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561: How the Evangelical Movement Failed a Generation with Jon Ward


From the Jesus Movement in the 1970s, through the Religious Right in the 1980s, the rise of New Calvinism in the 1990s, and the MAGA movement today, as a Christian kid in the suburbs and then a political journalist in Washington, Jon Ward has had a front seat to the most significant characters and events in American evangelicalism. He talks with Skye about his new autobiography, “Testimony,” and why he is still committed to Christian faith despite the failure of the movement that raised him. Also this week, early data shows a reduction in the number of abortions since the Supreme Court overturned Roe, but it’s less than many predicted. The so-called “independent prophets'' are predicting God will kill Donald Trump’s opponents next month. Why are they still supporting him when there are alternatives? And a report finds advocates of Christian Nationalism are more rooted in cultural heritage than Christian theology. Is anyone surprised?



Patreon Bonus: Christian Asks - What is Hell? https://www.patreon.com/posts/81695519/


Patreon Bonus: Jon Ward bonus interview


0:00 - Intro


3:26 - Theme Song


3:47 - Sponsor: Blueland

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4:56 - Show continues


5:35 - MAGA prophet says anti-Trumpers will experience sudden deaths in May


13:48 - Abortion rates since Dobbs decision


29:52 - Why some Christians feel the need to pass God’s law as the nation’s law


43:22 - How Christian is Christian Nationalism


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59:23 - Interview Intro


1:02:14 - Jon’s upbringing from the Jesus Movement to New Calvinism


1:07:22 - Gnosticism’s influence on Evangelicalism


1:18:54 - Journalism during the Trump era


1:30:46 - End Credits



Links mentioned in news segment:


MAGA prophet Lance Wallnau says that anti-Trumpers in both political parties will start dying “sudden deaths” next month


Legal Abortions in US Down 5,000 Per Month Since the End of Roe


How Christian Is Christian Nationalism?



Other resources:


Testimony: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Failed a Generation by Jon Ward



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34 Comments


Doug Felton
Doug Felton
Apr 24, 2023

I agree with much if what you are saying about how the prolife movement and the Republican party has handles the abortion issue. But now and again I think about how some of your comments would sound if applied to the Civil Rights movement. For example, someone mentioned polling that would suggest the some of the prolife agenda is not popular and would be offensive and therefore shouldn't be pursued so aggressively. But wasn't that the argument to MLK by white Evangelicals?

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Lisa Crews
Lisa Crews
Apr 22, 2023

Why the decrease in known abortions? Probably 2 reasons: 1. Underground abortion networks have always existed in places where abortion is criminalized. Underground Abortion Networks Thriving https://www.vice.com/en/article/ak3g98/mifepristone-supreme-court-ruling-wont-stop-underground-abortion-pill-network 2. Some of the men who don’t want more kids had been putting contraception exclusively on their partners with abortion as a back-up plan finally woke up out their perpetually adolescent fog and got their vasectomies like responsible adult men. When’s the best time to schedule your vasectomy? The day you’re absolutely sure you don’t want more kids. When’s the next best time to schedule your vasectomy? TODAY. Vasectomies Increase https://www.npr.org/2022/12/20/1143639556/vasectomies-dobbs-roe-abortion-contraception

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Replying to

I really don’t understand the logic behind trying to over turn the FDA’s approval of mifepristone. The FDA looks at the safety and efficacy of medicines, and mifepristone is both safe and effective. I worry that by pushing to make this drug illegal, people will attempt to obtain it without consultation with a healthcare provider and that the drug will then be used in unsafe ways that will cause harm to women.

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This was great and very well encapsulated my childhood and young adulthood - you have to retreat away to get emotional highs and constantly be involved in church activities, very individualistic faith (with the exception of the mission of the 10/40 window), very black and white “us” vs “them” mentality without any room for discussion of nuances and anger towards you if you were to be skeptical of anything - (in this I totally related to the speaker as my job, too, is to be skeptical and constantly push towards discovering what is true.) This was really well parsed out and explained - thank you!

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Sarah Lowe
Sarah Lowe
Apr 21, 2023

I realize it's hard to do a "quick overview" of an autobiography, but I felt disappointed that the idea/appeal (and downside?) of "New Calvinism" wasn't discussed in the interview beyond name-dropping Wayne Grudem, Al Mohler, the Council for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, etc. Maybe I just need to read the book? I'd love it if the HP could define "New Calvinism" at some point, similar to what they've done with the charismatic movement and the NAR. I think a lot of folks were suddenly talking a lot about The Gospel Coalition after "that article" came out, but without realizing that site's connection to a pretty vast & influential movement in evangelicalism. And I think that part of New Calvinism's appeal…

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There seems to be an assumption made whenever politics are discussed on this podcast that Christians who voted for Trump have either sold their souls or they’re just not smart enough to see what a moral delinquent he is. But there are many of us who do not see voting strictly as a “faith-based” decision, but rather a decision based on “effectiveness” or the ends justifying the means. Christians often make big decisions that don’t completely line up with their morality so that they can ensure a better outcome for themselves or others. For example, I may pick a college that is best for my career even though it’s not a faith-based college. I would buy a home …


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Replying to

“How will criminalizing it deter people when the crime is impossible to enforce for practical reasons I specifically laid out?” 1. When presented with a law, most people will do the right thing and obey it. Most people don’t commit crimes just because they probably won’t be caught. There is a moral issue at work here as well as a practical one. 2. When presented with a law, most people will find other ways to achieve the outcome they want, which in this case is not needing an abortion. Your own example of an increase in vasectomies proves this. Now, most people will turn to more protection, less sex, more vasectomies, etc. to avoid having to commit the crim…


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