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S5:E2 Premillennialism and Postmillennialism

S5:E2 Premillennialism and Postmillennialism

The difference between Premillennialism and Postmillennialism is more important than you think

What is the difference between premillennialism and postmillennialism? And what does it matter?

After the French Revolution in the late 1700s, Christians began to see the world as coming to an end. Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 describe an oppressor who will wear the people out for a period of time. Some Christian interpret that as being 1260 years. That 1260 years can be placed over the reign of Justinian all the way through history up until the French Revolution. That is just one interpretation that not everyone shares. But if you hold that view then this event was HUGE. It meant that the end of the world was super close. It has now been over 200 years since that event, but many premillennialists still hold up this prophecy as proof of the fulfillment of scripture.

Many Christians tried to uncover the meaning of it all. Some turned to an old idea — premillennialism. It’s the notion that the world is on a downward trajectory. Things are going to get really bad and then Jesus will return. Before this time, many evangelicals were postmillennialism. They thought the world was going to get better over time. This split was an important part of what would become the fundamentalist/ modernist debate.

Premillennialism has some dark “logical” conclusions to it. Some premillennialist like pastor John MacArthur argue that since the world is going to burn anyway, we humans shouldn’t worry about things like global warming.

Discussion Questions:

  • Why was the French Revolution such an important moment in world history?
  • Pre-Revolution the nobles and clergy controlled much of the power in France. They could out-weigh 98% of the population of France. Is this perhaps a reason why the French people turned against them?
  • Are you a premillennialist, a postmillennialist, or neither?
  • Did you read the Left Behind books? What do you remember? How did they impact you?
  • Do you think you have a positive or negative view of world history? How does that impact the way you act?
  • Should premillennialists see Jesus’ second coming as a reason to avoid taking care of the planet?

Helpful Links:

S5:E1 What is an Evangelical?

S5:E1 What is an Evangelical?

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Who is an evangelical?

Who is an evangelical? If you go by the news today, you probably think evangelicals are all American middle-class white men. Nope! Evangelical Christians come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. They can be men or women from anywhere in the world. They can speak any language. And they can have a lot of variety in their beliefs.

This season on the Truce Podcast we are examining the history of Christian fundamentalism. How did fundamentalism begin? What is Christian fundamentalism? Is Christian fundamentalism a good thing, a bad thing, or somewhere in between?

In this episode, we’re joined by author and professor George Marsden. He’s the author of Fundamentalism and American Culture, which is THE book everyone else refers to when they talk about fundamentalism. According to Marsden, fundamentalism is “militantly anti-modernism protestant evangelicalism”. That is a lot of big words! By the end of the season, you should understand all of that. One important part of that definition is the word “evangelicalism”. It is one of those words that has been used so much in so many different ways that it can be difficult to define it. There are whole movements to create new definitions these days. But in order to move forward this season, we need to pick some frame of reference. I chose David Beggington’s definition of what defines an evangelical:

Bebbington’s Quadrilateral

  • Biblicism (a focus on the Bible)
  • Conversionism (an emphasis on evangelism)
  • Crucicentrism (the centrality of the cross)
  • Activism

Those four things, according to Bebbington, are what make up an evangelical. Again, it is a hotly debated subject.

So when did evangelicalism begin? Many of the sources that I found pointed to the revivals in the decades leading up to the American Revolution. Evangelists like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield spread the gospel using a post-millennialist vision of the end times mixed with Calvinism. This was part of the First Great Awakening. Then there were others after the revolution who spread an Arminian view of salvation. Guys like Finney. Belief in God became more personal, without the direct oversight of a priest or minister. It became an individual’s responsibility to look after their spiritual growth.

Welcome to season 5! God willing, I’ll be releasing new episodes every other week.

Discussion Questions:

  • What is an evangelical?
  • What is a fundamentalist?
  • If fundamentalists are evangelicals who are angry at something, what are they angry at? Are you one of those people?
  • Do you believe in the Calvinist view of salvation or the Arminian one? Does it matter? Why?
  • The Great Awakening movements established a sense that belief in God was not something that needed to be handed down by a priest or minister. Do you think that was a positive move? What are some potential drawbacks (if any)?

Helpful Links and Sources:

Correction: The original version of this episode incorrectly represented Arminian belief. It involves the belief that once grace is offered by God that a sinner can reject the offer. The original version stated that the sinner made the first move to initiate a relationship. That is incorrect. Arminians believe that God makes the first move, but His offer can be rejected. The error has been corrected in this version, My apologies for any confusion.

S4:E13 King Leopold’s Ghost

S4:E13 King Leopold’s Ghost

King Leopold II of Belgium used forced labor to build his empire in the Congo.

When you think of the world’s worst mass murderers, King Leopold II doesn’t usually come up. But due to his forced labor practices in the Congo, nearly 10 million people lost their lives. He did this by pretending that his actions in that region were a missionary effort. In reality, he forced Africans to harvest wild rubber or risk having their hands cut off.

The truth is even darker than that: it turns out that Leopold was far from the only person doing this. This same era was marked by many major world powers engaging in forced labor. From the US in the Philippines to Arab countries in eastern Africa, much of the modern world was built on forced labor.

Author Adam Hochschild joins us for this episode to discuss his book “King Leopold’s Ghost“.

I first heard about this story on the Noble Blood podcast and their episode “The Red Paint on Leopold II”.

Discussion Questions:
  • Had you heard of King Leopold II before this?
  • Leopold did send missionaries to the Congo. Was that a positive or negative thing for our Christian witness?
  • Did you know that other major countries were engaged in forced labor into WWII?
  • What do you think of the US-backed coup in Congo? Is it okay for the US to get involved in the politics of another nation?
S4:E12 Christians and the British Slave Trade

S4:E12 Christians and the British Slave Trade

Christians helped to end the British Slave Trade. But we forgot one of it’s greatest heroes: Thomas Clarkson

The British slave trade had several well-known enemies: William Wilberforce and John Newton (who wrote “Amazing Grace”) to name a few. But historian Adam Hochschild (“King Leopold’s Ghost”, “To End All Wars”) argues that history has largely forgotten the most valuable member of the abolition movement: Thomas Clarkson. Clarkson was in charge of gathering and disseminating information across the British Isles. He fought for years to end the slave trade and then slavery itself.

This movement is important for many reasons. It was the first to use logos, a coordinated marketing campaign, and it established a high bar for investigative journalism. It was also an ecumenical movement.

In this episode we explore slavery, the importance of slave rebellions, the power of ecumenical efforts, and the book “Bury the Chains“.

Helpful discussion questions:
  • Had you heard of Thomas Clarkson before this episode?
  • Do you participate in any cross-denominational movements? Where do you draw the line?
  • Has your church ever participated in anti-racism movements?
  • Was there any wisdom in ending the slave trade first?
  • Why do you think John Newton didn’t give up the slave trade as soon as he became a Christian?
  • Was it possible to be a Christian and own slaves?
  • Do you think humanity will ever go back to slavery?
  • Do modern payday loans keep people in bondage in the way that debt kept people in bondage in the 1700s?

Helpful links:

  • Link to slave ship diagram (very interesting)
  • Episode Photo from the Library of Congress. FYI – it is not from the correct era or place.
What ended the British slave trade?
  • Slave revolts in places like Haiti
  • The high cost of ending slave revolts
  • Freedom was in the air after the American Revolution and the French Revolution
  • Public opinion
  • Women in the 1800s boycotted sugar to protest slavery
S4:E11 The Cult of MLM

S4:E11 The Cult of MLM

Multi-level marketing companies behave like cults. Does that make MLMs cults?

Multi-level marketing companies have many similarities to cults:

  • They tend to have strong authoritarian leaders
  • They expect you to believe their philosophy
  • They separate you from your loved ones and people who question the MLM
  • They make utopian promises

Why don’t we think of them as cults? Well, we don’t like to think of businesses as being cults. MLM companies and organizations have connections in high places like the White House and the Chamber of Commerce.

Robert FitzPatrick joins us once more to discuss his research. He’s the founder of www.pyramidschemealert.org and the author of the book Ponzinomics: The Untold Story of Multi-Level Marketing.

BONUS: This Goes All the Way to the Top

BONUS: This Goes All the Way to the Top

People as diverse as Kamala Harris and Donald Trump support multi-level marketing

Multi-level marketing companies have very powerful friends. Here is a list of some of the well-connected people tied to MLMs:

  • Vice President Kamala Harris
  • Former President Donald Trump
  • Mitt Romney
  • Madeleine Albright
  • Former President Bill Clinton
  • The former head of the Chamber of Commerce
  • and many more

How is it that a business model where over 99% of the people involved will lose money is still legal? The answer is in the list.

My guest today is Robert FitzPatrick from Pyramidschemealert.org. His excellent book is Ponzinomics: The Untold Story of Multi-Level Marketing.

Helpful links:

  • A New York Times article about Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff’s involvement with Herbalife
  • A second NYT article about Harris and Emhoff
  • A Washington Post article about President Trump’s “Trump Network” MLM
  • A fascinating piece by Time about Herbalife
  • The Washinton Post about Mitt Romney’s involvement with NuSkin
  • Interesting Last Week Tonight episode about MLMs (contains strong language)