Episode 110: An Interview with Lucy Peppiatt – Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women (Pt. 1)

In this episode (part one of two) we sit down with theologian and New Testament scholar Lucy Peppiatt to talk about her book Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women: Fresh Perspectives on Disputed Texts in which she unpacks why and how the biblical texts traditionally used to support the subordination of women to men might not be saying what we think they’re saying.

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In my twenties I made a commitment to Jesus and married an Anglican clergyman… I was busy with church and kids but felt like God was calling me into a ministry and teaching… and loved it… as I sought more training in theology, I found that I loved that too… I did a masters and halfway through was encouraged to do a PhD…  

Instead of “complementarian” I use the term “mutualist”… I was drawn to this term because when I first heard the term “complementarian” I assumed it meant someone who believed that male and female complemented each other perfectly…  

When I later learned what “complementarian” meant, I realized it assumed a power structure between men and women and that is not what I thought… I think men and women are different and those differences are good, but I don’t think “complementarian” best describes what I think… 

These issues are not cosmetic for the church, but they strike to the core of the church’s understanding of salvation…  

My experience of coming to know God in my twenties was uncompromisingly affirming… it built me up as a person… encountering the love of God was really life-changing… when I discovered [subordinationist theology] I realized that kind of setup of relationships hinders or blocks the revelation of God to a woman of who she is in Christ… 

I think that it prevents her from understanding that before Christ she can come into the fullness of who she is, without needing a man to mediate that to her… it’s a distortion of the gospel because it is a distortion of what Christ says to a woman… 

Genesis 1, 2, and 3 are seminal texts… we know based on Genesis 1 that male and female together are made in the image of God…  

Old Testament scholars make a very clear case for the phrase “helper suitable” connoting strength and mutuality… for the Hebrew phrase to be translated “helpmeet” when the word itself [Hebrew: ezer] has been used for God, it is disingenuous…

When the man cries out “this is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone”, he is saying that she is his perfect counterpart who will be with him and is his substance and equal… that she comes from his side denotes equality and mutuality…

Episode 108: An Interview with Winn Collier – A Burning in My Bones

In this episode we sit down with Winn Collier, Director of the Eugene Peterson Center for Christian Imagination at Western Theological Seminary and to talk with him about the release of his book, A Burning in My Bones: The Authorized Biography of Eugene Peterson. Grab a copy here.

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When I was a young, struggling pastor, someone handed me Eugene Peterson’s Working the Angles… I needed that book… I didn’t have language for what it meant to be a pastor, and Eugene gave me the starting of that language… 

A lot of people don’t understand Eugene… they think that even though he grew up Pentecostal, he left it in a huff… but that wasn’t true… he was invited into the Presbyterian world and at the end of the day it was more about what was in front of him… 

For someone who had as deep an ecclesiology as he did, he was profoundly un-enamored with any kind of ideal about any church tradition… when people asked why he was Presbyterian, he would say, “Because God put me here and I made a promise…” 

Eugene asked God to make him a saint… but a saint for him wasn’t someone who had achieved a nirvana-like experience but rather someone who in their very human body was so ravished by the love of Christ that their interior and exterior were becoming congruent… 

Eugene had a burning longing for holiness, for God… and at the same time he understood that a saint was someone who was becoming more and more human… that was the source of his gravitas… 

He insisted in a hundred different ways that all of our ideals have got to die… our pictures of the world are not the real world… until we let Jesus illuminate the actual realities of our life, we will just be fighting against God… 

There are a lot of things that Eugene stands for which we hear in an abstracted kind of way… but Eugene didn’t believe in abstract principles… he was interested in particular people in particular situations… he always started with, “Tell me what God is doing in your life…” 

When you ask the question, “What does Eugene Peterson contribute to the pastoral imagination?”, I think the answer is, “God…” 

We are so desperate to have God at the very core of our being again… all the upheaval we are seeing in our culture… and all the questions we are holding about the future… what the future holds is God… Eugene relentlessly pointed to the Triune God…

Episode 106: An Interview with Dr. Chris Green – Sanctifying Interpretation

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Chris Green to talk about his book, Sanctifying Interpretation, and how God uses the ‘troubling texts’ of Scripture to make us holy. Grab a copy of it here, and/or read Andrew’s review of it here.

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My relationship with Scripture began in church… we went to church 4-5 times per week and the sermons were almost always from the Old Testament… the readings of the Old Testament were almost always typological… 

From the time of my childhood, the Old Testament texts—especially the troubling ones—have been the ones that have drawn me…  

I believe that God is like Jesus… if that is true, then all of Scripture is written by Jesus… so we should look at his teaching to see what the rest of Scripture is… 

When you look at the Gospel portraits of Jesus, you see that he is incredibly difficult… we have this notion that Jesus was a simple teacher… but that’s not true… Jesus in the Gospels almost never says anything that anyone understands, and when they do think they understand it they try to kill him… that’s true to what the Old Testament is… 

Before I wrote this book, I was convinced that you couldn’t talk about reading Scripture without first talking about what it means to be human and what it means to be the people of God… human beings have a calling: to be interpreters and mediators, and we mediate by interpreting… we are priests in that way… 

This, I believe, is the only way to understand why God would give us the Bible in the first place: it must be that he means for us to have to grapple with texts… Jesus never writes anything himself; he inspires others to write his story—and this is how Jesus writes and teaches… 

The reason that interpretation is difficult is because the process of becoming holy people is difficult…  

When we’re reading troubling texts, the first and most important thing is to pay attention to the fact that we are troubled, to lean into it, and to ask why we are troubled…  

Everyone says that the Old Testament is full of judgment… but if you actually go back and read the texts, what you see is that without exception, the judgments fail to work… no judgment short of the judgment that falls on Christ actually solves the human situation…  

Everyone needs to read Scripture… but we need to stop talking about it and actually read it, and read it well… we need to defamiliarize ourselves with our “readings” of Scripture and go back and read them with fresh eyes…

Episode 103: An Interview with Dr. Simeon Zahl – The Holy Spirit and Christian Experience

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Simeon Zahl to talk about how a robust theology of the Holy Spirit can give us better language for talking about the role of experience in the life of a Christian. Grab a copy of his book, The Holy Spirit and Christian Experience here.
Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with us throughout the week! The main thing that drove me to write this book was that Protestant theology had gotten into a false dichotomy: either suspicion about experience or being uncritically accepting of it… I just think we need a better way of accounting for the experiential dimensions of the Spirit’s work…  I grew up with good Lutheran theology, but when I was in college at Harvard I got involved in the Alpha course… and at the Holy Spirit weekend, a lot of people had experiences of the Holy Spirit that were life-changing… I had been taught that I needed to make a choice between my Lutheran theology and the charismatic experience, but Alpha showed me that wasn’t the case…  People mean different things when they talk about ‘experience’… but fundamentally, everything is experience… you can’t get rid of it… the thing to do is to try to think well about it…   The main way the Scripture leads us to think about experience is through the doctrine of the Holy Spirit… the Spirit is the right way of talking about God’s action in the world…   There’s a story that’s told in the theological academy that the doctrine of justification by faith is a cold, legal, rationalistic form of Christianity… but when you read [the Reformers], you see that it’s all about a kind of experience that you’re being led to… an experience of moving from terror to joy…   Biblically and theologically, the Spirit is involved in three areas of life: salvation, sanctification, and the mission of the church… these things are not abstract… they are about having our desires transformed so that we desire the things of God…   There’s a way of talking about the Spirit where when you’re stuck in behavior patterns you can’t change then it must be a sign that you’re not a Christian… that always bothered me… what do we do when there isn’t striking transformation?  Luther is helpful here… he says you are both a sinner and a saint, which creates room to admit what is true… the gospel creates a firewall against despair… when our attention is on God, things go back into their proper shape…  We need to beware where we are preaching an idea or a concept that hasn’t been filtered through experience… it will create a disconnect for people…

Episode 102: An Interview with Rich Villodas – A Deeply Formed Life

In this episode we sit down with pastor and author Rich Villodas to discuss his book, The Deeply Formed Life.

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The five values of our congregation are contemplative rhythms, racial reconciliation, interior examination, sexual wholeness, or missional presence… we’re trying to offer these values to the world and to the church as a paradigm of faithfulness to Jesus…  

Contemplative rhythms are not just about slowing down our pace, but also giving ourselves over to God so that we can address the issues of our day from a deeper kind of wisdom…  

We need to resist formational compartmentalization… the evangelical tradition prioritizes right thinking, the Pentecostal tradition prioritizes right experience, and the progressive tradition prioritizes right action… I want to hold them all together… 

The foundation of engaging matters of race is thinking about the gospel differently… if I limit the gospel to a post-mortem status, I’ll miss it… I’ve found myself this past year regularly coming back to the question, “What do we mean when we say ‘the gospel’?” 

I’ve found myself also this past year reframing for people what racism really is… it’s not just an individual thing… we need to look at it from an individual, interpersonal, and institutional perspective…  

We need to think about how our family of origin shaped us with respect to race… to have people reflect on that and name it is painful… but we need to go back to the scene of the crime—where the malformation first took place… 

We also need to practice listening to other people’s experiences “in the bond of peace”… those who have had the privileges of social power must take the lead to listen first and most often…  

I am very hopeful for the church… I’m in conversation with so many pastors who are showing leadership, creativity, and innovation… a willingness to try new things amidst a new reality, and doing it with joy…  

I’m also encouraged by so many people who are investigating the claims of Christ… I’m hearing so many stories about how the pandemic, our current political climate, and the racial hostilities of the past year are pulling people to something deeper and higher…

Episode 101: An Interview with Steve Cuss – Managing Leadership Anxiety.

In this episode, we sit down with Steve Cuss to talk about his book Managing Leadership Anxiety and how leaders can become not only more self-aware but also wise about managing both their own anxiety and that of others. You can learn more about Steve and his work at capablelife.me.

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This book was born out of some measure of personal desperation… from a deep desire that the life I was proclaiming to others was also the life I was living… 

All chronic anxiety is based on false belief and false need… leadership anxiety is what happens to us when we don’t get what we feel we need to be okay… 

One form of this for me was the belief that every sermon I preached needed to be the best sermon people had ever heard… then, whether it went really well or poorly, I became anxious… I was living under a false need…  

There are universal sources of anxiety, where it doesn’t matter how you’re wired, if you’re in that situation, you’ll be anxious… for instance, whenever we are in situations where we don’t know what to do, we’ll be anxious… that’s where a lot of pastors are right now… 

When a pastor is better at eloquently telling people about the love of God than they are at experiencing it for themselves, they are going to hit a wall… 

Burnout isn’t because of workload… burnout happens because we haven’t addressed, for instance, what happens when the critic calls and all of our old “stories” from the past come up… we can’t control whether that will happen, only our response to it… 

What anxiety does is that it tells us a lie… it is spiritual warfare… it’s about the story we tell ourselves and the voice of our inner critic… the gospel frees us from the tyranny of believing these lies… 

The first step to becoming a non-anxious leader is to pay hyper attention to your own reactivity… and then to learn to notice how your anxiety infects other people and how their anxiety infects you…  

I think that we are failing at discipling our people into non-anxiousness… most people are more discipled by their political point of view than they are by Jesus…

Episode 099: Extravagant: Discovering a Life of Dangerous Generosity

In this episode we sit down with Pastor Brady to talk with him about his newest book Extravagant: Discovering a Life of Dangerous Generosity. Grab your copy over at Amazon today!

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One of the things that my mom and dad did on four or five different occasions is that they took struggling young men into our home… they fed them and clothed them and helped them get through school… I was marked by my parents’ extravagant generosity…

As people get older and make more money, the percentage of their generosity tends to go down… I think that’s because they get more guarded, more cautious, because there is more to lose… but this is the time in our lives when we can and should be more generous…

The most fun thing that I get to do right now is to give… it’s a joyful experience to take what the Lord has provided me and give it away to widows and orphans…

One of the things I talk about in the book is the beauty of a boring budget… you need a plan for your spending… which sounds awful, but is actually the most important thing… you can’t be generous if you don’t spend less than you make…

A lot of people think that compassion is a purely external thing… but I think it is an internal matter long before the need presents itself… compassion is a cultivated sense of empathy and concern for others…

As I get into my 60s and 70s, I want to be a kind old man… well, that doesn’t happen by accident… compassionate people have made up their mind to be interested in others…

To be honest about our Christian experience in America, most of us live in suburban bubbles and don’t take risks the way the Scripture calls us to take risks…

There are two topics that most pastors don’t want to talk about, and they are the two topics that are wrecking our families: sex and money… money is wrecking people right now… and we need to take responsibility for talking about it from the pulpit…

The moment in our lives when we realized that we didn’t “own” it, that our money was God’s provision, was the moment that our marriage changed… it was a matter of trust… did we trust ourselves or in God…?

Episode 098: An Interview with Dr. Derwin Gray // The Good Life: What Jesus Teaches About Finding True Happiness

In this episode we sit down with our good friend Dr. Derwin Gray to talk with him about his new book, The Good Life: What Jesus Teaches About Finding True Happiness. Grab a copy for yourself here.

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In 2014, we were a four-year-old church plant, and I started discovering that regardless of race or social class, people were not happy… so I started wondering, “What did Jesus say about happiness?”

Hiding in plain sight, in the greatest sermon ever preached, by the greatest preacher that ever preached, Jesus (in the beatitudes) teaches us about true happiness…

Jesus outlines eight characteristics that are actually a living portrait of himself… and we are invited to enter into Christ and his story… happiness is not about perpetually having good things happen… it’s about God making us good for the world…

Happiness is the divine birthright of every child born into the kingdom of God… but it is a happiness that is better than feelings… it is something that happens to you as you become like Christ… the beatitudes turn us into people we would want to be friends with…

Jesus is not a product and the church is not a corporation… we’re not selling a product to a group of consumers to help them fulfill something that THEY need fulfilled in their lives…

So much of the modern church has been built on a consumeristic understanding of Jesus… a Jesus that is merely used for what he can give us is not a Jesus that we can adore… and a Jesus we cannot adore is a Jesus we cannot worship…

The good news is that there is a new king, who is the true Lord of all and has launched his kingdom on earth, and now is welcoming us into his kingdom to fulfill the purpose for which we were created…

We will never treat someone above the label we give them… and “neighbor” is how Jesus describes humanity… we are called to treat everyone like Jesus died for them, because he did…

Episode 094: All Flame

In this episode we sit down to talk about Andrew Arndt’s new book All Flame: Entering into the Life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Available on Amazon HERE!)

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God’s intent with the human life is not to displace our humanity but to sit within in and radiate through it so that we become all flame… it’s not something for the spiritual elite, and no one’s life is better calibrated for holiness than anyone else’s…

We were a church that nobody knew about… but the life of the Spirit was so present among us… I was surrounded by very ordinary people who were full of the Spirit… that became my bar of what’s normal…

Jesus Christ did not come to write a book but to form a community… one of the pitfalls of the spiritual life is that people try to run off and do it by themselves… that can only end in nonsense or despair…

The only way you hang on during hard seasons in when you are surrounded by the church, which keeps putting in front of you the reality of the Triune God, the hope of Jesus Christ, and the practical support of their own commitment to you…

This is not an academic book of theology, nor is it purely a book of spiritual formation… if God is the fundamental truth of our existence, and God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then his Triune identity shapes our stories…

My mom approached her spirituality like a farmer… up early in the morning seeking God… I’d wake up and wander down the stairs to the sound of my mom praying in tongues, covering her family in prayer…

My routine these days is similar… I’m up early with coffee and my Bible and I’m praying and asking God to put me to death and make me alive… if I don’t get that time, I’m just not right in the head…

I hope that people are taken again by the wonder and mystery of God… that they are awed again… we’re short on awe in the church… we do a great job giving people principles, but often wonder is missing…

I also hope that people whose faith is hanging on by a thread will see that there is no human experience they can have that is not already an event of the Triune God…

Episode 087: An Interview with Tom Holland Pt. 2

In this episode we sit down for the second of a two part interview with best-selling writer and historian Tom Holland talking about his breathtaking book Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World. This is part 2 of 2.

No one rejects the concept of human rights… but when you ask, “Where did you get that idea from and why do you believe in them?” it is ultimately as theological idea as believing that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead on the third day…

Human rights do not objectively exist… you can’t say that you’re superior to theology and superstition and simultaneously say you believe in human rights… if you believe in human rights you may as well say you believe in angels…

The deep-seated assumption that empires are bad—you have you ask, “Where does THAT come from?” That idea might just conceivably have something to do with the fact that the prime emblem of the faith is a cross, which is the ultimate subversion of the symbol of imperial power…

The idea that it is possible for an entire society to be born again is so powerful that it brings emperors to kneel in the snow… it is revolutionary… but then the church will need to be corrected, which gives rise to the revolution of the Reformation, which gives rise to the revolution of the Enlightenment…

I found that in the process of researching this book, there was no period of Christian history that did not offer great riches and nourishment…

This book felt like a pilgrimage to me, but I didn’t know where I was going to end up… I found when I reached the journey’s end, I felt that my life had been hugely enriched by it… I had my heart opened to things that I otherwise would have been shut off from…

I wanted to write about my godmother because when she died, I left her feeling like that was it… that she would die and be dissolved and that would be it… but now I am not so confident in that… I wouldn’t say it has hardened into Christian faith, but my disbelief is gone…

When you live in a time of crisis, suddenly the sense of belonging to many generations of people who have faced much worse crises but using the same spiritual and emotional and moral framework that we have is incredibly powerful…