Here’s a very good message from Russell Moore, author of Adopted for Life, from a conference devoted to the theme:
More audio and video from the conference here.
I’ll just say I’m glad you posted this. I found all kinds of interesting perceptions and lessons in Mr. Moore’s message and each one could be applied in various ways.
Now I don’t want to sound critical because I’m not taking this conference message as a sermon and so I don’t critique it as a sermon, but I just know that since what I’ll call “the forgiveness factor” is missing from Mr. Moore’s message, a number of pastors would likely critique it as primarily law without the Gospel. Maybe I should feel like a bad Lutheran for appreciating this message but we don’t get many messages of this sort in our neck of the woods, so that’s why I appreciate it. :)
Here I am again.
Aside from some of the interesting insights in this video that concern the topic of adoption in the Christian life, Mr. Moore related the following experience which I found fascinating for several different reasons. Let me say right away that one reason his experience interests me is that I see the silent majority of Americans (i.e. the ones with whom we work and play and who we sit next to at church) have the same intentions as the young woman described below, even though most would probably not be so open and bold as to admit their true attitudes.
This is the transcript at about 38 minutes into the video:
I had a young girl who came to see me one time who said, “I want to be saved. I want to be baptized.” I said, “OK, well, tell me why you want to be baptized.” She said, “Well, I grew up in a church, an Episcopal church, sprinkled as a baby, and then when I was 4 yrs old, I found this other church, and they baptized me there, and then when I was 8 yrs old, I went and there was a Mormon church down the road and they baptized me there, and then I went to this tent meeting revival, and they baptized me there, and . . .” she said, “. . . the way I look at it, you don’t know which one of these religions are really right, so, I just want to make sure, whoever’s right, I’m OK with them.” I said, “Well, that’s not what the Gospel is.” And I started talking to her about sin and about crucifixion and about resurrection and about repentance, and she said, “Wait, wait, wait, let me cut you off” she said, “I know you really believe what you’re saying, and I know you really love it, but let me just tell you what the deal is I’m looking for. I want to be able to get drunk and to smoke marijuana and to sleep with my boyfriend, and to go to heaven.” Well, there’s a lot of people that want that deal. And I had to say, “In order to be saved, you must repent of sin and acknowledge yourself as a sinner, and throw yourself upon the mercies of God in Christ.” . . . . She said to me, “Then I do not want Jesus, I do not want to follow in that way. I do not want to admit that I’m a sinner because I believe that if that’s what God thinks, He is wrong.” [Sadly] She found a pastor in my denomination, who would baptize her and receive her into the fellowship of the church. That is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Terry Mattingly, Director of the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, author of the weekly “On Religion” column for Scripps Howard News Service, Founder of Get Religion.org, and author of the book, “Pop Goes Religion”, recently stated that results of a survey of young Roman Catholic Milennials, (age 18-29) showed that only 20% thought premarital sex is morally wrong. I doubt that percentage is vastly different in other American Christian denominations. Given these circumstances, wherein so many Americans reject that their pet sins are even sins, and therefore, are certainly not going to repent of them, I think it would be helpful to share what people think about how pastors should approach all the people who are like the young lady in this scenario? In my view, she clearly came unrepentant, so did she need law or gospel, and in what form? What would you do differently than Mr. Moore? According to the Lord, these are our neighbors, and that is why I’ve raised these questions.
Karyn: “In my view, she clearly came unrepentant, so did she need law or gospel, and in what form? What would you do differently than Mr. Moore?”
I thought Pastor Russell Moore handled it appropriately.
2 follow-on questions to your excellent comment:
(1) If Pastor Moore had not turned her away and had instead found her profession of faith credible and baptized her and received her into the church’s fellowship, how do you think God would regard Pastor Moore’s actions?
(2) Does Pastor Moore have a duty or obligation to lovingly confront the SBC pastor who did baptize her and who did welcome her into his church’s fellowship? If you say “Yes, he does”, please explain why. And suppose that he didn’t lovingly confront his fellow SBC pastor out of duty or obligation, but refrained, what then of Pastor Russell Moore?