Dr. Russell Moore Did the Right Thing
Well, it was more than just him, but he should get at least some credit.
You may have heard the news that the Pentagon's intraweb was, for a period of time, blocking access to Southern Baptist Convention websites. Now, for the life of me, I can't figure out exactly how that became knowledge, nor why someone at the Pentagon would have been trying to access such a website. But, it doesn't matter. Whether for reasons nefarious, routine, or just plain curious, someone discovered that the Pentagon's web filter was blocking the Baptists and the press ran with it.
Some immediately denounced the Pentagon and suggested that there was an agenda afoot to silence a Christian denomination that has been, at times, critical of this administration whether that was the denomination speaking as a whole or some of its more prominent members.
Well, one of its more prominent members is Dr. Russell Moore. In fact, he's been the academic dean at the denomination's largest seminary and is beginning the transition, now, to a new role as president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the denomination's public policy wing. As an aside, he's a great man for that job. You can listen to my interview with Dr. Moore last December 18th as he discusses, "How Do We Honor the Emperor" to get a sense of this man's mind and contending humility. He'll do well.
He'll do well, in part, because he's different. That is to say, I think Dr. Moore is going to force the pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-religious freedom, pro-family (whatever our name is) movement to adjust how we act and react. Default mode for many of us in situations like what happened at the Pentagon has been to immediately assume the worst and go public with what are ultimately vain, self-righteous accusations. That's not what he did. Note, however, what he did do.
First, he let the right people make the right statement. His first comment was not to comment, but to allow the SBC spokesman guy to make the comment without further elaboration:
Of course, don't miss the fact that this also means that Dr. Moore was both following the situation and thinking through it critically. We have seen the military recently categorize denominations like him as, "religious extremists" on the level of the KKK. There is some fact to the potential fiction that the Pentagon was working to censor the Baptists.
But, he didn't stop there. When it became clear that this was not an issue of censorship, Dr. Moore did the right thing and broadcast what actually happened. It was a computer glitch!
Now, imagine what the SBC's witness, through Dr. Moore, would have been if, the moment he had heard about the situation, he had taken the bait and launched a social media missive (and his Twitter, Facebook, and blog following is substantial), leveling a charge of censorship. With no inquiry, no room for grace, Dr. Moore would have slammed shut many doors that are open to him and his very important message and further alienated any feelings of ill-will the opponents of the SBC may have had for him.
And, here's the thing: I don't think he even thought about it.
That is, from my brief interaction with him and watching him from a distance, I would venture to guess this even-keeled, grace-filled, don't-fire-before-you-see-the-whites-of-their-eyes approach is probably second-nature to Dr. Moore. In fact, I'd wager he would be the first to say that it's certainly not his first nature. Rather, it is evidence of the work of Grace in his heart.
Those of us who mark ourselves according to the same Grace ought to pause and reflect. This is a dangerous world and one that is violently opposed to the Truth of Christ that we stand for, but that does not mean there is a conspiracy behind every rock. Cowards - not future kings and queens of the universe - walk with fear past pitfalls and shadowy alleys. The upright walk with confidence in One far-greater than any conspiracy.