Beth Moore’s consistency

Alan Jacobs:

I think a closely analogous situation obtains in the relationship between the Bible teacher Beth Moore and the Southern Baptist Convention. Beth Moore continues to hold the views that she held before Donald Trump came on the scene, and has never seen any reason why the rise of Donald Trump should cause her to abandon the biblical standards by which she has tried to govern her life, and by which she has expected other Christians to try to govern theirs. Just as the postjournalists changed course and despise those who have not changed with them, so also many leaders of the SBC shifted from their traditional conviction that “character counts” in order to enable rank idolatry, and cannot forgive people like Beth Moore for not shifting with them.

So much of the Church on the right shifted its moral bases during the Trump years that it can be hard to see the scope of that shift. But it really did happen, and it really is a big problem, and that fact that stalwarts like Beth Moore are standing like markers for us to see that shift is so important. Beth Moore is who she was prior to 2016; the rest of the evangelical right are the ones who have changed to conform themselves to the needs and whims of Donald Trump and his Republican Party. As Jacobs says, that shift is heresy in its purest form. Here is Jacobs again (emphasis his):

I’m old enough to remember when heresy was understood to be deviation from long-establish beliefs and practices. But in a social-media environment that issues new commandments every fortnight or so, the heretics now are the ones who don’t deviate when told to do so. And they are hated with particular intensity because they are a living, breathing reproach to their colleagues’ complete lack of ethical standards.

Excerpt #22

The presumption that the so-called moral precepts of the Decalogue could be separated from our obligation to worship God would, I think, strike the Church Fathers as distinctly odd. Augustine, for example, notes that ‘The beginning of freedom is to be free from crimes…such as murder, adultery, fornication, theft, sacrilege and so forth. When once one is without these crimes (and every Christian should be without them), one beings to lift up one’s head toward freedom. But this is only the beginning of freedom, not perfect freedom…” The commandments cannot be separated, viewed in isolation from one another, and in particular, from the first commandment.”

Stanley Hauerwas, “The Truth About God: The Decalogue as Condition for Truthful Speech” from Sanctify Them In The Truth, page 47.

Excerpt #21

That politics and nature are so intimately conjoined is perfectly consonant with the character of God’s dominion as expressed in the Decalogue. In this regard, it is clearly correct to speak of the Decalogue as God’s ‘natural law, insofar as the Ten Commandments reveal what our lives should look like as people created for friendship with God. But the expression ‘natural law’ does not entail a knowledge which could be had anterior to or separable from an understanding of the politics of God’s law. Because politics and nature are indissolubly joined, because grace and nature cohere, it would be a mistake to assume that a correct understanding of one could be had without the other. As both Aquinas and Luther argue, the last nine commandments in the Decalogue depend upon, and in that sense are an elaboration of, the first. This means that our understanding of the natural cannot be separated from the political any more than the theological can be separated from the ethical/ecclesial.

Stanley Hauerwas, “The Truth About God: The Decalogue as Condition for Truthful Speech” in Sanctify Them In The Truth, page 45