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578: How America Got Mean & Why We Misread the Bible with John Walton

In a new article in The Atlantic, David Brooks asks how America became so mean. He says moral formation used to be a key part of social, religious, and educational structures in the country, but after World War II communal virtues were abandoned for an individualistic and therapeutic model. Simply put, we stopped teaching people how to be good. But what’s missing from Brooks’ solution? A popular preacher says he won’t watch The Chosen because it violates the Second Commandment prohibiting any images of God. Is he right? Then, Dr. John Walton is back to discuss his new book, “Wisdom for Faithful Reading.” He explains why relying on the Holy Spirit isn’t enough when engaging the Bible, and why he believes the American church isn’t facing a crisis of biblical illiteracy but a crisis of biblical interpretation. Also this week—snakes are falling from the sky in Texas.

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0:00 - Intro

2:11 - Show Starts

4:32 - Theme Song

4:56 - Sponsor - Caldera Labs

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6:35 - Animal News

18:07 - The Chosen and the 2nd commandment

30:29 - How America Got Mean

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56:18 - Interview Intro

John Walton

59:10 - Faithfully reading Scripture

1:05:39 - Hermeneutical literacy

1:14:43 - Difference between referencing and affirming

1:31:08 - End Credits

Links mentioned in news segment:

A Woman Was Attacked by a Snake That Fell From the Sky. Then a Hawk Dived In

Author, preacher Voddie Baucham says he won't watch 'The Chosen,' cites Second Commandment


Other resources:

Wisdom for Faithful Reading: Principles and Practices for Old Testament Interpretation by John Walton

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line Made
line Made
3 days ago

A very nice blog, I like the way you share very honestly and interestingly, through my blog I learned a lot of things.


Using the second commandment as a basis, Skye and Kaitlyn do not know of any Christian groups that oppose depictions of Jesus. Even among Presbyterians and Reformed Baptists, that stance is widespread. That does, in fact, include the use of picture Bibles for kids. coreball


Ruben Gonzalez
Ruben Gonzalez
Aug 24, 2023

I think Kaitlyn really hit on something about moral language. I think the main problem we have with morality is that we conflate moral objective and moral strategy. The moral objective is pretty simple, universal and unchanging “love your neighbour as you love yourself”; almost all cultures believe this in some respect. The idea is that we should seek everyone’s well-being as we seek ours. The disagreements we often have are over two issues:

(1) “Who is my neighbour?” Various strains of tribalism (ethnocentrism, nationalism etc) often shrink this circle down to “countrymen” or “fellow believers”, but Jesus’ answer through the Good Samaritan parable prescribes the largest circle possible: everyone. (2) “How do we love our neighbour?” A moral…


Aug 22, 2023

Still time for you to interview George Yancey. He’s a good guy. Read his article below.


Sarah Lowe
Sarah Lowe
Aug 22, 2023

With due respect (and understanding that it’s really hard to boil down a book on biblical interpretation into a quick 30-minute interview), I ended up feeling a bit…confused…by the John Walton interview. I felt like it started out by saying that we should shy away from “emotional” or “me-centered” interpretations and appeals to “the Holy Spirit” as a source of biblical understanding, but by the end, we were told that the story of Samuel should be encouraging to us (as individuals?) when we feel like we cannot be used by God, since God uses imperfect/unlikely people to accomplish his plans. I felt like that conclusion highlighted the fact that the line between a “self-centered” and “God-centered” interpretation isn’t as distinct…

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