I certainly appreciate and am grateful for the joint statement released earlier this week from the Executive Committee and Dr. Moore as they seek unity, but I fear the statement has missed the heart of the issue for many in the SBC.
Years ago, Dr. Jerry Vines introduced Southern Baptists to a hypothetical character in his Sermon “A Baptist and his Bible.” The character, Billy Baptist, represented the typical Baptist in Southern Baptist churches. I would like to borrow Dr. Vines’ strategy and introduce Southern Baptists to a twenty-first century hypothetical typical member of a Southern Baptist rural church. We welcome Billy’s younger brother, Bobby.
Bobby Baptist is really not concerned that leaders within our SBC are seeking unity in their differences. While this is certainly Biblical and laudable (something for which I am personally grateful), it doesn’t even find the radar of concern for Bobby.
Bobby is a contractor who works 8-10 hours a day, five days a week. He and his wife (Bonnie – an elementary school teacher) have four young grandchildren. Bobby and Bonnie both have Facebook accounts as they endeavor to keep up with their grandkids. This medium is where they get most of their news (not CNN or NY TIMES).
With regards to the ERLC, Bobby Baptist is not bothered by what the president of the ERLC seemed concerned about: 1) what it means to be “an evangelical;” 2) the importance of sexual immorality; and 3) racial divisiveness. Rather, what disturbed Bobby was that these concerns seemed of more importance to Dr. Moore than the murderous torture of infants and real religious liberty (this is not Bobby’s fault, rather Dr. Moore did not and has not done an effective job of communicating he is more concerned with abortion than the three topics of which he continually speaks).
For the sake of clarity let me go further. Bobby understands that Dr. Moore is against abortion, and Bobby grasps the fact that Dr. Moore is probably for religious liberty. Further, Bobby would readily admit that Dr. Moore is probably a good man and a godly man. Bobby’s frustrations have nothing to do with Dr. Moore’s winsome personality, nor with such trivial things as whether a person likes Dr. Moore.
Bobby Baptist is a lot smarter than perhaps denominational leaders give him credit.
What gets to the heart of the issue for Bobby are the words of Dr. Moore. Even in Dr. Moore’s apology (which demonstrates Dr. Moore’s honorable and real humility as well as his willingness to listen) he says, “not everyone saw the same [three] challenges” he saw. THAT’S NOT TRUE! Bobby, of course, saw the concern of a presidential nominee with a very immoral past, he saw the concern of race relations, and he certainly understands hypocrisy. It is not that Bobby Baptist didn’t see these concerns; rather it is that Dr. Moore misunderstands Bobby.
The lost people Bobby associates with are able to understand (even if they don’t agree) when Bobby tells them:
“I understand this president-elect is a sinner, like every president and every person. Further, his past words about women are incredibly offensive and indefensible. Moreover, some of the people supporting him seem racist and that is despicable. But, if he has repented of his past words as he says he has, and if his wife has forgiven him, then it is my duty as a Christian to trust him and to forgive him. God’s grace demands such.
“Further, I believe each person is created by God. And thus, I believe babies, in the womb, are as fully human as babies outside the womb. This belief causes a deep concern of infants being murderously tortured. If this were happening to babies outside the womb that were six months old, I truly feel every sane person would say this is more important than offensive despicable words about women or past behavior of a person. Babies having their arms and legs ripped off and being murdered must be our chief concern until such is stopped. Thus, for me the election of a president who is opposed to this torture and the appointment of justices opposed to such is paramount; and voting for such is my Christian duty.”
What frustrates Bobby is, if he is able to explain this to his lost friends then he wonders: Why in the world can the president of the ERLC not first of all grasp this position; second, affirm “yes, Bobby is right”; and third, use his influence to explain it more clearly than Bobby ever could?
Explanations like “Well it’s more complicated than that” will not work with Bobby. Because Bobby understands that genius is not taking the simple and making it complex. Such lunacy may work in Ivory towers, but it’s not how the real world functions and further, true genius is taking the complex and making it simple.
Finally, Bobby, a member of a Georgia Baptist church, is really confounded on how the president of the ERLC would use his talents and resources to defend the building of a mosque (which represents a religion that stands against religious freedom) while not using those same talents and resources to actually defend religious freedom by pressuring the GA legislature to pass a religious freedom bill. His silence on the religious freedom bill protecting real religious freedom coupled with his vocal support of a mosque housing a religion which is opposed to religious freedom is almost irreconcilable in the mind of Bobby, especially since Dr. Moore is the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
Perhaps this hypothetical character who represents real, live Southern Baptists will help Southern Baptist leadership understand the outcry over Dr. Moore. Not in an effort to remove him, but in an effort to ask him to either represent us or remove himself for we do not desire to pay someone who doesn’t represent us. That representation would begin by an admission that abortion, Supreme Court justices, and the judicial system is rightly our main focus.
We don’t look to our government for Biblical solutions, but we also do not shirk our responsibility to vote to protect LIFE because Ethics demands such.