15 episodes

Ever read a book and wished you could ask the author a question? Josh Olds did, so he started this podcast. Beyond the Page covers the very best in Christian non-fiction as Josh talks with your favorite pastors, teachers, and theologians to learn more about their recent work.

Beyond the Pag‪e‬ Josh Olds

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Ever read a book and wished you could ask the author a question? Josh Olds did, so he started this podcast. Beyond the Page covers the very best in Christian non-fiction as Josh talks with your favorite pastors, teachers, and theologians to learn more about their recent work.

    Here Are Your Gods: A Conversation with Christopher JH Wright

    Here Are Your Gods: A Conversation with Christopher JH Wright

    Christopher J.H. Wright completely revolutionized the way I looked at the Old Testament with his seminal Old Testament Ethics for the People of God. It directly led to a closer study of the Law, which indirectly led to a closer study of the Prophets, which led to a year-long immersion into the book of Amos that profoundly affected my public-facing ministry and my views on political and social justice reform. When I learned of Here Are Your Gods, a critique showing how our modern-day idols in politics and culture are no different than the idols of old, I knew I had to have him on the podcast program to talk more about it. I absolutely loved this conversation and hope you will too.

    The Conversation | Christopher JH Wright

    This excerpt has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity. You can listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above or subscribing at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

    Josh Olds: Now just to start, can you give the listeners a sort of summary of what this book is about?

    Christopher JH Wright: Well, it’s basically a book about trying to identify—first of all—what the Bible has to say about idolatry and gods because many people aren’t aware of how much is there and why it matters. And secondly, it’s about how we can discern and identify the fact that we still live with false gods and idols all around us, not just in, as it were, people of other faiths in other parts of the world, but very much even within Western culture, and indeed, within Western Christianity. So it’s an attempt to bring together biblical teaching about what idols are and how that relates to the only true living God and how idols impact and affect our culture.

    Josh Olds: When we look at the Hebrew Scriptures, it records, Yahweh as saying, you know, “You shall have no other gods before me.” And the skeptic looks at that and says, “Aha, so there’s an admission here that there are other gods.” How did the ancient Hebrew view Yahweh?

    Christopher JH Wright: Well, I think it depends a little bit whether you ask the average Israelite at any particular time in Israel’s story, as the Old Testament shows us, or whether we’re talking about the canonical faith of Israel, as revealed by God and then embodied within the scriptures. I mean, the Old Testament doesn’t hold back at all in saying that the average Israelite, for many centuries, continued to mix the worship of Yahweh, the God of Israel, with going after other gods, the gods of the people around them, particularly the gods of Canaan.

    But when, in my view, when we look at the very earliest documents within the Old Testament, we can see that what God was seeking to teach them was that there really is only one true God, and that is Yahweh. It’s not just that there’s only one God as if it was a kind of philosophical axiom, but rather, that “Yahweh alone is God in heaven above the earth” beneath quoting directly from Deuteronomy [4.29], “And there is no other.”

    The point that some of those old testament scholars want to make, and I think, in some ways, they are not only mistaken, but somewhat patronizing, is that even to talk about other gods—as in the verse you quoted, you know, “you should have no other gods” or even referring to other gods assumes that they exist in the same way that Yahweh exists. But of course, even in our modern way of speaking, that would be nonsense. It would mean that, for example, I would not be able to even talk about the gods that are worshipped in India, and discuss or talk about the gods of Hinduism, without somebody telling you “Oh, you’re talking about those gods or even giving them names, you know, Rama and Krishna and Ganesh and so on, you must believe that they exist.”

    Well, no, I’m talking about the phenomenon—the empirical fact that people do clai

    • 38 min
    An Impossible Marriage: A Conversation with Laurie Krieg

    An Impossible Marriage: A Conversation with Laurie Krieg

    There is perhaps no bigger social issue within Christianity—or within secular culture—than the evolving ideas around same-sex attraction. Within the church, many remain rooted to their traditional convictions that Scripture does not condone same-sex marriage or sexual behavior. However, there is an increasing recognition of the validity of same-sex attraction. For some, their conviction means remaining celibate. For others, their conviction means pursuing a heterosexual romance and marriage. An Impossible Marriage by Laurie and Matt Krieg is a mixed-orientation marriage and their story is about overcoming the unique challenges presented with that. But more than that, the book is a guide for all marriage in overcoming that trials that life brings.

    The Conversation | Laurie Krieg

    This excerpt has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity. You can listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above or subscribing at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

    Josh Olds: Laurie, can you give our listeners an overview of what your book is about?

    Laurie Krieg: Yeah, An Impossible Marriage looks through the lens of my and my husband’s version of an impossible marriage—because I think all marriages are impossible without Jesus—but our version looks through that lens, to the marriage between Christ and the church. And it is story driven. I have yet to find someone categorizes this book. Like it’s part memoir, part self-help, part marriage book, part singleness book.

    But our version of an impossible marriage is a few things. We are in what is called a mixed orientation marriage. Now, when I was getting married, I didn’t know our type of marriage had a type. It’s just my version of sexual brokenness and my husband’s. A mixed-orientation marriage means one of the spouses’ default, sexual attraction is not toward the gender of their spouse. And that would be me in our relationship. While I struggle with attraction toward women, here I am in a heterosexual marriage to a dude.

    But looking through the lens of our marriage, you hear us wrestle through the questions. What is marriage? And specifically, why is it male and female marriage? And then secondarily, what is sex? And what’s the purpose of it? So those are some questions that we really wrestled through while looking through the lens of our version of An Impossible Marriage.

    Josh Olds: I think that your book speaks to a different look at marriage, then a lot of times we think of it in Christian culture. Because, and I guess this is this is kind of a maybe a weird statement, but because of the way in which a lot of conservative evangelical Christianity looks at homosexuality, homosexual behavior, we kind of have this thing where we, we’ve sexualized marriage. Maybe you’re listening to that and you’re like, ‘Well, duh, of course we have, that’s the appropriate boundary for sex.’ But there is also the sense that, that the sexual act is not the only aspect of the marriage relationship.

    It can be an important part of developing the relationship, but as a married man, let me tell you, there are vast quantities of time in my marriage when I’m not having sex…So I think when we when we talk about, obviously, it sounds funny, because it is. But there are many other things, many other relational things that form the core of my relationship with my wife. And those things were developed before we were married—the friendship, the conversations, the shared vision for life, all of those things are more important than the sexual aspect of the relationship.

    The belief that marriage is the only Christian expression of sexuality pushes sex to almost a sacred point within the marriage. But marriage is so much more. Marriage is a lot more than that. Based on that, how did you make your relationship with Matt work? Like

    • 47 min
    In the Wake of Trump: A Conversation with Hedi Neumark

    In the Wake of Trump: A Conversation with Hedi Neumark

    Despite the title, this book isn’t so much a reflection on Christianity in a post-Trump world or where the evangelical church goes from here. It’s a thoughtful memoir of what Heidi Neumark’s ministry and congregation has been doing before Trump, during Trump, and will continue to do in the wake of Trump that stands polar opposite to the current political administration. This conversation, recorded on the Friday after the end of the 2020 election, is raw, honest, and a comfort.

    The Conversation | Heidi Neumark

    This excerpt has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity. You can listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above or subscribing at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

    Josh Olds: Reverend Neumark, your book is subtitled “Being Christian in the Wake of Trump.” [At the time of recording, the 2020 election had not yet been called.] Do you feel like any of what you wrote changes if he remains in office for four more years?

    Heidi Neumark: Not really. I titled it “In the Wake of Trump” and with the sense that it’s true whether Trump is president for four more years or not. Trump hasn’t invented any of the divisions and divisiveness and violence against people that that I see in our nation today. Obviously, Trump didn’t invent white supremacy or racism or homophobia or, you know, xenophobia, misogyny, but what Trump does is—he doesn’t try to cover it over—he exploits what’s already there. Now, that creates a level of danger. And I do think that if Trump is president for four more years, the level of danger for vulnerable people of death and violence will rise…But it was here before Trump and is clearly here even if Trump is voted out. And that means there’s a lot of work for us to do.

    Josh Olds: That’s so true. This election cycle, even though it appears that Trump will probably not win, has mad it obvious that in terms of a large portion of the culture like his style of politics. Trumpism and everything that it entails seems to be here to stay in American life. And that makes your book very important because it shows us a different way of living, and a different way of being. You very much set up your book as a depiction of your ministry and your church and the work that they’re doing as a contrast to the words and actions of the 45th President. This book is about what you were already doing before Donald Trump, what you have been doing, during his leadership, what you will be doing after his leadership. Why choose to tie this book specifically to the 45th president in that light?

    Heidi Neumark: Well, I didn’t start out doing that. But I noticed that, as I was writing, as I was preaching, as I was living—Trump kind of loomed over it all…in a larger than life way, kind of representing so much that is antithetical to the gospel. And so it just because it was so much in my mind, it found its way as part of the pattern of the book. But as you say, the stories in the book from this community of faith and in this larger community were going on before Trump, during Trump, and will continue on perhaps with even greater urgency after Trump.

    Josh Olds: Let’s go back to closer to the beginning of your own personal story. How did you come to be involved in this work towards social justice?

    Heidi Neumark: It was interesting. And I think this is important for the church today, especially, you know, white, middle class churches. That’s the church I grew up in: a white middle class suburban church. And that church really shaped me to connect the gospel with social justice…. and then my life experience pushed me in that direction. I went to seminary in Argentina under the military dictatorship for a year and a half. That that was a very formative experience for me. And then I also think, kind of, under the surface, this is more of a

    • 35 min
    Who Will Be a Witness: A Conversation with Drew Hart

    Who Will Be a Witness: A Conversation with Drew Hart

    Who Will Be a Witness? is one of those books I’ll come back to time and time again. Deeply theological yet deeply practical, Drew Hart offers an outright manifesto of the church’s need to be involved in the pursuit of justice. He deftly digs into American history and shows our roots of nationalism and white supremacy—not for the purposes of shame but for the purposes of removal. It is a kind, firm, bold stance that plainly tells us our problems while offering Scriptural solutions.

    The only thing better than reading this book was this hour-long conversation I had with Drew about it. Go order Who Will Be A Witness and while you wait on to arrive, enjoy this conversation with Drew and myself.

    The Conversation | Drew Hart

    This excerpt has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity. You can listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above or subscribing at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

    Josh Olds: What do you see that we need to change in the way in which we perform our activism? Especially here in 2020, that’s been such a relevant question of how do we protest? How do we make sure that our voices are heard?

    Drew Hart: Yeah, I mean, and it really in some ways, it depends on where we’re coming from, right? Because I think different communities are approaching it differently. Some of us are framing and entering into the conversation in terms of political engagement and are deeply captive to our society and the partisan fights that are going on. So for some of us, we start with the political platform of a particular political party. And then we just buy into that wholesale and then go fighting. Literally, there are some wealthy elite people who package up these platforms for us, and give it to us and then we say it represents our voice. And it seems to be backwards.

    But I think if we take Jesus’s example, we’re living in solidarity with those who are vulnerable, we’re in proximity to them, and we’re experiencing and witnessing and sharing in their suffering, right? And I think that that’s the starting point for a grassroots work first, not starting with the elite first, but starting with the grassroots, and then bringing those concerns. And in that sense, like, Jesus has this confrontation with the establishment, and especially in the Gospel of Luke, it’s particularly profound and powerful because of the confrontation that he has with the establishment, willing to, in essence, shut it down on and accept the consequences of faithfulness for bearing witness in the public square…And I think that that is a really beautiful example that doesn’t leave us captive to those who are in power, but instead, it does the opposite.

    One of the things in both Mark and Luke, Jesus actually says, you know, they devour—he’s talking about the religious leaders and their long prayers and all that—they can devour widows’ homes, right? He comes into the temple, and the names and identify the ways that they have gone against God’s vocation for all of us, right? And I think that that is a healthier way to go about social change work.

    We’ve got to be willing to accept the consequences of following Jesus faithfully in our own society in such ways that include taking upon, accepting the risks for standing against evil and injustice…Jesus is actually very strategic about what he’s doing. He embodying the good news, literally, through his life in such a way that that is evoking something in those who are watching him. They understand exactly what this means. And it’s awakening people to the possibility and reality of God’s reign on Earth, coming here and being realized, in their own communities, in that they ought to then also strive after that.

    We’ve watered down the meaning of “Take up your cross”…in the first century, it meant actually accepting

    • 55 min
    White Lies: A Conversation with Daniel Hill

    White Lies: A Conversation with Daniel Hill

    I’ve had a lot of conversations this year about racial justice. Particularly in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the white evangelicals I know have found themselves increasingly uncomfortable but unsure of how to proceed. White Lies gives them the answer. Despite the provocative title, Daniel Hill’s nine practices for exposing and resisting the structures that uphold White supremacy are clear, empathetic, and grace-filled. It is the perfect book for White evangelical Christians who are beginning their journey toward racial justice but want a firm, Biblically-backed foundation for doing so from a leader whose background and experiences mirror their own. I was halfway into the first chapter when I knew I needed to talk to Daniel about White Lies and our conversation did not disappoint.

    The Interview | Daniel Hill

    This excerpt has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity. You can listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above or subscribing to “Beyond the Page” at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

    Josh Olds: Now, I want to start with this: You’re White; I’m white—we’re having this conversation about racial justice. And there can be a real tendency, and you talk about this in the book, in the “woke” white community to sort of talk over Black and other minority voices as we pursue justice. What ground rules should be set as White people when we have this conversation with other White people to make sure that we are allowing for BIPOC voices to be heard?

    Daniel Hill: Yeah, thank you. I think it’s smart to start there. I definitely wouldn’t say it’s one or the other. There’s a role for both, right? And I think ultimately, you, me, all of us should be learning from credible, seasoned voices of color that have been doing this work. And when we’re talking about the system of race and white supremacy in particular, you know, nobody is going to see it more clearly than those who are disaffected. So there’s not any point in the journey where that we should not be listening to and learning from seasoned voices of color in this period. There’s no question about that.

    I think what history continues to show is that even when they speak to us, we’re just not listening clearly enough, right? We’re just not making enough changes. And so, I think there’s an important role for White folks to be doing self-interrogation, you know, around their own kind of relationship and complicity with this. And so that’s what I would see what we’re doing, right? We’re not even taking somebody’s spot as much as saying, we’re listening to the collective wisdom is out there.

    Josh Olds: The very first point you make in the book is the danger of being woke. And we have to define that phrase first. So, how do you define the word “woke?” And what do you feel is the danger of white people feeling that way?

    Daniel Hill: Yeah, that was the trickiest title of any of them. because not a lot of people are doing this work. A lot of people don’t love the word “woke.” And so I don’t want to get fixated on the word itself. But I’d say in general, there’s two different profiles where white folks are at with this word. One is the much more common one where there’s just a lack of awakening, a lack of engagement, a lack of taking it seriously, you know, there’s kind of an ongoing indifference and apathy that has to be challenged. And then there’s another group that’s probably more represented by you and I who have begun to see that there’s a problem and want to be doing something about it. This is where the notion of wokeness kind of comes from and the way the term is usually used, when white people are speaking of it, is to be basically aware of the issues and be on the right side of the issues and down with t...

    • 43 min
    First Principles: A Conversation with John Kingston

    First Principles: A Conversation with John Kingston

    A while back, I had John Kingston on the podcast to talk about his book American Awakening. What I didn’t know was that the day we were talking, he was getting ready to launch a new collective called Christians Against Trumpism and Political Extremism. I must’ve made an impression, because a month later, I’m on the leadership committee and we’re working toward the long-term goal of reviving civil discourse.

    I wanted to check in on John and hear about everything he’s been doing—the people he’s talking to, the projects he’s filming, and so on—and John was king enough to come back on the program and fill me in on the latest, including the First Principles Project. Listen to us talk about that, about Christians Against Trumpism, the problem of single-issue voting, his legal thoughts on Roe v. Wade, and more.

    The Conversation | John Kingston

    Josh Olds: I want to pick up that thread of talking about so many conservative evangelical white Christians being single issue voters. They’re vehemently pro-life. And you are as well, and I am as well, but we probably disagree on what should be done in order to get there. I know so many people who—especially after the first presidential debate last week—came away from that debate and went, “Yikes. But I’m gonna vote for him because he’s pro-life.? Like I get it, I really, really do. This is such an important issue. And unfortunately, Democrats don’t have a good history on this issue and currently don’t have great policies on this issue.

    It’s so hard to get people out of that single-issue idea. Every single person who told me they were going to vote Trump, it came down to the issue of abortion. And again, I get it. But that’s only one facet of being pro-life, in my opinion. How do we get people to look beyond just being a single issue voter?

    John Kingston: Yeah. Well, that is the nature of it all. The objective of Christians Against Trumpism is to call out where that is an inconsistent approach. David French had a beautiful piece in Time magazine yesterday, you know, saying that the idea of trumping a pro-life president is a farce, noting his deeply cavalier response to the loss of 200,000 American lives in the US in the COVID crisis and the way he handled it with his own staff…

    [If you have] the most robust Christian understanding of this, then you would show the respect and dignity of all those around you, including those people work for you when you know that they’re imperiled by your own actions. It’s for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear: they will eventually see that the idea of Trump being pro-life president was a bit of a farce,

    And yes, there are conservative judges, no doubt about that. Remember, I’m a lawyer and all that. I went to law school with some of these people that end up on these on these benches. And it matters, it really does matter. I’m not going to belittle the significance of having that. But I’m just going to tell you that, as wrongly decided as Roe versus Wade was…it’s not gonna be overturned. That’s just not where the judiciary is. And these folks that go to the Supreme Court are not just pro-life voting bots.

    So invariably, people that want this to be the outcome are going to be disappointed, and they will sacrifice and compromise, all of our values and virtues of being a Christian…in order to get a bowl of porridge: a conservative judge who will v...

    • 51 min

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