1. The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill

Mark Driscoll founded Mars Hill church in 1996 and it grew to become an influential megachurch which had a reputation for being doctrinally sound. I learned about his ministry when I was doing my A-Levels in 2012/2013. It was a phase in my life where I was consuming lots of Christian material from Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition.

Mark wasn’t one of the pastors I listened to. Although his preaching was considered “expository,” I listened to a few and thought they were more topical than expository (a pattern I see in American evangelicalism). I read about Mars Hill’s fall, but didn’t follow the news closely.

This year I started following Michael Bird’s content and was introduced to this Christianity Today podcast. I’ve finished listening to it and found it sad yet enlightening. Some of the issues I have with a particular brand of “American gospel-centred evangelicalism” were brought up and hearing the stories of people who were built up - then torn down at the church was devastating. At the same time, their stories gave voice to some of the questions I’ve been asking.

A must-listen for anyone concerned about people and the church.

2. Michael Bird’s “Nazareth to Nicaea”

Michael Bird has been a revelation for me. Very “evangelical,” (he wrote a systematic theology called “Evangelical Theology”), yet willing to critique aspects of American Evangelicalism (which is extremely influential) he disagrees with.

He recently launched a new podcast Nazareth to Nicaea which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. As a New Testament scholar, it’s great that he pays careful attention to the New Testament and its historical, cultural, sociological and political milieu. He engages with scholars from both ends of the theological spectrum in a unique and refreshingly playful tone.

As a theologian committed to historic Christianity, he also draws out the significance of understanding the biblical text to every day Christians. Highly recommended!

3. Ask NT Wright Anything

I first encountered NT Wright during my A-Levels. At that time, I knew he was a go-to resource for the Resurrection, but that Christians in my circle didn’t like his role in the New Perspective on Paul (NPP). I didn’t read any of his works but encountered some NPP materials at university. I wasn’t too adverse towards it, understanding that one of their objectives was to counter the view that Judaism in Jesus' time was “works-salvation” - a common view even today.

I first listened to the Ask NT Wright Anything podcast in May 2019. I was down with dengue at the time, and not used to being seriously ill, I wanted to listen to something while I tried to rest. I cannot remember how I stumbled onto this podcast but I have listened to every episode since then.

NT Wright brings a thoughtful and irenic voice to answer the questions listeners ask. He is wise, humble and pastorally sensitive. One of the life-changing things he said was that the goal of Christianity is not about God saving us so that we can go to heaven (this is Platonism), rather that the goal of God’s plan is to come to dwell with his people - on earth. That’s the New Creation: when the new Jerusalem comes down out of heaven from God, “God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples and God himself will be with them and will be their God” (Revelation 21:1-3).