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Crucible of Thought

Crucible of Thought

By Brandon Munday

An exploration of current affairs - refining my mind, burning away impurities, in the forge of truth. Find me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/crucibleofthght/
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Is the Bible the Word of the Lord?

Crucible of Thought

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It's Best Not To Ask
It's Best Not To Ask
It's really hard when trusted people change dramatically. For the sake of our faith, often we don't really want to know why they changed. It might require us to change too. You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/its-best-not-to-ask/
09:27
February 02, 2023
Can Homosexuals be Christian?
Can Homosexuals be Christian?
I've seen a lot of conservative Christians recently argue that gays cannot be saved, or cannot be Christian, specifically because of 1 Cor 6:9-10. What does that verse say, and is it relevant? You can also listen to this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/can-homosexuals-be-christian/
24:22
January 25, 2023
The ChatGPT AI Pastor of the Future
The ChatGPT AI Pastor of the Future
A Jewish pastor read a sermon written by AI to his congregation, and they thought it was human-written. Can a robot or AI ever replace a human pastor? Perhaps that's the wrong question. Do most Christians today even understand what a pastor is supposed to be? Read the article about that sermon here: https://www.jpost.com/jpost-tech/business-and-innovation/article-729 You can also read this episode here: https://crucibleofthought.com/the-chatgpt-ai-pastor-of-the-future/
12:20
January 21, 2023
Is the Bible the Word of the Lord?
Is the Bible the Word of the Lord?
"Which takes precedence - the Bible or Jesus?" On Twitter, this question has blown up into a rather ugly argument in the last couple days.  I've watched the dispute, occasionally chipping in here and there myself, but mostly learning from the various viewpoints thrown into the fight. There's a lot to be learned from it. Here are some thoughts about the Bible, and how it relates to Jesus, and who or what we worship. You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/is-the-bible-the-word-of-the-lord/
22:57
January 18, 2023
The Gospel According to Jesus
The Gospel According to Jesus
The point of the gospel is not to get the work done. The point is accurately represent the Father. Jesus' charge in Matt 28:19-20 wasn't colonial; it was to be ambassadors in the fullest sense of the word - to personally BE an extension of the Kingdom and to fully embody Jesus to those around us. That looks a lot different than many approaches to the gospel. You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/the-gospel-according-to-jesus/
14:21
January 11, 2023
Was the Bible Created, Intelligently Designed, or Evolved?
Was the Bible Created, Intelligently Designed, or Evolved?
The origins of the Bible are fascinatingly complex, much more than I had understood as a younger believer. Why would God let it be so complex? You can also listen to this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/did-the-bible-evolve/
23:54
January 10, 2023
Rejecting A Jonah Spirit
Rejecting A Jonah Spirit
Jonah was so opposed to the people of Nineveh that he couldn't abide God's forgiveness of them. There are parallels with evangelical Christians' insistence that God punish people in a fiery hell for all eternity. Is that insistence righteous? You can also read this post at https://crucibleofthought.com/rejecting-a-jonah-spirit/
18:10
December 27, 2022
Deadly Contempt
Deadly Contempt
Treating fellow believers with contempt is a sure way to shut down any ability of the Holy Spirit to use each other to grow us up into one Body, one Bride of Christ. You can also listen to this post at https://crucibleofthought.com/deadly-contempt/
09:07
December 23, 2022
A Caleb Generation
A Caleb Generation
The younger generation of Christians are looking a lot more like Caleb and Joshua than like Moses. They're willing to go at risk with the Lord into a dangerous but bountiful new land. And it's stirring up a lot of anger among the elders. You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/a-caleb-generation/
15:37
December 20, 2022
Counting the Cost of Change
Counting the Cost of Change
It's fascinating to look at the topic of "doubt" in Christian publications and web posts. In article after article, there are calls to recognize the incalculable cost of doubting, and the need for unquestioning belief at all costs. But "doubt" and "unbelief" are most certainly not the same. So here's my question: How often do we cling to something not because we believe it, but because we can't risk not believing it? Two websites referenced in this episode: https://christianity.org.uk/article/doubt https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/the-cost-of-doubt-dr-bradford-reaves-sermon-on-doubt-250369 You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/counting-the-cost-of-change/
15:08
November 19, 2022
If We REALLY are a Christian Nation...
If We REALLY are a Christian Nation...
If America is a Christian nation, and since “Christian” means “little Christs,” then it seems we Christians should be well-known for doing ALL the things that Jesus did and that He commanded His followers to do. And we should accept the corrections that come with being imperfect representatives of a holy and righteous and just God. You can also read this blog post at https://crucibleofthought.com/if-we-really-are-a-christian-nation/
14:26
November 04, 2022
What Revival Really Looks Like
What Revival Really Looks Like
"This IS the revival that you were praying for. And you're calling it heresy." What if revival looks nothing like we think? The following links are referenced: https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZTRHn2Pdx/ https://www.cgi.org/call-to-revival https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/what-is-revival-and-where-do-we-find-it https://harvest.org/resources/gregs-blog/post/what-is-revival/ says https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-revival.html https://www.thetravelingteam.org/money-and-missions  https://www.thetravelingteam.org/stats https://www.beunitedinchrist.com/wp-content/uploads/BS.Edwards.Marks_-2.pdf https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/edwards/edwards_distinguishingmarks.html https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Distinguishing_Marks_of_a_Work_of_th/AjAG67KUIM You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/what-revival-really-looks-like/
23:09
October 25, 2022
Part 4: Becoming Affirming: National Coming Out Day
Part 4: Becoming Affirming: National Coming Out Day
“I’m  coming out.” Few phrases strike dread into the heart of conservative  Christian parents and pastors as that one. It’s probably even worse than  “I’m not sure I believe in God anymore.” Well, today is October 11th  2022, and since 1998, this day has been celebrated by the LGBTQ  community as “National Coming Out Day.” And I’m coming out. Not as gay or queer, myself, but as explicitly an ally, as one who is  affirming of the acceptability to the Lord and to myself of others’  LGBTQ identity and/or lifestyle. This is the final part of a 4-part series. In this final episode, I spend a few minutes talking about grooming, then discussing the charge that affirming LGBTQ behavior and identity will lead to a breakdown in society. I previously discussed whether LGBTQ people can represent the image of God, but this time I talk about how the church's current behavior towards LGBTQ individuals doesn't appear to represent God's character to a watching world. Then I wrap it all up with some thoughts about where we go from here, and I'll summarize my thoughts on the matter. You can  also read the paper itself here: https://crucibleofthought.com/coming-out-on-national-coming-out-day/
25:56
October 22, 2022
Part 4: Becoming Affirming: National Coming Out Day
Part 4: Becoming Affirming: National Coming Out Day
“I’m coming out.” Few phrases strike dread into the heart of conservative Christian parents and pastors as that one. It’s probably even worse than “I’m not sure I believe in God anymore.” Well, today is October 11th 2022, and since 1998, this day has been celebrated by the LGBTQ community as “National Coming Out Day.” And I’m coming out. Not as gay or queer, myself, but as explicitly an ally, as one who is affirming of the acceptability to the Lord and to myself of others’ LGBTQ identity and/or lifestyle. This is part 3 of a series. In this episode we discuss homosexual identity versus behavior, transgender identity, cultural expectations, and pronouns. The following links are mentioned in this episode: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/21/us/group-that-promoted-curing-gays-ceases-operations.html https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/10/the-man-who-dismantled-the-ex-gay-ministry/408970/ https://www.thetaskforce.org/national-religious-leadership-roundtable-responds-to-closing-of-exodus-international/ https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/press/lgb-suicide-ct-press-release/ https://whatweknow.inequality.cornell.edu/topics/lgbt-equality/what-does-the-scholarly-research-say-about-whether-conversion-therapy-can-alter-sexual-orientation-without-causing-harm/ https://www.insider.com/more-lgbt-young-people-identify-nonbinary-2021-7 https://www.them.us/story/gen-z-millennials-queerest-generation-gallup-poll https://www.newsweek.com/nearly-40-percent-us-gen-zs-30-percent-christians-identify-lgbtq-poll-shows-1641085 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus There will be at least one more episode on this topic. Consider subscribing to the podcast to be notified of the next episodes. You can also read the paper itself here: https://crucibleofthought.com/coming-out-on-national-coming-out-day/
41:38
October 21, 2022
Self-Appointed Gatekeepers
Self-Appointed Gatekeepers
Self-appointed gatekeepers over our religious and moral systems are destroying the people's ability to connect with the Lord's Kingdom. What is our response supposed to be? You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/self-appointed-gatekeepers/
09:44
October 19, 2022
Part 2: Becoming Affirming: National Coming Out Day
Part 2: Becoming Affirming: National Coming Out Day
“I’m coming out.” Few phrases strike dread into the heart of  conservative Christian parents and pastors as that one. It’s probably  even worse than “I’m not sure I believe in God anymore.” Well, today is  October 11th 2022, and since 1998, this day has been celebrated by the  LGBTQ community as “National Coming Out Day.” And I’m coming out. Not as gay or queer, myself, but as explicitly an ally, as one who is  affirming of the acceptability to the Lord and to myself of others’  LGBTQ identity and/or lifestyle. This is part 2 of a series. In this episode we discuss my hermeneutics, why this topic matters today, about taking the easy way out, and about the fact that certainly not everything happening in LGBTQ acceptance these days is good and righteous. There will probably be two more episodes on this topic. Consider subscribing to the podcast to be notified of the next episodes.  You can also read the paper itself here: https://crucibleofthought.com/coming-out-on-national-coming-out-day/
29:00
October 17, 2022
Part 1: Becoming Affirming: National Coming Out Day
Part 1: Becoming Affirming: National Coming Out Day
“I’m coming out.” Few phrases strike dread into the heart of conservative Christian parents and pastors as that one. It’s probably even worse than “I’m not sure I believe in God anymore.” Well, today is October 11th 2022, and since 1998, this day has been celebrated by the LGBTQ community as “National Coming Out Day.” And I’m coming out. Not as gay or queer, myself, but as explicitly an ally, as one who is affirming of the acceptability to the Lord and to myself of others’ LGBTQ identity and/or lifestyle. The books mentioned in this episode include:  “Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church's Debate on Same-Sex Relationships” by James V. Brownson “UnClobber: Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality” by Colby Martin and Glennon Doyle Melton “Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)” by Preston Sprinkle “The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical’s Change of Heart” by Mark Achtemeier “God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships” by Matthew Vines “Scripture, Ethics, and the Possibility of Same-Sex Relationships” by Karen R. Keen “Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors, and Friends” by Mark A. Yarhouse PsyD You can also read the paper itself here: https://crucibleofthought.com/coming-out-on-national-coming-out-day/
34:00
October 13, 2022
Hanging On For Dear Life
Hanging On For Dear Life
The 4th commandment, "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain." uses the Hebrew words nasah, shem, and shav, and might equally be translated "Your life shall not demonstrate an inaccurate representation of the reputation and renown and fame of the Lord your God." You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/hanging-on-for-dear-life/
08:29
October 06, 2022
For Two Billion Years...
For Two Billion Years...
As with so many of my long-held evangelical beliefs, I’ve been carefully thinking about the doctrine of hell and eternal punishment. I grew up understanding it as an absolute certainty, and something that orthodox Christians had believed since Jesus apparently taught the doctrine in the Gospels. But, I’m not so convinced any more. Come along for a story that helped me reframe my beliefs. Some useful links: http://www.brazenchurch.com/hell-in-the-bible/ http://www.brazenchurch.com/hell-2-lake-of-fire-lazarus-gnashing-eternal-torment/ http://www.brazenchurch.com/how-hell-invaded-church-doctrine/ https://jefffig.wordpress.com/tag/bible-verses-support-universalism/ https://biblehub.com/greek/166.htm You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/for-two-billion-years/
11:58
September 23, 2022
Peter's Vision: An Inclusive Gospel
Peter's Vision: An Inclusive Gospel
Peter's dream of unclean food challenged his world view about who was acceptable to God. I find that God is repeating that in my life, challenging me to reconsider who the Lord accepts today. You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/peters-vision-an-inclusive-gospel/
19:43
September 01, 2022
The Best-Kept Secrets in the World
The Best-Kept Secrets in the World
Top Secret classified documents are held under incredibly strict control. Every page of every copy is logged. It's laughable to assert that the FBI didn't know exactly what they were looking for. You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/the-best-kept-secrets-in-the-world/
04:56
August 26, 2022
A Man Shall Leave His Father and Mother
A Man Shall Leave His Father and Mother
On this occasion of my 30th anniversary, I am finding that the most famous pair of Bible verses about marriage means far more to me than I ever thought possible, and it's not just about marriage. I am called to leave many things, not just my father and mother, as I pursue the Lord and His calling on my life. You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/a-man-shall-leave-his-father-and-mother/
14:03
August 14, 2022
Is It Worth It?
Is It Worth It?
Political power... at what cost? A dark and dying world needs to see a tangible representation of a holy and righteous and just God. That's the role given to the Body of Christ. But it seems as if the goal of too many Christians these days is grabbing political power by any means necessary. Is it worth it? You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/is-it-worth-it/
19:39
August 13, 2022
Taking The Easy Way Out - Thoughts on Becoming LGBTQ Affirming
Taking The Easy Way Out - Thoughts on Becoming LGBTQ Affirming
I've been thinking about the challenges of accepting the so-called "affirming" position on LGBTQ issues, and it seemed like time to address my thoughts on the topic at some length. You can also read this episode at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/taking-the-easy-way-out/
20:23
August 09, 2022
A Matter of Righteousness and Justice
A Matter of Righteousness and Justice
I wonder, would it change us if we truly believed that God's provision for us wasn't dependent upon our righteousness? And how would it change us if we truly believed that God intended us to be the conduit of that exact provision for others of every station in life? You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/a-matter-of-righteousness-and-justice/
16:59
August 04, 2022
How would You Like Your Milk - Rare, Medium, or Well Done?
How would You Like Your Milk - Rare, Medium, or Well Done?
There's a big difference between spiritual milk and solid food. As spiritual newborns, we were instructed to desire pure spiritual milk that we might grow. But later on, we're expected to desire solid food - spiritual meat, as it were. But I wonder, can we always tell the difference? You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/how-would-you-like-your-milk/ 
13:37
July 26, 2022
On a Basis of Fear
On a Basis of Fear
For almost 250 years, our annual national birthday party has celebrated a splitting apart of people. And perhaps that legacy has unfortunate fruit. You can read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/on-a-basis-of-fear/
08:05
July 04, 2022
Boundaries
Boundaries
Boundaries are a good thing. I'm adjusting my boundaries on social media, so I have better chances to learn from others, and to minimize the emotional arguments that so often pop up. You can also read this episode on https://crucibleofthought.com/boundaries/
08:14
June 29, 2022
Come Let Us Mourn and Rejoice TOGETHER
Come Let Us Mourn and Rejoice TOGETHER
What if the very time we're supposed to mourn with those who mourn is when we're rejoicing over the very thing they're mourning? Or the very time we're supposed to rejoice with those who rejoice is exactly when we're mourning the very thing they're rejoicing? You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/come-let-us-mourn-and-rejoice-together/
17:06
June 27, 2022
What is Salvation, Anyway?
What is Salvation, Anyway?
A friend asked a simple question during a recent Bible study - how do I know I'm saved? - and it was so fundamental that it took me aback for a moment – because it’s not something that my church ever directly addressed, perhaps assuming it was well-understood already. But when I thought about it for a moment, I realized it’s a question with widely varying answers across the Christian faith. Since our Bible study group has been delving deeply into “what do we really believe,” it seemed like a really good question which deserves a solid answer. You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/what-is-salvation-anyway/
28:36
June 23, 2022
Relics
Relics
Faith isn't just carrying around someone else's bucket of old dusty relics; faith is doing the hard work of examining each one carefully to see which are worth keeping. You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/relics/ 
08:08
June 08, 2022
Who's Actually Grooming?
Who's Actually Grooming?
For Pride Month, I was wrong about LGBTQ grooming. I'm not proud of my particular Christian heritage: it's been revealed as unloving. But I am deeply proud of my Savior who challenged His culture in how He loved the unlovely, the outcast, the sinner, and the oppressed. You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/whos-actually-grooming/
06:04
June 05, 2022
To Be A Christian in Babylon
To Be A Christian in Babylon
Taking Native American land and life to secure European refugees the ability to worship God freely is deeply enshrined in the Christian Nationalism view of American history. But that seems to run counter to the nature and actions of God described throughout the Bible. You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/to-be-a-christian-in-babylon/
11:37
May 20, 2022
Further Up and Further In
Further Up and Further In
Perhaps the biggest surprise for me in this season of my life is that faith itself is not static. We're being called to go "further up and further in" - as God reveals more to us, our understanding of faith and doctrine must be free to expand and grow. You can also read this blog post at https://crucibleofthought.com/further-up-and-further-in/
09:40
May 16, 2022
On a Donkey, Not a War Horse
On a Donkey, Not a War Horse
It's Palm Sunday, and I've been thinking about what happened on that day when Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The symbolism was clear to many of the Jews who saw what happened, but it wasn't what they were expecting. Do we think like the Jews of Jesus' day, hoping that our King would ride into Jerusalem on a war horse instead of a humble donkey? You can also read this episode at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/on-a-donkey-not-a-war-horse/
11:39
April 22, 2022
The Women of Passover
The Women of Passover
Jesus seemed to go out of His way to challenge His culture's expectations about the role of women. A couple events on Passover weeks during His ministry caught my attention this week as we approach Easter. You can also read this blog post at https://crucibleofthought.com/the-women-of-passover/
04:04
April 13, 2022
Military-Speak
Military-Speak
We're so accustomed to living at DEFCON-1 in the spirit realm, constantly being on a wartime footing against demonic forces and a culture that's falling apart, against unbelievers and misguided fellow believers, that we fail to see the bad effects that it's having on our culture and our unity and our peace. But Christ already won the victory - so why are we demonizing each other in the name of making America a great Christian nation? You can also read this episode at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/military-speak/
16:19
April 04, 2022
Billions and Billions Served
Billions and Billions Served
It has occurred to me that most American Christians are just as much in love with a certain style of Christianity as they are with fast food, and for very similar reasons. It's fast, it's easy, it's cheap, and it requires no real personal involvement to get fed. But is it the right model? You can also read this episode at https://crucibleofthought.com/billions-and-billions-served/
15:30
March 29, 2022
Protect the Brand
Protect the Brand
One of the most fundamental characteristics of a company is its brand - its very corporate identity. Companies work really hard to protect their brand. It seems that the church is very similar. But when Christians respond to critiques with such tactics of "brand protection", they block the possibility of repentance, and risk speaking against correction brought by the Holy Spirit. You can also read this episode at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/protect-the-brand/
22:46
March 24, 2022
Exposed by Change
Exposed by Change
Perhaps the truest test of a relationship is what happens when one of the people changes. At some level, change is inevitable. Small changes and slow, steady changes are easy. But when the change is significant, it will stress a relationship. But change is also the best chance to learn and grow. You can also read this episode at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/exposed-by-change/
10:06
March 23, 2022
The Impractical Gospel
The Impractical Gospel
“They will know we are Christians by our love.” This line ends each verse of a popular Christian hymn from the 1960s. We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord And we pray that our unity will one day be restored And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love Yeah they’ll know we are Christians by our love Our love is important. But I'm beginning to see a pretty stark divide in how different groups believe love is best expressed. You can also read this episode at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/the-impractical-gospel/
08:56
March 23, 2022
State by State
State by State
Can 330 million Americans actually agree on anything? Did the Founders expect us to solve problems at a national level? Are those problems even solvable, or is our trust in a political solution misplaced? Read this as a post on the Crucible of Thought blog at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/state-by-state/
13:29
March 11, 2022
Works Of Faith
Works Of Faith
Deconstruction is causing a sharp reaction in church circles. It's as if faith has become a form of works. It's paradoxical that not being unquestioningly faithful to what we were taught reveals a works-like tendency, among those who otherwise believe in justification by faith and not works. In those circles, apparently one must be "faithful enough" to remain saved. You can also read this as a blog post at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/works-of-faith/
22:28
March 08, 2022
E Pluribus Unum
E Pluribus Unum
Our sense of individualism has become toxic, both politically and religiously. We organize ourselves into collective groups ever more strongly. And those groups actively oppose other groups that we perceive as infringing on our own collective's individuality. You can read this as a blog post at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/e-pluribus-unum/
17:08
March 04, 2022
Visiting a Black Church During Black History Month
Visiting a Black Church During Black History Month
On the final Sunday of Black History Month, I attended a local Black church. I learned something valuable about today as I heard about history. You can also read this as a blog post at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/visiting-a-black-church-during-black-history-month/
06:15
February 28, 2022
The Best-Qualified Candidate
The Best-Qualified Candidate
Sometimes, the best-qualified candidate isn't the best choice for a job. Actually, that's kind of an aphorism which serves my purpose, but isn't really what I mean to say. More precisely, sometimes the individual with the best technical qualifications isn't the best qualified candidate, because of non-technical qualifications. You can also read this episode at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/the-best-qualified-candidate/
08:04
February 26, 2022
Can Queer and Transgendered Persons Represent the Image of God?
Can Queer and Transgendered Persons Represent the Image of God?
How should we think about the current meteoric rise in gender-fluid thinking and self-expression in today’s culture? Can LGBTQ+ people represent the Imago Dei, the Image of God? It's a pressing question for the church. You can read this episode on CrucibleOfThought.com.
36:27
February 21, 2022
In Guns We Trust
In Guns We Trust
I ran across a fascinating image today. It's a picture of a wall-mounted gun cabinet disguised to look just like a rugged wooden cross, advertised as a great way to share your faith while simultaneously protecting yourself with those firearms. You can read this as a blog post at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/in-guns-we-trust
07:59
February 16, 2022
Let Us Agape One Another
Let Us Agape One Another
Today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I'm struck by two things: a peace that God has the entire world in His hands, even those who haven't heard about Jesus yet, and a determination that showing agape love to my immediate neighbors ought to be a primary focus. And I think Dr. King had a handle on how to show agape love. You can read this episode at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/let-us-agape-one-another/
08:29
January 17, 2022
Roller Coasters
Roller Coasters
Roller coasters are really popular entertainment in amusement parks. But when life itself becomes a roller coaster, how will my heart and mind and soul respond to the sudden ups and downs and shaking? Here are some thoughts on finding joy, not just fun. You can also read this episode at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/roller-coasters/
16:25
January 10, 2022
Doctrinal Humility
Doctrinal Humility
It's long intrigued me that many doctrinal positions are not universally held, and I started thinking about why we lock hard into clearly debatable positions. I think humans tend to latch onto an idea that comforts us, and then we build walls of doctrine around that idea. Let's explore that tendency. You can read this episode at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/doctrinal-humility/
14:32
January 03, 2022
Rabbis and Spiritual Fathers
Rabbis and Spiritual Fathers
As I've been thinking about the topic of spiritual sonship, and wondering about how to practically live it out, I realized that the Jewish model of rabbis and disciples had some wisdom to offer our Christian understanding. You can read this episode at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/rabbis-and-spiritual-fathers/
08:56
December 24, 2021
The One Ring of Political Power
The One Ring of Political Power
The parallels between today's America and 1930s Germany are striking. In "The Lord of the Rings" J.R.R. Tolkien describes The One Ring, a malevolant and active power which subverts and dominates anyone who wears it. I wonder if the recent pursuit of political power by the Evangelical church is akin to slipping on that ring. Read this at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/the-one-ring-of-political-power/
14:44
December 24, 2021
Exponential Christianity
Exponential Christianity
I've been thinking about how to make an impact on the world. I think we all want to affect our world. For most of us, it's what drives our choices, maybe not day-by-day but at least over time. Naturally I want to have a large impact as quickly as possible. But I've begun to wonder if my impatience itself is keeping me from truly having an impact. You can also read this episode here: https://www.crucibleofthought.com/exponential-christianity/
26:05
December 21, 2021
Cinderblocks of Faith
Cinderblocks of Faith
I've discovered that once you kick out some cinderblocks from a faulty foundation, many other previously-stable things tend to be disrupted as well. And maybe that’s not a bad thing. Read this episode at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/cinderblocks-of-faith/
17:33
December 10, 2021
Deconstruction or Repentance?
Deconstruction or Repentance?
What if your life mission was to walk the streets of your city, visiting the street corners next to each church, and to cry "Repent, for the kingdom is at hand" - and what if the ones you were calling to repent were the church people who were actually faithfully and diligently living out what they'd been taught were the religious commands from holy scriptures?  This ought to sound familiar. If you did that you'd be following Jesus' example. Read this episode at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/deconstruction-or-repentance/
19:37
November 23, 2021
Small Groups and Synagogues
Small Groups and Synagogues
Do small groups support Sunday services, or do Sunday services support small groups? That question is very relevant to the current concerns of many believers about American Christianity’s practices. To find an answer, it's instructive to consider the Jewish religious practices familiar to the New Testament authors. You can also read this episode on the Crucible of Thought blog. 
18:09
November 20, 2021
Let's Not Take Brandon to Church
Let's Not Take Brandon to Church
It's hard to imagine a more precise illustration of "the ends justify the means" - and a more ironic one - than a Christian reverting to very anti-Christian behavior in order to obtain or preserve political power for the church. Read this as a blog at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/lets-not-take-brandon-to-church/
20:07
November 17, 2021
What I Feared Did Happen - And That's Good
What I Feared Did Happen - And That's Good
There are many things I feared would happen if I questioned what I believed. And all those fears came to pass. But from the other side of it, I'm so glad it happened, because I am finding out how wrong I had been.
14:25
November 08, 2021
The Womb in the Wilderness
The Womb in the Wilderness
The wilderness can seem deeply uncomfortable - but it's also a womb, a place of preparation and growth, bringing about what the Lord intends for us. You can read this episode on the Crucible of Thought blog at https://www.crucibleofthought.com
07:42
November 07, 2021
Fear and Accusation
Fear and Accusation
Episode 6: "We cannot live in fear." It's been said over and over by pastors and prophets and pundits and politicians across America. And it's been said we're in a spiritual battle. Yes, it's a spiritual battle. But it's not a spiritual battle against COVID, and it's not against fear. And it's absolutely not against each other. 1 Corinthians 8 applies to this situation. (You can also read this as a blog post at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/fear-or-accusation/)
09:52
October 26, 2021
How I Learned Empathy
How I Learned Empathy
A number of evangelical personalities are now calling empathy a sin and advocating that sympathy is the only Scripturally-appropriate way to deal with other people's difficulties. Over the last couple years, the Lord has been reworking my heart to restore an ability to empathize, so I share that testimony and challenge this unscriptural position. (You can also read this as a blog post at https://www.crucibleofthought.com/how-i-learned-empathy/)
13:09
October 07, 2021
A Collective Identity
A Collective Identity
(Episode 4) With our individualist thought process, Americans seem prone to creating power structures where an individual is - or at least considers themselves to be - an absolute authority over a group. Any sense of accountability is often secondary to that sense of personal authority.  This American individualism applies to all walks of life - religious, civil, and family.  But much of the world - especially Asia and the Middle East - instead think about the group before thinking about individual rights. And I'm learning that's also true of the cultures into which the Bible was written and lived. As such, the Bible speaks to and teaches group ideals - where the group and its relationships are the focus, not the individual.  This has some intriguing consequences for my belief structures.
10:36
September 30, 2021
Safe Places and Untouchables
Safe Places and Untouchables
When the church does not provide a "safe place" for the hurting and confused, it effectively eliminates itself as a source of counsel and wisdom, not to mention a place of sanctuary and healing. But "safe places" and a shame-based discipline system are incompatible with each other. Read this episode here: https://www.crucibleofthought.com/safe-places-and-untouchables/
20:37
September 24, 2021
COVID Contradictions
COVID Contradictions
Episode 2. The COVID epidemic has clearly exposed a number of contradictions in the thought process and the actions of many American Christians. The very group that is the most vocal about stopping abortion, preventing euthanasia, and denying "my body, my choice" is also the group agitating the loudest against masking and vaccination and activity restrictions. Isaiah 1 has some strong words for God's people in the face of their failure to look out for the vulnerable among them.
06:03
September 19, 2021
Introduction to the Podcast
Introduction to the Podcast
Hi, I'm Brandon. A few months ago I started blogging on my website https://www.CrucibleOfThought.com, and had several requests to release the content in audio format as well. So here it is. I'd like to introduce myself briefly. I've been hanging around conservative Christian circles since I was five years old, and pretty much all of that in evangelical spaces. The last 30 years have been in an Assemblies of God church, but only loosely affiliated with the AG denomination. Mostly, we're a Charismatic full-gospel church that believes in the Bible as the sole authoritative word of God, and Jesus as the only way to be reconciled to the Father. I was a church worship leader for 15 years, and a lay leader in my church for 30 years, including marriage ministry, audiovisual ministry, deacon, and core leadership team. I've also been a devoted conservative Republican all my political life. I knew a few Democrats but never really understood them, and especially how a Christian could ever be a Democrat or a liberal. In early 2019, a major life event happened for me - I discovered how I was broken emotionally, and I spent a year in discipline away from most of my church leadership duties, and six months in counseling learning how I had been emotionally wounded by many aspects of my personal history. The Lord rearranged quite a few things in my soul and my mind, and I came into 2020 restored to my leadership positions, with a brand new awareness, and a new ability to empathize with those around me. Then, 2020 hit us all. A big part of 2020 was George Floyd's murder, and for the first time in my entire life, I truly understood how others were being affected by a political or social situation. My awareness upended my Republican viewpoint, as I was able to hear the cries saying "Black Lives Matter" from a very new perspective. I began to hear the stories of my Black friends and churchmates with new ears. Of course, COVID was another big part of 2020. Having spent nearly 30 years married to a nurse, and with an engineering and data analysis background, I approach understanding the epidemic from a very intellectual, science-based perspective. I tend to begin with the assumption that doctors and epidemiologists actually know what they're doing, and have our best interests in mind. I'm generally conservative, although I have a bit of a libertarian bent - I tend to favor small and hands-off government, especially in fiscal areas, but in the past I have historically taken political positions that favor conservative Christian moral positions. Recently, I have become rather discouraged by trends I see in evangelical churches, and I feel like the Lord is calling His people to repent of quite a few things that the American church has been doing over the decades, more out of habit and convenience than out of conviction. Many of the things you'll hear from me on this blog and podcast come from words I feel like the Lord is speaking to me about His people. I don't have much expectation that the non-Christian world will act Christian - but I do have a rather high expectation that the church should reflect the true values of its King. We should be light and salt to those around us, and lately I feel like even the world has begun to see what's wrong with the Church. When the world sees it, and begins to point it out, I think we need to pay close attention and seek the Lord whether we're missing something ourselves. So that's my background, and I hope it gives some context for the kinds of topics and positions I discuss on this blog. I'll talk to you again soon!
04:10
September 19, 2021