By Jim Powers
In a recent interview on NPR’s "All Things Considered", Christianity Today’s editor Russell Moore voiced concerns over the direction in which American evangelicalism seems to be headed.
Moore resigned as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission in May 2021 over the Convention’s mishandling of an increasing number of scandals within the Convention.
His words and the stories he shared with NPR are a distressing harbinger for a faith tradition rooted deeply in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christians must now confront an uncomfortable question: Is there a growing disconnect between foundational Christian teachings and the beliefs of contemporary evangelical Christians?
Moore reports a worrying trend, where pastors, citing teachings directly from the Sermon on the Mount, are met with skepticism from their own congregations. This skepticism isn't merely based on theological differences or scriptural interpretations, though. Rather, they are confronted with accusations of spouting "liberal talking points," which raises an uncomfortable possibility. Have the teachings of Jesus, teachings central to Christian identity, become politicized to the point where they are dismissed based on partisanship?
The really scary part, though, is the response that follows when these pastors remind their accusers that they are quoting Jesus directly. Instead of introspection or acknowledgment, the teachings are labeled as "weak" or "outdated." These reactions are not merely disagreements on scriptural interpretation; they illustrate a complete misunderstanding of the essence of Christianity.
The Sermon on the Mount, with admonitions by Jesus such as "turn the other cheek," are the core of Christian compassion, humility, and love. These teachings serve as a moral compass, intended to guide Christians in their interpersonal relationships and dealings with the wider world. When Evangelical congregations dismiss such fundamental teachings of Jesus, we must question whether contemporary evangelicalism has completely lost its way.
The current cultural and political landscape of the U.S. is badly polarized. Faith, unfortunately, has not been immune to this division. When biblical teachings and political ideologies become intwined, there's a real danger that Jesus’ message gets overshadowed by worldly concerns. Moore's observations are a reminder that this disturbing confluence is not theoretical. It is occurring in evangelical congregations today.
Moore believes that what is crucial now is dialogue. If there's a perceived chasm between traditional Christian teachings and contemporary beliefs, it's vital for the evangelical community to engage in open, constructive conversations about the direction in which they're headed. This is not merely a theological debate but a profound exploration of identity and purpose.
If there’s a silver lining to Moore's revelations, it’s that they’ve brought a critical issue into the open. Now, theologians, pastors, and believers at large must address it. A return to the basics, a re-examination of what it means to be a follower of Christ in today's world, is overdue.
For those outside the evangelical church, Moore's concerns provide an opportunity for broader societal discussion. In a time when political and ideological lines seem intractably drawn, maybe we can all take some time to think about our own beliefs, values, and biases. If foundational teachings from one of the world's major religions can be so easily dismissed due to contemporary biases, it begs the question about what other timeless truths and values we, as a society, are overlooking or discarding?
Moore's cautionary tales from the pulpit should concern all of us, whether we are evangelical Christians or not. They are a stark reminder that in an age of rapid change and polarization, it's more important than ever to anchor ourselves in values that promote unity, understanding, and compassion.
For the evangelical community and society at large, the only path forward must be to bridge divides and seek common ground, especially in matters of faith.
If Jesus’ “liberal bias” is surprising to you, I suggest that you actually read that book you profess to follow.
Jim Powers writes opinion articles. The views expressed are those of his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication.
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This commment is unpublished.· 3 months agoIs it any surprise that modern American Christianity has become completely unhinged?
This commment is unpublished.· 3 months agoNo surprise at all-The Southern Baptist Convention gladly adopted enslavement & the atrocities of rape, torture, Gator Bait, & the murder rituals called lynchings. “Love thy neighbor”, “do good to those who spitefully you” where a plan the opposing commands to watch, fight & pray
This commment is unpublished.· 3 months agoThe continued publication of Mr. Powers views which are in stark contrast to the predominant views of the communities for which these publications serve is an endorsement by the publication. Congratulations on joining the ranks of the many news options already available.
This commment is unpublished.· 16 days ago@Joe E. Hampton Jr. Hmm, so the communities in which this column is posted believe the teachings of Jesus are too liberal? At least you are honest.
This commment is unpublished.· 3 months ago@Joe E. Hampton Jr. The Tyler County Booster welcomes opinions of all kinds. If you would like to offer an opposing opinion, you can email your letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send it to Tyler County Booster, 205 West Bluff, Woodville, TX 75979. Thanks for commenting.