Acton Institute Powerblog

6 Quotes: Russell Moore on Religious Conservatism

Share this article:
Join the Discussion:

Free weekly Acton Newsletter

russell-moore-206x300-300x300“There is a kind of religious conservatism that can simply be another form of nostalgia,” says Russell Moore, “There is a kind of religious conservatism that can easily present itself as time travelers from the past. Those who are seeking to bring forward the values of the 1950s. We are not time travelers from the past. We are pilgrims from the future.”

Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, recently delivered a speech on the future of religious conservatism at the Fifth Annual Diane Knippers Lecture, hosted by the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

Here are six quotes from Moore’s address:

On the meaning of religious conservatism: “Conservatism is not hoarding. Hoarding is simply maintaining everything that has gone before. Conservatism is conserving with an intention of testing, as the scripture says, and holding fast that which is good. And conservatism has an end in mind which is preserving something for future generations. That’s the questions we must have, which means we must ask where we stand.”

On nostalgia in religious conservatism: “[T]here is a kind of religious conservatism that can simply be another form of nostalgia. There is a kind of religious conservatism that can easily present itself as time travelers from the past. Those who are seeking to bring forward the values of the 1950s. We are not time travelers from the past. We are pilgrims from the future.”

On looking toward the church in Africa: “I truly believe the great hope of virtually every wing of the Church right now is located in Africa. I just finished reading a series of interviews with Cardinal Sarah, Roman Catholic cardinal in Africa, who was wise enough to speak of the fact that western European and North American leaders of churches that are hollowed out are now attempting to tell African and Asian churches how to hollow out their churches with a message that is no longer distinctive. He also is wise enough to recognize that the future of the world is not western European and North American secularism. Secularism is not a stopping point. Secularism is simply a stop along the path. And human beings being incurably spiritual will seek out something spiritual and the future that the Church will have to make itself distinctive against will be animism and occultism and Islam and other strikingly supernatural visions of reality.”

On interacting with our opponents: “Jesus said, my kingdom is not of this world or else my servants would be fighting the way that you are fighting. And understanding of the priority of the kingdom brings a kind of confidence that enables the people of Christ not to be angry purveyors of perpetual outrage in a world that often confuses loudness for depth of conviction.”

On persecution in the West: “The questions that we will face when it comes to religious liberty are not simply questions of whether or not we will be persecuted. They’re questions of whether or not we will be persecutors. If we do not stand up and speak to issues of freedom of conscience and religious liberty for all people, we are setting precedence that will then bind future generations and squander an inheritance that in North America has allowed the Gospel to go forward not only through this country but around the world. And we, ultimately, will be held accountable.”

On the dangers religious conservative will face: “Politics is dangerous. Social witness is dangerous. It is easy to become captive to idolatries. Sex is dangerous. Family is dangerous. Caring for neighbors is dangerous. But the most dangerous things facing us are the questions that we do not ask. We bear responsibility to stand as people in a free society and to bring forward a kind of religious conservatism that is shaped and formed by the Gospel in an era that is no longer pretending to be Mayberry. That is no cause for panic for people who are the people of Christ. Mayberry without Christ leads to hell, just as surely Gomorrah without Christ leads to hell.”

On the strangeness of religious conservatism: “We [Christians] believe that a previously dead man is going to show up in the sky on a horse. Every time that that message is proclaimed in the first century, the response is not, “Well, of course, that’s Christian.” The response is, “That sounds insane to me.” And when the response is not a seeing of the strangeness of this, Jesus and the apostles always press the question until that is the reaction from those who are standing around. And so as we move forward into the future, religious conservatism should not attempt to hide the strangeness or distinctiveness of the Gospel. We should lean into that and be strange, but not crazy.”

You can watch the entire lecture in the video below:


Other posts in this series:

Angus Deaton on Poverty

John Cochrane on Rule of Law in the Regulatory State

Milton Friedman on Freedom and Economics

Roger Scruton on Conservatism

Enjoy the article?

Click below to view our latest and most popular posts!

Read More

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

Comments