We have often applied the term failing upward in Big Eva, as many who do a terrible job in parachurch ministries advance on to higher paying jobs despite a poor track record of results. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention is a proving ground for failing upwards as shown with the careers of Richard Land, Russell Moore, and now Brent Leatherwood who have been its leaders. Yet Russell Moore’s esteem with the world despite a pitiful list of actual accomplishments is something to marvel at.
Over the past decade very few Evangelicals were wise to Russell Moore’s game. JD Hall back in the early days of Pulpit and Pen was the most vocal voice. In 2016, President Donald Trump called out Russell Moore for being a terrible representative for Evangelicals garnering the defense of many who would later oppose Moore, like Tom Buck. Ironically, Donald Trump, a man not known for discernment was used by God to point out the snake that is Russell Moore.
Yet the warning signs for Russell Moore existed long before 2016. A recently unearthed article written by Russell Moore on the The Gospel Coalition is proactively titled Jesus Has AIDS. This was written in 2009, and should have served as a warning about both Russell Moore and The Gospel Coalition, at the time.
Jesus has AIDS.
Just reading that in the type in front of you probably has some of you angry. Let me help you see why that is, and, in so doing, why caring for those with AIDS is part of the gospel mandate given to us in the Great Commission.
The statement that Jesus has AIDS startles some of you because you know it not to be true. Jesus, after all, is the exalted son of the living God. He has defeated death in the garden tomb, and defeated it finally. Jesus isn’t weak or dying or infected; he’s triumphant and resurrected.
This was clickbait before Buzzfeed was a thing. Yet Russell Moore continues with the flawed premise.
Yes, but, what we’re often likely to miss is that Jesus has identified himself with the suffering of this world, an identification that continues on through his church. Yes, Jesus finishes his suffering at the cross, but he also speaks of himself as being “persecuted” by Saul of Tarsus, as Saul comes after his church in Damascus (Acts 9:4).
Through the Spirit of Christ, we “groan” with him at the suffering of a universe still under the curse (Rom. 8:23,26). This curse manifests itself, as in billions of other ways, in bodies turned against themselves by immune systems gone awry….
Some of Jesus’ church has AIDS. Some of them are languishing in hospitals right down the street from you. Some of them are orphaned by the disease in Africa. All of them are suffering with an intensity few of us can imagine.
So the world going after Christians because the world first hated Christ is akin to believers suffering the natural consequences of sin on earth.
It’s worth noting that on the subject of AIDS, Russell More doesn’t know what he’s talking about since he’s genuinely equating so-called “AIDS” in Africa to HIV/AIDS in the United States which is a sexually transmitted disease primarily spread through buttsex or sharing needles. This is a public health myth that the US government has long promoted, and so too Big Eva, apparently.
Some of you are angered by the statement I typed above because you think somehow it implicates Jesus. After all, AIDS is a shameful disease, one most often spread through sexual promiscuity or illicit drug use.
Yes, but those are the very kinds of people Jesus consistently identified himself with as he walked the hillsides of Galilee and the streets of Jerusalem, announcing the kingdom of God. Can one be more sexually promiscuous than the prostitutes Jesus ate with? Can one be more marginalized from society than a woman dripping with blood, blood that would have made anyone who touched her unclean (Luke 8:40-48)? Jesus touched her, and took her uncleanness on himself.
AIDS is scandalous, sure. But not nearly as scandalous as a cross.
By this logic Jesus would also have crabs, syphilis, and a yeast infection?
Moreover, some of you are angry because you believe that the statement I typed above is an affront to the dignity of the ruler of the universe. He doesn’t have some immune deficiency disease; he’s ruling from the right hand of God.
Of course. Russell Moore’s article saying that Jesus has AIDS is theologically more unfounded that Joshua Butler’s argument that Jesus is currently consummating his bride and referring to semen as an offering in the Holy of Holies. Yet The Gospel Coalition canceled Joshua Butler over that article because it angered feminists. Russell Moore concludes:
And so, if we love Jesus, our churches should be more aware of the cries of the curse, including the curse of AIDS, than the culture around us. Our congregations should welcome the AIDS-infected, and we shouldn’t be afraid to hug them as we would hug our Christ. Our congregations should be on the forefront of missions to AIDS-ravaged regions of the world. Our families should be willing to welcome those orphaned by this global scourge.
Through it all, we should be insistent in gospel proclamation. To those whose blood has become their own enemy, we should announce blood they know not of, the blood of One who can cleanse them of all unrighteousness, just as it cleansed us (1 Jn. 1:7); the blood of One who is forever immune to sin and death and hell (Jn. 6:53-56).
Jesus loves the world, and the world has AIDS. Jesus identifies himself with the least of these, and many of them have AIDS. Jesus calls us to recognize him in the depths of suffering, and there’s AIDS there too.
Jesus has AIDS.
We have to remember the context in which this was written. Rush Limbaugh used to argue, back in the 90’s, that AIDS was used by the media and culture to leverage acceptance of homosexuality, at a time when most of the population viewed it as sinful. Russell Moore was taking this same approach in trying to get the church to become more accepting of homosexuals.
It was obvious at the time, but went unnoticed by Southern Baptists who would make him head of the ERLC. Christians have come a long way in America in fighting the wolves in elite circles since 2009, and for that, we are thankful to God.
H/T: Bethel McGrew