By Tom Strode
NASHVILLE (BP) — Russell Moore has been elected as the next president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
The ERLC’s board of trustees approved Moore, currently dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in a special, called meeting Tuesday (March 26) at a Nashville hotel.
Moore, 41, a native of Biloxi, Miss., will be the eighth president of the entity charged by Southern Baptists with addressing moral and religious freedom issues. With a background in government, the pastorate and seminary training, he already is well-known as a commentator from a Southern Baptist and evangelical Christian perspective on ethics, theology and the culture.
“I am honored and humbled to be asked to serve Southern Baptists as ERLC president,” Moore said. “I pray for God’s grace to lead the ERLC to be a catalyst to connect the agenda of the kingdom of Christ to the cultures of local congregations for the sake of the mission of the Gospel in the world.”
Moore’s election means he will be only the second ERLC president in the last quarter of a century. He will succeed Richard Land, who will retire upon the completion of 25 years leading the entity.
“I am delighted that the Holy Spirit has led the ERLC’s trustees to Dr. Russell Moore as the commission’s next president,” Land said. “Dr. Moore is a godly Christian minister, a devoted husband and father, and a convictional, committed Baptist. His excellent academic preparation, combined with his keen mind and his tender heart for God and His people, make him a person uniquely suited to serve our Savior and Southern Baptists in this crucial role at such a critical moment in our nation’s history.
“I join the trustees and ERLC staff in committing to pray for Russell and his dear family as he prepares to assume the tremendous responsibilities of the ERLC presidency,” Land said.
Moore will begin his new responsibilities June 1. At that time, Land will become the entity’s president emeritus, an honor bestowed on him by trustees in September.
The ERLC trustees’ seven-person presidential search committee, chaired by Barry Creamer of Criswell College in Dallas, recommended Moore to the full board after a seven-month process.
“After praying, planning, meeting and working for months to find the man we believe God would have lead the ERLC, we are blessed by the board’s election of Russell Moore today and confident that God will use his message to impact churches and the public marketplace of ideas for what is right, true and desperately needed today,” said Creamer, Criswell’s vice president of academic affairs.
Moore has served since 2004 as dean of the school of theology and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He joined the faculty in 2001 as professor of Christian theology and ethics and continues in that role.
He was preaching pastor at a campus of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville from 2008-12. While a student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Moore was associate pastor at Bay Vista Baptist Church in Biloxi, Miss.
Before attending seminary, Moore served for four years as an aide to pro-life Democratic Congressman Gene Taylor of Mississippi.
Moore and his wife Maria are the parents of five sons.
Moore is a leading voice in the growing pro-adoption movement among evangelicals. His 2009 book — “Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches” — has played a significant role in that cause and he is a frequent speaker at adoption conferences.
On his blog, in written commentaries, in speeches and in news media interviews, Moore comments frequently on a range of issues and the Christian Gospel’s impact on them. These include abortion and other sanctity of life matters, race relations, marriage, pornography, politics and popular culture.
Government, academic and church leaders applauded Moore’s selection in written statements.
“His presence of mind and keen insights as a theologian and pastor are such that his work has not only benefited me personally, but many who serve our nation in public life,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican. “I have never read anything by Russell Moore that did not leave me with a strong impression that this was a man who could speak carefully and powerfully to the public square.”
Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said, “He will provide a public voice Southern Baptists will follow and the secular world will respect. … The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will greatly miss him, as will I, but we congratulate Southern Baptists on the wisdom of their choice. Russell Moore was made for this position of leadership, and for this hour.”
SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page, whose Ph.D. is in ethics, said, “Welcome, Dr. Moore to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. As an ethicist myself, I am always concerned about this particular area of our ministry. I am delighted that someone with Dr. Moore’s cultural awareness and concern for God’s people has been appointed to such a post for such a time as this. I encourage all Southern Baptists to pray for him during this time of transition, for the need has never been greater.”
Popular author and Southern California mega-church pastor Rick Warren said he “can think of no one more qualified in experience, in temperament, in passion, and in doctrine to represent us as Southern Baptists on the most critical ethical issues of our day, and on the all-important issue” of religious freedom.
Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said Moore “has uniquely prepared himself spiritually, theologically, academically, and politically for just such a moment as this. Placing a leader with the right convictions, a razor-sharp mind, and a moral compass that will not fail paints a bright picture for Southern Baptists’ future.”
In addition to his book on adoption, Moore has written two other books, “Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ” and “The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective.” He has three other books scheduled to be published, including one on marriage and one on abortion. Moore also has edited and contributed to other books.
He has served four times on the Resolutions Committee at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, including as chairman in 2010.
Land, who was 41 when he became head of the entity in 1988, led the transformation of the ERLC during the convention’s theological resurgence, moving the commission in a more conservative direction on such issues as abortion. He announced his retirement as ERLC president in July 2012.
In addition to Creamer, other ERLC trustees on the presidential search committee — all members of Southern Baptist churches — were Kenda Bartlett, executive director of Concerned Women for America in Washington, D.C.; Kenneth Barbic, a lobbyist with the Western Growers Association in Washington, D.C.; Lynne Fruechting, a pediatrician in Newton, Kan.; Ray Newman, executive director of Georgia Citizens Action Project in Atlanta; and Bernard Snowden, family life pastor at Antioch Baptist Church in Bowie, Md. ERLC trustee chairman Richard Piles, who appointed the search committee, was an ex officio member. Piles is pastor of First Baptist Church in Camden, Ark.
In addition to its Nashville office, the ERLC has an office in Washington, D.C.
More information on Moore, including a full list of endorsements, is available at http://erlc.com/moorepresskit.