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Friday, February 21, 2014

Moore Of Something Old And Something New

This week's review will be short and a bit light. I have had to spend too much time chopping and shoveling snow and ice to put more time into this post.

In a public discussion on politics and culture, Baptist ministers J.D. Greear, Danny Akin, Andy Davis, and Russell Moore talk back and forth with Moore doing most of the talking (click here). The discussion was hosted by Southeastern Seminary.

Moore gives us something old when he talks about politics. His comment that size can make a government become an anti-Christ beast was an old theme that was not well thought out. He came out against abortion, which this blog agrees with, which is to be expected. He mentions some Christian businesspeople who are struggling because they are refusing to provide their services to gay weddings and the legal problems they face. He didn't, however, mention the states that are attempting to pass "Jim Crow" laws targeting gays.

Here is something else he neglected to address, which is typical for Conservative Christians. He did not address economic classism and the systemic sins of our Capitalist economy. 

Currently, we have an economy where there is an economic apartheid between the wealthiest and the rest. The wealthiest can buy laws that put them in a separate world than the rest of us. They can buy tax laws so that allow them to avoid having to support the infrastructure most of us depend on. And so Detroit is the largest city to file for bankruptcy. This happened partially because of the  state, in which Detroit is located, gave large tax breaks for corporations and this decreased tax revenue. And this retired college teacher wants to know who is next as businesses so favor the states that give them such massive tax breaks that they are proving that there is such thing as a free lunch, that is for those too wealthy to need one.

He never addressed the outsourcing of jobs overseas that either robs Americans of jobs or causes them to settle for poverty wages. He never addressed the corporations whose payrolls are subsidized by government welfare programs.

He did, however, briefly mention immigration and the economy. He said that we wouldn't want to return all illegal immigrants to their native countries because that would hurt the economy. But he didn't mention how immigrants are exploited through low wages, poor working conditions, trafficking, and slave labor type of conditions for some.  So he was concerned about what immigrants provide for our economy but showed no knowledge of how they are take advantage of. 

Likewise, he didn't mention militarism and war. It isn't just the monetary expense of our defense spending that is an issue here, it is also the 50 plus post WWII wars and interventions many of which interfered with or overthrew democratic regimes. Nor did he mention the hundreds of military bases we have around the world that help facilitate an American empire. But a Conservative Christian neglecting to mention this is something old. 

Now, there are things that are new. Moore does an excellent job of explaining how not mentioning sin is to mention it in the affirmative. So when preachers in the Old South did not mention slavery, they were saying that slavery is allowed. Or if preachers did not mention lynching during Jim Crow days, then they were telling people that they would not be judged for it.

So what we should ask is, since he did not mention the economic classism or American Empire and militarism, is he affirming it? And if his not mentioning it was unintentional, what does he think of America's critics? Certainly it is important to criticize America for its racism, something that, though there are improvements, has never gone away. But criticizing Americans from the past for not seeing its contemporary faults only carries so much weight when the critic repeats the same sin. And so as Moore neglects to mention America's problems with economic classism, empire, and militarism, he too falls prey to failing to see America's current sins. And this is so unfortunate since he can so easily see some of its past sins.

In addition, Moore is refreshingly honest about some of the past failures of the Church--the Church for him is the Southern Baptist denomination. Again, he found fault with this denomination when it failed to challenge slavery and Jim Crow. He correctly says that one cannot preach the Gospel and be silent about these sins and the failure to treat others the way they deserve. Here, Moore says, one cannot leave politics out of preaching the Gospel. To hear a respected church leader talk this way is somewhat new.

In addition, his position on immigration is a bit new compared to other American Conservative Christians. He has more of a compassionate feeling for immigrants as he shows a partial understanding of their plight. So he does not believe in open borders. He still sees more on immigration that most other Conservative Christians.

Back to the old, all of the participants were politically conservative and showed a self-limited exposure to political thought outside of the box. But the new Moore brought to the discussion should be celebrated anyway.

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