Published on February 4, 2015 by Betsy Childs  
Hodges Chapel

Geography and culture can impact reaction to biblical preaching, a Southern Baptist ethicist said in a Feb. 3 event at  Samford University.

“Living in the Bible belt can make people numb to the preaching of the Bible,” said Russell Moore. “That will change as the culture around us increasingly ceases to hold values that overlap with biblical values.”

Moore is president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission based in Nashville, Tennessee. He was a featured speaker at “Beyond the Bible Belt” sponsored by Beeson Divinity School and The Gospel Coalition.

“The illusion that we are part of a moral majority…is no longer true, if it ever was,” Moore added. “What the church is going to have to learn is to be a prophetic minority.”

If the culture around the church is shocked by biblical values, Moore said, that’s not new.

“The gospel didn’t come to us from Mayberry. It came to us from a Greco-Roman society that found the claims of the gospel ridiculous and nonsensical,” he explained.

As the culture outside the church has less and less in common with biblical morality, Moore said, “we will be seen less representing God and country and family values and more representing Christ and him crucified.”

Harry Reeder, senior pastor at Birmingham’s Briarwood Presbyterian Church, spoke on changing the culture inside the church. He warned against the arrogance of dismissing the past as you attempt to transform the culture within your church.

“Be patient in your ministry. Do not be passive, but patient,” Reeder urged ministers, “Take the time to know your people. Take the time for your people to know you.”

Reeder also spoke against an over-emphasis on church growth. “Establish spiritual health as your objective, not statistical growth.”



Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.