Leading Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore argued Monday that Christians in America are “in danger” of “losing our mission” during a discussion with Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse.
The head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission joined the junior Nebraska senator for a conversation on topics ranging from America’s loneliness epidemic and political tribalism to reconciliation and technology’s impact on the future of the United States at the National Press Club.
The conversation — titled “The Lonely American: Rootedness and Reconciliation in a Riven Land” — was hosted by The Trinity Forum, an evangelical nonprofit that regularly convenes “leading thinkers and thought leaders to consider and discuss life’s great questions in the context of faith.”
Being the keynote speaker, Sasse gave about a 25-minute speech in which he said that the “political tribalism” seen in the U.S. today is merely a “symptom” of the digital revolution in which people have more “material abundance” than ever before but are feeling more “spiritually impoverished” and more lonely than at any point in his lifetime.
Along with the digital revolution, the 46-year-old senator said a media environment has been fostered to where Americans have lost their “sense of we.”
“That is strange. It isn’t the case that there used to be a big, coherent, America national ‘we’ that didn’t have scars and blemishes and problems,” Sasse explained. “It was that you had local communities, and distant communities served a distant and lesser purpose. Because they were in a box of what happened far away, you could have your local community and your distant community, and your distant community wouldn’t be the thing that you tried to impose all sorts of grand meaning.”
“Because of the digital revolution and the hollowing out of the local community and the evaporation of place in a lot of ways, we are projecting things onto a distant national identity of 300 million people but we aren’t really sure what the ‘we’ is that we share and have in common,” Sasse added.
Tasked with responding to Sasse’s remarks, the 47-year-old Moore highlighted what he thinks the American Church has to offer when it comes to “this sort of rootless, lonely American life.”
“What I would suggest is the things the Church has to offer are actually the things that are the most offensive at the surface level to the outside culture,” Moore explained. “The first thing is the exclusivity of truth.”
Moore noted, however, that there are several common objections that people who are not Christians have toward the Church, such as their objections with biblical truths that might run counter the cultural agenda.
“What I would suggest is that we are living in a time, which as Marilynne Robinson puts it: ‘a society that is moving toward the dangerous ground when loyalty to the truth is seen as disloyalty to the tribe,” Moore said.
While Moore explained that people who are not Christians don’t have to agree with the Bible or the Christian worldview, he said that the primary objection that the outside world has with the Church is not that it is too “dogmatic” in its beliefs but rather that Christians “do not actually believe what we say we believe.”
“Look at the devastation that is coming with the [sexual abuse] revelations out of Pittsburgh and the Catholic Church,” he explained. “Look at the devastation that comes with some of the cartoonish and buffoonish behavior that will often take place in evangelical life. Does the Church have the ability to speak to the moral imagination that says, ‘You don’t have to agree with us but you can be confident that when we are speaking it is not in service to some other agenda — political, social, market-based — but actually because we are, as Jesus puts it, bearing witness to the truth.’”
Even though Jesus calls on Christians to love their neighbors, refugees and the most marginalized members of society, a recently released poll found that white evangelicals are the only religious demographic to have a majority that view “immigrants” as a threat to the country and the nation’s increasing racial diversity as harmful.
While some notable conservative evangelicals have issued inflammatory remarks in the past that some say demonize Muslims and immigrants, Moore said that a recent Cato Institute study had shown that “evangelical Christians who go to church more often actually have more positive views toward their Muslim neighbors, toward refugees and immigrants, toward people of other ethnicities and races.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith