Southern Baptists learned yesterday that Russell Moore will leave soon his position as president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). We believe the new position at Christianity Today is a good fit for Dr. Moore and wish him the very best in this new endeavor. We also call for a concerted season of prayer by Southern Baptists for the future of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
Many Southern Baptists have felt poorly represented in recent years by the ERLC. Just this week, the ERLC published an article that stated biblical truth about gender identity “needs to be nuanced.” (emphasis added)
This is clearly not where we believe most Southern Baptists stand. The publication of this troubling article stands as a clear example of the ERLC that Dr. Moore’s tenure leaves behind for Southern Baptists. Therefore, as Southern Baptists prepare to meet for the SBC Annual Meeting in Nashville, June 15-16, we must remember two important realities.
First, Southern Baptists now have a tremendous opportunity to evaluate how best we engage in those critical cultural issues such as religious liberty, racial unity, protecting unborn life, the sanctity of marriage and so many other issues affecting our nation and world. In the coming weeks, the Conservative Baptist Network looks forward to helping provide solutions that aid Southern Baptists in remaining strong on each of these issues by engaging with clarity and conviction rather than compromise and nuance.
Second, throughout Dr. Moore’s tenure, there have been many fearless voices who spoke truth regarding concerns with the ERLC. SBC presidential candidate Pastor Mike Stone stood out as one such voice for Southern Baptists during the time he served as chairman of our SBC Executive Committee. Knowing the groundswell of Southern Baptist concern over the leadership and direction of the ERLC, Pastor Mike Stone led a task force to evaluate objectively the effect the ERLC is having on the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The report was clear as to the negative effect the ERLC’s leadership has been having on our missionary giving. It also highlighted and strongly criticized the “egregious” and “unacceptable” actions of the ERLC regarding an amicus brief filed on behalf of the North American Mission Board.
The unanimous report found the work of the ERLC to be “a source of significant distraction from the Great Commission work of Southern Baptists.” It also found that, “without quick and significant changes” in the perception of the ERLC’s leadership, “the findings suggest the potential for a measurable decline in the near future and beyond” for the Cooperative Program.
Pastor Mike Stone did not just talk about the issues. He boldly acted in the face of great opposition. That is the very kind of leadership that is critically needed at this hour. We would do well to remember this as we vote for the next president of our Southern Baptist Convention.
As Southern Baptists gather in Nashville this June, we will be able to speak to several challenges and opportunities that can help strengthen our convention of churches. We need this now more than ever. See you in Nashville.
The Conservative Baptist Network is a broad-based grassroots movement of Southern Baptists of all generations who are committed to the sufficiency of Scripture for all facets of life and application. Its 56-member Steering Council includes pastors and laypeople from across America, including well-known figures such as former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, past SBC President Charles Stanley, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Vice President Tom Phillips, and immediate past SBC Executive Committee Chairman Mike Stone. The Steering Council can be found online at ConservativeBaptistNetwork.com.