The crew brings you a "podcast potluck" of topics from the headlines.
by Url scaramanga
This week’s podcast starts off with Phil recapping his trip to a children’s ministry conference, then Skye reviews an article in the Wall Street Journal about free speech and faith in regards to the inflammatory video about Mohammed that has incited riots in the Middle East. Phil brings up an article entitled “Will Science Eliminate God?” which leads to a discussion about Christianity, science, atheism, evolution and and what Skye calls “the need and desire for the transcendent.” The podcast wraps up with a conversation about the portrayal of Christians in Hollywood and the history of Christian art.
Could you imagine what Jesus’ ministry would have looked like if after giving “The Sermon on the Mount” he immediately checked social media to see how many retweets he got, or if #beatitudes was trending?
Or, before riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, he sat down with his creative team to map out exactly how to create a moment people would remember for thousands of years. (#TriumphalEntry, anyone?)
I wonder what opinion polls would have looked like after the crucifixion … or a big throw down with Pharisees … or a mass healing session. What if he healed certain people more than others because data showed healing someone with leprosy went viral (heh, viral) faster than healing the blind?
If Jesus had built the direction, branding, ideology of his earthly work around any of those things, I wonder if Christianity would exist at all today. Yes, I understand that Christ was the very Son of God, but I’m not speaking to that reality in this post, I’m simply saying this: There was one thing conspicuously absent from everything Jesus did … attention to public opinion.
If you don't have a sense of humor, then please don't read the following post.
by Ben Howard
In honor of the beginning of the NFL season and because I have a bizarre need to compare things that are in no way similar to each other. I give you a list of Christian denominations and their corresponding NFL team.
Roman Catholic – Chicago Bears
They've been around since the beginning and their history is filled with both conquests and venerated saints like George Halas, Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers. However, in recent years they've often been on the defensive leading to middle of the road status. Finally, Mike Ditka is Pope John Paul II and Walter Payton is Mother Teresa.
Episcopalian/Anglican – Oakland Raiders
Historically, a rebellious group of upstarts from the insurgent AFL that has tamed over time as it's come to find more mainstream success. Still prone to bouts of rebellious behavior that come across more weird than iconoclastic in the modern context. You have a legion of hardcore fans that refuse to leave even if your behavior seems occasionally bizarre. Al Davis is King Henry VIII and John Madden is N.T. Wright.
Presbyterian – New York Giants
You continue to have success in spite of the fact that it's entirely unclear why you've been successful in the first place. You base a lot of your work on your ability to amount a worthwhile defense and the fact that your success must simply be preordained. You're led by an angry man who will become lovable in historical context (Tom Coughlin and John Calvin).
Dr. Amy Black is the guest to discuss how Christians should think about politics.
This week’s podcast features Dr. Amy Black, associate professor of political science at Wheaton College. Phil starts off the show by talking about the movie Para Norman and Skye discusses The Real Life of Timothy Green. They answer questions about the podcast on heaven two weeks ago and how the rapture does (or does not) fit in. Dr. Amy Black discusses her book, Honoring God in Red or Blue about the history of Christianity and politics in the US and the necessity of political compromise.
Dr. Amy Black has wide research and teaching interests in the fields of American Politics and Political Behavior. She has her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently serves as the political science department chair at Wheaton College. Her most recent book is Honoring God in Red or Blue: Approaching Politics with Humility, Grace, and Reason (Moody Publishers). At a time when public discourse is too often divisive, Dr. Black calls Christians to a more reasoned and humble approach to politics.
Research shows young adults in Canada are leaving churches too. What can we learn?
by Url Scaramanga
You know the research isn't going to be good when the title of the report includes the word "hemorrhaging." A new study published in Canada shows the same trends evident in U.S. churches are no less real in hockey country. The report titled "Hemorrhaging Faith" (I can already imagine the solution-based conference and book: "Clotting Faith"), is featured in the latest issues of Canada's Faith Today magazine.
Some of the findings include:
-Only 1/3rd of young adults in Canada who attended church weekly as a child still attend as adults.
-Among those who no longer attend church, 1/2 have also abandoned belief in Christianity.
-There are four primary barriers that prevent young adults from engaging the church: Hypocrisy, judgement, exclusivity, and failure.
Catholics defend their opulent facilities, and how it applies to evangelicals.
by Skye Jethani
If anyone knows how to ride out a scandal, it’s the Catholic Church; after all they’ve been at it longer than anyone else. This is not to diminish the remarkable contribution of Roman Catholics to both the history and current mission of the Church. But perhaps evangelicals could learn a few things from both Catholic successes and failures in this area.
The latest criticism to be leveled at Rome is that it doesn’t really care about the poor. It’s an odd accusation given the Roman Catholic Church has possibly done more for the poor than any organization in history. Still, no one can deny that the Roman Catholic Church likes gold-gilded furniture (almost as much as classic Bond villain Auric Goldfinger and the folks at Trinity Broadcasting Network). The Catholic eye for opulence has sparked this popular meme:
A post at the Bad Catholic blog has responded to the accusation with a defense of “nice churches.” First, the author identifies the complaint:
Dr. John Walton asks, was God building a house or establishing a home?
Phil, Skye and Christian talk about a new book about how to find “the one thing” you were meant to do or “the one person” you were supposed to marry. They also unpack the historical belief some Christians hold that America has a special covenant with God stemming back to the first Puritain settlers, and how that affects things today.
Dr. John Walton, an Old Testament scholar and professor at Wheaton College, is this week’s guest. First, they talk about his book The Bible Story Handbook regarding how not to teach Scripture, and then The Lost World of Genesis One, which Phil discussed on a podcast a few months ago. Walton explains his reading of Genesis and why he believes it is about the creation of a “home” rather than a “house”.
Dr. John Walton is an Old Testament professor at Wheaton College. His area of interest is on studies comparing the culture and literature of the Bible and the ancient Near East. Previously, he served on the faculty of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He has written 15 books, including The Lost World of Genesis One and commentaries on Obadiah through Jonah.
Piper says there's a lot more going on in Romans 1 than we realize.
When seeking a biblical justification for opposing homosexual behavior, many people turn to Romans 1:26-27, but John Piper argues that one cannot separate these verses from Paul's argument about idolatry in verses 18-25. While all would agree that context is important, do you buy Piper's conclusion that same-sex attraction is a form of self-worship? Watch the video and discuss.
How Christians in Phoenix are loving the sojourners among them.
by Katelyn Beaty & Skye Jethani
Over at ChristianityToday.com you can read a report on how Christians in Phoenix are responding to the immigration issue. The way churches in Arizona have engaged is mixed, but they serve as models for the rest of the country as the presence of undocumented immigrants continues to be a political and cultural issue. Here's an excerpt of the article by Katelyn Beaty and Skye Jethani:
The Department of Homeland Security estimated that by 2011, the number of illegal immigrants in Arizona had dwindled to 360,000, the lowest figure since 2000. Then in 2010, Arizona's governor signed into law what's become a signature, and hotly debated, piece of U.S. immigration legislation. Combined with the economic downturn, SB 1070—which allowed police to stop anyone reasonably suspected to be in the United States illegally at any time—has led to an exodus of Latinos from Maricopa County.
"Many of our churches have lost a lot of members," says Jose Gonzalez, Hispanic director of the nonprofit CityServe Arizona. "One 250-member church dwindled to 100." Gonzalez is a Mexican native who has helped plan crusades for evangelist Luis Palau, making him el conector for hundreds of Latino pastors throughout Phoenix. "Many people are going to another state, going back to Mexico or Latin America. A lot of families are being divided. They are afraid of SB 1070. They don't know the difference between Joe Arpaio and the police department." (Arpaio, self-proclaimed as "America's Toughest Sheriff," pushes strident anti-immigration tactics that have landed him in a civil-rights trial that began the week this story went to press.)
Ian Danley, youth pastor with Neighborhood Ministries, knows one congregation that "went from $6,000 in tithes to $1,500 in one week. The church building was foreclosed, and for the first time in 30 years of ministry, the pastor is looking for a day job."
Local Anglo churches' response to struggling Latinos has been mixed.
Is America really a Christian nation, and do we go to heaven or does heaven come to us?
The show gets off to a Reggae-tastic start with a special appearance. Then the crew discusses a follow up question to the podcast with Rob Vischer – do we live in a country with freedom from religion rather than freedom of religion? This leads into a great conversation about the often antagonistic relationships between atheists and Christians, and why Christians often don’t show grace to those who do not share their beliefs. Phil asks Skye about heaven and whether or not we will “go to Heaven” or if Heaven will come to Earth.
In honor of Labor Day, I thought this video was appropriate. Many pastors have answered God's call to serve his church and advance his good news. As a result, many of us have come to believe that any other calling is secondary to our own. Part of being a pastor, however, is helping all of God's sheep recognize the dignity and God-honoring nature of their callings whatever they may be. This simple video helps us see the challenge.