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Get to know the ERLC staff: Steven Harris

Sep 8, 2015

Steven Harris serves as the Director of Advocacy, working out of the ERLC’s Washington office. In this role, he works with government leaders in the legislative and executive branches to advocate for the ERLC’s position on important issues, while also analyzing legislation and producing content for ERLC outlets. He holds a B.S. in Religion from Vanderbilt University, an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and an M.A. in Religion from Yale University.

How did you come to know the Lord?

The Lord saved me at an early age. I was blessed to grow up in a household where church attendance was normative. Every Sunday, my parents — most often, my mother — would take me and my brothers to The First Baptist Church of Melrose Park, Ill., just fifteen miles west of Chicago. Both my mother and my Sunday school teacher, Prince Ella Larkin (she was just as serious as her name!), were faithful to share the gospel with me.

By God’s grace, I took him at his word early on and acknowledged my sin and desperate need for the Savior. There would be times in high school and in college where I struggled with my own assurance as I saw other “early professors” around me display little-to-no evidence of genuine faith. However, God was gracious to sustain me in those times with not only a reminder of evidences of his saving grace in my life, but also a reminder that the grounds of my salvation did not ultimately rest upon my own performance, but Christ’s.

The Lord used my mother’s witness to call my father to himself. He and I were baptized together, and now we’re both preachers.

What are some of your favorite books?

I interpret “some” as 14. You asked!

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology

W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

John Frame, Doctrine of God

Albert Raboteau, Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South

Anthony Hoekema, Saved By Grace

Ira Berlin, Generations of Captivity: A History of African American Slaves

Richard Baxter, Reformed Pastor

Perry Miller, The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century

Daniel Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848

Carl F. Henry, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism

Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877

John Saillant, Black Puritan, Black Republican: The Life and Thought of Lemuel Haynes

Norman Geisler, Legislating Morality: Is It Wise? Is It Legal? Is It Possible?

Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church

What music is on your iPhone right now?

In addition to an album of white noise forest and nature sounds for my son, here are a few artists: Fred Hammond, Marvin Sapp, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Lecrae, Trip Lee, Flame, Coldplay, Common, Sovereign Grace Music, Hezekiah Walker, Boyz II Men, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Outkast (and then there’s that U2 album that showed up one day).

What’s something surprising about you?

I used to bowl on a travel team. And I still take bowling very seriously (my own bag, balls, shoes, personalized towel, powder . . . the usuals). I’m unashamed!

Tell us about your family.

I’ve been married to my beautiful bride, Sunni, for seven years. We met at Vanderbilt in our co-ed dorm freshman year but didn’t start dating until our senior year (took her a couple years to recognize the Lord’s blessing). She is a godly, brilliant woman with an undergraduate degree in engineering science and a law degree from the University of Kentucky. She currently practices in the areas of general litigation and labor & employment with a corporate firm here in D.C. We had our son, Jude, during our time in New Haven, Conn. He is coming up on 11 months and likes to wave and smile at girls (we’re already praying!).

What do you like to do for fun?

A year ago, I probably would’ve mentioned “reading and dinner and movies with my bride.” These days, my time away from work is spent at the neighborhood playground or playing the Daddy’s Gonna Getcha crawling game with my son (it can’t be found in stores). I’m also eagerly awaiting the sixth season of AMC’s The Walking Dead (sad but true).

What excites you most about your new role?

I feel like this divinely-orchestrated opportunity marries my passion for biblical theology with a call to sociopolitical engagement. Elsewhere, I’ve spoken of the oft-estranged notions of kingdom advancement and congressional advocacy. On the one hand, we certainly do not want to erroneously believe that God’s kingdom will be ushered in through a vote on the senate floor. The former, already inaugurated and awaiting consummation, is presently seen in the church as sinners repent and believe in Jesus — the latter is just a vote.

However, that vote is an important one and is meant to be representative of the ideas and ideals of the people for the betterment of society. Evangelical Christians are a part of that “people,” and I get to represent a host of them in rehearsing before Capitol Hill and the culture this timeless truth: Jesus is Lord.