By / Dec 11

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Dec. 11, 2018—The book, “The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home” authored by Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, has been named the Christianity Today 2019 Book of the Year. This honor is given to a release that “best embodies CT's pursuit of truthfulness and loveliness” and is Moore’s second time receiving the award.

“The Storm-Tossed Family” was published by B&H Publishing Group in September 2018 and addresses questions such as “why do our families have so much power over us?” and explores how family makes us who we are and how understanding this can liberate us to live without fear. 

Moore’s book “The Storm-Tossed Family” also won the “Award of Merit” in the Christian Living/Discipleship category for Christianity Today’s 2019 book awards.

Mark Galli, editor-in-chief for Christianity Today, commented on Moore’s book of the year award:

“Moore refuses to let the conversation remain on the extremes. He recognizes that the family is crucial in God’s economy, but he doesn’t turn it into an idol. He explains persuasively how the church is our first family while giving practical, realistic direction in how to nurture and maintain a healthy, biblical family life, one that reflects the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord.” 

Topics addressed in “The Storm-Tossed Family” include: marriage, sexuality and fidelity; divorce, abuse and broken relationships; parenting, discipline and bonding; trauma, generational sin and healing. This issues have resonated with both secular and Christian media, and in interviews Moore has skillfully connected these biblical principles to current events and culture.

“Dr. Moore’s work—really, everything he writes—is a rare combination of equal parts truth and beauty,” said B&H Trade Books publisher Devin Maddox. “It’s fun to see Dr. Moore receive honor he so richly deserves.”

Moore’s book, "Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel," also won the Christianity Today's Book of the Year in 2016.

By / Jun 11

BALTIMORE (BP) — Questions from churches about the transgender issue and the tide of culture pointed to the need for Southern Baptists to address the topic during their annual meeting, the convention's lead ethicist said.

Messengers to the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution on transgender identity Tuesday (June 10), marking the first time the SBC has addressed the issue in a stand-alone measure. After what appeared to be a unanimous vote on the convention floor, Russell D. Moore explained to reporters some reasons for the resolution.

On a recent day, he received three phone calls from pastors or church leaders who were dealing with the issue, said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

Meanwhile, the transgender movement has made progress in the wider culture.

“The cultural mindset is that gender is something that is constructed by the individual,” Moore said at a news conference after the vote. “So it's disconnected from how the person is created.

“And that's one of the reasons why I think this resolution … was so wise, because it spoke to what the Bible teaches about what gender means in the first place, about how God's design is good,” Moore said, “and then talked about the fact that we're living in a world that is fallen, in which there is a great deal of confusion in what it means to address that.”

Moore told reporters, “Right now we're living in a situation where Time magazine just two weeks ago talked about the transgender issue as the new civil rights movement, the new frontier of the civil rights movement…. [W]e have to be prepared to give a witness and to give an answer from the Scripture on that.”

David Dykes, chairman of the Resolutions Committee and pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, pointed reporters to a clause in the resolution that noted a 2011 survey showed about 700,000 Americans consider their gender to be different than their biological sex. 

“To this point we had not spoken on this issue, so there was a need for clarity” on the SBC's position, Dykes said.

Time's cover story reflected advances made by advocates for transgender recognition and normalization, such as:

— A review board of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ruled May 30 that people receiving Medicare may no longer be automatically rejected for coverage of sex reassignment surgery.

— 15 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that provide explicit protections for transgender people. 

— California enacted a law in August making it the first state to enable students to use the restrooms and play on the athletic teams of the gender they identify with, regardless of their biological sex. Public schools in New York City and other localities have issued guidelines that permit students to participate in sports and physical education in accordance with their gender identity, not their biology.

The SBC resolution adopted June 10 affirmed “God's good design that gender identity is determined by biological sex and not by one's self-perception.” 

It expressed “love and compassion” to people who deal with conflict between their biology and their gender identity. The statement invited all transgender people to put their faith in Jesus and welcomed them “to our churches and, as they repent and believe in Christ, receive them into church membership.” It also recognized transgender people as image-bearers of God and denounced abuse and bullying toward them.

In addition, the resolution opposed attempts to change a person's “bodily identity” through such treatments as gender reassignment surgery.

Moore said the resolution “spoke with conviction about the issue — very clear biblically about God's design for gender, for sexuality — but also didn't just speak about transgender persons. It spoke to transgender persons with the message of the redeeming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“I think the committee has spoken with a great deal of wisdom and a great deal of pastoral sensitivity to this issue,” Moore said. “I think it is a great sign of the Southern Baptist Convention taking seriously what it means to minister to a changing culture by addressing this issue at all.” 

The original resolution was submitted jointly by Denny Burk, associate professor at Boyce College in Louisville, Ky., and Andrew Walker, the ERLC's director of policy studies.

Bob Stith, founder of Family and Gender Issues Ministries in Southlake, Texas, described the resolution as “thorough, straightforward and redemptive. It stresses God's design and intent as well as hope and compassion.”

“It took courage to tackle an issue which will almost certainly be misrepresented and misunderstood even though it is factually accurate and ultimately more compassionate than those who would oppose it,” Stith said in a statement to Baptist Press. “It is always a more loving way to point to God's plan for His creation. The author of confusion has from the beginning sought to cast doubt on God's intentions, and the massive sexual disorientation rampant in our world today demonstrates that this tactic is still effective.

Stith noted that the key challenge related to the resolution “will be getting churches to really think through it and understand how to implement it in that same spirit of compassion and steadfastness. Will our churches be equally courageous in preparing our people for this brave new world?

“We cannot continue to ignore these issues or issue occasional comments in sermons and think that this will prepare Christians for these challenges,” Stith said. “I pray that our churches will study this resolution carefully and seek wise counsel in helping to prepare our members to adequately defend these truths in the marketplace of ideas.”

By / May 23

WASHINGTON (BP) — The Southern Baptist Convention's lead religious freedom advocate has called on Secretary of State John Kerry to condemn the death sentence of a Sudanese Christian woman.

Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, urged forceful action from Kerry in a letter Tuesday (May 20) responding to a judgment against Meriam Ibrahim, who refused to renounce her Christian faith. A Sudanese judge in Khartoum sentenced Ibrahim, who has a 20-month-old son and is eight months pregnant, to be executed.

In his letter to Kerry, Moore encouraged him to denounce Ibrahim's sentence as "cruel and inhumane, to demand her release, and to use the diplomatic influence of the State Department to advocate for this most fundamental human right, the freedom of religion and belief."

Sudanese judge Abaas Al Khalifa confirmed Ibrahim's death sentence for "apostasy" (leaving Islam) May 15, according to Morning Star News, which reports on the persecution of Christians globally. "The court has sentenced you to be hanged till you are dead," Al Khalifa told Ibrahim after Islamist crowds shouted for the court to punish her. Al Khalifa had given her 15 days to recant upon announcing his original sentence April 30.

Ibrahim, whose first name is spelled Mariam in some reports, told Al Khalifa in court, "I am a Christian, and I have never been a Muslim." Ibrahim was born to a Sudanese Muslim father who disappeared from her life when she was 6 years old and an Ethiopian mother who was Ethiopian Orthodox. Though her mother reared her as a Christian, Islamic law asserts she is Muslim by birth because her father was Muslim.

Al Khalifa also reinforced a second sentence originally announced April 30 — 100 lashes for adultery. Marriage to a Christian is considered illegal under the Islamic law known as sharia. Authorities reportedly plan to carry out the whipping, then the execution, after Ibrahim recovers from childbirth.

Moore told Kerry in his letter, "The use of state power to enforce belief of any religion — Islam, Christianity or otherwise — is outside the authority of any government. That such an arrangement culminates in the arrest, torture, and execution of an otherwise law-abiding pregnant woman is abhorrent and should be condemned outrightly by the leadership of the United States government."

Moore also said, "As our own Baptist forebears were persecuted by civil authorities for defying state authority over religious matters, we must again reassert on behalf of [Ibrahim] that faith, by definition, cannot be coerced or legislated and that no person should be imprisoned or executed for religious belief."

Other religious liberty advocates also are calling for a robust response by the Obama administration.

Rep. Frank Wolf, R.-Va., a longtime advocate for international religious freedom, urged Kerry and President Obama to act quickly. Rep. Trent Franks, R.-Ariz., and he are joining Sens. Roy Blunt, R.-Mo., and Kelly Ayotte, R.-N.H., in asking Kerry to provide political asylum to Ibrahim, Wolf said in a May 20 speech to the U.S. House of Representatives.

"The administration must urgently act to save this innocent woman's life. President Obama should immediately appeal for her release and offer safe haven," Wolf said.

Ibrahim's death sentence is the latest evidence of Sudan's standing as one of the world's worst violators of religious liberty. The State Department has listed the militant Islamic regime in Khartoum among its "countries of particular concern" (CPC) since 1999, the first year such designations were made by the U.S. government. Only eight countries are on the State Department's CPC list, which is reserved for governments with the most severely repressive policies toward religious freedom.

Ibrahim, a 27-year-old doctor born in western Sudan, is married to Daniel Wani, a citizen of the country of South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in 2011. Wani, a Christian, also is a U.S. citizen. Their marriage could be dissolved. Unless Ibrahim's case is dismissed on religious rights grounds and their marriage maintained, their children will become wards of the state to be reared as Muslims.

"She might deliver her baby any time from now up to June 1," Wani told Morning Star News. "She is weak but she is not afraid of death."

Ibrahim has been under regular pressure to reject Christianity since she and her son were imprisoned in mid-February. Before her May 15 court appearance, a Muslim scholar spent nearly 40 minutes trying to coerce her into recanting her Christian confession. 

Her attorneys were to file an appeal May 18, which would postpone her punishment until another court decision.

One of her attorneys reported that Ibrahim is "very encouraged" by her support "from the international community. She hopes that people stand with her and her family until she gets her freedom."

If her capital punishment is carried out, Ibrahim would be the first person to be executed for apostasy since Sudan's 1991 criminal code made it punishable by death. 

Ibrahim's execution would violate Sudan's constitution and international treaties to which the country is a party, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide. Sudan President Omar al-Bashir has promised to make his country more strictly Islamic since South Sudan's secession. The creation of a new country came in the wake of a two-decade-old civil war between Sudan's militant Islamic north and largely Christian south.

Read the original post here.