|The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Main Library|
This amazes me, and I'll tell you why. Believe it or not, Dr. Moore was a classmate of mine back in seminary in the 90s. We sat next to one another more than once. He was part of the Mohler Revolution, when Dr. R. Albert Mohler turned Southern Seminary around from a moderately conservative Baptist seminary to a hard right, almost quasi-fundamentalist, Calvinist institution. Dr. Moore, along with the awesome Dr. Greg Thornbury, were two of the main students who supported Dr. Mohler and, by extension, were supported by Dr. Mohler and the new establishment.
There were some of the students - like me - who were opposed to politicizing the term Evangelical. As many flagrantly sided against Bill Clinton, but turned a blind eye toward politicians like Newt Gingrich, or used Evangelical as a term in other ways to divide the sheep and the goats, all while strutting under the label 'Evangelical', we became increasingly bothered by its use as a political wedge, rather than a sincere theological term.
That went over as well as you can imagine. In fact, attempting to do anything in the seminary - including something as pure as gathering to witness and evangelize - without embracing the proper use of the term became nearly impossible. If you weren't properly incorporating the term "Evangelical", then you weren't going anywhere. And it was the likes of Dr. Moore (then just Russ Moore) who were staunch defenders of that approach. Those who refused to play ball eventually found themselves standing outside the windows where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth, or at least compromised opportunities to minister.
So it's nice to see, after 20 years, some have finally come around to where many of us were all along. But then, that was a problem with Evangelical Christianity in the day. So politicized had it become, that nothing but grabbing the latest trend became the norm, then trying to twist and turn traditional orthodox Christianity to make it fit. In fact, to be honest, all Dr. Moore is doing today is just riding the latest wave. This is really, in the end, nothing more than what was done in the 90s. When it was vogue to be Evangelical, then it was Evangelical Ho! Now it isn't. And now it's not.
One of the endearing traits I find in pre-Reformation Christianity is a happy tendency for the deep roots of the faith to avoid being pulled up by the storms of the latest, hippest. Oh sure, you'll have people try. You'll have bishops, priests, laypeople, yourself, and dare I say popes, who will grab the latest whirlwind. But the roots of the faith are too deep, and too resistant. If you're paying attention, you stop and realize just how futile it is to imagine that everything the Faith has always stood for somehow, miraculously, conforms to the latest that I happen to prefer in my own comfortable slot of history.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. Colossians 2.8