Tag Archives: Going Deeper with TGC

One Church Copes with the World Vision Aftermath

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World Vision—one of the largest charities in the United States—sent shockwaves throughout evangelical churches earlier this month by announcing that it would hire people who are in legally recognized same-sex marriages. Concerned evangelicals responded swiftly, and World Vision quickly assembled its board of directors to pray. Within about 24 hours of the policy change, World Vision rescinded it and apologized to the Christians whom it had offended.

WV2_colorThough the firestorm has now been over for weeks, the implications have not ended. World Vision has lost sponsorships. Some churches are now wary of the organization. And Bible-believing Christians around the country remain unsettled: if a respected organization like World Vision could consider and briefly embrace a policy that is so antithetical to Scripture, which other trusted parachurch organizations could be at risk for such a fall?

To help us navigate these questions and more, I spoke with Bob Bouwer, senior pastor of Faith Church in northwest Indiana. For much of the past decade, his church has closely partnered with World Vision in a number of ministry efforts out of which God has borne much fruit. In this interview, Bob shares his emotions at the height of the World Vision controversy, discusses whether that controversy has changed his church's relationship with the group, and counsels other Christians struggling with whether and how to move forward in partnering with World Vision.

He also has timely, practical help for believers and church leaders when it comes to responding to the immense challenge same-sex marriage presents for faithful churches: How do we gracefully yet truthfully minister to gays and lesbians and those struggling with same-sex attraction? What is the key to not caving in to the prevailing cultural view on this issue? Why is it impossible to separate the right view of same-sex marriage and the proclamation of the gospel? And are we prepared to suffer for holding to the biblical view?

To listen to this 20-minute interview, stream below, click this link to download the mp3, or subscribe to the Going Deeper with TGC podcast by visiting the iTunes Store.

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My Top 10 Theology Stories of 2013

The only thing I know about your reaction to this list of top 10 theology stories is that you won't agree. Maybe partially, but not entirely. And that's okay. None of us sees the full picture from God's perspective. In five years we may not be talking about any of these events and trends (see what I mean by reviewing my lists from 2008200920102011, and 2012). Actually, you've probably already forgotten a number of entries on this year's list!

Yet before we turn to 2014, it can be encouraging or at least instructive to take stock of the last 12 months. Perspective is a rare gift in our social media age. If you fasted from Twitter and Facebook this year or traveled overseas then you know what I mean. The controversies that consume so much time and energy in the United States suddenly appear petty or at least irrelevant to most of us. Certainly they don't hinder God, who has lots of practice working with and through sinners. "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? . . . He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision" (Psalm 2:1-4).

So consider my list an admittedly foolhardy attempt—written from the vantage point of an American who subscribes to The Gospel Coalition's confessional statement—to discern the most important theology stories 0f 2013. Consider it an opportunity to reflect on whether your priorities align with God's and a challenge to spread good news in a world that seeks peace but finds none apart from Jesus Christ.

If you'd like to go deeper into debating the significance of these stories, and track my greatest hits and misses from past lists, listen to this interview I recorded with Mark Mellinger.

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10. Does it matter who says it if it's good?

Historically the church has debated whether the validity of sacraments such as baptism and the Lord's Supper depend on the morality or orthodoxy of the one who administers them. The debate continues today in the case of preachers who achieve great ministry success despite consistently worrisome behavior. Does the authority of the Word depend on the character of the preacher? For that matter, how much do you actually know about your preacher's private life and whether he really believes what he says? Allegations of plagiarism against Mark Driscoll add new angles to these old debates. Now that he has admitted to inadequate citation, does that mistake invalidate the rest of his work? If he depended on a ghostwriter who said good and godly things, does that means the books should be condemned? No matter how you answer those questions, seriously consider the thoughtful responses to the problem of author platforms and our idolatry of successful ministry leaders.

9. Black and white, we're closer than ever—and just as far apart as always.

This year was bound to stir up emotions over race relations in America as we remembered the tumultuous events of 50 years ago in 1963. Indeed, George Zimmerman's acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin revealed that we cannot just move on from our past. Theological unity does not necessarily result in understanding of how life looks from opposite sides of the ethnic divide. At the same time, response to an ill-informed panel discussion on Reformed hip-hop revealed how much evangelicals agree on when it comes to contextualization. We may not agree on the causes of ethnic strife, but we seem to understand that no one speaks from a privileged place of neutrality.

beyonce-super-bowl8. Purity and modesty provoke backlash in a sex-saturated culture.

The year kicked off with a provocative halftime act from Beyoncé at the Super Bowl. Whether you saw power or bondage explains a lot about your views on purity and modesty in a culture that idolizes sex. Few Christians lined up to defend Miley Cyrus when she upped the ante in a MTV Video Music Awards performance that attracted just the kind of attention she desired. But many did weep over who she has become. Meanwhile, LifeWay announced they would relaunch their True Love Waits campaign on its 20th anniversary, even as such high-profile advocates as Joe Jonas confess that the rings did not inspire them to wait for marriage. Pop culture provided the backdrop for vigorous debates about why so few young adults who grow up in evangelical churches resist sexual temptation. Purity has become a loaded term in an age when so many Christians seek forgiveness and hope for wholeness after sin. And modesty has become a weapon in a culture that focuses more on women's provocative behavior than the men who expect and encourage it.

7. Should American foreign policy privilege Christians?

This year left little indication that U.S. foreign policy prioritizes religious freedom. Washington reached an agreement with Iran's leaders to curtail their nuclear ambitions, but American pastor Saeed Abedini remains imprisoned. After Western military aid assisted in toppling the government, Libya remains volatile. Witness the murder of American teacher Ronnie Smith, who had been inspired to serve by a John Piper sermon. Media attention has turned to Egyptian Copts, whose security has continued to decline since the United States withdrew support from former president Hosni Mubarak. President Obama's deliberation over whether to assist rebels in defeating Syrian ruler Bashar Assad provoked an unresolved debate among American Christians. If Syrian Christians support the regime, however despotic, and stand to suffer under whatever radical Muslim group takes its place, can we in good conscience support an American military strike? Or would the common good be best served in a scenario where the Christians endure particular hardship?

6. 'Gay' Christians speak out.

Active gays who deny biblical teaching on sexuality have long since spoken loudly and proudly about their lifestyle. But with few exceptions, celibate Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction had largely remained silent about their plight, in part because of fear and misunderstanding within the church. Yes, high-profile examples such as Rosaria Butterfield's train wreck conversion inspire us. Her story has a happy ending now that she is a mother and wife of a pastor. But what about Christians whose feelings never change? Their plight led in part to Exodus International shutting down and Alan Chambers apologizing for ex-gay ministry. Testimonies such as those featured on the new Living Out site speak to the struggle to walk with God in faith when no relief is in sight. Any hope of changing minds on homosexuality needs to privilege such voices as the rest of us learn to speak with empathy and understanding. The last 10 years of cultural shifts might have looked quite different if the church had invited these believers to speak out earlier.

Duck Dynasty5. Popular TV finds faith.

At the beginning of 2013 you may have never heard of Duck Dynasty. Now you can't avoid the Robertson clan. Maybe next year Jen Hatmaker will be the breakout star on HGTV. Or maybe Ed Young Jr. as he blends Christianity with a Kardashian flair for reality TV. If you'll watch it (and oblige their advertisers), TV networks will run it. And the demand right now for faith-themed programming is hot. Breakthrough miniseries hit The Bible guarantees many imitators. Doubtless many viewers only mildly familiar with Christianity can learn about God from the Robertsons. And millions who would never open a Bible watched its drama play out on their screens at home. But as we've learned from reality TV, editing makes all the difference. How does our view of God change when we don't see the full picture? When the Christian's home life is made for TV, and when God's Word is constrained by advertising demands, what do we miss? The most recent flare-up over Phil Robertson's comments on homosexuality reveals the peril for such Christians, no matter how high their ratings.

4. Culture warriors shift from offense to defense.

President Obama's re-election late last year ensured that the White House would continue to press the cause of gay marriage and deny the rights of religious institutions to conscientiously object to the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage act confirmed that Christians would need to shift strategies. No longer could we press on the offensive for traditional marriage. We would need to enact an defensive strategy to protect the integrity of our schools, hospitals, and businesses. Next year's Hobby Lobby decision will be another key test. Lest veteran believers see this shift as cultural retreat, new Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president Russell Moore argues that younger Christians activists might be even more theologically conservative than their elders. Indeed, this new strategy will in some way correct mistaken evangelical notions about what can be realistically accomplished through political means in a world that needs the gospel above all.

3. Wrath of God does not satisfy Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The doctrine of propitiation seen in passages such as 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Romans 3:25-26 has been debated by theologians for centuries. And the "satisfaction theory" of the atonement is often credited to 11th-century theologian Anselm. Perhaps its most popular expression today can be found in the modern hymn In Christ Alone by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty: "Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied." Concerned that the line promotes an errant "view that the cross is primarily about God's need to assuage God's anger," a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) hymnal committee asked to change the lyrics to say, "Till on that cross as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified." Once Getty and Townend rejected the edit and the Presbyterians dropped the hymn from consideration, outlets such as USA TodayThe Washington Post, and The Economist picked up on this debate that cuts to the core of the good news about Jesus. You don't often see such an important theological debate hit popular media, but hymns and praise songs do more than biblical commentaries to catechize Christians.

mark driscoll strange fire2. Strange Fire book, conference force evangelicals to pick sides.

We're living in perhaps the most dramatic global expansion of Christianity in history. Yet many evangelicals often have little idea about what Pentecostals and charismatics believe. Longtime charismatic critic John MacArthur's new book Strange Fire forces evangelicals off the fence and demands they pick a side: you either see this growth as the work of God or Satan. He contends that if you're cautiously open to the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, then you implicitly endorse common Pentecostal malpractices, such as the prosperity gospel. Already MacArthur has emboldened cessationist allies even as critics pick apart his biblical arguments. When self-described "charismatic with a seat belt" Mark Driscoll showed up uninvited at MacArthur's Strange Fire conference, social media documented this heavyweight clash in real time. That odd encounter produced more heat than light, but MacArthur's influence will ensure that none of us can remain agnostic to the purpose and practice of the charismatic gifts.

1. Pope Francis makes fast friends.

With Billy Graham nearing the end of his life, only one church leader can compel the world's attention. Pope Francis assumed leadership of the Roman Catholic Church under peculiar circumstances, and he has captivated attention ever since. It may not be surprising that Pope Francis was named Time magazine's person of the year when you consider that his competition included the aforementioned Bashar Assad and Miley Cyrus. But when you learn The Advocate, a gay magazine, also awarded him the same recognition, you start to wonder what the world sees in him. When he says "I am a sinner," do they see humble confession or tolerant surrender? When he says "proselytism is solemn nonsense," do they see careful differentiation between forced conversions and the gospel call to repentance and faith, or do they see an ally in the effort to privatize religion? When Time first congratulated Pope Francis as person of the year, the editors credited him for his "rejection of church dogma." But they failed to point to one church teaching he had rejected. Wishful thinking, perhaps?

The world will see what they want in the church, whether for good or ill. And evangelicals will rightly reject Pope Francis's claim to the keys, but we can't help watch how the world responds to him for lessons we can learn and implement. May the Lord give us compassionate, humble spirits and open a door for us to proclaim good news of salvation that comes by faith alone.

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Remember, if you want to learn more about why I included these theology stories and ranked them in this particular order, you can download my interview with Mark Mellinger.

Flight or Fright? How to Redeem Halloween

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Every year Halloween seems to grow in popularity. Bigger decorations, better candy, badder costumes. And every year Christians wonder how to handle this strange event that brings neighbors together over ghoulish scenes of death and unhealthy piles of chocolate. Should we steer death-defying teenagers toward Hell Houses to consider the eternal state of their souls? Should we lock ourselves in our living rooms with the lights turned off? Or should we embrace the fun and enjoy the company of neighbors who only emerge this one holiday each year? In short, do we flee from Halloween or seek to redeem the day?

Pumpkin-Cross-CarvedIn the latest Going Deeper with TGC podcast, Mark Mellinger and I talk with Timothy George, author of the recent article "The Gospel of Ghoul" and founding dean of Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. We discussed our culture's fascination with zombies and vampires and the meaning of All Saints Day. He also explained how we should we can "tweak the Devil" on Halloween. Listen to the whole discussion for his answer to questions of which Protestant reformer he'd want to dress up as and whether we speak too much, not enough, or just the right amount about hell.

As the podcast continues, The Gospel Project managing editor Trevin Wax talks with Afshin Ziafat, lead pastor of Providence Church in Frisco, Texas, about enduring trials and facing genuine persecution. He shares his testimony about how God bore him through trials while growing up in a Muslim home and standing with Jesus against his father.

You can stream the full podcast below, download the mp3, or subscribe to Going Deeper with TGC on iTunes or through your other mobile devices.

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To Ruin Sports, Idolize Them

MTV no longer plays music videos. The History Channel no longer discusses history. Before long ESPN may no longer show sports highlights. The so-called worldwide leader in sports will feature nothing but reports from courtrooms and press conferences. Former athletes will sit around tables and parse the latest PR spin for suspended, arrested, and otherwise disgraced players. And we'll wonder why we ever cared so much about the games that made them rich.

Yesterday Major League Baseball cited "social responsibility" while finally cracking down on the drug scandal that has enveloped the storied sport for much of the last two decades. Commissioner Bud Selig handed down severe suspensions for 13 players, chiefly New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez, who would miss the remainder of this season and all of the next. But the talking heads at SportsCenter chattered about more than the long fall of the aging ARod. They also wondered whether college football's best player would be suspended for his sophomore season. According to reports, brash Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel may have demanded payment for his autograph, an obvious no-no in supposedly amateur athletics. So yesterday was a big day in the world of sports journalism. And a horrible day for sports.

Writer and athlete Ted Kluck understands the consequences of treating a good thing like sports as an ultimate thing. Kluck, author of the new book Robert Griffin III: Athlete, Leader, Believer, is himself an intense competitor who wants his children to learn the best lessons of sports. But he also recognizes when he cares too much and needs to apologize to his children for not setting a godly example. Kluck joined Mark Mellinger and me for a special edition of Going Deeper with TGC, the podcast of The Gospel Coalition. We asked him why baseball decided now to crack down on this kind of cheating when athletes have always tried to gain illegal advantages over their opponents. We asked him how he would explain morality to athletes and announcers fumbling to explain what's wrong with breaking the rules. We also asked him why baseball punished one of its all-time greats when football celebrates drug-aided athletes as they deliver concussion-inducing blows on each other.

Listen to the complete 25-minute podcast to hear how Kluck would share the gospel with athletes such as Rodriguez and Manziel who have been worshiped by the same media and fans who now gloat over their disgrace. And hear how he answers his son during NFL games when he asks whether each player uses steroids.

Download the podcast or stream the audio below. And be sure to subscribe to our iTunes podcast for fresh daily content including interviews, sermons, lectures, and more.

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Out of the Rubble, Hope for Revival

Before long another natural or man-made disaster will dominate cable news. After the latest Moore we forget the last Joplin, after the latest Newtown we forget the last Aurora. Though we'll soon forget about those still suffering, we'll probably long remember the eruption of anger over attempts to reckon with disaster according to God's Word. But as the online debate continues, Christians in the Oklahoma City area will need both patient endurance to serve the homeless and also steadfast hope to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ amid the destruction.

In the latest edition of Going Deeper with TGC, Sam Storms talks with Mark Mellinger and me about the ongoing Moore recovery, ways Christians can still help, and his hope that out of the rubble will come spiritual revival. Storms, lead pastor for preaching and vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, discusses the twin truths we struggle to reconcile: alongside unimaginable grief and sorrow, we have unshakable confidence in God's goodness and sovereignty.

As Storms testifies through the story of an Acts 29 pastor who lost his home in the Moore tornado, such tragedies reveal where our faith is fixed. Only in the arms of our heavenly Father are we truly safe. Romans 8 is not just words. Storms asks that we join him in praying for his neighbors that they would say, "I have to have something more solid and stable to hang on to. I need the truth of who God is, and that no matter what comes sweeping down the plains, nothing is going to separate me from the love of God in Christ."

As the podcast continues, The Gospel Project managing editor Trevin Wax talks with Afshin Ziafat, lead pastor of Providence Church in Frisco, Texas, about being a faithful shepherd who leads by example. But as Ziafat explains, such faithful shepherding requires hard decisions, such as telling an elder he is not qualified to serve and telling a man he cannot remarry after divorcing his wife. As the podcast concludes, Mark and I talk about the dozens of interviews he recorded at TGC13 and the archive of conference talks recently released.

You can stream the full podcast below, download the mp3, or subscribe to Going Deeper with TGC on iTunes or through your other mobile devices.

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What Could Be More Practical and Loving than Studying the Bible?

We divide our energies and activities between doing and thinking. Some of us would rather think, and some of us would rather do. Some of us would rather study the Bible in our small groups and churches. Some of us would rather love one another, enjoy fellowship, and reach out to neighbors with the good news of Jesus Christ. Since we don't always understand how God has gifted others in different ways, we tend to judge one another for inclining in one direction or another. We blame those fat and lazy Christians for sitting around debating theology while the world falls apart. Or we blame those shallow and weak Christians for ignoring theology while the world falls apart.

Why do we seek to separate what God holds together? Without leading to action, knowledge merely puffs up. But if not based on knowledge, action dries up. That's why the most practical thing you can do to love God and your neighbor is study the Bible. Only there will you learn who God is, what he's done for us, and what he asks us to do in this world.

At the National Conference of The Gospel Coalition, starting one week from today in Orlando, we believe that serious action will follow serious biblical exposition of the Gospel of Luke. As Mark Mellinger and I discuss with TGC president Don Carson in the latest podcast, we trust that as thousands see how Jesus set his face toward the cross and resurrection that awaited him in Jerusalem, they will understand the centrality of this gospel in all things. And with this knowledge they can work out what it means to share that message in every culture, whether back at home or around the world. They will learn how to teach about the Son of God in Muslim contexts that reject him. They will be encouraged to withstand the judgment of bigotry on university campuses where Christians endure the intolerance of tolerance. And they will rejoice in the acts of God then and now with hopeful reports of the advance of the gospel around the world. Listen to the whole interview for Carson's perspective on the conference and all these issues that will be addressed next week in Orlando. With 300 seats still available, we hope to see you soon.

As the podcast continues, The Gospel Project managing editor Trevin Wax talks with Halim Suh, pastor of teaching and theology at The Austin Stone Community Church. They discuss the faltering faith of Abraham, through whom we can see that perfect faith sometimes wavers but still saves. We're not saved by the quality of our faith but the object of that faith. Then Mark and I conclude the podcast discussing how The Gospel Coalition National Conference aims to practically equip teachers in Orlando that they might return home and do likewise. To that end, TGC has teamed up with LifeWay to release a new study called The Gospel of Luke from the Outside In. Written by David Morlan, a Lucan scholar and Denver church planter, and edited by Carson, this 12-week group study will be on sale in Orlando. Below you can watch Carson preview the curriculum, which features his video teaching on Luke. You can also order the leader kit and member books. Using this study guide, we hope you'll see how Jesus loved the unknown, outcast, and hopeless—like you. 

You can stream the full podcast below, download the mp3, or subscribe to Going Deeper with TGC on iTunes or through your other mobile devices.

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Going Deeper with TGC, 4-1, with Don Carson 

Fight for Both Marriage and Religious Freedom

When gay marriage was unpopular a few short years ago, advocates appealed to tolerance and minority rights. But now that public opinion has shifted, supporters of gay marriage warn skeptics to get in line, or else. You can't blame Christians for wondering if the game has been rigged.

In a recent article for The Gospel Coalition, Greg Forster described the predicament facing Christians still contending for gay marriage. Following up, he argued that we need new methods in the fight for marriage. Even after writing two articles, Forster had a lot more to say about what these new methods might include. Mark Mellinger and I interviewed Forster about easy divorce, religious freedom, and glimmers of hope in a culture ravaged by the effects of broken marriages. And at a time when soaring support for gay marriage puts pressure on the Supreme Court to strike down bans across the nation, we look at the influence of television on shaping morality, for better and worse. You can hardly produce a television show today unless it features a sympathetic gay character. But how might our neighbors' attitudes change if we told stories of marriage in its gritty beauty, such as the relationship between Eric and Tami Taylor of fictional Dillon, Texas, in Friday Night Lights?

If we have learned anything from the last decade, we should know that electing the right politicians won't solve what ails marriage. We should have learned that lesson when Ronald Reagan backed no-fault divorce as governor of California in 1970. We believe humans flourish when they obey biblical morality, but we're not afraid of religious freedom. We're not fighting to get the civil order to exclusively reflect Christianity. Love for our neighbors compels us to pursue more than a moral majority of 51 percent to enforce the definition of marriage. We want our neighbors to know Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Forster helps us see the need for more sophisticated, faithful, long-term thinking about cultural change in light of the gospel.

As the podcast continues, The Gospel Project managing editor Trevin Wax talks with Halim Suh, pastor of teaching and theology at The Austin Stone Community Church. Suh has written two small-group studies on Genesis and covered the first five books of the Bible for The Gospel Project. As Suh explains, when you miss the beginning of the story, you're lost, no matter where you come in. He also discusses the two creation accounts of Genesis 1 and 2 and why we're tempted to divide God and relate to him in ways we individually prefer.

Wrapping up, Mark and I preview the upcoming National Conference of The Gospel Coalition, starting April 6 in Orlando. We discuss auxiliary events hosted by Reformed Theological Seminary, the conference Premiere Sponsor. When you register to join us in Orlando next month, you can watch these dinner panels of RTS professors on "Having Confidence in the Scriptures" and "Seeing Christ in the Old Testament."

You can stream the full podcast below, download the mp3, or subscribe to Going Deeper with TGC on iTunes or through your other mobile devices.

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Going Deeper with TGC, 3-22, with Greg Forster

Singleness Is Not a Curse

Almost every day, it seems, we read news of another daunting challenge to Christians who seek to love our neighbors by teaching and practicing a biblical view of marriage. Just this week, one of the most prominent ministers in the UK, Steve Chalke, announced his support for same-sex relationships. The European Court of Human Rights ruled against Christians seeking protection from being coerced to recognize the legitimacy of same-sex relationships in their work. And American evangelicals continue to debate how to respond after Louie Giglio became the target of criticism from gay-rights groups and withdrew from offering a prayer at President Obama's inauguration.

More than ever, we need to learn from the example and counsel of Christians who have fought in the grace of God and power of the gospel to pursue holiness and shun the temptation of homosexuality. Sam Allberry shared one such inspiring story and showed us how the gospel can be good news to gays. Another powerful, prophetic voice for our time comes from Christopher Yuan, co-author of Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son's Journey to God, A Broken Mother's Search for Hope. In the latest edition of Going Deeper with TGC, Yuan talks with Mark Mellinger and me about costly discipleship and how the gospel of Jesus Christ offers hope the world cannot match. He discusses the limitations of the gay/straight paradigm and why he declines to call himself a "gay Christian." He also challenges the church to make room for biblical singleness, because "living as a single is not a curse." Listen for his insight about the similarities between the Muslim and gay communities, then check out his recent review of a new book from the founder of the Gay Christian Network.

As the podcast continues, The Gospel Project managing editor Trevin Wax talks with 9Marks editorial director Jonathan Leeman about the Old Testament historical narratives and how we understand and teach about such squeamish issues as God's judgment and the Canaanite conquest. Finally, Mark and I wrap up the podcast by previewing a new event scheduled to follow The Gospel Coalition 2013 National Conference. Tim Keller will kick off a Faith at Work post-conference where various speakers from various vocations will aim to connect Sunday worship with Monday work. So even if you're not a pastor, we hope you'll join us in Orlando and stick around the afternoon of Wednesday, April 10, for several hours of focus on connecting the gospel to everyday life in the workplace.

You can stream the full podcast below, download the mp3, or subscribe to Going Deeper with TGC on iTunes or through your other mobile devices.

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Going Deeper with TGC, 1-17, with Christopher Yuan

Better Body Building

Even in elementary schools girls already grade each other's appearance and claim they need to diet. We laugh at Honey Boo Boo on TV and sign up our kids for fitness classes. Mothers apologize to one another when their daughters don't match the culture's one standard of beauty: tall, thin, and shapely in the right places.

And yet, as writer and women's Bible study teacher Jen Wilkin observes, we would not all look the same way even if we all fulfilled our New Year's resolutions to eat well and exercise regularly. So why do we grade ourselves and one another so harshly? Why do we convince our sons they need the perfect Justin Bieber haircut and talk to them about women in such a way that we unwittingly dictate what a wife needs to look like?

Earlier this week Wilkin wrote a tremendously helpful article aimed especially at Christian women to encourage them to "banish body-talk to the same list of off-limits topics as salaries, name-dropping, and colonoscopies." In the latest edition of Going Deeper with TGC, Wilkin talks with Mark Mellinger and me about why women should stop telling their friends they look skinny and start complimenting them about godly attitudes and behavior. Wilkin even responded to my unexpected question about plastic surgery. So go easy on her for an impromptu response on one of the most personally explosive issues of our day.

As the podcast continues, The Gospel Project managing editor Trevin Wax talks with Eric Geiger, vice president of the church resources division at LifeWay and co-author of Creature of the Word, about how pastors and other leaders align their churches according to theology, philosophy, and practice. They discuss thorny issues of change and the local church's relationship with the past. Finally, Mark and I wrap up the podcast by reflecting on my controversial top 10 theology stories of 2012.

You can stream the full podcast below, download the mp3, or subscribe to Going Deeper with TGC on iTunes or through your other mobile devices.

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Going Deeper with TGC, 1-3, with Jen Wilkin

Will America Fall Off the Fiscal Cliff?

Americans sit on the edge of our seats as we wait to see if our elected leaders take us off the fiscal cliff in 2013. If you don't know what inaction means for U.S. citizens---indeed, the entire world---read this helpful FAQ from The Gospel Coalition editor Joe Carter.

Given the gravity of our situation and the particular challenges for churches and other Christian ministries, TGC opted to go deeper in a podcast with David Innes, co-chair of the school of politics, philosophy, and economics at King's College in New York City. Innes also writes weekly column at WORLDmag.com on current political issues, and he is the co-author of Left, Right, and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics. Host Mark Mellinger talks with Innes about the moral implications of budget negotiations, the political calculations on both sides, the true motivations of charitable giving, and much more. So whether you're confused or enraged over the stalemate in Washington, you'll learn from Innes's expert analysis.

Stay tuned as Trevin Wax, managing editor of The Gospel Project, resumes his interview with George Guthrie of Union University, author of Read the Bible for Life. They discuss how to interpret the Bible, when preaching fosters a passive approach to learning, what one indicator tells your whether someone is thriving spiritually, and what's at stake in our hermeneutics.

Finally, Mark and I wrap up the podcast with a look toward two especially timely workshops at The Gospel Coalition National Conference. As we bemoan the lack of leadership in Washington, we have the opportunity to model a better way. Two workshops in particular aim to help you grow as a leader in church and in the broader culture.

  • "Preparing Leaders of Integrity for Public Influence" by Michael Lindsay
  • "Is the World Really Flat? Convictional Leadership for a Global Age" by Albert Mohler

You can stream the full podcast below, download the mp3, or subscribe to Going Deeper with TGC on iTunes or through your other mobile devices.

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Going Deeper with TGC, 12-13, D.C. Innes