Worth Reading - 5/6

1. Thomas Kidd responds to critics of the SBC's move to take Ben Carson off of their denominational platform this year, arguing that distancing faithful Christianity from the Republican political platform is the real concern:

In the week since my Washington Post piece on Baptists and Ben Carson, some critics have accused the Southern Baptist Convention of a new kind of fundamentalism. Baptists unduly rescinded the offer to Carson to speak at the Pastors’ Conference because of (what the critics see as) irrelevant theological differences between evangelicals and Seventh-Day Adventists (Carson’s denomination). Megachurch pastor Perry Noble called those who asked the SBC to retract the invitation “theological police” who “love theology more than Jesus.”

The controversy raises again the value of a paleo evangelical approach to politics. What the critics don’t appreciate is how badly evangelical churches need to keep their distance from contemporary party politics, and from endorsing specific candidates. With Southern Baptists still emerging from the political excesses of the Moral Majority era, non-evangelicals see conservative Christians in America primarily as pious Republicans. Evangelicals will undoubtedly maintain conservative political positions on topics such as the value of life, the meaning of marriage, and the primacy of religious liberty, but they need to be wary of cozying up too much with political candidates. They especially need to drop any notion that Kingdom work will be primarily accomplished through government and politicians. This is both an issue of mission focus, and gospel clarity.

2. There's much more to escaping poverty than where you grew up but there is no doubt that it has an impact:

In the wake of the Los Angeles riots more than 20 years ago, Congress created an anti-poverty experiment called Moving to Opportunity. It gave vouchers to help poor families move to better neighborhoods and awarded them on a random basis, so researchers could study the effects.

The results were deeply disappointing. Parents who received the vouchers did not seem to earn more in later years than otherwise similar adults, and children did not seem to do better in school. The program’s apparent failure has haunted social scientists and policy makers, making poverty seem all the more intractable.
Doctrine matters—it matters in life and in death. Our doctrine determines our destiny. It not only affects our view about God but our view about everything. We are doctrinal beings by nature. Everyone holds to some sort of doctrine; the question is whether or not our doctrine is biblical. Consequently, we dare not be indifferent about doctrine. Indeed, there is a reason we’ve never heard of a Christian martyr who was indifferent about doctrine. Indifference about doctrine is the mother of every heresy in all of history, and in our day indifference about doctrine is spreading like wildfire in the pulpits and pews of our churches. Ironically, the assertion that doctrine doesn’t matter is in fact a doctrine in itself.

When people tell me they are into Jesus but not into doctrine, I tell them that if they are not into doctrine, they are, in fact, not into Jesus. We cannot know Jesus without knowing doctrine, and we cannot love God without knowing God, and the way we know God is by studying His Word. Doctrine comes from God, it teaches us about God, and by faith it leads us back to God in worship, service, and love. Indifference to doctrine is indifference to God, and indifference to God is indifference to our own eternity. Pastors who think it is relevant and cool to be indifferent about doctrine—who play down the necessity and importance of doctrine and who fail to preach and explain doctrine in their sermons—are in fact failing to give their people that which will save their souls. For us to downplay doctrine or to be intentionally fuzzy in preaching doctrine isn’t cool or humble or relevant, it’s outright arrogant. There is nothing more relevant than doctrine, there is nothing more humbling than doctrine, and there is nothing that more quickly gets our eyes off ourselves and fixes them on our loving and gracious God than doctrine that proceeds from God.
“And a witty atheist shall lead them.”

You can have all your biblical epics like Noah or Exodus, or your Evangelical niche films like God’s Not Dead or Heaven is for Real.

If I want to see a movie that wrestles with significant questions, quotes from Scripture, values the family, and presents the church as the center of the battle between good versus evil, I’m going to watch the latest superhero movie written by an atheist.

Despite his personal lack of belief, Joss Whedon manages to give movies, even those with a big-budget and even bigger expectations, a soul.