Tag Archives: relationship

87: Saying Father and Meaning It

In this episode John and Gregg discuss a very unusual ‘listener’ email.

When Gregg was 22 years old his father killed himself, his son (Gregg’s younger brother), and two young parents in a car crash. Gregg’s father was traveling 100 mph in a 50 mph zone and was legally drunk at the time, and so was unquestionably responsible for these four deaths.

In this same regard, Gregg recently received a warm, gracious email from one of the children of the parents that Gregg’s father killed. John and Gregg discuss the impact of receiving this correspondence and Gregg’s reflection both on the events of the past and their implications now.

Gregg explains a few of the major impacts of the accident and how he is reflecting on them differently, following this correspondence. On the one hand, Gregg explains that he has realized that his intention to “be a better man than his father” is something that he has been straining toward too hard. In fact, Gregg now finds himself able to acknowledge that in terms of many of the steps that he took even while his father was still alive (such as identifying potential issues in his own life, determining how to address these issues, and then actually addressing them) he had already achieved that goal. This realization has proved liberating.
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73: The Wrong Kind of Mystery

In this episode John and Gregg discuss several Christmas events that John attended over the holidays. John reads sections from the printed material from these events and then John and Gregg discuss this content.

The first piece is a concert program with a welcome message. John is struck by the end of this message which reflected on “the distance that the Creator was willing to go to redeem his creation” by sending Jesus, and how by taking such steps, this represents “His [God’s] greatest mystery.” Gregg replies that if a given subject or element is both mysterious (i.e., unclear and unfathomable) and plays a key role in in either forming or developing a belief set, then clearly we have a big problem. For example, if a particular element is crucial to maintaining belief in God but is unclear or incomprehensible then how can one reasonably (or perhaps even safely) maintain such a belief?

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8: Knowledge or Intimacy | Chap 3 of Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman

John and Gregg discuss Chapter Three of Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman.  As Idleman’s use of the Bible in chapter one and chapter two seemed shaky, they are both pleasantly surprised to find that his use of Luke 7 squares with what they find in the Bible.

Gregg then dives into a discussion of “knowledge” and the different types of knowledge–knowledge of facts / events vs. relational knowledge / intimacy that parallels Idleman’s discussion of whether we simply have knowledge of God or intimacy (relationship) with him.

Gregg comments on how Jesus praises two people (centurion and prostitute) who are despised by society, noting how 1st century readers would be shocked (as Simon the Pharisee was) about Jesus’ interaction with the prostitute.  Yet the prostitute responded rightly and, against Kyle’s idea that “Christianity is Jesus interfering with our lives”, Gregg argues that the prostitute’s response was an extravagant, powerful response to Jesus as someone who is in love (there’s knowledge, but it’s about love).

We finish by discussing whether Jesus’ death or Jesus’ healing is a better basis for embracing Christianity and how, if faith in God is born out of something, Christianity is a love relationship not born from duty but from desire–a desire for God that responds to being known and loved by God.

5: When Your One Star Experience is Five Stars for Someone Else

Returning to part of our discussion in Episode #3, we delve deeper into John’s question about why people’s experiences differ.  Specifically, while John and Gregg have been mostly negative about Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman, the vast majority of Amazon reviewers have given it 5 stars (the highest review possible). How can so many people consider the book to be so good, yet we don’t?

In response we explore how our interpretation of our experiences of the world and God affect the conclusions we come to.  John wonders if religious communities allow us to have our own experience of God or if instead they try tell us how we to should feel or react to God.

Gregg explains how some painful past experiences contributed to his conclusions about God (and particularly, God’s justice).  He also notes how new experiences can expand these conclusions, but only when our goal is an honest attachment to truth (and not a need to preserve a certain self-identity).

Likewise, we discuss how to assess the difference between positive and negative responses to Not a Fan.  First, by vetting Kyle Idleman’s use of the Bible (his exegesis).  Second, by questioning readers about how their relationship with God is better after having read the book, and doing so in part by asking what truth value they have attributed to the Bible’s truth claims, and why.  We’ll be discussing what truth values and truth claims are in a future episode.

We conclude with a discussion of the value of testimony and the distinction between knowing about God (factual knowledge) versus knowing God through relationships (relational knowledge), and how these last two are reciprocal.

4: DTR With Jesus | Chap 1 of Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman

In this episode we discuss Chapter One of Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. Idleman asserts that Jesus pushes us to “define the relationship” (DTR) that we have with him.  Idleman argues that a core distinction of being either a fan or follower of Jesus, is the need properly to resolve this crucial question:

What if all of life comes down to this one question? What if there really is a heaven and there really is a hell, and where I spend eternity comes down to how you answer this question?” (Not a Fan, page 21).

In response, Gregg argues that rather than pushing us to ‘define the relationship’ God instead seeks and woos us, and that Christianity is not essentially about punishment (hell) or reward (heaven) but about whether God really loves us and how we would know this.

Also, Gregg argues that a binary distinction (where being a ‘fan’ is bad and a ‘follower’ is good) is neither relevant nor warranted, because where we stand in a relationship is a deeply complex matter based on our experiences and history as an individual.

John sees as an ongoing theme of drama, doubt and sowing seeds of “never enough.”  He also wonders how often we see examples in the bible of Jesus forcing people to define their relationship with him and if this cornerstone idea from Not A Fan squares with the Bible.

Idleman’s assertion in this chapter about making a decision about eternity comes up frequently in future discussions, hereafter known as “page twenty one.”