Russell Moore Elevates White Guilt As Religious Sacrament
A common refrain in the analysis of the 2016 presidential election cycle is that this particular contest has rubbed a raw nerve in terms of worldview assumptions and even animosities usually left hidden and simmering below the surface. In a column published initially in the New York Times titled “A White Church No More”, Southern Baptist Ethics and Policy Commission functionary Russell Moore tips his hand to reveal the true radical colors beneath his polished pulpit facade.
Moore commences his analysis by detailing the plight of an Alabama church in decline as the vicinity of the congregation's physical locality transitions from a predominantly White to Black population. Moore blames the decline on the fact that during the tumultuous years of the civil rights movement, often marked by shocking and noteworthy acts of violence, the church decided to focus on its primary mission of “simple gospel preaching”.
But how was the activism Moore would hope for in that historic setting appreciably different than the cultural Christianity that this theologian now explicitly celebrates the demise of? Interesting how Moore calls for the law and justice imperatives heralded in Scripture when it is minority lives and property on the line but seemingly downplays the physicalized expression of outage when it is Whitey's or a capitalist's window being shattered.
In mentioning this tragic violence, Russell Moore hopes to link its perpetrators with Donald Trump and any that might vote for the blunt real estate tycoon. As I have mentioned in previous columns, if we are to pursue this line of reasoning, why shouldn't we conclude that Russell Moore through his assorted ecclesiastical relationships must believe pedophile pastors and the churches that shelter them haven't done anything all that wrong and shouldn't be sanctioned so severely?
For at a recent pastor's conference, Moore's mentor and close colleague Albert Mohler did not chastise C.J. Mahaney for allowing a sex abuse scandal to spiral out of control. Instead, Mohler instead assured the megachurch minister that he was in the company of thousands of his closest friends. Mind you, these are the very same kinds of people that will call the validity of your faith into question if you are not in church multiple nights per week or aren't married by the time you are 23 years old.
In the indictment of Trump that reads reminiscent of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, Moore writes, “This election has cast light on the darkness of pent-up nativism and bigotry ...There are not-so-coded messages denouncing African-Americans and immigrants; concerns about racial justice and national unity is ridiculed as 'political correctness'. Religious minorities are scapegoated for the sins of others, with basic religious freedoms for them called into question.”
Daniel Patrick Moniyhan (a Democrat actually) was credited with popularizing the concept of the bigotry of low expectations. Dr. Moore craves nothing more than to be applauded as a Southerner that has come around to the perspective of the Yankee elite regarding racial issues. However, given that he does not apply the same standard to all individuals irrespective of skin color, it must be asked does Brother Moore view minorities as fully human in the same manner as he would his fellow Caucasians?
If Dr. Moore is so concerned about the causes of national unity and racial justice, why doesn't he resign his position from the board of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference? For by the organization's very name, the National Hispanic Leadership Conference is exclusionary of the interests of Caucasians of a non-Iberian ethnography. If Caucasians of a more northern European extraction are not worthy of status and privilege (to invoke the parlance of these crypto-Marxists) on the basis of what color they emerge from the birth canals of their respective mothers, why are Hispanics deserving of such on the basis of Scripture which says that before God there is neither Greek nor Jew?
Despite whatever errors he might have made in terms of his presentation on the Fox News Channel, Glenn Beck is to be lauded for making the public aware that the notion of “social justice” is not about justice at all but rather about in the name of socialism downplaying the rights and protections afforded to the individual in favor of the collective and what is allegedly better for specific groups as determined by largely unaccountable technocrats. That is the kind of threat posed by Russell Moore in his raising the battle cry of “racial justice”.
If persons are not to be considered as individuals and the totality of their accomplishments but rather upon the shortcomings inflicted by and/or on certain groups, what if Dr. Moore's string of highly prestigious positions were seized from him and bestowed upon someone that has hardly cracked a book open a day in their lives but instead knocked over a few liquor stores and sired a number of out of wedlock children by as many women because a life of study and delayed gratification were categorized as acting just “too White”? By the very standards advocated by Dr. Moore, wouldn't a response other than affirmative agreement to such a course of action not only undermine social cohesion but also negate a number of Biblical imperatives such as submitting to authority and turning the other cheek?
Dr. Moore goes on to lament, “The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's 'I Have A Dream Speech' did not envision that more than 50 years later 'Go back to Africa' would be screamed at black protesters.” Probably because, as someone enamored in part with the delusions of socialism, Martin Luther King might not have been able to fathom Black people often lavished with a standard of living enviable by world standards descending into debaucheries most of them avoided when the status of this demographic was at its lowest in terms of material prosperity.
Perhaps Dr. Moore should have provided additional context such as where and to what particular group this directional imperative was being directed. For example, could these have been the sorts of protesters that express their disagreement with particular trial verdicts or police actions by appropriating the latest electronics or haircare products unencumbered by medium of exchange after the proprietors of such establishments have left the premises for the evening or in fear of the repercussions the mob might decide to inflict upon bystanding property owners?
Russell Moore is making quite a reputation for himself regularly publishing tirades against what academics such as himself might lament or denounce as White majoritarian culture. Does he ever intend to speak out as eloquently against outrages such as the knockout game?
In Moore's column, one is given the impression that the remark “Go back to Africa” is a negative or bad thing. Yet doesn't fostering this impression expose Moore's own ethnocentricism or White privilege?
For in a world where, as Moore writes, “The man on the throne in heaven is a dark-skinned, Aramaic-speaking 'foreigner' who is probably not all that impressed by chants of 'Make America great again', who is to suggest America is a more desirable place to live than Africa?
Moore continues, “The center of gravity for both orthodoxy is not among Anglo suburban evangelicals but among African Anglicans and Asian Calvinists and Latin American Pentecostals.”
The first part of that statement that ought to be like fingernails across a chalkboard to the mind of the discerning reader is the way in which “Anglo suburban” is articulated like a slur. What it means is that Moore has a problem with Whites that work hard and save their resources to provide for a reasonably comfortable dwelling where the occupants are able to stay to themselves and their individual families.
What the communitarian new urbanists of whom Moore is probably an enthusiast prefer is to chorale people into congested population centers where the residents probably don't even own their property, where they are more easily controlled, and where it is easy to snoop into someone's private affairs. For nowhere in his comments did Dr. Moore condemn the largely White beatnik hipsters that prefer to habitate in largely metropolitan settings.
While we are at it, even if he does not provide his address outright, perhaps Dr. Moore should describe in which manner of dwelling he hangs his own ecclesiastical robes or clerical collars. It is doubtful it is in a rundown apartment project where English is about as dead as Latin.
For in the mind of this theologian under scrutiny in this particular analysis, Mrs. Moore and the little ones are no doubt deserving of a safe and spacious place in which to live and thrive. It is your obligation, dear pewfiller, however to put your own family at risk for reasons little more than because some pulpit blowhard tells you to in order to assuage his ever expanding sense of racialist guilt.
What must be asked next about this assertion that contends that the center of theological gravity is to be found among African Anglicans, Asian Calvinists and Latin American Pentecostals is why is it acceptable for Christians of these particular phenotypes to clump together for the purposes of religious identity and affiliation but not acceptable for White believers to do so? And if you were to grill members of each of these demographics they would probably admit that they are no more eager for their traditional way of doing things to be overwhelmed by the nebulous “other” postmodernist sociologists are always droning on about as those attending the aging Caucasian congregation.
Furthermore, just how much doctrinal compromise ought the Christian to agree to in pursuit of Russell Moore's demographic amalgamation before we are verbally reamed for abandoning those ballyhooed “Baptist distinctives”? After all, the problem with the church initially mentioned by Moore was not necessarily doctrine but rather because it was “too White”.
The Anglicans no doubt practice infant baptism and don't fly into a frenzy as to whether or not adults seeking membership have been dunked or sprinkled in what is considered this Christian act of initiation. This particular modality of ecclesiology also tends to follow a highly ritualized liturgy many Baptists would denounce for stifling the move of the Spirit.
With the Latin American Pentecostals, at the bare minimum the problem would arise at the opposite end of the decorum spectrum from the Anglicans. For an old joke describing how to tell the difference between Baptists and Pentecostals observes that Pentecostals jump over the pews while Baptists sleep in them.
Wanting to look as multicultural as possible, those such as Russell Moore will respond that Whites more uptight in church will just have to adopt the more exuberant forms of religious expression often practiced in minority communities. For if you ask the overly rambunctious to tone it down a bit, you will be accused of demanding that these other groups “act White” before their worship is deemed acceptable in the eyes of God.
But who was it that taught these aging White Baptists so despised by Moore to stifle the expression of their feelings in favor of an order of worship that emphasizes the rationally didactic over emotionalism? Why none other than the professional religionists and denominational functionaries once holding the kinds of prestigious positions now occupied by the likes of Russell Moore! It is amazing how these leaders seldom take responsibility for the policies or decisions of their particular class without first blaming it on the mere pewfillers and concocting ways to make the common church goer feel that they are nothing more than someone obligated to keep the collection plate filled.
Beyond the Pentecostal tendency towards emotional outbursts, for the sake of ethnographic solidarity, just how much Charismatic buffoonery is the average Baptist expected to put up with to placate the honchos flagellating themselves on the floor of the annual convention? Kenneth Copeland has insinuated off and on over the course of his ministry that those of his theological persuasion can resurrect the dead both feline and human. Joyce Meyers believes that she is so important that she shouldn't have to do her own housework. Todd Bently socked an alleged cancer patient in the stomach in the name of curing that particular affliction.
Critics will respond that each of these is White. Fine, if you want to play the game that character is indeed determined by the color of skin, I will be more happy to comply with such a silly standard.
T.D. Jakes has denied that the Godhead is a unity composed of three distinct persons known as the Trinity. Instead, this particular televangelist holds that the verbal identifiers of “Father”, “Son”, and “Holy Spirit” are rather masks or roles assumed by the singular unitary God.
Frederick Price is yet another Black pastor that espouses doctrinal notions nearly as aberrant. The website LetUsReason.org in an article titled “Fred Price: Is The Price Right Or Is The Price Wrong” examines a number of these. Among these rank the idea that we enjoyed a preincarnate existence (not unlike Mormonism) and that Jesus was rich while He dwelt upon the Earth despite Scripture teaching that he didn't even have a place to lay his head.
As errant as these happen to be, Prince propagates others that are even more dangerous. According to Price, the believer is so assured of bodily healing in this life that the truly faithful can even forbid sickness to enter into one's home, meaning that the Christian is in no need of medical interventions such as surgery. Unless of course you are Mrs. Price who had a cancer operation despite similar procedures being frowned upon for the less prominent amongst their flock.
But hey, that's no big deal. If Russell Moore wants to remain consistent, doesn't he have to assure us that compromise for the sake of superficial appearances and heartwarming photo op is more important than sending the wrong impression resulting from standing for the faith once delivered unto the saints.
Galatians 3:28 says that before God there is neither Greek nor Jew. It is also through the providence of the Almighty that all of humanity that traces its origin back to one single family now finds itself distilled into a variety of nations, tongues, ethnicities, and races largely to prevent for the time being the equivalent of another Tower of Babel. As such, a church should extend kindness and courtesy to anyone showing up on its doorstep sincerely seeking the Lord. Yet if particular varieties of people show up more at certain congregations more than others, there is no reason for controlling snobs at denominational headquarters (whose own offices are described nowhere in the pages of Scripture) to hand down pronouncements as to how ungodly such natural affiliation happens to be in their particular eyes.
Frederick Meekins is an independent theologian and social critic. Frederick holds a BS in Political Science/History, a MA in Apologetics/Christian Philosophy from Trinity Theological Seminary, and a PhD. in Christian Apologetics from Newburgh Theological Seminary.