Worth Reading - 12/10

1. The media has a strong liberal bias. That isn't the same as fake news. Evangelicals, even the ones that go to church regularly and are actually regenerate, are more prone to fall for fake news than others. They are also more likely to rail against the media. Sometimes it is deserved, but that criticism often goes overboard. Sarah Pulliam Bailey has written a good analysis of this phenomenon in the Washington Post.

I was raised in both a religious home and a newspaper home. My parents would pull out books for Bible study in the morning and plop them next to the local newspaper. The Bible and newspaper went together like cereal and milk. I grew up believing journalism was a noble profession because the best journalism is based on the relentless pursuit of truth.

Your quick dismissal of the entire “mainstream media” feels deeply inaccurate to me as a Christian and a journalist — at least the kind of Christianity I was raised on, where the newspaper informed how we understood the world. The act of doing journalism is a way to live out my faith, a way to search for and then reveal truth in the world around me.

2. Another Christian woman who blogs about motherhood lifestyle issues has denied biblical doctrine on human sexuality in order to "live out her truth." Jen Pollock Michel argues that living out your own self determined truth isn't really enough for a faithful Christian.

But the seismic nature of Melton’s recent revelation and the aftershocks felt by her adoring fans suggests that the sky might be falling in some new way. Because while the self-fulfillment narrative isn’t new, here’s what is: how easily and insidiously it gets baptized as a Christian story. Melton hasn’t simply said: I should be happy. She has emphatically said: God should be equally and unequivocally committed to my happiness as I am.

Melton’s moral ethos is not what John Stuart Mill described in his 1859 On Liberty: “Pagan self-assertion is better than Christian self-denial.” Unapologetically, she has taken up the cause of Christian self-assertion. Take for example how Melton pleads with blog readers, as they absorb the news of her divorce, to “think deeply about the chasm-wide difference between leaving a man and leaving God. Please remember that when a woman leaves, she just brings God with her. Nothing separates a woman or a family from God’s love. Not death, and certainly not divorce.” As if she has exposited Romans 8, Melton sermonizes that God’s love is so boundless that her choices need no bounds. (It’s worth noting, by the way, that in The Good Life Project, Melton called her readers “congregants” and also likened her writing to the acts of the early church.)

3. We hear about public Christians that fall, but we rarely hear about them coming back. This interview (and the accompanying podcast) about William "Duce" Branch, aka The Ambassador, covers his road back from a moral failure. It's worth reading and listening to.

Ask any number of emerging Christian rappers or urban church leaders about the voices they grew up listening to, and before long, you’ll start to notice a trend: They’re likely to name William “Duce” Branch, also known as “The Ambassador,” among their influences. As a founding member of hip-hop group The Cross Movement, Branch and his fellow artists helped to blaze a trail for Christian hip-hop in the ‘90s and ‘00s, producing groundbreaking, theologically rich tracks at a time when gangsta rap was still at the height of mainstream popularity.

Branch has also served as a minister—though, as he readily admits, he had a “fall” when he became involved in an inappropriate relationship with a member of his church. The consequences of his failure were hard and alienating, but as he’s grown past it, he’s learned a lot about the value of honesty and God’s unflinching redemption.

4. This anonymous post was a fun read over at Mere Orthodoxy. It's a spoof on the think-pieces on Saint Nicholas as heretic puncher or excessively violent. Both the celebration of and criticism of Saint Nicholas (even if the account of him punching Arius is true, which it probably isn't) are both overboard.

Nicholas’s famous generosity often had a darker edge to it. His giving was frequently tied to expectations of sexual purity and even forced marriages. To take only one example, Nicholas supposedly once “helped” three young women who would have been forced into prostitution by tossing three bags of gold through their bedroom window to provide wedding dowries for them. Given the realities of marriage in such a world, however, Nicholas simply allowed these women to move from formal prostitution toward a way of life often no less violent and horrifying for women. His attitude toward women may have stemmed from a deep-seated embarrassment at needing the help of a woman, Mary the mother of Jesus, to get him reinstated to his bishopric after Constantine rightly stripped him of his titles after the incident with Arius.

5. This sermon from May of 2015 is a good message to call pastors and leaders back to proper biblical exposition.