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Moore: Honestly

As even the most casual reader of this blog is well aware I am a graduate of Liberty University. I first became aware of Johnnie Moore during the Ergun Caner episode, where Moore was responsible for press relations as a University spokesman during the period of time that it was becoming clear that Caner had misrepresented his personal story as a convert to Christianity from a Muslim background [e.g. link]. That’s probably the most polite way I can put what happened and Moore’s role in the controversy. A less gracious way to put it would be to say that Caner lied, Liberty prevaricated, and Moore was on occasion the public face of that prevarication.

So let’s just take it as read that I connected the dots here between Moore’s involvement in the Caner situation and the title of his new book.

Moore is the campus pastor at Liberty. It’s a difficult job to be a campus pastor anywhere and not many people do it well. This is Moore’s first full academic year in the position; he replaces Dwayne Carson, who left in the spring to be an assistant pastor at a church in Ohio. I honestly couldn’t tell you who the campus pastor was during my time as an undergraduate there in the late Eighties; he might have been Gary Aldridge; I’m not sure. I worked most Sundays and rarely attended church on campus, and we had so many guest speakers at church and at chapel it would have been difficult for anyone to have engaged in real pulpit ministry in the position at the time. I’m hoping that in the interim there have been changes, etc.

I have to admit that I’ve got pretty modest expectations for Moore’s book. Here’s the bio from his Amazon page [link]:

Johnnie Moore is a twenty-something Christian who is also the vice president and campus pastor of Liberty University, the world’s largest Christian university (with more than 70,000 students). He is a popular speaker, a professor of religion, a communication advisor to educators, preachers, and politicians. He is on the board of trustees of World Help, leads North America’s largest weekly gathering of Christian young people (10,000 students) and has led hundreds of students on humanitarian and missionary excursions to more than 20 nations.

Turns out Moore is 28. If he graduated college at 22 that means he’s been in the workforce for 6 years; it looks like he’s spent most of that time communicating, advising, and speaking. Perhaps he’s been on some sort of arduous spiritual journey that doesn’t show up in the blurb above; perhaps he’s wise beyond his years; perhaps God has singled him out for some sort of special purpose I can’t imagine. All these things are possible; I might humbly suggest they’re all unlikely.

The advance press on the book suggests it’s about hypocrisy [link, link]. Who knows; maybe he’s seen enough of that in his short career to have something insightful to say about it.

Regardless, the book is currently reasonably priced as a Kindle e-book at only $2.51. At that price I’m willing to give it a try.

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  1. Timothy F Simpson
    September 24, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Stumbled onto your blog. Absolutely love it. We were at Liberty at the same time. I finished the BA Dec 88 and the MA the year after. So I have a similar understanding of the context. I was barely hanging on to fundamentalism while I was there–I was an acolyte of Steve Strehle–and became a liberal Presbyterian shortly thereafter. But I still follow all of that so I find your comments witty and insightful.

  2. September 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I commented before but apparently the internet ate it.We were at LU at the same time. Dwayne Carson was a friend of mine. We worked with the youth together at a little church out in Forest. He married Donita Hershey on candy family. I graduated BA in Dec 88, MA the next year. Some of my other comrades were Tim Dempsey, Doug Blackmon, Dale Ferris, Sherri Patray, Stu Richardson and Milo Zehr, if you knew any of these folks. Also the twins, Diana and Denise Nantz. I was kinda going the opposite direction away from fundamentalism while I was there and left it completely after graduation. Became a liberal Presbyterian. I was a big fan of Steve Strehle in the Theology area, as well as Lee Hahnlen who taught Church History. Both made a big impact on me. ANyway, I love the blog. Takes me back. Very witty and has lots of insights.

    • September 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      Hey Tim. Thanks for stopping by. I have to approve all the comments, so sometimes they look like they’ve been eaten when in fact they’re just waiting around.

      You and I overlapped most of our time at Liberty, but it sounds like we were on different parts of the campus. I strayed over to the Religion building to take a couple of classes with Terry Miethe and J. P. Moreland.

      Do you think your time at Liberty shaped your transition to liberal Presbyterianism? Or were they just two things going on at the same time?

  3. Timothy F Simpson
    September 26, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Mike, Librty turned me into liberal. I got a completely unique education there, one that probably no one ever before or since had or will ever get. Instead of a traditional mojor in the School of Religion, I cobbled together a program in interdisciplinary Studies that the Dean signed off on when I pitched it to him. Basically it consisted on all the upper level Theology, Church History, Greek and Hebrew courses that LU offered from 1984-87. I say this was unique because most of my classes had less than ten students, with at least four courses containing more than three students. And there was virtually no verlap from area to area i was with a different tiny crew every class This allowed me basically to spend all of my time with Lee Hahnlen and Steve Strehle, the two most Reformed historical theologians the school has ever had, who were both run off right after I graduated. Their influence, combined with my Greek and Hebrew studies demolished my belief in inerrancy, which then led me to reject anyone who espoused it and to seek out those that didn’t. I did my MA thesis on Rudolf Bultmann’s philosophy of history, for example, as the last bit of work I ever did there.

    But it wasn’t just that. I had an extreme reaction to the politics. Reagan was about to take the country into nuclear war with the Soviets, and everybody at Liberty cheered. I did not get that. Millions in Africa were starving to death but all we were trying to do was send missionaries there to get ’em saved. Who cares if they were eating? And when Jerry came back from a “fact finding” trip to South Africa and got off the plane in NY telling the national press that Archbishop Tutu was a PHONY– man, I’m tellin’ ya, that’s when I lost it. The school almost closed over that one. Donations to the ministry virtually ceased. And whatever was left of the conservatism of my childhood got completely burnt up with that remark. If we could not unequivocally say that apartheid was evil then I wanted no part of any system or ideology that got the truth stuck in it’s throat like that.

    So I went looking for a Reformed church, which ordained women (I married the smartest woman ever to come out of the LU SOR but all she was good forin fundamentalism was for childcare and food preparation) which had a high view of scripture, but without the inerrancy, and which placed a strongemphasis on peace and social justice. And I found that in the Presbyterian Church USA, in which I am a Minister of Word and Sacrament.

    I had Miethe for Ethics, but not Moreland. Miethe and I could not stand eah other. I liked Beck and Habermas, though. Had both of them in grad school. Mostly, being a budding theologian, I was a vigorous critic of all that evidentialism and universal discourse stuff. what was your major? My former wife was a philosophy major and was Miethe’s, Beck’s and Habermas’ pet. When Haberhas debated Anthony Flew in 1985 she was on the student panel who got to ask them questions. You may have been there for some of that. Anyway, I’m sure we know a thousand of the same people. Keep up the great blogging. Fun stuff. Strong opinions. Thoughtful analysis. What coukd be better?

    • September 27, 2011 at 6:34 am

      Thanks Tim.

      To this day I don’t understand Falwell’s take on Tutu. His comments that the downing of KAL 007 was intended to kill Larry McDonald puzzles me too. I loved Jerry Falwell, but even then I couldn’t always figure what he was thinking.

      My former wife was a philosophy major and was Miethe’s, Beck’s and Habermas’ pet.

      I think I know who this is. Cindy somebody? I’m bad with names and that was a long time ago.

      what was your major?

      I did a double in Math and Computer Science, but I toyed with a minor in Philosophy for a while. If I had gotten my act together sooner I would have had enough time, but I didn’t so I didn’t.

      I sometimes wonder what became of the folks in my Epistemology class; one ended up teaching at Lynchburg College; one works at the Acton Institute last I heard. Some of the others were headed to law school. I wonder how many still fit anywhere on the fundamentalist-evangelical continuum.

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