The leading Southern Baptist Russell Moore has said that US evangelicals are often more focused on the process of selecting presidential candidates than 'the good news of Jesus Christ' and called for the church to 'thrive on the margins'.
In a hard-hitting lecture yesterday at Princeton University in New Jersey, Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said: 'So often in 2018 America, evangelicalism is associated more with Iowa caucuses than the good news of Jesus Christ.'
Moore, who in recent years has distinguished himself among prominent Christian leaders in the US for refusing to offer unconditional support to Donald Trump, added: 'God does not need the evangelical movement; the evangelical movement desperately needs God.'
In the comments, reported by the Daily Princetonian, Moore defined evangelicalism as 'the link of renewal and revival movements which unite historic, conventional orthodoxy with the necessity of personal conversion and evangelism'.
He added that any true evangelical movement must be focused upon the Cross.
'An emphasis on the Cross is one of the hardest thing to maintain in any Christian group, and that includes American evangelicalism,' Moore said.
And he argued that many modern movements have strayed away from the values of the Cross, instead becoming 'market focused', preaching on topics that people want to hear about, but choosing to ignore other sins or issues in society that are less popular.
In contrast, Moore said, 'The Cross means that the gospel can thrive on the margins, because that is where it started.'
The president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission called for a pluralistic evangelical society and a government that does not 'adjudicate' on religious differences, but instead gives people the freedom to debate with one another.
He said: 'Those of us who are evangelicals should work for reform. For a multi-ethnic, theologically robust evangelicalism that can pass the torch to a new general with the message that we first heard down with the Cross.'