Brave New World

May 2, 2017
Darrell L. Bock and Russell Moore

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Topic Time Codes

01:00
Moore's move from politics to ministry
04:00
Recalibrating culture and society
08:04
Kingdom ethics in a diverse culture
12:53
The seduction of power for the church
21:50
Cultural engagement and the church
27:06
Who do evangelicals mean by we?
33:31
Engaging with others on an idea level
36:42
Understanding millennial evangelicals
40:33
Reconciliation as Gospel

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Transcript

Dr. Darrell Bock
Welcome to The Table, where we discuss issues of God and culture. I'm Darrell Bock, Executive Director for Cultural Engagement at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. Yes, that was one very long breath. I've got a guest, Russell Moore, whose introduction is probably about the same. He is – are you...?
Dr. Russell Moore
President.
Dr. Darrell Bock
President? Okay, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention, who commutes – right – from between Nashville and Washington, D.C. Your life is somewhat split up these days in terms of – and your travel miles are in great shape.

Dr. Russell Moore: They are.
Dr. Darrell Bock
[Laughs] We're here to discuss issues of culture and cultural engagement, and kind of just the cultural scene in the United States. And so my opening question – first of all, thank you for coming in. We really do appreciate you being a part of this.
Dr. Russell Moore
Well, thanks for having me.
Dr. Darrell Bock
How does a good Mississippi, Southern Baptist boy who became a theologian like you, end up doing what you're doing now?
Dr. Russell Moore
Well, I think it's probably like in most people's lives. You look back, and you see things that you thought were cul-de-sacs and diversions that ended up being God preparing you for what you would do later on. That certainly is the case for me. I felt a call to ministry pretty early on, say at 12 year old, and then I started moving away from that. In high school, moving toward a political life, and so I ended up working in politics for a while.

Found myself on Capitol Hill. The Library of Congress would allow Hill staffers to get discard books, and I had a pile of books. One of them was A Pastor's Manual on weddings, and funerals, and what have you. It wasn't until I got back to my apartment that I thought, "Why did I want that?" That's kind of what the Lord used to pull me back into ministry, and now those two parts of my life have come together in what I'm doing right now.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Now, you were at Southern for a while, is that right?
Dr. Russell Moore
Yes. I was Provost and Dean of the School of Theology for 10 years.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Oh, wow. And then did you go to your current job from Southern?
Dr. Russell Moore
Yes, in 2013.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay, in 2013. And so how did Southern Baptist come to recognize that this was an area you could work in? Did you do your theological work in this area?
Dr. Russell Moore
Yes, I did. I did my dissertation on the relationship of the Kingdom of God to social and political involvement. As a matter of fact, early in my doctoral studies, one of the areas I was looking at was progressive dispensation, your work and Craig Blasing's. So that was my primary area of work.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That means you've been doing what you're doing now for about three years, is that right?
Dr. Russell Moore
That's right, yeah.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And so what exactly does the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention do? What exactly are your responsibilities?
Dr. Russell Moore
Well, we do two things. The first is to equip churches and families to think through ethical implications of the Christian life. And so our name used to be the Christian Life Commission. That's everything from marriage and family to racial reconciliation to adoption and orphan care to end-of-life questions, any place where the Gospel is being applied to life. Then the second thing is to speak from the churches to government, media, various sectors of life in America and internationally.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And so you have been quiet this last year. [Laughs]
Dr. Russell Moore
No. [Laughs] It's been busy.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, let's just dive right in. You look at the culture in – I think you've developed a reputation for trying to urge the church to a different kind of strategy. You wrote a book called Onward that is really calling for a recalibration in many ways of the way the church engages with culture in society. So let's talk a little bit about that book and what it represents in terms of recalibration.

First of all, I'd like to get your analysis of what we did that so enamored you with what the church was doing that you wrote the book, and then secondly, where you think the church should go. So let's talk about kinda where we were in your assessment of what the culture war either did or did not accomplish for the church.
Dr. Russell Moore
Well, I think the culture war – through the 1960s, '70s, '80s, '90s, into the early 2000s – was symbiotic on a cultural nominal Christianity rooted in the Bible Belt in ways that brought out some of the best of Bible Belt cultural Christianity and a lot of the worst of that. And so I think in many ways, the church – I think in some ways, the activist evangelicalism of the last generation did continually remind Christians of their civic obligations in some helpful ways.

And then also, served to create a great deal cynicism and wreckage, both within the church and outside the church. And I think a lot of that had to do with too high of expectations on the part of some Christians, followed by a loss of priority of Gospel and mission when it comes to political engagement, social engagement generally.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And the hard part here, of course, is the kind of – and we've seen this in history before, when the Christian church gets allied to raw political power. It sometimes doesn’t come out so well for the church and the Gospel.
Dr. Russell Moore
Right.
Dr. Darrell Bock
I think most people's assessment of what happened when the church got very, very close to Constantine is – I mean, there were some blessings, obviously, for the expansion of the Gospel, and for what that represented for Christianity to no longer be persecuted. But there also were some – how can I say it – some confusion introduced about what the Gospel was really about and why it was necessary. Would that be a good historical analogy to some of what you're seeing?
Dr. Russell Moore
I think so. And I think one of the things that tended to happen in evangelical life – if you think of the old state churches, where the state expected an established church to represent the state's interest, in many ways evangelicalism was doing that. Not for the state, but for a particular culture – Southern, Midwestern, Bible Belt culture – in ways that sometimes confused the very essence of what the Gospel itself is. Where that's confused with certain cultural norms, and cultural expectations, and nostalgia sometimes, for a mythical golden age in the past that I think had some serious theological implications for the way we view America, for the way we view ourselves.

And led to then some of this kind of fear, and panic, and kind of apocalyptic talk coming from Christians who don’t know what to do when they look around and they say, "Our neighbors don’t agree with us. They don’t share our values, and we're not maybe the real America as we assumed ourselves to be." There shouldn’t be any reason for that fear and panic. We should've always known that we're going to be swimming upstream in any culture anywhere.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Let's talk a little bit about the theological roots of that, 'cause I think that's an important point. That is you've written about the Kingdom of God for much of your career. What is it about the Kingdom of God that – the way I ask this question is what is it about the ministry of Jesus that should tell us that to be a Christian means that you're in a challenging position in relationship to the world, and oftentimes the world is gonna push back?
Dr. Russell Moore
Well, if we're following Jesus, what I often do when I'm talking to evangelical audiences is to go to John 18 and Jesus' interaction with Pilate. Because what I'm concerned about is that especially in evangelical Christianity, we tend to overreact to the last bad thing. And so when I meet someone who wants to, for instance, say, "Don’t worry about the imperatives of scripture. Just talk about who we are in Christ." Typically somebody who's coming out of a really legalistic background.

And when I meet somebody who wants to say, "We want to have rules for everything." Typically somebody coming out of a really chaotic sort of background, and they want some boundaries. I think the same things happens in social engagement. So you have people who when they see a really hyper, politicized, or hyper culturally informed Christianity, they wanna respond with a kind of withdrawal. I think what we see in the life of Jesus is if you look at that encounter, Jesus is not panicked before Pilate.

Jesus recognizes, "My kingdom is not of this world." And says, "If my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would be fighting." And so he recognizes the difference between the kingdom and the Roman Empire. At the same time, we have to remember that we in our context are standing both where Jesus stood and where Pilate stood. And so we're, as citizens, people who hold the sword that Paul talks about in Romans 13.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, it's a participatory democracy.
Dr. Russell Moore
Yeah. So we're either going to do that with consciences that are informed by the Gospel or consciences that are informed by something else. So we're in both of those places at the same time. I think that's important to know.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. When I think about this in relationship to Jesus' ministry, I like to make the point that the whole second half of Jesus' ministry once Peter confesses him – and their initial expectation is what I call – they want an Arnold Schwarzenegger messiah. You know, "I'll be back with an iron fist." And he's saying, "Well, wait. Before we get there, there's this little thing of the cross. And if they're gonna crucify me, then you better be prepared as well for a pushback."

And yet your call is going to be to do two things simultaneously that are hard. Challenge people on the one hand with the standards that God calls us to live by and the recognition that they don’t live by those standards and extend an invitation for the opportunity for God's grace to shower over that and take care of that. And it's that combination of challenge and invitation that we're into. And so when we become a part of the Kingdom of God, we don’t join the world. We actually are separated from it.

One metaphor is exile. We become exiles in a foreign land. Another metaphor is we're ambassadors. We become ambassadors who represent God. In those pictures are two of the primary ways we're supposed to see our identity so that our circumstances done overwhelm us, because we trust in the activity of a sovereign God whose relationship with us is secure because of what he's done for us in Christ.
Dr. Russell Moore
Yeah. And I think it's provocation that leads to reconciliation. That what you see consistently in the life of Jesus. When people seem to be on board with what he's saying, Jesus almost always says, "You don’t understand what I'm saying." He presses the provocation until there's a sense of – even among his own disciples, we see in John 6 and elsewhere. But it's ultimately leading toward reconciliation, people reconciled to God.

People reconciled to one another. I think sometimes in our cultural engagement, we forget one or the other of those. We don’t want to provoke. We want to simply accommodate to the culture around us, or we assume that we're in a place of provocation for the sake of provocation rather than really, genuinely wanting to see people reconciled.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That's right. Yeah, I call it Jimmy Cagney theology. "You dirty rat, you shouldn't be doing that." [Laughs] There's not much good news in that message. So it's an interesting tension that we have. Now, there's another unique thing that's wrapped up in this – in the challenge and invitation and in the issue of association with the state and social presences – and that's the idea of power.

In my listening to you, the thing that stands out to me – or one of the things that stands out to me about what you're saying – is the way in which you are trying to help Christians understand – how do I wanna say this? The seduction of power, I think, is the phrase I wanna think of. That power is this crazy thing that we think is great if we have it, or we seek it, but it actually isn't – at least the kind of power we're talking about.

There are different ways to talk about power. It isn't the type of thing that's really at the core of the Gospel. There's a different kind of power that's at the core of the Gospel than the type of power we're talking about here that's social power. Help us differentiate that a little bit.
Dr. Russell Moore
Well, I mean you look in the New Testament, and Jesus and then the apostle Paul, particularly, and Peter as well, recognize civic power and recognize social power. So Paul, for instance, will appeal all the way up to Agrippa, and he's working within the system of political power. But they're always consciously subverting that and minimizing that, especially among people who tend to prize that and to see that kind of coercive power over other people as being the end goal.

And that, frankly, is a temptation. Not just for Christians who are operating in the activist world or in the political, electoral world. All of us are engaging politically all the time. It's just that what we do together as groups of people. And so we're thinking through, and we're engaging that sort of power all the time. Question is whether or not we see that as ultimate and whether or not we see what it is that that does to us.

And so I think that when you don’t have consciousness about what's happening to you with the use of power, I think that's when we become in a really dangerous place. And I think we've seen that often in evangelical Christianity that defines ultimate power and influence in the world's terms. I don’t think that's only in political activism.

I think the same thing happens often in terms of, say, church planting or evangelism. Sometimes we assume, well, let's influence the culture, and the way we do that is to target the people who are culturally influential, and then that trickles down to other people. Now, I'm not saying that we shouldn’t engage with people who bear cultural influence or power. What I am saying is that's not typically the way that God works. God often works from, not just the bottom up, but from below the bottom. People –
Dr. Darrell Bock
And from the inside out.
Dr. Russell Moore
Yeah, people that others have completely given up on.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yes. And by that, that's a second theme I'm gonna wanna come back to, and that is the role of what you've described as the invisible people. And the way in which God affirms with and works with that particular group, but I wanna stay with power here for a second.

You said that power has a tendency to do things to people, so that raises the question, so what does it do to people? There's the old line that goes with Acton University that they love to quote over, and over, and over again, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Some variation of that, I probably didn’t quote it exactly right. But what is it that power does that gets us off track?
Dr. Russell Moore
Well, I think one of the things is to consistently bring us to a place where we forget the nature of limits. I think that's one of the primary problems that we have in life general is wanting to see ourselves either as gods or as animals. Either we're those who are driven along by our instincts, and we're below what it means to be created in the image of God, or we're more than creatures. We have the ability to decide good and evil on our own terms and to coercively enact that over other people.

I think that temptation is persistently there. That's what Jesus is having to correct with the disciples consistently when they're thinking of their influence and to say, "This is not the way the gentiles operate. That's not the way that I'm teaching you to operate." And then when you come to – especially when you're talking about cultural and political influence.

For Christians, there's always the temptation to use the Gospel as a means to an end to that political power or to that cultural influence in ways that ultimately erodes the witness of the church. It turns us into people who aren't primarily motivated by the Gospel, and it creates cynicism among our neighbors. So I deal in all kinds of issues, one of them being religious freedom, religious liberty.

One of the things that I find is that people who are on the other side of me on a lot of basic religious freedom issues, most of them don’t get religious motivation. They're not hostile to it. They just don’t understand it. And so they assume you must really have some other motive. Nobody really believes they're gonna stand in judgment.

Their conscience needs to be free, so you must really be about saving some money, or creating some power. When Christians assume power for the sake of power and don’t define that and subvert that with the Gospel, we further create that sort of cynicism that Christianity is just a means that you're using to another end rather than the way that leads you through the flesh of Jesus.
Dr. Darrell Bock
We become perceived as just another special interest group among the competing special internet groups that are after people's votes and/or money.
Dr. Russell Moore
Yeah. And a particularly pernicious special interest group, because we're using the threat of eternity in order to accomplish goals that are far less than that.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And, of course, in contrast to that is the picture of the Gospel being important and the – I like to say to people that the emphasis on circumstances and changing the circumstances as the answer to our problems is a little bit like ignoring the Old Testament. The Old Testament, you had good laws, but people who needed changed hearts. And so what did you have? You had chaos.

What was God's response to that? He gave us the hope of a new covenant. The new covenant says, "I'm gonna change you from the inside." And that's why you got a new covenant, because real change requires real heart transplant. And it requires being a new creation in Christ. It requires understanding that you need what only God can provide, because you can't do it on your own strength.

There's a lot of self-renunciation in the positive sense that comes with the Gospel in terms of what God can provide. And the danger of our being able to manipulate outcomes or attempt to do so, or believing that we can, robs us of the understanding that we really need to be dependent on God.
Dr. Russell Moore
Yeah. And we learn that personally, and that also applies culturally. Someone asked me the other day what biblical figure I most identify with. I said, "I think the Gadarene Demoniac." Because you have someone who – what's changing is Jesus saying, "Who are you? What is your name?" And the response is, "We are many. We are legion."

And Jesus speaks beyond that directly to that person. But what's interesting in that is that prior to that, the people are trying to restrain the Demoniac. Can't, even with chains. That's not enough. What has to happen is to reach into the real nub of the issue, not simply to restrain it and deal with the implications of that and the circumstances you get from it.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And the interesting thing is on the other side of that, of course, what we see after the exorcism is performed is he's sitting clothed and in his right mind. [Laughs] At peace before Jesus, wanting actually to follow Jesus like all the other disciples do. And Jesus says, "Well, wait. I actually have another assignment for you. You can represent me quite beautifully right here where you are," and it's a wonderful calling.

Let me ask you this. Are you in general hopeful about where we are? Or are we in a place where we're really at a turning point, and the church needs to kinda wrestle with where it needs to be?
Dr. Russell Moore
I am a short term pessimist and a long term optimist. And so I'm more optimistic than pessimistic. I don’t just mean that in terms of the eschaton. As Cain said "We're all dead." As Christians, when we're all resurrected from the dead, but even before that. I think what we're seeing happening in the next generation of Christians makes me really hopeful about the future and about the way that we're going to be able to engage with our neighbors in the future.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, that's an interesting analysis, 'cause I think a lot of people look at what's going on and they think the sky is almost falling, and that the next sound you'll hear is the great thud upon us. And so you and I both feel that there actually is some hope in what lies ahead, but there also is some very real reflection that the church needs to engage in.

So let's talk about it in two parts. The reflection that the church needs to engage in. You wrote a book, Onward, that really is an appeal for a different kind of engagement. Why don’t you talk about what that engagement looks like, and compare and contrast it to what we have seen or what most people are familiar with when they think of the church's engagement.
Dr. Russell Moore
Well, my perspective on the future can kinda be summed up in that old Grateful Dead song, Touch of Grey, in which they say "It's even worse than it appears, but it's all right."
Dr. Russell Moore
I think the situation around us culturally is much worse than what we know in all sorts of ways, just as the situation within us is much worse than what we know. And I also think that the problem is a lot of times there are Christians who are looking backwards. If we could just get back to some particular point as one Christian said to me. "We just need to get our country back to where it was before this culture fell apart."

And my response was to say, "You don’t remember when this culture fell apart, because it fell apart between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, long before you were ever here to see it." And I think that's right. But we also have a promise of a Gospel that brings with it its own power. The church is being built by Jesus himself. We not only know that by faith, we also are seeing that all around the world, where Jesus is building his church, including in some very, very difficult places. And creating leadership for his church in ways that ought to give us a good deal of hopefulness.

I think one of the problems is when it comes to activist organizations, really across the spectrum – it doesn’t matter whether they're religious or non-religious – what they tend to do is to overpromise and to freak out. And so what you wanna say to people is, "The situation is dire." So you're an environmentalist organization. The way you get people to respond to direct mail is to say, "If you don’t act now –"
Dr. Darrell Bock
You won't be breathing tomorrow. [Laughs]
Dr. Russell Moore
"You won't be breathing," yeah. "Next year, we're going to – Miami will be underwater by next year." That's what gets people to – and we can fix it. But the problem is that long term, people get burned over by that. Well yeah, that's exactly what you've been saying all along.
Dr. Darrell Bock
You're crying wolf too many times.
Dr. Russell Moore
Yeah. And I think the same thing happens within Christianity. This sense of everything's falling apart. We're not going to survive the next several years, and we're the ones who can fix it, if only we would fill-in-the-blank. Both overpromises and under promises, and creates a system of undue fear and undue outrage from people who ought not to be thrown that easily. One of the things that I notice is that Jesus is preternaturally calm in the Gospels when everyone else is freaking out. And Jesus is –
Dr. Darrell Bock
Sometimes he was sleeping. [Laughs]
Dr. Russell Moore
And sometimes he was sleeping. And Jesus in anguish, when everyone else is calm. That's in the temple, with the fig tree, in the Garden of Gethsemane. The disciples are sleeping, and Jesus is the one who is sweating blood, because he has a different understanding of what the priorities are. And so I think the kind of super-apocalyptic language betrays a lack of confidence, both in the Gospel and in God's creation structures.

I mean, people are meant to flourish within certain boundaries and in certain ways. If we really believe that God's designed it that way resiliently, then there's a certain point at which people say, "We're burned out by this. We're burned over by this. What else is there?" We need to be the people who keep the light lit to the old paths and to the living water to be able to say there's an alternative to these things.
Dr. Darrell Bock
It strikes me in listening to you that there's this tensions between – how can I say this – between this angst that people feel because of where the culture is. And they believe that God has made certain commitments and promises, but in the end, they're nervousness reflects, I think, a lack of faith and trust. Not just in God, but in his promises.

You know, the people who say, "We wanna live by the word," are the very people who are in effect denying, "Well, do you really believe God when he says he's committed to you for eternity, and this is gonna work out in the end?" So that our need to be overly freaked out shouldn’t exist.
Dr. Russell Moore
Right, and that's hard to do. That's hard to do personally, and it's hard to do in view of the culture around us. I had wise, older Christian who said to me one day, something that has stuck with me. He said, "The most important cultural question facing Christians is what do we think of when we say the word 'we'? What do we think of first?" And I think that's exactly right.

Do we think of ourselves as a nation state, as an ethnic identity, as a generational identity, as a consumer group? Or do we think of ourselves, first, as part of the global body of Christ, spanning heaven and earth? Part of all of our lives is working toward seeing and recognizing that's who we are in the first sense. We get that out of order. Then you have people who will freak out about where American culture is and often talk as though – and sometimes even believe – that Christianity is a means to getting America right.

When in reality, what Christianity ought to do is not to fix America so much as it is to get the church out of step with America in order to bear witness to America and to the rest of the world. And I think we get that confused. That's part of where this anxiety comes from.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Getting the picture of the mission right and actually getting the picture of the battle right is important. One of the problems I see with the culture war metaphor is it's made people the enemy, when people are actually the goal of mission in many ways.
Dr. Russell Moore
Right.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And in making them the enemy, even if we have a military picture, it's the wrong military picture. We have a battle. There's a war. It's a spiritual war. It's a spiritual battle. It's Ephesians 6:12. It's not against flesh and blood. It's against the spiritual forces, principalities, and powers of the world.

And what that means is that if we're gonna have a military metaphor, I tell people the military metaphor we gotta have is a special forces military metaphor, where you go in and you're rescuing people who are taken hostage by another force and another power. And with the opportunity to be rescued and end up in a better place, which the Gospel itself does offer if people will recognize.

In fact, there's a wonderful passage in II Timothy 2 that talks about his rescue capability that it comes with the Gospel and alongside repentance. And so I think it helps when you realize the person who's opposed to me is not someone who I should view as an enemy as much as someone who needs rescue. And then of course, the second great metaphor is the ambassador metaphor. We have a country. We have a homeland. That's established. It's established forever. We are secure in that relationship and in that position, and we represent that God.

And whatever benefit we give to the country that we're living in, whatever it may – 'cause Christians are not just in America. American Christianity view tends to be myopic. If we do what we do right, and we accomplish what God asks us to, which is just to be faithful – he's responsible for the responses – then we have done what we've been called to do in terms of cultural engagement.
Dr. Russell Moore
Well, that's right. And when I'm trying to speak to Christians about that, I'm speaking first to myself. Because when you're sitting in a situation where you have someone across table from you who is saying, "You're dangerous. You're crazy." Our fallen human response is to see that person as a threat, as an enemy, to strike back.

And that's not just for people who are arguing on TV or radio, but everybody has that experience, if you have a Facebook page or if you have neighbors that you're talking to in line. What I have to remind myself of consistently is that this person across the table from me, who completely disagrees with me, may well be the person who will evangelize my future grandchildren.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, he might be a Saul who becomes a Paul
Dr. Russell Moore
Exactly. I learned that from this deceased evangelical theologian that you knew quite well, Carl F.H. Henry. In his elderly days, I was talking to him. I was in my early 20s, and I was kind of really pessimistic of the future of evangelicalism. I said, "With all these trends and everything else, where is the future?" And he said, "You act like the future of evangelicalism is genetic. That's not the way God works.

Saul of Tarsus came out of nowhere. C.S. Lewis came out of nowhere. Chuck Colson, God takes people who are completely on the other end, flips them around, and doesn’t just bring them into the fold, but often puts them in places of leadership." And so I have to consistently be reminded this is not just someone created in the image of God that God loves, but this also may well be my future brother or sister in Christ. And it may well be someone that God is going to use tremendously for the sake of the Gospel.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. I think another element of that conversation that's important is to sit there and say, "If I'm gonna ask a person to trust what I'm trying to say to them and regard me as being sincere in what I believe, I have to regard the other person as being sincere in what they believe. And then we need to engage on a level of the ideas. And so I tell people that when I'm engaging with someone, my first responsibility is to just do a darn good job of listening. Hear what they're saying, maybe hear between the lines what they're saying and why they're saying it.

I actually say one of the first good rules of cultural engagement for me is get a good GPS reading on where that person is coming from, which means allowing them to talk. I say shut off your truth meter, and just let them talk. Let them share who they are, why they're there, what their concerned about, et cetera. You may actually find in that a series of motives and concerns that connect to what God offers in the Gospel.
Dr. Russell Moore
That's right.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And you get your bridge. And if they can supply the ways into the bridge, you're in a much easier conversation.
Dr. Russell Moore
Yeah. And that's also true, not just with the people that you're talking about in that context, but with the other Christians to whom you're representing those people. One of the easiest things there is to do is to go in and caricature people who are hostile to Christianity for various reasons in ways that ultimately, then when your kids encounter those people, and they realize these aren't stupid or evil people.

These are people who are operating out of what seemed to be very good motives. Of course they are. If you have a deep, biblical understanding of sin, the Bible's told us that. We follow a way that seems right to us. And so I think we set up Christians for a disappointment when it comes to actually knowing what we're encountering out there as well.
Dr. Darrell Bock
In fact, I find many students who go to college, this is exactly what happens to them. We've vilified a person, or we've vilified a position. They sit in a class and hear this person directly, and they say, "Some of what this person says actually makes some sense." And they go, "Did my church mislead me about what motivates these people and that kinda thing?" That dissidence oftentimes creates the first steps, potentially, away from the faith if we're not carful.
Dr. Russell Moore
Yeah, that's right. It's easy to do that, to picture people as though they're supervillains in a lair, in a cartoonish sort of way. That ultimately, it cuts you off from speaking to them, and it causes the next generation to say, "If you couldn’t understand these people or these ideas, then how do I trust you to tell me how to find my way through death?" That's a crisis –
Dr. Darrell Bock
Or negotiate my way through life. Yeah, exactly. Okay, let me turn our attention to the hopeful things that you see. And I know you said in an event that we had here, why you're here. You're pro-millennial.
Dr. Russell Moore
Right.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. That's a new eschatological category for me. [Laughs]
Dr. Russell Moore
… millennial, I mean generational.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, yeah, I know. Let's talk a little bit about that. I'm assuming that you see what I also see, which is I see a younger generation that really is sensitive to human need, to human dignity, the desires to serve, that's looking for ways in which society can function more harmonistically and less tribally than it's tended. And in many cases, with a real deep Christian conviction in the midst of that. I read all those things, and I go, "'That actually is a pretty hopeful combination."
Dr. Russell Moore
Yeah. When I look at millennial evangelicals, the typical at millennial evangelical is far more theologically robust than his parents or grandparents were, and far more involved in the mission of God. And that really is because the culture has, in some ways, forced that. Because you can't simply assume a Christian identity.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, they have to carve out their Christian...
Dr. Russell Moore
You have to carve it out. You have to constantly be questioning what do I believe? And then learning how to articulate that to people who don’t see it at all. And they also have experienced a lot of woundedness, brokenness, in ways we all are, but in way that are openly manifest. And I think in ways God has used to create a generation that really is paying attention to brokenness and woundedness all around.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And I think another feature that we tend to underestimate about this is the level of exposure that young people have had to a variety of cultures because of the way communication works, because of the internet, because of their own school experience. I had a conversation literally yesterday with my son who lives in Switzerland, but who went to Dallas Public Schools. And we were talking about racial issues and what had gone on here in Dallas recently and those kinds of things.

And he was saying, "You know, I went to school with a bunch of African Americans and Hispanics. They were my friends. I played on sports teams with them, et cetera." He had a much less racially isolated upbringing than I did. And so he inherently understands their reaction to things that I have to work to understand, really. And that exposure has taught them in some ways, in good ways, about the variety of experiences that people can have in life simply because of where they were born and who they are.
Dr. Russell Moore
Yeah. And in terms of even look at – there's this myth that while the next generation is moving left. If you're looking at who are the people who are likely to articulate a confession of faith, who are the people who are likely to have and to maintain church discipline and accountability, it's the next generation.

Now, they may be tattooed, and they may not look like what people typically think of when they think of evangelical Christian in America, but they're people who are deeply orthodox and deeply concerned about what does it mean to be the church. I think that's good news and an improvement over what we've seen in a long time.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. So there's one other thing that I wanna be sure we cover before we run outta time, and that's the commitment to the invisible or what I would characterize as demonstrating that the Gospel's ultimately about reconciliation, and reconciliation across the full depth of humanity that God has created. Let's talk about that a little bit. And for this, I think the way in is to talk about the Luke 4 passage and the type of people Jesus said he was reaching out to. I'd love for you to elaborate that theme for us.
Dr. Russell Moore
Well, Jesus when he was giving his inaugural sermon of sorts in his hometown synagogue, he starts talking about the Kingdom of God. The people receive it really well. They like it, and then Jesus turns around and starts saying, "You don’t understand what I'm talking about."

There were many widows in the land of Israel, and God went outside the boundaries of Israel to a gentile widow, went outside the boundaries of Israel to a Syrian leper. And the people are alarmed by that. I don’t think that's something that Jesus did one time. I think that's what Jesus is doing consistently throughout his ministry, through the Holy Spirit, all through the Book of Acts, and ongoing he does for his church.
Dr. Darrell Bock
He's consistently pushing back against the people who thought they had it together.
Dr. Russell Moore
Yeah.
Dr. Darrell Bock
He should've known better. And he tends to be gentle and inviting to the people who those people thought were so completely on the outside God certainly wouldn't have much to do with them.
Dr. Russell Moore
Right, right.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So they were invisible to some, but they actually were quite visible. In fact, they were goal for God.
Dr. Russell Moore
Yeah. And I think that's the problem that we all – I have a picture on my desk of civil rights workers in Memphis with signs "I Am a Man." I think that's the fundamental question of who do we see and recognize as human beings, as our neighbors – as Jesus talks about in Luke 10 – as people who bear dignity and who are worth being paid attention to?

I think there are all sorts of people that it's not that we're hostile to those people, it's just that we don’t think about them at all. I think sometimes that differs depending on what our social and economic class is, what our political affiliations are, what any number of different factors that cause us not to even see it or recognize those people around us.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So we look at what's going on, the chaos to some degree around us, and yet there's good reason for hope. What is the way forward for the church as far as you're concerned?
Dr. Russell Moore
I think the way forward for the church is to learn how to articulate the Gospel and the Christian message to people who are not familiar with it.
Dr. Darrell Bock
There's a lot of translation--
Dr. Russell Moore
There's a lot of translation work that needs to take place. And then to demonstrate that in terms of the way that local churches exist together, now the way that we care for one another, the way that we care for the outside world, the way that we hold one another accountable, the way that we bear one another's burdens.

And so I think the kind of model of church life where families are kind of driving in and worshipping, and then disbursing on out is not a model of church life that has anything to do with what most of Christian history has been like, what most of Christian experience around the world is like. It also is not going to be a model that is going to be able to last or work.
Dr. Darrell Bock
No In and Out burger for Christians. [Laughs]
Dr. Russell Moore
No.
Dr. Darrell Bock
We have to find a different metaphor for how we think about ministry. I think I agree. For me the faith in work movement has become important in this, because it basically says, "I don’t think a mission is a church program. I the about where God has me as a calling, and in the midst of that I live out my faith. And when I live out my faith well and when I establish my credibility by how I treat people and interact with people, I create a platform in which it's easier for the Gospel to function."
Dr. Russell Moore
Absolutely, and I think there's a real credibility that comes with churches that are vulnerable and churches that have a humility, and also churches, we really do bear one another's burdens. And with all of the risk that that takes, and all of the brokenness that comes along with it, I think there's a drawing power to the Gospel and to Jesus that takes place within congregations.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. And at the core of this caring, engagement, vulnerability, and humility comes a place where the Gospel does challenge people. It does provoke people, but people will accept a challenge from someone they think cars about them. And so that becomes an important way in.

God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. I think the unbeliever asked the church, "Well then show me if that's the case. How do I know that?" And without a ministry that shows it, it's pretty empty words for a lot of people.
Dr. Russell Moore
Exactly. They need to see it.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. Well, we thank you, Russell, for coming in and being a part of helping us take a little bit of a look at our culture, and kinda where we stand. Appreciate your ministry very much.
Dr. Russell Moore
Well, thank you. You as well.
Dr. Darrell Bock
We thank you for joining us on The Table, and hope you'll be back again with us soon.

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