Russell Moore is the former dean of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and current president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. He’s a highly sought-after theologian, cultural commentator, and ethicist. He and I agree substantively on many moral/ethical issues. Sometimes he can write cogent, convincing stuff. But sometimes, he can be a sanctimonious scold. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but he’s not a great scholar, and he has a bad habit of stretching Scripture to fit with what he perceives as a “fresh” idea (which just ends up looking cutesy and ridiculous). In particular, he tends to take on an irksomely didactic tone when lecturing the more rambunctious elements of the Religious Right. This is very annoying when he writes about pop culture or political activism.
However, since this is a southern gospel blog, I thought I would touch on one place where Russell Moore ventures into the realm of southern gospel history. As he discusses the phenomenon of neo-reformed Christian hip-hop, he launches a side discussion about Christian attempts to co-opt secular styles throughout the past few decades. The “two largest attempts” he cites in this realm are CCM… and Southern Gospel! He argues that just like Christian pop music imitates secular pop music, southern gospel is a response to country music.
I realize that nowadays southern gospel has become something of a gospel/country/bluegrass buffet, but if Moore is attempting to write with an eye to historical development, he’s got a little revision to do.