58 episodes

Holy Heretics seeks to foster honest conversations about the state of religion in the 21st century. We interview experts, spiritual seekers, scholars, and activists in our quest to examine just exactly how modern-day Christianity lost the Way of Jesus while also discovering how it can be regained through subversive thought and action.

Holy Heretics: Losing Religion and Finding Jesus The Sophia Society

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.8 • 87 Ratings

Holy Heretics seeks to foster honest conversations about the state of religion in the 21st century. We interview experts, spiritual seekers, scholars, and activists in our quest to examine just exactly how modern-day Christianity lost the Way of Jesus while also discovering how it can be regained through subversive thought and action.

    Do I Stay Christian w/Brian McLaren

    Do I Stay Christian w/Brian McLaren

    At some point in your deconstruction journey, you are probably going to be faced with the question, "Do I stay Christian or do I walk away from this movement altogether?" If that is where you are today, this episode is for you.
    It's been a minute since Western Christianity has looked anything like Jesus. For the last 1,700 years Christianity has been known more its violence, patriarchy, domination, nationalism, and racism, instead of love and compassion. Christianity jumped the religious tracks a millennia ago. American Christianity is experiencing a rebirth in Christian nationalism, a movement seeking to force its will on the world. It’s so bad that many of us no longer even want to be associated with the term Christian. So what's next? Is this movement even worth saving and if so, how do we do it?
    In this critical episode, Brian McLaren helps us discern the reasons why you should stay Christian as well as a myriad of reasons why you should not stay Christian. But even more important, he ponders what Christianity might look like in the future if those of us in the deconstruction community decide to participate in the recreation and resurrection of a more mystical, ancient form of faith. 
    If you are seriously considering throwing in the spiritual towel, join us for this timely conversation. I think you'll find that Brian offers a way forward through the difficulty and dissonance many of us feel as we navigate this critical question along our faith-seeking journey. 

    Bio
    Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is a passionate advocate for “a new kind of Christianity” – just, generous, and working with people of all faiths for the common good. He is a faculty member of  The Living School and podcaster with Learning How to See, which are part of the Center for Action and Contemplation. He is also an Auburn Senior Fellow and is a co-host of Southern Lights. His newest book is  Faith After Doubt (January 2021), and his next release, Do I Stay Christian? (May 2022) can be preordered now. His recent projects include an illustrated children’s book (for all ages) called Cory and the Seventh Story and The Galapagos Islands: A Spiritual Journey.
    Born in 1956, he graduated from University of Maryland with degrees in English (BA, 1978, and MA, 1981). His academic interests included Medieval drama, Romantic poets, modern philosophical literature, and the novels of Dr. Walker Percy. In 2004, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity Degree (honoris causa) from Carey Theological Seminary in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and in 2010, he received a second honorary doctorate from Virginia Theological Seminary (Episcopal).
    From 1978 to 1986, McLaren taught college English in the DC area, and in 1982, he helped form Cedar Ridge Community Church, an innovative, nondenominational church (crcc.org). He left higher education in 1986 to serve as the church’s founding pastor and served in that capacity until 2006.
    Brian has been active in networking and mentoring church planters and pastors since the mid 1980’s, and has assisted in the development of several new churches. He is a popular conference speaker and a frequent guest lecturer for denominational and ecumenical leadership gatherings – across the US and Canada, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. His public speaking covers a broad range of topics including postmodern thought and culture, Biblical studies, church leadership and spiritual formation, pastoral survival and burnout, inter-religious dialogue, and global crises.

    Please follow us on social media (use the buttons below) and help us get the word out! (Also, please don’t hesitate to use any of these channels or email to contact us with any questions, concerns, or feedback.)

    If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a rating and a review 🙏

    Show notes:
    http://sophiasociety.org/podcast/do-i-stay-christian-brian-mclaren


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    • 46 min
    White God, Brown Jesus: Decolonizing Christianity w/ Dr. Miguel De La Torre

    White God, Brown Jesus: Decolonizing Christianity w/ Dr. Miguel De La Torre

    The vast majority of Americans worship the white god—the god of Christian nationalism, white supremacy, domination, patriarchy, wealth, power, and colonization. The god of guns and empire, the god that exists to make white men great again. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that powerful white people created a god in their own image, in the image of white men has this god been created. As Dr. Miguel De La Torre responds, “What we say is Christianity today is really an ideology of white supremacy and nationalism…This is what evangelical Christianity is today.” And in service of this false evangelical god, white westerners are blind to the victims of their philosophical and theological fabrication. Our deep-rooted blind spots are so common in white evangelicalism and are further engrained by wealth, history, race, and social standing to a point where the vast majority of Christians in the west are living a version of Christianity that is completely anathema to the historical Jesus.

    However, if you grew up in non-white spaces, in colonized countries, or in economically challenging environments, odds are your faith looks radically different. Odds are you serve the brown God of the oppressed instead of the white god of MAGA Christianity. Which is just one reason why those of us deconstructing evangelicalism are in such dire need of liberation, liberation from the white god that continues to colonize our hearts and minds. One of the paths toward freedom can be found in the liberation and post-liberation theology movements from Latin America.

    Liberation theology is a social and political movement attempting to interpret the gospel of Jesus Christ through the lived experiences of oppressed people. Liberation theology has its origins in Latin America in the mid-1950s as socio-economic development created by peasant workers and farming populations who had been driven into desperate poverty. With the economic unrest came political unrest, and military dictators took over many governments in the name of national security, only further marginalizing the poor. But from these oppressive experiences came a theology that drives its legitimacy from the perspective of the poor and oppressed. Liberation theology gave us queer Jesus, black Jesus, immigrant Jesus, and Marxist revolutionary Jesus. It is a version of faith that identifies exclusively with the oppressed.

    It is ironic then that Latin American liberation theology just might save white people from ourselves, but only if we have the humility to come face to face with our colonial past and present drive for power and domination. This episode deconstructs the white god and dives into other forms of evangelical oppression including gender oppression, LGBTQIA+ marginalization, white supremacy, and nationalistic Christianity. Dr. De La Torre offers a practical way forward in our attempt to free ourselves from the white man’s god.


    Bio
    Rev. Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre is Professor of Social Ethics and Latinx Studies at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. He has served as the elected 2012 President of the Society of Christian Ethics and served as the Executive Officer for the Society of Race, Ethnicity and Religion (2012-17). In 2020 the American Academy of Religion bestowed upon the the Excellence in Teaching Award. Dr. De La Torre is a recognized international Fulbright scholar who has taught courses at the Cuernavaca Center for Intercultural Dialogue on Development (Mexico), Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (Indonesia), University of Johannesburg (South Africa), Johannes Gutenberg University (Germany). Additionally, he has lectured at Universidad Bíblica Latinoamericana (Costa Rica), The Association for Theological Education in South East Asia (Thailand) and the Council of World Mission (Mexico and Taiwan). Advocating for an ethics of place, De La Torre has taken students on immersion classes to Cuba and the Mexico/U.S. border to walk the migrant trails

    • 56 min
    Abortion: Beyond Pro-Life or Pro-Choice w/ Gary Alan Taylor

    Abortion: Beyond Pro-Life or Pro-Choice w/ Gary Alan Taylor

    CW: We discuss abortion and other topics that may be triggering. Please listen at your own discretion.
    The majority of Americans have consistently held nuanced views about abortion. However, in the early 1980’s white evangelicals suddenly discovered that the abortion debate could unify their movement and thereby secure political power for decades to come. Thus, the birth of the “pro-life” movement. Since then, the debate around abortion has centered around saving babies or killing babies, but is it really that simple? And why did white evangelicals suddenly become so avid in their support of the unborn, and what does segregation have to do with it? More importantly as Christians, what does the Bible really say about abortion? 

    The binary pro-life vs. pro-choice debate may seem like two clear-cut opposing sides, and many people find themselves agreeing firmly on one stance. However, these terms seek to implicitly portray the other stance unfavorably. Pro-life seems to imply that opponents are anti-life, or even “pro-death” and pro-choice insinuates that the opposition is “anti-choice” or favors coercion. The debate marginalizes women of color, poor women, and women from other marginalized communities because it does not take into account pre-existing conditions, such as financial incapability, harmful environmental factors and lack of social support, that restrict them from real choice to decide whether to have a child or have an abortion.

    In this controversial episode, we attempt to reframe the abortion debate beyond the false dualism of pro-life and pro-choice. We listen to female pastors, politicians, and priests share their personal experiences as well as their concerns for what comes next in the Christian onslaught on culture. We look at the history of the abortion debate, uncover what the Bible actually says about abortion, reveal the hypocrisy of the Christian right, and discuss the implications of overturning Roe v Wade on the future of women’s rights, same-sex rights, and transgender rights. As post-evangelicals, how are we to approach this complex conversation? Is it possible to be both pro-choice and pro-life?

    This debate isn't going away. I hope you will join us as we attempt to have an honest, practical, and Christ-centered conversation about abortion, the unborn, and female bodily integrity. 


    If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a rating and a review 🙏

    Show notes:
    http://www.sophiasociety.org/podcast/abortion-beyond-pro-life-pro-choice

    Follow us on social media! Twitter: @holyheretics | Instagram: @holyhereticspodcast | Facebook: @holyheretics

    Advertising inquiries: podcast@sophiasociety.org

    Support our work on Patreon and get early access to episodes! https://www.patreon.com/holyheretics

    This episode was produced by The Sophia Society.  Music is by Faith in Foxholes.

    • 58 min
    The Making of a Mystic w/ Kevin Sweeney

    The Making of a Mystic w/ Kevin Sweeney

    In the 1960's, Jesuit priest Karl Rahner made a bold claim about the future of faith. "The Christian of the future will either be a mystic, or nothing at all." Who could have guessed that sixty years later the deconstruction community would turn his statement into reality through the modern pursuit of mysticism. 
    Apologetic, rational, belief-based Christianity can only get you so far. In fact, in many ways it's gotten us into the mess we are in today. It could very well be true that the most necessary step you make during your deconstruction journey is to move from thinking the 'right' things about God to knowing God through intimate experiences. Modern mystic Thomas Keating describes this process as going inside yourself to find what is true. It is a way of knowing that begins with unknowing, a way of understanding that involves not just your mind, but your whole self. 
    In this, our 50th episode, we talk with author and mystic Kevin Sweeney about his path out of rational, apologetic faith and into the ancient tradition of Christian mysticism. Through formative practices like meditation, mindfulness, and centering prayer, Kevin charts a path for many of us to follow as we take the necessary step out of evangelicalism into a more freer, experiential faith. 
    Father Richard Rohr describes a mystic as someone who has moved from mere belief to actual inner experience with God.  This introductory conversation about Christian mysticism invites all of us into a deeper stream of spirituality. Plus, we discuss the formative practices you will need to facilitate inner transformation, a transformation from someone who thinks about God to someone who finds their entire being already in God.  

    Bio
    Mystics are not just a thing of the past. We all can embrace the mystery of God and the way of Christ in the world today. Kevin Sweeney, a pastor in Honolulu with his wife Christine, is here to share his journey within mysticism. He shares his journey of releasing ego, surrendering into God’s love, and embracing the wild journey life truly is. Kevin also shares about his new, forthcoming book, “The Making of a Mystic: My Journey with Mushrooms, My Life as a Pastor, and Why It’s Okay For Everyone to Relax,” which comes out on May 31st.
    Kevin Sweeney is co-founder and lead pastor of Imagine Church—an urban church in Honolulu that is welcoming of all people, sees imagination as the key to the future, chooses authenticity over performance, substance over hype, and quality over quantity. He is the host of podcast “The Church Needs Therapy” and is the author of the forthcoming books, “The Making of a Mystic: My Journey with Mushrooms, My Life as a Pastor, and Why It’s Okay For Everyone to Relax,” out on May 31st, and “The Joy of Letting Go” which will be out in January 2023. Both on Quoir Publishing. He lives In Honolulu with his wife and co-founder of Imagine, Christine, and their two kids, True and Mikayla.


    Quotables
    “There is a difference between spiritual intelligence and spiritual experience.”
    “Spiritual intelligence is what you believe about God, but spiritual experience is direct, first-person experience of God.”
    “Spiritual experience is the connection and the union with God.”
    “Spiritual experience is about waking up…For me a transformative faith is not primarily about believing what is right it is about tasting what is good.”
    “You can be less certain and more free.”If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a rating and a review 🙏


    Show notes:
    http://www.sophiasociety.org/podcast/the-making-of-a-mystic


    Follow us on social media! Twitter: @holyheretics | Instagram: @holyhereticspodcast | Facebook: @holyheretics

    Advertising inquiries: podcast@sophiasociety.org

    Support our work on Patreon and get early access to episodes! https://www.patreon.com/holyheretics

    This episode was written by Gary Alan Taylor and Kelly Lamb and produced by The Sophia Society.  Music is by Faith in Fox

    • 53 min
    ReWilding and Refugia: Healing Our Sacred Earth w/ Dr. Debra Rienstra

    ReWilding and Refugia: Healing Our Sacred Earth w/ Dr. Debra Rienstra

    People have been sounding the alarm for climate change for generations. The earth is permanently altered by human hands. But if we have the power to hurt the earth, we share the power to heal her. 
    Drawing on our spiritual tradition, Dr. Debra Rienstra encourages us to adapt our spiritual practices and faith to life on an altered planet. From consuming to healing, stewarding to co-creation, our task is to no longer objectify the earth but to care for her as living members of this sacred body. Dr. Rienstra encourages the idea of refugia. Refugia (reh-FU-jee-ah) is a biological term describing places of shelter where life endures in times of crisis, such as a volcanic eruption, fire, or stressed climate. Ideally, these refugia endure, expand, and connect so that new life emerges.
    Debra Rienstra applies this concept to human culture and faith, asking, In this era of ecological devastation, how can Christians become people of refugia? How can we find and nurture these refugia, not only in the biomes of the earth, but in our human cultural systems and in our spiritual lives? How can we apply all our love and creativity to this task as never before?
    Rienstra recounts her own process of reeducation--beginning not as a scientist or an outdoors enthusiast but by examining the wisdom of theologians and philosophers, farmers and nature writers, scientists and activists, and especially people on the margins. 

    Bio
    Debra Rienstra is professor of English at Calvin University, where she has taught since 1996, specializing in early British literature and creative writing. She is the author of four books—on motherhood, spirituality, worship, and ecotheology/climate change—as well as numerous essays and poems. Her literary essays have appeared in Rock & Sling, The Examined Life Journal, and Aethlon, among other places. She writes bi-weekly for The Twelve, an online magazine connected with The Reformed Journal, writing about spirituality, pop culture, the church, the arts, higher ed, and more.
    Rienstra was raised in Michigan and holds a BA from the University of Michigan and a PhD from Rutgers University. She and her husband, Ron Rienstra, have three grown children. Please read more from Dr. Rienstra as well as find our additional resources on climate care at her website. And grab her book Refugia Faith today! It’s fantastic.

    If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a rating and a review 🙏

    Show notes: http://www.sophiasociety.org/podcast/rewilding-refugia-healing-our-sacred-earth
    http://www.sophiasociety.org/podcast/rewilding-refugia-healing-our-sacred-earth



    Follow us on social media! Twitter: @holyheretics | Instagram: @holyhereticspodcast | Facebook: @holyheretics

    Advertising inquiries: podcast@sophiasociety.org

    Support our work on Patreon and get early access to episodes! https://www.patreon.com/holyheretics

    This episode was written by Gary Alan Taylor and Kelly Lamb and produced by The Sophia Society.  Music is by Faith in Foxholes.

    • 1 hr
    Why I Deconstructed Evangelicalism w/ Dr. David Gushee

    Why I Deconstructed Evangelicalism w/ Dr. David Gushee

    Those of us in the deconstruction community have been accused of many things over the last few years by individuals and institutions in the evangelical establishment. We've been accused of deconstructing our faith because we want to sin more, or that we have a rebellious nature, or we just want to have sex with anything and anyone, or that we've been corrupted by a liberal agenda. None of these claims are true. In fact, from all the countless conversations we've had with fellow deconstructionists over the years, most of us left evangelicalism because evangelicalism left Jesus. This movement is toxic, harmful, and frankly it needs to die.
    In this episode, Dr. David Gushee of Mercer University describes his own journey out of evangelicalism and provides language for the myriad of faithful reasons to leave this toxic movement behind. From Trumpism, white supremacy, LGBTQIA+ exclusion, and biblical literalism, Gushee gives language for why millions of us have left the church building. Plus, he provides not only one of the most succinct and beautiful apologetics for full LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the church, but he also provides a "biblical" justification for same sex marriage. 

    Bio
    Rev. Dr. David P. Gushee (PhD, Union Theological Seminary, New York) is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, Mercer University, Chair in Christian Social Ethics, Vrije Universiteit, and Senior Research Fellow, International Baptist Theological Study Centre.
    Dr. Gushee is the elected Past-President of both the American Academy of Religion and Society of Christian Ethics, signaling his role as one of the world’s leading Christian ethicists. He is the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of 25 books and approximately 175 book chapters, journal articles, and reviews. His most recognized works include Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust, Kingdom Ethics, The Sacredness of Human Life, and Changing Our Mind. His book, After Evangelicalism, charts a theological and ethical course for post-evangelical Christians, a course he more personally relates in his memoir, Still Christian.
    Over a full 28-year career, he’s been a devoted teacher and mentor as Professor Gushee to college students, seminarians, and PhD students. He’s also led significant activist efforts on climate, torture, and LGBTQ inclusion, and is a keynote speaker at churches, forums, and universities.

    Quotables
    “One of the reasons why I have left evangelicalism is that I believe that at least U.S. white evangelicalism has jumped the tracks in terms of being a faithful path for following Jesus…Something has gone pretty wrong with this branch of the Christian community.”
    “Evangelicalism has some problems, and the LGBTQIA+ issue was only one of the problems.”
    “U.S. white evangelicalism has become toxic and I don’t belong in that community.”
    “America is a white Anglo-Saxon protestant nation. Everyone else is here by sufferance.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt
    “The idea that this country belongs to white Christian people, notable of course white Christian men, white straight Christian men, is the founding power structure of our country.”
    “Trump embodies disgust that someone like Barack Obama could become President of the United States.”
    “Trump has embodied and advanced a reactionary narrative, but what could not have been anticipated was that 85% of white evangelicals went over the cliff with him.”
    “Once Trump solidified his grip on the heart of the people, it has been unbreakable.”
    “Trump has been both unveiled problems that were already there, and made them immeasurably worse.”
    “Europeans began to think of themselves as not only as Christian, not only as superior, but as white. And spreading all over the world to colonize, Christianize, and enslave all over the world without any problem.”
    “Evangelicalism and structured racism grew up together in America, and they intertwined to where you can’t tell where one leaves off and one

    • 54 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
87 Ratings

87 Ratings

lightbeamers ,

Refreshing & Rooted

I just listened to the episode on biblical womanhood with Beth Allison Barr — and I finally feel seen & heard from a biblical viewpoint, I have wrestled with the roles women play in our modern world, as they never matched the vernacular taught in some churches!! Barr gave contextual, historical, biblical arguments that substantiated what I’ve believed about Jesus’ teachings all along!

Thank you for such an important conversation! This show is refreshing while staying rooted in the Word!

Desi 2015 ,

A place at the table

This show has been brilliant. I feel as though I have learned so much than I have ever before in church alone. It’s wonderful to hear people across disciplines and it truly opens your eyes to seek God out for yourself instead of being reliant on your Sunday lessons only. I love the honest conversations and I am grateful for all they do to provide a place and a table for these critical and complex discussions.

Ivy29206 ,

Look forward to every episode!

As I grow and re-think my faith, Holy Heretics has been my faithful companion. I learn so much from the hosts and the guests. Definitely a game changer! The best!

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