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Quick to Listen

Christianity Today

65 episodes

Oct 21, 2020

Armenian Christians Are Especially Worried About War 

This fall, violence broke out again between Armenia and Azerbaijan over a contested region in Azerbaijan known as Nagorno-Karabakh. Home of 170,000 people, the majority of its inhabitants are ethnic Armenian and the area itself has been governed by ethnic Armenians since 1994.

The countries’ close allegiances with other countries had worried many that the fighting and civilian deaths might spiral into a regional conflict. Armenia, for instance, has close ties to Russia and, to a lesser extent, Iran. Azerbaijan has the strong support of Turkey and some have reported that Syrian militants are also fighting alongside the Azeri.

Another complicating level is religion. More than 95 percent of Azerbaijan’s 10 million people identify as Muslim, mostly Shiite. More than 90 percent of Armenia’s three million people identify as Christian, specifically Armenian Apostolic. Armenia also boasts the oldest state church, all the way back to the beginning of the fourth century A.D.

This week on Quick to Listen we talked to Felix Corley about the country’s Christian heritage and the extent to which it is playing a role in the current conflict. Corley is editor of Forum 18 News Service, which covers religious freedom issues in the former Soviet Union. He has written extensively on the Armenian Apostolic church in the Soviet period.

Corley joined global media manager Morgan Lee and editorial director Ted Olsen to discuss how Christianity first arrived in Armenia, the enduring trauma of the genocide, and how the Apostolic Church engages and interacts with other Christians in the country.W

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Quick to Listen is produced by Morgan Lee and Matt Linder

The transcript is edited by Bunmi Ishola

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Oct 14, 2020

Amy Coney Barrett and the Christian Legal Community 

This week, the Senate is holding confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. After Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died last month, with less than two months before Election Day, Trump nominated Coney Barrett to replace her on the bench.The proceedings have been contentious. After Antonin Scalia died in 2015, Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold a vote or hold confirmation hearings after President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the seat more than a year before the election. Their decision to move forward with this nomination has provoked charges of hypocrisy.

In addition, Coney Barrett’s relationship with her Catholic-Charismatic community, People of Praise, has drawn scrutiny as critics have asked what type of authority this group might have over her judicial decisions.

Given Coney Barrett’s rise, this week on Quick to Listen, we wanted to talk about the state of Christian legal world with Kim Colby, who has worked for Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom since graduating from Harvard Law School in 1981. Colby has represented religious groups in several appellate cases, including two cases heard by the United States Supreme Court. She has filed numerous amicus briefs in federal and state courts. She was also involved in the congressional passage of the Equal Access Act in 1984.

Colby joined global media manager Morgan Lee and editorial director Ted Olsen to discuss what she makes of Coney Barrett’s participation in her intentional Christian community, what it’s like being a woman in the Christian legal community, and what unites and divides Catholics and Protestants together in this world.

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Music by Sweeps

Quick to Listen is produced by Morgan Lee and Matt Linder

The transcript is edited by Bunmi Ishola

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Oct 7, 2020

When Those in Power Get Sick 

Transcribed highlights of the show can be found in our episode summaries.

Last week, President Trump announced that he and his wife Melania had tested positive for COVID-19. Since then, a number of those in his administration and his campaign have also tested positive. In the wake of this diagnoses, the US media has fixated on the political ramifications of these diagnoses. But how might the stories of biblical rulers who suffer disease and sickness speak to the moment?

Carmen Joy Imes is associate professor of Old Testament and program coordinator of Bible and theology at Prairie College in Three Hills, Alberta and the of author of Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters and its forthcoming sequel, Being God’s Image: Why Creation Still Matters. 

Imes joined global media manager Morgan Lee and editorial director Ted Olsen to discuss if scripture treats the illnesses of leaders differently than general illnesses, the difference in the Old Testament between simple illness and illness as judgment, and whether or not it’s possible to link sin and sickness.

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Music by Sweeps

Quick to Listen is produced by Morgan Lee and Matt Linder

The transcript is edited by Bunmi Ishola

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Sep 30, 2020

The Sexual Misconduct Allegations Against Ravi Zacharias 

Transcribed highlights of the show can be found in our episode summaries.

This week, Christianity Today published an in-depth report on allegations of sexual misconduct by popular apologist Ravi Zacharias: 

"Three women who worked at the businesses, located in a strip mall in the Atlanta suburbs, told Christianity Today that Ravi Zacharias touched them inappropriately, exposed himself, and masturbated during regular treatments over a period of about five years. His business partner said he regrets not stopping Zacharias and sent an apology text to one of the victims this month.

"RZIM denies the claims, saying in a statement to CT that the charges of sexual misconduct “do not in any way comport with the man we knew for decades.” The organization has hired a law firm “with experience investigating such matters” to look into the allegations, which date back at least 10 years. RZIM declined to answer any further questions about the inquiry."

This week on Quick to Listen, we discuss this story with Daniel Silliman, the journalist who wrote it. He joined global media manager Morgan Lee and editorial director Ted Olsen to discuss how he went about reporting this story, what makes this story unique from other stories of other fallen Christian leaders, and why CT reports bad news on Christian leaders, even after they have passed away. 

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Why we report bad news about leaders: A note from the editors on the Ravi Zacharias investigation

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Music by Sweeps

Quick to Listen is produced by Morgan Lee and Matt Linder

The transcript is edited by Bunmi Ishola

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Sep 23, 2020

Bethel’s Sean Feucht’s Protests and Praises Have a History 

Transcribed highlights of the show can be found in our episode summaries.

He describes himself in his Instagram bio as a Jesus Follower, Missionary, Artist, Author, Humanitarian, Activist. But right now, Sean Feucht may be best known as a volunteer Bethel worship leader who has spent his summer leading around two dozen outdoor worship concerts.

Feucht’s events are “a mix of Christian concert, healing service, guerrilla street theater and spectator mosh pit,” Religion News Service recently reported.

They can also turn political. After the city of Seattle recently refused to give Feucht and his worship team permission to host a concert in one of his parks, likely because concerns of masking and social distancing, they held their show on a nearby street.

As the concert began, he informed the audience. “Politicians can write press releases, they can make up threats, they can shut down parks, they can put up fences. But they can’t stop the church of Christ from worshipping the one true God. We are here as citizens of America and of the kingdom of God and we will not be silenced.”

There’s something really powerful when people when people bring together music and mission, says Leah Payne, associate professor of theology at George Fox University and Portland Seminary.“I found this great quote a while back when I was researching temperance workers who were wanting to use hymns to their cause, and they said music was the key to doing that because they said it was a sentiment maker,” said Payne. “It was magical. It could create within people the emotional logic that they needed to overcome their objections to something. And I think that's something revivalists have been especially good at. They understand that music moves people—any and all kinds of music, harnessed in any particular direction.”

Payne joined global media manager Morgan Lee and editorial director Ted Olsen and discuss the religious traditions that inspire Feucht’s ministry, if people should be surprised to see worship leaders voicing political beliefs, and why so many popular worship leaders are good at Instagram.

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Listen to our guest’s podcast: Weird Religion

Check out Sean Feucht’s music on Spotify

Music by Sweeps

Quick to Listen is produced by Morgan Lee and Matt Linder

The transcript is edited by Bunmi Ishola

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Sep 16, 2020

The Fire This Time: How Climate Change Shifts Our Understanding of Suffering 

Transcribed highlights of the show can be found in our episode summaries.

Unless you’ve actually been in an area where you can look out your window and see the view with your own eyes, by now you’ve caught images of an orange sky coming from West Coast. For the past week, hundreds of miles of California, Oregon, Washington, and neighboring states have been covered in smokey air as forest fires rage, driving thousands of people from their homes. More than a dozen people have died in these historically catastrophic fires.

As climate change has increasingly worsened fire season, it’s changed how Paige Parry, associate professor of Biology at George Fox University, makes sense of these disasters. 

“We know that humans are what’s contributing to the fires,” said Parry. “So in my head, that makes my response and the questions that I ask very different than maybe a disaster that's truly natural and not influenced at all by human action.”

Parry, a quantitative forest ecologist, has spent most of her life and research in the West. 

“Within this context of feeling like we have so little control over the situations that are unfolding here on the West Coast and feeling like we're just victims of these fires ravaging, there's a part of me that also recognizes that our collective actions and choices have in some ways likely contributed to the situation that we've found ourselves in, which I think leaves us to wrestle with it in a very different way,” she said. 

Parry joined global media manager Morgan Lee and editorial director Ted Olsen to discuss why these fires have grown increasingly worse, what types of consequences the fires have even after they’ve been extinguished, and how a Christian response to fires may look different in the wake of climate change. 

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Music by Sweeps

Quick to Listen is produced by Morgan Lee and Matt Linder

The transcript is edited by Bunmi Ishola

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Sep 9, 2020

Why Someone You Love Might Join QAnon 

Transcribed highlights of the show can be found in our episode summaries.

A conspiracy theory that holds that many in the elite are part of a sex trafficking cabal, QAnon’s supporters has increasingly moved into the mainstream. Many also attend evangelical churches. It’s appeal in our community is World magazine’s cover story for this week and also was the subject of recent longform article for MIT Technology Review

But the phenomena is not limited to the United States, as Mark Sayers, the senior leader of Red Church in Melbourne, Australia, witnessed when he recently saw followers in shirts with symbols tied to the movement in his city. 

“It's really interesting, cause as I looked at it, I began to see it less as a conspiracy—I mean, there are elements of conspiracy theory—but it's really a new religious movement,”said Sayers, who is also the author of Reappearing Church: The Hope for Renewal in the Rise of Our Post-Christian Culture. “And I wonder if it's the first great internet religion. It’s not the only one out there, there are other online internet religions growing and other conspiracy theories flying around—this is just one of them. But I think there is some concern in it.”

Sayers joined global media manager Morgan Lee and editorial director Ted Olsen in a discussion for listeners who are trying to reach family members or other loved ones who have accepted these beliefs.

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Music by Sweeps

Quick to Listen is produced by Morgan Lee and Matt Linder

The transcript is edited by Bunmi Ishola

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Sep 2, 2020

Can Christians Justify the Violence on America’s Streets? 

In the past week, a video has circulated on social media that appears to show Christian author Eric Metaxas punching a protester in the face following President Trump's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention on the White House lawn. 

This week, Metaxas addressed the incident to World Magazine.  

“For context, just so you know, the guy came at me with his bike and was very menacing for a long time,” he said. 

Commentary over Metaxas’ action took off during a week in which a 17-year-old vigilante shot and killed two protesters in Kenosha and a counter-protester was shot and killed in a Portland demonstration. This uptick in civilian violence, which has occurred at protests organized in the aftermath of police brutality, inspired writer Bonnie Kristian’s recent column for The Week, “You Know What Violence Is.” 

“The basic, standard definition of violence, that you'll find across the board, has pretty consistent elements,” said Kristian, who is also a columnist for Christianity Today. “One is that it involves the use of physical force; so it can't be purely verbal. And then one is that there's an intent to inflict harm.”

Kristian joined global media manager Morgan Lee and editorial director Ted Olsen to discuss whether silence is violence, if violence always begets violence, and why people often don’t want to own the actions of their side as violence. 

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Music by Sweeps

Quick to Listen is produced by Morgan Lee and Matt Linder

The transcript is edited by Bunmi Ishola

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Aug 26, 2020

Was Liberty’s Board Set up to Support Falwell or Liberty? 

Transcribed highlights of the show can be found in our episode summaries.

Jerry Falwell Jr. resigned as president of Liberty University on Monday. The news came after Reuters reported that a friend and business partner of the couple had sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell Jr. watched. Falwell Jr. himself submitted his resignation only to reverse course twice.

Falwell Jr. was already on an indefinite leave of absence after he posted a picture on Instagram of him posing with his arm around a woman at a party with their zippers down and midsections exposed.

With one notable exception, Liberty’s board has staged largely silent in the wake of Falwell Jr.’s increasingly controversial public statements and financial dealings.

For ministry boards which have run into moral or ethic issues with their CEOs, one common mistake is allowing the CEO to recommend too many board members, says Bob Andringa, the managing partner of the Andringa Group who specializes in governance and the relationship between boards and chief executives.

“Who's a CEO going to recommend? They’re going to recommend friends,” said Andringa, who has written several books on board governance, including The Nonprofit Board Answer Book and Good Governance for Nonprofits. “And so when it comes down to crunch time, those friends have more loyalty to the CEO than they do to the mission of the whole organization.”

Andringa joined global media manager Morgan Lee and editorial director Ted Olsen to discuss the blind spots of Christian boards, what encourages and discourages them in holding leaders accountable, and why more retired people should serve on boards.

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Music by Sweeps

Quick to Listen is produced by Morgan Lee and Matt Linder

The transcript is edited by Bunmi Ishola

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Aug 19, 2020

Belarus’s Protestants Want Their President Gone 

Transcribed highlights of the show can be found in our episode summaries.

Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko has been in office for 26 years. After last week’s elections, he says he’s won yet another term. But Belarusians are saying enough is enough, with thousands of them taking to the streets in protest and demanding new elections. Lukashenko has shot down this request thus far.

The majority of Belarusians identify as Christian. Of the country’s roughly 10 million, 73 percent are Orthodox and 12 percent Catholic, according to Pew Research Center data. Though the Protestant community is tiny, it has not been silent.

Last week, the Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists in Belarus, the United Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith in Belarus, and the Religious Association of Full Gospel Communities in Belarus released a joint statement asking for prayer. 

Protests in 2010 played a key role in changing Protestants’ minds on Lukashenko and the government, says Geraldine Fagan, the editor of the East-West Church Report and author of Believing in Russia – Religious Policy after Communism

“I think particularly since then, there's been an increasingly strong pro-democracy movement within the church,” said Fagan. “And that has interacted with the other pro-democracy movements and has just gradually built momentum over the years. I think this is just the dam bursting basically. People just are not prepared to tolerate the restrictions that are actually impinging upon their consciences essentially.”

Fagan joined global media manager Morgan Lee and editorial director Ted Olsen to discuss the arrival of Protestant Christianity in Belarus, what religious freedom looks like in the former Soviet country, and what the global church can learn from Belarusian Christians. 

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Music by Sweeps

Quick to Listen is produced by Morgan Lee and Matt Linder

The transcript is edited by Bunmi Ishola

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