As Trump was gathering steam last summer, I found it interesting see how Russell Moore, a prominent leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, was openly critical of the morally and ethically challenged candidate. Moore immediately ran into a buzz-saw of criticism and I knew then he was in trouble and might not survive in his position. According to a Washington Post story today, it sounds like he probably will not last through the week.
I greatly admired Moore for brazenly taking a moral stance against a popular, but brazenly immoral man who represented the antithesis of everything Jesus taught. But having been raised a Baptist, I knew “group think” and tribal loyalty and realized that Moore was coming to blows with ideologues and ideologues, as much as they want to “praise Jesus” and such, have only one thing in mind and that is loyalty to their ideas. And remember it was ideologues that nailed Jesus to Cross, men whose allegiance was to the “letter of the law” and not to one who embodied the Spirit of the law. Relevant to this point, the former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, has criticized Moore, arguing, “Why should we be paying someone who is insulting us?” Well, any prophetic voice will first sound insulting and certainly the religious establishment of Jesus’ day found his accusations insulting.
Decades ago I worked on a Master’s thesis in religious history at the University of Arkansas. One of the books I discovered in my research was titled, “Churches in Cultural Captivity: A History of the Social Attitudes of Southern Baptists” by John Lee Eighmy which focused on how the Southern Baptist Convention even in the late 19th century was becoming co-opted into the culture of the day. This Russell Moore incident shows how that nothing has changed which is how it usually is with any group, including religious groups. Before the election I posed the old bumper sticker question of the 1980’s that the SBC had promoted, “WWJD—What Would Jesus Do.” I asked, “Would Jesus be supporting a man who repeatedly had expressed sexual focus on his beautiful daughter, who had even said to Howard Stern at one point, “Yes, you can refer to her as a nice piece of ass.” Would Jesus support a man who is a known sexual predator and misogynist? Would Jesus support a man who, being the owner of a teen beauty contest, took advantage of his position to walk in on the dressing room of the semi-clad or nude girls, obviously “checking out the merchandise.” Would Jesus support a man who was a compulsive liar and who could not even humble himself to say he had ever had any need to ask God for forgiveness?