Posts Tagged ‘Russell Moore’
Posted on December 22nd, 2014 by Radical
Our contemporary cartoonish, two-dimensional picture of Joseph too easily ignores how difficult it was for him to do what he did. Imagine for a minute that one of the teenagers in your church were to stand behind the pulpit to give her testimony. She’s eight months pregnant and unmarried. After a few minutes of talking about God’s working in her life and about how excited she is to be a mother, she starts talking about how thankful she is that she’s remained sexually pure, kept all the “True Love Waits” commitments she made in her youth group Bible study, and is glad to announce that she’s still a virgin. You’d immediately conclude that the girl’s either delusional or lying.
When contemporary biblical revisionists scoff at the virgin birth of Jesus and other miracles, they often tell us we’re now beyond such “myths” since we live in a post-Enlightenment, scientifically progressive information age. What such critics miss is the fact that virgin conceptions have always seemed ridiculous. People in first-century Palestine knew how babies were conceived. The implausibility of the whole thing is evident in the biblical text itself. When Mary tells Joseph she’s pregnant, his first reaction isn’t a cheery “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” No, he assumes what any of us would conclude was going on, and he sets out to end their betrothal.
But then God enters the scene.
When God speaks in a dream to Joseph about the identity of Jesus, Joseph, like everyone who follows Christ, recognizes the voice and goes forward (Matt. 1:21-24). Joseph’s adoption and protection of Jesus is simply the outworking of that belief.
In believing God, Joseph probably walks away from his reputation. The wags in his hometown would probably always whisper about how “poor Joseph was hoodwinked by that girl” or how “old Joseph got himself in trouble with that girl.” As the states get higher, Joseph certainly walks away from his economic security. In first-century Galilee, after all, one doesn’t simply move to Egypt, the way one might today decide to move to New York or London. Joseph surrenders a household economy, a vocation probably built up over generations, handed down to him, one would suppose, by his father.
Again, Joseph was unique in one sense. None of us will ever be called to be father to God. But in another very real sense, Joseph’s faith was exactly the same as ours. The letter of James, for instance, speaks of the definition of faith in this way: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (1:27). James is the one who tell us further that faith is not mere intellectual belief, the faith of demons (2:19), but is instead a faith that works.
James show us that Abraham’s belief is seen in his offering up Isaac, knowing God would keep his promise and raise him from the dead (2:21-23). We know Rahab has faith not simply because she raises her hand in agreement with the Hebrews spies but because in hiding them from the enemy she is showing she trusts God to save her (2:25). James tells us that genuine faith shelters the orphan.
What gives even more wight to these words is the identity of the human author. This letter is written by James of the Jerusalem church, the brother of our Lord Jesus. How much of this “pure and undefiled religion” did James see first in the life of his own earthly father? Did the image of Joseph linger in James’s mind as he inscribed the words of an orphan-protecting, living faith?
The above excerpt is from Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches, by Russell Moore.
Posted on November 20th, 2014 by David Burnette
Why should Christians and churches speak to the issue of so-called same-sex marriage, or to marriage in general? Aren’t these just political and social issues? Dr. Russell Moore, President of the ERLC, talks about why marriage is a gospel issue in his recent address to worldwide religious leaders at the Vatican:
As an evangelical Christian, I come to this discussion with motivations about the common good and human flourishing, but beyond these merely natural goods to an even deeper concern for what I believe to be the purpose of the entire cosmos: the gospel of Jesus Christ. All of us must stand together on conserving the truth of marriage as a complementary union of man and woman. But I would add that with that there is a distinctively Christian urgency for why the Christian churches must bear witness to these things. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus that the alpha and omega of the universe is personal, that the pattern and goal of the universe is summed up in what he called “the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 1:10). . . .
. . . we stand and speak not with clenched fists or with wringing hands, but with the open hearts of those who have a message and a mission. And, as we do so, we will remind the world that we are not mere machines of flesh, but rather, we are creatures, accountable to nature and to nature’s God. We must do so with the confidence of those who know that on the other side of our culture wars, there’s a sexual counter-revolution waiting to be reborn, again.
For a full transcript of Dr. Moore’s address, go here. The fact that marriage portrays and bears witness to the gospel is one of the reasons we’ll be covering this issue in Secret Church 15, “Christ, Culture, and a Call to Action.” For more info, go here.
As if we needed more troubling news on the religious liberty front, now comes word that pastors in Houston have had their sermons subpoenaed by Mayor Annise Parker and the city attorney. The subpoenas come in response to the pastors’ opposition to an Equal Rights Ordinance that concerns issues of gender identity and sexuality in public accommodations.
A number of Christian leaders have spoken out against this quite brash move by the Houston mayor, as the request for these sermons is a clear violation of the First Amendment, and a reminder of how opposition from the culture is becoming more acute. The ERLC is offering suggestions for how you can stand with Houston pastors, which you can see here. In addition, here are several excerpts from Christian leaders reacting to Mayor Parker’s overreach:
– Russell Moore (ERLC)
“I am simply stunned by the sheer audacity of this.
The preaching of sermons in the pulpits of churches is of no concern to any government bureaucrat at all. This country settled, a long time ago, with a First Amendment that the government would not supervise, license, or bully religious institutions. That right wasn’t handed out by the government, as a kind of temporary restraining order. It was recognition of a self-evident truth.
The churches, and pastors, of Houston ought to respond to this sort of government order with the same kind of defiance the Apostle Paul showed the magistrates in Philippi. After an earthquake, sent by God, upturned the prison where Paul and Silas were held, Luke tells us that the officials sent the police to tell Paul and Silas they could go. Paul replied. “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned men who are Roman citizens and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly. No! Let them come themselves and take us out” (Acts 16:37).” Read the rest here.
– Jason K. Allen (Midwestern Seminary)
“For the church, though, the mayor’s handling of the First Amendment is secondary. Our handling of the Bible is primary. Our indignation over the mayor’s boldness must be displaced by passion and resolve of our own. We are called to speak the truth in love; to preach the Word in season and out. Ordinance or no ordinance, subpoena or no subpoena, First Amendment or no First Amendment, God’s Word doesn’t change—and our convictions must not change either.
That is why my concern is not so much Mayor Parker’s orchestration of velvet-gloved persecution. My concern is whether or not Christians will persist in having the courage of their convictions. This won’t be the last time the church encounters intimidation—for we are assured that all who desire godliness in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
And Mayor Parker isn’t the first ruler to threaten the church either. Here we learn from our apostolic forebears. Just as when the Temple authorities threatened Peter and John in Acts 4, their response must now be ours, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Read the rest here.
– Joe Carter (Acton Institute Power Blog)
“Texas law makes it clear that the discovery process in a legal proceeding “may not be used as a fishing expedition.” Houston’s city attorneys are certainly aware of this fact, so why are they seeking the sermons and communications of pastors who aren’t even involved in the lawsuit?
The apparent answer, as ADF notes, is that the Houston city government “has embarked upon a witchhunt.” They are trying to send a message to area pastors that criticism of city policies from the pulpit can result in their being dragged into court. This is a despicable display of government overreach and an attempt to stifle both religious freedom and political speech. If this violation of citizens rights isn’t checked in Houston, other cities will get the message that irrelevant legal actions can be used to harass church leaders who dare to challenge our “public servants.” Read the rest here.
— For more on how followers of Christ should approach the issue of religious liberty, stay tuned in the coming weeks for posts related to David Platt’s upcoming book, Counter Culture, as well as posts and information related to Secret Church 15: “Christ, Culture, and A Call to Action.”
Posted on September 4th, 2014 by Jonathan
On October 27-29, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) will host a conference in Nashville titled, “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage.” Maybe this synopsis from the ERLC website will give you a better idea of what you can expect and why you should be sure to register . . .
Are you and your church prepared for the moral revolution surrounding homosexuality and same-sex marriage happening across America? While human sexuality and social institutions are being redefined before our very eyes, the Bible presents marriage as an unchanging picture of the gospel through the union of one man and one woman. The gospel announces that the story of Jesus is greater than the sum total of our sexual desires.
We’ll equip you to defend marriage in the culture and strengthen marriage in the church by preparing you to address issues like:
- How do we effectively minister to those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender?
- How has the divorce culture impacted marriage in our communities and our churches?
- What does sexual faithfulness look like for a same-sex attracted Christian?
- Why did God create marriage and why did he design it for the common good?
- How should a pastor counsel a same-sex couple that wants to join his church?
- How can churches minister to those who are single, dating, divorced or celibate?
- How can Christians show the love of Christ to gay family members or neighbors?
Speakers include Russell Moore, Trillia Newbell, Danny Akin, Trevin Wax, Alber Mohler, Rosaria Butterfield, J.D. Greear, Denny Burk, Jim Daly, Ryan Anderson, Kevin Ezell, and many more. Our own David Platt will be delivering a message titled, “Marriage and Missions: How Singleness and Marriage Connect to the Great Commission.”
It has never been more important for Christians and churches to have a good grasp on these things in order to biblically respond. Register HERE to attend, but do so before the end of the day Friday, when the price will increase.
Posted on August 8th, 2014 by Jonathan
Much has been said in response to Ann Coulter’s opinion of Dr. Kent Brantly (Wednesday). She criticized the Christian doctor for deciding to help Ebola patients in Liberia, calling him “idiotic” (in the title of her inflammatory post, no less). Though there are instances when “disputes” like this can be boiled down to bad timing or wording, the flaw in Coulter’s reasoning goes far beyond her failure to say it nicely. And in her unbiblical and unloving views, she’s joined by more than a few like-minded nay sayers, such as Donald Trump.
Criticism of Coulter is warranted. As believers, it’s important that we lovingly help each other identify faulty perspectives and stand up for truth . . . and missions. So because much has been said (and been said well, we might add), we thought we’d point you to some of the clearest responses we’ve seen.
- Albert Mohler: Are Christian Missionaries Narcissistic Idiots? — A Response to Ann Coulter
- Russell Moore: Ann Coulter and Our Mission
- Collin Garbarino: The Foolishness of an Ebola Doctor
- John Piper: A Virus More Deadly Than Ebola (poem)
- J.D. Greear: Ann Coulter’s Column About the Wastefulness of Mission Sacrifice
For more on missions, risk, and suffering, check out the following resources:
Posted on August 8th, 2014 by Cory Varden
Cultural Disintegration and the Revival of a Moral Imagination, Joe Rigney: We live in a time of cultural disintegration. Not just America, but the entire Western world is jettisoning the wisdom of the ages and striving to remake the world after our own image. And, unsurprisingly, the fundamental arena in which this cultural unraveling is playing out is that of sexuality.
What’s Wrong with the “Wrong Side of History” Argument?, Kevin Deyoung: No doubt, the “wrong side of history” retort is rhetorically powerful. But it also happens to be intellectually bankrupt. What’s wrong with the phrase? At least three things.
Aborting in the Name of Jesus, Russell Moore: It is one of the most disturbing articles I’ve ever read. The current issue of Esquire magazine profiles the “abortion ministry” of Willie Parker, a doctor who flies in and out of my home state of Mississippi to perform abortions at the state’s only abortion clinic. The word “ministry” isn’t incidental. Dr. Parker says he aborts unborn children because Jesus wants him to.
Posted on May 16th, 2014 by Jonathan
The Church Needs More Tattoos, Russell Moore: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) often tells audiences, “Republican Party events need more people with tattoos.” It struck me, as I heard him say this, that this is kind of what evangelical Christians ought to be saying about our churches…
A Kick in the Chest, Hope for Turkey: On a weekend night in a quiet residential neighborhood of Istanbul, Pastor Baris sat in his office preparing his Easter sermon. In the small basement flat where the church meets, his office doubles as the nursery on Sundays. A sign over the front door of the otherwise unremarkable building reads “Grace Church.” Due to prior attacks with rocks and worse, the outside windows are covered with metal grates. Suddenly, the doorbell rang…
Getting Clear on Evangelism, Jonathan Parnell, Jeff Vanderstelt: We might have evangelism mixed up. When evangelism is often discussed, it tends to focus on how churches mobilize their people to get out and connect with unbelievers. But when we think in these terms, the definition of evangelism can be mistaken as a maneuver, rather than proclamation.
Posted on March 24th, 2014 by David Burnette
Tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear the final appeal from Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties as these corporations seek relief from a “contraceptive” mandate in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. This particular mandate would require businesses to provide health coverage for FDA-approved devices that can cause abortions (like IUD’s and morning-after pills). The case is set for tomorrow, Tuesday, March 25, @ 10:00am ET.
Denny Burk refers to this as “the most consequential religious liberty case in a generation,” and he has an excellent rundown on some of the misconceptions about the case that have already been perpetrated in the media. Here’s an excerpt from the website of the ERLC (Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission) of the Southern Baptist Convention with some guidance on how to pray for this important case:
As Christians who live all of life under the lordship of Jesus Christ, we are compelled to bring our vocations under the direction of our faith. The owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are making their complaint under the umbrella of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a bipartisan law designed to provide extra layers of protection for citizens who believe their religious liberty has been infringed.
This is a supremely important case, and will likely set a precedent for how religious liberty is thought of and prioritized for decades to come. Because religious liberty is a bedrock constitutional principle found in the First Amendment, the integrity of this “first freedom” isn’t limited just to Christians, but to Americans of all faiths.
For that reason, Christians should pray that the outcome of these cases would result favorably toward those who wish to exercise their constitutional right to religious liberty. How should Christians pray? Here is a sample prayer guide:
- God wants people to be free to seek him and to serve him (Acts 17:24-28). Pray for a favorable outcome. The cherished principle of religious freedom should receive the strongest constitutional protection it deserves.
- God is Lord of the conscience, not government (Acts 5:29). Pray that the justices of the Supreme Court will understand the importance of the separation of the state from the church.
- God can give understanding to make sound decisions (Prov. 2:6-8). Pray for those who disagree with us, that God would help them understand and respect the consciences of people of faith.
- God can turn the hearts and minds of the justices to do his will (Prov. 21:1). Pray for the Supreme Court justices, that they would be receptive to the arguments being made passionately before them.
- God can guide the mind and speech (Exod. 4:11-12). Pray for lead attorney, Paul Clement, who will be arguing on behalf of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. Ask God to give him clarity and wisdom, for his arguments to be persuasiveness, and for God to give him favor before the justices.
Here are some excellent resources:
- Russell Moore’s call to pray for Hobby Lobby
- A speech by Russell Moore to the Oklahoma Council of Policy Affairs
- ERLC’s Friend of the Court Brief on Behalf of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood
- The Becket Fund’s “HHS Information Central”
- Russell Moore’s helpful explanation of in a special Questions and Ethics podcast
- A recent oped in support of Hobby Lobby by Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California
Posted on January 9th, 2014 by David Burnette
On the important topic of orphan care and reaching out to vulnerable children, be sure to check out the Know More Orphans Conference 2014. This conference will be held on March 7-8, 2014, at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL. The speakers include:
- David Platt
- Bryan Loritts
- Rick Morton
- Tony Merida
- Michael Monroe
- Maridel Sandberg
Here’s an excerpt from the website:
The Church has always been God’s plan for building his kingdom, and this includes securing justice for the poor and most vulnerable. Altar 84 desires to work intimately with the Body of Christ to care for the least of these, the orphan. On Friday, March 7th and Saturday March 8th, 2014, Altar84’s kNOw More Orphans Conference will seek to unite the church community for the call to care for orphans and vulnerable children – right here and around the world. The conference will provide AWARENESS of God’s Word and his command to take ACTION.
Go here to register. Early Bird pricing ends January 17, 2014.
Posted on December 11th, 2013 by David Burnette
In a recent article over at the ERLC , Russell Moore writes about what is lacking in our Christmas music. Here’s an excerpt:
The first Christmas carol, after all, was a war hymn. Mary of Nazareth sings of God’s defeat of his enemies, about how in Christ he had demonstrated his power and “has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate” (Lk. 1:52). There are some villains in mind there.
Simeon’s song, likewise, speaks of the “fall and rising of many in Israel” and of a sword that would pierce the heart of Mary herself. Even the “light of the Gentiles” he speaks about is in the context of warfare. After all, the light, the Bible tells us, overcomes the darkness (Jn. 1:5), and frees us from the grip of the devil (2 Cor. 4). In a time of obvious tragedy, the unbearable lightness of Christmas seems absurd to the watching world.
But, even in the best of times, we all know that we live in a groaning universe, a world of divorce courts and cancer cells and concentration camps. Just as we sing with joy about the coming of the Promised One, we ought also to sing with groaning that he is not back yet (Rom. 8:23), sometimes with groanings too deep for lyrics.
You can read the entire article here.
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