A pastor and writer in Louisiana is taking Russell Moore to task for his latest opinion piece in the Washington Post titled “White supremacy angers Jesus, but does it anger his church?”
The piece was written in response to the violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday between white supremacists and radical leftist counterprotesters.
In a blog post, Shane Kastler writes, “His latest article is classic, liberal propaganda, Russell Moore-style. He takes a minuscule segment of the white population, implies that they represent a much larger segment than they do. And then skewers, ‘the church’ for being racist. And just in case you doubt him, he takes the words of Jesus out of their scriptural context, twists them for his political ends, and uses them to justify his argument.”
Kastler is pastor of Heritage Baptist, an independent Baptist church in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He is known in Tennessee for his biography of Nathan Bedford Forrest which chronicles how Forrest became a Christian later in life.
Moore is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has been criticized by conservatives for his progressive views on race and immigration, his denunciations of President Trump and his supporters leading up to last year’s presidential election, and the way in which some say he has downplayed issues related to gender and marriage. At one point earlier this year, the backlash raised questions about whether Moore would be able to hang onto his job.
In his opinion piece published Monday by the Washington Post, Moore said the biblical account about Jesus using a whip to drive out money-changers from the temple illustrates the importance of welcoming people of other backgrounds. At that time, people coming from distant lands to offer sacrifices at the temple would wait and buy the animal sacrifice when they arrived in Jerusalem, which led to the selling of pigeons and doves at the temple.
Why was Jesus so angered? After all, the money-changers were there to do a service for those offering sacrifice. He told us why. “Is it not written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?’ ” Jesus said. “But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ ”
The passage Jesus cites is from the prophet Isaiah’s vision of the day when “the foreigners,” those of all the nations, will be brought in to the people of God. “Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say, ‘The Lord will surely exclude me from his people,’ ” Isaiah said.
In some way, those who clamored for space in the temple courts were blocking the way of those God had welcomed into his house of prayer. Jesus reclaimed the space for the God who desires all tongues and tribes and nations to worship him through Jesus Christ.
Moore closed his piece by writing:
The church should call white supremacy what it is: terrorism, but more than terrorism. White supremacy is Satanism. Even worse, white supremacy is a devil-worship that often pretends that it is speaking for God.
White supremacy angers Jesus of Nazareth. The question is: Does it anger his church?
However, Kastler says that Moore’s claim that the story about the money-changers addresses racism is “asinine.”
This is an asinine assertion, and Moore probably knows it’s asinine. The Biblically literate will see right through his exegetical smoke and mirrors, but the average American, indeed the average Washington Post reader, is not all that Biblically literate…
The problem Jesus confronted in the Temple had to do with a place of holiness being turned into a place of merchandise. We don’t have to guess what Jesus’s motive was. Nor do we need to dream up a false motive for him, as Moore does. Jesus TELLS us what raised his ire: “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:12-13 ESV) …
Furthermore, with the extraordinarily misleading headline, Moore implies that it was specifically “white supremacy” that Jesus was going up against. As if the KKK had set up shop in the Temple and were burning crosses. To be clear, the leaders Jesus confronted were religiously Jewish, and ethnically Middle-Eastern. There were no Anglos present.
Other passages in the Bible, however, make it clear that Jesus would oppose racism and this is “no news flash at all” to most Christians, Kastler said. But for Jesus, “criticism of racism would not be limited to white people alone,” he said.
“He loves to attack white people,” Kastler says of Moore, “and in so doing he stokes the flames of racism and drives wedges between the body of Christ. And rather than pointing the church to Christ and the gospel, he constantly throws confusing distractions in the way in order to divide and conquer. His conduct is shameful.”