140 episodes

Truce is a history podcast about the Christian Church, from pyramid schemes to political campaigns. Is the US a Christian nation? Why do some Christians like Donald Trump? Season five tells the history of Christian fundamentalism, and season three explores how the rise of communism and socialism in Russia changed the American Christian Church.
Podcast Magazine says Truce is, "reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell". Truce is hosted by Chris Staron, writer/ director of the films "Bringing up Bobby" and "Between the Walls", and author of "Cradle Robber".

Truce - History of the Christian Church Chris Staron

    • History
    • 4.7 • 159 Ratings

Truce is a history podcast about the Christian Church, from pyramid schemes to political campaigns. Is the US a Christian nation? Why do some Christians like Donald Trump? Season five tells the history of Christian fundamentalism, and season three explores how the rise of communism and socialism in Russia changed the American Christian Church.
Podcast Magazine says Truce is, "reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell". Truce is hosted by Chris Staron, writer/ director of the films "Bringing up Bobby" and "Between the Walls", and author of "Cradle Robber".

    Social Darwinism and the Spanish-American War | Christian Fundamentalism Series

    Social Darwinism and the Spanish-American War | Christian Fundamentalism Series

    The 1800s were an era of big questions, many of which we answered in cruel and selfish ways.

    Is one race better than another?

    Is one religion? If so, which one? In what ways?

    Is one economic system better than another?

    Is one system of governance like a democratic republic like the US, or socialist, or monarchy, theocracy, communism, best?


    Some people answered these questions with a resounding "yes". But if we think our people and ways are better than anyone else's, what responsibility do we have to spread those things? Men like Henry Cabot Lodge and Theodore Roosevelt were firm believers in social Darwinism, though their vision of it meant teaching those less "civilized" people our ways. And they were okay with the United States taking power over them.
    Meanwhile, there were men like William Jennings Bryan who refused to think of others in social Darwinism terms. He spent years fighting that dark philosophy, ultimately prosecuting the Scopes Monkey trial to stop the spread of social Darwinism. But the seeds of eugenics were planted.
    Caught in the middle were the people of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Phillippines, and other colonies of the Spanish empire. Spain was busy imprisoning Cubans in concentration camps. Their ruthless behavior toward America's neighbors caught the attention of the US Senate, which was already champing at the bit for a fight. Men in the United States were worried about their waning influence on society. Groups bellyached about how men were not men any more thanks to cities and offices. In the minds of some, war was the answer to weak-willed men. And Spain provided that war.
    Our guest today is Paul T. McCartney author of “Power and Progress: American National Identity, the War of 1898, and the Rise of American Imperialism”. He teaches at Towson University.
    Discussion Questions:

    Do you believe your people are somehow superior to another people group? Why?

    Does that sound like an attitude Jesus would have?

    If you are somehow superior, what is your responsibility to other people?

    Should the US help people who are being oppressed around the world? When should we intervene?

    Do you think that men are in decline? If so, what is the answer to that?

    Do you better relate to Teddy Roosevelt or William Jennings Bryan when it comes to war? Or are you a pacifist?

    How would Jesus have responded to the cruelty of Spain?

    What do you think about social Darwinism?


    Helpful Links and Sources:

    "The Evangelicals" by Frances Fitzgerald


    "Church History in Plain Language" by Bruce Shelley


    "The War Lovers" by Evan Thomas


    "Power and Progress" by Paul T. McCartney

    "The Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin

    Britannica article on Darwin's Beagle voyage

    Britannica article about Darwin's London years and natural selection


    Bio of Henry Cabot Lodge


    Article abouhttp://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/gilded/empire/text7/tillman.pdft Alfred Thayer Mahan

    Proctor's Speech


    Tillman's Speech


    Bryan's Speech



    "A Godly Hero" by Michael Kazin


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    • 40 min
    Populism | Christian Fundamentalism Series

    Populism | Christian Fundamentalism Series

    Give to help Truce. www,trucepodcast.com/donate

    Populism is a tricky subject. We use it these days as a slur, but populism can be a useful phenomenon. History professor and author Michael Kazin says that populism is an important tool when it comes to regulating power. In the late 1800s, railroads and banks were out of control. Industrialists like John D. Rockefeller had uninhibited control of their markets. Rockefeller believed in social Darwinism and didn't mind using dirty tactics to undermine his competition.

    The Populist Party sprouted out of frustrations women had with the political machines of their day. Republicans and Democrats were not yet willing to accept women and the issues they cared about. Women were slowly becoming a force within politics, but neither party had the guts to accept them. So women and others decided to form their own party. But in the election of 1896, the Populist Party was worried about a split vote. They worried that if they were to run a candidate of their own then they might split the vote. So the Populist Party backed Democratic nominee William Jennings Bryan.

    Bryan was a man of God. He quoted the Bible extensively, talked about the example of Jesus. But he was soundly defeated by the Republicans and William McKinley. He had only about 4% of the budget of his opponents. The story of Bryan is an interesting one because it contains the building blocks of fundamentalism.

    Discussion Questions:

    What is a populist?

    Can you name some populists?

    What are the advantages of populism? The drawbacks?

    How are Donald Trump, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders similar?

    William Jennings Bryan was one of the first presidential hopefuls from a major party to tour the country. How has this shaped American politics? Why do we like to see politicians in our home states?

    What do populism and fundamentalism have in common?

    Do you think that fundamentalism relies on strong figures as populism does? Why or why not?


    Helpful Resources:

    "A Godly Hero" and "What It Took to Win" by Michael Kazin

    Library of Congress collection of Chautauqua materials

    Bernie Sanders Clip from C-SPAN

    Elizabeth Warren Clip from C-SPAN

    Donald Trump clip from C-SPAN


    Article about Mary Lease

    "These Truths" by Jill Lepore

    Library of Congress collection of McKinley/Bryan campaign materials. It's worth searching the site in general for images from both of them.


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    • 39 min
    The Gold Standard and the Great Depression

    The Gold Standard and the Great Depression

    The Great Depression. Some say that it was caused by a failure of the stock market. Well... that's not all. Jacob Goldstein, host of NPR's Planet Money podcast and author of "Money: the Truce Story of a Made-Up Thing" joins us to discuss the role the gold standard played in making the depression what it was.
    Here is why the gold standard made the Great Depression much worse. Simply put, the panic of 1929 caused people to run to the bank and demand their money back in the form of gold. We were on the gold standard back then and you could literally go to a bank and ask for them to get your money in gold. But banks were running out! There was only so much gold on hand because banks don't generally keep 100% of their money in the vault. And banks (for the ease of our understanding things) "create" money when they do loans. So it was possible for a bank only to have a certain percentage of their loans backed by actual gold.
    This created real trouble. If the banks ran out of gold, they'd go broke and have to close. So the Federal Reserve decided to raise interest rates. Raising interest rates gives people an incentive to leave their money in banks because then they get more interest. BUT it also made it harder for people to borrow money or refinance their existing loans. Which put a huge crimp on the American financial system. In order to keep gold in the banks, the Fed had to hobble the loan industry. That meant that businesses couldn't get loans to help with payroll, and people looking to start a business couldn't get the money they needed. And the economy froze.
    That is why the gold standard was bad for the economy. Preserving it meant sacrificing the loan industry.

    Helpful Sources:
    "Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing"

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    • 14 min
    The Gold Standard | Christian Fundamentalism Series

    The Gold Standard | Christian Fundamentalism Series

    There was a time not so long ago when the value of an ounce of gold cost $20.67. That was true not just in one moment or one year. It was true in the 1880s, 1890s, 1900s, 1920s... This was the gold standard. A person could take $20.67 to a federal bank and receive an ounce of gold in return.

    This system worked really well... for a while. But by the 1890s the constant deflation caused by the increasing value of gold meant that people with loans had to work harder and harder to pay them back. The value of gold and the value of goods had an inverse relationship, like a seesaw. One side went up and the other went down.

    This is the topic William Jennings Bryan chose to discuss at the 1896 Democratic Convention. And it was that speech that won him the presidential nomination that year. Imagine that! Someone so passionate about inflating the cost of goods that they are chosen to be president! His bimetallism (he wanted to add silver into the mix to devalue the specie) stance came out of his social gospel leanings and his Christian faith. This was a high point for the social gospel. As the evangelical world was about to turn to the darker premillennialist view, Bryan made an impassioned plea that we could, in fact, make this world a better place.

    My guest for this episode is the amazing Jacob Goldstein. He's the author of the book “Money: the True Story of a Made-Up Thing”. He's also a former co-host of the Planet Money podcast and now hosts "What's Your Problem?", a show where he interviews guests about the issues in their industries. You'll also hear from Michael Kazin, professor of history from Georgetown and author of "A Godly Hero".

    Helpful Links


    "Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing" by Jacob Goldstein (makes a great gift!)


    "A Godly Hero" by Michael Kazin

    "The Cross of Gold" speech



    Discussion Questions


    Have you ever gotten so excited at a political speech that you would gladly carry the politician around the room?

    What is money?

    Why do some of us want our money to be backed by something else? Why gold?

    Is there something inherent in gold that you think makes it forever valuable?

    Do politicians and government officials have some responsibility to consider how monetary policy impacts those in the lower classes? What does that look like?

    How has your life been impacted by monetary policy?

    How do you feel about things like the FDIC?


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    • 33 min
    How Do We Deal with Christian Fundamentalism? | Christian Fundamentalism Series

    How Do We Deal with Christian Fundamentalism? | Christian Fundamentalism Series

    This season of the Truce Podcast tracks the history of Christian fundamentalism. So far we've covered the rise of para-church ministries through preachers, the creation of dispensationalism, and the rising threat of modernist theology in the late 1800s. That is a lot to digest! So in this episode, I thought it would be helpful to sit down with some of the smartest guys I know and ask them, "how do we deal with Christian fundamentalism?"
    Christian fundamentalism has impacted our lives in various ways. Ray McDaniel (pastor of First Baptist Church in Jackson, WY) shares that he grew up under fundamentalist teaching. Chris Staron (host of the Truce Podcast) talks about his childhood and teen years listening to fundamentalist radio. Nick Staron discusses the last few years when he has seen fundamentalism rise inside his own circle of friends.

    Here are some things to consider from this episode:

    Modernist theology can be seen as an actual threat to evangelical theology. How should we deal with threats in a godly way?

    Do end times teachings open doors for sharing the gospel?

    How much do we really know about the end times? And how should that shape the way we live today?

    What does it really mean to love people who are from a different denomination?

    Do we still need denominations today?

    How can we keep ministries accountable?


    Helpful links:

    The Late Great Planet Earth - hosted by Orson Welles

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    • 37 min
    The Liberals | Christian Fundamentalism Series

    The Liberals | Christian Fundamentalism Series

    George Marsden characterized Christian fundamentalism as "militantly anti-modernist protestant evangelicalism". Right there you see that fundamentalism is a reaction against something. And that something is modernist theology. Modernism is a broad term used to describe a few different schools of liberal theology. In this episode, we discuss the Tubingen and Berlin schools.
    Modernist theology is often marked by the desire to discuss the "historic Jesus". This term can be a bit confusing because it is less about understanding what historic texts say about Jesus and more about discussing the non-miraculous aspects of Jesus' life and ministry.
    Our special guest this episode is Chris Evans, professor of Christian History and Methodist Studies at Boston University and author of "Do Everything" a biography of Francis Willard.
    Discussion Questions:

    What does it mean that fundamentalism is a reaction to modernist theology?

    What is modernist theology?

    Do you know any theologically liberal people?

    Do you find it difficult to both love the Lord and love your neighbor?

    What makes someone a Christian? Does your view include theologically conservative people? What about theologically liberal people? Where is the line for you?

    How vital are Jesus' miracles to your life and faith?

    Is there a tension in Christianity where it is culturally difficult to be theologically conservative and still want to love our neighbors?


    Helpful Links and Sources:

    "The Evangelicals" by Frances Fitzgerald

    An interesting article on Arminius


    "Church History in Plain Language" by Bruce Shelley


    "Who is An Evangelical?" Thomas Kidd


    Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters edited by Donald K. McKim p 350

    Matthew 22:36-40


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    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
159 Ratings

159 Ratings

Tele2955 ,

Worth binge listenting

Really like this. Binge listening to catch up on the last few years. I’ll be bummed when I catch up and have to wait two weeks for new episodes. Informative, thought provoking, and entertaining.

geoincle ,

Terrific podcast

This podcast is both very positively focused and full of incredible detail for those (like me) interested in history/non-fiction podcasts. Smooth to listen to, and Chris keeps it moving at the right pace. Would very highly recommend!!!

derrick_dp ,

We need this.

Chris is doing an important work with Truce. “Pressing pause on the culture wars” is what so many of my fellow Christ following brothers & sisters need to do but seem incapable of. I’m thankful Chris is courageously pursuing that end and his podcast is helping to bring historical honestly to so many of the sacred cows of evangelical christianity. Follow, listen, and share!

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