Sean Moore: Serving Christ In The Secular Sphere By Serving His Neighbors

Sean Discovers The Reformed Confession

Sean Michael Moore (BA, University of San Diego) is a native of and Mayor-elect of Hollywood Park, TX. He has been a businessman for 25 years and has served as a member of the city council in Hollywood Park. He is married to Shawnie and together they have a five-year old son. With his family he is a member of St Paul Evangelical Church (German Reformed) in Cibolo, TX. He has previously served as a deacon in the PCA.

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HB: Sean, or should we say, Mr. Mayor, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. The first thing that we want to know is (Twitter followers will understand): did you work out today?

SM: Of course.

HB: Did you rack your plates?

SM: I do what I want. No, of course not, how will my wife get her workout in if I re-rack the weights for her?!1

HB: Ok. So, Shawnie had to pick after you once again. As far as we know, you were living a quiet life in a nice suburb of San Antonio (Hollywood Park). What caused you to upend all that by running for political office?

SM: My neighbor has served on City Council for six years and she started talking to me about the issues council was dealing with and wanting my input on them, and decided my answers were so good that she wanted me to run for council. She stayed on me about it for the entire Covid era until I finally relented. She now regrets that she ever talked me into it.

HB: The new first lady of Hollywood Park is used to the spotlight, but how are you adjusting?

SM: Par. It’s but the first step, second really, in my plan for world domination.2

HB: You have been an office bearer in a PCA congregation and now you are in a German Reformed congregation. How did you become Reformed in your theology, piety, and practice?

SM: I was attending Horizon Christian Fellowship in San Diego, while being a full time student at the University of San Diego, and was on the verge of needing to go to therapy for the neurosis caused by hearing, “Come as you are” for thirty minutes until everyone but the sociopaths in the service were breaking down and coming forward for at least the third time that week. I realized both my credibility as an altar call “minister” and my sanity were at risk if I didn’t find a way out of this trap. It just so happened that part of our “ministerial” training was to read Soul Winner by Charles Spurgeon, and in that book Spurgeon speaks to the spurious nature of “conversions” ginned up at crusades and emotional manipulations of appeals, and instead highlights the discipleship nature of “conversion” and the bringing forth of mature believers. At the same time, I discovered White Horse Inn on the radio and the combination of Dad Rod and Michael Horton’s precise polemics applied to the tension points in modern American evangelicalism was just what I needed to extricate myself from what I would later understand to be Protestant Monasticism. Within a few months of listening to WHI I was asked to leave Horizon for introducing the people in our Home Fellowship group to the Reformed faith, began attending an OPC church in San Diego, and was soon immersed in the intramural Reformed debate over theonomy. It was then that I discovered Meredith Kline and started digging through papers and writings that would turn out to be the basis for Kingdom Prologue. As much as I credit WHI for grounding me in the Reformed faith, it was Kingdom Prologue that opened up the bible to me and grounded me in the covenantal nature of scripture. At this point I had graduated from college and was working for Price Club when they merged with Costco, and left with the choice to move to Kirkland, WA or return to Texas, I returned to Texas. Upon arriving back in San Antonio, I joined a PCA church plant, continued to read and ground myself in Reformed literature, and participated in worship and church life with other like-minded folks.

HB: What is one thing that you have come to love about being confessionally Reformed?

SM: There are many, but the one that stands out the most is understanding the objectivity of our salvation—that my salvation is grounded in what has been done for me, outside of me, and is not grounded in what is going on inside of me.

HB: Does being Reformed make any difference to the way you think about your vocation as a citizen and as a public servant?

SM: It enables me to think solely about the needs of the job and the skills required to be a competent public official without feeling the need to conflate or complicate the task with worries of trying to do it in some alleged “Christian” way. Good stewardship of public resources and public trust isn’t the sole purview of Christians, but rather it’s a task available to competent adults. So, you might say, a healthy and generous understanding of common grace frees me to just worry about doing the job well.

HB: Politics can be rough and tumble, even in the suburbs. One can imagine a consultant encouraging a candidate to shape his message for a certain constituency. How did you navigate campaigning given your commitment to the moral law of God?

SM: In my suburb, the biggest concern is to not conflate politics with religion. I’m probably seen as some sort of secular humanist compared to how some folks in my town can carry on. And the ones who don’t think I’m secular enough, well, they haven’t mentioned their concerns to me about it. In other words, I don’t worry too much about how I’m received. If you don’t like my character, please don’t vote for me. So far my character hasn’t been a hindrance to getting votes—my mother and siblings can’t believe how I’ve duped everyone on that score, and my father is certain I was born for this.

HB: Does politics present special challenges to a Christian in office?

SM: Probably for me the biggest issue is invocation. Political office is a temporal, secular endeavor; it’s not a redemptive enterprise. We’re not a uniquely Christian nor theocratic nation a la Israel, yet we invoke God’s name to bless and guide our decisions. Well, I can’t pray to the unknown God or the God of civil service, I have to pray to the God of scripture. It’s tantamount to Machen’s objection to public schools teaching the particulars of the Christian faith. They’re not religious institutions and will inevitably end up watering God down to a deistic conception of God rather than the God of scripture. This, in fact, often ends up happening in council meetings during invocations. Whomever is doing the invocation, in order to be inclusive of all faiths of the constituents they represent, end up praying to the “supreme being” or some such similar allusion to an unparticular “other” to bless our efforts. I’m not much of a Christian America advocate, but if we’re going to keep having invocations I’m going to keep praying to the God of Scripture and His Son.

HB: When you aren’t working solving problems for Hollywood Park and working out, what else do you do?

SM: I solve problems at work. And when all of those have abated long enough for me to leave town, we head to the coast to lay out at the beach and go fishing.

HB: How can our readers pray for you?

SM: Pray that I would be wise in my dealings for the benefit of the town.

HB: Thank you Sean!

NOTES

1. He is kidding.

2. Hollywood Park has a population of about 3,400.

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6 comments

  1. Wonderful interview. Enjoyed the sincerity and the humor. I also appreciated hearing about a reformed denomination/association I was not familiar with. Always good to see the Reformed Faith moving in good directions.

    • The Evangelical Association of Reformed and Congregational Christian Churches is one of several conservative groups that left what is now the United Church of Christ or one of its predecessor bodies. The Evangelical Assocation dates back to 1998 and is the most recent of those seceding groups.

      As you may know, the very liberal mainline United Church of Christ is a merger of two different denominational traditions — the much larger group of Congregationalists dating back to New England Puritanism and a smaller group, the Evangelical and Reformed Church, which is itself a merger of the German Reformed Church in the United States and the Evangelical Synod of North America, which was the American wing of the Prussian Union, a much earlier Lutheran-Reformed merger in what was then the independent kingdom of Prussia that later became the nucleus of the unified German state. (I’m simplifying a bit — there were several other much groups that had joined the Congregationalists before the UCC merger, but that’s not relevant for this point.)

      Prior to the merger that created the UCC, each of the two bodies that entered the merge had experienced their own conservative splits.

      The Conservative Congregational Christian Conference was organized in the 1940s by a combination of New England Congregationalists who tended to be more Reformed, and midwestern Congregationalists who tended to be more evangelical and connected with Wheaton College.

      At an even earlier date, the Eureka Classis of the Reformed Church in the US refused to enter the 1934 merger that created the Evangelical and Reformed Church. The modern RCUS, in which Heidelblog founder Dr. Clark was originally ordained, is the continuation of that Eureka Classis.

      While there are other issues, the main differences between the Evangelical Association and the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference are less about doctrine and more about ecclesiastical background and culture. Quite understandably, frustrated conservative churches in the UCC, particularly when they leave, want to return to their roots and say, “Where did we go wrong? Let’s fix what we messed up.”

      A conservative UCC church from an E&R background, when it leaves the UCC, is probably going to be more comfortable in an evangelical denomination that looks and feels like the older German Reformed tradition. A conservative UCC church from a Congregational background is probably going to feel more comfortable in the 4Cs.

      For whatever it’s worth, I spent most of my adult life in the 4Cs. I’m a member today of a church that used to be URC and is now ARP because the closest Reformed Congregational church would be nearly a three hour drive.

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