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Russell Moore on the Religious Right

December 16, 2016

First Things reprints the text of Moore’s 2016 Erasmus Lecture, “Can the Religious Right Be Saved?” Here is part of his answer, a part that says he really has no answer. Whenever an evangelical starts talking about “cultural renewal,” we are in trouble. If you doubt it, just look at the culture of American evangelicalism. That’s what they want to renew the culture TO.

The religious right can be saved, but not by tinkering around the edges. Religious conservatives will need a robust religion and a sense of what is, in fact, to be conserved. This will mean abandoning an idea of a “moral majority” or a “silent majority” within the nation, even when we find ourselves winning an election or a court case. We will need to build collaborative majorities, often issue by issue. It will mean institutions that have the vision, and the financial resources, to play a long game of cultural renewal, rather than allowing themselves to be driven by the populist passions of the moment. More than that, it will mean a religious conservatism that sees the Church as more important than the state, the conscience as more important than the culture, and one that knows the difference between the temporal and the eternal. We will make mistakes. We will need course corrections. We must remind ourselves that we are not inquisitors but missionaries, that we can be Americans best when we are not Americans first.

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