Interview with John Fea, Author of “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?”


In this video, I interview Prof. John Fea about his excellent book, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? Fea is professor of history at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania.

Vodpod videos no longer available. Interview with John Fea, Author of “Was America…, posted with vodpod

You can read my review of Fea’s book here.

If you’d like to skip ahead to a particular question, here’s the time code:

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 00:56 How’s the weather today in Grantham, Pennsylvania?
  • 01:44 Why did you find it important to write this particular book on this particular topic at this particular time?
  • 05:08 What do historians do? How is their perspective different from other people who ask questions such as the one your book asks?
  • 08:49 Name a few advocates and books of Christian nationalists and the secularists who oppose them.
  • 14:01 Walk us through the varieties of Christian nationalism that have appeared in American history.
  • 21:02 There are multiple ironies in the history of the idea of Christian nationalism. Can you talk a bit about those?
  • 28:36 Chapter 7 is titled “The Revolutionary Pulpit.” You argue that patriotic preachers used the Bible to support the revolutionary cause, but their use of it seems tendentious. Can you talk a bit about the revolutionary pulpit?
  • 37:42 The relationship between church and state is one of the biggest flashpoints in the contemporary debate between Christian nationalists and secularists. Can you address the issue of the so-called “wall” between church and state?
  • 45:40 Tell us about the religious beliefs of these Founders: George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson.
  • 50:35 How do we justify slave ownership by Founders who considered themselves Christians?
  • 52:53 Tell us about the religious beliefs of these Founders: John Witherspoon, John Jay, and Samuel Adams.
  • 55:28 What books on the Founding Period, including this topic, would you recommend?
  • 57:43 Upcoming events on MinistryDirect.com/live

Interview with Mike Clarensau about “From Belonging to Becoming”


In this video, I interview Mike Clarensau about his new book, From Belonging to Becoming: The Power of Loving People Like Jesus Did. Mike is senior director of the Healthy Church Network. Prior to that, he was senior pastor of Maranatha Worship Center in Wichita, Kansas. From Belonging to Becoming charts a new pathway of discipleship. Instead of believing-belonging-becoming, Mike argues that Jesus practiced belonging-believing-becoming, putting relationship before the call to faith or the commitment to a new lifestyle. Indeed, the relationship with Jesus made both faith and holiness possible in the lives of Jesus’ followers. This is the model of discipleship we too should follow.

I reviewed Mike’s book here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Here are the questions Mike answered with timecodes:

  • 00:03 Introduction
  • 00:28 The “assimilation process” at most churches looks like this: believing-becoming-belonging. In this book, you argue that belonging comes first: belonging-believing-becoming. How did you come to the realization that most churches’ “assimilation process” has things backward?
  • 05:39 Throughout the book, you use the story in Luke 7 about the sinful woman anointing Jesus’ feet at the home of Simon the Pharisee. There are three main characters in the story. There are also two ways of responding to the sinful woman and two ways of responding to Jesus. What are those ways?
  • 08:45 Why is so hard for pastors and church members to realize that their ways of responding to “sinners” are often more like the Pharisees’ than like Jesus’? What are the rationalizations we offer for our ways of responding, and why are they wrong?
  • 12:28 What do you mean by “belonging”? Does it involve putting nonbelievers in positions of leadership at the church?
  • 15:16 John Maxwell says that people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Is that true? What do you mean when you say, “Once that people know that you care, they care what you know”?
  • 18:00 Throughout the book, you share your own personal journey of discovery on this matter. How did your specific context in Wichita, Kansas, help you make this discovery?
  • 22:02 Are you really saying that there aren’t moral absolutes or things that the church should be known for?
  • 25:12 Isn’t it a lot more easy (and fun) to denounce sin than to redeem the individual sinner?
  • 26:50 Is belonging-believing-becoming a methodological approach to helping people experience the wholeness of life Jesus offers?
  • 28:36 All of this sounds like that “seeker sensitive” stuff. Doesn’t the Bible describe the gospel as an offense?
  • 31:10 The book complexifies our thinking by forcing us to realize that much of what we do at church is more Pharisaical than Jesus-like. It forces us to ask, “What kind of Christianity am I actually practicing?” What’s the difference between becoming like Jesus as opposed to becoming like other church people.
  • 33:31 Part 2 of the book describes the shift of thinking church leaders must experience to begin to welcome the “sinful woman” into their community as Jesus did. What does that shift look?
  • 36:46 What can pastors do to begin to forming friendships with people outside of church?
  • 39:19 What about the objection: |”We don’t want ‘those people’ around our kids”?
  • 41:22 What can we do to be more friendly to people who begin to attend our church?
  • 43:45 What should church leaders take into account in their “assimilation process”?
  • 46:31 What is “congregational astigmatism”? How do we overcome it?
  • 49:00 What is the Healthy Church Network? Where can people get more information about it?
  • 50:32 Concluding remarks

Interview with @PRodLoy about “3 Questions” and Lots of Other Stuff (@Get Influence)


In this video, I interview Pastor Rod Loy about his new book, “3 Questions: A Powerful Grid to Help You Live in the Grace of God.” Well, that was my intention. We actually ended up talking about the book as well as a lot of other topics. Enjoy!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Here’s the timecode on the video, in case you want to skip ahead to a specific question:

  • 00:03 Introduction
  • 01:11 How can a pastor wear a pink shirt?” & other crazy questions pastors are asked.
  • 02:15 How do you protect your super-secret identity as Rocketman?
  • 03:30 What are you doing Christmas Sunday morning? Are you having service? Why or why not?
  • 07:12 What advice do you have on parenting?
  • 10:30 Your book is called 3 Questions. What are the questions? What are they about? And what motivated you to write this book.
  • 16:30 Which of the three questions was most difficult for you?
  • 18:48 At this past General Council, you called the question on Resolution 20 to consolidate the Assemblies of God’s three national schools: AG Theological Seminary, Central Bible College, and Evangel University. Do you feel comfortable having called for the question, or are you worried that there are still unhealed wounds in our Fellowship regarding the GC decision to consolidate the schools?
  • 23:57 How should a pastor use social media?
  • 29:02 What’s on your heart regarding missions? Where do you see AG missions going?
  • 31:17 What’s your biggest concern for the next generation of Christians? Non-Christians?
  • 34:53 With your schedule as a senior pastor, how do you stay connected to the next generation?
  • 36:42 What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the Assemblies of God?
  • 38:43 What kind of book is 3 Questions? A discipleship book? A self-help book?
  • 41:21 What advice do you have for people just starting out in vocational ministry?
  • 42:35 What should I do to get a coach/mentor?
  • 45:15 How doe please God in a people-pleasing culture?
  • 46:55 Where do pastors and church leaders need to be more courageous?
  • 48:33 What’s been your biggest surprise since becoming a senior pastor?
  • 49:46 What’s been your biggest surprise about becoming an executive presbyter?
  • 52:33 Announcement of future MinistryDirect.com interviews

Review of “3 Questions” by Rod Loy


Rod Loy, 3 Questions: A Powerful Grid to Help You Live by the Grace of God (Springfield, MO: Influence Resources, 2011). $14.99, 208 pages.

In 3 Questions, Rod Loy uses Paul’s letter to the Galatians to diagnose our motive, source of power and wisdom, and willingness to speak truth. Filled with humor, spiritual insight, and practical advice, 3 Questions will help you see, in Loy’s words, that “everything I have, everything I am, and everything I’ll ever do is a product of God’s amazing grace.” The book comes with study questions and is useful for individual and small group study.

P.S. If you found this brief review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my Amazon.com review page.

Interview with @DavidKinnaman, Author of “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…And Rethinking Faith”


In this video, I interview David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group and author of You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…And Rethinking Faith. Great book, by the way! You can read my review of it here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

You Lost Me


I’m interviewing David Kinnaman regarding You Lost Me on Thursday, November 3, at 2:00 p.m. on MinistryDirect.com/live. If you would like to ask David questions, email them to questions@ministrydirect.com, tweet them using #MinistryDirect, or enter them in the Facebook messaging tool on the live page. (You must be logged into Facebook to use the messaging tool.)

You can read my review of You Lost Me here.

“You Lost Me” by David Kinnaman with Aly Hawkins


David Kinnaman with Aly Hawkins, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…And Rethinking Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: BakerBooks, 2011). $17.99, 256 pages.

“The ages eighteen to twenty-nine are the black hole of church attendance,” writes David Kinnaman. Most church leaders and Christian parents know this. And most believe that the “next generation” will return to church once they’ve married and had kids. There’s some truth to this belief. Church involvement among Boomers and Busters followed predictable patterns, with participation in childhood and adulthood sandwiching non-participation in young adulthood. And yet, this generation—referred to as Mosaics—may very well be different than preceding generations. The goal of You Lost Me is to “define the dropout problem [of Mosaics] and interpret its urgency.” No church leader or Christian parent can read Kinnaman’s research and remain complacent about the absence of Mosaics. It is an urgent problem requiring thoughtful solutions.

The culture in which Mosaics have grown up is “discontinuously different” from the culture of preceding generations. “The next generation is living in a new technological, social, and spirituality reality,” Kinnaman argues; “this reality can be summed up in three words: access, alienation, and authority.” Access refers to “the changing means and methods of communicating and finding information.” Alienation refers to the “very high levels of isolation from family, community, and institutions” experienced by Mosaics. And authority refers to “[t]he changing spiritual narrative” told by the culture, leaving Mosaics asking “new questions about what to believe and why.” Mosaics have more information, fewer role models, and more questions about what constitutes truth than preceding generations. These social realities “have deeply affected the cognitive and emotional process of ‘encoding’ faith” in the next generation.

But though subject to the same social realities, not all Mosaic dropouts have dropped out in the same way. Kinnaman reminds readers that “every story matters,” but the stories themselves take one of three narrative forms. For nomads, “faith is nomadic, seasonal, or may appear to be an optional or peripheral part of life.” Prodigals are “young people who leave their childhood or teen faith entirely.” Exiles are “those who grew up in the church and are now physically or emotionally disconnected in some way, but who also remain energized to pursue God-honoring lives.” Notice that nomads and exiles continue to identify themselves, in varying degrees, as Christians. Only prodigals are hard dropouts, that is, deconverts from Christianity, and they make up a small share of all dropouts. Given these distinctions, Kinnaman concludes: “The dropout phenomenon is most accurately described as a generation of Christians who are disengaging from institutional forms of church.”

Why they are disengaging, and what to do in response, take up the bulk of the book. Based on extensive surveys of Mosaics, both quantitative and qualitative, Kinnaman offers “six reasons” why the next generation is disengaging from church.

  1. Overprotective: “The church is seen as a creativity killer where risk taking and being involved in culture are anathema.”
  2. Shallow: “Easy platitudes, proof texting, and formulaic slogans have anesthetized many young adults.”
  3. Antiscience: “Many young Christians have come to the conclusion that faith and science are incompatible.”
  4. Repressive: “Religious rules—particularly sexual mores—feel stifling to the individualist mindset of young adults.”
  5. Exclusive: “Although there are limits to what this generation will accept and whom they will embrace, they have been shaped by a culture that esteems open-mindedness, tolerance, and acceptance. Thus Christianity’s claims to exclusivity are a hard sell.”
  6. Doubtless: “the church is not a place that allows them to express doubts.”

Church leaders and Christian parents need to read this section of the book non-defensively. Many dropouts exhibit a keen interest in spirituality generally and Jesus Christ particularly. But they don’t like e church—the church that their leaders and parents have worked hard to build. When they say, “You lost me,” they are pointing fingers. At least that’s how leaders and parents might feel. Moreover, they might have strong disagreement with Mosaic ethics, particularly with regard to sexual behavior—as well they should. Rather than reading defensively, however, church leaders and Christian parents should read these chapters to learn the unique social forces that are shaping (and in some cases misshaping) the next generation.

By reading non-defensively, leaders and parents may also see new, biblically faithful ways of being Christian in community that have been neglected by their generation of Christians. On this issue, Kinnaman does not merely describe the dropout problem, he prescribes potential ways of moving forward. The penultimate chapter of the book outlines three things Kinnaman has learned from his research: “(1) the church needs to reconsider how we make disciples; (2) we need to rediscover Christian calling and vocation; and (3) we need to reprioritize wisdom over information as we seek to know God.” The final chapter surveys Christian leaders—both inside and outside of church ministry—and offers “50 Ideas to Find a Generation.”

I highly recommend You Lost Me to church leaders and Christian parents who are concerned about “the black hole” in their churches. It will help them understand how their Mosaics think, why they are disengaged from church, and what might be done to hand on the faith to a new generation.

P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my Amazon.com review page.

P.P.S. I’ll interview David Kinnaman live via Skype on Thursday, November 3, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. on MinistryDirect.com/live. Submit your questions via email to questions@ministrydirect.com, via Twitter using #MinistryDirect, or via Facebook using the interaction tool on the live page.

UPDATE: Here’s the video of my interview with David Kinnaman:

 Vodpod videos no longer available.
Interview with @DavidKinnaman, Author of “You L…, posted with vodpod

The World Wide (Religious) Web for Friday, October 21, 2011


THE TULIP DEBATE: In the video below, I interview Roger Olson regarding his new book, Against Calvinism.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I wrote a dual review of For Calvinism and Against Calvinism here. I also reviewed Against Calvinism here.

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HE BEING DEAD YET SPEAKETH: “John Stott: Four Ways Christians Can Influence the World.”

Do you want to see your national life made more pleasing to God? Do you have a vision of a new godliness, a new justice, a new freedom, a new righteousness, a new compassion? Do you wish to repent of sub-Christian pessimism? Will you reaffirm your confidence in the power of God, in the power of prayer, of truth, of example, of group commitment—and of the gospel? Let’s offer ourselves to God, as instruments in his hands—as salt and light in the community. The church could have an enormous influence for good, in every nation on earth, if it would commit itself totally to Christ. Let’s give ourselves to him, who gave himself for us.

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EVADING THE MORAL QUESTION: “The Supply-Side Economics of Abortion.”

The pre-Roe data illustrate that the farther women must travel for an abortion, the lower the abortion rate will be, and that travel distance is a greater obstacle for less-advantaged women. Thus, if a “blue state–red state” distribution of abortion services evolves, the pre-Roe racial and socioeconomic patterns will probably reemerge. Women with resources will travel substantial distances for an abortion, whereas less-advantaged women will travel less.

History suggests that there will always be abortions. The goal should be to reduce the abortion rate by reducing unintended pregnancies, while providing safe, legal services for women who need them. Making access to abortion unnecessarily costly will probably result in clandestine abortions and unintended childbearing among families with the least resources and the fewest options.

Perhaps, but the article evades the crucial moral question: Is abortion right or wrong? Can you imagine an article called “The Supply-Side Economics of Rape” or fraud or theft or assault and battery? Of course not! If one assumes that abortion is morally acceptable, then this kind of article makes sense. If not, then not. Surely we have to keep that simple point in mind.

_____

FOLLOW THE LEADER? “Religion and Support for Capital Punishment: Contrasting Leaders and Laity.”

Looking solely at the Christian groups, Evangelical Protestants show the lowest opposition to the death penalty at 23 percent, followed by Mainline Protestants at 28 percent, Catholics at 37 percent, and Black Protestants at 45 percent. So if Carter, Sharpton, and Prejean voice official or semi-official views from their respective religious traditions (Evangelical, Black Protestant, and Catholic), we can see here that most affiliates in their traditions don’t agree with them. Notably, even if we look only at the “church-going” crowd (a shorthand way to describe anyone who attends church at least twice a month or more), there are no differences in the overall pattern.

What do we make of this incongruity? While none of the three religious leaders I mentioned are expert theologians, they aren’t uneducated or non-practicing representatives of their faith traditions either. Why is there such limited Christian opposition for capital punishment when various Christian leaders have voiced it?

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A CLEAR LINK: “Sold for Sex: The Link between Street Gangs and Human Trafficking.”

The facts from hundreds of criminal cases show a clear link between dangerous street gangs and the scourge of human trafficking. Over the last decade, the United States has passed numerous laws to address criminal gang activity. Similarly, in 2000, Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to curtail trafficking in persons. But the enforcement of each law has developed independently of the others, with little, if any, integration. This is unfortunate and represents a missed opportunity not only to save the victims of a terrible crime, but also to add another prosecution weapon against the dangerous street gangs that endanger our communities and our nation.

_____

IF HE’S SO EASY TO REFUTE, WHY NOTE DEBATE HIM? “Why I refuse to debate with William Lane Craig.” In this essay, Richard Dawkins explains why he won’t debate William Lane Craig. He argues that it’s easy to refute WLC, all one has to do is quote him. If that’s the case, why not demonstrate how easy it is to refute WLC by quoting him…at a live debate?

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NEWS YOU CAN USE: “Holy Unhealthy Eating: How to Stop Churches from Sending People to Heaven Early.”

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FROM BRIAN MCLAREN, NATCH: “Why I’m Joining the Occupation.”

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QUESTIONS NO ONE’S ASKING (BUT LAWYERS): “Is the Declaration of Independence Legal?”

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CHURCH, TAX, LAW: “The Value of Tax-Exempt Status.”

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FROM CATALYST LEADERSHIP: “The Gospel in Focus.”

Interview with Roger Olson, Author of “Against Calvinism” (Zondervan)


Here’s the video of my interview with Roger Olson, professor of theology at Truett Theological Seminary and author of “Against Calvinism” (Zondervan).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Here are the questions I asked as well as the minute marks at which Olson answered them.

  • 1:05 Are you against everything Calvinism stands for, or only particular things?
  • 2:40 What is the historical background to TULIP, “the five points of Calvinism,” or what Calvinists refer to as “the doctrines of grace”?
  • 5:02 What is the unified testimony of the ante-Nicene church regarding these issues? Why don’t Calvinists take this testimony into account?
  • 8:32 Can you demonstrate that Jesus, Paul, or other New Testament writers were not theological determinists? What about Romans 9-11?
  • 15:50 Why do the “good and necessary consequences” of Calvinist doctrines make God a “moral monster,” despite Calvinists’ best intentions?
  • 24:00 How does an Arminian deal with the many verses in the Bible that speak about election and predestination?
  • 28:00 Examples of cooperation and competition between Arminians and Calvinists in evangelical history.
  • 30:00 How can Arminians and Calvinists disagree without being disagreeable? (I interrupted Olson in the middle of his answer with a question about which Arminian books and theologians he would recommend.)
  • 36:00 Given its biblical deficiencies, why does Calvinism have a dominant presence in the American church?
  • 39:33 What do you appreciate most about the “New Calvinist” movement? (I interrupted Olson with a further question about Calvinism and evangelism/missions.)
  • 42:03 What is “middle knowledge”? I asked how, on an Arminian basis, God can predestine based on foreknowledge if, as Olson argues, middle knowledge is impossible.
  • 48:05 What are Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism, and how is Arminianism distinct from them? Is “Arminianism of the head” susceptible to Pelagianism or semi-Pelagianism?
  • 53:32 Are universalists Arminians?
  • 56:38 How to disprove limited atonement.
  • 59:18 The Assemblies of God’s fourth reason for being is compassion. Does Arminianism or Calvinism sit better with an emphasis on compassion ministries?

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