Dr. Rick Patrick, Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church, Sylacauga, AL
Executive Director, Connect 316
In the autumn of 2013, the year Russell Moore was installed as the President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, a Wall Street Journal article recorded a perceptively prophetic quote by Al Mohler: “When Richard Land spoke to most issues, he was certain that Southern Baptists were behind him and he was their mouthpiece. Russ will need a deft touch to make sure that Southern Baptists stay behind him.” Today, even Moore’s strongest supporters must admit that his touch has been anything but deft, for a great many Southern Baptists are simply not behind him at all.
In light of the growing collection of essays critical of Moore’s ERLC, this post offers an exhaustive, annotated anthology of literature rebuking his leadership. Numerous readers and pastors have asked, “Where can I find resources explaining all the concerns with Russell Moore’s ERLC that have been raised by Southern Baptists?” The goal here is to provide one-stop shopping for those seeking such answers. Excluded are essays by Moore’s defenders and neutral news accounts merely reporting the existence of the controversy. The task was to digest and summarize every essay registering concern with Russell Moore’s ERLC leadership. The list is chronologically organized. Each headline actively links to the original essay.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared at ronniefloyd.com and is used by permission.
Passion is high in America on issues relating to refugees. The pundits, politicians, and even preachers are weighing in. How do we find our way through these complex issues?
As followers of Jesus Christ, what is the balanced, biblical perspective? If we do not look at it biblically, we enter into dialogue without authority and clarity.
Three Practical Realities
There are three practical realities that are inescapable. It is imperative we understand these or we will get lost in the complexity of the issues. Consider these three realities:
Love the Refugee
The Gospel of Jesus Christ moves me to call on all of us to demonstrate compassionate action toward the refugee. We need to honor and respect them individually for their God-given dignity. However, their long-term future in our nation is a political issue, not a spiritual one.
Fix the Immigration System
In prior writings about these issues, I have mentioned that negligent leadership and political polarization has now resulted in this American crisis. Our immigration system is not working. Otherwise, we would not be where we are today.
Immigration is a political issue and it needs to be addressed by our nation seriously and immediately. Therefore, this is not in the hands of the Church, but in the hands of our elected leadership. Justice and fairness in relationship to the law must be considered along with compassion and mercy toward all persons.
We must pray for our nation and for our leaders to come together and resolve this issue, both short-term and long-term. The lives of people are at stake. The security of our nation is at stake.
When we address this sensitive and challenging subject, our goal should be to see the issues through biblical lenses from God’s perspective. Articles and talk show hosts may be helpful at times, but what God says is more important than what anyone else says about it.
The Responsibility of Government
Romans 13:4, “For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.”
Our government’s first responsibility is to protect the American people. Each President in our nation takes the following oath of office: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Therefore, the President and the government in our nation must work together to protect the citizens of the United States. This means they must come together and resolve many issues regarding the security of our nation, including refugee, immigration, and border issues.
President Donald Trump was clear in his campaign and to this very day about his strategy relating to the security of our nation. Whether it is President Trump, a past president, or a future president, each has the responsibility to secure our nation. Due to the changing state of our world, this can look different from administration to administration.
During my 2016 term as President of the Southern Baptist Convention, a compassionate resolution was adopted entitled, “On Refugee Ministry,” and I believe it would be worth reading. Please notice one line in this resolution that realized the biblical responsibility of government: “RESOLVED, That we call on the governing authorities to implement the strictest security measures possible in the refugee screening and selection process, guarding against anyone intent on doing harm;”
This line was included in the resolution because as followers of Christ, we must understand the tension that occurs because our government has a responsibility it is mandated to fulfill.
The Church in America must pray for our president and all those in leadership in our nation. We, the Church, are not responsible for policy, but for people.
The Church is here to serve people. The Bible is very clear about how we must love the refugee and serve them compassionately.
Deuteronomy 10:18-19, “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing. You also must love the foreigner.…” Foreigners and refugees are made in the image of God, should be loved, receive compassion and justice, and never be abused. Being pro-life means we care about everyone from the womb to the tomb, no matter their nationality, race, or religion. (Genesis 1:26-28; Exodus 22:21-22, 23:9; Deuteronomy 10:17-19; Leviticus 19:34, Micah 6:8; Zechariah 7:8-10, Matthew 25:35-40; and Romans 13:1)
While the Church prays for our president and political leaders to resolve these complex issues, our church and many others will continue our extensive efforts to serve the vulnerable here and abroad whatever the policy of the government. We do not advise the government regarding issues of national security and they do not advise us on who and how we serve.
In my humble opinion, there should be no religious test except as it relates to those who face persecution because of their religious beliefs.
An Appeal to America
We are living in a dangerous world, and no one can deny the fact that terrorists—especially in Europe – have attempted to use our compassion against us.
Therefore, President Trump, his Cabinet, and the members of both houses of Congress must navigate together toward a resolution that protects our nation as well as operates with generosity and compassion. The Church should be careful with our words and judgments, giving them time to work through these long-existing, complex issues.
Furthermore, the Church should always stand ready nationally and globally to love all refugees, meeting their needs, the greatest of which is ultimately the same as ours: A personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Believing and operating with biblical balance, we know the Church must realize biblically that the government’s duty is to protect its citizens. Simultaneously, we must affirm the responsibility of the Church to minister to refugees who are brought inside the borders of America.
As Jesus said, “I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Editor’s Note: The photo at the top of this article was taken from the Hannibal Courier Post.
Last month, my wife and I celebrated our 42nd anniversary. We got up that morning, looked at each other, said, “Happy Anniversary!” and went about our day’s work. I met my wife, Cathy, in Hannibal, Missouri, where I was attending school at Hannibal LaGrange College. New to the area, new to the ministry and very wet behind the ears, I was thrilled when a small country church, Antioch Baptist, offered me a job as their youth pastor. I had no clue what I was doing, but the church was patient, kind, loving and tolerant of my mistakes. Continue reading