Russell Moore: Church must 'recover credibility of our witness' post-Trump

SBC leader warns many are growing 'cynical,' believe religion is means to another end

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission addresses reporters in Phoenix at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix on Tuesday, June 13, 2017.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission addresses reporters in Phoenix at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. | (Photo: Matt Miller)

In the aftermath of a contentious election season, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore warned the Church against cynicism and stressed that followers of Christ must now “recover the credibility of our witness.”

In an interview with Time magazine published last Thursday, the 49-year-old Moore lamented the fact that politics have become deeply intertwined with the many people's understanding of the Church.

“I don’t know a single family that’s not been divided over President Trump, and politics generally. I don’t know a single church that hasn’t been,” the 49-year-old president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission said. 

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As a result, the biggest threat facing the American Church right now “is not secularism but cynicism,” he argued, adding: “That’s why we have to recover the credibility of our witness.”

While it’s one thing to dismiss Christianity as “strange and unlikely,” Moore added that “if people walk away from the Church because they don’t believe that we really believe what we say, then that’s a crisis.” 

“There is an entire generation of people who are growing cynical that religion is just a means to some other end,” he warned.

Moore has spoken out against Trump since 2015 and called on the president to step down before his term ended after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. 

The head of SBC's public policy arm stated that his criticism of Trump has put him in a “lonely” position. But he believes “many people have experienced that sort of loneliness over the past four or five years.”

Moore’s opposition to Trump has come at a cost. In 2017, over 100 Southern Baptist churches displeased with his vocal concerns about Trump during the 2016 presidential election threatened to withhold funding from the denomination.

In an interview with Relevant magazine last week, Moore said that while there's a temptation to check out from politics, the Church must “be the people who are choosing voice more than we’re choosing exit.”

“Right now, there are many people who have grown discouraged and they’ve grown cynical and they’re just leaving," he detailed. "I’m having this conversation every day with people. I would just say that we can’t give up. We have to really understand that this is important for us to stay in this."

As Joe Biden begins his presidency, the Baptist leader will be praying for “wisdom and humility” and “the ability to unify.”

“We’ve got to get beyond this,” he continued. “To use the lyric from Larry Norman, ‘Do you really think the way to bring about the peace is to sacrifice your children and kill all your enemies?’ That’s sort of the mentality that that is politically short-term useful in America right now, and we have to have people who are willing to short circuit that and to say, ‘I’m willing to listen to views I disagree with and to grow.’”

Moore believes that just like President Barack Obama, Biden has shown he is “willing and eager to listen to people” who disagree with him.

“I hope that that’s the way that he decides to be as president,” he said. “And what that’s going to mean is saying, ‘There are going to be some things that would make my base happy if I said or if I did, and I’m going to have to take into account the whole country and maybe disappoint people who support me just like I will disappoint people who oppose me sometimes.’”

Moore is not alone in issuing a call for unity following a divisive election season. 

Sam Collier, head of Hillsong Atlanta, tweeted that “One of our greatest issues in this country is that we haven’t become unified in the decision to pursue unity.”

Well-known Bible teacher Beth Moore, no relation to Russell Moore, reminded Christians that Christ is bigger than political leaders.

“Rulers of nations have come and gone for 2000 years but the church remains. We did not know all that would befall us 4 years ago nor do we know the times ahead,” she tweeted Wednesday. “But the task of the church remains unchanged: to know Christ & make him known. To be salt & light in this time & place.”

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