Back in August, “This is Moore Better” was the title of my blog article about Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention. I meant the positive things I said about him then.
But now I’m afraid I can’t be so positive about him. The upcoming ERLC national conference looks as if it is going to be more of the same old anti-gay rhetoric that has been so prevalent in Southern Baptist and other conservative evangelical churches.
The title of the Oct. 27-29 conference is “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage.” The website for this gathering lists the speakers, many of whom are known conservatives and opponents of same-sex marriage or acceptance of gays/lesbians.
Among the many speakers in addition to Moore, who is the person mainly responsible for planning the conference, are the following:
— Rosaria Butterfield, author of “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into the Christian Faith,” in which she tells about her transformation from a postmodern lesbian professor to a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother.
— Jim Daly, President and CEO of Focus on the Family; while not as strident as his predecessor, James Dobson, he is still a strong opponent of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
— Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of the best known and most outspoken opponents of same-sex marriage and acceptance of gays/lesbians.
— David Platt, recently elected president of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and as the others, strongly against gay/lesbian sexuality. His YouTube sermon “The Gospel and Homosexuality” has been accessed 37,300+ times, and many of the 450 comments are in agreement. But here is one of many negative comments: “Such hate in the name of Jesus, how many lives will be destroyed because of this preacher, how many will reject Jesus Christ, and His grace [because of his] hate.”
— Christopher Yuan, a pastor and co-author (with his mother) of “Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God. A Broken Mother's Search for Hope” (2011); I have not read this book, but it seems to promote only celibacy for homosexuals.
While there are several other speakers, it seems quite clear that there will be little opportunity at Moore’s ERLC conference to hear from more than one side of the issue, which, of course, they see as the only correct position.
A promotional blurb for the conference includes this question, “Are you and your church prepared for the moral revolution surrounding homosexuality and same-sex marriage happening across America?”
In continues, “While human sexuality and social institutions are being redefined before our very eyes, the Bible presents marriage as an unchanging picture of the gospel through the union of one man and one woman.”
By contrast, there will be a “regional training conference” held in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 6-8. That gathering will be “a prime networking opportunity for all Christians who want to advance the dignity of LGBT people.”
One keynote speaker will be my friend Dr. David Gushee, Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University and a lifelong Baptist. But his position on the gay/lesbian issue is quite different from that of Moore and the ERLC.
In addition, the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists want to have dialogue with the ERLC conference people.
I wish that Moore and the ERLC were open to Gushee’s position and the AWAB leaders’ request. But I am afraid all they will consider is more of the same: rejection of LBGT people. What a shame!