A Review Of Russell Moore. “Onward: Engaging The Culture Without Losing The Gospel.” Nashville: B&H, 2015. 224 Pp. $24.99. -- By: William M. Marsh
Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 21:2 (Fall 2016)
Article: A Review Of Russell Moore. “Onward: Engaging The Culture Without Losing The Gospel.” Nashville: B&H, 2015. 224 Pp. $24.99.
Author: William M. Marsh
JBMW 21:2 (Fall 2016) p. 60
A Review Of Russell Moore. “Onward: Engaging The Culture Without Losing The Gospel.” Nashville: B&H, 2015. 224 Pp. $24.99.
Assistant Professor of Theology
I became a Christian, was baptized, went to church, and grew up in South Carolina. In other words, my childhood and early Christian life took place in the “Bible Belt.” Russell Moore says, “The Bible Belt is teetering toward collapse, and I say let it fall.” (3) This provocative statement resonates with others like myself who benefited in many ways from life in the “Bible Belt,” such as the presence of “traditional family values,” but have since come to see the “cultural Christianity” it bred and embraced as one of the greatest disadvantages to the church for being an effective gospel-witness to the culture it inhabits, and even more so, for simply being the church of the Lord Jesus Christ at all. Although Moore frequently has his sights on the expression of Christianity south of the Mason-Dixon Line that was propagated primarily in the twentieth century, “cultural Christianity” in the West or in America is not restricted only to these cultural and geographical lines. That reality makes Moore’s Onward pertinent for an audience much broader than the South.
Previously provost and dean of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Moore is the eighth president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Besides Onward, Moore has published a number of works, has served in the pastorate, and is a native of Mississippi. Although the former set of credentials lend significant expertise and credibility to his ability to address the shortcomings of “Christian America,” the latter set makes Onward a critical assessment that is born out of lived experience, which brings an unmistakable added weight of authority to both his critique and his proposal.
The structure of the book is a series of chapters that have a discernible flow. The first two chapters mince no words, questioning how distinctly “Christian” Christian America ever really was. From the “Introduction,” Moore remarks, “Christian values were always more popular in American culture than the Christian gospel.” (6) Then in chapter one titled forthrightly, “A Bible Belt No More,” after surveying the rhetoric of the last generation’s Religious Right activism, Moore reflects, “[it] was focused
JBMW 21:2 (Fall 2016) p. 61
much less on the kingdom of God or on the gospel of Christ than on ‘traditional family values’ or ‘our Judeo-Christian heritage.’” (16) Instead of seeking to recover what Moore seems to re...
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