Editorial Note: The Evangelical Portal at Patheos recently launched a new "Friday Five" series developed by pastor and author Daniel Darling. We begin with a set of highlights from previous interviews Darling has conducted in order to introduce the series to our readership. Then the series will continue with new interviews on Fridays.
Today I am honored to interview a man I've long read and admired, Russell Moore. Dr Moore is Dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, a preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, and a senior editor of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity. He also blogs regularly at Moore to the Point.
Dr. Moore's latest book is Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian
Families and Churches, and look for a new book in March: Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ. Moore's recent critique of the evangelical embrace of Glenn Beck was widely distributed.
Dr. Moore, you teach and lead at Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville. How did God call you into a ministry of preaching, teaching, and leadership?
My grandfather was a Mississippi Baptist preacher. Despite the fact that he died when I was six years-old, it was as though I was always in his presence, since I grew up in the church he had pastored and the entire community was shaped in many ways by his ministry. In my early teens, I felt a call to Christian ministry, but I resisted it, largely because I didn't feel I fit in the models of ministry I'd always seen, models I appreciated then and appreciate now. I went off and pursued other things, but the call to preach tracked me down. I was in the Library of Congress, going through discarded books as a congressional staff member (the Library would allow us to have discards) when I found myself picking up an old Free Will Baptist Pastor's Manual. It wasn't until later that night that I wondered, "Why did I want this collection of wedding and funeral services?" That prompted a renewed grappling with the call to ministry, and I ultimately went home and announced it was time for me to prepare to preach. I'm thankful God was patient with me.
You've become an articulate voice for adoption in the evangelical world. There seems to be momentum on this issue again. Why so?
The Spirit is afoot in calling the church back to orphan care, and I'm frankly amazed to see it happening in such a wind-whirling kind of way. I think there are several factors at work. First, Christians are recovering a sense of incarnational mission, of joining Jesus in his kingdom announcement. Second, evangelical churches have been awakened to the plight of the fatherless through the abortion debate. Seeing the way the broader culture can be so calloused to the "least of these" in depersonalizing children as "embryos" or "biological waste" has pricked our conscience about the plight of the fatherless in the world's orphanages and foster systems and group homes as well. Third, the orphan care movement is self-replicating. Rarely do you find a church where one or two families are adopting or fostering. As soon as one or two do this, "orphan" is no longer an abstract category; now the congregation sees "Caleb" or "Chloe" in the pew in front of them, and additional consciences are stirred.
I'm encouraged by this movement. We are just on the edge of the wave that is coming. Jesus loves orphans and widows, and as the church becomes conformed to his image, we will too.
Like many people, I read your reaction to the evangelical embrace of Glenn Beck as sort of revival leader. I think you spoke for a lot of American believers. Were you surprised by how widely quoted and read your piece was?
I was both discouraged and encouraged by the whole thing. The vitriolic calls, letters, and emails I received demonstrated a wing of evangelical Christianity that is even more politically defined than I had suspected. These people were more than willing to receive a Mormon who rejects the biblical Christ as a spiritual leader as long as he articulates the right political message.