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539: Megachurch Christmas Controversy & Answers in Exodus with Carmen Imes

A Texas megachurch is facing criticism after a viral TikTok video showed a rehearsal of its Christmas production with drummers flying over the crowd on wires. The church says it’s simply offering its best to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Critics say it’s an extravagant violation of Jesus’ humble spirit. Who’s right? New data says Americans are far more isolated and lonely than ever before, and it’s not because of Covid. Is the church the solution or part of the problem? And a researcher offers three surprising explanations for why the decline of religion in the U.S. didn’t start until the 1990s.

Then, Old Testament scholar Carmen Imes answers questions about the book of Exodus. Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? What does it really mean to take God’s name in vain? And how do all of the details about the tabernacle apply to Christians today?

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News Segment

0:00 - Intro

2:49 - Megachurch Christmas production

21:12 - Loneliness

39:01- Why Americans are leaving their churches


53:29 - Sponsor: Faithful Counseling

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Interview with Carmen Imes

55:42 - Interview intro

57:16 - Why Exodus is important

58:55 - Pharoah’s heart being hardened

1:03:58 - Taking the Lord’s name in vain

1:10:54 - Tabernacle

1:19:05 - Golden calf story

1:26:05 - BibleProject Exodus course

Links mentioned in news segment:

Holy Post 529: Rapture Anxiety and Why Analog Discipleship is Better with Jay Y. Kim -

“Texas Megachurch responds to backlash over opulent Christmas show” (Houston Chronicle) -

“Americans are choosing to be alone. Here’s why we should reverse that” (Washington Post) -

“Why Americans are leaving their churches” (Religion News Service) -

Other resources:

“Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters” by Carmen Joy Imes -

Holy Post website:

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Carlos Miller
Carlos Miller
Jan 07, 2023

Skye, it sure seems like you’re leaning toward Open Theism. Sounds pretty dangerous.


Dec 23, 2022

Skye's assessment really resonates that the church is missing an opportunity to engage lonely people 'incarnate'. Christian community instead of isolation and online 'community'. Has me thinking about what my small group can do differently.


Dane Gjesdal
Dane Gjesdal
Dec 21, 2022

This part really disappointed me. Because drummers come in the air, most likely the idea of Drummer Boys, ie people seeking Jesus. I have no idea, even after the podcast, why this is so critical that this jumps the shark in a drama. look a Lincoln Brewster’s Christmas program; it’s amazing. If Angels came in by cables, is that OK? This is the new form of legalism? Who says this church didn’t ask all those questions. I’m absolutely baffled.


Are you Holy Posters (Phil, Skye, Kaitlyn, Christian) on Mastodon yet? I've been on Mastodon for a few months now and I have to say it's so much nicer than twitter. No algorithms boosting outrage. People encouraged to be nice.


My husband and I lived near “Preston World” Baptist Church when we were in grad school. It is a huge church with lots of (financial) resources. I think you’re spot on - “The Gift of Christmas” is a cultural Christianity type of celebration which is as typical in Texas as the jars of lemonade they sell for $10 a pop in Waco, Texas at Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia store. People dress up and go to it as they would go to the Nutcracker ballet. I think it’s ok to say that maybe you don’t prefer to celebrate Christmas in that way, but I think many Christians do sincerely enjoy the show and that it does actually draw them closer to Jesus…

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