I got a letter from a friend about my post on Russell Moore, and I asked him if he could rework it a bit and I would run it as a guest post. I would then reply (which I will probably do tomorrow morning). He said sure, but wanted to post as “a friend.” That’s fine with me, and the only thing I will say about identity here is that it is not Nancy.
I think your post misses the mark with Moore in two respects:
1) When Moore took a shot at the Religious Right, you heard Schaeffer and Koop. There’s no way Moore had those guys in mind. He had these guys in mind:
Many of these are old guard Southern Baptists who have been a part of the Religious Right since the Disney boycotts, and have now hitched their wagons to the Trump Train. There are a number of SBC big shots from a previous generation:
Richard Land: Moore’s predecessor at ERLC
Robert Jeffress and Jack Graham: megachurch SBC pastors in Dallas; still very influential in the convention
Ralph Reed: Even his initials tell you that he’s a member of the Religious Right
Dobson: Enough Said
Ronnie Floyd: outgoing president of the SBC
Those are old guard Religious Right guys who are still around and who have now joined Falwell in his cravenness. That’s who Moore was blasting (and given his position in the SBC, that sort of thing does take courage; all of those guys know he’s talking about them; they represent significant constituencies in the SBC, and now Moore will have to deal with the fall out. If we only knew the letters that Moore gets…). You’re always saying that it’s easy to be courageous about yesterday’s battles. You read Moore as doing that in this case because you see him doing that on the Confederate flag. But in this case, he just poked a bunch of his co-denominationalists in the eye while they were still breathing and can make his life more difficult.
The SBC has some precarious fault lines, and Trump support seems to be a good litmus test. Trump won a lot of evangelicals in the South, including many in the SBC. So when Moore takes a shot at the Religious Right, he’s got live opponents in mind, not Koop and Schaeffer.
2) I also think you miss the mark about Moore’s constituency. The guys in the SBC who are “bending” his way aren’t more moderate version of Rachel Held Evans. They’re not progressive-lite. The team that Moore has assembled at the ERLC are solid thinkers and convictional Christians who are trying to navigate in a world gone mad. They are more than willing to live with the opprobrium of the liberal intoleristas on the issues that matter.
I’ve got my differences with Moore on how he tackles various issues. But if the church is heading into the wilderness for a generation, I’m glad that he’s one of the guys helping us find a way.