When we consider the ways scripture can sometimes be mishandled, misinterpreted, and misapplied, it’s understandable why some people may feel put off by the Christian faith. If one is not careful, misreadings of the Bible can often result in an ethic that fosters chauvinism, sexism, or other dehumanizing ideologies — gender-related or otherwise. So how should we address these erroneous views? In this episode, author and speaker Rebecca McLaughlin explains why distancing ourselves from the Christian faith on account of harmful misinterpretations is not the solution; instead, we should seek God’s heart on the hot button topics of our day by stepping closer to the full storyline of the Bible. When we begin with the character of Jesus and his teachings, a very different ethic is uncovered — one that champions the dignity of men and women alike, celebrates the beauty of God’s design for human sexuality, and offers hope to a broken world.
If you feel dissatisfied or disappointed with the state of your romantic relationship—or lack thereof—or if you’re confused by the conflicting messages from our culture and from the Church regarding sex and sexuality, this episode is for you. Sam Allberry shares his own personal story of wrestling with the Bible’s instruction on sexuality, and why he believes Jesus is still worth following. We discuss why it’s imperative for the Church to be a place of compassion, clarity, and courage, practical ways to love and care for friends with differing views on sexuality, and how the credibility of a Biblical ethic of sexuality is determined by the way in which the Church values and supports those who are single.
In addition to preaching, teaching, and providing pastoral care, pastors and Christian leaders today are increasingly expected to make pronouncements on the latest events in the news cycle while providing ongoing social and political commentary. But playing the role of a pundit is dangerous territory for a pastor. So what role should Christian leaders and the local church play in the public square? In the first episode of our second season we speak with Michael Wear about what the Christian tradition has to offer to public life and the opportunity Christians have to bring a sense of well being and joy to our political culture.
Given the combustible relationship between the two, conventional wisdom suggests that you should never mix religion and politics. But that is an overly simplistic response. If you want to better understand the dynamic relationship between religion and politics—from the standpoint of Christianity as well as the Constitution—there is no one better to ask than Michael McConnell. Michael is a professor of constitutional law and the Director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School as well as a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a former Circuit Judge for the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. In addition to being a committed Christian, Michael is an expert on the First Amendment. In this wide-ranging interview, we discuss religious freedom, the separation of church and state, the politicization of the church, the Capitol riot on January 6th, critical race theory, and the inspiring role that people of religious conviction have played in American history. Michael offers timely advice for how to mix religion and politics in all the right ways.
In this episode, we continue the conversation with Princeton professor Eric Gregory about what we can learn from Augustine as we consider our fraught social life and divisive political culture. In true Augustinian fashion, we discuss how Christians should resist the false choices that are often presented to us, for example, between either idolizing America or condemning it, between either fleeing from the secular world of politics or embracing it in a kind of power grab, between either committing oneself to one’s nation or considering oneself a citizen of the world. Eric concludes the episode by offering some practical suggestions for how Christians can take inspiration from the past while creatively addressing problems in the present.
There’s no question that we are living in a time of cultural upheaval, but it is nothing compared to the fall of Rome in 410 AD. And yet, despite the uncertainty and panic swirling around him, Augustine maintained his sense of balance and began writing The City of God just three years after the sack of Rome. When he completed the book 15 years later, Augustine gifted the church with an instant classic that would prove to be one of the most influential works in all of Western literature. In this episode, we speak with Princeton professor Eric Gregory about his personal faith commitments as a Christian, his concerns about the state of the broader Church in America, and his sense of why Augustine is such an important person for us to know and to read as we grapple with the tumultuous times of our own cultural moment.
Though interest in critical theory may have once been limited to academics, it has become a lightning rod issue among the general public in recent years. Given the complexity of the debate, how exactly should Christians assess critical theory from the standpoint of Scripture? In response to that question, I spoke with Christopher Watkin, whose most recent book is entitled, Biblical Critical Theory: How the Bible’s Unfolding Story Makes Sense of Modern Life and Culture. In this episode, we introduce critical theory in its broadest sense and discuss how any critical theory should be assessed from the standpoint of the Bible without succumbing to the common pitfalls of either naïveté or reductionism.
It is easy to bemoan the state of the church and the wider world as we consider the reality of racial division and political polarization. It is much more difficult to help pave new pathways for us to walk together, as Tony Lowden has done throughout his life. In this episode, we discuss Tony’s inspiring rise from poverty in North Philadelphia to his work in government, education, and criminal justice reform, in addition to pastoring churches across the demographic and denominational spectrum. The episode concludes with a moving tribute to President Jimmy Carter’s faith as the 39th President faces his final days.
Though many have attempted to secularize the story, Charles Marsh has documented how the civil rights movement, especially from 1955 to 1964, was a church-centered, Christian movement in pursuit of “beloved community.” In this episode, we discuss why the movement began to fragment after 1964 and how John Perkins became one of the leading voices of biblical reconciliation in the American Church today. The episode concludes with a personal conversation with John Perkins on race and love and the Church’s vital role in our divisive times.
Somewhat surprisingly, a number of people—on both the left and the right—have recently drawn parallels between Germany in the 1930s and America today. As an expert on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Charles Marsh argues that it would be irresponsible to draw too tight of a connection between that time and our own. We are living in a very different world. And yet there are a number of important lessons that must be learned from the past—and especially from Bonhoeffer’s heroic resistance to evil.
Some would argue that the term “evangelical” is no longer useful and should be abandoned because of the ways in which it has been politicized in recent years. But David Bebbington makes the alternative case that we owe it to fellow Christians around the globe to retrieve the term and the movement it represents from those who have distorted it.
David famously introduced what many refer to as the “Bebbington Quadrilateral.” These four distinctive and interlocking emphases continue to be the gold standard for characterizing an evangelical, regardless of whether one uses that title to describe oneself—or not. In this episode, we discuss the criteria that should be used to identify an evangelical and why it matters as we consider the contemporary state of the Church.
More often than not, our attempts to address racial tensions in the United States are ineffective and many Christians are left wondering how they can pursue justice and racial reconciliation from a Biblical point of view. In this episode we speak with Dr. George Yancey about the two most dominant approaches to confronting racial issues in America today and a unifying alternative.
In this second part of our conversation with Mark Noll, we discuss the term ‘evangelical’—what it meant in the past, how it has been politicized in the present, and what it may mean in the future. Mark also shares advice for those who are seeking ways to decrease political polarization within the Church.
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the term ‘evangelical.’ Who are they and what exactly do they believe? In this first part of our conversation with Mark Noll, we discuss the history of the evangelical movements, critical inflection points such as the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy of the early 1900s and the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization which was spearheaded by leading figures such as Billy Graham and John Stott.
In a continuation of our conversation with N.T. Wright, we discuss a theology of politics, the state of evangelicalism, and advice for those who are troubled by the splintering of the Church.
Most of us would acknowledge the Church in America is struggling. But what exactly is contributing to its fragmentation? In this first episode with N.T. Wright, we discuss specific issues such as racial division, cultural confusion about sex, gender, and identity, and contemporary threats to democracy. We also discuss the Church’s role in teaching people not only what to think, but how to think and to do so wisely in disorienting times.