Moore was born and reared in the coastal town of Biloxi, Mississippi, the eldest son of Gary and Renee Moore. His grandfather was a Baptist preacher, and one of his grandmothers was Roman Catholic. He earned a B.S. in political science and history from the University of Southern Mississippi, an M.Div. in biblical studies from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
In the early 1990s, prior to entering the ministry, Moore was an aide to U.S. Representative Gene Taylor of Mississippi, a Democrat.
Moore has spoken out against the display of the Confederate flag; in 2015, two days after the Charleston church shooting (in which nine black churchgoers were murdered in an apparent hate crime), Moore wrote: "The cross and the Confederate flag cannot co-exist without one setting the other on fire. White Christians, let's listen to our African-American brothers and sisters. Let's care not just about our own history, but also about our shared history with them."
In 2015, during the Syrian refugee crisis, Moore wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post calling upon evangelical Christians to support refugee resettlement. Moore criticized those who "demagogue the issue" and wrote: "evangelical Christians cannot be the people who turn our back on our mission field. We should be the ones calling the rest of the world to remember the image of God and inalienable human dignity, of persecuted people whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Yazidi, especially those fleeing from genocidal Islamic terrorists." Moore wrote that security and compassion are compatible. In a subsequent interview, Moore sharply criticized leading Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, stating that Trump's proposal to shut down mosques in the U.S. was a threat to religious liberty and that Cruz's proposal to impose a religious test for refugees would "penalize innocent women and children who are fleeing from murderous barbarians simply because they're not Christians."
In 2016, Moore became a leading Trump critic, saying that in a presidential election between Trump and Hillary Clinton, Christians should vote for "a conservative independent or third-party candidate." Moore stated that he could not support the former because he "stirs up racial animosity" and could not support the latter for her support of abortion rights. Writing in the National Review in January 2016, Moore wrote that a Trump presidency would endanger the goals of the Manhattan Declaration; criticized Trump's involvement in the casino industry and past support for abortion rights; and argued that "Trump's vitriolic — and often racist and sexist — language about immigrants, women, the disabled, and others ought to concern anyone who believes that all persons, not just the 'winners' of the moment, are created in God's image."
On May 27, 1994, Moore married Maria Hanna Moore. Having adopted their first two sons from a Russian orphanage, Moore has written and spoken extensively on the topic of adoption from a Christian perspective, including his book Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches.
Moore served as a youth minister at his home church, Woolmarket Baptist Church, while in seminary, and then as associate pastor of Bay Vista Baptist Church in Biloxi, where he was ordained to gospel ministry.
In 2001, Moore was appointed to the faculty of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. As Professor of Christian Theology and Ethics, Moore was responsible for teaching across a spectrum of topics including systematic theology, Christian ethics, church life, pastoral ministry, and cultural engagement. In addition to his role on the faculty, he also served as Executive Director of the Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement from 2001–9.
In 2004, Moore was named Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration. In this role, in addition to his regular teaching and lecturing, Moore served as the chief academic officer of the seminary, responsible for all curriculum and the administration of the seminary. Beyond these roles, Moore served as Executive Editor of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, and currently serves as Senior Editor for Touchstone Magazine, and Chairman of the Board for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
On June 1, 2013, Moore became President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention's official entity assigned to address social, moral, and ethical concerns. In this role, Moore leads the organization, which maintains offices in both Nashville and Washington, DC. in their advocacy efforts—addressing especially the issues of religious liberty, human dignity, family stability, and civil society.
Moore is also an active churchman and denominational servant; from 2008 to 2012 he served as a full-time teaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church, where he preached weekly and also taught an adult Bible study class. More broadly, Moore has served extensively within the Southern Baptist Convention, as chairman and four-time member of the Resolutions committee, as a member of the Ethics and Public Affairs Committee of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, and as a regular correspondent and columnist for Baptist Press.
Moore is a widely-sought commentator and speaks frequently to issues of theology, culture, and public policy, having been quoted or published by many of the nation's leading news agencies and periodicals, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and the Associated Press.
Moore hosts a program called "Questions & Ethics," where he provides insight into how Christians should navigate through life's most challenging moral and ethical issues. In addition, Moore served as a regular guest host of "The Albert Mohler Program," hosting hundreds of broadcasts of this nationally syndicated daily radio program.
Moore blogs frequently at his "Moore to the Point" website, and is the author or editor of five books, including Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ, Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches, and The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective. In addition to these, Moore is also the author of dozens of scholarly articles and essays within the field of systematic theology and Christian ethics.
Dr. Moore's book Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel, was awarded the "Beautiful Orthodoxy Book of the Year" award from Christianity Today.
Moore writes from the perspective of a theologically conservative Baptist Christian who affirms the inerrancy of scripture and a complementarian position on gender roles, as well as a belief in a literal hell and an exclusivist, Calvinist view of salvation.
He works extensively in the area of Christian eschatology, highlighting the kingdom of God as the center of theology and ethics. Moore believes in an "inaugurated eschatology" in which the Kingdom of God is "already" and "not yet." Consistent with this position, he sees Jesus Christ as the full inheritor of God's promises to Israel, and that the church receives the benefits of this as it is "in" Christ. Moore emphasizes the kingdom as a spiritual warfare uprooting the demonic powers, an emphasis that shows up not only in his works on the kingdom and on temptation but also in his writings on, for example, orphan care.
Moore is especially interested in issues of ethics and religious liberty. In his early work, he argued for the early Baptist commitment to religious liberty represented by such figures as Isaac Backus, John Leland, and Jeremiah Moore as consistently conservative, over against those who would articulate a more secularist understanding of the separation of church and state.
In ethics, Moore stands within the conservative, Christian Democratic stream of communitarianism, calling for a Christian demonstration of ethical transformation within the church as the initial manifestation of the kingdom. Heavily influenced by the Dutch Neo-Calvinist theologian Abraham Kuyper and the early American Neo-Evangelical theologian Carl F. H. Henry, Moore articulates a conservative evangelical call for justice for the vulnerable, including care for widows, orphans, the unborn, the disabled, the elderly, and the undocumented. He has also called on evangelicals, especially Southern Baptist Christians, to repudiate their racist legacy by working for churches that are multiracial venues of reconciliation as a witness to the coming kingdom.
In 2014 Moore commented on reparative therapy, saying, "The utopian idea if you come to Christ and if you go through our program, you're going to be immediately set free from attraction or anything you're struggling with, I don't think that's a Christian idea. Faithfulness to Christ means obedience to Christ. It does not necessarily mean that someone's attractions are going to change." He added, "The Bible doesn't promise us freedom from temptation. The Bible promises us the power of the spirit to walk through temptation." Moore also said at that time that the Southern Baptists' Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission was working with parents of those who are gay and lesbian, adding, "The response is not shunning, putting them out on the street. The answer is loving your child."