New Calvinists and Red Letter Christians Together

Moore’s challenge was to say that you can’t have King on your side today without acknowledging that your fathers and grandfathers opposed King.

What Moore did not say, and where he may have been guilty of the very problem that Jesus identified in the Pharisees, was to mention those contemporary prophets that evangelicals should be listening to and following. After all, Moore appealed to King to plead for the integration of evangelical churches. But by the time that the African-American Civil Rights leader had reached Memphis, his message had turned to much more than race.

 

The Gospel Coalition held a conference to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and according to several tweetersRussell Moore stole the show with a talk based on Matthew 23. There Christ challenges the Pharisees for honoring prophets like Zechariah even when in the prophet’s day the Israelites refused to heed the prophet’s warning.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and ascribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

On one level, this was a clever argument since it allowed Moore to notice (as he did here) the hypocrisy between evangelicals’ contemporary celebration of King and the reality that fifty years ago born-again Protestants were opposed or indifferent to King’s call for civil rights for blacks. Moore’s challenge was to say that you can’t have King on your side today without acknowledging that your fathers and grandfathers opposed King, and that your evangelical churches may still be as segregated as they were in the 1960s.

What Moore did not say, and where he may have been guilty of the very problem that Jesus identified in the Pharisees, was to mention those contemporary prophets that evangelicals should be listening to and following. After all, Moore appealed to King to plead for the integration of evangelical churches. But by the time that the African-American Civil Rights leader had reached Memphis, his message had turned to much more than race; King was speaking out against the Vietnam War and economic inequality:

Fox News and its devotees tried to domesticate King in classic fashion back in January on MLK Day. In a commentary for the network’s website, Jeremy Hunt played up one side of King’s life and legacy — that he was a Christian minister who spoke of inner spiritual transformation—while ignoring the political nature of what King spent much of his time pursuing: specific changes to policies and practices to elevate African Americans.

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