In my widely read First Things article on the three worlds of evangelicalism, I noted that with our entry into the negative world - the unprecedented current day time in which for the first time in American history secular elite culture views Christianity negatively - there has been a rise in intra-evangelical conflict. I especially noted that the group I labeled cultural engagers, which had previously tried to positively dialogue with the culture rather than fight against it like the old religious right, had decided to declare their own culture war. Only their war is against other evangelicals, not the world. I wrote:
To be direct, why should I care? Yes, it is interesting, but what significance does it have for my relationship with the Holy Spirit? 2 Tim. 4-7 gives a partial answer, but so does Mathew 10:14.
My congregation left the UMC for the GMC. Many folks were upset. Some very much so. Yes, it cost a lot and the progressives behaved badly from my viewpoint. But isn't all that rubbish? Philippians 3:7.
I have a life of peace and joy. I am justified and transformed. Sanctified . . . perhaps not yet, but He is working on it. It is well with my soul. I pray all reach that point. We are obligated to witness through word and action, but ultimately salvation is personal to the individual. I cannot save Mr. Moore or Mr. French. If Mr. Moore judges me or people who believe as I do, it does not truly impact me. Paul felt "abandoned." I have too. But those are stumbling blocks from the evil one. If all are ultimately saved, that is great. But if only some are, that is God's plan, not mine and not Mr. Moore's. This seems a time to kick the dust off your feet. You write beautifully, which helps me in my journey. Perhaps that is enough.
As a general note to the commenters-in-general, I recommend you borrow someone else's copy of Russell Moore's book, Onward, if you really want to understand why he does what he does. It's his semi-autobiographical account of what he considers his calling to be. There's no need to speculate about his psychological motivations and animus, because it's right there in his own writing. He describes his childhood, his upbringing, and his shame at being born a poor, white, rural Southern Baptist.
I'd also recommend, if you can find them all, his "prophetic minority" sermon series, where he lays out his vision of what he wants the Evangelical community to become within the post-Christian West. Moore is pretty clear that he *wants* Evangelicism to shrink into a tiny rump of its former size, and that he is "glad" that "those kinds of people" who "drive pickup trucks to a bar that says 'Happy Birthday Jesus' on the marquis at Christmas time" are falling out of the Evangelical Churches at the highest rate in history.
There is another dimension to this I believe, something of a class conflict between upwardly mobile corporate evangelicalism and its historically working class, populist roots.
The Moore interview of Kristin DuMez gives additional layer of appreciation for how he still regards his evangelical background, slightly pushing back on her dismissal. And though Thornbury has probably moved further left culturally, I recall that Moore spoke at the event of GT's 'coronation' as King's Collegen president in Manhattan.
I didn’t grow up in the evangelical world--I was about as far from it as can be imagined (the bohemia around college campuses where people seek with no intention of finding--my family eventually ended up in Scientology). Later, after becoming a ward of the state, I was given a spiritual home in a little blue collar evangelical church in western Pennsylvania. (I’m confident that Trump had strong support in that little church.) I’ve been gone from western Pennsylvania for about 40 years. I’ve lived in Cambridge, Cape Cod, Connecticut, and now Washington. In the years since I’ve only grown more grateful to those working class evangelicals who took an interest in me.
" It’s hard to argue against Thornbury and Moore’s claim that Donald Trump is a man of low character, for example."
Does any serious person think otherwise? When it comes to presidential elections, this is hardly the real issue. Rather, we are being asked to choose between 2 or 3 viable candidates (or make a "protest vote" by casting a ballot for a candidate who has no chance of actually winning.)
I can sympathize with those who, faced with what they see as Bad or Worse, find themselves at an impasse, but have no sympathy at all if they justify that by claiming that there aren't degrees of harm and that some of us are wrong for opting for the Merely Bad over the Clearly Worse.
One day, though, the “Come to Jesus” meetings change. I found myself sitting, sometimes for eight hours at a time, with Southern Baptists like me in heresy trials in which I was not the inquisitor I had been trained to be, but the defendant.
According to the sample at Amazon the rest of the paragraph is:
"I hadn't changed my theology, or my behavior, at all. What I had done, as the president of my denomination's public policy agency, was refuse to endorse Donald Trump."
Moore is bearing false witness against brothers is Christ. The next page includes howlers about how Moore was told, "This is not how you play the game" and he says, "I didn't realize that we were playing a game." Interesting that his wife told him if he was staying in the SBC he would be in an "interfaith marriage." The part on how he was now hearing from younger people now contacting him about parents falling for "conspiracy theories" instead of parents worried about their children leaving the faith shows a total lack of self awareness. You were hearing from different people because you did shift your views Russ, the people who came to you in the past no longer trusted you. Like David French, I just don't think Moore is that smart. That they refuse to engage with the criticism that there is something wrong with trashing the faithful to unbelievers who have power over them shows a significant lack of integrity as well. Everything they criticize about the tactics of the right applies to them.
Russ was a "hostage" right up until the point where he had sufficiently built his own personal brand to be comfortable on his own outside the SBC orbit. Some hostage...
Doesn't mean he can't make valid observations, but "you shall know them by their fruit"
Russell Moore is most easily explainable as an opportunist. He grew up in a culture where the way to get ahead was to be fundamentalist and that meant loyalty to the cultural Establishment and being the young guy who is loyal to the old guys. He rose through the ranks far enough that he could make the leap to an even more lucrative and prestigious position, no longer Biloxi but Wheaton (new version). The next step: The New York Times.
Alan Jacobs from a couple of years ago: https://blog.ayjay.org/tribulation/
"One thing that I almost never see in the current Discourse about evangelicalism is an acknowledgement by people who were raised evangelical that their upbringing might have provided something, anything to be grateful for. When I hear people denouncing their evangelical or fundamentalist “family,” I remember something Auden said about Kierkegaard: 'The Danish Lutheran Church may have been as worldly as Kierkegaard thought it was, but if it had not existed he would never have heard of the Gospels, in which he found the standards by which he condemned it.'"