Archives For Interviews

Sarah Pulliam Bailey interviewed Ross Douthat in the latest issue of Christianity Today. Douthat, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times and a practicing Catholic, is the author of Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics. While Douthat’s title is spicy and sure to provoke, his interview with Bailey was articulate, thoughtful, and at times – very helpful. After several questions diagnosing America’s evangelical and political posture, Bailey asked Douthat, “How can we begin to address a nation of heretics?” Douthat’s reply is worth noting:

There has been much healthy Catholic and Protestant dialogue and cooperation during the past 30 years. But ultimately the success of U.S. Christianity depends on individual churches and confessions, not on ecumenism for ecumenism’s sake. Protestants and Catholics need to recognize everything we have in common and then say we’re also going to focus on building separate effective churches.

For evangelicals, it means thinking more seriously about ecclesiology and what it will take to sustain Christianity across generations. Promise Keepers, Campus Crusade for Christ, and other parachurch groups have been important to evangelicalism. But “parachurch” makes sense over the long term in the context of a church. The danger for evangelicalism is becoming too parachurch without enough church. Some megachurches seem to function like parachurches rather than churches, as though everything else that’s going on is more important than the central life of the community of worship. It might be important for evangelicals to think of themselves as Presbyterians, Baptists, and so on, and recover the virtues of confessionalism, because it’s confessions, not just superstar pastors, that sustain Christianity over the long haul.

While I don’t agree that confessionalism alone will save the day, I believe Douthat’s observation and emphasis on the local church’s vitality and health is fantastic. Douthat closes the interview by emphasizing the same truth:

Finally, it’s very important for contemporary Christians to be ecumenical and to see the best in one another’s congregations, but not at the expense of having a robust, resilient internal culture within their own churches. Lewis compares his “Mere Christianity” to a hallway with doors opening into various rooms, which are the actual Christian churches. You can’t spend all your time in the hallway. You can go out into the hallway to talk, but you have to go back in the rooms to worship.

John Wimber was a founding leader of the Association of Vineyard Churches which today is one of the fastest growing church-planting movements in the world, with more than 1,500 churches worldwide. A professional musician who played the Las Vegas circuit for 5 years, John later signed with the Righteous Brothers. When John was gripped by God in 1963, he was a “beer-guzzling, drug abusing pop musician, who was converted at the age of 29 while chain-smoking his way through a Quaker-led Bible Study.”

He soon became a voracious Bible reader and after weeks of reading about life changing miracles in the Bible and attending boring church services, John asked a lay leader, “When do we get to do the stuff?  You know, the stuff here in the Bible; the stuff Jesus did, like healing the sick, raising the dead, healing the blind – stuff like that?” 

He was told that they didn’t do that anymore – only what they did in their weekly services. John replied, “You mean I gave up drugs for that?”

Interview with Christy Wimber: read article here.

 Sarah Pulliam Bailey with Christianity Today recently interviewed Wheaton’s incoming President, Philip Ryken.  As a Baylor alum, I must say I’m a little more thrilled with their news than ours.  Here’s a notable quote from Ryken in response to a question on how he will devote his energy at Wheaton:

One thing that I told the presidential selection committee that I want to cultivate campus-wide is a community of grace. I believe that true excellence, whether in academics or in other areas, is best inspired by a deep awareness of God’s love for us in Christ. I want to live and serve with a deep awareness of that in my own life and seek to cultivate it in whatever Christian community I belong to, and that now includes in a very intentional way Wheaton College.

May it be!  Read the rest of the interview here.

C.J. Mahaney recently interview Carl Trueman, Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, on his blog (see part 1 and part 2).  In the second part of the interview, Mahaney asked Trueman, “What single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your leadership?”  Trueman’s response is worth noting:

(a) Pick your battles. Not every hill is worth dying on; and not every battle is something you are competent to fight. As a younger man, I wanted to fight all comers and win every battle. Neither necessary nor possible.

(b) Be part of a team who care for you and whom you trust to tell you when you are going the wrong way or crossing a line that should not be crossed—and listen to them. Yes-men are fatal to good leadership. A trustworthy colleague who is prepared to oppose you to your face is worth his weight in gold.

(c) Understand that leadership is lonely; being liked by everyone is a luxury you probably cannot afford. Deal with it and get on with the job. If you want to be liked, be a circus clown; if you want to lead and lead well, be prepared for the loneliness that comes with it. This is why, for me, a happy home has been crucial for it has been a place where work is, as far as possible, kept far away. Home is the one place I can go each night and know that I am loved, and I guard it fiercely. I have even banned my kids from Googling my name—if there is nasty stuff out there about me, I deal with it at work; I do not allow it into my house.

(d) Don’t waste time defending your own name for the sake of it. If Christ’s honour is at stake, or the innocent are made vulnerable by some attack on your character, you need to respond; otherwise, let it be. If I responded to every wannabe crank who thinks I’m arrogant, hypocritical, lying etc. etc., I’d never have the time to do anything else. The secret is not caring about your own name except as it impacts upon others.