PODCAST

Thinking Christian

Tom Gilson

Your weekly guide to solid Christian thinking on faith, science, culture, and Christian confidence. Thinking Christian is hosted by Tom Gilson, who also runs the top-ranked blog of the same name. He's a senior editor at The Stream, (stream.org) and the author of multiple books including the 2020 release, Too Good to Be False: How Jesus' Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality

Episode 3-5, Pastors' Equipping Series: Explaining How Perfectly Right Jesus Got It on Marriage
Jesus got marriage right. Really right, and right in ways the rest of us can really appreciate, if we think about it in the right context. So His teaching provides a good introduction to biblical teaching on all sexual morality, for those who aren’t so sure the Bible gets it right. This sermon accompanies a Pastors’ Corner article at The Stream, where I’m a writer and senior editor. It’s in the Practical Ministry Explainer series, and it’s titled “How to Begin Teaching the Truth About Homosexuality.” It’s for pastors who want to begin teaching especially on homosexuality but aren’t sure where to start or what fireworks they may set off. This is the first in a series of steps toward complete and open teaching on sex, sexuality, and gender. And it’s got a couple of creative twists in it that I think you’ll enjoy. We’d love to get pastors’ feedback on the Pastors’ Corner, both here and at The Stream. We’re asking you help us help you by filling out a short questionnaire to let us know how we’re doing and how we can serve you better. We invite you to use this message not just as information but as a sample sermon. We do ask that in your bulletin and online postings you give credit to Tom Gilson and to The Stream, with whom this work is being done in cooperation, with links both to The Stream and to this podcast page. Download the transcript for a written form of this sermon as well. If you’re not a pastor, please consider yourself a member of the congregation listening and learning. You’re most welcome here! And then do please send this podcast to your pastor. There’ll be more like it to come!
Feb 19 2022
27 mins
Episode 3-4: How to Find Your Authentic SelfEpisode 3-3: Pastors' Equipping Series: Sample Sermon on Christian Exclusivism vs. Pluralism — (Optionally) Christmas Themed!
Christians aren’t supposed to say we have the one truth. That’s the word around our culture, anyway. We’re supposed to be “humble” about our beliefs; to give equal worth and respect to all other beliefs. That’s what culture tells us, but what does God say? Clearly Jesus claims to be the one way, the one truth, and the one life, through whom alone we can come to the Father. But how does that square with Christian humility? How do we live that out without arrogance? And why isn’t God like an elephant? You weren’t expecting that last question, I’m sure! That’s okay, it’s just a teaser to a fun part of this sample sermon on Christian Exclusivism vs. Religious Pluralism. I present this early in December, with a Christmas theme as part of it, but you can easily extract that part out and use the rest of it any time of the year. This comes to you in cooperation with The Stream, where you’ll find a wealth of accompanying information, in the form of a one-page summary “explainer” article covering this material and more, with links in it to all the supporting documentation you could want in order to make sure you’re representing the truth in this message if you use it. Also here at Thinking Christian, find a written version of this sample sermon. We invite you to use this, not just as information but as a sample sermon. We do ask that in your bulletin and online postings you give credit to Tom Gilson and to The Stream, with whom this work is being done in cooperation, with links both to The Stream and to this podcast page. Check out the Thinking Christian blog for a written form of this sample sermon as well. If you’re not a pastor, please consider yourself a member of the congregation listening and learning. You’re most welcome here! And then do please send this podcast to your pastor. There’ll be more like it to come!
Dec 14 2021
34 mins
Episode 3-2 — Pastor Equipping Series: Sample Sermon on the Faith-Science Challenge (Emphasis on the Virgin Birth of Jesus)
Faith vs. Science: It feels like David approaching Goliath, with no sling and no stones. Or at least, that’s the way a lot of people want us to feel it. As pastor, you know there’s pressure on Christians to deny the faith in favor “almighty science.” With this podcast we offer you a sample sermon you can use (see below) to begin preaching the truth, that faith has nothing to hide and nothing to fear from science. With Christmas approaching — and possibly some final sermon prep still waiting to be done — we present this with with a special emphasis on Advent and the Virgin Birth. Skeptics say it’s got to be a fable, because “Science shows that’s impossible.” Christians typically know a good first answer, which is, “With God all things are possible.” I’m not sure that always comes across as strong with skeptics as it could. Their charge against us there has a whole lot worse problems than they realize. They’re probably the ones believing fables. Provable to be fables, I mean; provable in ways even they would have trouble denying. This comes to you in cooperation with The Stream, where you’ll find a wealth of accompanying information, in the form of a one-page summary “explainer” article covering this material and more, with links in it to all the supporting documentation you could want in order to make sure you’re representing the truth in this message if you use it. Also here at Thinking Christian, find a written version of this sample sermon. We invite you to use this, not just as information but as a sample sermon. We do ask that in your bulletin and online postings you give credit to Tom Gilson and to The Stream, with whom this work is being done in cooperation, with links both to The Stream and to this podcast page. This isn’t all we have to offer on the topic. Check out the Thinking Christian blog for a written form of this sample sermon, and visit The Stream on or after the evening of October 1 for a one-page pastors’ explainer article on critical race theory, with loads of links to additional information you can use. (I’ll update these program notes with a link there as soon as it’s ready.) If you’re not a pastor, please consider yourself a member of the congregation listening and learning. You’re most welcome here! And then do please send this podcast to your pastor. There’ll be more like it to come!
Nov 5 2021
29 mins
Episode 3-1 — Pastors' Equipping Series: Sample Sermon on Critical Race TheoryEpisode 2-9: Stories of Apologetics and Practical Church Ministry with Pastors
(Related Blog Post: Apologists and Pastors Connecting for Ministry: Stories of How You Can Do It) Okay, now what? Now that you know the secret word, the one key word I spoke of in episode 8, the one that answers the question, How can we have greater ministry in the church, now what? That’s the question several people asked me after they listened to that podcast. “I want to build good relationships with pastors. I even get that having lunch together is a good way to do it. How do I get started, though?” In this episode I tell stories of half a dozen ways or so that I’ve found to connect with pastors, in my church or in others, and start building real friendship. This time there are two secrets. One of them is the variety of ways you can go about meeting pastors. The other is more important: Your interest in them had better be real. It need not become a lasting friendship, since those are rare and they’re hard to predict before you find them, but it’s not about manipulating your way into ministry, either. It’s about meeting the pastor as a respected leader in God’s church. And listening. That’s secret number two for this episode. You’ll have to listen in to hear more on secret number one. This episode is part of the Season 2 emphasis on Heat to Light: Moving Through Cultural Controversy Toward the Light of Spiritual Transformation. Be sure to visit the Thinking Christian blog, and get your free chapter download from Too Good to be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality. Follow the Thinking Christian podcast on the podcast app of your choice, and please give it a positive rating there, too. Thank you!   Note regarding publishing schedule: This has been a season of tough family crises, including my dad’s passing away last month. I expect to resume a full weekly podcasting schedule very soon.
Jun 26 2021
24 mins
Episode 2-8: What Pastors Wish Apologists Knew About Ministering in Their Churches
The Secret Word? There’s one key word — you’d almost think it was a secret word — that answers the big question Christian apologists have been asking for years: How can we have greater ministry in the church? We apologists have our answers, but they’re typical apologists’ answers. We think it’d be solved if we could get churches thinking more like we do. On one level I totally agree: The church needs to put a lot more emphasis on discipleship of the mind. If only we could persuade them of that! And maybe we could, if only they were there already. I don’t know how we can simply persuade them to listen to us, though, until after we’ve persuaded them to listen to us. We apologists should know enough about circular arguments to know that circular causation doesn’t work, either. Most of us also know that we bear responsibility for our corporate nerdiness, and maybe even our combativeness. We’re not all guilty of that, in fact, maybe not even most of us; but enough of us are to stain our reputation. We’ve known about that for a good while, too, though, so that’s not the secret. Not Really … Pastors Know It! Apologists are still missing one crucial ingredient — and it’s one that every pastor knows is no secret at all. While we’ve been thinking the church needs to catch up with us in discipleship, pastors have been wishing we’d catch up with them in this one most crucial ministry skill. Listen and find out why. See the related blog post: “Apologists and Pastors, Here’s How We Can Finally Work Together (And We’d Better Get To It!)”   This episode is part of the Season 2 emphasis on Heat to Light: Moving Through Cultural Controversy Toward the Light of Spiritual Transformation. Be sure to visit the Thinking Christian blog, and get your free chapter download from Too Good to be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality. Follow the Thinking Christian podcast on the podcast app of your choice, and please give it a positive rating there, too. Thank you!   Note regarding publishing schedule: This has been a season of tough family crises, including my dad’s passing away last month. I expect to resume a full weekly podcasting schedule very soon.
Jun 13 2021
23 mins
Episode 2-7: Equipping Pastors for the Cross-Cultural Missionary Work We Must All Do Now
Dorothy told Toto, “I have a feeling we aren’t in Kansas anymore.” I’d say what used to be Kansas isn’t Kansas anymore. No town, large or small, remains unaffected. Our world has changed drastically in the past several decades, so much that church ministry everywhere in both the U.S. and Canada (especially Canada), not to mention the rest of the Western world, has become cross-cultural missionary work. Some of it has to do with new people groups coming our way through immigration, but much of it has to do with transitions in Western culture itself. Pastors can only remain true to their calling by seeing themselves as cross-cultural missionary leaders. Their work was challenging enough already; now it’s really daunting. No one can change it by hoping it isn’t so, though, so how’s a pastor to keep up? Through teamwork with others, of which I hope to be one. With this podcast and the accompanying blog post I’m narrowing my season-long focus on “Heat to Light: From Cultural Conflict to Spiritual Transformation” even tighter. I’m here to serve pastors as they serve the Lord and his church, specifically through: Explainers for pastors on recent cultural trends,Specific practical ministry applications related to those trends, andSample sermons pastors may freely borrow from. That’s the portion of today’s new ministry trends I’m qualified to help with. It’s coming soon, starting next weekend. This episode explains the reasons why. It’s the challenge of cross-cultural missionary work, brought home to us in the United States. If this is encouraging to you, I strongly suggest you also look at the sample chapter I’m giving away free from my latest book, Too Good to be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality. Download it at ThinkingChristian.net!
May 31 2021
22 mins
Episode 2-6: Life, Death, Hope, and the Stakes We Face: Thoughts Following the Passing of My FatherEpisode 2-5: A Conversation with Gay/Progressive Leader Brandan Robertson
I had a most interesting conversation on Thursday with Brandan Robertson, who is a leading spokesman for gay and progressive Christianity, on everything from the character of Jesus, to the nature of the Bible, to Christianity’s connection to slavery. Not much on homosexuality; it wasn’t one of our topics this time. We connected originally through an article I’d written at The Stream. As always, there was more that could have been said. I’m still curious why he’s so critical of Jesus, whom he takes to be God in the flesh, and in the same light also, how he could think Christians and Muslims worship the same God. He actually caught me off guard when he answered a certain question I’d asked, saying, “Inerrancy.” I hadn’t studied the history of that doctrine, but now that I’ve had a chance to look through it, I have trouble understanding how he could make the point he followed through on it with. I believe he left the door open for more conversation, though, so maybe I’ll have a chance to ask him these things. I’d rather meet him over coffee, but I enjoyed the talk, and I’d do it again gladly this way, too. I think he’s expecting we would talk about sexuality if we meet again this way. That’s been done a lot, though, and I don’t know what progress we could make without first walking through the one main issue he himself brought up near the end. Our differences really hinge on what we take to be our best sources, our authority, that which determines what we believe. I’m thinking that would be very interesting to talk about. Also on YouTube (podcast audio is enhanced compared to YouTube audio):
May 9 2021
1 hr 11 mins
Episode 2-4: Heat to Light — Our Lost Moral High Ground, and How to Begin Reclaiming It
May 3 2021
26 mins
Episode 2-3: From Heat to Light: Worldviews in ConflictEpisode 2-2: Grace and Truth in Heat-to-Light ConversationsSeason 2, Episode 1: What Easter Tells Us About Moving from Cultural Conflict to Spiritual TransformationThe Unimaginable Greatness of GodEpisode 18: Thanksgiving in 2020? A Message from a Psalmist Who Wondered, Too
Thanksgiving in 2020? You're not the first to wonder about that! I'm right there with you. And without using the year 2020 as the reason, one of the psalmists was, too. Psalm 89 begins with praise and promise, recalling gladly God's covenant to keep the seed of David on the throne of Israel. A great opening! But then takes an abrupt turn to, "But You have cast off and abhorred, You have been furious with your anointed. You have renounced the covenant of Your servant; You have profaned his crown by casting it to the ground." The psalmist is actually charging God with breaking his own promises — and he keeps that charge going all the way to the end of the psalm. No return to praise there. Maybe that was the end of it all? But no, it wasn't. The psalmist asked (vs. 46-48), "how long, Lord?" He even reminded God he was running out of time, as if he were saying, "Look God, if you're going to keep your promise, you'd better start soon!" Sounds familiar, if you ask me. It's hard to hold on, even to the end of 2020, much less until we see God fulfill all we're praying for. How long until we can really give him thanks? The answer, of course, is you can give thanks as soon as you're convinced he's still a faithful God. We see how God answered this psalmist's prayer: Not during the author's lifetime, but that's okay: He knew what he was doing, and the answer he gave is truly magnificent. The Covenant Song snippet in this podcast episode came from a YouTube video by Dale's Bible Week. The song was written by Karen Barrie. If you like the podcast, you'll love A Christian Mind: Thoughts on Life and Truth in Jesus Christ, by Tom Gilson.
Nov 26 2020
24 mins
Episode 17: 'The Other Worldview,' and How Jesus is So Much Greater Than You Knew
The Thinking Christian podcast is back! I'm returning with thoughts on Peter Jones's excellent 2015 book The Other Worldview: Exposing Christianity's Greatest Threat. There are just two worldviews, says Jones: Oneism and Twoism. Of course these two have different manifestations. "Twoism" is Jones' term for the view that reality is two things: There is God, and there is his creation, and they are not the same sort of reality in any way. Near the start of this podcast I invite the listener into a new way of recognizing just how transcendent God is. Near the end, it's a study, drawn from Too Good to be False: How Jesus' Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality, in how amazingly transcendent Jesus was even in his ministry on earth. Oneism, Jones's term for what we usually call monism, is the view that reality is basically just one thing. It could be one spiritual thing, as in Eastern religions, or one material thing, as in atheistic naturalism. Either way Oneism's effect is to erase distinctions. We see it playing out in the call to destroy the gender binary, in animal rights activism, in the call to grant human rights to rivers and forests. Oneism ultimately fails due to its own internal contradictions. Twoism, by the way,  is the view of all three Abrahamic religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, although Jones and I both focus on Christianity. Philosophers typically call it dualism, but Jones was wise to avoid that word, I think, since there are so many different "dualisms." this helps the reader focus on the one he's talking about. Subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, or Stitcher; now also on YouTube! Please take a moment to rate the Thinking Christian podcast on your provider of choice. It really helps make this content visible and available to more people. Thank you! I'm returning now after a long hiatus for health-related reasons (not COVID). My time away has given me opportunity to re-think the structure and schedule of this podcast. I'm still experimenting with it.
Nov 14 2020
30 mins
Episode 16: Jesus' Incomparable Authority (from Luke 4 and 5)Episode 15: Jesus, the Hometown Hero?Episode 14: With All His Power, Jesus Still Came to Serve