Welcome to the web presence of the Research Institute. The Institute functions as the think tank of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
American culture is changing rapidly. The biblical world-view that undergirded much of life in this country in the not-so-distant past is no longer the default position for large segments of society. Practically every cultural institution has lost its moorings for many among us, from the family to the schools to the city council to Washington, DC.
Everyone is feeling the brunt of this flash-fire shift, but no one is feeling it like the individual Christian trying to live faithfully in the world. The person in the pew is now living on the front-line of the clash between biblical values and a militant, anti-faith secularism.
While these aren’t the days of Noah, yet, they do feel increasingly like the days of Daniel. The Old Testament prophet Daniel and his three friends faced challenges very similar to the challenges faithful believers encounter today. They found themselves trying to live faithful lives in the midst of a foreign people with strange, offensive customs. And they were expected to accommodate those customs or face devastating consequences.
The New Testament equivalent for this time is probably best captured by the Apostle Peter. Peter is the one who described fellow believers as aliens and strangers in the land. Yet, neither the prophet Daniel nor the Apostle Peter counseled surrender and accommodation. Daniel and his friends stayed true to their God and proved the mettle of their faith. Peter called on his readers to live faithfully and triumphantly as they waited for God to renew all things.
We can live today as faithfully and effectively as those who came before us. We have the same God, the same Savior, the same Spirit, and the same truth. The challenge isn’t whether or not we have the right resources, but whether or not we are equipped to apply those resources in such a way that we also will demonstrate their eternal power against temporal principalities and bring glory to God.
The Research Institute of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s main task is to help God’s people do that very thing. We have assembled some of the most gifted Southern Baptist thinkers from churches, seminaries, colleges, and various other institutions to help us speak to the great moral questions facing Christians today. Our task is not to theorize on how many angels can sit on the head of a pin, as helpful as such an answer might be. Our task is to bring God’s truth to bear on the commands of authorities, the denials of skeptics, the expectations of co-workers, the pressure of peers, and the lusts of the flesh. Equipped in such a way, Christians standing at the intersection of faith and culture will have the relevant truths applied in a compelling, engaging, clear explanation of what God would have them know and do at that moment of their own challenge.
The aim of the Research Institute is to be a catalyst to connect the agenda of the gospel to the complex questions of the day—and to do so at the highest levels of academic scholarship for the good of local congregations. I, along with the ERLC's President, Dr. Russell Moore, am thrilled to get to work together with this exceptionally gifted band of scholars and leaders as we seek to be a persuasive, prophetic witness engaging the academy and equipping the church.
We encourage you to bookmark this page and come here regularly. You will find a steady stream of helpful, relevant materials designed with you in mind. Read now, and be ready to give an answer when your challenge comes. We ask for your prayers, as well, as we attempt to understand the times and speak to them. God has a will and a way for faithful living in every situation in life. We look forward to our partnership with you as we find them together for His glory.
Blessings in the Lord,
Barrett Duke, Ph.D.