I have some advice this week for Americans who don’t love America: Shut up!
This is the week we honor what’s great about America, what’s exceptional about America, what’s beloved about America. If you want to denigrate the country, if you want to demean the ideals upon which this country stands, and if you disparage true patriotism to a country with the greatest founding documents of any other than Israel, do it quietly, privately and out of earshot of people who believe America, while not perfect, has been a great blessing to the world.
What prompts me to make this suggestion?
A deeply contemptuous Facebook posting by a leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Christian denomination in the U.S. – but one falling away from its moorings.
Russell Moore, president of the denomination’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, offered this untimely remark July 2 on social media: “The church of Jesus Christ will outlast the United States of America. If that doesn’t sound like good news to you – reconsider.”
Is the first statement accurate? Yes.
Is the second statement necessary? No.
God’s relationship with His saints is eternal.
God’s relationship with only one nation is eternal – that being Israel.
In fact, the eternal relationship followers of Jesus have is through the promises He made to Israel through Israel’s Messiah.
I liked Eric Metaxas’ comment on Moore’s post: “Why must we put America against the Gospel?” he asked, adding: “Can a nation not reflect God’s glory and shouldn’t we try?”
But more needs to be said about this effort to undermine Americans’ more-than-appropriate love for their country.
It wasn’t long ago when Moore did something similar – criticizing the frequent citation by American Christians of 2 Chronicles 7:14, again demeaning it as the “John 3:16 of the American civil religion.” He added these comments: “We can be Americans best if we are not Americans first.”
For those not familiar with 2 Chronicles 7:14, the verse, which are the words of God spoken to King Solomon after the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem, says: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Some claim God’s words in that context only apply to the nation of Israel. There is no reason to believe that, though they were spoken to Israel. It’s a principle that applies to His people – wherever they are. And God’s people are those who believe in Him and put their faith in Him – as many Americans do. I believe it’s the principal reason God has so blessed America throughout much of its 241-year existence.
Apparently, Moore thinks Americans put too much emphasis on these words. I believe we, meaning Christian believers, don’t place nearly enough emphasis on God’s profound prescription for healing our land. If we did, our nation would be blessed beyond comprehension and could last through the Kingdom of Heaven on earth from which Jesus will rule and reign from Jerusalem, as the Bible states.
Where is Moore going with all this?
I’ll tell you.
He’s got an ambitious political agenda.
One of his top political priorities is amnesty for illegal aliens.
He has always ferociously criticized Donald Trump, with much more intensity than he ever had for his predecessor.
Another priority is berating Israel.
Another is berating much of the American culture of the past.
If you agree with those political priorities, Russell Moore is your man. He’s skillful. He camouflages his agenda well with the use of Scripture, often cited without proper context.
He has, however, written in his own words some pretty revealing statements. Here’s one example he provided the Wall Street Journal: “I don’t think we need a pullback from politics. I think we need a re-energizing of politics. This means we must do more than simply live off the fumes of the last generation’s activism. Millennial and post-millennial Christians are walking away from the political process, and this is what alarms and motivates me. They’ve grown cynical at movements that are willing to adopt allies that are gospel heretics as long as they are politically correct (see ‘Beck, Glenn’ or ‘Trump, Donald’). They are disenchanted with movements that seem more content to vaporize opponents with talk-radio sound bites rather than to engage in a long-term strategy of providing a theology of gospel-focused action in the public square.”
Notice how Moore singles out two examples of “gospel heretics” who have aligned themselves with conservative Christians from time to time. He doesn’t cite, for instance, Barack Obama as a “gospel heretic,” though he had an office in Washington to work with him on a regular basis. In fact, he called for “honoring” Obama.
Interestingly, in 2016, he invited only three presidential candidates to a forum before an audience of 13,000 pastors and other hand-picked “leaders” from around the country. The three were Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton.
Now, there were many candidates running for president in 2016. Why invite only three? I would suggest to you because there were only three Russell Moore found worthy of consideration by Southern Baptist leaders.
In fact, Moore admitted as much in his announcement of the forum. Here’s what he wrote: “Last year, we decided that we would have some sort of forum, about issues of concern to evangelicals. Because we only have time for any substantive conversation with two or maybe three candidates, we decided early on we would need an objective standard by which we would determine who would receive an invitation. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio were among those who qualified to receive an invitation, and I’m very glad they accepted. We also invited Hillary Clinton, and she declined. I regret that, since I think it would have been respectful conversation that would have enabled her to speak to questions evangelicals have, and could have modeled our disagreements with her with civility.”
There’s more you should know about Moore – and this is where it really gets interesting. Moore calls himself a “communitarian.”
What is a “communitarian”?
As a former communist, I can tell you it’s a lot like that – without the party discipline.
Look it up in the dictionary. Here’s what you will find under “communitarian” if you use Webster’s New World, the preferred choice of U.S. newspaper people: “a member or advocate of a communistic or communalistic community.”
That’s it. No alternative definitions offered. But you choose any dictionary you like. I suspect you’ll find a similar definition.
But we don’t have to look it up in the dictionary to see the striking resemblance between communitarian thought and communist thought. Both center on the idea that the individual and the family need to be de-emphasized in favor of the “community” or the “state.”
To put it in its simplest form, I have described communitarianism as a form of communism for people who believe in God – or say they do.
If you find that description discomfiting with regard to the thinking of Moore, don’t blame me. I didn’t label him with that term – he did.
Maybe the truth is betrayed in another statement Moore once made: “If you’re fencing the table around your political agenda but you’re not fencing the table around the Gospel, then the political agenda is your Gospel.”
Could it be that statement applies to Moore himself?
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