In a lengthy letter sent to the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission early last year, Russell Moore revealed the psychological struggle that he went through and the secret attacks launched against him, aimed to silence his fight against the serious issues inside the SBC.
In response to the second investigation mounted last year against Moore, former president of the ERLC, over the "ministry statements" that affected the church giving on SBC's mission fund, he defended himself through a letter. The Religion News Service released the theologian's full statement to the trustees of the commission.
Moore began by remembering his baptism more than 25 years ago. He then expressed his gratitude to the committee that elected him, as well as its support for him and his wife.
He then tackled about the task force that was created to investigate him. He disclosed that the move was not about his views against Donald Trump but his stance on the issues of sexual abuse and racism within the denomination.
He accused the Executive Committee of covering up sexual abuse charges.
"J.D. Greear, our SBC president, and I were critical of this move, believing that it jeopardized not only the gospel witness of the SBC, but, more importantly, the lives of vulnerable children in Southern Baptist churches," he added.
They tried to address the crisis by creating the Caring Well Challenge and forming a credentials committee.
He shared that Rachael Denhollander's statements during the ERLC National Conference has enraged the Executive Committee trustee leadership for speaking about "the disparagement and poor treatment" of the Executive Committee staff to sexual abuse survivors.
He revealed that since the Executive Committee contributed money to the Caring Well program, he was surprised that some "sectors" of Ronnie Floyd's "trustees" threatened to halt its funding on the program just because of Denhollander's revelation.
"You've got a nice little Commission there; would be a shame if something happened to it," they told him. Moore said that the threat alarmed him and his wife.
"I told Maria that at the time. It was, and is, chilling - especially seeing what they had in mind to do under cover of darkness," he shared.
"These are the tactics that have been used to create a culture where countless children have been torn to shreds, where women have been raped and then 'broken down'," he continued.
He also uncovered that the Executive Committee tried to censure Greear over his statement to the press regarding the recipient of "Defender of the Faith Award."
"The last time they did this, I was 'investigated' by a president of their body who was, at that very moment, using his pastoral authority to sexually sin," he further revealed.
The second issue that Moore had with the convention was about the racial reconciliation.
"From the very beginning of my service, I have been attacked with the most vicious guerilla tactics on such matters, and have been told to be quiet about this by others," he said.
Relative to this, he disclosed that a leader "ripped [him] to shreds" by saying that an African-American president should be elected to the SBC. Another leader also pressured him, protesting the hiring of Dan Darling and Trillia Newbell because of their alleged inadequacy in Southern Baptist backgrounds.
He said that he is concerned about those issues because he believes in the "doctrine of hell."
"And I believe that unrepentant sin, not brought to the light of Christ and cleansed by the blood of Christ, through the gospel, leads to hell. I really believe in hell. That's why I've been clear for twenty-five years on abortion, on sexual chastity and morality, and on racism," he pointed out.
Moore then shared a warning he received in 2017.
"But the strategy here is clear. One of these figures told me in the middle of the 2017 debacle: 'We know we can't take you down. All our wives and kids are with you. This is psychological warfare, to make you think twice before you do or say something.' That's exactly what it is."
He also mentioned about how he worked so hard to convince people to stay in the SBC, who decided to leave "because of all of the buffoonery and bigotry and wickedness," adding that a number of "faithful, God-fearing leaders" were even ashamed to be associated with the word "Baptist" in their names.
He tried to keep those matters to himself, concerned that "lost people" would associate those issues with Jesus.
"I don't want the countless people - including pastors and church planters and missionaries, young people, women, people of color, to grow weary and to leave," he added.
He also stated that he met a lot of former Southern Baptists "everywhere" he goes, remembering a time in 2019 when he cried in his hotel room after speaking at the national meeting of the Anglican Church. In the event, he met a number of Southern Baptists who were talking about the nostalgic moments they had, growing up as a member of the denomination.
The theologian then compared his situation to a quote that Whittaker Chambers had written to his children, describing Chambers' reason for rejecting Communism. It referenced a woman's statement whose father also left Stalinism.
"One night - in Moscow - he heard screams. That's all. Simply one night he heard screams," the quote says.
"I have heard many screams. And I am now realizing that some of those screams were my own, and those of my family," Moore said.
He shared that when his children learned that he was being investigated, they were asking their mother, his wife if he had committed moral failure and were wondering if their father "had a character flaw."
"Maria cannot live with that, and neither can I," Moore added.
He then declared that he would not cooperate with the "secret task force meant to silence [him] about issues [he believes] are issues of obedience to Christ."
Moore then said of the secret task force, paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 4:3-4:
"I consider it a small thing to be investigated by you, or by any human court. In fact, I do not even investigate myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who investigates me."
"When God called me to himself in Jesus, and when he called me to serve him in ministry, he called me to stand for the truth, to point the way to the kingdom, to die to self, and to carry the cross. He did not call me to provide cover for racial bigotry and child molestation. I will not do that," he further said.
He went on to say that he loves the SBC and does not believe that people inside the convention would want him to cover up the serious issues of racism and sexual abuse.
"But a small group in the shadows do want me to do that. They want me to be afraid of them. They want you to be afraid of them," he warned.
"I am not afraid of them," he declared.
He confessed that when those people began their "guerilla attacks," he was "in grief, feeling like an exile and like an orphan" for years and felt rejected by people.
He then recalled a poem by Wendell Berry, "Do Not Be Ashamed," which mirrored what he felt.
He said that he tried to do what he thought was right and kept quiet with the psychological attacks hurled against him, "including the spiritually abusive private meetings." He said he never wanted to defend himself, instead "just counted on others to do so," but then he could not bear with it any more.
"I think to be the subject to all of this that goes on in secret makes me, in some ways, complicit with what I believe to be evil," he continued.
"Asking me to live through all of this is one thing. Asking me to be quiet about bigotry and molestation, for the sake of some title, is too much to ask. Thank you for never once asking me to do so," he further stated.
The theologian then reflected on the message of baptism, confident that "Jesus would lift [him] back up, to newness of life."
"I am counting on the fact that I am joined to One who, when he came out of those waters, heard the voice of God: 'You are my beloved Son, and with you I am well pleased,'" he added.
"As one whose life is hidden in him, my hope is that, however stormy the banks of Jordan, those words apply to me too," Moore declared.
The theologian concluded by expressing his love to the members of the committee.