Disciple-Making Movements & the Contest w/ Islam in West Africa
An episode of The Theology Pugcast
By The Theology Pugcast
The Pugcast is produced by The Logos Center and features Dr. Thomas Price, Dr. Glenn Sunshine, and Pr. C. R. Wiley. The Pugcast is recorded at The Corner Pug--a well-known watering hole in tony West Hartford, Connecticut. (Hence the name, "pugcast"--also the reason there is so much background noise.) The show could be described as "3 over-educated Reformed guys riffing on philosophy, theology, and stuff that bugs them." Each episode they invite you to take a seat in their booth and listen in on their conversation.
Jokes about the uselessness of a liberal arts education are cliche--they also evidence the absence of a liberal arts education.
The whole point of a liberal arts education is the study of things that are good in themselves, not good as a means to enjoying something else. Arts of that sort are servile--they serve a higher good.
Today Chris introduces listeners to the book, Leisure the Basis of Culture by the late German philosopher Joseph Pieper.
Of course Tom and Glenn have a lot to add. The conversation gets into the parallel between Sabbath observance and leisure, social class and freedom, and many other matters.
Here's a link to the book on Amazon.
Today we welcome to the show a friend of Glenn Sunshine: Francis Jabba, Disciple Making Coordinator for New Harvest Global Ministries in 16 African countries.
Reports of the spectacular growth of Christianity in Africa are well known. What is less known is how it is happening. Glenn has visited Africa and has reported on the growth of the church in the book he co-wrote with Jerry Trousdale, The Kingdom Unleashed. In today's show the Pugcasters interview one of the leaders of this phenomenal movement. There were many remarkable things that they learned in the course of the interview--an important one being how Islam is growing in Africa through a combination of biological growth, conversion through marriage, business dealings with strings attached, and the building of mosques.
The show is a bit of a departure from the standard Pugcast fare--but that shouldn't surprise our listeners, the range of conversation on the show is pretty broad.
Here is a link to Glenn's book on Amazon.
If you would like to donate to this important work in West Africa here is the contact information: New Harvest Global Ministries, P.O. Box 681691, Franklin TN. 37068. New Harvest's website is www.newharvestglobal.org
If you want to give a donation for Francis’s building, put “Francis Jabba building fund” in the Memo.
In today's episode Tom asks the rhetorical question, "Who sets the agenda for the Christian faith?"
Winsome market-oriented church growth types demonstrate through their methods that they believe people should do that. But maybe people don't actually know what is in their best interests. Tom traces out how autonomy and "authenticity" have come to shape much of evangelicalism in our time. Chris notes that this is what underlies the call to be "relevant". Tom labels this "Humanistic Evangelicalism".
But isn't this a case of tail wags dog?
By contrast Tom describes something he calls "Evangelical Humanism" and he says this is what constitutes a good Christian anthropology.
Perhaps the most controversial character in all of Tolkien's writing is Tom Bombadil. People seem to either love him or hate him.
But regardless how you feel about him, most people can't figure out why he's even in the Lord of the Rings. What's the point of the man in the blue jacket and the yellow boots? Certainly Peter Jackson thought he was expendable. He isn't even in the film version of the story.
Was he inserted to make Tolkien's children happy? Was Tolkien providing a little filler to buy time because he was still working out the plot?
Chris thinks that Tolkien was up to far more than people give him credit for when it comes to Bombadil. Chris actually thinks that you don't really understand Tolkien, or the Lord of the Rings, until you receive Bombadil into your heart.
Listen in as Chris, Tom, and Glenn discuss the meaning of the mysterious Tom Bombadil!
Glenn introduces consumer-choice as a kind of worldview in today's show.
Consumer choice is a fine thing when it comes to fast-food and designer clothing, but where does it end? Should we get to choose everything? Is consumer choice the apogee of freedom, or in some paradoxical way its denial and a form of slavery?
Glenn dares to say that people shouldn't get to chose certain things--their family members for instance, or their religion. When it comes to the most important things we are choosers, we're receivers. And that entails an entirely different logic.
In today's show, Tom outlines the coup against theology in academe.
Believe it or not, once upon a time theology ran the show. We can still see that in the pomp and circumstance at many college graduations--the theology faculty lead the way, followed by philosophy, then the other disciplines. Here's another fact--those disciplines back in the day were actually branches of theology, working out theological truths within various branches of study.
Listen in as Tom, Glenn, and Chris talk about the demise of theology and its relegation to matters pertaining to the inner lives of religious people.
In some theologies it seems like God is so sovereign there is nothing left for anyone else to do. Secondary causation and creaturely agency appear to be defined right out of existence.
While this leaves people wondering about their agency, it also leaves angels with nothing to do.
So, in today's show Chris raises the question, what are angels for?
In the course of the conversation things gravitate toward the subject of the "principalities and powers" the Apostle Paul mentions in Ephesians and Chris recounts some disturbing personal experiences he's had with palpable evil, as well as one experience he had of a different nature when one of his parishioners lay dying in an Emergency Room because he had been cut open by a snow plow during a blizzard.
Glenn and Chris are joined once again by Dr. Ray Pennoyer, professor of philosophy.
Just because someone is wrong about one thing, doesn't mean he's wrong about everything. And just because someone is right about many things, doesn't mean he's right about everything.
Since the days of the Church Fathers Christians have had mixed feelings when it comes to Plato. It today's show Glenn returns to the theme of Platonism and what is indispensable in it. Perhaps we can even think about philosophical truth in the same way we think about truths that scientists discover concerning the workings of the physical world, philosophy may be able to tell us about immaterial structures and their workings--especially as they pertain to intrinsic meaning and the power of language to convey truth.
Glenn is joined by Chris and by special guest, Dr. Ray Pennoyer, professor of philosophy.
In today's show Tom raises the specter of propaganda--the form of communication seen in books like 1984 and totalitarian states, and increasingly the contemporary western world.
It was inevitable considering the fact that our elites no longer believe in metaphysics. Something must be said, but what if truth isn't an option? Propaganda is what you get in the name of truth. One of the thinkers that Tom refers to in the Jacques Ellul, the famous French thinker and aurhor of the book, Propaganda.
Glenn Sunshine is away on business, but Dr. Joseph Leake, Beowulf scholar and authority on Old English and Old Norse sits in for Glenn.
In today's show Chris introduces a subject that he's written a lot about: productive property.
Sometimes it is called "real property"--but whatever the name, we're not talking about your tooth brush here. Where talking about what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they limited the franchise to holders of property. They believed that productive property is essential for liberty.
It still is.
Chris is joined by Glenn and Tom for another wide-ranging discussion.
In today's episode Glenn introduces listeners to "transhumanism"--a philosophy and engineering project concerned with transcending the given limits of human nature. Transhumanists view the body solely as a machine, and the mind is somehow both dependent upon it, yet utterly distinct. (This should remind listeners a little of Descartes.) But what transhumanism actually is--for all its mechanistic notions--is just one more manifestation of the ancient hydra that has plagued western culture from the start: Gnosticism.
The Pugcast audience continues to grow--Glenn, Tom, and Chris are both pleased and a little surprised. They're grateful. Also, the show has a growing number of financial supporters on the FLF Network. Thanks are in order for those folks, too. If you would like to join this merry band and financially support The Theology Pugcast you can do so through the Fight, Laugh, Feast Network.
In today's episode Chris begins with a simple truth: since modern welfare states are not the Kingdom of God they will end someday. This leads to a discussion of disincentives for having children in welfare states and why that spells their demise in the long run. Naturally debt is used to keep the state going in the near term, but this only make the eventual collapse that much more devastating.
Since we can see evidence of the final failure of the welfare state all around it is a good idea to "short" the welfare state.
Whenever you short an asset you're betting that its value will go down. The bet allocates resources into assets that will go up in value in the event of the loss of value in the shorted asset. So, what should we invest ourselves in instead of the welfare state? Chris turns to the book of Ruth in the Old Testament for clues.
Sound quality continues to improve--the Pug has discovered the source of the mysterious background noise that plagued earlier podcasts and it has been addressed. We hope you can enjoy the show better now!
In today's episode Glenn discusses an important distinction that is lost on most people today--the difference between liberty and license. The Founding Fathers of the United States understood the difference, and they did their best to structure American government in order to preserve liberty and inhibit license. We've come a long way, baby.
Is there any hope for responsible freedom, or are we doomed to live in the Servile State, as the Distributists put it?
In today's show, Tom introduces listeners to the Barmen Declaration of 1934. He then helps listeners understand what genuine resistance to the Nazis looked like at the time, and how many German churches had been coopted by cultural trends.
In our ideological age, cut off from both nature and nature's God, totalitarianisms emerge to fill in the empty spaces in our heads and hearts. Classical Christian theism is what we need today, but most evangelicals don't know what that is.
Here's the wiki page for the Barmen Declaration--https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barmen_Declaration
Once again, the show is recorded on our new sound equipment! We're getting the hang of it.
Today's show begins with Chris's memories of three LGBT networks that existed in evangelical institutions. These are not hearsay stories, the people involved remain nameless, but Chris knew them personally. Most troubling was the way these networks recruited new members and initiated them. In each case theology was twisted to provide justification for what was occurring.
The stories provide a basis for considering what is known as the "Lavender Mafia" in the Roman Catholic Church. For those unfamiliar with the term, "Lavender Mafia" is the name used by socially conservative Roman Catholics for a network of homosexual priests that many people believe exists in the Roman Catholic Church.
Chris then wonders aloud, "Is it unreasonable to suspect that something similar may exist in some places among evangelical clergy?"
This is a free-ranging discussion that includes reflections on some of the theological trends within evangelicalism and how those trends may serve these networks.
As a bonus--this show is the first one recorded on the new recording equipment. The guys are still learning how to use it, so hopefully the sound quality will improve with each episode going forward.
Chris is in Dallas, and Glenn is on the road, and Tom feels too lonely to record a show. So, we dig into Chris's personal vault of recorded stuff this week for a conversation with Aaron Renn, publisher of the Masculinist.
Chris and Aaron are joined by David Talcott, professor of philosophy at King's College in New York City, Sam Perez, a pastor in Jersey City, and Nate Towers of Fellowship Deaconry.
This is a free-range conversation about men, masculinity, the church, women, Jason Peterson, and a host of other things. Enjoy!
The Pugcast guys will be back next week.
In today's show Glenn provides an introduction to Protestant Resistance Theory. You may have wondered, are Christians the doormats of human history? Do we always turn the other cheek? Do you ever run out of cheeks? Is punching back ever justified, not just in self-defense, but in armed resistance against tyranny?
Well, you're not the first person to wonder. Glenn provides an overview of how Christians in general, and Protestants in particular, have come to say, "Enough! Now I'm fighting back!"
Naturally, Tom and Chris have things to share--and you may have guessed, they agree that there is a time to fight back.
In today's show Chris introduces listeners to two of his favorite writers--Matthew Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft, and Eric Hoffer, author of The True Believer. Both men could be described as "blue collar intellectuals" because they actually are (or were) blue collar men. Crawford is a motorcycle mechanic and Hoffer was a stevedore (a dockworker). But even though they're blue collar, their thinking is first class, not low class.
Chris has been a blue collar guy over the years--having actually been a carpenter and a home improvement contractor. Chris uses his experience and the writing of these authors to raise the question, "Is one of the reasons that academe is so crazy these days because most academics have no real acquaintance with working with the physical world?" Tom and Glenn chime in with excellent commentary as usual.
Unfortunately the guys don't know how to use their new recording equipment yet--so the sound quality is not what it will soon be. Nonetheless, here is some very worthwhile content for anyone who'd like to know what it means to be a blue collar intellectual.
In today's show Tom returns to the theme on technology but this time with an eye toward responding to Glenn's thoughts on enchantment. Is it possible to have the best of both--or must we choose between a world of creature comforts made possible by technology, or an uncomfortable but meaningful world? Fittingly, the guys had to choose between air-conditioning and optimal conditions for recording the show. (Sounds like the wrong choice was made--when you listen to the show you'll know what that means. Sorry.)
But there is some good news to share: this is our last episode with our old recording equipment. When the show was recorded the new equipment had been ordered. By the time the show was uploaded on the internet--the equipment had arrived! So, if all goes well, you'll never have to endure another poorly recored episode of The Pug!)
Content correction: Chris calls "the Death Star" from Star Wars "the Battle Star" (Heresy! He mixed up his franchises)--but at least he got the Marshwiggle's name from The Silver Chair right. It's "Puddleglum".
In today's show Glenn begins with a marvelous series of word studies ranging all the way from "enchantment" to "cosmology". His point is that our language is full of words that reflect a time when the world was full of meaning and words were spells that drew on those meanings. Undoubtedly, the very fact that we've lost the original meanings of words like "spell" and "magic" just reinforces the point that we now live in a disenchanted world.
Or do we? Tom points out in the conversation that what we actually have now is black magic. Our words now bend and twist things as we seek to dominate our world and other people. We've lost the "good magic" of Aslan and all we're left with is the "black magic" of the White Witch.
In today's episode Elizabeth Sunshine joins us again. We also inform listeners about exciting developments related to the Pugcast and it's future with the Fight, Laugh, Feast Network!
In today's show Chris raises the subject of C. S. Lewis and metaphysics. The evidence is overwhelming that C. S. Lewis was a Platonist--there are passages throughout his fiction in particular that demonstrate it. Tom and Glenn note that it shouldn't surprise us since Lewis was steeped in the classical sources, as well as Medieval and Renaissance works--think of Augustine, or Boethius--both fountainheads for the West, and both explicitly Platonist. There is an allergic reaction to Platonism is some Reformed circles today, and this is odd for no other reason than Calvin himself provides plenty of evidence in his work that he was shaped by Platonism. So today's episode may challenge the presuppositions of some listeners. Joining the Pugcast guys today is Glenn's daughter, Elizabeth, a doctoral candidate at Notre Dame.
Tom continues his reflection on the theological implications of technology. Are there any lines here? If it can be done, must it be done? What happened at Babel? And what about Cain's sons? They're identified in the Bible as the fathers of the arts. As usual, Glenn and Chris join in and try to throw Tom an occasional curveball to see if he can hit it. (He always does.) Plus a couple of announcements are mentioned in today's show. The Kickstarter has successfully ended and the crew are waiting for the funds to be distributed so that new recording equipment can be purchased. And on top of that, The Pugcast is joining the FLF Podcast Network in June! (FLF stands for: Fight, Laugh, Feast.) This should dramatically increase our listening audience.
The best kept secrets are the ones that you are keep from yourself. In today's show Glenn shares his thoughts on evangelical secularism--in other words, there are assumptions and biases that many evangelicals have that actually have their origins in a secular outlook. The paradox of this state of mind is evangelicals can unwittingly undermine the Christian faith even as they seek to promote it. Chris and Tom add their thoughts. And as a bonus--the show is recorded in a back room of The Corner Pug, making a marked improvement in the sound. Once the new recording equipment arrives the audio quality should be even better.
In today's show Chris introduces two virtues that he has written about elsewhere--pietas and gravitas. These virtues are at one and the same time alien to the contemporary world, yet longed for. What's more, there is a sense of recognition when people see them in practice, yet because we've lost the old ways of thinking about them and speaking about them, we no longer know how to promote them. This show is a small attempt to change that. As always, Glenn and Tom enrich the conversation. Although it isn't mentioned in the podcast, the Pugcast team is pleased to announce that we will be joining the CrossPolitic network of podcasts beginning on June of 2019!
In today's show Tom introduces the subject of technology and its uses and abuses. While technology is an expression of God's image in human beings, it also can be used to deconstruct that image--or at least deface it in some way. So, do we use technology to shape the world, or does technology shape us--or is it both? Glenn and Chris join in, reflecting on the "cultural mandate", the Fall, the Tower of Babel, and more!
In this episode Glenn Sunshine shares his memories of Notre Dame from his time in Paris, as well as his thoughts on the art of interpreting the meaning embedded in the structure of a cathedral. Following the recent fire at Notre Dame there were disturbing remarks by some Protestants and secularists dismissing the significance and meaning of church buildings. (This is not a coincidence.) In today's show Tom and Chris add their "Amen" to Glenn's assertion that cathedrals matter. The title of today's show is a play on the verse drama, Murder in the Cathedral by T. S. Elliot.
Today the guys get into a little literary criticism as they discuss an article that Chris wrote for Touchstone Magazine years ago comparing C. S. Lewis and H. P Lovecraft. Most listeners to The Theology Pugcast are likely to be familiar with C. S. Lewis and his fiction--particularly the Chronicles of Narnia and the space trilogy. Fewer are likely to know about Lovecraft and his Cthulhu mythos, nevertheless it is hard to miss Lovecraft's influence on popular culture which can be felt in everything from a film like Alien to the writing of Stephen King. It is Chris's belief that Lewis may have even read Lovecraft for himself (they were near contemporaries and Lewis not only read for pulp magazines, he wrote for them.) This may seem like a far country from recent discussions on the podcast, but as Chris, Tom, and Glenn talk, you'll see that it is not. Just a couple of corrections, first, Chris erroneously refers to Ark House as the posthumous publisher of Lovecraft's stories--the correct name is Arkham House. (Chris knew that, but you know it goes--aging and all.) And in response to Glenn's question concerning the founders of Arkham House, the publishers were: August Derleth and Donald Wandrei. Here's a link to the article at Touchstone: https://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=26-01-038-f
In our time of campus speech codes and hectoring for "misgendering" someone, it is tempting to downplay the fact that you really can do harm with your speech. Two of the Ten Commandments prohibit forms of speech--blasphemy and false witness. A case could be made that those are the same thing--just applied to God and man respectively. Today Tom Price shares his reflections on another essay by his mentor at Oxford. Here's the link to our Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1325148724/the-theology-pugcast
Today Glenn shares some of his reflections on how the image of God is reflected in creation by the respective roles of men and women. Using the pattern of "forming and filling" from Genesis chapter one, Glenn notes that these correspond to the respective tasks of men and women as God's regents. Naturally this leads to a wide-ranging discussion as Tom and Chris comment on Glenn's thoughts. As an added bonus, the Kickstarter campaign for new sound equipment has begun. Follow this link to learn more and to contribute to the cause: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1325148724/the-theology-pugcast
In today's show C. R Wiley raises the question, "Can Christians be Pragmatists?" Quotations from William James and Richard Rorty, two of the 20th centuries greatest pragmatists, show how pragmatism is hostile to the classical Christian understanding of the relationship between words and the world. Words are tools for pragmatists, not windows--they create meaning and can be used to manipulate people. (No wonder people are offended by pronouns! Welcome to Babel.) The problem is most of the popular figures in the evangelical world today are pragmatists.
Today Tom Price shares an article by the English theologian Oliver O'Donovan entitled, The Natural Ethic. The discussion gets into late medieval developments in philosophy--specifically voluntarism and nominalism. Glenn raises some historical qualifications, but all are agreed that we live in a time when things are falling apart because we've lost the ability to see meaning in nature.
In today's show, Glenn analyzes the phenomenon of transgenderism and its meteoric rise to cause celebre'. Using "cultural marxism" to understand the phenomenon Glenn discusses both its appeal and its use of intimidation to force normalization. Tom looks at the phenomenon through the lens of the relationship of the transcendent God with his creation--particularly as that doctrine has been misconstrued by modernity, and Chris shares some anecdotes and his own nascent perspective that transgenderism is one more way that the world is at war with the Logos of God.
Chris gives an overview of the newsletter The Masculinist, and its creator Aaron Renn. Then he introduces the controversial claim made in the latest edition that "Complementarianism" (the belief that men and women have different roles in the household and the church but not in wider society) is doomed. Glen and Tom ask for a better account of complementarianism, but all three agree that version of "thin biblicism" is going to die. They do not think egalitarianism offers anything as an alternative. So what's next? They agree, the Church needs to recover its old metaphysic, and then the Christian doctrine of creation will come back.
In today's show, Dr. Thomas Price shares an article written by his old mentor at Oxford, Dr. John Webster. The article is entitled: "Love is Also a Lover of Life: creatio ex nihilo and Creaturely Goodness." After Tom explains the importance of transcendence and the doctrine of creation from nothing, then Chris, Glenn, and Tom venture to "comb out" the implications for worldview, ethics, salvation, and the place of the church in the world.
Dr. Glenn Sunshine speaks with Dr. Thomas Price and C. R. Wiley about his recent article at BreakPoint entitled: An Emerging Worldview." Although none of the Theology Pugcast team like the term "Cultural Marxism," it is useful for understanding at least one aspect of this phenomenon.