Culture / February 5, 2015

Russell Moore Talks Politics and Religion

In this new Table Talk interview, ERLC President discusses a variety of issues including why we can’t put our ultimate hope in government, how to contend for a biblical view of marriage, and how to minister to transgender persons in your community. Check out this snippet and then read the whole interview.

TT: What are the biggest challenges for Christians who work in government? What are the best ways that we can pray for and support believers who work there?

RM: One challenge is the temptation to expect too much of government. Our vote for president of the United States is critically important, but our vote to receive members into our local churches is more important. The United States is important, but one day the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument will stand in ruins; every other great power has fallen. Those who are in Christ, however, are the future rulers of the cosmos. The other temptation is to be embarrassed by Jesus. It’s easy to talk about “values, faith, and principles,” but many who do so cringe to hear themselves say things such as “the Bible says” or “the blood of Jesus.” People on Capitol Hill work hard. There are many believers there, and there are some tremendously good churches evangelizing and discipling Christians there.

TT: Is it right for Christians to advocate religious liberty for people of all religions, or should we seek religious liberty only for Christian denominations? Why?

RM: Emphatically, yes, we should advocate religious liberty for all. Religious liberty for everyone is a corollary of the gospel of Jesus Christ. No bureaucrat can stand on anyone’s behalf before the judgment seat of Christ, and the government cannot issue regeneration the way it issues driver’s licenses. To give the government oversight over religious beliefs and practice, even over those with whom we disagree, is to confer spiritual lordship on the state, a lordship Jesus never delegated to it. Only a losing religion needs the government to support or enforce it. The gospel is big enough to fight for itself.

TT: The gospel sounds increasingly strange to Americans as our culture becomes more hostile to Christianity. What are two ways that Christians can be effective witnesses in a society increasingly hostile to the Christian faith?

RM: We should embrace the strangeness. Every time Jesus or His Apostles articulated the gospel, the response was the same: people assumed they were insane. In fact, when people didn’t see how crazy the gospel sounded, Jesus would often clarify until they did. When people see Christianity as strange, they are starting to actually hear it. What’s passing away before us, with the slow-motion collapse of the Bible Belt, is nominal, cultural Christianity, or “normal” American religion. J. Gresham Machen identified this as liberalism, no matter its politics. Good riddance. We now have the opportunity for people to see Christianity for what it really is, not a message on how to be a good American but a freakishly strange message of a virgin birth, bloody cross, and empty tomb. That freakishness saves.

At the same time, we must engage the outside world with convictional kindness. This is more than civility—it is active kindness toward those who disagree with us. Paul wrote that we should correct our opponents with gentleness that God might grant them repentance leading to knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 2:25). Such kindness isn’t weakness or passivity. It is, in fact, spiritual warfare. People don’t change when they are vaporized by superior arguments. They change when they are confronted with a person, Jesus of Nazareth. Our end goal is not proving ourselves right; our end goal is to see people reconciled to God and to one another through the gospel (2 Cor. 5).

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