Controversial BP Reporter Criticizes 'Real Baptists' Writer

A stringer for Baptist Press and a graduate student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), Russell D. Moore, criticized Bob Setzer's lesson in Real Baptists on "Meeting Jesus," in a current SBTS publication.

Setzer is pastor of First Baptist Church, Macon, Georgia, and serves on BCE's board of directors.

Moore is the reporter who alleged in a BP article he was pushed and cursed at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's 2000 General Assembly. BP provided no supporting evidence for Moore's charge, ignoring the need for a witness to verify such a claim.

Writing in the November issue of The Tie, Moore criticized Setzer for saying Jesus called for "a simple creed, consisting of two words only: 'Follow me.'"

Moore wrote, "To this conservatives respond, "Follow who?"

"The Jesus of the Bible made it rather clear that knowing Christ, not merely following an ethical example, is what saves," Moore wrote.

In what is becoming a predictable pattern, Moore lifted and twisted material to fit his agenda. 

Setzer's lesson clearly and carefully distinguishes between those who believe about Jesus and those who believe in Jesus. Those who believe about Jesus subscribe to certain beliefs and distill the truth of God into a formula. Those who believe in Jesus give their hearts to him and follow him in the journey of discipleship.

Contrary to Moore's claim, Setzer did not write that Jesus is merely an ethical example. Setzer did write about following the Messiah.

Moore's distortion of Setzer's lesson is bothersome. Yet what Moore said about conservative belief is even more so. Surely Moore was incorrect when he asserted that conservatives question whom to follow. The conservatives I know would reject Moore's perspective.

The Bible states it simply and clearly. Jesus said, "Follow me." In the texts where Jesus called for followship, Jesus emphasized obedience, not dogma.  

Does the difference really come down to this: Do moderates want to follow Jesus while conservatives are more interested in knowing Christ in their heads than in their lives?

Robert Parham is BCE's executive director.

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