republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:
We reported last year about the alliance of the SBC’s International Mission Board (IMB) and its Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) in their joint support for a mosque building effort in New Jersey. Both agencies signed on to an amicus brief to support the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge New Jersey in its lawsuit seeking a redress for city zoning ordinances that denied building permits for its planned construction of a new mosque in the town.
Through these agencies, the Southern Baptist Convention officially supported the Muslims in their mosque-building effort. But some individual Southern Baptists standing in pulpits and sitting in pews did not necessarily so agree.
The ERLC’s president Russell Moore doubled down with sarcastic snarkiness to a question posed at the 2016 SBC Annual Meeting by the pastor of a cooperating SBC church about just how his agency could justify its support. Moore’s response exalted that particular idol of the ERLC – religious liberty – and indicated that among the many challenging issues facing the agency, of the many things that require concerted, focused thoughtfulness, the question to support the mosque building effort was not among them. It was a no-brainer.
“You know sometimes we have to deal with questions that are really complicated and we have to spend a lot of time thinking them through and not sure what the final result was going to be. Sometimes we have really hard decisions to make. This isn’t one of those things.” Russell MooreBy December 2016, the mosque won as a federal judge weighed in on the dispute, landing on the side of religious liberty for the mosque. That brought the issue to a close … for the Muslims. But for Southern Baptists, the eagerness of their Cooperative Program-funded agencies to support what many Southern Baptists recognize as the face of evil on the planet, the problem hasn’t gone away. Much like evil itself, the repercussions from SBC support of mosque-building is still very much alive.
Earlier this month, a trustee of the IMB resigned in protest to that agency’s participation in the mosque-building effort. The trustee, Dean Haun, is pastor of First Baptist Church of Morristown, Tennessee. He also happens to be a former president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
As he posed his concern to the Baptist and Reflector, Haun makes an astute point, one that seems to have bypassed the IMB and the ERLC, as evidenced at least by Moore’s smug, rather pompous remarks to the legitimate query of another pastor at the recent convention. Haun says,
“When I look at our IMB mission and purpose statements, I cannot see how this action meshes with them … If we defend the rights of people to construct places of false worship are we not helping them speed down the highway to hell?…I want no part in supporting a false religion even if it is in the name of religious freedom…Our Baptist institutions’ names will be on this brief setting legal precedence and supporting the right of mosques to be built all over our nation for years to come.” (Source)Apparently, Haun hasn’t received a viable, Biblically responsible answer to his query.
As reported in the Christian Post, Haun and his 2,000 member church have taken the next step to hopefully make their point. The church voted … unanimously … to withhold its contributions to the Cooperative Program. This effectively prevents funds collected through their offering plates to make their way to support an IMB and ERLC that seem to exhibit more allegiance to religious liberty than they do to the exclusivity of Christ.
Haun’s church gives about 11% per year to the program. Their annual Lottie Moon Christmas offering in 2016 exceeded $150,000 to the SBC cooperative missions effort. Last year the church gave “around a half million dollars” in missions funding. Though the church will still continue to financially support the state convention in it’s Tennessee missions efforts, the funding that would have gone to the Cooperative Program is being escrowed.
So, in light of the IMB and ERLC’s bold stand with Muslims, at least one pastor and one church are making their own bold stand … against their own denomination. They are standing boldly for the exclusivity of the Gospel message for which Southern Baptists have – perhaps until the IMB/ERLC mosque-building effort – always been known.
Yet, for the IMB and the ERLC and much of the SBC, “American” Christianity is the theology hurled from pulpits, absorbed in pews, and serves often to drive the agenda of CP-funded agencies. Religious liberty is the preeminent “spiritual” gift the false god of that false faith can offer, and the SBC seems all too eager to bend a knee to it. It’s unlikely that Haun’s stand alone will prompt the behemoth SBC to realize it’s error and repent, but Haun and his church should be applauded for their stand. While the SBC seems decidedly unconcerned about the sovereignty of God, the exaltation and exclusivity of Christ, and the need to “contend for the faith,” at least one church seems to be.
But since these agencies will disregard Scripture, perhaps Haun and his church are doing the most obvious thing – taking away the money. After all, it was the threat of financial loss to the temple of Artemis that prompted those riots in Ephesus. (Acts 19:21-41)
It’s just a shame that, had the Apostle Paul been facing his Ephesian uproar in our day, the SBC would’ve signed the amicus brief right along with Alexander the coppersmith … and defended the action with the claim of “soul freedom for everyone.”
As Paul actually wrote to Timothy, “Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.” (2 Timothy 4:14) Should the IMB, the ERLC, and the SBC fail to repent of their clear violation of the Lord’s command, they can, like Alexander, be sure that “the Lord will repay.”
Unlike the Muslims who benefited from the ecumenical spirit of religious liberty-worshipping SBC agencies, and who ultimately won by the intercession of a federal judge, for those within the SBC, like Haun and his church, who staunchly disagree with this egregious SBC behavior, there is no federal judge to intervene. At some point, though, it will be the Supreme and Sovereign Judge who does.
Still, that this ever happened, there’s one verse – knowingly misapplied – that comes to mind … “Jesus wept.”
republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:
Dr. Moore began his reign by providing us a taste of both his winsomeness and new tone for the ERLC and evangelicals’ cultural engagement. But today for Moore, the thought of a Trump presidency seems to have caused the evaporation of his winsome veneer exposing a “Prophet of Shame.” “After Trump’s unexpected win, Moore’s pandering to the political Left seems to have gone into hyper-drive. Moore wants Christians who have supported Trump to hide their faces. Yet Trump’s clarity is appealing while Moore’s shame and double speak is divisive. Christian radio host Janet Mefferd pointed out that Trump inherited many evangelicals later in the campaign, and he was not their first choice. But Moore seems determined to let the facts escape him. Others in the SBC and conservative Evangelical circles echo the same “Blame Game” toward evangelicals who supported Trump’s campaign .Ed Stetzer implies that electing Trump has created a climate of racism for which white evangelicals must explain themselves to Christians of Color ”So, what is really going on? What are the fault lines Moore and others are missing?
Here Are a Few:
1. Moore is attempting to rebrand the ERLC and the evangelical tone. He is speaking mostly to next generation of believers whom the Southern Baptist Convention fears losing – people like Nathan Leamer. Moore critics are not, as Leamer suggests “a small but vocal minority. They are the people who pay Moore’s salary and fund his organization. Former Senator Mike Huckabee points out that Baptist are “paying Moore to insult them.” Moore is failing because he is trying to pour new wine into old wine skins- (Mark 2:22 ). Both the young and old may be alienated in the end. Dr. Moore, why not start a new organization (wine skin) with the purpose of rebranding the conversation rather than confusing the present one and furthering the age divide?
2. Moore is the crown prince of evangelical contradiction. He welcomes confusing partners like LGBTQ activist who want to redefine marriage while he ignores, shuns, and shames seasoned conservatives who understand that the LGBTQ debate is merely a tool that uses the LGBT community so that progressives can redefine sexual norms and even personhood. After more than three years in Washington, D.C. does Dr. Moore understand this yet? Progressives USE minorities. They do not help them.
3. Russell Moore misidentifies his victims. When Moore insults the “Christian Right,” he is actually speaking of the Conservative Christian who craves clarity and conviction on Faith Values. He attacks these voters as if they were the machinery behind the conservative political movement. When Christian voters allow this misidentification and assault, they are thus stigmatized by the press, progressives, and the new brand of social justice Christian voter. The fact is most conservatives’ theology tends to be more compatible with social policy than is the brand of Moore and his followers. Doesn’t Russell Moore need to get his labels right before applying them?
4. Moore is attempting to build the ERLCs new foundation on the shifting sands of culture. It is not possible to maintain real integrity to our espoused theological conservatism and yet be socially pondering if not outright grasping every progressive object floating on the surface of the current cultural floodtide. Moore, if not confused himself does allow his language to confuse others. Moore embraces immigration policies, for example, that favor the lefts ideology as if he does not know of George Soros existence or has never heard of open borders. In short Moore quickly adopts talking points loaded with activist policy and expects his base to follow while he espouses faithfulness to Biblical values wrapped in this new terminology. Is this fair to expect thinking people to follow along?
This article first appeared in BarbWire, written by Thomas Littleton. To read more, click here.