Dr. Russell D. Moore has recently assumed the role of President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He previously served as the Dean of the School of Theology and Vice President of Academic Administration at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I attended Southern Seminary from 2003-2008 and had the opportunity to get to know Dr. Moore in my work as a seminary Ambassador and later an Admissions Counselor. I took two of my three systematic theology courses under his instruction and I can say, without hesitation, that there is no theologian living or dead who has had more of an impact on my personal theology than Dr. Moore. He patiently offered me wise counsel when I pastored a church in Louisville and in my current pastorate in St. Louis. He graciously came to our church last year and spoke on on Worship in the Kingdom of Christ, and I would encourage you to listen to those messages to find your heart and mind instructed in the supremacy of Christ.
Dr. Moore taught his students well in his role at Southern Seminary and with all the media buzz over his new role, the temptation might be to think that he has left a place of teaching to enter a place of influence. As if his role at the ERLC is where his “real” influence will begin. Make no mistake, he is undoubtedly the right man for the job, but his teaching hasn’t ended. The classroom just got a lot bigger. I look forward to Dr. Moore’s new class and I pray the SBC takes notes. You can copy a few of my notes, if you’d like a head start.
- The Family is Critical to the Kingdom of Christ: This means biblical clarity on manhood and womanhood, parenting, care of orphans, and abortion. Two of my favorites: “Does the Bride of Christ Have a Hyphenated Last Name? Man, Woman, and the Mystery of Christ.” ; “Fake Love, Fake War: Why Are So Many Men Hooked on Internet Porn and Video Games?” Dr. Moore invested in my family with wonderful words of counsel early in my time at Southern. My wife and I had different views on when we should start a family, my view centering on school and her view centering on…well, family. I was terrified I wouldn’t finish seminary if we began a family. Dr. Moore’s counsel was simple and clear: “Here’s an idea…finish seminary. People do it every day, Jeremy. Your wife is showing her godliness by wanting children, and you are telling her that school is more important. You will regret waiting, but you’ll never regret having a baby.” He was right. Children are a blessing (Psalm 127).
- Don’t Be That Guy: I pastored a small church while I was in Seminary and I didn’t do it very well. There was constant conflict, calling for my resignation over the dates of VBS, deacons telling me that the church’s biggest problem with me was that I talked about the Bible too much, etc. I resigned after 14 months there. I went into Dr. Moore’s office and he listened to the entire tale and gave me clear advice that I’ve never forgotten, but had trouble heeding at times. He said, “Going forward, you can be one of three guys. You can be the guy who hates people and treats them poorly because you’ve been hurt before. Don’t be that guy. You can be the guy who’s afraid of people, so he washes his deacons’ cars on Saturdays so they won’t be mad at him. Don’t be that guy. You can be the guy who loves his people and preaches the gospel clearly and without fear. Please be that guy.” While I have been all three guys at one point or another in my ministry since then, his voice still rings in my head, reminding me which one is right. Pastors, ministry leaders, which guy are you?
- The Inaugurated Kingdom of Christ Affects Everything: I think the largest, most poignant lesson Dr. Moore taught me is that the Kingdom of Christ affects everything. The Kingdom of Christ is bigger than my church, my city, or my denomination. The Kingdom of Christ is the cosmic plan of God begun at creation, marred by the fall, reconciled in the inauguration of the person and work of Christ, awaiting consummation upon his return. He taught this vision of the Kingdom of Christ that is both “already” and “not-yet”. This vision provides the basis for a robust, biblically informed evangelical public theology. That means the church engages the entire culture with gospel-saturated wisdom and passion. He said, “The kingdom Jesus inaugurated spoke to the whole person, to spiritual lostness, to physical sickness, to material poverty, to the need for community. A church that joins Jesus in preaching the kingdom will too. We need that reminder every generation, perhaps especially now.” Make no mistake. This will be a message that he, like the great Carl F.H. Henry, will teach in his new role very often. Take notes.
I am grateful for the investment Dr. Moore made in me and others at SBTS, and his influence has already extended through us to places he will never go. I have to admit, I am saddened for the pastors who won’t sit in his classes or hear him preach in chapel, but his preaching and teaching are extending to a greater classroom in this new role and for that, I am very grateful. Please join me in praying for him and his family in this new opportunity.