Friday, February 19, 2021

What does it profit a man to gain the world

We call this the humble surroundings of a brave servant leader
And forfeit his soul? 

I thought of that as I saw a story about my old classmate, Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Now Russ may be the luckiest fellow in the world since he always seems led by the Holy Spirit to be just where the latest ascending movement happens to be.

Born in a family aligned with Democrats, he embraced conservative Calvinism just as Al Mohler was kicking off the Calvinist Renaissance wtihin the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1990s.  What his own opinions were, I don't know, but he happily stood by as Mohler and the gang made strides to sever the SBC's ecumenical dialogue with such heretical sects as the Catholic Church. 

Later, when GW Bush was elected, Moore led the charge for conservatives around the world to unite, put aside differences, and win one for the Culture Wars.  Then, toward the end of Bush's disastrous presidency, as conservatism became fractured and a progressive tidal wave was brewing, Moore had a change of heart and realized 'culture war' was just stupid talk for silly, ignorant little  people.

When Obama won handily in 2008, Moore began his swing toward the center, openly disparaging more traditional believers and finding a place of prominence on the Obama White House guest list.  Then in 2016, Moore led the Evangelical Never-Trumper charge against Trump and his deplorable followers.  While doing this, he became quite the icon among a desperately not-Trump Catholic culture that embraced him and heard of, for the first time I was knew, his lifelong gushing admiration and love for the Catholic tradition. 

Of course Hillary lost, so we'll never know what may have happened to Moore as he followed his conscience during a Clinton Administration. But now that Biden is back, Moore has stepped forth and once more cheered the new administration for its work reaching out to the faithful.

It's worth noting that not all is well within Moore's SBC family.  A report by the SBC has found that Moore is increasingly alienated from the sizeable part of the SBC not in line with liberal Democrats.  He is also increasingly portrayed in ways not charitable by a manipulative press seeing him, no doubt, as quite the useful fool.   I know some from my old SBC days who believe he is not working from some deep desire to aid the denomination, but rather is embracing a clever throwing of his fellow Baptists under the bus to curry favor with the Leftist State.*

Whatever it is, I know he's either the most fortunate person in the world who always seems led in the right upward direction, or he's joining a growing number of other leaders who feel the battle is lost, the war is over, and it's time for the Left to learn who its friends are, and who its enemies are.  I saw this and pondered it just as I was pointed to a pertinent little scene from the wonderful film A Man for All Seasons

Given all we're seeing among our various Faith traditions' leadership, such a scene is worth watching again and again.  

*Contrary to the article's suggestion, it is not only Moore's opposition to Trump that is the problem.  It's his condescending attitude toward those in the denomination who don't share his approach  to compromise with the modern Left, as well as his willingness to embrace decidedly leftwing narratives and interpretations of those who fail to conform to leftwing ideologies and agendas.  Among other things.  Also, I could bring up a few problems with the heavily quoted David Gushee, a former mentor, but I'll leave that for another day. 


  1. My path was independent Fundamentalist -> Southern Baptist -> Catholic. There are some Baptists of my aquaintance who are probably closer to sainthood than most priests and bishops (let alone me), but I have never been fooled into thinking the denomination, its "stars", or its leadership were really anchored. The kind of story you outline above saddens me, but it doesn't shock me. After all, we've both seen the scandals of televangelists during the 1980's.

    1. Yes, I remember the old TV evangelists well. The Faith took a reputation hit with that one, though non-believer that I was, I had a feeling they didn't represent a fair picture of what the Faith was all about. The things we're seeing now, however, aren't the old Elmer Gantry types, but leaders we imagined would stand firm in the face of the storm who, for various reasons no doubt, are caving. Some are just cowering and groveling, others are throwing actual doctrines under the bus. Not that this in itself is new. I often say we have a New Testament because there were problems in the Church from the beginning. But the assaults themselves are like something we've never experienced on such a global scale.

    2. "... but leaders we imagined would stand firm ...." Sorry, that is precisely what I am denying. I'm no longer surprised when bishops and cardinals commit horrific crimes; I cannot imaging Protestant clergy (and other "faith celebrities") will do better -- unless I know the man personally or he has shown a willingness in the past to suffer for Christ.

    3. I don't think it's any denomination or tradition. And I'm the last to think leaders are never going to fail. I think the speed and numbers are the shocking part, as is those simply throwing their hands up and walking away altogether.


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