Book Review: Onward by Russell Moore

OnwardRussell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, offers an intelligent approach to engaging culture without losing the Gospel in his new book entitled, Onward. In his book, Moore suggests engaging culture in an entirely different way than many Christians interpret their relationship with culture. He calls his way engaged alienation. His “engaged alienation” offers a completely different approach that might surprise many by his interesting suggestions.

Moore summarizes his top objectives and beliefs about engaging culture into several topics. Human dignity, religious liberty, family stability, and convictional kindness are his major themes mentioned in the book. He suggests that these are the major pathways to successfully engaging the culture in modern society without losing the truth of the Gospel in the middle of it.

What might surprise many is the bold approach  that Moore takes in his suggestions. For example, Moore suggests doing away with the Bible belt. This is heresy too many Christians. Trust me, I know considering I lived in the heart of the Bible belt for most of my life. Moore suggests that the Bible belt made it the norm to follow Jesus, and he believes that it has never been the norm to follow Jesus. In fact, it is the abnormal thing to do since Bible times. Moore also critiques several aspects of the belief system of the right and the left. He was not entirely republican or democrat in his book. He was a Biblicist, and he was trying to get Christians to align themselves with the Bible and what the Bible says about our influence in the culture. He was extremely political considering the relevancy of the many political topics plaguing our nation today. He took an intelligent approach with a Christian’s response when he suggests that Muslims should have their rights. Some will disagree with his sentiments, but he is helping Christians get a picture of engaging the culture without losing the Gospel and the freedom to preach the true Gospel in the middle of it.

Moore corrects some of the traditional Christians beliefs about certain passages used to engage culture. For example, the famous passage of II Chronicles 7:14 when the Bible says, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and heal their land.” This passage has been preached at the major rally’s and likely gets the most amen’s of many passages in the Bible, but Moore points out the problem with using this passage as frequently as believers do when speaking about America.

If you are looking to engage the culture with a Biblical and intelligent view, then Onward is a book that  you must read. Moore says it best when he says, “We can be Americans best if we are not Americans first.”

Russell MooreAbout Dr. Moore: Russell Moore serves as the eighth president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the moral and public policy agency of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

Prior to his election to this role in 2013, Moore served as provost and dean of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also taught as professor of theology and ethics.

A widely-sought cultural commentator, Dr. Moore has been recognized by a number of influential organizations. The Wall Street Journal has called him “vigorous, cheerful, and fiercely articulate” while The Gospel Coalition has referred to him “one of the most astute ethicists in contemporary evangelicalism.”

Dr. Moore blogs frequently at his Moore to the Point website, and hosts a program called Questions & Ethics—a wide-ranging podcast in which Dr. Moore answers listener-generated questions on the difficult moral and ethical issues of the day. In addition, he is the author of several books, including Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ and Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches.

An ordained minister, Dr. Moore has served as a pastor for a number of Southern Baptist churches—most recently serving as preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church from 2008-2012. A native Mississippian, he and his wife Maria are the parents of five boys.

Published by Josh Evans

Josh is the connections pastor of the Oakleaf campus of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. Before that, Josh had been a mentor and pastor to students for 10 years. Josh is passionate about empowering church leaders to make a difference. Josh and his wife Abby have two children. You can connect further with Josh on this blog or send him a direct email at

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