Episode 086: An Interview with Tom Holland Pt. 1

In this episode we sit down with best-selling writer and historian Tom Holland to talk about his breathtaking book Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World. This is part 1 of 2.

This book was very personal for me… I was raised Anglican, and enjoyed the Bible, but generally found it less interesting than dinosaurs, and eventually the Romans… so when I started writing history, I started writing about the Romans… but the more I wrote about them, the stranger they became to me…

I started realizing that this was so because of deeply Christian assumptions I held… Dominion is an attempt to try to explain where I come from and where the world I live in comes from…

The earliest sources we have for understanding Christianity are Paul’s… and they are obsessed with the crucifixion… the idea that this God suffered a monstrous death on the cross is a massive stumbling block…

Moreover, the idea that this God has brought about a new covenant and that the law can be written on the heart changes everything… it feeds into the idea that our understanding of what is good can be progressive… [which is a very modern idea]…

Further, to die on the cross is the worst death imaginable… it is a humiliating death… to be publicly exhibited on an instrument of torture is a kind of billboard advertising the power of Rome… to suggest that the man who died on this cross is identical with the one God of Israel is madness…

When you see it all in this light, you see how blasphemous Paul’s message is not only to the Jews but also to the Romans…

In the 11th century, the Church is set up as the world’s first sovereign state, which means that everyone under the church has the right to appeal to the Church for law, justice, and order, even over the heads of earthly rulers…

To do this, you need frameworks of law… Christianity didn’t have a body of law at the time, and so institutions called universities pop up with scholars who look to the Church’s canons to construct a divinely sanctioned justice for those who appeal to them…

The core idea of their justice was Christ’s teaching that the rich have a duty to care for the poor… they start extrapolating the implications of that… the responsibility of the rich to the poor means that the poor have rights…

The [Christian] universities are all of a sudden constructing the idea of universal rights… the Enlightenment thinkers and writers are building off of those maneuvers…

Episode 085: Chasing Wisdom

In this episode we sit down with Pastor Daniel Grothe to talk with him about his book, Chasing Wisdom (released on April 21st). Grab your copy over at Amazon!

This is the first book I chose to write because this is how I was raised… my parents would take us to nursing homes, and tell us to ask good questions… I thought everyone did that… it was instilled in me from an early age…

I asked Eugene Peterson if I could come and spend a day with him… he responded “yes, but not so fast…” At the end of his life, my last visit with him, I told him that the best four words he could have said to me was “not so fast…” He didn’t want it to be a touristy visit…

In the book I call this “holy presumption…” Steve Jobs tells a story about personally calling Bill Hewlett when he was twelve years old, asking for computer parts, and Hewlett said yes… and the rest is history…

For me, my assumption is that the worst thing that can happen is that they say no… I’ve got thick skin; I can handle that… the best thing that can happen is that they say yes…

I grew up playing jazz… what you find in any jazz quartet is that you’ve got a number of players plus a soloist, someone who carries the lead line…

In order to be a great soloist, you have to know all the scales in all the keys, as well as all the great jazz standards… you have to “know the book”, which means that you can show up in any situation and play anything…

I think life is like that… you need to pay attention and do your work so that when the world shifts, you can improvise…

Wisdom is being able to think on your feet in the actual conditions of your life and make wholesome decisions… it’s all about nuance…

I think you’ve got to know the Scriptures… but I think you also have to have some people who have lived it… you have to have guides, sages, people whose lives haven’t crumbled… Eugene was that for me…

I’m a charismatic kid by birth, and I won’t throw the baby out with the bathwater… I grew up with a conviction that the laying on of hands matters… life is passed on through touch…

One of the great ways life is restored is when we have trustworthy persons lay their hands on us… there’s an impartation there… if you find someone who has lived a holy life, let them pray the prayer of faith over you, and your life will be strengthened and secured…

Episode 083: An Interview with Matthew Bates

In this podcast we sit down with New Testament scholar Matthew Bates to talk about what he means by “gospel allegiance”.

We’ve missed what the gospel means and what faith means, and in light of that the whole package has been skewed…

What I am trying to say is that the gospel focuses on Jesus’ kingship, and in light of that, faith is the allegiance that we give to the king… we haven’t paid enough attention to this…

The gospel is the news that Jesus is the saving king, the victorious king… the Bible itself summarizes the gospel that way… “Christ” is a royal title, not a name…

The problem is that in the church we’ve often reduced the gospel to the cross, rather than the whole event of Jesus… this has the effect of putting the emphasis on the wrong place…

The word faith in the New Testament can also mean loyalty, and even faithfulness… this then will involve our bodily doing in some way…

The Christian community for too long has been swept along by the notion that Jesus is king over my spiritual life but not king over anything in the actual world…

When the Christian community gathers together and confesses that Jesus is king, we are creating an alternative social-political reality…

A lot of our disputes in the church about salvation have to do with grace… grace in the ancient world was reciprocal… if you received a gift you needed to give a response gift to keep the circle of gratitude moving…

Understanding this helps us see that God has already given the gift – the Christ-gift, the gospel, and the benefits that flow from it… none of us deserved it… in light of it, we are invited to reciprocate with our allegiance…

A good starting place for pastors would be to do a series on the gospel… look at texts that talk about Jesus being installed as the Son of God with power…

Working on the “gospel” first paves the way to work on the notion of allegiance… you need to help people see that faith doesn’t deny trust but usually means loyalty, which is a holistic response…

You can grab Matthew’s book Gospel Allegiance over at Amazon!

Episode 077: An Interview with Preston Sprinkle

In this episode we sit down with the founder and director of the Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender, Dr. Preston Sprinkle, to talk about what it looks like to really love our LGBTQ neighbors.

This started as an academic challenge for me, but it quickly ripped my heart out… the journey has been trying to navigate the tension between biblical faithfulness and yet radically loving people…

Many Christians are so concerned to get the truth right that love takes a distant second… love winds up being the icing on the cake rather than the very embodiment of the truth… 

The phrase “our truth will not be heard until our grace is felt” is really directed at the person who is passionate about theology… the person who is concerned about theological integrity needs to also be radically compassionate… 

One of the most profound mysteries of my journey of Christianity is that when you are passionate to go where the text leads, you make Bible-believing Christians really nervous…

When I came at the Scriptures, I gave it a fair a shake as I could… and I think that the traditional view of marriage is clearly the Scriptural one… marriage is a union between a male and a female and that anything beyond that is sin…

N.T. Wright was really the one who helped me see that the meaning of marriage is written into the script of Creation… the ultimate question isn’t whether two people of the same sex can get married… the question is what even is marriage? Difference is woven into the Creation account…

We have no written evidence from church history that any branch of Christendom has defined marriage differently [than the traditional view]… same sex relationships have always been pervasive… and yet globally and historically the church has never had a different position…

We often hear that it’s the church’s theology that is driving people away, but that’s factually untrue… it’s not our theology that drives people away, but it’s how we have held to our theology…

We shouldn’t idolize marriage… we have often made people feel like they are a lesser Christian if they aren’t married… the New Testament defines marriage precisely and celebrates it, but it doesn’t idolize it… it is not essential to human flourishing…

Grab Preston’s book “People to be Loved” HERE. You can also check out his work at https://centerforfaith.com/.

Episode 074: A Conversation with Amy Julia Becker

In this episode we sit down to talk with author Amy Julia Becker about her book White Picket Fences: Turning Toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege.

I was planning on writing a book about children’s literature… I began to notice that the books I read to my kids were the ones that were read to me as a child… but I saw that they were all mirrors: they were all about white suburban families who had nice lives and similar problems to ours…

I began to recognize that we did not have books about people of color, which set me on a journey to find them, and to realize that a lot of them just hadn’t been written… which led me to ask some serious questions about my childhood…

Eventually I realized that I wasn’t writing a book about children’s literature; I’m writing a book about privilege, about what it means to be a person born into relative affluence, access to opportunity and education, and whiteness… what does that mean and how do I reckon with it?

My image of my (southern) childhood was idyllic… it was somewhat horrifying to look back and realize that I went to a private school that was founded because of desegregation… I loved that school, but as an adult I needed to recognize that that was an injustice…

Trying to hold grief and gratitude about my past together was where I ultimately landed…

Many people feel as though they are forced to either reject their parents and their childhood in order to reckon with injustice, or simply tow the party line and ignore it all…

One of reasons we shouldn’t demonize privilege is that we need to recognize that we are born into a social location… as Christians we need to ask what is God doing in me and through me in this place? God blesses us to be a blessing…

As my daughter (who has Down Syndrome) grew up, I began to recognize my own impoverishment… getting to know people with intellectual disabilities helped me see what I needed… the ways in which I didn’t understand love or relationships being more valuable than productivity… I desperately needed them…

What I am hopeful for is a holistic response to the harm of privilege… we need to do the intellectual work of reckoning with our history, learning about our cities, etc.… we need to engage our hearts in lament… and after that work, we need to, in community with others, determine what we will do to participate in God’s healing of the world…

Pick up Amy Julia’s book White Picket Fences here.

Episode 071: A Conversation with Tim Lucas and Warren Bird

In this episode we sit down with Tim Lucas and Warren Bird to talk about their new book Liquid Church and what they are seeing the Spirit do both on the east coast and across the country.

We call our church “bapticostal”… we are open to the Holy Spirit but we keep our seatbelt on and have guardrails built in… 

The east coast is very post-Christian… the church is viewed with a great deal of suspicion… the tip of our evangelism spear is the good deeds that we do in the community—which open the door for the gospel…

In the early days of Liquid Church, we didn’t just teach about the Holy Spirit, but created space to experience what we taught… it was scary…

The congregation cannot go somewhere the pastor hasn’t gone personally… for anyone wanting to explore the role of the Spirit in their congregation, they’ll have to take the first step…  

The premise both of the book and our church is based on Ezekiel’s vision of the river coming from the Temple… the farther Ezekiel goes away from the Temple, the deeper the water gets… we think that the farther you go outside the walls of the church, the deeper in the Spirit you’ll go…  

The people we’re trying to reach are spiritually thirsty people… they may not care about traditional church, but are open to the things of God…

One of the ministries that God is blessing right now is the ministry to people with special needs… it is a magnet to those in the community… one person said to us, “For my child, everyone who cares for him is paid to do so, except for this church; here their primary motive is simply to care for my son…”  

This segment is the fastest growing segment of our church’s population… we see the Holy Spirit moving in a unique way through special needs ministry…

Something else we’re seeing the Spirit breathe on is the development of lay talent… commissioning people to lead ministries… one-third of Liquid Church’s staff is volunteers… they’re not just doing ministry, they are leading ministry…

At our church, we even have volunteer associate pastors who give 15-20 hours a week doing things like weddings, funerals, marriage mentoring, etc…

Grab a copy of Liquid Church HERE.

Episode 068: Blessed, Broken, Given

In this episode we sit down with Pastor Glenn Packiam to talk with him about his new book “Blessed, Broken, Given.”.

Jesus didn’t give us a theory of the atonement; he gave us a meal… bread is the most common food item around the world… the commonness of bread speaks to us of how God takes the common and fills it with his glory…

 The Holy Spirit meets us through all kinds of means… the Lord’s Table is called a sacrament because it is a visible sign of an invisible grace… the bread and wine are meant to speak to us of God’s presence…

I wanted the book to address three longings of the heart… the first is whether my life really matters… the second is, is my life too messy… the third is, does my life have purpose?

“Blessed, broken, given” is about glory in the ordinary, grace in the mess, and purpose in the everyday… I’m trying to say, “If you look closely at the Table, the message of the gospel is there…”

To be blessed is to be commended by God… but really it is to be re-storied… to be taken back to your good beginning and to give you the name that he has for you…

We often think that our story began with Genesis 3, with the fall… the story that God tells about us begins earlier… it is that God made us and saw that it was good…

Broken is a way of talking about our frailty… it is also a way to talk about our failure, and that’s where shame comes in… the Bible’s answer to shame is that there is a redeemer, a savior who can wipe away our guilt so that our faces are never covered in shame…

Another kind of brokenness comes when we experience pain… the message is that God’s redemption is more powerful than prevention…

Most of us think that our purpose has to be epic… but that’s not how the people in the Bible lived… there’s a long life of faithfulness behind each of the moments we read about in Scripture… purpose looks like faithfulness in the everyday…

*Be sure to grab a copy of Blessed, Broken, Given HERE! (And leave a review!)

Episode 067: Remarkable Pt. 2

In this episode we continue and conclude our conversation with Pastor Brady about his new book, Remarkable. Be sure to listen to Part 1 HERE.

Issues of race are deep-rooted in our culture, and we in the church need to step up and say that there is a better way…

All of us need to respond to issues of race, and we each need to know the condition of our hearts… are we being gracious and empathetic, are we listening to people’s stories and experiences…? 

The reason that slavery got abolished is because Christians got involved… it was so tied up with economics that very few people were willing to stand up… and finally a group of British Christians stood up and said, “This is not what Christ meant by ‘love your neighbor.’” 

We are living in a sexually broken culture… I want people to understand the biblical idea of purity… it’s not just about rule-following… it’s about glorifying God…

I love the passage where it tells husbands to treat their wives like Christ treats the church… Paul realized that marriage was an opportunity to show the watching world how to serve one another…

I think that this is why we celebrate long marriages… what an accomplishment, to give yourself away to another human being for their flourishing and their benefit…  

This has to begin in your city… we’ll never serve the poor in our city well if we can’t serve our spouses or children well at home… 

We have a prayer that we pray at New Life, “Come, Holy Spirit…” That’s where I start my day… these days I am ending my day by praying, “Holy Spirit, remind me where you were present today and where I encountered you today…”

It’s amazing what happens when you pray that… it creates space for the Spirit to show me where he actually answered my prayers…

If you’ll bookend your day with prayer like that, this won’t become works, it will become grace, an empowering presence to do God’s will… you can’t follow Jesus without the Holy Spirit—don’t even try…

Be sure to grab a copy of Remarkable HERE! (And leave a review!)

Episode 066: Remarkable Pt. 1

In this episode (part 1 of 2) Andrew Arndt, Glenn Packiam, and Daniel Grothe sit down with Pastor Brady to talk about his new book Remarkable.

Paul had the same challenge that we have when he went into Corinth… the city of Corinth was sexualized and entertainment-driven and violent, and people were grasping for power and cheap money… it looks a lot like our culture today…

The question is, are we going to oppose the culture, or are we going to influence the culture? It starts with our own decision to live out the teachings of Jesus in a remarkable way…

The church in Corinth had been pushed to the margins… I believe that the church is at its best when it is pushed to the margins, we become our truest self at the margins…

One of options we’ve taken in response to the culture is that we isolate ourselves… we put spiritual and physical walls up to protect ourselves… the problem with that is that Jesus told us to be salt and light…

Another option we’ve taken is the exact opposite: we immerse ourselves in the culture, where over time there’s not much difference between us and the world around us… most Christians fall into this category…

The third option is the angry option, to be the instigators: they believe that they can shout at the darkness and make it go away… the world around is shifting and changing and they don’t know how to make sense of it…

The most revolutionary and radical thing we can do right now is love our neighbors as ourselves… and not just the ones that are like us… this is the most radical thing that Christianity has always brought to the world…

Jesus confounded the religious leaders of his day by hanging out with sinners and tax collectors… they couldn’t understand why Jesus wasted his time with “those people…”

We can’t be Great Commission people if we aren’t Great Commandment people… Jesus never expected us to go into all the world and make disciplines if we don’t love them…

The “fourth way” is being consumed with love for God and love for people and let that be your motivation for everything you do…

Catch Part 2 next week, and buy Remarkable HERE! (And leave a review!)

Episode 047: A Conversation with Andrew Wilson

In this episode we sit down to talk to our friend Andrew Wilson about his new book Spirit and Sacrament: An Invitation to Eucharismatic Worship to talk about the what, why, and how of blending the charismatic and sacramental expressions.

 

 

https://www.spiritandsacrament.com/

 

I don’t remember where I first came up with the word (“eucharismatic”), but my history is that I have some Anglicanism in my childhood that was non-charismatic… and then I went to a charismatic church that had almost no awareness of the historical church…

 

At around six or seven years ago I started thinking there was a need for the church to bring together these two gifts… the term eucharismatic is a putting together of two words: eucharistic and charismatic, and the link between them is charis—grace (or chara—joy)…

 

When we understand the gift of God in the spiritual gifts and the gift of God in the Lord’s supper, we can receive all of God’s gifts rather than just some…

 

For me, the sacramental tradition was not associated with joy… but then I began reading the history of the church, these people who had almost unutterable moments of revelation of the beauty of who God is [while celebrating the eucharist]…

 

The Lord’s Supper is the lovely thing where everyone knows that this is something they are supposed to do; the question is how and how often… our church was doing it in homes, like they did in Acts 2…

 

For us, we had to recognize that whatever we did not practice on Sunday we did not ultimately value… you can say the same for the gifts… unless we do this at some point on Sundays, the church will think this is relatively unimportant…

 

I think that for many in more traditional churches, they are concerned about the charismatic out of a concern for orthodoxy and for things to be done in a decently and in order kind of way…

 

One of the things you can do is pick low-hanging fruit… the judicious and careful use of a prophetic impression (and you might not even call it that)—most people, even the most conservative (traditional) are happy with the idea that God might lead them to do something…

 

You just need to be sensitive to the fact that for many people this is really new… you need to be able to explain things in a non-weird way what God is doing…