As today marks the forty-second anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, most Christians recognize, and rightly so, the loss of millions of unborn human lives. What we often forget is the second casualty of an abortion culture:… Read More
In response to a radio program I did on the blessings of having children, I received a letter from a listener, who said he believed it is “a very inopportune time to have children.” Lamenting the difficulties families have competing against… Read More
Don’t get me wrong, the call to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ is a joy. Yesterday I pronounced a godly young couple husband and wife. This morning I baptized a brother in Christ. Nothing is more thrilling than opening… Read More
Joseph Is a Single-Issue Evangelical: The Father of Jesus, the Cries of the Helpless, and Change You Can Believe In
A Sermon Preached by Russell D. Moore
Alumni Memorial Chapel
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
October 16, 2008
I played a cow in my first grade Christmas pageant. And I had more lines than the kid who played Joseph. The cattle were lowing and the babies were awake, but Joseph never really had much to say. He seemed to be not much more than a prop for Mary and the doll in the manger, the one who merely shrugged his shoulders and stood beside her when the innkeeper said there was no room in the inn. But the way in which Joseph was portrayed in this play was not altogether uncommon. For many of us think of Joseph as nothing more than a bit character in the biblical storyline. Matthew, however, portrays him as something vastly different than that in this text. He presents Joseph as a character in a story–a story that has played out before and is essential to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Matthew informs us in the first chapter that Joseph was a just and righteous man; the Holy Spirit even commends his life and faith. We see this same walk of faith in the writing of one of Joseph’s other sons, James, who was the pastor of the church at Jerusalem and writes about religion that is “pure and undefiled,” that visits “orphans and widows in their affliction,” (James 1:27) and speaks of faith as not merely agreeing to a set of facts but as something that lives and breathes and carries itself out into life. What I want to ask this morning is, could it be that the kind of tumult around us as we carry out the mission of the church, as we seek to reclaim and expand upon the legacy that has been given before, could that same kind of tumult have surrounded this man Joseph? And could it be that the walk of faith that God commanded and commended in Joseph of Nazareth is the very walk of faith that he still calls us to today?
Would you ever baptize a robot? How about a human clone? How about some other form of bio-engineered human life-form?
Last week I taught the first-ever “D-term” December class here in Southern Seminary’s School of Theology. The course, Introduction to Christian Ethics, ended with a reflective analysis examination required of all of the students. They are working on them now, but I thought I would post the question here.
For the exam, I chose a deliberately outrageous example, an ethical and theological dilemma none of them would have ever faced. The reason for this is that I wanted them to think through issues that are not standard boilerplate ethical questions in the evangelical repertoire. The students are graded not on the final conclusion to which they come, but on how they get there. How they process the question through the prism of biblical revelation and a theology of the Christic mystery at the center of the universe, the coming Kingdom of Christ, the uniqueness and dignity of human beings in the image of Christ, the creational order, the conscience, and prudential wisdom in making hard decisions.
It is the distant future. You are 106 years-old, and in good health with a sound mind. Your great-grandson, Joshua, is a young pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention (now called the Galactic Immersionist Federation). He is seeking your counsel because, as he puts it, “I’ve got a question and there's nothing about this in the Bible.”