August 15, 2017

In Response To Russell Moore’s Scripture-Twisting on Charlottesville

By In Articles, Society and Culture, Theology

Russell Moore is the president of the “Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission” (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).  The organization he leads is the political lobbying arm of the SBC.  In essence, he’s a paid political operative masquerading as a preacher.  His goals are political.  His politics are liberal.  And one of his most frequent targets is conservative Christians.  In other words, he takes a salary from the SBC and then uses a good portion of his time and resources to attack the very people who fund him.  If he had any integrity he would jettison the scam and resign his position.  But his position gives him clout in the convention and a “name” in the public sector.  His position gives him opportunities to write op-eds for the New York Times and the Washington Post.  His position gets him on TV.  His position makes him the frequent center of attention.  A place that he, like most politicians, yearns for.

Moore’s latest hysterical screed was an op-ed written for the Washington Post entitled, “White Supremacy Angers Jesus, But Does It Anger His Church?”  (Not to be confused with his New York Times op-ed entitled “A White Church No More.”)  His latest article is classic, liberal propaganda, Russell Moore-style.  He takes a minuscule segment of the white population, implies that they represent a much larger segment than they do.  And then skewers, “the church” for being racist.  And just in case you doubt him, he takes the words of Jesus out of their scriptural context, twists them for his political ends, and uses them to justify his argument.  This undoubtedly thrills his buddies in the liberal media.  A Christian leader who frequently attacks Christians is ideal fodder for the elitist press.  Slinging mud on the bride of Christ makes for good copy.

For Moore to suggest that Jesus would oppose “white supremacy” is no news flash at all.  Most white people oppose “white supremacy” and would agree with Moore’s assertion that Jesus would oppose it.  But Moore suggests, with his tantalizingly arrogant headline that “Jesus’s church” is made up of a bunch of racists.  In fact, if you check Moore’s historical record, he has accused Christians who supported Trump of being racist, sexist, and perhaps not Christian at all.  The Washington Post article is just more of the same garbage from an SBC political hack who has made a career of gaming the denominational system, and parlaying his winnings into national exposure.  He loves to attack white people, and in so doing he stokes the flames of racism and drives wedges between the body of Christ.  And rather than pointing the church to Christ and the gospel, he constantly throws confusing distractions in the way in order to divide and conquer.  His conduct is shameful.

Here’s the Biblical problem with Moore’s article.  As an example of how Jesus opposes “white supremacy” he cites the account of Jesus’s cleansing the Jerusalem Temple (see Matt. 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-18; and Luke 19:45-46).  In this well-known account, Jesus turns over the tables of the money-changers who had taken “My Father’s House” and turned into a “Robber’s Den.”  Moore asserts that Jesus was angry about racism.  This is an asinine assertion, and Moore probably knows it’s asinine.  The Biblically literate will see right through his exegetical smoke and mirrors, but the average American, indeed the average Washington Post reader, is not all that Biblically literate.  And even many of those WHO ARE will look right past Moore’s scripture-twisting because they admire him and they assume he is serving a greater good by invoking Jesus’s name to attack a group that Moore and his supporters hate.

The problem Jesus confronted in the Temple had to do with a place of holiness being turned into a place of merchandise.  We don’t have to guess what Jesus’s motive was.  Nor do we need to dream up a false motive for him, as Moore does.  Jesus TELLS us what raised his ire:  And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:12-13 ESV) 

When people came from faraway lands to offer sacrifices at the Temple they often chose to wait and buy the animal sacrifice itself once they got to Jerusalem.  Thus, the selling of “pigeons” or “doves” in the Temple.  In addition to this, the corrupt Temple leadership desired Roman money rather than foreign currency.  Thus, the need for the “money-changers.”  These financial sharks would trade the money for Roman currency at an exchange rate that lined their pockets and ripped off their customers.  What Jesus was confronting was an economic, market-place fiasco that had turned the Temple into a first century flea market.  Holiness was a joke.  Much as it is today.  But Russell Moore would have you believe that “racism” was the primary issue Jesus was confronting.  Furthermore, with the extraordinarily misleading headline, Moore implies that it was specifically “white supremacy” that Jesus was going up against.  As if the KKK had set up shop in the Temple and were burning crosses.  To be clear, the leaders Jesus confronted were religiously Jewish, and ethnically Middle-Eastern.  There were no Anglos present.  But this minor detail would not serve Moore’s political purpose.  His article is at best misleading and at worst blatantly dishonest.

Most Americans would agree with Moore that white supremacy is bad.  It would also be Biblically justified to say that Jesus would oppose racial discrimination as well.  But in the case of Jesus, and many Americans, the criticism of racism would not be limited to white people alone.  Black supremacy is also sinful, but Moore is forever mute on this topic.  Jewish supremacy is sinful, but Moore and many Christians, are mute on this topic.  Islamic supremacy is sinful, but Moore and most of the media, is mute on this topic.  In short, all races, ethnicities, and nations matter.  Black lives matter.  White lives matter.  And every other color in the spectrum’s lives matter.  But Moore reserves his vitriol for whites and whites alone, while saying nothing of others.  This, Jesus did not do.

One final note.  Moore correctly points out that Jesus confronted the religious hypocrites of his day.  Jesus said of the Jewish Pharisees, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.” (Matt. 15:8) Hypocrites say one thing to one group, while saying or doing the opposite to another group.  Hypocrisy would be a Pharisee who preaches against adultery, while he himself is engaged in an affair.  Hypocrisy would be a Pharisee who preaches against greed, while he himself is guilty of embezzlement.  Or hypocrisy would be a Southern Baptist who takes a check from the convention, then turns around and stabs his benefactors in the back.  Hypocrisy would be to twist the words of Scripture to suit your own political goals.  Hypocrisy would be to kiss-up to the New York Times and the Washington Post by throwing your church under the bus, time and time again.  Since Moore knows the Bible so well, maybe he could show us the text that says the church should use its finances to fund political lobbying groups like the ERLC.  I don’t find the New Testament giving this as a mandate, or even an example.  Maybe it’s time that Russell Moore started attacking the church on his own time and with his own dime.  Maybe the SBC should pull the plug on his left-leaning sideshow.

Russell Moore has used his position in the SBC to stoke the flames of racism, misrepresent the views of many Christians, and insert himself into news headlines. The more extreme fringes of Charlottesville represent a very small segment of the white population. But Russell Moore seems giddy over the racial strife. It’s good for his business. It’s no accident that the liberal press gives him so much ink.  They love him because he frequently attacks the Lord’s Church, and he does so while claiming the Lord’s sanction. What a travesty that the SBC funds his shenanigans.

Written by Shane Kastler

Shane Kastler serves as Pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Lake Charles, Louisiana (www.hbc-lakecharles.com). He is a graduate of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Master of Divinity) and Northeastern State University (Bachelor of Business Admin.). In addition to pastoring, he is the Co-Host of "Church & State" heard every Thursday from 8-10 AM on KELB, 100.5 FM in Lake Charles. Shane writes a weekly newspaper column called "Seeking Higher Ground" and has contributed articles to "Sword & Trowel", the "Economic Policy Journal", and LewRockwell.com. He is also the author of "Nathan Bedford Forrest's Redemption" a biography of the great Confederate general, which tells of how he found redemption in Christ. Shane and his wife Erin are both native Oklahomans, who now make their home in Lake Charles with their 3 children. His blog is: http://shanekastler.typepad.com
  • bionic mosquito

    Overall a very good take. I will ask about one statement:

    “In other words, he takes a salary from the SBC and then uses a good
    portion of his time and resources to attack the very people who fund
    him.”

    Mr. Kastler, I am certain you know these groups and individuals far better than I do, but I wonder about this statement. First of all, if a group is funding this individual and he is working against that group…well, why would you conclude that he is working *against* the group? Perhaps he is working against the membership, but is he working against the leadership?

    Thank you.