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.
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