Worth Reading - 4/28

1. The Southern Baptist Convention recently agreed with Dr. Ben Carson to not include him on their slate of speakers for the annual Pastor's Conference. Here's Thomas Kidd's analysis on why this matters:

Carson has also made statements about Muslims, Jews and Christians all being “God’s children,” perhaps implying that there are multiple paths to God. Hosting Carson and other Republican candidates, the critics said, continues to convey the impression that the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is “in bed with the Republican Party,” as Baptist21 put it. Leaders of the Pastors’ Conference “mutually agreed” with Carson that he would withdraw.

This was a welcome outcome to what had the potential to be a serious snafu for the SBC. Whatever the organizers’ intentions, Baptist21 has this exactly right – hosting any political candidate carries a tacit implication of endorsement. Baptists and other evangelical denominations would do better to stop platforming political candidates at all. This includes handing out political pamphlets and “voter guides” at church.

The Carson controversy highlights a major question of identity that has been with Baptists a long time, as my new book (with Barry Hankins) “Baptists in America” suggests. Are Baptists insiders or outsiders in American politics and culture? The early experiences of Baptists in colonial America left no doubt — Baptists were persecuted outsiders. Horsewhipped for illegal preaching in Virginia, fined for failing to pay taxes to the Congregationalist Church in New England, they were widely reviled as troublemakers and outlaws.
Scripture calls us to connectedness from the very beginning. We as individuals are called to play a part in the biblical narrative, but for the most part we do our work in the context of community.

Economists call this idea comparative advantage; it is using the talent and gifts that God has given you to do the things you are best at doing. Comparative advantage is the glue that holds communities together.

As we each do what we are best at doing, we all add to the common good. We are to fulfill our call to be good stewards in community and connection with one another. This is what God intended from the beginning.

Comparative advantage brings about flourishing. This is why flourishing only takes place in community.

It is through Christ’s redemption that we are restored to a right relationship with our heavenly Father. That in turn allows Christians to seek the fullness and wholeness of living and being good stewards in community.

When we do this, we bring a level of flourishing to our families and our communities through our work, which reflects the glory of God to a world that is in desperate need of finding something greater than itself.
No doubt about it: hiring a convicted felon is a gamble. For someone out of prison, it can seem as if no one wants you. You’re too much of a risk.

Then someone takes that risk. And it changes everything.

For a man named Three Feathers, who had spent more than 28 years in either state or federal prisons, it meant a chance at life – literally. He told his employer that had he not been hired, he would have committed suicide. “I went everywhere,” Three Feathers said. “McDonald’s wouldn’t even hire me, dude.”

The man that took a chance on Three Feathers is Peter Asch, CEO of Twincraft Skincare in Vermont.