NEWS | On Easter Sunday morning, ABC’s “This Week” featured a panel of guests discussing whether the influence of evangelicals is waning in the current culture. The group included Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, who said it is indeed a new day for Christians.
The percentage of people that are members of a church or synagogue has fallen from 70% in 1992 to 59% in 2013, said moderator Martha Raddatz, citing a Gallup statistic. She asked Moore if the numbers worry him, and what can be done about the decline.
“I’m not worried… because I think what we’re seeing is the collapse of a cultural, nominal form of Christianity,” Moore said. There was a time in America where in order to be a good person, to be seen as a good citizen, one had to nominally at least be a member of a church. Those days are over, and so we’re at a point now where Christianity is able to be authentic, and Christianity is able to be authentically strange.”
Moore pointed out that Christianity’s foundational beliefs are hard to grasp for the culture at large, but the disconnect isn’t unprecedented.
“Many people now when they hear about what Christians believe, what evangelical Christians believe, their response is to say, ‘That sounds freakish to me, that sounds odd and that sounds strange.’ Well, of course it does. We believe that a previously dead man is now the ruler of the universe and offers forgiveness of sins to anyone who will repent and believe.
“That’s the same sort of reaction that happened in the Greco-Roman empire when Christianity first emerged. So it offers an opportunity for the church to speak clearly, articulately, about what it is that we believe, to give a winsome and clear message about what the Gospel actually is.”
Raddatz asked Moore about his recent comment that “the illusion of a Moral Majority is no longer sustainable in this country.”
“Yes, it’s a different time,” Moore said on Sunday’s broadcast, “and that means that the way that we speak, we speak in a different way. We speak to people who don’t necessarily agree with us. There was a time in which we could assume that most Americans agreed with us on life, and on abortion, and on religious liberty and other issues. And we simply had to say, ‘We’re for the same things you’re for, join us.’
“It’s a different day. We have to speak to the rest of the culture and say, ‘Here’s why this is in your interest to value life, to value family, to value religious liberty.'”