But doesn’t get everything right, as this great review of the first few episodes on the Gospel Coalition website makes clear. This podcast season implies that the whole idea for church planting as A Thing was borrowed from and inspired by Silicon Valley startup culture. This is just not true. A real glaring historical inaccuracy, that is a nice hook to tie this podcast in to previous seasons, and to give an ‘in’ for non-Christian listeners… but bizarre nonetheless. It would have been just as good to have said ‘Similar to Silicon Valley’ rather than ‘Inspired by Silicon Valley’. Strange.
Also, the Gospel Coalition review points out, the season so far has really focussed on launching a church service rather than the larger dynamics of planting a church. This is more a matter of emphasis than error, but it still is odd. At least up to Episode 4, you don’t get much of a sense of the wider life of a church community, beyond Sunday service attendance.
But where things get really fascinating, strange and off-the-mark is in Episode 4: The Conversation where the journalist zeroes in on big points of controversy.
The Big Questions of the Day: Hell, Homosexuality and Women in Leadership
Firstly it’s just interesting to note the 3 questions that Eric picks. Not science vs Scripture, not historical reliability, not miracles, not the Trinity, not the problem of evil and suffering: Hell, homosexuality and women in leadership.
That’s an insight into some of the big issues that an educated secular Western person want to ask Christians about and challenge them on.
What’s interesting as the conversation unfolds is:
- how measured and generous the journalist is. He doesn’t escalate and get shrill and aggressive. He points out his questions and problems, but doesn’t switch gears into condemnation and shaming.
- The ways in which the journalist misrepresents or under-explains the underlying theological issues, and rewords the answers of the church planter and his wife.
- The areas where the AJ Smith, church planter, and his wife Leah are honest about their discomfort with the teaching of the Bible.
I’m want to zero in on this episode in the coming instalments to this series of blog posts.