When Russell Moore is on, he’s on. His article in the most recent issue of Touchstone magazine sounds a prophetic note that has a wallop for both liberals and conservatives. Here’s an excerpt, but you really should read the whole thing.
‘One does not have to be a political radical to bypass Jesus at church. White, upwardly mobile, pro-America preachers preach liberation theology all the time, with all the fervor of Jeremiah Wright, if not the anger.
‘Just take a look at the best-selling authors in Christian bookstores. Listen for a minute or two to the parade of preachers on Christian television and radio. What are they promising? Your best life now. What are they preaching about? How to be authentic. How to make good career choices. How Hillary Clinton fits into Bible prophecy.
‘How many times have we heard conservative preachers use the Bible in exactly the same way that Jeremiah Wright uses it? Wright uses the Scripture as a background to get to what he thinks is the real issue, psychological or economic or political liberation from American oppression. Others use the Scripture as a background to get to what they think is the real issue, psychological or economic or political liberation through the American Dream.
‘Either way, Jesus is a way to get to what the preacher deems really important, be it national health care or “your best life now.” Either way, the end result is hell for the hearer who accepts this gospel, regardless of whether God damns or blesses America. . .
‘In both cases, the preachers fit Jesus into a preexisting storyline. They did not call upon their hearers to find themselves in the storyline of the crucified, buried, and resurrected Jesus. For them, Jesus is a mascot, just for different agendas, none of which will last a minute past the Judgment Seat.’
If you are not a subscriber to Touchstone, you should be. There is more like this one in every issue.
Nice. Welcome to our school! Hope to meet you soon.
Congrats on your new appointment. Hope to catch see you around Louisville. (Maybe even the skatepark?)
Moore, congrats for continually perpetuating dissension between less theologically sound believers. Taking pot shots against best selling authors without exhaustive definitions in an arena where there is no room for a defense to be made is somewhat of a strawman argument. Kind of goes against the entire essence of how the Kingdom of Christ is to be seen in us don’t you think?
It is a great article and so true. Congrats also on your move to Boyce. I have a child at Southern and have great respect for the whole institution.
Truth Unites.. and Divides
I subscribe to Touchstone. Great magazine.
Minor quibble with Dr. Moore’s article… if he’s going to name Jeremiah Wright, he should also name who he’s referring to on the conservative Right. Of course, I speculate that such ambiguity was done deliberately, but I prefer that he specify exactly who he was referring to.
I think he was referring to Joel Osteen, but I’m not sure that Joel Osteen would recognize himself in Dr. Moore’s descriptions. Plus I don’t know if Joel Osteen would necessarily self-identify with the conservative Right.
TUAD: Dr. Moore made specific mention of “your best life now,” a hard-to-miss reference to Osteen. But I suspect you could fit any of the prosperity peddlers into the article, and probably not a few of the loud right-wingers like Hagee.
While I appreciate the thrust of Dr. Moore’s article, I’m a little confused about his conflation of the religious right and the health-and-wealth crowd – they’re often not the same thing. Seems like a bit of a bait-and-switch – claiming throughout the article to be attacking “conservative” preachers, and yet his criticisms are not really representative of anything most conservatives believe theologically (except for the “pro-America” bit).
Good insights Brittany. Moore acts like he’s confronting and exposing both sides, but he attacks the health-wealth side instead of the “conservative right” side. This is because he is a part of it, as well as his beloved president and most of his colleagues. To criticize the official “religious right” side would be suicide.
We need to be careful to distinguish between theologically conservative and politically conservative. While they may frequently go hand-in-hand it is not necessary that they do so.
Truth Unites.. and Divides
#8 Brittany, I think his deliberate ambiguity in not naming names on the theologically/politically conservative right may have (unwittingly?) assisted him in making the conflation between the health/wealth prosperity preachers and theological/political conservatives.
That is unfortunate.
I know most of the men that you speak of #9(Moore, Mohler, and colleagues) and they aren’t all as religious right as you would think. There is a big difference in being ‘religious right’ and being theologically conservative. Those men side with grace, not conservatism.
I don’t equate theologically conservatives with the religious right. I know many theologically conservatives that in fact are somewhat liberal politically. While many of the profs at Southern may not be as “religious right” as a Jerry Falwell or John Hagee, they are nonetheless politically conservatives that base their vote on one issue and vote for one party. This isn’t just the profs, it’s Southern Baptists in general (for which Denny is a poster child).
“We need to be careful to distinguish between theologically conservative and politically conservative. While they may frequently go hand-in-hand it is not necessary that they do so.
Mohler does war with the culture quite a bit in public venues so it is easy to see how people would be confused.
I know the differences between theological and political conservatism. However, health-and-wealth theology, at its core, really has little to do with either. I’m not sure that the article really went after both “liberals” and “conservatives.”
“I know most of the men that you speak of #9(Moore, Mohler, and colleagues) and they arenâ€™t all as religious right as you would think. There is a big difference in being â€˜religious rightâ€™ and being theologically conservative. Those men side with grace, not conservatism. ”
Thanks for the laugh. :o)