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S5:E35 We Are A People of the Means

S5:E35 We Are A People of the Means

We’ve been told that “the ends justify the means”. But shouldn’t Christians focus more on the means than the ends?

“The ends justify the means” is a phrase we hear occasionally. Often it is used to justify bad behavior, so long as it creates a profitable outcome. But we Christians know that we are called to live righteous lives. Are we people of the ends, or should we be known as a people of the means?

Chris is joined this week by Pastor Ray McDaniel of First Baptist Church in Jackson, WY, and his twin brother Nick Staron to discuss this important issue.

Discussion Questions:

  • What does “the ends justify the means” mean?
  • How have you seen that philosophy played out?
  • Is that something you believe?
  • How would things change if we focused more on the way we do things instead of our goals?
  • How have fundamentalists justified their goals with poor behavior? How have modernists?
S5:E34 The Great Divorce

S5:E34 The Great Divorce

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C.S. Lewis’ book “The Great Divorce” has a powerful message for today

In 1945, C.S. Lewis published his excellent book “The Great Divorce”. It happens to be one of my favorite books. It has many themes, the biggest of which is that there can be no hell in heaven. The two are divorced from each other (hence the title). Another is that humans are easily distracted from God’s work and the gospel.

What distracts you from heaven?

This season I’ve been telling the backstory of Christian fundamentalism. I think many of us have been distracted from the gospel because of politics or the people around us. If you were joined by a loved one who passed away or an angel who challenged you to walk to heaven, would you? What distracts you from following Jesus? From really going for it?

Special thanks to my improv troupe (Nick, Josh, and Jackie) who helped with voices. Additional vocal work came from Paul Hastings from the “Compelled” podcast and Jerry Dugan from “Beyond the Rut”. Give their shows a listen and let me know what you think!


  • The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (though I only used some concepts)

Discussion Questions:

  • What distracts you from following God?
  • Are you tied too strongly to things? Safety? Your family? Your job? Your identity? Your politics?
  • What books do you read over and over again? Why?
  • How can a person’s own love of intellectualism be a distraction? How can we have compassion?
S5:E33 Extremes Lead to Extremes

S5:E33 Extremes Lead to Extremes

The Congress of Vienna

In the fall of 1814, the powers of Europe gathered together to discuss what to do with the continent after the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon had changed a lot in his time in power! He cowed the Roman Catholic Church, ended serfdom where he went, freed Jews from their ghettos, took away kingdoms, and placed new kings in charge. The Congress of Vienna was tasked with a Humpty Dumpty scenario and they couldn’t put Europe back together again.

How could the Congress of Vienna put Europe back together after the Napoleonic wars?

The various countries also wanted to be compensated for their efforts to stop Napoleon. Couldn’t they take a little piece of land? Encroach on one of the lesser kingdoms? Install their own puppet governments? In trying to undo all of the changes Napoleon made, they became little Napoleons themselves.

In the same way, when we confront extremism with extremism we become exactly what we dislike. Shouldn’t Christians be more focused on simple righteousness than culture wars?

* The image on the episode graphic is the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria. It was one of the primary sites of the Congress of Vienna. It was free on Pixabay and was taken by Leonhard Niederwimmer.

Select Sources:

  • The Rites of Peace by Adam Zamoyski
  • Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts (a great place to start if you want to learn about Napoleon)

Discussion Questions:

  • What was the Congress of Vienna?
  • Why did the congress matter?
  • Have you ever served God to the point where it cost you something big to do so?
  • How have you seen the modern Church become what it opposes?
  • Have you seen Christians or churches act in a righteous way?
S5:E32 How Should We Deal With Heresy?

S5:E32 How Should We Deal With Heresy?

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How did the early church deal with heresy?

The first-century Christian Church had a lot going on. Their Savior died and was resurrected, sending the Holy Spirit and leaving them with the command to take this new message to all tribes and tongues. The book of Acts records some of their travels, as they went all over the known world with this good news. But they were not the only people evangelizing. So were the gnostics. Gnosticism takes a lot of different shapes. It was a belief system that challenged Christianity, even as some tried to incorporate elements into the faith.

Is modernism heresy?

Now consider modernist theology – what we’ve been talking about all season. It is a belief system that doesn’t believe in the miracles or the divinity of Jesus. To evangelicals of the 1800s and 1900s, this was a real threat. Like Gnosticism before it, modernism threatened to destabilize the gospel message. What to do?

In this bonus episode, Chris takes a look at 1-3 John to see what they have to say about dealing with heresy.

Chris is hard at work on season 6! He’ll be presenting these short episodes in the meantime to recap some of the themes of season 5.

Discussion Questions:

  • If you were alive in the mid-1800s and saw modernism rising, what would you do?
  • Do you think modernism is a heresy?
  • How should Christians today deal with heresy?
  • What did the fundamentalists get right and how did they mess up when approaching heresy?

Selected Source Materials:

  • 1-3 John
  • “The Early Church” by Henry Chadwick
S5:E31 Inherit the Wind

S5:E31 Inherit the Wind

McCarthyism and Inherit the Wind

US Senator Joseph McCarthy unleashed an era of suspicion on the American people as he went looking for communists. His trials, both public and behind closed doors, focused on the government as well as Hollywood and the Army. He claimed that he had lists of communists, but failed to produce that list. It wasn’t until the Army-McCarthy hearings in the spring and summer of 1954 that his unfounded hearings were put to rest.

Is Inherit the Wind historically accurate?

One year later the play Inherit the Wind opened. It was supposed to be a critique of the McCarthy era set inside of a re-telling of the Scopes “monkey” trial. In doing so, it got many of the facts wrong. John Scopes never spent any time in jail. He didn’t have a girlfriend, and that girlfriend was not berated on the stand. The townspeople of Dayton, TN were welcoming to both Bryan and Darrow.

To explore this work of art and revisionist history I spoke with the hosts of the Seeing and Believing podcast Kevin McLenithan and Sarah Welch-Larson.

Select differences between the Scopes trial and Inherit the Wind

  • John Scopes was arrested but never spent time in jail.
  • He was “arrested” in a soda fountain where the test trial was conceived and not in school.
  • Scopes later claimed he never taught evolution, which is why he never took the stand in real life.
  • The entire case was set up as a publicity stunt to bring attention to the town of Dayton, TN. They got the idea when they saw an ad placed by the ACLU.
  • The character of Rachel did not exist in real life.
  • The people of Dayton were welcoming to both Darrow and Bryan and Scopes was loved by many. He even spent time swimming with the prosecution between trial sessions.
  • The moment when Bryan was on trial was held outdoors.
  • H.L. Mencken was not some loveable curmudgeon. He was an anti-semite and a racist.
  • Dayton largely did not vote for Bryan when he ran for president.
  • Bryan died a few days after the trial, not while in the courtroom.
  • Darrow did not carry a copy of the Bible and Darwin out of the courtroom.
  • The textbook in question during the trial was clearly pro-eugenics, was sold in the soda fountain, and had been approved by the state textbook committee.
  • The preachers of the town were kind. The odd sermon given the night of the trial never happened and the script adds a lot of strange things that are not in the Bible.
  • Bryan wished the law to have no penalty, unlike his stand-in in the movie who hoped for a harsher punishment.


  • Inherit the Wind (1960 version) starring Spencer Tracy
  • Summer for the Gods by Edward Larson
  • Chris’ own visit to the Dayton museum dedicated to the trial
  • Helpful video about the Napoleon painting

Discussion Questions:

  • Where is the line between art and propaganda?
  • Does art have an obligation to the truth?
  • Do you see McCarthyism in Inherit the Wind?
  • Is Inherit the Wind a fair way of discussing the Scopes trial, or a work of revisionist history? Why does it matter?
  • What would it mean for a group that feels maligned and misunderstood to have a film misrepresent them?