Pastor Questions Russell Moore at SBC

June 24, 2016

John Wofford | Pastor
Armorel Baptist Church, Blytheville, AR

*This article was originally found posted at the  Arkansas Baptist News website and is used by permission.

Let me begin by saying that I fully understand the Constitution of the United States of America upholds and protects the freedom of religion for its citizens. I also understand that this freedom applies to all faiths. I thank God for this country in which I live and the freedoms that I and others have been so blessed to enjoy. I am thankful for the many men and women who have given their lives to defend these freedoms and for those who are currently serving to maintain them. Yes, I know the freedom of religion as granted by our civil government applies to all faiths. But, the issue I was addressing with Dr. Moore was not a civil government issue. Rather, it was a spiritual issue.

The question I put before Dr. Moore was:

Do you actually believe that if Jesus Christ were here today that He would support this and that He would stand up and say, ‘Well, let us protect the rights of those Baal worshipers to erect temples to Baal?’ Do you believe that Dr. Moore?

That was a very simple question and it is the question that was not answered, therefore it remains.

Let me interject at this point that I was not given a chance for rebuttal to Dr. Moore’s “non-answer” response to my question because my microphone was immediately turned off. No one approached me for further discussion, neither have I since then been contacted by Dr. Moore nor any other member of leadership within the Southern Baptist Convention. Therefore I would like to clarify at this point what may have been misunderstood by others, especially those outside of the Southern Baptist Convention, as to the intent of my question.

While I understand that the Constitution of the United States of America defends religious freedom for all, yet more importantly, as a Christian I believe that true “soul freedom” is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ. Though I am a Baptist according to doctrinal convictions and practice, first and foremost, I am a Christian. Likewise, while I am an American citizen, more importantly, I am a Christian.

Therefore, as a Christian, my first allegiance is to Jesus Christ and His word, not a denomination, a convention, nor a civil government. Jesus Christ is the one who gave His life for me. He is the one who was crucified, buried and arose from the grave to pay the penalty of my sins and thus provide salvation for my soul. My denomination did not give me this salvation. Neither did my country.

As a Christian, I believe that God has commanded us: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment is to: “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind and with all thy strength.” He also said: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve.”

Furthermore, we are instructed by God to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather to reprove them.” and to not be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” We are also told that if someone comes to us who does not bring the doctrine of Christ, we are not to bid him “God speed.”

So, the question is: “Would Jesus Christ stand in a court of law, defending the rights of a false religion to erect mosques, temples or other places of worship which are clearly in violation of the First and Second Commandments of God?” I think not.

For me, the Bible is very clear that we as Christians are to have no fellowship with the works of darkness, nor are we to enter into coalitions or allegiances with unbelievers, especially as it pertains to their false worship. If we enter into an inter-faith group and begin to lobby for or to assist them in the erecting of their places of worship, we have violated the clear teachings and instructions found in the word of God and we have become partakers with them in their sin. If we thus grieve the Holy Spirit by our transgression, what power will we have in our witness to them? How can we expect God to bless our ministry if we defy His commands? Dare we tempt the Lord our God so?

As a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I desire to see men “turn from their idols and serve the living and true God.” Why then would I waste my efforts or money in helping them to erect places of false worship which keeps them under condemnation and invalidates my witness of the One True God? I guess you could say that I am in business to save the souls of men, I am not in business of helping them go to hell.

In conclusion, I have been called by some a “bigot” and a “racist.” It has been said I am a “fearful hater” who wants to “deny men their religious freedoms.” This is simply not true. I hate no one, nor do I fear any man – only God. I do not care what race, sexual orientation, or religion a person may have. Like my heavenly Father, I desire that “all men would be saved and come to the knowledge of truth.” Grace and truth has come by Christ Jesus, for He is the way, the truth and the life.

May God grant that we Christians in the Southern Baptist Convention will love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, so that we may then truly love our neighbors as we should.

Respectfully yours in Christ,

Bro. John Wofford

Scripture References: Exodus 20:3, Matthew 12:30, Matthew 4:10, Ephesians 5:11, 2Corinthians 6:14, 2John 1:10, 1Thessalonians 1:9, 1Timothy 2:4

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Kelly Powers


Brad Layton

Excellent question by Pastor John Wofford, and superb explanation of the basis for the question.


So, Russ Moore’s 15 minutes is not up yet? He will find another provocative issue in his quest for more media time.

I thought his comrades (and boss) were outraged that SWBTS allowed a Muslim anthropology student?

    Bill Signer

    Thank God he is on media, as a good representative of what I believe as a Southern Baptist. We need more thoughtful, sane people representing evangelicals and SBC’ers like Dr. Moore.

    Plenty of outrage to go around, by the way, like when Richard Land was using his media time to poorly represent the SBC over the Trayvon Martin remarks…


I had no idea that Islamic doctrine promoted and affirmed Religious Freedom. :o)

William Thornton

When our entity leaders are questioned by their ultimate employers, they should accept the question and give an answer. Since your question was highly provocative, included a bit of imnplied derision (“do you actually believe”), and was framed in a hostile manner by invoking both Jesus and Baal, I’d say you got the answer you deserved. Regardless, messengers should ask the questions they wish to ask and Moore et al, our entity leaders, are accustomed to being challenged.

On the issue of our first amendment religious liberty rights, is it unfair to say that you support such but could not do so in a concrete way if the religion was other than orthodox Christianity? I’m curious about the point at which you would feel compelled to speak up, to advocate, for religious freedom not your own.


    Let’s see: the questioner was rude and deserved to be spanked because this is how Christian Leaders like Moore are expected to act. And religious freedom now means the SBC has to use SBC resources to help build a Mosque. Not fight for general religious freedom in pushing through laws and policies but the SBC has to actually go to court and fight for Muslims to be able to build a Mosque. Gosh that’s really hard to know where the line is there. General policies promoting religious freedom for all somehow mean we have to now help in the construction of temples of Baal.


Do not be dismayed that your mic was turned off, brother. It is the usual practice of those who don’t want to be cornered by questions like yours. It appears as cowardice, really — which, if true, is not a trait we need in our SBC leaders, especially at the ERLC. That said, Dr. Moore is in a tight spot. Our nation was founded upon a Judeo-Christian ethic for the sake of freedom of religion, among others. The historical context was to be rid of the Church of England and to establish a separation of state from church. The thinking from some is that, if we do not defend the religious liberty of others, then we actually undercut our own. I agree to that. However, as your question indicates, we are conflicted when supporting a religion that seeks to rid the world of the Judeo-Christian ethic. Deeper thinking among our leadership should reveal that opposing a religion that commands the destruction of all other religions is not against religious freedom, but is a defense of it. Though such a position may sound contradictory, ERLC’s position should be against houses of religion that espouse hatred toward, and the destruction of all other religions. How hypocritical it is of one religion to demand religious freedom when it advocates for the conversion of everyone to that religion — or be killed if you don’t? That is not religious freedom, it is religious tyranny — the kind our forefathers faced in England, and the express reason they left that country to start a new one. Standing against Islam would be protecting religious freedom for the masses instead of advocating for a hypocritical, destructive factional minority.


    Russ Moore is on the record, as Dean at SBTS, advocating for more patriarchy. He even said that comps are wimps. Moore is very much a top-down Authority guy. A caste system thinker.

    He actually has a lot in common with Islam. I can see why he does not see it as a threat.



      Are you able to make an argument without attacking someone’s character? I mean, I am not the strongest Moore supporter, but heavens…you think he has things in common with Islam? An attention seeker? Authoritarian? I am not even sure the people who run this website would jump to such horrible characterizations. Misguided, maybe. But what you said was flat out unkind.


        Phyllis, I paraphrased his paper for the Henry Institute and something he had repeated in other venues.

        Moore was insistent we have more Patriarchy. He called comps wimps.

        Is Islam more patriarchal or complementarian? Would an Imam have the power and influence to shame Muslims into who not to vote for? Of course. That is how they operate, too.

        But not very Baptist, is it?

        I fail to see how stating facts and connecting dots is a character attack except when it comes to Christians, their institutions and celebrity. Of course calling anything like that a character attack almost always works at shutting down free uncomfortable speech. Position it as a sin. It works for most. Not for me.

        What scares me even more is how many people are taken in by Moore and shaming for stating the obvious.


        Phyllis, Given what seems to be your “attack” criteria, isn’t your comment attacking me? (Wink)

Jim Poulos

Pastor Wofford,

You are sincere in what your write. But there must be a clear view of what your up against to fight it with wisdom from God.

It is too easy to confuse state with church. This is the very thing many here accuse Calvinists of doing.

This world in labeled by scripture ‘this present evil age.’ The United States is not the Kingdom of God, ‘Age to come.’

This is not the Christian’s world. That misunderstanding started with Constantine in 350 A.D. and continues to confuse the Church. To be a viable witness to a world under God’s Judgment we must know that difference.

The line of demarcation is in between the Person, Jesus and ‘this present evil age,’ as your comments point to.


    Jim Poulos

    One additional point:

    The line is The Church (Jesus its Lord) and the World in rebellion to that Lord.

    If the Church confuses that line it going to hurt the Church (that is the people in it) and the World ( the people who need the Gospel which the Church is entrusted to both live and proclaim).

Herb Miller

The problem is calling Islam a religion. Whenever a religious group has as its goal the setting up of its own government it is no longer religious. It is political. And, it is a subversive political movement. No one that is a member of that political movement should be allowed into this country.

By the way, government already regulates where and how some churches can be built by the use of zoning laws.

As a father and husband, one of my responsibilities is to protect my family. I would rather face God knowing I tried to protect my family rather than endangering them and many other people, also by allowing a politically subversive movement to thrive in the country he gave us.



    Yes, Islam is a theocracy. True Islam has rules and roles that negate self government or freedom of conscious.

    Thank goodness many Muslims are cultural. And Islam believes any child born of a Muslim parent is a Muslim. However, because it is one of the fastest growing religions there are millions who are devout.

    Sadly, many who come here have no experience with self government. They are used to strong leaders who direct and provide. They are very caste system oriented.

    We are arrogant or gullible enough to think they will become, as a group, Democratic when we open our gates.

    The criteria for me is not religion but political in the sense of self government and toleration for others.

    If no one knows what I am talking about, dig into the cultural problems of Holland and Germany since mass immigration of Muslims. There are public pools that had to end coed swimming because Muslim men were offended by the non Muslim women.

    Won’t happen here? England already has 80 legal Sharia law courts.

    I have a theory. I have no proof but am going to throw it out as something to keep an eye on. I have a bit of experience working with Refugee Ministries with Muslim populations. It is unbelievable how much Federal money is involved. Its the UN>Feds and state governments have very little say. The biggies on the block are Catholic Charities. It is a big job creator for the Catholics for you name it. Program managers, case workers, translators, job developers, educators, etc. (I hate to be crass but often one finds themselves working with a population that has no experience with a toilet seat to give an example of the gaps in the basics of transitioning to our culture. And many refugees are not grateful. They are resentful because they had a place in their caste system)

    Am I seeing a play by the SBC to get in on the Federal largesse in Refugee settlement action? The building blocks are in place. Moore is making it a salvic issue like he did with Trump.


      There was a recent article somewhere about some pools in NYC now have segregated times for Muslims. This is considered inclusive. When Orthodox Jews wanted segregated times they were called bigots and haters.


        I read that even some YMCA in Europe are capitulating to these demands in an effort to show religious toleration. In Cologne Germany, Muslim men were out in the streets during New Years harassing, some violent, German women for not covering. In Holland they stopped allowing women to be tram drivers in Muslim districts because of the harassment. These governments capitulate because they are now scared not to.
        Islam is not good for young girls or women. To break with it means being an outcast in that community.

        Why would the SBC go beyond basic religious toleration into actually promoting and affirming Islam? There is a reason and since deception is the Playbook for that movement and those leaders most won’t know until too late. It could just be about camera time for Moore or something bigger.

        I sure hope more people in the SBC make it known publicly that Russ Moore does not speak for them.

Indiana Jim

There are several problems with the original premise of your question.

1) “Do you actually believe…” Incendiary and accusatory, as has been pointed out.
2) “…that Jesus would do or say…” Irrelevant, asking Dr. Moore to put words in Jesus’ mouth.
3) We already know what Jesus said regarding issues of civil government with, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.”
4) Fundamental misunderstanding of the ERLC, apparently. It stands for “Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission,” not, “Ethics and Christian Liberty Commission.” The ERLC as I understand it is an entity that specifically address issues of civil government. It cannot be ethical if it stands for the inequal application of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
5) You obviously have an issue with the ERLC in general, and you used your opportunity to ask a question and deliberately phrased it in such a way as to make Dr. Moore look foolish. He addressed your question exactly the way he should have. It was a bad question with disingenuous intent.

    Robert Vaughn

    I’ve asked this question on other blogs, but haven’t gotten an opinion yet. Jim, what do you think? Based on the Mission Statement of the ERLC (e.g., “exists to assist the churches”), I wonder whether involvement in non-Southern Baptist matters is part of what was originally expected of them? There may be other documents that delineate their purpose in greater detail, but the basic mission statement seems to engage their work toward churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. On the other hand, one could argue that standing up for universal religious liberty does “assist the churches.” Thanks.

Bill Signer

Perhaps a better question than what would Jesus do is what did Jesus do?


    Jesus went to the government to support the construction of pagan temples? I don’t know how I missed that.

Peter Lumpkins

Look. Some of you guys need to get off your self-righteous high-horse and give the brother a break. Yes, I think Pastor Wofford’s question lacked both precision and suitable framing and have publicly said so. But that’s no reason to blast him as intentionally making Moore either look foolish or possessing a vendetta concerning the ERLC. Wofford attempts to clarify his question, and some ignore his clarification only to criticize the original. Sheesh…
Already a very difficult environment exists which thwarts questions of the SBC platform, and heckling a guy afterward for doing so only piles on more.
Even so, while plenty of criticism has been leveled toward Pastor Wofford for asking the question the way he did, what remains strangely absent is questioning why Dr. Moore answered the way he did. Personally, there is no call whatsoever in insinuating a messenger is asking a stupid question. I’ve learned through experience over several years dealing with questions pertaining to what I’ve taught or said in my church, treat every questioner with respect, even one who asks a simplistic question, an immature question. As one commenter suggested, the platform is used to being questioned. If he is correct, more grace should have fallen from the platform it seems to me.
With that, I am…

    Andrew Barker

    Peter: The following extract is from my Linux help desk. It demonstrates a more enlightened approach to the unavoidable ‘stupid’ question. Perhaps the platform committee could learn a thing or two from this approach. The preamble is “All gurus once were newbies” :-)

    Forum rules
    There are no such things as “stupid” questions. However if you think your question is a bit stupid, then this is the right place for you to post it. Please stick to easy to-the-point questions that you feel people can answer fast. For long and complicated questions prefer the other forums within the support section.
    Before you post please read how to get help


    Moores response was the perfect way to ensure that brothers and sisters avoid the same treatment in the future. It was meant to belittle in order to silence many others in the future. That is simply how those men roll. Don’t question. Just go along. This attitude has been there for a long time. Driscoll called it “sinning by questioning”. Mahaney just preaches his favourite proof text, Hebrews 13:17.

    Some of us know this from reading them and their social media exchanges. And their patterns if behavior over years.. Example, had Joe Carter worked for me in a similar capacity, he would have been long gone for his insults and vitriol toward people who pay his salary. I don’t expect his boss to be any different. Mohler has raised up some of the most arrogant and hateful little men I have ever come across….outside Christendom, too!

    It blows my mind they expect people to pay them to behave this way and that people keep paying them!

    But it seems to be the new normal for the SBC. It is now a Shepherding cult where the inferiors are to go along. It is hard for people to realize that is how they really see themselves.

    The irony is that Moore is more like Trump than he realizes. :o)


I think the question was designed to demonstrate the absurdity of Moore’s views and blatant political pandering. It was Moore’s answer that made him look foolish.


This situation should be another nail in the coffin of the ERLC. It was and still is a bad idea.

Why on earth would Baptists, of all people, think one man could speak for them? Unless….they have ceased being Baptist?


    Lydia: Dr. Richard Land, former head of ELRC, was always careful and intentional to say: “I do not speak *for* Southern Baptists, I speak *to* them.” I am not sure if Moore is on record as saying that, or even if he agrees with it.

D. Morgan

It was a valid question that deserves a response. And it is a question which raises an even greater question: has the ERLC lost it way? I for one stand with Pastor Wofford.

Johnathan Pritchett

People should learn the lesson from 2011.

Never ask SBC entity presidents a question at the Annual Meeting.

Get an organization to support an open challenge to public formal moderated debates on the issues that need to be addressed and call them out repeatedly if they refuse to participate.

It is worth noting that Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary’s campus is 2.5 hours away from Nashville and 1.5 hours away from Louisville. We’ll host them for free in our auditorium and steam them live on the Internet. ;)

    Rick Patrick

    No matter how much I disagree with a person, nobody deserves to be “steamed live” on the Internet. :-)

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