The November 7 New Yorker magazine has a splendid and most unexpected article about Russell Moore, the embattled leader of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The title and subtitle are, “The New Evangelical Moral Minority: If the Southern Baptist church can’t be bigger, Russell Moore wants it to be better.” I was so flabbergasted to see this in the “new” New Yorker that I quickly looked at the byline, and then I understood: the essay was written by Kelefa Sanneh, the son of Lamin Sanneh, distinguished Gambian-born Professor of Missions and World Christianity at Yale Divinity School. Lamin Sanneh is known to many of us as the author of Summoned From the Margin, an account of his conversion from Islam to Christianity (Eerdmans, 2012) and as an extraordinarily astute interpreter of world Christianity. His son Kelafa, a graduate of Harvard, has been a staff writer at The New Yorker on cultural matters since 2008.
It is deeply encouraging to read such a fine article about Russell Moore, a man we should all do our best to support. (My only serious quibble with Sanneh’s essay is that he gives a rather dry, somewhat uninformed view of “Calvinism.”)
Note: By “the new New Yorker” I simply mean the years since Tina Brown took over in 1992. Prior to that, there was a certain openness to articles delving into church matters. Ved Mehta’s The New Theologians (Harper & Row, 1965) originated as a series in The New Yorker. We haven’t seen very much like this substantive article about Russell Moore