Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. How do you feel your life experience has prepared you for this moment?

From the very beginning of my Christian life, I have felt a tension between two callings: to the pulpit and to the public square. I sensed a call to ministry early in my teens, but veered away from it for some time, pursuing a life in the political arena. My wife and I dated on the campaign trail, as I was working for U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor. She was with me from county fair to fundraiser to seafood festival in our congressional district in south Mississippi, drumming up support for Gene.

While gearing up for a political life, I sensed a renewed call to the ministry, and here we are. It always seemed to me that those years of political preparation weren't wasted time, but that God was afoot, getting me ready for something.

In my years in academia, I have spent most of my attention on the subject of the kingdom of God in Christ, which is the consuming passion of my life. This issue is central to the questions I'll be addressing as president of the ERLC.

Your election comes at a time when Southern Baptists (and evangelicals in general) seem to be reexamining their public engagement. Does your election signal new messaging?

I hope my election signals a commitment to the priority of the gospel in our public engagement. I want to address the outside world with what I call "convictional kindness." This means a refusal to capitulate to the patterns of this age, which is what I think we've done, for instance, with the divorce culture. Evangelical Christians are as counter-cultural as we want to be, and it is clear that we are slow-train sexual revolutionaries, embracing the assumptions of the outside culture a few years behind everybody else. This has had disastrous consequences.

May 10, 2013

Displaying 1–4 of 4 comments

John Morgan

December 14, 2013  5:51am

"Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Cor 6:10. Wonder what Paul would think about the misguided concept of "convictional kindness."

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May 13, 2013  12:52pm

Right on, Zed. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." (2 Cor. 6:14-17)

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Jeff S

May 13, 2013  12:12pm

"This means a refusal to capitulate to the patterns of this age, which is what I think we've done, for instance, with the divorce culture" And what do you think is causing the so-called "divorce culture" and how do you propose to stop it? Do think it's just an issue of people not being committed to biblical truth? Because if you do, then you need to think again. More "commitment" is not going to solve anything. Commitment isn't the issue- it's the churches who allow a marriage license to be an "anything goes" permission to abuse a spouse that is at least partly to blame. People think they can get away with anything without consequence (because their spouse has been told he or she cannot divorce), and when he or she finally DOES divorce because he or she can't take the abuse, then he or she is shamed as not being committed enough. Please stop talking about "divorce" like those who do are bunch of people who aren't committed to Jesus or the Bible. You know what kinds of places don't have divorce? Those that understand there are consequences for those who engage in the types of behaviors that destroy marriages.

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Zed Power

May 12, 2013  2:29pm

Perhaps the Christian experiment in America has failed. And the reason it failed is that an increasing number of those who call themselves Christians are accepting of concepts like "gay Christian." As though sexuality and sexual activity were assumed and you come if afterward and stick on some stripped down or altered version of Christianity on top of that. Remember how it was supposed to be? That a person would be a Christian first and only after firmly establishing that would one ask how could a Christian in good faith do "X" whatever "X" is. In the US everybody wants to be a black Christian or a cowboy Christian or whatever. This backwards style of Christianity guarantees that eventually there will be no Biblical Christians. There will be only do your own thing, whatever pseudo Christians in name only. A la carte, cafeteria Christianity is lukewarm at best.

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