Why Do You Need to Learn to Pray?
Another potentially controversial subject -- especially given Presbyterians' tradition of kvetching (and more) about prayer books -- but once more co-hosts, Korey Maas (Lutheran), Miles Smith (Anglican), and D. G. Hart (Presbyterian) avoid conflict. It's a shame. This recording's subject is the degree to which confessional Protestants rely upon read or formal prayers, how that affects occasions (like men's Bible study) when spontaneous prayer may be in order, and the effects on devotion in the home. Why did Jesus teach his followers to pray and what does that instruction imply for distinguishing better from worse ways of addressing God? Through it all in the subtext is the question of the sort of piety and even temperament that gravitates to either formal or extemporaneous prayers. Listeners can be grateful that all the interlocutors favor congregational singing that relies on written verse instead of spontaneous (even if holy) utterance.
May 24, 2022
Christians on social media got a lot of mileage out of typing "He is risen!" on a specific Sunday in April. Some Presbyterians wondered about all the hub bub since during the week leading up to Easter Sunday, Jesus was was risen on each and every day. This episode brings co-hosts, Korey Maas (Lutheran), Miles Smith (Anglican), and D. G. Hart (Presbyterian), together to talk about Easter, the liturgical calendar, and what it means or doesn't mean to them. The hope was for interlocutors to take off the gloves and show their sectarian sides. But all remained calm and collected. Too bad, since the question of following the church calendar in relation to being a confessional Protestant may be significant in understanding shades of Protestantism. This episode's sponsor -- too little too late -- was Armbrust USA-Made Surgical Masks, which come in six different shades.
April 28, 2022
How to Start a Protestant Magazine
The short answer is: go back to the early days of First Things and convince its founding editor, Richard John Neuhaus, not to convert to Roman Catholicism. Short of that, co-hosts, Korey Maas (Lutheran), Miles Smith (Anglican), and D. G. Hart (Presbyterian) consider why Roman Catholics have so many magazines and Protestants are limited to Christian Century, Christianity Today, and World Magazine (which is in a long winded way the successor to J. Gresham Machen's Presbyterian Guardian). The reason for asking is the recent founding of yet another Roman Catholic publication, Compact. It now joins the ranks of Crisis, National Review, American Affairs, Public Discourse, and The Lamp (among others). All of these are outlets for American conservatism as well as forums for frustrations with the liberal aspects of such conservatism. For anyone curious about the Roman Catholic presence in, if not creation of American conservatism, have we got a book for you. By the way, Roman Catholics also have America (a Jesuit magazine) and Commonweal (run by the laity) which produce thoughtful articles and reviews on church and society and more. So why can't Protestants match Roman Catholics? Sometimes confessional Protestants have produced publications, such as the Reformed Journal and Cresset. Evangelicals even tried a book review, Books & Culture. But in general, Roman Catholics seem to outperform Protestants in serious publications. (Sometimes, all confessional Presbyterians can muster is the Nicotine Theological Journal, a glorified newsletter.) Listeners beware: the reasons available in this episode are messy and not always satisfying. This episode's sponsor is New Balance's The 574.
April 05, 2022
Why Not a Paleo-Protestant Story Hour Instead of a Drag Queen Story Hour?
This conversation took place before Spring Break. Listeners will decide how well it aged. The question before the co-hosts, Korey Maas (Lutheran), Miles Smith (Anglican), and D. G. Hart (Presbyterian), was whether Confessional Protestants have any stake in either a David-French-like defense of Drag Queen Story Hour or a Sohrab Ahmari denunciation of such public events as the inevitable result of political liberalism. In other words, what alternatives do Protestants have other than integralism (Ahmari) or evangelical niceness (French)? Spoiler alert: Protestants do have alternatives but identifying what they are precisely may require a semester rather than a pudcast. Listeners may follow some of the co-hosts on Twitter @IVMiles and @oldlife. This recording was sponsored by the Library of America, volume 19, Edgar Allan Poe: Poetry and Tales. (Thanks again to friends in the podcasting world for assistance with production.)
March 21, 2022
Which Confessional Protestants are Hot?
In this recording Korey Maas (Lutheran), Miles Smith (Anglican), and D. G. Hart (Presbyterian) take the temperature of confessional Protestants. The notion of a "hot" Protestant has less to do with sexual appeal than with intense piety. Michael Winship's book on the Puritans uses "hot" to describe those English Protestants who were eager to carry out the reformation in the Church of England as well as in the lives, families, and vocations of believers. A similar tendency was evident in the most zealous of Scottish Protestants who wanted Presbyterian rather than episcopal government in the Church of Scotland. That historical record suggests that Presbyterians are more prone to run a fever, which is ironic since for much of the twentieth century Presbyterians had the reputation of being "God's frozen chosen." Hotness is not peculiar to Presbyterianism, though. Lutherans have had their challenges with Pietists, another set of Protestants who challenged the official and seemingly cold versions of Lutheranism. Meanwhile, Anglicans have always had to decide whether the metric of high church or low church is inversely proportional to the heat of Anglican piety. Low church Anglicans have often favored hotter forms of devotion and in the twentieth century that preference veered into charismatic expressions of piety. Lots of discussion in this episode. Listeners will have to judge the degree of heat or light.
February 24, 2022
If the Options are either Liberalism or Constantinianism
The regular interlocuters, Korey Maas (Lutheran), Miles Smith (Anglican), and D. G. Hart (Presbyterian), finally get to politics -- church life can only hold your attention for so long. The reason for the shift in discussion is the larger critique that Roman Catholics and Protestants are making against political liberalism (short hand for representative government, constitutionalism, separation of powers, civil and religious liberty). (For an evangelical -- largely squishy -- take on the matter, see this.) These criticisms raise a larger question about the confessional Protestant churches that emerged with the Reformation. Since they depended on the civil magistrate -- we call it the "magisterial" Reformation, after all -- are confessional Protestants ill served by a liberal political order? Listeners will hear about the different approaches among the three confessional churches in conversation and may even be tempted to ponder the effects of the American political and cultural environment on confessional Protestant churches. Trigger warning: find something to bite to preserve your nails.
January 19, 2022
The Point of Christmas is Not that It Was Cold
It is likely obvious by now that Korey Maas (Lutheran), Miles Smith (Anglican), and D. G. Hart (Presbyterian) together are not as funny as Lutheran Satire (Dr. Maas on his own may manifest the Lutheran spiritual gift). That is a backhanded way of saying that this episode's discussion of Christmas, Advent, and December congregational singing is not nearly as pointed or as amusing as Martin Luther Yelling about Inferior Anglican Christmas Hymns. (This episode's title comes from Luther's yelling on that video.) But the interlocutors do lay out some of the differences among Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Anglicans over the liturgical calendar and the songs that accompany them. We do even bring up whether German hymnody receives less attention thanks to the demands of English as the native tongue for confessional Protestants in North America. Bonus content: Dr. Maas and Dr. Smith preached on the same Sunday in Advent from similar texts in the Lectionary. They compare notes. Dr. Hart is shocked. Bonus bonus content: bumper music.
December 20, 2021
Come to Jesus (How Someone becomes Paleo-Protestant)
Korey Maas (Lutheran), Miles Smith (Anglican), and D. G. Hart (Presbyterian) do their impersonations of evangelicals and give their testimonies in this episode. That's a way of saying they describe the biographical route by which they came to Lutheran, Anglican, and Presbyterian churches, respectively. Spoiler alert: theology is important (even for Anglicans). Related: education and catechesis are also important. What may be surprising is the influence that Francis Schaeffer had on three American Protestants, in different communions, who became adults in different decades, while living and pursuing academic degrees in different regions of the United States. A question unanswered is the degree to which these stories are characteristic of cis-gender men or whether they might also apply to women.
November 23, 2021
Putting the Confession in Confessional Protestant
Korey Maas (Lutheran), Miles Smith (Anglican), and D. G. Hart (Presbyterian) return to talk about the way that our different communions use and rely on our confessions (Book of Concord, Thirty-Nine Articles, and the Westminster Standards). We even go into the weeds of subscription, a topic that Presbyterians may have thought they owned but is also relevant to Lutherans. These men even talked about revisions to confessions and whether that undermines the status of the original confessions. Don't be surprised by the relative reticence of our Anglican interlocutor since the Church of England and its subsidiaries has shown greater attention to adhering to the Book of Common Prayer than to the (highly Calvinistic) Thirty-Nine Articles.
October 21, 2021
The Oddities of Confessional Protestant Worship
What makes Lutheran worship different from Anglican or Presbyterian forms? Would your average Anglican miss the hymns in an Anglican service? Why do Presbyterian services give so much time to the sermon? These were among several of the topics discussed in this recording with Korey Maas (Lutheran), Miles Smith (Anglican), and D. G. Hart (Presbyterian). Spoiler alert: contemporary Protestants struggle with worship devices such as a prayer book.
September 22, 2021
Can Mark Driscoll Happen Here?
Yes, that's a bit of a tease (maybe more) but it may be the best way to encourage people to listen to a conversation about church polity. Anglicans, Lutherans, and Presbyterians have many differences in theology and worship and these are likely the easiest to identify. But when it comes to the structures of government that bind and unify each of these confessional Protestant communions, awareness likely diminishes. In this recording Korey Maas (Lutheran), Miles Smith (Anglican), and D. G. Hart (Presbyterian) talk about the structures and procedures that the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, the Anglican Church in North America, and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church use to regulate church life. They also discuss the degree to which church government is part of a Lutheran, Anglican, and Presbyterian identity. Spoiler alert: Presbyterians put church government into their very own denominational label, and yet members of Presbyterian churches often do not know the basics of their own communion's government. Why Presbyterians have been so particular historically about church polity and what it means for the health of Presbyterianism that many church members are unaware of ecclesiastical government lurk in the background of this session. Spooky. So does Mark Driscoll who it turns out decided not to become ordained by an existing church but chose to start his own (along with a larger network of churches). Which leaves two questions: does church government scare American Protestant entrepreneurs away (it is a self-selecting mechanism)? If Driscoll had been ordained in a confessional Protestant church, could one of those bodies have saved him from himself?
August 24, 2021
Rodney Dangerfields All
Confessional Protestants are again NOT in the news thanks in part to a new survey that breaks the white Protestant world in the U.S. down into either evangelical or mainline Protestant camps. Korey Maas, Miles Smith, and D. G. Hart (aka Bob Dole) aimed at using the recent headlines surrounding those survey results to consider what the Protestant equivalent would be to the Roman Catholic intellectual landscape that Ross Douthat outlined in First Things. As it turned out, discussion of the value, plausibility, and deficiency of evangelical as descriptor took more time than planned. But the creation of the so-called evangelical mind, it could well be, is responsible for a failure to recognize the contributions of confessional Protestants. Equally plausible is the possibility that confessional Protestants themselves have lost touch with the intellectual tradition (authors, curricula, academic disciplines) that were the backdrop for the scholars and pastors who produced the Protestant confessions. In which case, if Roman Catholics present a thicker intellectual tradition than Protestants, the reason could be that their institutions have kept their intellectual traditions alive better than Protestants who may have been tempted to throw their intellectual energies into the evangelical mind. Along the way the interlocutors referred to Miles Smith's recent essay on evangelical elites and to the range of Christian writers and scholars that Ken Myers hosts on the Mars Hill Audio Journal.
July 23, 2021
Church History and Protestant Identity
The stories we tell about ourselves, our nations, and our communions matter for how we understand ourselves. Whether church history should matter as much as it does to Anglican, Lutheran, or Presbyterian identity, the origins, controversies, splits, and turning points in a communion's history matter for how church members understand themselves in relation to a Christian tradition and its ecclesiastical embodiment. It doesn't make a lot of sense, for instance, for Anglicans and Lutherans to see themselves as part of the Second Not So Great Awakening since perfectionism, holiness, and Arminianism characterized those revivals. But when it comes to the First Pretty Good Awakening, the presence of an Anglican priest (George Whitefield) and a one-time Presbyterian (Jonathan Edwards) may tempt Anglicans and Presbyterians in different degrees to identify with that time of religious fervor (and with the later evangelical movement). This episode was the occasion for Korey Maas, Miles Smith, and D. G. Hart (aka Bob Dole) to talk about the status of the history of Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and Presbyterianism (and help Dr. Smith get ready for this course). They took the temperature of the appeal of church history to the laity and church members in their communions. They also discussed the challenge of telling a denomination's history in relation to the history of nation-states (why do American historians get to confine their inquiry almost solely to the geographic borders of the United States while Europeanists have to juggle all the pieces of Western Christianity and the big and small nations of Europe?). They also referred to Christian nationalism in places like France and Spain (which are topics on another podcast about Religious Nationalism). The talkers also talk about the larger-than-life presence of Lutherans (Jaroslav Pelikan, Lewis Spitz, Marty Marty, Sydney Ahlstrom) in the field of church history a generation or two ago? Does that mean that Lutherans have a greater historical awareness than Presbyterians and Anglicans? If that question doesn't encourage you to listen, what will?
June 29, 2021
The Laity and Holy Office (read ordination)
In this recording, the Anglican (Miles Smith), the Lutheran (Korey Maas), and the Presbyterian (D. G. Hart), each a white Protestant man in case you did not notice, talk about pressures among confessional Protestants to open ordination beyond historic limits. It is another way of asking where the lines are between the tasks reserved for those ordained and what lay people (men or women) may legitimately do in "ministry." If every member is a minister, according to the logic of "every member ministry," does ordination mean anything? This conversation is adjacent to the one that Chortles Weakly and Wresbyterian had with Hans Fiene about women's ordination. We also mention Pastor Fiene's Twitter thread about horse bleep and bull bleep surrounding the hermeneutics of male ordination in the Pastoral Epistles. The subject of ministry turns out to be squishy and that lack of solidity is especially evident in Lutheran designations of parochial school teachers as "ministers," a designation that tried even the justices of the Supreme Court's sagacity.
May 28, 2021
God May Not Slumber Or Sleep But Do Confessional Protestants?
Scientists tell us that people ideally go through 4 to 5 90-minute cycles of sleep, that run from wake to light sleep to deep sleep to REM before repeating the process. Church historians may be tempted to conclude that confessional Protestants go through similar cycles when it comes to social reform and political activism. In the nineteenth century, for instance, Lutherans and Episcopalians in the U.S. avoided splits over the sectional crisis unlike other Protestants. One reason was that they were reluctant, whether owing to theology or formal structures, to issue formal declarations about politics. (Presbyterians, inherently pushy and opinionated, divided into four communions.) This episode takes the temperature of Anglicans, Lutherans, and Presbyterians on matters woke. What kind of statements have these communions issued, do generational differences characterize the membership and clergy, and which particular headlines generate the most concern among the faithful? Spoiler alert: no one on the recording, Korey Maas, Miles Smith, or D.G. Hart, adopt the mantle of John Knox.
April 30, 2021
Holy Time, Holy Cow!
For many confessional Protestants, this week is the big one, the Holy One. Which leads to questions about ways Presbyterians, Anglicans, and Lutherans mark time. Which days are holy, which seasons does the church follow, and to what degree does a liturgical calendar divide or separate Protestants who trace their roots to the sixteenth century? Without surprise, Lutherans and Anglicans follow the church calendar more than Presbyterians and may vary in their reasons for observance. But Reformed Protestants designate some days as holy and may even elevate the week as a way of marking time over the rotation of the earth around the sun. All this and maybe a little more on the latest recording of paleo-Protestants talking.
April 01, 2021
Round Three: Hot Protestants, Cold Presbyterians
The three part series of comparing and contrasting confessional Protestant churches in the U.S. comes to a close with Presbyterians this time. Younger listeners may have a hard time understanding that during the two decades after World War II, Presbyterianism was in the sweet spot of American identity. Of course, that did not extend to conservative communions like the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. But with POTUSes and movie stars lining up to commune in mainline Presbyterian congregations, you could readily find books like John A. Mackay's The Presbyterian Way of Life, which received this assessment from Kirkus Reviews: Having been steeped in the Presbyterian tradition of his native Scotland, Dr. Mackay knows and loves the Presbyterian Church. In this book he deals with the background of the Presbyterian Church in the life and work of Calvin and in the Westminster Confession. He characterizes Presbyterians as a ""theological- concerned people"", and illustrates this characterization by reference to the Presbyterian doctrines dealing with God, man and the church. He describes the organization of the Presbyterian Church, the features of its worship and its relation to the world order. While a staunch Presbyterian, Dr. Mackay is not a narrow one and in his closing chapter he outlines the part that Presbyterians have played and are playing in the ecumenical movement. Those who have had experience in interdenominational enterprises know that Presbyterians can always be counted upon for cooperation. One reason for this is that the denomination has raised up many men of the liberal and progressive spirit of John Mackay. Has Presbyterianism lost its way? Do Anglicans and Lutherans pay attention to Presbyterians? If so, as partners, a threat, or as whackos? All this and more in this recording. Introductions to the pudcast and the interlocutors are available here.
March 12, 2021
Round Two: Anglicans
The latest recording of three Protestant history professors talking shines the spotlight on Anglicanism with Dr. Miles Smith taking heat and receiving praise for his communion's contribution to confessional Protestantism. The conversation (with Dr. Korey Mass, the Lutheran, and Dr. D. G. Hart, the Presbyterian) began with recent news about Episcopalians' apologies for hosting evangelical celebrity pastor, Max Lucado, at the National Cathedral to preach. This item provided space for distinguishing Anglicans from Episcopalians. And that distinction in turn led to various questions about Anglican identity. Two recent books, mentioned at least, Gerald Bray's Anglicanism: A Reformed Catholic Tradition and Charles Erlandson's Orthodox Anglican Identity are valuable for answering those questions. Much of the discussion, though, revolved around the appeal of Anglicanism to evangelicals in contrast to the limits of such attraction among confessional Lutherans and Presbyterians. To borrow a line from H. L. Mencken, heave an egg down the hall of an evangelical institution in Wheaton, Illinois and you'll hit an Anglican. No one died.
February 26, 2021
Are Lutherans the Rodney Dangerfield of Confessional Protestantism?
Hard questions on this episode, such as why Lutherans, who have the most members, don't get more respect from other Protestants. This is the first of several episodes (God willing) on prestige and status among confessional Protestants, such as how do they rank, who has the the most appeal to evangelicals, and what do Presbyterians, Anglicans, and Lutherans know about the other communions? Still the same interlocutors, Korey Maas, Miles Smith (THE fourth), and D. G. Hart (introduced here). For youngsters who don't know Rodney Dangerfield, here you go.
February 11, 2021
Seminaries for Anglicans, Lutherans, and Presbyterians (or all the above)
If you want to serve in a confessional Protestant communion as a minister, where should you go to seminary? Related to this is the role that seminaries play in the life of a denomination. Lutherans have closer ties to their seminaries, Presbyterians are all over the place (even though the OPC and PCA depended on seminaries for their start), and Anglicans rely often on evangelical and mainline institutions. Then there is the question of the laity (and especially women) and where they receive formal theological education. This episode has ideas, maybe a few answers.
January 29, 2021
What is a Paleo-Protestant and What Does He Sound like?
Korey Maas teaches history at Hillsdale College. He also talks a lot about Lutheranism of the LCMS variety. Miles Smith teaches history at Hillsdale College. He writes about Anglicanism. D. G Hart teaches history at Hillsdale College. He talks about Presbyterians sometimes with other Presbyterians. Thanks to Chortles Weakly for technical assistance.
January 14, 2021