Joe Biden is new to the game of playing up White Nationalism as an urgent national menace. Russell Moore is an old pro.
(The New Christian Intellectual) On June 1, 2021, Joe Biden claimed that terrorism from white supremacy “is the most lethal threat to the homeland today.” In this weird rhetoric game, Russell Moore has Biden beat by several years.
Nearly two years ago, Moore published an article at the Christian Post entitled White Nationalist Terrorism and the Gospel. It was an extreme example of Moore’s asymmetry in the treatment of social ills.
Even at that time, Russell Moore may have already been making plans to exit the relatively conservative Southern Baptist Convention. Some background: Two weeks ago, Moore announced that he is departing the SBC. He will take a leadership position at the theologically liberal Christianity Today, while also accepting the title of “minister in residence” in a church that does not affirm the core Baptist doctrine of believer’s baptism.
Moore now calls Immanuel Nashville, the church of Ray Ortlund, his home. Ray Ortlund is one of the leading “nice guys” in the movement, advocating a Third Way approach to Christianity and politics—an approach that treats Democrats as brothers in the faith. As a lifelong Democrat and former Democrat campaign staffer, Russell Moore will no doubt find Ray Ortlund’s Immanuel Nashville to be an ideal base of operations from which to expand his career as a “Public Theologian” beyond the theological horizons allowed by the long-suffering Southern Baptists.
When Russell Moore published his 2019 article denouncing White Nationalist terrorism, he seemed to have intended to classify White Nationalist terrorism as an enormous and growing threat to peace within both the country and the church. Moore hamfistedly (but correctly) drew his readers’ attention to the fact that God’s plan includes people of all nations. Moore then incorrectly suggested that the main reason the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus was due to this theme of inclusivity, brought into the announcement of his ministry in the passage every social justice advocate loves to misread, Luke 4.
Actually, the people of Nazareth had already taken offense before Jesus spoke of foreigners. They took offense at Jesus’ claim about his own identity. Then he further provoked their anger by comparing their lack of faith to the better faith of two foreigners. It is not possible to connect such passages with Russell Moore’s eisegetical remark that, “No doubt many accused him of ‘distracting’ them from the Word of God by talking about ‘justice’ and such things.”
Russell Moore could have claimed just as easily that Jesus’ ministry was announced by John the Baptist with the message that tax collectors should not collect any more than they were required to, and that soldiers should not extort money and not accuse people falsely, and that they should be content with their pay. These points are found a chapter earlier in the same book, but these are not themes a Democrat would be eager for people to know about.
What priorities has Russell Moore chosen? By Russell Moore’s public words these past several years, it seems he thinks little should be said about the concerning trend among SBC churches to vote for the party of abortion, theft, and anti-Christian social engineering, or consider this topic as adiaphora, a disputable matter. Little should be said about the immorality of those burning down American cities and assaulting American police officers. From such a man, you can expect only the minimum sort of response, along the lines of “we do not support that.”
What social ills does Russell Moore think would be worthy of constant national attention? White supremacy, of course. In the face of Donald Trump being nominated as the Republican presidential candidate, Moore wailed of the “darkness of pent-up nativism and bigotry all over the country.” The problem is everywhere! And the problem is white supremacy!
This week, the SBC got to read all about this lurking menace, as told by Russell Moore. Without naming particular men, Russell Moore has insinuated that several high level Southern Baptist conservatives are racial bigots, or worse.
“My family and I have faced constant threats from white nationalists and white supremacists, including within our convention,” Moore was quoted by Religion News Service. “Some of them have been involved in neo-Confederate activities for years. Some are involved with groups funded by white nationalist nativist organizations. Some have just expressed raw racist sentiment behind closed doors.”
At this time it is unclear whether Russell Moore intends to name anyone and properly support his claims.
It can hardly be doubted that someone, somewhere in the Southern Baptist Convention is a racist. But to find an open racist, or a white supremacist—or even a racially insensitive bigot—within the institutional hierarchy would be troubling. If the cause for concern were serious, it would merit personal confrontation and perhaps even public exposure—but not this manner of sly nonsense with no names named.
In case anyone has not grasped the trick used by Russell Moore and the Religion News Service (which is living up to its normal levels of journalistic integrity), the pattern is to vaguely connect some racially insensitive remarks from one SBC man to a purported pattern of hate mail from white supremacists, to white supremacy within the SBC membership, to one particular man, Mike Stone, who happens to be a conservative running for the SBC Presidency right now.
All told, Russell Moore’s sequence of claims may amount to:
“People did not like it when I said the SBC needs to apply affirmative action in selecting its president, and I have heard some racially insensitive comments, and I also get a lot of hate mail from racist strangers, and some of them are in our convention, but I will not name them, and I would like to vaguely tie all of my psychological trauma to my rival who criticized me.”
Unlike Russell Moore, faithful Christians address sin man to man. They name names. Russell Moore acted as a talebearer, repeating vague anecdotes about the sins purported to be prevalent among some undefined group of men who happened to be in a rival camp. And he did so in a way sure to cost him nothing and sure to gain him some sense of credibility and justification with his own team, to which his words were directed.
But Russell Moore does have one thing right. It is 100% valid to be concerned about the growing sense of racial animosity in the United States and in the church. Racial animosity and other tribalistic irrationalities always tend to grow in times when the nation’s leading voices find it profitable to play up stories of racial animosity as a means of gaining power. Russell Moore knows this all too well (see this and this).
In 2019, it took several isolated incidents of hate and murder by lawless men to convince Russell Moore that White Nationalist terrorism is a growing threat to the church and to the gospel. And what of the 2014 riots in Ferguson, Missouri? Did Moore see these events as similarly troubling? What about the 2016 ambushes and murders of policemen in Dallas Texas? Were they a threat to the gospel? In Russell Moore’s world, perhaps there is little to gain from writing articles warning about the spiritual danger of excusing or praising such wicked deeds, because they did not highlight the right narrative.
When Russell Moore wrote White Nationalist Terrorism and the Gospel in 2019, he may not have known that the tactics he had been mastering would soon be used by another Democrat thought-leader.
In 2021, after a mob of lawless election protesters were inexplicably allowed to parade through the “sacred” U.S. Capitol Building, Joe Biden proclaimed that “white supremacists” are the “most lethal terrorist threat” to the United States.
One mediocre Democrat has risen to supremacy in American politics—the other in the American church. Both are competent only in the art of grandstanding and fibs. Of the two, Joe Biden seems to be the novice.
Let it be known that FTNCI forcefully denounces and repudiates white nationalism, white supremacy, and racism. We were saying this two years ago, and we were saying it two weeks ago. As our occasional food fights on social media demonstrate, at FTNCI, we consider it crucial to expose the errors found among the internet’s occasional clusters of backward white nationalists posing as reasonable Christians.
We are willing to pick fights with those who purport to be our allies in the culture war. Why? Because we want to actually succeed in our goal of expelling all wokesters and Democrats from the church. And because the Russell Moores of the world have often put roadblocks in our path by casting the non-woke as bigots.
If an ideological movement aims to stop Russell Moore, an obvious first step is to make sure his lies about us are actually lies. This means we are not only willing, but also eager—for reasons both moral and strategic—to loudly throw racists out of the highest windows of any movements we may join.
Editor’s Note. This article was written by Cody Libolt and originally published at The New Christian Intellectual.
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