Don't put your total trust in people or systems, only Jesus
How sex, greed and power pulled Christians off mission
I recently listened to a four-part conversation series between Calvin University history professor Dr. Kristin Kobes Du Mez and Holy Post co-host Skye Jethani on the book Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation. It was an eye-opening skim through the history of White American evangelicalism from the 1950s to the present.
In the conversations covering the book — which I haven't read — the basic them was tracing the growth of the evangelical right wing from the 1950s through the current era.
My summary of the conversations? The focus of too many Christian leaders over the decades shifted from following Christ to pursuing political power to help propel their flawed interpretation of Christianity forward.
The overwhelming time spent listening and reading Bible-adjacent books like Wild at Heart and radio shows like Focus on the Family, also aided by the construction of the evangelical industrial complex, led to the growth of a large Christian political constituency. While politically the group may have been successful, it perhaps came at the expense of negatively impacting local churches and communities. The individual pages below include time stamps of topics within each conversation, so you can quickly listen to just the parts you’re interested in.
Episode 1: “Cold Warriors” - ‘50s and ‘60s
Episode 2: “Culture Warriors” - ‘70s to ‘80s
Episode 3: “Tender Warriors” - ‘90s to ‘00s
Episode 4: “Fallen Warriors” - ‘10s to today
You can also find them in the podcast feed of the Holy Post.
Pursue Jesus, not power
The podcasts were the latest in a series of events that made me really wonder how much of my faith is built not on Biblical truth and discipleship through God's word, but resources and word-of-mouth ideas that sometimes align with the Bible.
After listening to the series and the content below, I'm really wondering if the best thing we Christians need to do is spend our time simply loving our neighbors, that more people might see and want to meet Jesus. That’s the theme of the book The Benedict Option, which I’m currently reading and recommend.
Demolishing evil in Christian strongholds
If the conversations by Kobes Du Mez and Jethani are of a white evangelical machine that is slowly disintegrating, the stories below showcase the opposite: a pair of theologically strong Christian institutions hit with a wrecking ball of truth for systemic sins, collapsing publicly in a few months.
Seeing Zacharias Ministries (RZIM) implode shortly after I completed my first online class with them due to the sex scandal involving the late founder Ravi Zacharias, really shook me. While plenty has been written about the ministry’s downfall, I found this lengthy interview between Dr. Sean McDowell, his dad Josh McDowell and former RZIM ministry leader Abdu Murray to be particularly enlightening.
Lately I've been listening to the Rise & fall of Mars Hill podcast. The first four episodes are out as of this writing, with new ones coming out about every week. The series is just as gripping as the best serial narratives I've ever heard on This American Life or Serial, and tells the story of the Mars Hill church’s phenomenon in the Seattle area: how it began, grew and ultimately collapsed.
While the series is a sad, the tagline of the podcast provides hope as well: "...it's also the story of the mystery of God, working in broken places."
Prayer and thanks
Please continue to pray for and do what you can to care for the Muslim Uighers. I fear another holocaust is happing right under our noses and few seem aware. On the plus side, Christianity is booming in Iran.