‘Going for the Jugular’ Does Not Wash Away Sin
‘Going for the Jugular’ Does Not Wash Away Sin

Why the life and death of disgraced culture warrior Paul Pressler should serve as a warning to all of us.

This piece was adapted from Russell Moore’s newsletter. Subscribe here.

A man named Paul Pressler warned us that a wrong view of authority would lead to debauchery and downgrade. He was right. What he didn’t tell us was that his vision for American Christianity would be one of the ways we would get there.

News did not break about the death of the retired Houston judge, the co-architect of the “Baptist Reformation” that we called “the conservative resurgence,” until days after his demise, probably due to the fact that he died in disgrace.

My colleague Daniel Silliman explains excellently the paradox of Pressler’s public and private life. According to multiple serious and credible allegations by named people, with corroboration from multiple others and over a very long period of time, Pressler was a sexual molester of young men and boys. As reporter Rob Downen of The Texas Tribune summarizes in his thread, the nature of the corroborating evidence against the late judge is the size of a mountain.

It’s fair to say that most people—certainly most people in Southern Baptist pews—did not know about these reports of such a villainous nature for a long time. But it is also fair to say that almost everyone, at least those even minimally close up, could see other aspects—a cruelty, a viciousness, a vindictiveness—that displayed the means of Machiavelli, not the ways of the Messiah. His defining virtue—for all of us who retold the “Won Cause” mythology of the reformers who “saved the convention from liberalism”—was not Christlikeness but the fact that he was willing to fight.

And fight he did. At a meeting …

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