Podcastalooza: Three podcasts I can recommend today

Steve Hassan – Freedom of Mind

First, let me introduce Steve Hassan’s interview with me regarding Christian nationalism, mind control groups, the Trump years, and, at the end, The Trinity Church in Phoenix. Hassan crafted a blog around the interview which you can read here. A warning to my readers who support Donald Trump, Steve wrote a book called the Cult of Trump about QAnon and Trump’s followers who can see no wrong in anything Trump does. By discussing people who can’t see Trump critically, I am not implying that everyone who supports some of Trump’s policy ideas is in a cult.

Veterans of the Culture War Podcast

Second, I appear today on the Veterans of the Culture War podcast hosted by Zach Malm and Dave Lester. Both men were formerly associated with Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Here is their tweet about the podcast:

The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill – Christianity Today

Third, today is the beginning of Christianity Today’s podcast series, “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill.” You can hear the first episode “Who Killed Mars Hill?” here.

I like where Mike Cosper is going with this. Rather than tell the whole story of Mars Hill, he focuses on why fallen celebrity pastors keep getting a platform among evangelicals. He hopes to understand better why certain types of people gravitate toward the role of pastor and why Christians keep accepting them.

Mike and guest Ed Stetzer establish the epidemic of celebrity pastors who fall from their perch for various reasons. Stetzer seems to float the possibility that gifted people are elevated to celebrity status before their character can catch up. As I listened, I framed this question to myself: Does pastoring in a megachurch create narcissism or are narcissists attracted to leading a such a church?

The Different Stories of the End of Mars Hill

There is a helpful section near the end where Cosper interviews former elders Aaron Gray and Tim Smith about the investigation of the formal charges in 2014. Driscoll has told people that God told him there was a trap set for him and that he was released from Mars Hill. Gray said he has never understood what that meant. Smith said Driscoll told him that Driscoll came to believe the Board of Elders who investigated the charges against him wanted to gather dirt to force him out. Instead of restoring him, according to Driscoll, they wanted to take over the church from him. Smith seemed dumbfounded by that suspiciousness.

Dave Bruskas, who witnessed the entire process, responded that there was no such “trap.” The plan was for Driscoll to submit to his elders, as he always preached a pastor should do, and return to the role of pastor at Mars Hill.

I will have more to say about future episodes but I will end this post by saying it was a nice touch to have Mars Hill Band King’s Kaleidescope provide the theme song and I liked the choice of Pedro the Lion for a closing song.

20 thoughts on “Podcastalooza: Three podcasts I can recommend today”

  1. The 2nd CT Mars Hill podcast is out, and it was thought-provoking to hear them put it in the context of the megachurches that attracted so many baby boomers (like Saddleback and Willow Creek) and the attempt to have something more authentic (less manufactured) for Gen X people.

    It sounds like Episode 3 may get more into the early days when Driscoll was running in the same circles as the “emergent” church movement. There is a huge gulf (theologically and stylistically) now between Driscoll and, say, Brian McLaren or Rob Bell, but for a couple of years they were, at least in some respects, swimming in the same waters.

  2. Just on the Vaccination issue: in the UK, the number of daily infections has risen ten-fold (i.e. by 900%) relative to three months ago. But, across the UK as a whole, the number of hospitalizations has risen only by 50% and that of deaths has changed very little, except in the North West of England, where the Delta variant first broke cover (and even then it is only hospitalizations that have increased significantly).

    The Vaccine Effect is real and very pronounced, On the whole, the British guinea pigs are doing pretty well …


  3. Thanks for linking the podcasts, Warren. I’ve listened to the Hassan and Mars Hill ones so far. I think what’s so striking about the Mars Hill debacle in particular is just how little difference being a Christian makes in both the way people act, and the way other people react to them. Celebrity culture is as much an issue within Christian circles as it is outside of Christian circles, as is the almost desperate willingness to ignore the warning signs when thing appear to be going well, and to refuse to believe someone who you admire could possibly be a terrible person.

    It’s the same impulses that allowed people like Jerry Sandusky and Jimmy Savile (in the UK) to get away with terrible crimes for decades even though all the signs were there if only people chose to look. Authority combined with celebrity is about as toxic as it can get, on both sides.

    As for being shocked when Driscoll refused to submit to the restoration process. First, it was obviously at least two decades too late for that. Even if he had submitted, it wouldn’t have been real, and it wouldn’t have been anything more than an acceptance of the fact that those in charge were not ready to let go of Driscoll’s pulling power — his fame and celebrity — thus perpetuating the problem.

    Second. Again, it just proves how willing they were to look the other way and not see how far the rot had gone. They were explicitly warned it was going to get worse, and still they were shocked when it did.

    1. “to refuse to believe someone who you admire could possibly be a terrible person.”

      this reminds me of an old quote:

      Always pick dead people to be your heroes, that way you’ll never meet them and be disappointed.

  4. Can you at least get the location right for The Trinity Church. It’s Scottsdale. And who exactly is your audience?

    1. It’s an easy mistake / editorial choice. It’s Scottdale by what…3 blocks? For most people, saying “Phoenix” is an easier city to spot in the world than a suburb. Sort of like how the Dallas Cowboys have never actually played in the city of Dallas for the past 40 or so years

    2. It’s an easy mistake / editorial choice. It’s Scottdale by what…3 blocks? For most people, Phoenix is an easier city to spot in the world than a suburb. Sort of like how the Dallas Cowboys have never actually played in the city of Dallas for the past 40 or so years

      1. Its a lot farther than three blocks, but it is 4 blocks from the reservation. Paradise Valley is closer. You have to drive down to Camelback to get directly to Phoenix. Yet they are all suburbs of the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area. Scottsdale is a wealthy burb and Paradise Valley is an obscenely wealthy burb. Yet outside Arizona most people do not know these things, no more than they can name the burbs of Seattle that once had Mars Hill satellites. I certainly cannot do that…

        1. Exactly. Mars Hill was spread out all over but to the rest of the country, it was Seattle.

        2. Ah – I was just looking at the city boundaries and didn’t realize it was the reservation to the east. So more like 2 miles west on McDonald Dr to be back in Phoenix proper πŸ™‚

          1. Nope on that too. You end up in Paradise Valley first going that way. Phoenix is closer, as I said, when you drive down to Camelback. Scottsdale borders Phoenix to the North too once you pass the northern limits of Paradise Valley. But this just shows the confusion for people who have never lived there. I spent about 2/3 of my life there.

  5. Really interesting points in the interview with Dr Hassan, especially in relation to the differences within christian nationalism and dominionisn. Warren, your style is so balanced and thoughtful (for example, the acknowledgement that there are ‘shades of opinion’ when it comes to how christian nationalists might want their objectives to be realized), and thus very engaging to those who are interested in looking at the issues raised truthfully.

  6. Great podcast. I’m also enjoying the interview, and I’m about halfway through.

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