Monday, August 19, 2013

From moral majority to prophetic minority.

That's a line taken from Russell Moore, the incoming president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. It's his analysis of the position of Christians in today's American society.  Moore is a very bright, youngish (Anyone under 50 is young.) and  articulate.

This is taken from his interview with the Wall Street Journal.
'The Bible Belt is collapsing," says Russell Moore. Oddly, the incoming president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission doesn't seem upset. In a recent visit to The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Moore explains that he thinks the Bible Belt's decline may be "bad for America, but it's good for the church."

Why?  Because "we are no longer the moral majority. We are a prophetic minority."
The phrase is arresting coming from such a prominent religious leader—akin to a general who says the Army has shrunk to the point it can no longer fight two wars. A youthful 41, Mr. Moore is among the leaders of a new generation who think that evangelicals need to recognize that their values no longer define mainstream American culture the way they did 50 or even 20 years ago.

On gay marriage, abortion, even on basic religious affiliation, the culture has moved away. So evangelicals need a new way of thinking—a new strategy, if you will—to attract and keep believers, as well as to influence American politics.

The easy days of mobilizing a ready-made majority are gone. By "prophetic minority," he means that Christians must return to the days when they were a moral example and vanguard—defenders of belief in a larger unbelieving culture. He views this less as a defeat than as an opportunity.
I would agree with him on the opportunity language.  Christians have or should have a long term view of history. Longer than even one nation's lifespan. Ultimately, the falsehoods which have influenced modern culture will be found wanting in short order.  A few generations.

He's also looking to refocus their approach to society and the culture.
He is definitely pushing a new tone for this generation of evangelicals. "This is the end of 'slouching toward Gomorrah,' " he says. Not only is the doomsaying not winning Christians any popularity contests, but he doesn't think it's religiously appropriate either. "We were never promised that the culture would embrace us."

He also questions the political approach of what was once called "the religious right." Though his boyish looks bring to mind the former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, Mr. Moore is decidedly not a fan of the "values voter checklists" the group employs. "There is no Christian position on the line-item veto," Mr. Moore says. "There is no Christian position on the balanced-budget amendment."
Which is not to say that Mr. Moore wants evangelicals to "turn inward" and reject the larger U.S. culture. Rather, he wants to refocus the movement on serving as a religious example battling in the public square on "three core issues"—life, marriage and religious liberty.

On protecting the unborn, Mr. Moore says he is a "long-term optimist" but "a short-term pessimist." He doesn't get excited every time a poll shows that more Americans are pro-life than pro-choice. He worries that the whole issue may be changed soon "by technology"—that is, chemically induced abortions may soon become the norm, with abortion clinics no longer the focal point of the debate. He also worries that the fight for the unborn has become a one-party battle, hardened along a Democrat and Republican divide. "The letterhead of Democrats for Life," Mr. Moore says, "doesn't include the names of any current members of Congress."

But he also believes that this battle will not be won in Washington: "You have to take it to a personal level." He touts the many faith-based pregnancy crisis centers that not only try to talk women out of having abortions, but also help with child-care, job training and housing—"all of the things that have brought them there in the first place."

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