Interview: Dr. Russell Moore on New Role Leading Southern Baptist's Public Policy Advocacy

Dr. Russell Moore will play both a prophetic and representational role as the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, he told The Christian Post Friday. Moore, currently dean of the School of Theology, senior vice president for academic administration and professor of Christian theology and ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., will replace Dr. Richard Land in June.

The ERLC has a dual role, Moore explained: to speak to Southern Baptists about the ethical mandates of the Church, and to speak to the larger culture on ethical issues of the day. The larger culture includes governmental leaders, as well as those in the media and arts, such as film.

Southern Baptists do not always agree on every political or cultural issue. Moore does not believe that is a problem. One of the difficulties Christians have had in the past has been assuming there is always a precise biblical answer to every political question, he explained, but that is not the case. There are some issues for which Christians will disagree and the ERLC will not take a position on.

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The ERLC has both a "prophetic" and "representational" role, Moore said. There are times when he might represent the interests of Southern Baptists to policy makers – the representational role. There are other times when he will serve to remind Southern Baptists of their "theological commitments" – the prophetic role.

One example of the prophetic role, Moore explained, was during the 1960s. A predecessor organization to the ERLC was supportive of the Civil Rights Movement while many Southern Baptists were indifferent or hostile to the Movement.

When asked to describe the good and the bad of evangelical political involvement over the last 40 to 50 years, Moore said the good has been "the awakening of the evangelical conscience on the abortion issue." The bad has been that evangelicals "assumed a moral majoritarian pose" at a time when they were far from a majority in the country. They also failed to deal with problems within their own congregations, such as the divorce culture, as they sought to change the broader culture.

Moore cares deeply about the issue of adoption. He is an adoptive father and has written books on the topic. Adoption, and the larger issue of orphan care, is one he wants to address in his new role. It is an important issue, he said, because it "speaks to human dignity of every person."

There are several public policy issues related to adoption, Moore added. One of those is also a religious liberty issue – making sure that faith-base adoption agencies have the freedom to take the faith of the adoptive parents into account when finding families for orphans.

Moore will be assuming his new role in the middle of a congressional and national debate over immigration. Land has been deeply involved in that issue as a member of the Evangelical Immigration Table. Moore said that he will continue that commitment and he agrees "100 percent" with Land on that issue.

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