Should Christians be in politics? Evangelical leader thinks Johnny Cash has the answer

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Dr. Russell Moore, who heads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, was the subject of a popular Wall Street Journal article this week, titled “Evangelical Leader Preaches Pullback From Politics, Culture Wars.”

The only problem, Moore says, is that the headline was missing one important word …”against.” (It should have read: Evangelical Leader Preaches Against Pullback from Politics, Culture Wars.)

During a recent conversation, Moore lamented that more young Evangelicals today are eschewing politics. And he stressed the importance of taking one’s faith into the public square.

The obvious conundrum: How can Christians be involved in politics, but not be tainted by it? It’s about diligently keeping your priorities straight, Moore insists. Here, he references Johnny Cash’s song “Walk the Line,” telling me: “I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.”

It turns out, Moore is a huge Cash fan. “He always presented himself as a sinner — a sinner who was in need of mercy and in need of grace,” he says.

(Maybe Cash is a good model for how Christians should behave in public life — whether they’re called to music or politics, or…whatever?)

Cash didn’t revel in his sin — but he also didn’t push the kind of “sappy sentimental Christian testimony” that can turn of people who are hurting or paint an overly-optimistic picture of Christian life, either, he avers.

“Cash came in with this sense of a great hurt,” Moore says, “a sense of a past that he was carrying with him, the sort of ‘man in black sort of mythology that was there — that I think resonated with people to say, ‘the love of God extends to you.'”

“There was an authentic ring to that.”

Listen to my full conversation with Dr. Russell Moore here. And download the podcast on iTunes.