Russell Moore’s Top Priority: Conserving the Gospel

ERLC President Russell Moore tells the board of trustees Sept. 16 he intends to focus on Gospel conservatism in the year ahead. (Photo by Jason Thacker)
ERLC President Russell Moore tells the board of trustees Sept. 16 he intends to focus on Gospel conservatism in the year ahead. (Photo by Jason Thacker)

Conserving the Gospel is Russell Moore’s primary goal in the year ahead, the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethicist and religious freedom advocate told trustees in their annual meeting.

During his report to the board of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Sept. 16, Moore — the entity’s president — said his top priority in the next 12 months is “to set the course and set the tone for a Gospel conservatism that is anchored in the churches and addressing the outside world.”

To describe oneself as a conservative requires an explanation of what a person is conserving, Moore said. Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians have the opportunity to “test everything and hold fast to that which is good,” thereby practicing Gospel conservatism.

Basing his comments on Galatians 1:11-2:14, Moore said the Gospel conservatism the ERLC should foster this coming year requires conserving:

— “Gospel authority;

— “Gospel community;

— “Gospel ministry.”

If the ERLC and others fail to maintain the authority of the Word of God demonstrated by the apostle Paul to the churches in Galatia, “then we have nothing to say and nothing to do,” Moore said. “We have to conserve a Gospel authority that is rooted in the fact that when the Bible speaks, God speaks.

“We must be the people who are not ashamed of the Gospel and not ashamed of the Bible.”

Some revisionists are challenging biblical authority and adding a new apostolic authority on the issue of sexuality, he said.

“This is not a question of interpretation,” Moore said. “This is a question of apostolic authority.”

Like the false teachers in Galatia, these revisionists are saying the apostle Paul did not know what those in the 21st Century know about sexuality. “That is not an argument with a dead figure,” he said. “The argument is with the Holy Spirit, who did know in the First Century everything that we now know about sexuality and more.”

To conserve Gospel authority, Christians have to be the people “to speak with gentleness and kindness to lost people on the outside and to speak with fierce ferocity to false teachers who are on the inside, and we often have done exactly the opposite,” Moore told his audience.

Christians need a “deep knowledge” of Scripture to thrive in this century, he said.

The entity he leads will continue to work with the SBC’s seminaries, including through its ERLC Academy, to help future pastors and missionaries to think biblically in evaluating cultural issues, Moore said. The ERLC must prepare Christians not only to live an entire lifetime but to train the next generation for the unknown threats of another lifetime, he told the board. The ERLC Academy was held for the first time in May as an intensive, two-day training in ethics.

The ERLC’s target audience is actually even younger, he said.

“[T]he most important arena for our mission is children’s Sunday School, preparing a new generation of children to be able to recognize the authority of the Word of God and to be able to apply the authority of the Word of God to their lives under the Lordship of Christ and to what is happening in the ecosystem around them,” Moore said.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Tom Strode

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