Episodes

  • Can Christians believe that people are only “physical”? Must we have “souls” in order to be saved, to have relationships with God, to be God’s image-bearers in the world? My two guests today are biologist Kenneth R. Miller (Brown University) and philosopher Rebekah Rice (Seattle Pacific University), and they argue that there are good reasons to accept some kind of Christian Naturalism or Christian Physicalism, and that in fact one can do so and remain within the orthodx Christian tradition.

    The Human Instinct: https://smile.amazon.com/Human-Instinct-Evolved-Reason-Consciousness/dp/1476790264/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=kenneth+miller&qid=1573441718&sr=8-2
    Finding Darwin’s God:
    https://smile.amazon.com/Finding-Darwins-God-Scientists-Evolution/dp/0061233501/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=kenneth+miller&qid=1573441718&sr=8-1

    Edited by Scott Cangemi
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    Artwork by http://sprungle.co/

  • This is the episode that some of you have been waiting 40-some episodes for. Many of you know that I identify as a universalist, meaning that I believe that everyone will be saved in the end, whatever we mean by the word “saved.” There are a lot of reasons that people believe in Hell, and there are a lot of reasons that people don’t. Many of those reasons, maybe even MOST of the reasons, I would argue have nothing to do with actual arguments or theological reasoning, or even a close reading of the Biblical text. Most reasons, I think, are psychological. Why people ACTUALLY believe in Hell, at a more psychological level, is a very interesting question, but not one that we are spending much time on today. This episode is about the arguments themselves. The most central question is: Does Hell make sense, given the God of Christianity? The next one is - how do we make sense of various sayings of Jesus that seem to teach a painful judgement? My guest today is Brad Jersak. Brad is a Canadian theologian, author, and pastor, and his book “Her Gates Will Never Be Shut” is widely considered one of the best treatments of this question. Our first 15 min or so are spent getting our bearings with the current landscape on this topic, including some term explaining, and introducing David Bentley Hart’s new book as a centerpiece of both our conversation, and the wider theological conversation. If you want to go straight to the arguments themselves, you could skip ahead to about 18:00.

    Hellbound? -- https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/B00D1NE8L0/ref=atv_dl_rdr
    The Evangelical Universalist: https://www.amazon.com/Evangelical-Universalist-Second-Gregory-MacDonald/dp/1620322390/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=evangelical+universalist&qid=1572843722&sr=8-1
    Her Gates Shall Never Be Shut: https://www.amazon.com/gp/slredirect/picassoRedirect.html/ref=pa_sp_atf_aps_sr_pg1_1?ie=UTF8&adId=A09982251H1HAKCB4QUV8&url=%2FHer-Gates-Will-Never-Shut-ebook%2Fdp%2FB00IGGZRJY%2Fref%3Dsr_1_1_sspa%3Fkeywords%3Dbrad%2Bjersak%26qid%3D1572843756%26sr%3D8-1-spons%26psc%3D1&qualifier=1572843755&id=5413906602847107&widgetName=sp_atf
    In: https://www.amazon.com/Incarnation-Inclusion-Abba-Lamb/dp/1082461733/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=brad+jersak&qid=1572843756&sr=8-2
    A More Christlike God: https://www.amazon.com/More-Christlike-God-Beautiful-Gospel/dp/1889973165/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=brad+jersak&qid=1572843756&sr=8-3
    Athanasius, On the Incarnation: http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/theology/incarnation_st_athanasius.pdf
    Razing Hell: https://smile.amazon.com/Razing-Hell-Rethinking-Everything-Judgment/dp/0664236545/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=sharon+baker+hell&qid=1572843854&sr=8-1

    Edited by Josh Gilbert (Gwall.Gilbert11@gmail.com)
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  • Just in time for Halloween (not on purpose actually!)... What exactly is the "supernatural"? When God does something in the natural world, is that the same thing as saying that God broke the laws of physics?
    Theologian Thomas Jay oord helps Dan explore these questions, and whether or not it makes more sense to think of the “natural” and “supernatural” as essentially no different from one another. Or in Tom’s words, “For every event that happens in the world, there are both divine and creaturely causes.” They consider some possible ramifications of this move, including the resurrection of Jesus, miracles, the inspiration of Scripture, the life to come, and more.

    Tom’s website, including links to his books: http://thomasjayoord.com/
    Citizens - “Fear” (Spotify): https://open.spotify.com/album/0abL7FZysjxpaxEPURpBsl

    Edited by Laura Kondourajian
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    Artwork by http://sprungle.co/

  • Philosopher Myron Penner (Trinity Western University) helps Dan think through some interesting but complicated and challenging findings from cognitive science (the study of the mind, not the study of the brain -- that's called neuroscience) and what they mean for our understanding of religions beliefs, behaviors and experiences. By explaining religious belief from a cognitive perspective, how does cognitive science of religion not *explain away* religion altogether? Does cognitive science of religion present evidence for God, for atheism, or neither?

    - “When God Talks Back” - https://smile.amazon.com/When-God-Talks-Back-Understanding/dp/0307277275/ref=sxts_sxwds-bia?keywords=when+god+talks+back&pd_rd_i=0307277275&pd_rd_r=eda4ec56-9673-42b7-bdb8-d6faeaa93daa&pd_rd_w=jfc0X&pd_rd_wg=PM7eF&pf_rd_p=a5491838-6a74-484e-8787-eb44c8f3b7ff&pf_rd_r=GA0N6HXQHCG8MZNJ3RE6&psc=1&qid=1571604451
    - Citizens - “Fear” (Spotify): https://open.spotify.com/album/0abL7FZysjxpaxEPURpBsl
    - theopsych.com - Fuller Seminary initiative

    Edited by Laura Kondourajian
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  • How do we parent our kids after faith deconstruction? What if only one half of a couple is going through faith changes? Can people of different faith traditions have healthy marriages? How do I relate to my family, who haven’t had the same faith changes that I have, and who now think I’m going to Hell? Is this what “unequally yoked” is actually supposed to mean? This is a long, meaty episode, where we get into as many questions like these as possible (asked almost entirely by listeners of the show) with Dr. Doug Shirley, a psychotherapist who teaches at the Seattle School of Theology & Psychology and specializes in questions like these in his own private practice.

    dougshirleyresearch.com
    Holy Longing: https://smile.amazon.com/Holy-Longing-Search-Christian-Spirituality-ebook/dp/B004DEPESM/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=holy+longing&qid=1570899882&sr=8-1
    Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: https://smile.amazon.com/Seven-Principles-Making-Marriage-Work/dp/0553447718/ref=sr_1_1?crid=9XGS9DL4PJFO&keywords=seven+principles+for+making+marriage+work&qid=1570899898&sprefix=seven+principles%2Caps%2C197&sr=8-1
    Finite and Infinite Games: https://smile.amazon.com/Finite-Infinite-Games-James-Carse/dp/1476731713/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1N9D2WRINZTQJ&keywords=finite+and+infinite+games+by+james+carse&qid=1570899926&sprefix=finite+and%2Caps%2C195&sr=8-1
    The Sin of Certainty: https://smile.amazon.com/Sin-Certainty-Desires-Correct-Beliefs/dp/0062272098/ref=sr_1_1?crid=SZU6J7FT9FDZ&keywords=sin+of+certainty&qid=1570899914&sprefix=sin+of+cer%2Caps%2C193&sr=8-1

    Edited by Josh Gilbert (Gwall.Gilbert11@gmail.com)
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  • Why is everyone suddenly talking about psychedelic drugs again? What do we know about them, and what is their relationship to more “ordinary” religious experiences? Is taking a psychedelic as part of a worship service any different than dimming the lights and swaying together to worship music? What can we learn about human brains and religious experience in general from the research on psychedelics? Today we hear from theologian Sarah Lane Ritchie, who both works on these questions from a theological perspective and also has been a participant in a controlled psilocybin trial in the UK. And yes, she tells us about her trip! Later in our chat, she shares her personal struggles with experiencing God as “personal” in the way that so many of her friends and colleagues are able to do (myself included). This was an incredible conversation.

    Sarah is Lecturer in Theology and Science at the University of Edinburgh. She has a PhD in Science and Religion from the University of Edinburgh, where her doctoral work focused on the question of divine action in the human mind. A Michigander by birth, Sarah also holds a BA in Philosophy and Religion from Spring Arbor University, an MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary, and an MSc in Science and Religion from the University of Edinburgh. Her published work focuses on questions arising from the intersection of theology, philosophy, and the various brain-related sciences.

    Sarah’s Book: https://smile.amazon.com/Divine-Action-Current-Issues-Theology/dp/1108476511/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=sarah+lane+ritchie&qid=1570383111&sr=8-2

    Sarah has a chapter in this much cheaper collection as well: https://smile.amazon.com/Philosophy-Science-Religion-Everyone-Pritchard/dp/1138234214/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=sarah+lane+ritchie&qid=1570383111&sr=8-1

    Edited by Laura Kondourajian
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  • Is experience potentially a direct pathway to the God of the universe? Or is it simply “the heart [being] deceitful above all things”? Can we trust our spiritual experience, and if so, which experiences are trustworthy? This topic was recommended by my guest Dustin Kensrue (singer/songwriter of the band Thrice, former worship director at Mars Hill Church in Seattle), and I jumped at it. In today’s episode, we go through Dustin’s own story, from young Christian punk rocker, to prominent Neo-Calvinist, to church scandal whistleblower (sort of), to reconstructed liberal Christian, all the while considering the role of experience in that journey.

    Check out Dustin's new podcast Carry the Fire wherever you get your podcasts.

    Edited by Josh Gilbert (Gwall.Gilbert11@gmail.com)
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  • What exactly is “purity culture,” and why is everyone talking about it? Was it really so harmful? Isn’t it pretty straightforward to not have sex until marriage? Today’s guest Linda Key Klein has interviewed hundreds of young women about their experiences in and after purity culture, and she has written a fantastic book about it, “Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free.” But also, what comes AFTER purity culture? Simply an “anything goes” sexual ethic, or something more robust and still identifiably "Christian"?

    Pure: https://smile.amazon.com/Pure-Inside-Evangelical-Movement-Generation/dp/1501124811/ref=sr_1_1?crid=369666CXFZDKC&keywords=pure+linda+kay+klein&qid=1569189472&s=gateway&sprefix=pure+linda%2Caps%2C211&sr=8-1
    Linda’s personal site: https://lindakayklein.com/

    Edited by Scott Cangemi
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  • Darwin’s theory of evolution by common descent is so widely agreed upon by scientists that it is either the best explanation we have for the origins of life on this planet, or else it is a massive conspiracy involving millions of people. It is also, according to some Christians, a dangerous theory that undercuts basic claims of Christianity. Sometimes these Christians, working through organizations that promote Young Earth Creationism or Intelligent Design, spread misconceptions about Darwin’s theory, either mistakenly or on purpose. Jim Stump, philosopher and Vice President of Biologos, counters these misconceptions with data and scientific explanations. After putting these myths to bed, Jim and Dan move on to the perplexing fact that the book of Genesis seems quite cavalierly to suggest that many people lived between 600 and 900 years of age -- what is this about, and what are some possible ways of reading or thinking about it?

    Later, Jim helps Dan answer a listener question: “How do you understand the Bible as pre-scientific? For example, stories like David and Bathsheba, where the child is born and ‘struck by God’ rather than the child simply fell ill.” (1:13:30)

    DNA article: https://biologos.org/common-questions/can-evolution-generate-new-information
    “10 Myths about Evolution” article: https://biologos.org/articles/10-misconceptions-about-evolution
    The Biologos podcast Language of God - https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/language-of-god/id1451956029
    Jim’s author page at biologos.org - https://biologos.org/people/jim-stump

    Edited by Josh Gilbert (Gwall.Gilbert11@gmail.com)
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  • Today’s guest is Peter Wehner -- Vice President and Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and a contributing editor for The Atlantic magazine. He served in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush Administrations prior to becoming deputy director of speechwriting for President George W. Bush, and is one of the more prominent “NeverTrump Conservatives.” Peter has recently given up his membership in the GOP over their increasing identification with Trump. He and Dan talk about Trump and Evangelicals’ very public romance, and what that might say about the efficacy of Evangelical Christian faith. Peter also makes his case for a politically engaged Christianity, over and against a more Anabaptist-style detachment or principled uninvolvement/pacifism.

    Later, Dan answers six listener questions, all centering around questions of faith and politics (1:20:00)

    Pete’s book: https://smile.amazon.com/Death-Politics-Frayed-Republic-After/dp/0062820796/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=peter+wehner&qid=1567988321&s=gateway&sr=8-1
    His conversation with Jon Ward on the Long Game podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/peter-wehner-on-trump-impeachment-limits-faith-to-overcome/id1248994688?i=1000441130129
    Alan Jacobs “How to Think”: https://smile.amazon.com/How-Think-Survival-Guide-World/dp/0451499603/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=how+to+think&qid=1567988343&s=gateway&sr=8-2

    Edited by Scott Cangemi
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  • “Fundamentalist” has become a theological swear word. But how does it work psychologically? Why hasn’t it “gone away”? How do religious fundamentalists make sense of their world and find meaning in their lives? And what might this tell us about non-religious fundamentalists? Psychologist Peter Hill joins Dan to talk through the model he and his co-authors developed in their book The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism (link below).

    Visual Aids:
    Fundamentalist - Intratexual Structure: https://www.dropbox.com/s/5io539nbf6oteve/Fundamentalism%20-%20Intratextuality.jpg?dl=0
    Nonfundamenatlist - Intertectual Structure: https://www.dropbox.com/s/u87g2auitlro9wm/Non-Fundamentalist%20-%20Intertextuality.jpg?dl=0

    Pete’s book: https://www.amazon.com/Psychology-Religious-Fundamentalism-Ralph-Hood/dp/1593851502

    Edited by Josh Gilbert (Gwall.Gilbert11@gmail.com)
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  • The question of whether or not Adam and Eve were historical figures is a hotly debated topic in some circles of Christianity -- especially more Reformed and/or conservative circles -- and completely ignored in others. But there are a lot of consequences to this question, no matter where you fall theologically. Physicist and Science & Religion veteran Karl Giberson joins Dan to talk through the issue, and what he learned while working on his book “Saving the Original Sinner.”

    Karl’s book: https://smile.amazon.com/Saving-Original-Sinner-Christians-Oppress/dp/0807012513/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=saving+the+original+sinner&qid=1566844147&s=gateway&sr=8-1
    BARNA research mentioned: https://biologos.org/articles/a-survey-of-clergy-and-their-views-on-origins

    Edited by Joe Diaz-Romero
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  • A lot of us have been pretty burned in Reformed Christian communities, which might go by names like Presbyterian, Bible Church, Baptist, and more, all of which stem in one way or another from the teachings of John Calvin. But not all Reformed thinkers read John Piper and R.C. Sproul, or believe that women shouldn’t become preachers, and SOME Reformed thinkers are even Universalists when it comes to salvation! Dan is joined by a very clear thinker who thinks that the Reformed tent needs to be widened: analytic theologian (and Reformed guy himself) Oliver Crisp (University of St. Andrews, Scotland). So let’s give Reformed theology a fair hearing, shall we?

    Today’s interview was made possible as part of the TheoPsych Project, hosted by Fuller Seminary’s office of Science, Theology, and Religion: Theopsych.com

    Olivers two books (Saving Calvinism and Deviant Calvinism): https://smile.amazon.com/Saving-Calvinism-Expanding-Reformed-Tradition/dp/0830851755/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=oliver+crisp&qid=1566088780&s=gateway&sr=8-2
    https://smile.amazon.com/Deviant-Calvinism-Broadening-Reformed-Theology/dp/1451486138/ref=sr_1_10?keywords=oliver+crisp&qid=1566088780&s=gateway&sr=8-10

    Edited by Laura Kondourajian
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  • Can silent meditation be prayer? Is prayer always in some sense bodily and physical, or is it only a spiritual thing? When did prayer first enter the story of humanity — millions of years ago, or only after verbal language? Did Neanderthals pray? Is it worth looking into the prayer practices of other religions, and if we do, what might we learn? These questions and more are explored with Dr. Carol Zaleski (Smith College), co-author of the incredible book “Prayer: A History.”

    Later, Dan answers a listener question: “What are the mental tricks or ways that you seek to understand or empathize with someone’s viewpoint you disagree with?” (1:32:00)

    Dan’s 4 mental tricks:

    Trick 1 -- system 1 or 2 belief? If 1, let it go, and just be kind; show them that people with your opposite belief can be loving; and remind yourself that they will probably only change their mind if they change their tribe. In this case, it’s better to ask general life questions than to drill down on the specific area of disagreement or original interest.

    Trick 2 -- if system 2, start asking more specific questions, learn their story as it relates to the issue.

    Trick 3 -- remind yourself that you are also a member of various tribes, so you can let your guard down as you listen to them.

    Trick 4 -- look for nuance; if you are finding it, you're on the right track; if there is none, you are probably stuck in mostly pointless tribal warfare.

    Carol’s book "Prayer: A History":
    William James, “The Varieties of Religious Experience”:
    Father Giles, “Prayer is the greatest freedom of all” (BBC): https://www.bbc.com/ideas/videos/prayer-is-the-greatest-freedom-of-all/p07b8dq5?playlist=what-is-freedom
    CS Lewis, “Transposition" sermon: https://gutenberg.ca/ebooks/lewiscs-transposition/lewiscs-transposition-00-h.html#ch01transposition
    Scott Davison, “Petitionary Prayer: A Philosophical Investigation”: https://www.amazon.com/Petitionary-Prayer-Philosophical-Scott-Davison/dp/0198757743

    Edited by Josh Gilbert (Gwall.Gilbert11@gmail.com)
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  • Did God really command the complete slaughter of everyone living in the Promised Land (men, women and children)? Would a loving God ever allow Israelite soldiers to take on additional wives as war widows (if they found them attractive and if they proved themselves to be sexually pleasing)? For 2,000 years, Christian thinkers and Biblical scholars have wrestled with difficult Old Testament passages that seem to show a violent and unloving God, one that seems to contrast sharply with other descriptions of God in the OT. Dr. Eric Seibert joins Dan to talk through this landscape of passages and problems, and to explain 14 distinct approaches that Christians have taken in dealing with them.

    Later, Dan answers a listener question: “What do you think of the whole #emptythepews movement?” (1:42:00)

    Eric’s book (The Violence of Scripture): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0800698258/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i1
    Nuclear Taboo article: https://news.stanford.edu/2017/08/08/americans-weigh-nuclear-war/

    Edited by Scott Cangemi
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  • One of the most divisive questions in the modern church is whether or not biological sex plays a role in who should be allowed to preach (and there are other issues wrapped up in this one, like whether women should be primary bread-winners, etc). Egalitarians say, “No, let the women preach!” Complementarians say, “Yes, men only; that is how God set things up.” In this episode, we hear from Dan’s Godmother Barb Clark, who is an elder in an Egalitarian church, but has some nagging concerns about the whole thing. Then the bulk of the episode is spent with Rev. Bonnie Lewis, a pastor, teacher and Bible translator, who not only makes her argument for Egalitarianism, but also responds to many of the most common counter arguments from the Contemplentarian side. Finally, we get Barb’s reaction to Dan’s chat with Bonnie. This one is a doozy!

    BadChristian Podcast Dan/Bonnie episode (#438): http://www.badchristian.com/bc_podcast/bonnie-lewis-at-the-bcxcon/
    Bonnie’s “Timshel” translation: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1945582321/timshel-an-idiomatic-bible-translation

    Edited by Josh Gilbert (Gwall.Gilbert11@gmail.com)
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  • Why is there a (perceived) conflict between science and religion, and has it always been that way? How does science actually get done, and is the scientific method and community set up in such a way as to come up with trustworthy claims? Are young Christians being set up to fail by well-meaning teachers who are skeptical of “mainstream” science? Dan is joined by Adrian Wyard of Counterblance.org to talk through all of this; before that, he hears from his friend Andy, an Evangelical pastor, about what he is and isn’t suspicious of in the world of science.

    Counterbalance.org
    Biologos.org

    Edited by Josh Gilbert (Gwall.Gilbert11@gmail.com)
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  • Is it possible to be certain about anything in one’s Christian faith? Is it possible to be certain about anything at all, like math, science, or the love of a spouse? Why does it often seem moreseo like preachers and Christian authors are peddling certainty than they are encouraging genuine faith? (The same could also be said for the “New Atheists.”) What does genuine faith look like in a world full of baked-in uncertainty? Dan’s guest Mark Schaefer, author of “The Certainty of Uncertainty,” provides some excellent commentary on this society-wide issue.

    https://www.certaintyofuncertainty.com/

    Edited by Laura Kondourajian
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  • Dan is joined for a long afternoon of somewhat experimental podcasting by Christopher Carter and Seth Schoen, who together have developed a very interesting group/individual practice (and they teach a class together about it), using meditative practices and psychology to talk about, think through, and FEEL their way through racial issues, questions, and personal histories. It is, in fact, as interesting and unique as it sounds! In the middle of the conversation, Dan offers to go through a short "session" with them, which produces some interesting results as well. We all have feelings about racial issues, whether we attend to them or not. Later on, the three of them have a somewhat difficult, honest, and ultimately clarifying conversation about critical race theory, and some concerns surrounding the way that race is talked about in American society.

    P.U.L.S.E.:
    Paying Attention
    Understanding Empathically
    Loving With Connection
    Sensing the Sacred
    Embodying New Life

    F.L.A.G.:
    Fears
    Longings
    Aching Wounds
    Gifts Stifled

    Frank Rogers - Practicing Compassion: https://www.amazon.com/Practicing-Compassion-Frank-Rogers-Jr/dp/1935205250
    Christopher’s faculty page: https://www.sandiego.edu/cas/theology/faculty-and-staff/biography.php?profile_id=840

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    Artwork by http://sprungle.co/

  • While of course there are times when it makes sense to leave one’s religious institution, today Dan and sociologist of religion Dr. Tricia Bruce make the case for staying. What is lost when people leave their churches or denominations? When they leave the church altogether? How much do they unintentionally reduce their potential impact? How have a group of concerned Catholics worked from within the Church to combat sexual abuse? Later, Dan answers a listener question: “In your opinion, what are the requirements for being considered a Christian?” (1:20:00)

    https://triciabruce.com/
    “Orthodoxy” patron-only episode with Ben Bishop: https://www.patreon.com/posts/21074279

    Edited by Josh Gilbert (Gwall.Gilbert11@gmail.com)
    Join the Patreon for bonus episodes (and more) every month: patreon.com/dankoch
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    Website: youhavepermissionpod.com
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    Artwork by http://sprungle.co/