Truce - History of the Christian Church

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How should Christians react in a post-Christian society? Many theologians describe our modern era as being post-Christian. Meaning that religion was once public in the United States, and it is slowly disappearing. Is that okay? Is it possible that now is a great time to be doing ministry? In this episode Chris interviews pastor/ author/ podcaster Skye Jethani. He's the author of the book "What if Jesus was Serious?" and co-host of The Holy Post podcast with Phil Vischer. Skye's wisdom for this time helps Christians put today in perspective. Discussion Questions: What is meant by the term "post-Christian"? Do you think we're living in a post-Christian world? How do our environment and culture impact Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount? What does it mean to love our neighbors? Turn the other cheek? Do you agree with Skye when he says that we are to obey our leaders, and yet we are the leaders in the US? If so, how does that impact how you live and work? Have you ever lived in an environment that was non-Christian? How does that differ from a culturally Christian area? Was it easier to do ministry in one over another?
When did school prayer end? When was school prayer made illegal? American Christians have disagreed about school prayer ever since it was declared illegal in the 1960s by the Supreme Court of the United States. But what were the conditions surrounding that debate? In this episode of Truce, we break down the debate using Justice Hugo Black's majority argument against school prayer. It goes all the way back to the founding of the Church of England when Thomas Cranmer wrote the Book of Common Prayer and helped the king solidify his divorce. Thomas Cranmer was made Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest role in the Church of England. But when Mary Tudor became queen, she executed Cranmer because she was Catholic and he was Protestant. Justice Black's decision hinged on the story of Cranmer. England was thrown into turmoil with every new regent because they could change the religion. The US, he argued, was founded on principles that would keep that from happening. The Establishment Clause of the US Constitution prohibits the government from establishing a religion. So... is school prayer a violation of the Establishment Clause? What do you think? Discussion Questions: Have you ever used prayer as a weapon like Chris did in the locker room for his school play? What are the benefits of prayers that are written down? What are the drawbacks? Do you recite written prayers? Why or why not? Was the Regent's Prayer right in being non-specific about which God it referred to? Do you think your country would benefit from a national religion? What if that religion could be changed over time? Did you ever pray in school? Should we pray in schools? What did you think of Justice Hugo Black's majority opinion which used the example of the Church of England in the 1500s as a reason why we should not have school prayer? Helpful links: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse (book used for research) Helpful site about Thomas Cranmer Supreme Court audio of the deliberations for Engel v. Vitale on Justice Black's majority opinion
Jerry Falwell Sr. was one of the most outspoken evangelical Christians in the 1980s. He founded Liberty University and the Moral Majority political movement. In 1985 he went on a trip to visit South Africa, which was then engaged in its apartheid practices. That meant keeping 80% of the land for white use only and moving black people to reservations. It was a black majority country controlled by the white minority. Upon his return, Falwell made some controversial statements. Including one that American Christians should not protest South Africa or demand sanctions. Seems crazy, right? But South African guerillas were being funded (in part) by the Soviet Union. The worry that communism would take over South Africa was real. Which of the two evils would Christians choose? Backing an apartheid government, or potentially supporting the Soviet-sponsored rebels? Our guest today is Melani McAlister, author of the excellent book "The Kingdom of God Has No Borders". She is also professor of American Studies and International Affairs at George Washington University. Discussion Questions: What do you think of Falwell's position on apartheid? Do you think the US concern about communism was appropriate? What were Americans afraid of when it came to communism? When in history have you or the Church had to choose between the lesser of two evils? How could that have been handled differently? Helpful Links: C-SPAN video of Jerry Falwell (edited for the show) George Washington University video featuring Melani
Hello everyone! I'll be hosting two live town halls via Zoom and I'd like you to join me. You can get the links if you join my email list, or if you are a Patreon supporter. Dates and Times: January 28 @ 9pm Eastern/6pm Pacific February 2 @ 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific Please note that this event will be recorded. By joining the town hall you are granting me the right to use your voice in an upcoming episode.
Melani McAlister, author of "The Kingdom of God Has No Borders" and Professor of American Studies and International Affairs at George Washington University joins us to discuss how we export Christianity. In the 1950s and 1960s, American denominations sent white missionaries to Africa to share the good news. But with them went their bias and racism. This was the era of Jim Crow laws. Some missionaries took those laws to Africa, not allowing black people to eat at their tables. In this episode, we examine the problem of tying the United States to Christianity. When the US makes mistakes or does evil, how does that reflect back on the church? Christian missionaries sometimes export the United States with their messages. What else is going with our missionaries? Discussion Questions: Have you ever been on a mission trip before? What was your motivation for going? Do you think that it is possible to marginalize the people we are trying to witness to? How do you feel about showing pictures of poor people in church presentations? How might that practice encourage churchgoers to marginalize a people group? Do you think poor people in other countries are happier? Is it okay for us to export the American way with the gospel? If yes, then which things should we export? Links: The Kingdom of God Has No Borders An interesting introduction to the British Empire and their withdrawal from colonialism An introduction to the troubles in Congo An NPR article about US-backed rebels
Hello everyone! I'll be hosting two live town halls via Zoom and I'd like you to join me. You can get the links if you join my email list, or if you are a Patreon supporter. Dates and Times: January 28 @ 9pm Eastern/6pm Pacific February 2 @ 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific Please note that this event will be recorded. By joining the town hall you are granting me the right to use your voice in an upcoming episode.
When I was a kid, we were playing at a friend's house. I fell and scraped up my knee pretty badly. Dirt and rocks were in the wound. My friend's mom was a nurse, so she got out her medical kit. She did her best to pick out what she could and then showed me her bottle of iodine. Iodine is a strong anti-microbial. Highly effective for cleaning wounds. But, like rubbing alcohol, it stings pretty bad. Pain, she said, is not always a bad thing. Pain is what our body uses to tell us something is wrong. That we need to make a change. If your appendix hurts, it's helpful. Because if they didn't, you'd have no way of knowing that they were going to burst. Sometimes, we need to feel pain. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty raw today. I haven't been able to focus on much. Yesterday, January 6, 2021, a mob of Trump supporters, incited by Donald Trump, stormed the Capitol building in Washington DC. It was an act of terrorism. A coup attempt on US soil. I'm angry. I'm scared. And what hurts the most is to know that evangelical Christians share the blame. We were a big part of his support base. Despite his stirring up rebellion, his lies about everything from the size of his inaugural audience to the shameful claims of a rigged election, his obvious conflicts of interest, racism, sexism, and potentially criminal dealings with Deutsche Bank, many of my people stand by his side. And there is nothing he can do to break that spell. Some Christians will support him no matter what. I started this podcast three years ago for a lot of reasons. There is one big reason, though. I wasn't public about it. I've spent a lot of hours debating whether or not I should tell you. But I started Truce because I think my people, Christians, are headed for persecution. Not because of the Bible. Not because we believe in Jesus, and the world hates Jesus. But because we're acting like children. We worship oligarchs and their money, even though Jesus told us not to. We ignore the poor, even though Jesus commanded us to take care of them. We've acquired a taste for hate, even though the Bible says to love our neighbors. We've sought vengeance when it's clear that vengeance belongs to the Lord. I don't think anyone deserves to be persecuted. Hear that. Nobody deserves persecution. But I think we're building a pretty strong case against ourselves. Christian media will try to put a positive spin on it, say it's not our fault. That the heathens hate Jesus. Know that this is the reason: because we turned our back on our calling in pursuit of power. I probably wounded you in saying that. That's okay. We've grown so used to thinking that we deserve a life free from pain. I want to remind you that pain is not always a bad thing. It tells us when we're bleeding, when we're wounded, when we're sick. I think a lot about the Babylonian's taking over Judah in the Old Testament. God's people acted wickedly generation after generation. So they paid for their wickedness. I won't offer us comfort today. I just won't. Because we won't change until it hurts. Our positive and uplifting media outlets have robbed us of our ability to lament. To grieve. Yes, pray for this country. But if we stop there, we're missing the point. We need to repent, turn from our evil ways, humbly and graciously serve others as Jesus served. Repent. Until we do, let it hurt. Let today hurt. God help us.
Many of us are familiar with Joseph McCarthy and his infamous hearings on Communism in the US government. What we don't know is that McCarthy was far from the first person to use these tactics. In this episode of the Truce Podcast we examine the Rapp-Coudert Committee-- an effort in the New York City school system to root out Communists, Fascists, and Nazis who might be teaching students. In the end, even outspoken Christians participated in this witch hunt, which targeted mostly Jewish teachers and staff. Discussion Questions: Why were Americans so afraid of Communists? Was it against the constitution to withhold rights from people because Rapp-Coudert was just a hearing? What would you have done if you were accused of being a communist? Would you have named names? Why were Jewish people targeted for violence by the Christian Front? Do the actions of one part of a group define the entire group? In this episode, some communists advocated for using schools to teach communism. But, to our knowledge, nobody in the district did that. Yet they were accused of having done so. Who do we scapegoat today in our society? Knowing that the Soviets did have spies working in the US government (like Klaus Fuchs who stole nuclear secrets), what should the government have done to root out spies? Helpful Links: Bad Faith: Teachers, Liberalism, and The Origins of McCarthyism by Andrew Feffer Fatty Arbuckle and the MPAA: episode of the Truce Podcast where we talk about how Christians censored the golden age of cinema The Santa Clause comic strip from the top of the show Smithsonian article about Soviet spies Brief article about the House Un-American Activities Committee Helpful article about the Communist Control Act
Give a little money to help support Truce! Details are at 2020 has been a difficult year for many. I wanted to take a few minutes to discuss things that went well. So I opened up a phone line to collect stories from you, the listeners. Thanks to everyone who submitted their stories! I'll be opening up the phone lines again in another month to collect more listener feedback. Happy New Year and thanks for supporting Truce!
It's time for our second annual Christmas Episode Exchange! Each year I put out a call on the Christian Podcasters Association Facebook page for 5-minute mini-episodes based on the theme of Christmas. Now I'm going to present several of the best from that group. 1) An Endurance Christmas from the Truce Podcast 2. Letters from Home Podcast by Meg Glesener 3. Life, Repurposed Podcast by Michelle Rayburn 4. Moments with Moni Podcast by Monika Hardy
Hello everyone! I'm putting together a special bonus episode of Truce and I'd love for you to submit your thoughts. We all know 2020 has been a crazy year. I'd like to put together a bonus episode celebrating some of the good things from the last 12 months. I need your help. I'd like listeners to send in their best memories of 2020. There are two ways to do that: You can record a voice memo on your smartphone and email it to or you can call and leave your memories at (347) 559-6673. Again you can record a voice memo on your smartphone and email it to or you can call and leave your memories at (347) 559-6673. And I may use it on the show. Submissions should be in by December 20th. Thanks.
The 1983 Supreme Court case Lynch v Donnelly brought church and state together in one important decision. In it, the court decided that a city-owned creche (also known as a manger scene) could remain on private land because it was part of a greater display. It wasn't a stand-alone creche. It was surrounded by Christmas trees, a Santa's village, and more. The diorama could stay because it held no significant religious value. It was, in their words, "ceremonial deism". In this modern era where it seems like religion is slipping away from public life, it's good to stop and ask what we're losing. Do our public displays of piety have any real Christian weight to them in the first place? What are we fighting for if "In God We Trust" doesn't specify which God it's referring to? Supreme Court audio for this episode was used with a Creative Commons License from The audio was edited from it's original form. Helpful Links: Full Lynch v. Donnelly audio US Treasury article about symbols on money One Nation Under God - book by Kevin Kruse Helpful Slate article about Christmas displays Helpful article about ceremonial deism Ligonier article about Festival of the Booths Pawtucket and the Industrial Revolution Majority opinion on Lynch v. Donnelly from Discussion Questions: Where do you see examples of ceremonial deism? What do expressions of ceremonial deism hope to achieve in our society? Does it work? How can we make them better? Do you like seeing God on the money? Why? Where would you like to see more of God in the public square? Where would you like to see less? Should we be more specific in our public displays? Do you think the manger scene can be both religious and non-religious?
In 1954 the United States government, led by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, staged a coup to oust President Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala. For what reason? To help the United Fruit Company. United Fruit was a giant company, capturing over 90% of the market in its heyday. The juggernaut found President Arbenz to be a nuisance when his agrarian reform meant they would be paid for some of their unused land, which would be given to peasants. With the help of powerful friends like Allen Dulles (the Director of the CIA), the United States staged a coup, installing Castillo Armas in his place. All of this took place while the USA was busy framing itself as a Christian nation. What does that mean for the Christian Church today? Are we a nation that supports that kind of behavior? Our special guest for this episode is Stephen Schlesinger, co-author of the excellent book "Bad Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala". Discussion Questions: What threat did President Jacobo Arbenz pose to United Fruit? United Fruit owned many utilities in Guatemala from the trains to telephone lines. How would you feel if our utilities were owned by foreign entities? If they controlled our natural resources? Do you think the land reform deal was a good one for their country? Were people like John Foster Dulles right to overthrow Arbenz? How might it have benefited them to do so? In what way could the actions of the US in the 1950s reflect poorly on Christianity domestically and abroad? It has been argued that American consumers benefit when Latin American and African countries are thrown in disarray. It means cheaper diamonds, gold, rubber, and more while also stranding the people in those countries in poverty. Does it bother you that you may be benefiting from unbalanced countries? Do you find the assumption that we are benefiting to be offensive? Why? Is there anything we can do about it? Sources: "Bad Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala" by Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer CIA Document profiling Arbenz YouTube clips of a documentary on the Guatemalan coup Then Vice President Nixon talking with Armas after the overthrow Statistics on Fruit Financial Times article about United Fruit Book "One Nation Under God" by Kevin Kruse (for the bio info on the Dulles brothers) Peurifoy's cable to Washington President Arbenz's farewell speech List of governments that the US has overthrown
Billy Graham may have been the most important evangelist of the 20th century. His words were heard by millions of people around the world. He preached in person, on television, magazines, radio, and film. His impact is still felt today. He is also one of the people most responsible for tying Christianity, Capitalism, and the United States. But his legacy didn't stop there. While he denounced communism, he went to great lengths to ensure that communists had access to the gospel too. Our guest this episode is David Aikman, author of "Billy Graham: His Life and Influence". Discussion Questions: Is Jesus' message individualistic, collectivist, or something in between? If the majority of a nation's citizens say they are Christians, does that make it a Christian nation? Does hobnobbing with the wealthy and politically connected occasionally backfire? Like, say, when you've come out backing Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal as Graham did? Is it possible to cross political and theological lines today in order to spread the gospel? When do we prioritize the gospel over social issues and when do we have to put our foot down? When do you walk out into the stadium and take down the ropes that divide us and when do you leave the ropes where they are? Helpful Links: Graham sermon "A Way of Life" from this episode. Newsreel of his 1949 crusade Truman's statement on the Soviets having the bomb Decision Magazine article about Graham's crisis of faith The Evangelicals by Frances Fitzgerald One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse Topics Discussed: Billy Graham's evangelistic efforts in Romania, Hungary, and China Was Billy Graham anti-communist? Billy Graham's sermons Liberal Christians Was Billy Graham a fundamentalist? What is the difference between fundamentalist and mainline churches?
What do American Christians really want in the Trump era? I think that we just want representation. We want someone to stand for us, to fight out battles. But that gets tricky. There is a story in the Old Testament that gives us some clues about how that temptation can hurt us in the end. Discussion Questions: Have you ever received a gospel tract? What was your reaction? What kind of information do you think is essential on a tract? Have you ever received a tract for a different religion? How did that make you feel? How did you know it was from a different religion? Is it okay for corporations to evangelize? What are the risks of that? The benefits? Are capitalism and Christianity the same thing? If so, where does it say that in the Bible? Does it feel threatening to question the connection between capitalism and Christianity? Why?
This was one of our first ever episodes! We're rebroadcasting it today because the 2020 US Presidential election is upon us. One of the questions that keeps coming up is: why does Donald Trump appeal to white evangelical Christians? This episode was produced three years ago, so it may sound a little different, but the information is still relevant to today. President Trump has made it pretty clear that he does not know the basic tenants of Christianity. So why do we say that he is one?
The CIA, big business, and the Ad Council worked together to create the America that we know and love today. Together, they bonded our ideas of patriotism, capitalism, and religion. But not many of us know who the Ad Council is. Sure they created Smokey Bear, the Crash Test Dummies, and the Crying Indian ads... but who are they? Wendy Melillo, author of "How McGruff and the Crying Indian Changed America: A History of Iconic Ad Council Campaigns" and professor at American University, joins us to discuss her research into the Ad Council. Helpful Links: Religion in American Life Video Ad Wendy Melillo's fascinating lecture on her book The creepy "Why?" ad we referenced in the episode Ad Council's own history website Discussion Questions: Have you ever been impacted by advertising? How did it make you feel? Does it matter where our ads come from? Even public service announcements? How do you feel about the CIA paying for ads to impact Americans? Should responsibility for big problems like plastic waste fall on individuals, big corporations, or both? Do you think the Bible says anything about one economic model over another?
Did Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle murder Virginia Rappe? That questions defined the film industry for thirty years. Upset with Hollywood's moral failures, Christians demanded changes. We took over, fighting until the studios decided to censor themselves. This special episode of Truce ties into our last episode with Abby Johnson of the Unplanned movie. This episode explores: * Who was Fatty Arbuckle? * Who was Virginia Rappe? * Did Fatty Arbuckle murder Virginia Rappe? * What is the MPAA? * What started the Motional Picture Association of America? * Did Christians really censor the golden age of films?
Donate to help keep Truce going. Visit for information James Fifield was a pastor, radio personality, publisher, and outspoken libertarian. He hated the New Deal and its restrictions. His organization, Spiritual Mobilization, created a marketing campaign that would bond Christianity to capitalism and the United States for decades to come. Also... you know those Ten Commandments monuments all over the country? Well, it turns out that many of them were built to advertise for one of the highest grossing movies of all time: Cecil B. Demille's "The Ten Commandments". Helpful links: List of Ten Commandments monuments placed by the Eagles Ten Commandments trailer featuring Cecil B. Demille One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse The Evangelicals by Frances Fitzgerald Discussion Questions: Is it creepy when corporations tell people how to behave? Do you like it when companies tie religion to business? Is Christianity an individualistic religion? A collectivist one? Neither? Both? Does Leviticus 25:10 mean that we have a right to liberty? Or does it mean something else? Should monuments to the 10 Commandments be allowed on public land?
When strikes broke out in the 1930's, some wealthy members of the US elite got together... to pray. One of the organizers of prayer groups across the country was Abraham Vereide. In this episode of Truce we tell the story of how Vereide became one of the most influential non-elected men of his time... and how his movement took a dark turn as revealed in Netflix's The Family. Contributed Voices (not all were used): Sharon Campbell - All God's Women Podcast Shea and Michelle Watson - The Pantry Podcast Annie Quinnell - The Unstoppable Solo Mom Podcast Tim and JK Winders - Seek Go Create Podcast Holland Webb - The Afterword Podcast Markus Watson - Spiritual Life and Leadership Podcast Discussion Questions: When is it an appropriate time for a labor strike? How bad do things have to get before a strike can shut down the economy? Is there a Christian perspective on labor strikes? Is there anything wrong or creepy about Christian businessmen praying to end a strike? Do you think the National Prayer Breakfast is an event focused on piety? Read Matthew 6 in the Bible. What do you think it means for public prayer? Jesus prayed in public. Is all public prayer wrong, or just some of it? Where is that line? Vereide's legacy created "The Family", a shadowy organization that tries to create male Christian leaders. Is this good, bad, creepy, or some combination of the three? "The Family" is focused on male leaders. Why do we struggle as Christians to let women lead? Helpful Links: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse Britannica article about The Family History of the Prayer Breakfast 90% of Everything - book about shipping containers Crash Course - Great book about unions and the US auto manufacturers Helpful history of the San Fransisco and Seattle strikes and Bloody Thursday YouTube video of West Coast during the strikes "The Family" - the Netflix "documentary".
In this bonus episode, host Chris Staron does his best to quiet fears about where Truce is headed. Is this show pushing a political motive? What about an economic system? Nope. Truce is about exploring our past in order to make us better. The goal is to remain orthodox and a-political.
Partner with us by donating at: Many Christian leaders came to hate the New Deal, especially libertarians. Their opposition to the New Deal as creeping socialism sparked the National Prayer Breakfast, some of Billy Graham's speeches, and the bonding of capitalism to Christianity and the US. So we should probably know what the New Deal was! Our guest this episode is Justin Rosolino. He's a high school history teacher and the author of the book "Idiot Sojourning Soul". You can find pictures of Chris' 50 mile New Deal Bike Tour on the website at Helpful Links: FDR's Inauguration Speech on C-SPAN Interesting YouTube video about the causes of the Great Depression Topics Discussed: What was the Social Gospel? Who was Franklin Roosevelt? What was the New Deal? The Civilian Conservation Corp The Works Progress Administration Jenny Lake - Grand Teton National Park Unemployment We're focused on making Truce the best Christian podcast on the market. Partner with us by donating at
Does the church represent working-class people or are we too focused on the wealthy? During the Industrial Revolution many saw churches as clubs for rich people. So working folks formed their own churches, unions, and organizations. In this episode Heath Carter, professor at Princeton and author of "Union Made" and "The Pew and the Picket Line", talks labor. Helpful Links: Rerum Novarum - the decree by the Pope about labor Interesting video featuring Heath Carter The Evangelicals by Francis Fitzgerald One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse Topics Covered: Are labor unions Christian? What is Christian socialism? Were the apostles socialists? Does the book of Acts demonstrate socialism? What does James 5 say about the wealthy? What does the Bible say about work? What does the Bible say about asking for a raise?
Donate to support the Truce Podcast at The United States and Russia ran along parallel tracks in the late 1800s and 1900s. Both were empires. Both were tangled in war. Both were feeling the weight of the Industrial Revolution. But they divided in how they would deal with labor. That critical difference changed the history of the world. In this episode, Professor Heath Carter of the Princeton Theological Seminary starts the first of a two-episode conversation about Christianity and labor. Mr. Carter is the author of Union Made and editor of books such as The Pew and the Picket Line. Helpful Links: Heath Carter on Twitter New York City in 1903 video (Library of Congress) Interesting video of Heath Carter talking about labor Article about the Native American from the top of the show Topics Discussed: Do Christians support unions? The F. Scott Fitzgerald quote about first-rate intelligence and two ideas Working conditions in the 1800s in Chicago Pew rents How do churches make their money?

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Podcast Details

Created by
Chris Staron
Podcast Status
Mar 19th, 2018
Latest Episode
Mar 2nd, 2021
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
22 minutes

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