Category Archives: Not A Fan

84: Second Opinions

In this episode John and Gregg discuss the notion of Christians getting a “second opinion” on matters concerning their faith, and even on their faith itself.

Gregg introduces the topic by explaining how his spouse was reading a book on Christianity late one evening and was troubled by its contents. However, she was unable to articulate fully what she found disturbing. Gregg likens this to John’s request some years ago for he and Gregg to read Kyle Idleman’s not a fan side-by-side in order to decipher what John found problematic with that book.

In both cases Gregg sees these as instances where people needed second opinions on the versions of Christianity with which they were being presented. So Gregg asks: What is a second opinion? What does it mean to be a Christian and get a second opinion on your faith? How does one assess the validity of such a “second opinion”?
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78: Be More Practical and Less Theoretical | Listener Feedback

In this episode John and Gregg welcome Tommi Poelstra, John’s wife, to the show. Tommi joins John and Gregg to offer feedback on Episode #68.

In Tommi’s view episode #68 was more focused on God’s kingdom than on God “meeting our needs,” which is what John and Gregg set out to discuss at the beginning of that episode. Further, Tommi understood Gregg to be arguing that people should think more about God’s kingdom than about their needs, and that everyone should thus be “kingdom focused” rather than “need focused.”

Gregg responds that God’s kingdom has no real meaning to non-Christians, and that what stage a given Christian / person investigating Christianity may “be at” in terms of Christianity will determine to what extent God’s kingdom is a priority to that person at that moment.

Tommi continues by noting her sense that episode # 68 needed to address human needs directly. So even as she identifies Gregg as someone who values his family and is clearly concerned for their needs, she still perceived a hierarchy in Gregg’s perspective in that episode, where human needs were important but not “as important” as, say, God’s kingdom. Instead, for Tommi the topic of God’s kingdom should not come into—let alone become alone become the primary focus—in discussion on the topic of human needs. They should have been treated in separate podcasts.
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Notes from Kyle Idleman’s “The Inside-Out Way of Jesus: Humbled To Be Exalted”

These are John’s notes as he listened to Kyle Idleman’s message titled The Inside-Out Way of Jesus: Humbled To Be Exalted (week 2) from May 25, 2014.

John’s goal was to capture Idleman’s presentation in text to make it easier to analyze and think about. These notes reflect what John understood Idleman to be say (absent any of John’s thoughts or opinions about Idleman’s presentation).

Kyle Idleman’s message and these notes serve as the backdrop for the conversation John and Gregg have in Episode 47 and Episode 48.  Listen there for their thoughts and opinions.
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40: Informed Trust

In this episode John and Gregg discuss an article from Christianity Today titled Here Come the Radicals by Matthew Lee Anderson that examines several books on “radical Christianity” such as Kyle Idleman’s Not A Fan. John resonates with the author’s point that writers such as Idleman promote an intensity as key to whether one is really in right relationship with God. Yet due to what both he and Gregg have seen to be a rather amateur use of Scripture, John finds their credibility to be questionable.

John notes further that these authors focus a great deal on how ‘not to be’, but offer little on how to be rightly toward God (and instead seem to replace belief with commitment). Gregg broadly agrees and notes how this author has reached many of the same conclusions as he and John have. He further emphasizes the difference between belief and understanding (and ultimately trust).

Yet where the author sees an issue with vocabulary, Gregg sees a misunderstanding about the role of personal experience. So the issue is not that Christians have lost the grasp on the “simple language of Scripture,” but more likely that such Christians lack experiences of God / proper expectations of what experiencing God should be like. So for a love relationship to have real impact, we need real experiences of that love! So perhaps Christians are often trying to “fake it” through a relationship that just is not working for them.

39: Using the Bible Well

In this episode John and Gregg discuss Luke 9:23, “taking up your cross” and “following Jesus.”  From this John wonders generally about how we should be using the Bible.  He gives the example of sermons where biblical passages are taken to mean exactly what they meant when they were written (and have essentially the same implications for us as they did for the original audience).  This seems to lack intellectual integrity.

For Gregg, such questions are a question of biblical hermeneutics.  For example, Gregg mentions a “divine discourse” theory of interpretation whereby God, in a certain very real sense, speaks through the Bible.  Yet this perspective embraces the literary characteristics of the text and is aware that these literary standards (for historiography, etc.) are different from what we hold to today (and so we cannot hold them to our 21st century standards).

So the gospels are “rhetorical documents” in the ancient sense of the word–documents meant to convince the reader of certain things.  In this case, the gospels aim to convince the reader that Jesus truly is Messiah and is the son of God.  John sees a stark contrast between this intention of the text (i.e., convincing of who Jesus is) and the orientation of books like Kyle Idleman’s Not a Fan (which seek to convince us of how to act and how much it should be “hurting” when you do it, and that if you don’t act this way then you may not be following God).
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