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S5:E12 Moody’s Lieutenants

S5:E12 Moody’s Lieutenants

How do we keep ministries accountable?

After the evangelist D.L. Moody died at the end of the 1800s, he left behind a series of lieutenants, guys who carried on the work of sharing the gospel and shaping culture. It was these men who went on to set the foundation of the fundamentalist movement in the United States. James Gray, Arthur Pierson, A.J. Gordon, Charles Blanchard, and William Erdman, C.I. Scofield, and William Bell Riley. These guys went on to found schools, start radio ministries, spearhead publications, and amass large followings. They wrote the influential (if under-read) pamphlet series “The Fundamentals” and would fight the rise of Darwinism in schools and liberal theology in denominations.

In this episode, we’ll explore the emergence of fiefdoms in evangelicalism—ministries with little or no denominational oversight. This method of ministry was crucial in landing us where we are today. Could the evangelicals Church of today use a Magna Carta of sorts to keep ministries under accountability?

The value of creeds

How do we keep ministries accountable? One option would be to return to creeds. Creeds are short professions of the faith and are often used to anchor our theology. If you were to write a creed for evangelical ministries, what would it look like?

Helpful Sources and Links:

Discussion Questions:

  • Do you think that ministry leaders should be held accountable?
  • Should accountability be external or is it okay to limit it to internal accountability?
  • Are there steps that Truce can take as a show to introduce accountability without bogging Chris down with too many requirements?
  • Do you live in a Christian “bubble”? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the bubble?
  • Would you let your kids go to a secular school? Why or why not?
  • It’s interesting that Reuben Torrey was seen as snooty. Do you think that attitude is compatible with humble Christian service?
S5:E11 D.L. Moody

S5:E11 D.L. Moody

Biography of D.L. Moody

DL Moody. The name may be familiar. There is a Moody Publishers, a Moody Bible Institute, Moody Radio. His name is all over evangelicalism. His remarkable life story is something worth noting. Though Moody was not a fundamentalist, some of the tactics he used to build his ministry would be employed by some of his lieutenants when they built the foundation of the movement.

So we’re going to spend this episode talking about this remarkable man. Born in poverty, educated to only about a 4th-grade level, he would rise to become one of the most important American evangelists. His folksy style and booming voice were winsome to the millions of people to whom he preached. In this difficult series about controversial ideas, why not take some time to discuss something that went right in the late 1800s? The ministry of Moody.

I’m joined in this episode by Kevin Belmonte. He’s the author of several history books including D.L. Moody: A Life. Check out his books and let me know what you think!

Helpful Links and Sources

Discussion Questions

  • Have you ever shared the gospel with someone like Mr. Kimball did in the shoe store? Why or why not?
  • Is there someone you could pray for that they would be saved?
  • Why do you think Moody was so popular in his day?
  • Have you ever encountered Moody Radio, Publishers, or Bible Institute?
  • The “Christian bubble” really started to take shape in the era of Moody. How has the “bubble” impacted your life?
  • What are your views on poverty? How do people become poor and how can it be fixed? Do you think that all poor people are lazy? Why?
S5:E10 Social Darwinism and the Spanish-American War

S5:E10 Social Darwinism and the Spanish-American War

Social Darwinism and the Spanish-American War

The 1800s were an era of big questions, many of which we answered in cruel and selfish ways.

  • Is one race better than another?
  • Is one religion? If so, which one? In what ways?
  • Is one economic system better than another?
  • Is one system of governance like a democratic republic like the US, or socialism, monarchy, theocracy, communism, best?

Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Social Darwinism

Some people answered these questions with a resounding “yes”. But if we think our people and ways are better than anyone else’s, what responsibility do we have to spread those things? Men like Henry Cabot Lodge and Theodore Roosevelt were firm believers in social Darwinism, though their vision of it meant teaching those less “civilized” people our ways. And they were okay with the United States taking power over them.

Meanwhile, there were men like William Jennings Bryan who refused to think of others in social Darwinism terms. He spent years fighting that dark philosophy, ultimately prosecuting the Scopes Monkey trial to stop the spread of social Darwinism. But the seeds of eugenics were planted.

Cubans held in concentration camps by Spain

Caught in the middle were the people of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Phillippines, and other colonies of the Spanish empire. Spain was busy imprisoning Cubans in concentration camps. Their ruthless behavior toward America’s neighbors caught the attention of the US Senate, which was already champing at the bit for a fight. Men in the United States were worried about their waning influence on society. Groups bellyached about how men were not men anymore thanks to cities and offices. In the minds of some, war was the answer to weak-willed men. And Spain provided that war.

Our guest today is Paul T. McCartney author of “Power and Progress: American National Identity, the War of 1898, and the Rise of American Imperialism”. He teaches at Towson University.

**CORRECTION – In the original version of this story I referred to the USS Maine as the HMS Maine. That was incorrect. HMS stands for “Her Majesty’s Ship”, which makes no sense for American ships. The current version was changed for accuracy.**

Discussion Questions:

  • Do you believe your people are somehow superior to another people group? Why?
  • Does that sound like an attitude Jesus would have?
  • If you are somehow superior, what is your responsibility to other people?
  • Should the US help people who are being oppressed around the world? When should we intervene?
  • Do you think that men are in decline? If so, what is the answer to that?
  • Do you better relate to Teddy Roosevelt or William Jennings Bryan when it comes to war? Or are you a pacifist?
  • How would Jesus have responded to the cruelty of Spain?
  • What do you think about social Darwinism?

Helpful Links and Sources:

S5:E9 Populism

S5:E9 Populism

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William Jennings Bryan was a Populist

Populism is a tricky subject. We use it these days as a slur, but populism can be a useful phenomenon. History professor and author Michael Kazin says that populism is an important tool when it comes to regulating power. In the late 1800s, railroads and banks were out of control. Industrialists like John D. Rockefeller had uninhibited control of their markets. Rockefeller believed in social Darwinism and didn’t mind using dirty tactics to undermine his competition.

The origins of the Populist Party

The Populist Party sprouted out of frustrations women had with the political machines of their day. Republicans and Democrats were not yet willing to accept women and the issues they cared about. Women were slowly becoming a force within politics, but neither party had the guts to accept them. So women and others decided to form their own party. But in the election of 1896, the Populist Party was worried about a split vote. They worried that if they were to run a candidate of their own then they might split the vote. So the Populist Party backed Democratic nominee William Jennings Bryan.

Bryan was a man of God. He quoted the Bible extensively, talked about the example of Jesus. But he was soundly defeated by the Republicans and William McKinley. He had only about 4% of the budget of his opponents. The story of Bryan is an interesting one because it contains the building blocks of fundamentalism.

Discussion Questions:

  • What is a populist?
  • Can you name some populists?
  • What are the advantages of populism? The drawbacks?
  • How are Donald Trump, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders similar?
  • William Jennings Bryan was one of the first presidential hopefuls from a major party to tour the country. How has this shaped American politics? Why do we like to see politicians in our home states?
  • What do populism and fundamentalism have in common?
  • Do you think that fundamentalism relies on strong figures as populism does? Why or why not?

Helpful Resources:

  • “A Godly Hero” and “What It Took to Win” by Michael Kazin
  • Library of Congress collection of Chautauqua materials
  • Bernie Sanders Clip from C-SPAN
  • Elizabeth Warren Clip from C-SPAN
  • Donald Trump clip from C-SPAN
  • Article about Mary Lease
  • “These Truths” by Jill Lepore
  • Library of Congress collection of McKinley/Bryan campaign materials. It’s worth searching the site in general for images from both of them.
S5:E7 The Gold Standard

S5:E7 The Gold Standard

What is the Gold Standard?

There was a time not so long ago when the value of an ounce of gold cost $20.67. That was true not just in one moment or one year. It was true in the 1880s, 1890s, 1900s, 1920s… This was the gold standard. A person could take $20.67 to a federal bank and receive an ounce of gold in return.

This system worked really well… for a while. But by the 1890s the constant deflation caused by the increasing value of gold meant that people with loans had to work harder and harder to pay them back. The value of gold and the value of goods had an inverse relationship, like a seesaw. One side went up and the other went down.

William Jennings Bryan and “The Cross of Gold” speech

This is the topic William Jennings Bryan chose to discuss in the 1896 Democratic Convention. And it was that speech that won him the presidential nomination that year. Imagine that! Someone so passionate about inflating the cost of good that they are chosen to be president! His bimetallism (he wanted to add silver into the mix to devalue the specie) stance came out of his social gospel leanings and his Christian faith. This was a high point for the social gospel. As the evangelical world was about to turn to the darker premillennialist view, Bryan made an impassioned plea that we could, in fact, make this world a better place.

My guest for this episode is the amazing Jacob Goldstein. He’s the author of the book “Money: the True Story of a Made-Up Thing”. He’s also a co-host of the Planet Money Podcast. You’ll also hear from Michael Kazin, professor of history from Georgetown and author of “A Godly Hero”.

Helpful Links

Discussion Questions

  • Have you ever gotten so excited at a political speech that you would gladly carry the politician around the room?
  • What is money?
  • Why do some of us want our money to be backed by something else? Why gold?
  • Is there something inherent in gold that you think makes it forever valuable?
  • Do politicians and government officials have some responsibility to consider how monetary policy impacts those in the lower classes? What does that look like?
  • How has your life been impacted by monetary policy?
  • How do you feel about things like the FDIC?
S5:E6 How Do We Deal With Fundamentalism?

S5:E6 How Do We Deal With Fundamentalism?

How do we deal with Christian fundamentalism?

This season of the Truce Podcast tracks the history of Christian fundamentalism. So far we’ve covered the rise of para-church ministries through preachers, the creation of dispensationalism, and the rising threat of modernist theology in the late 1800s. That is a lot to digest! So in this episode, I thought it would be helpful to sit down with some of the smartest guys I know and ask them, “how do we deal with Christian fundamentalism?”

Christian fundamentalism has impacted our lives in various ways. Ray McDaniel (pastor of First Baptist Church in Jackson, WY) shares that he grew up under fundamentalist teaching. Chris Staron (host of the Truce Podcast) talks about his childhood and teen years listening to fundamentalist radio. Nick Staron discusses the last few years when he has seen fundamentalism rise inside his own circle of friends.

Here are some things to consider from this episode:

  • Modernist theology can be seen as an actual threat to evangelical theology. How should we deal with threats in a godly way?
  • Do end times teachings open doors for sharing the gospel?
  • How much do we really know about the end times? And how should that shape the way we live today?
  • What does it really mean to love people who are from a different denomination?
  • Do we still need denominations today?
  • How can we keep ministries accountable?

Helpful links: