(RNS) Russell Moore, the dean of theology at the Southern Baptist Convention’s flagship seminary, has been named the next president of the denomination’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Moore, 41, succeeds Richard Land, who announced his plans to retire last July after a stormy few months when he was caught up in allegations of racism and plagiarism.
Moore has been outspoken on traditional conservative issues but has also been an advocate for adoption and one of several prominent denominational leaders who supported last year’s election of Fred Luter as the Southern Baptist Convention’s first African-American president.
The commission, with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C., serves as the Southern Baptists’ top public policy voice, and its president is often more visible than the men who serve two one-year terms as the denomination’s president.
“I am honored and humbled to be asked to serve Southern Baptists as ERLC president,” said Moore in a statement. “I pray for God’s grace to lead the ERLC to be a catalyst to connect the agenda of the kingdom of Christ to the cultures of local congregations for the sake of the mission of the gospel in the world.”
A frequent commentator on Twitter, Moore added there: “Glad for those who taught Maria & me to say of Jesus: ‘What He says we will do; where He sends we will go. Never fear, only trust & obey.’”
Land, 66, who has led the commission for almost a quarter century, said Moore’s “excellent academic preparation, combined with his keen mind and his tender heart for God and His people, make him a person uniquely suited to serve our Savior and Southern Baptists in this crucial role at such a critical moment in our nation’s history.”
Land’s decision to retire came months after he made controversial remarks about the Trayvon Martin case that resulted in a reprimand and the loss of his radio talk show for the racial tension they caused.
Moore, a native of Biloxi, Miss., will start his position on June 1, when Land will become president emeritus.
An author, commentator and preacher, Moore has been dean at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., since 2004 and also is senior vice president for academic administration and a professor of Christian theology and ethics.
Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler said Moore will be missed at the school but will provide “epic leadership” for the commission.
“He will be an outstanding president who will make Southern Baptists proud and who will make the enemies of Christ tremble,” Mohler said in a statement.