Andy Miller III
Cover Image for Life in the Negative World with Aaron Renn

Life in the Negative World with Aaron Renn

February 29, 2024

In Life in the Negative World, author Aaron M. Renn looks at the lessons from Christian cultural engagement over the past seventy years and suggests specific strategies for churches, institutions, and individuals to live faithfully in the “negative” world—a culture opposed to Christian values and teachings. And since there is no one-size-fits-all solution, living as a follower of Christ in the new, negative world and being missionally engaged will require a diversity of strategies. I enjoyed this conversation and hope you too will find it helpful.

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Welcome to the more, to the story. Podcast. I'm so glad that you have come along. I'm really looking forward to this episode today. It's a privilege to speak to my guest, somebody. I've been following the last couple of years and has a new book out which I hope you will consider buying. And actually, if you find something interesting in this. Podcast but we have today, if you share a link to this podcast on this social media platform.

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And you tag me so that I know it. Zanderven, who's the publisher of this book is giving me opportunity to give away 4 copies. So I'm excited about the opportunity to to share this book with other people, and so, and I'll introduce a guest in a second. But it's Aaron Renn, life in the negative world. I would love for you to get your hands on this book. So 4 of you have an opportunity to make that happen today.

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Andy Miller III: When you share a link to this, I wanna thank our sponsors who make this podcast happen. Wesley Biblical Seminary, where we are developing trusted leaders for faithful churches. We've had a 400% increase over the last 5 years, probably in part, as a result of the emergence of the global Methodist church, we're privileged to serve pastors all over the world from that new denomination. But in addition to a host of other traditions within the kind of broad

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Wesley and tradition, though of course, we have people come from all kinds of traditions that wouldn't mind being considered Wesleyan. We have bachelor's master's doctoral programs lay initiatives. We'd love for you to check us out at Wbs. Edu, I'm also thankful to Wpo development. They're a group that comes alongside churches and nonprofits educational institutions and helps them develop strategic plans. And then eventually, if they're led to this place

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Andy Miller III: to have capital campaigns and learning how to actualize the strategies that they've put in place. And so they've done that for over 250 organizations across the country. I've worked with them. I highly recommend them to you. You can find out more information about Wpo. Development in my show notes. And finally, if

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Andy Miller III: if you haven't followed the things happening at Andy Miller, the third com and the mortise story, podcast. I would love for you to get on my email list. And if you come on my email list I'll send you a free tool. It's called 5 steps to deeper teaching and preaching.

00:05:23.940 --> 00:05:51.990
Andy Miller III: It's a 45 min teaching session, but also a tool, an 8 page. Pdf, that I'll send to you that you can use if you're a Sunday school teacher or a preacher who's looking to go deeper in your study with Scripture. And actually, this the book that we're about to read, we're gonna we're gonna talk about encourages this type of thing and a chapter on ownership, because it's so important. Who knows? In our time, when we're gonna be in the place where Youtube, or any podcast, platform, or certainly any social media might just.

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I might be gone. But people who are on my email list and on the email list of the people. The person I'm interviewing today.

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Andy Miller III: Okay. I am so glad to welcome to podcast Aaron Wren, who is the author of this new book published by Zondervin Life in the Negative World, confronting challenges in an anti-christian culture. He's the senior fellow of the American reformer. He has a great, he has a great series of writes regularly, you can find out more about him at Aaron Renn com Aaron, welcome to the podcast

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Aaron Renn: thanks for having me on.

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Andy Miller III: II couldn't help but see all the influence throughout your your book and through your writings through the years. That you're a Hoosier, too, so I was born in Rushville. Do you know Rushville is?

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Andy Miller III: Maybe not. I've heard of it, but I can't quite place it on the map. Well, it's just less than 5,000 people. It was the smallest town where the savage army was serving at that time in the whole country. But my parents were sent there. I was there. It also is a significant place for

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Andy Miller III: slaughtering pigs, and then, and then I was in Bloomington 5 years, 2 years in Indianapolis. So I see the Indiana stream coming through your riding.

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Andy Miller III: I grew up 4 miles outside of a town called Laconia, which has less than 100 people.

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Andy Miller III: Yeah, in. It varies, depending on census. But I spent most of my adult life in Chicago in New York.

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Andy Miller III: Okay? Well, we have. I didn't make my way to New York, but I graduated high school, a homeschool high school actually, in the Chicago area. So I claim Chicago, too. And so people ask where I'm from. Sometimes they can pick it up in my voice. Now tell me just A little sketch of your journey. I know that you are consultant, and then you work for the Manhattan Institute, and now you're more of a writer, public, intellectual working with the with the American reformer. Tell a little bit about your story.

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Aaron Renn: sure. Well, as I said, I grew up in rural Southern Indiana, and then, after college, moved to Chicago, had career number one in management, consulting mostly with a firm called Accenture. I was there for, you know, 15. You know, years, I probably spend 18 years basically in that world.

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Aaron Renn: Really sort of in a technology orientation. Then I made a shift and shifted into public policy and writing about cities, particularly the overlooked cities of the American Midwest.

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Aaron Renn: and ended up at the Manhattan Institute in New York, which is a think Tank there. I had to go to New York to write about the Midwest. There was something interesting there. But in in some respects it was kind of applying the tools, techniques, and disciplines of management, consulting to the problem of the city.

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Aaron Renn: And then I sort of pivot into the career number 3, which is

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Aaron Renn: basically doing some of the same stuff, but with a focus on the future of the Evangelical Church. And then also men's issues really got me interested in this initially, was this idea that men were not. We're not going to church, but that we're turning to online influencers. And why is that? And how do we get into game? But it turned out that my writing on the future of the Church turned out to be even more popular. So hence the book you're holding, although I still do a little bit of of urban work at time. There.

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Andy Miller III: interesting in in the the former blog or newsletter. He has called it masculinist. Right now. I was with you a little bit in that time period before you kind of transition to this. Yes, also, say, I was originally sort of talking about men's issues, and then it sort of grew out of that. So I sort of just rebranded it after myself.

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Cause it's I don't want to limit it to just any one topic, you know.

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Andy Miller III: Right? Well, I've I've so appreciated. I've I've saw the article in the first things which I think there was. This idea I've been developing for almost a decade with developing these 3 worlds, this framework for the 3 worlds. And in just a second I want you to explain it. But I'm gonna try and come at it a little different way than I've even heard you talk about it before, and I wanna explain a little bit my story because

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Andy Miller III: I think when I read this book, and I've read your article, but it's even more so with the book I love, how you just be able to take more time and also think about what people are to do more with the information that you've given. I've lived in these 3 worlds. I feel like you're describing my life. It has been a wild time to see, like just these various influences. I don't feel like people often, or scholars or public intellectuals have been able to describe

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Andy Miller III: my experience very much. I look at some of the books that have come out that tried to describe American Evangelicalism like Jesus and John Wayne. And I feel like it just misses it misses the positive things that I experience from that culture. Okay, so here's my, I, my parents. I came out multiple generations in the Salvation Army multiple generations of preachers

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Andy Miller III: in the Midwest. I, my parents, were deeply influenced by James Dobson and people like that, and those type of disciplines that they learned dared to discipline. For a matter matter matter matter of fact, was a part of like my very experience. I was into 19 nineties, Christianity, culture of

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Andy Miller III: DC. Talk, true love, weights and all and all those type of things. But nevertheless, I kind of sensing. In that period something different was happening in the mid nineties. Go to Christian College. Many generations of my family went to Asbury University, where I started to sense a little bit more of what you identify later as a cultural engagement model, where we wanted to be a little bit more sensitive with the way we approach culture and influence change.

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Andy Miller III: I am like a very typical kind of evangelical story. Met my wife at Evangelical College. We got married at 22 and 21 went into ministry. I went to Seminary and then began to have a sense that things were not as not the same as as how I grew up, and I know that that's probably the case for everybody along the way. But then, really sensing that.

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Andy Miller III: I needed to be able to respond appropriately to some of the changes that were happening in society. And then we get to the 20, you know, 20 tens, and I'm ex as I'm leading as a pastor we end up eventually.

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Andy Miller III: Just 2 years ago, home schooling our our children after I had been home school. Our kids have been in Christian school. I feel like as I work through these various worlds. I've lived in these these worlds. So now, as that is my provision, I'd love for you to just talk about this this framework that you've developed between worlds, and maybe you all will see, as he describes, that how I fit in. I think a lot of people my audience probably fit into those descriptions.

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Aaron Renn: Well, I'm glad to hear you say that, because you know it, it really has resonated with just a ton of people they're like, wow! This explains what I've experienced, what I've seen, and that's the point it is to help you

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Aaron Renn: make sense of what you're seeing. And so it's fundamentally, it's it's something that's designed to be useful. It's not like something like Newton's second law of motion, or something like that. It's not a scientific law. It's not a theological framework. I'm not trying to give a doctor to the Trinity.

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Aaron Renn: I'm trying to help people understand the world.

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Aaron Renn: And so the way I describe it is, we never had a State Church like they did in Europe. But for most of American history we did have a sort of

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Aaron Renn: softly institutionalized, generic Protestantism as our default. National religion, you know, go back to the 19 fifties. Half of all Americans went to church every Sunday that was actually the high water mark of church attendance in America. We had prayer and Bible reading in the public schools. We were adding in God. We trust to our money under God, to the pledge of allegiance.

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Aaron Renn: Then, in the 19 sixties, this starts to come unravelled.

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Aaron Renn: I dated to around 1964, Christianity begins to go into decline. In America. Church attendance declines, personal adherence declines, and people sort of begin to question the Christian moral framework, and so I divide this period of decline between 1964 and the present into 3 phases or worlds that I call the positive world the neutral world and the negative world.

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Aaron Renn: The positive world, which lasts from 1964 to 1994, is a period of decline for Christianity. I want to be clear on that. Not everything is going well. It's not positive. In that sense. Church attendance is in decline. There's the sexual revolution, etc. At the same time, Christianity is still basically viewed positively in America.

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Aaron Renn: To be known as a good church-going man makes you seem like an upstanding member of society, and Christian moral norms are still the basic moral norms of society, and if you violate them you can get in trouble. In 1994, we hit a tipping point, and under what I call the neutral world, which lasted from 1994 to 2,014,

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Aaron Renn: where Christianity is not really seen positively anymore. But it's not really seen negatively yet, either. It's just one more lifestyle choice among many in a sort of pluralistic

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Aaron Renn: public square.

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Aaron Renn: And you know, we might meet. I'd say I'm a Christian, you might say great. I'm a Vegan. Let's sit down. Let's talk. Let's have a conversation and current. The Christian moral system still had a sort of residual impact

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Aaron Renn: by residual effect. In this era, then, in 2,014, we had a second tipping point, where, for the first time in the 400 year history of America. Official elite culture now views Christianity negatively, or certainly at least

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Aaron Renn: skeptically. And yes, there were sort of elites and leaders all along who were not personally devout, or who are skeptical of religion, going all the way back to the founding, or maybe even before, but they felt compelled to hold religion publicly in honor.

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Aaron Renn: Now that's no longer the case.

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Aaron Renn: To be known as a Bible. Believing Christian does not help you get a job at Goldman Sachs, or Google, quite the opposite. In fact, the Christian moral system is now expressly repudiated, and, in fact, is now viewed as the leading threat to the new public moral order, and this has been dislocating, to say the least.

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Aaron Renn: to many Evangelicals, and of course, you know, the Methodist Church is definitely experiencing some of the turmoil, I think, related to these

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Aaron Renn: transitions. But all of evangelicalism is now sort of riven by intra kind of intramural conflict.

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Aaron Renn: Realignments, deconstruction. deformation, etc. And that's where we basically are today.

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Andy Miller III: That's really helpful. And I know you've talked about this multiple times. But I'm interested for you to define even how you get to the dates that you have like? What happens in 94. What is it that? What are the what's the Comp. The various things that came into making the decision to pivot there, but also 2014, some might think. Well, 2015 is when a burger fell. Happen. That's the Supreme Court ruling, which made a same-sex marriage kind of the law of the land. What what helped me understand the distinction of the dates.

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Aaron Renn: sure, and I wouldn't get wedded to to these particular dates. Okay, you want to move it forward or backward a little bit, you know. Knock yourself out.

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Aaron Renn: You know, 1994, you know you could have a debate should it have been 1989, because that was near the fall of the Berlin wall. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the end of the Cold War was a critical event

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Aaron Renn: in the evolution of how Christianity saw was viewed by Society I picked 1994 for

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Aaron Renn: 2 basic reasons. One. It was the Gingrich revolution in which the Republicans gained the House for the first time and forever, and really, in my view, represented the high watermark of religious right influence in America.

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Aaron Renn: 1994 was also the year Rudy Giuliani was elected Mayor of New York became Mayor of New York.

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Aaron Renn: and

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Aaron Renn: we had this sort of urban renaissance that sent people back to the cities, and it created a very new and important social phenomenon and demographic, the urban, highly educated, progressive, that it has so much influence on our culture, and really continues to do so.

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Aaron Renn: And it was really in this timeframe that we saw the transition to baby boomer leadership, notably with Bill Clinton becoming elected President. So that was also going on in this timeframe. 2,014 is a little more dialed in. I think you mentioned Oberga fell in 2,015, so you know, you could obviously just say, like one year before that 2,014 was also the year of the so called great Awakening.

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Aaron Renn: You know that, you know secular commentators like Matthew Glacias. He's co-founded, Vox. He's on the left. He's that's when he said, you know, 2,014, when people kinda went crazy on race.

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Aaron Renn: 2,013 was when, and Nyu, Professor Jonathan Height said things started to go crazy on campus. And so again, you know the exact date we can argue. But really there was a sort of cultural rupture sometime during Obama's second term.

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Aaron Renn: and I think it's important to note that this predated Donald trump. And so this can't be like chalked up as a reaction to him. And I might even argue that you know Donald Trump getting elected President is part of this transition as well, and in fact, he it's sort of a I would say it is a

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Aaron Renn: a, a, an effect, not a cause. But certainly shows that something fundamental has changed in the culture.

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Andy Miller III: right? And what you you bring him up a few times, but also the distinction, even in what's happening in politics within the the 3 worlds you bring up Gary Hart, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump. I tell tell us how that fits into these these distinctions?

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Aaron Renn: Sure. So I illustrate the difference between these 3 worlds with 3 different Presidential sex scandals in the positive world.

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Aaron Renn: That was the 1987 scandal with Colorado. Senator Gary Hart, who was the leading contender to be the Democratic nominee for President. The next year a newspaper reported that he'd had a young woman stay all night in his Washington, DC. Townhouse, and the resulting media firestorm caused him to have to drop out of the race.

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Aaron Renn: I mean, it's almost impossible to think that the idea that you had an affair would cause your Presidential campaign to be torpedoed. That certainly would not be the case today.

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Aaron Renn: Fast forward it to the neutral world. 90, 98. The drudge report breaks the story that Bill Clinton has been having an affair with White House, intern Monica Lewinsky. Now Clinton was extremely badly damaged by this scandal.

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Aaron Renn: It did cost him a lot, probably. Why, Bush was elected in 2,000. Nevertheless, he survived that kind of Democrats, rallied to the flag and said, his personal behavior, however deplorable it might have been.

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Aaron Renn: is not relevant to his, you know, professional performance in in office, and he survived it.

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Aaron Renn: The negative World scandal. 2,016 October, NBC. News has been sitting on this tape from the set of access, Hollywood, in which

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Aaron Renn: Trump made various crude comments about women.

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Aaron Renn: And they've been sitting on this thing for months. They've had it. And they're like, we're gonna spring this on it as an October surprise. And we're gonna get him. And it's gonna sink his campaign. And in retrospect it was basically a 48 h blip of a scandal, he went on to win election.

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Aaron Renn: In, you know, just a couple weeks, and I think that the access Hollywood tape. And again trump shows the radical implications of the shift to the negative world. It's not just about sexuality, it's not just about how it affects the church. It affects everything, and I think there is a great irony

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Aaron Renn: that the very people who are most aggressive in tearing down all the old moral standards of society are the ones who are most horrified by Donald Trump. And

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Aaron Renn: that's the kind of guy that in a previous era positive or a neutral world would not have been elected president. But now they're like, Oh.

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Aaron Renn: you know, you evangelical shouldn't vote for him, cause he's a bad man

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Aaron Renn: and they're like, wait a minute. You've just spent the last 2030 years telling us that stuff doesn't matter anymore. Now, all of a sudden, you decide that it does.

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Aaron Renn: And again, I think there's a lot of other things. You know, it's not in the book, but you know the metastasization of vice

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Aaron Renn: in our society, and the fact that all these things that used to be the province of shady characters like the mob, are now considered, you know, quote unquote, legitimate businesses, worth billions of dollars. Hmm, great example would be gambling.

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Aaron Renn: Yeah, you know, like, I mean, you know. the the State Lotteries movement kind of, I think really got going in the 80 s. Maybe to the early 90 s.

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Aaron Renn: And that was controversial. And here in Indiana, you know, it was the Methodist Church who was, I think, led the charge against the constitutional amendment that allowed the State to establish a lottery. Well, today, of course, we've legalized sports betting on your phone.

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Aaron Renn: You know. And it's it's like a massive industry. And I think about a guy like Pete Rose getting banned from baseball for life because he supposedly bet on games. Well, now that all the leagues, and even the pro leagues, and even colleges, are now in on the gambling business, he's, you know, supposedly clean cut. All American boys like Peyton and Eli Manning are now gambling pitch men.

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Aaron Renn: I mean, even people like that. They do it. So it's a gambling course, we're legalizing pot or legalizing drugs, you know, other states are starting to legalize psychedelics.

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Aaron Renn: So now, if you walk through one of our cities, there's clouds of pot smoke everywhere we got ready usury laws. And so now, in poor neighborhoods in the city there's a payday loan store on every block, and these predatory actors.

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Aaron Renn: you know the definitely there's a push. It's not fully there yet to essentially, you know, normalize prostitution and other things as as they would say. Sex work. Lots of people would treat, you know, something like only fans is empowering, and certainly we have industrial strength. Poor now that you know the big players don't have much interest in

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Aaron Renn: shutting down. And so you know, we'll see what happens there. But I mean, it's like the fact that this stuff is all now considered fully legitimate and preying on the most vulnerable members of our society.

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Aaron Renn: You know that that we just it's unseemly. I mean even the incredible income inequality that we see with Ceos in gorging themselves while they're offshoring people's jobs. And you know the pay and all that stuff. It's like.

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Aaron Renn: It's a product of a change in the moral framework of society. So this shift to it in essentially de-christianize, post-christianize in some respects anti-christianized culture.

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Aaron Renn: The the impact of that is profound.

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Andy Miller III: Another case that you use to describe this that's indicative of this moment is people might be surprised, and and maybe even people who are my my current students who might not have lived through this period is to look back to 2,007 8, when Obama was running for a for election against Mccain, that he went into Rick Warren's church with John Mccain, a church that had recently led the charge against a proposition in the State

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Andy Miller III: to make it, to to move against same-sex marriage like the State of California, voted to not have same-sex marriage. I mean, it's hard to believe that that was just within the last 15 years. But that's a sign of this of these worlds. The shift that happened

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Aaron Renn: absolutely

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Andy Miller III: now interesting, like, you find a few ways that people have responded to the challenges. Not just in the various phases

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Andy Miller III: of this framework. So you talk about 3 different groups. You talk about the cultural warriors seeker sensitive movement. And this is particularly on the church side. I was actually really interested to hear how you're describing what's happening on just the broad cultural side as well. I mean, just thinking about Nfl owners being responsible and having part ownerships of draft kings and these type of things, but seeing all of those other layers. But I am particularly interested in what this means for the Church.

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The Church has responded with the kind of cultural warrior side, the seeker, sensitive side. And then the cultural engagement. Could you explain what you have in mind with those 3 categories.

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Aaron Renn: Sure, I also look at like, you know, how did the Evangelical Church respond to this period of decline? And really, in essence, in a sense, Evangelicalism was a product of this period of decline. So if you go back to the 1950 Si was talking about, we were still sort of a country dominated by the mainline denominations, and as church attendance went into decline that badly affected the mainline churches, and mostly they've never really figured out how to crack the code

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Aaron Renn: on responding to that, and Evangelicalism had superior adaptability to changing times, and was really able, I think, to fill the vacuum that was left by the decline of many of the main line

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Aaron Renn: denominations. There. So II basically list sort of 3 strategies that Evangelicals came up with.

00:26:58.110 --> 00:27:16.100
Aaron Renn: let me jump in there real quick. Yeah. Sorry. Cause you make a helpful distinction. You don't use the kind of theological definition of evangelicalism, say, like a David Bebington. Historical perspective, you're thinking more in sociological terms. Right? Yes, that's what I say. II one of the things I say in the introduction is, I define.

00:27:16.140 --> 00:27:28.580
Aaron Renn: There's something called the the Raltrad model. I think it stands for religious tradition, and it's the model that social scientists use in surveys to code people's religious affiliations.

00:27:28.640 --> 00:27:43.180
Aaron Renn: And basically they divide product in this system. They divide Protestants into 3 categories, mainline, black Protestant and evangelical. And it's actually based on what denomination or church tradition

00:27:43.210 --> 00:28:04.389
Aaron Renn: that you are part of it has nothing to do with your theology, or even your race. So if you were a black person who attended a PC. U.S.A. Presbyterian church, you would be classified as mainline, right? So it it's not. It's not even a race. It's not a racial survey. It's basically basically the the different ones. And that's what I do. I don't try to come up with a theological approach. As I say, it's a sociological

00:28:04.590 --> 00:28:06.620
Aaron Renn: phenomenon.

00:28:06.920 --> 00:28:22.289
Andy Miller III: Yeah, sorry. I just felt like people might find that helpful as we're getting. Yeah, as you're getting into these responses. And and that's one of the critiques, and I think it's been unfair that people have made about your very your model. The framework is that they end up thinking well.

00:28:22.290 --> 00:28:46.430
Andy Miller III: a. A. The black church has always been in the negative world. Well, the the problem with that is like, you're not necessarily looking. This is something that is intrinsic to somebody's identity. Right? Is, I mean, what's your basic response to that criticism? Yeah, yeah. So when I so I basically say on that one, you know, when I say, go back to the 1950. S, yeah. When I say that, you know, we just sort of like softly institutionalized, you know, generic Protestantism

00:28:46.560 --> 00:28:58.279
Aaron Renn: we did. That's like an objective fact. Now, that doesn't mean that America was always governed in accordance with Christian principles, or that there weren't injustices or things of that value. Of course it was. Jim Crow was going on

00:28:58.540 --> 00:29:00.870
Aaron Renn: for example, in the South.

00:29:01.000 --> 00:29:04.639
Aaron Renn: But nevertheless, sort of you know Christianity was held in public honor.

00:29:04.660 --> 00:29:25.790
Aaron Renn: and it would also say, You know this. Some of the critics like to say, any bad experience that you have is an example of the negative world. That's not true. The negative world specifically refers to how elite culture, official culture in America views Christianity. And you know, if you were in 1950 S. America, and you were a black person who was discriminated against

00:29:25.830 --> 00:29:40.439
Aaron Renn: you are also not being discriminated against because you were Christian you were being discriminated against because you were black, you could have renounced your faith, become a Muslim, and nothing is going to improve for you in in that world. And even.

00:29:40.590 --> 00:29:48.480
Aaron Renn: you know, a lot of the Civil rights movement was, you know, basically positioned in a sort of explicitly Christian Register.

00:29:48.790 --> 00:30:06.540
Aaron Renn: You know. I you know. So somebody like Martin Luther King, of course, was, you know, the Reverend Martin Luther King. His, I believe his letter from Birmingham jail is addressed to something like My dear, my fellow clergyman, or something like that. So he's actually writing, and it's very theological, you know, if you read it.

00:30:06.710 --> 00:30:13.410
Aaron Renn: And so he assumes the positive world. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yes, exactly. Exactly.

00:30:13.470 --> 00:30:35.700
Aaron Renn: you know. And you know, it's it's so much going on there, so that that you know that's what I would. That's what I would say. There, on that. I do think like I think that that criticism is kind of completely off base. It's like, you know, if you're suffering, why are you so? Are you suffering? Because you are Chris, or people persecuting of your faith, and of course there are certainly, you know, individuals, always individuals

00:30:35.780 --> 00:30:38.840
Aaron Renn: who suffered for their faith at different points in time.

00:30:38.900 --> 00:30:43.360
Aaron Renn: But the the real question is is, you know, how does society.

00:30:43.680 --> 00:30:46.959
Aaron Renn: you know, view Christianity in its system as in its identity?

00:30:47.030 --> 00:30:48.489
Andy Miller III: I think, as a country.

00:30:48.510 --> 00:30:50.969
Aaron Renn: And so you know, that's what I say. There.

00:30:51.320 --> 00:30:59.499
Aaron Renn: thank you. Sorry to take you off of track. We were talking about the the 3 evangelical responses. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. So

00:30:59.540 --> 00:31:11.310
Aaron Renn: so what I say is, you know, there are these 3 strategies that were developed, 2 in the positive world, one in the neutral world, in the positive. You had the culture, war strategy and the secret sensitivity strategy, and in a neutral world you had the cultural engagement strategy.

00:31:11.350 --> 00:31:27.280
Aaron Renn: So the culture war is the religious right that we know. It emerged in the 1970 S. Is part of a movement that was known as the New Right, led by people like in in the religious right, came out of people like Jerry Falwell with moral majority, Pat Robertson and his Empire

00:31:27.500 --> 00:31:38.329
Aaron Renn: and this group of people saw that, you know, things were not going their way on. You know public morality and things of that nature, and their response was to mobilize politically, to fight back.

00:31:38.550 --> 00:31:43.449
Aaron Renn: It's like we're gonna take back the country and we're we're gonna fight

00:31:43.710 --> 00:31:55.290
Aaron Renn: and again, that I think the very name moral majority speaks to the positive world when it was at least plausible to claim, might not have been true even then, but it was at least plausible to claim.

00:31:55.350 --> 00:31:57.820
Aaron Renn: You know that Christians spoke for the majority of the country.

00:31:58.280 --> 00:32:03.969
Aaron Renn: Nobody would make that today. And of course this group is still with us. This is the religious right that we know.

00:32:04.770 --> 00:32:32.090
Aaron Renn: The second strain in the 19 seventies was secret sensitivity, pioneered by people like Rick Warren at Settle Back Church was actually in 80 S. Or Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Church in Suburban Chicago. And so you know, what happened was, these guys saw that people weren't going to church, and so they say, why don't we design a church that people want to attend? So the origin story of Willow Creek is that Bill Heibels went door to door in suburban Chicago, asking people why they didn't go to church.

00:32:32.090 --> 00:32:51.090
Aaron Renn: and as he said, I got an earful, and so he then designed a church that would appeal to them. So it was free of denominational distinctives or baggage. He might have said, you know, no choir robes and stodgy hymns and organs. It's gonna be informal. It's gonna be

00:32:51.140 --> 00:32:53.090
Aaron Renn: sort of contemporary music.

00:32:53.160 --> 00:32:58.849
Aaron Renn: It's gonna have therapeutic topical sermons, etc. And this is really, the you know.

00:32:58.950 --> 00:33:05.509
Aaron Renn: non-denominational suburban Megachurch, that we all know that in many ways represents the Evangelical Maidstream.

00:33:05.560 --> 00:33:19.339
Aaron Renn: A lot of baby boomers, suburbanites. This was really a product of baby boomer suburbanization. And I would say this group of churches was quite politically conservative, typically voted Republican, but in a very different register.

00:33:19.790 --> 00:33:29.340
Andy Miller III: The other ones. Then, in the neutral world, in the 1990 S. We saw the emergence of a third strategy called Cultural Engagement, pioneered by people like Tim Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York.

00:33:29.470 --> 00:33:41.250
Aaron Renn: I think there are a couple of ways to think about. This 1. One is you can think about it as a seeker sensitivity for the cities. As the cities came back, these folks wanted to reach urban residents, these kind of upscale

00:33:41.330 --> 00:33:46.910
Aaron Renn: Urban residents in the same way that Heibels and Warren had reached the suburbanites.

00:33:46.960 --> 00:34:04.039
Aaron Renn: You know, a little bit earlier. A second way to think about is the opposite of the culture war strategy rather than fight with people all the time they're like, why don't we take advantage of this pluralistic public square that we have to have a conversation with people, and try to articulate the gospel in a way that actually wins friends, not enemies.

00:34:04.150 --> 00:34:08.689
Aaron Renn: And so all. And this is really the really the Christianity of

00:34:08.900 --> 00:34:13.180
Aaron Renn: again, urban and college town Christianity, and the sort of

00:34:13.190 --> 00:34:28.080
Aaron Renn: the the sort of ethos of you might call it the quote unquote evangelical elites to a great extent. And again, all 3 of these are still with us. Today, as we've entered the negative world, the question is, what's the strategy for the negative world. And the answer is, there really hasn't been one.

00:34:28.469 --> 00:34:30.150
Aaron Renn: and you know what we see is.

00:34:30.260 --> 00:34:39.220
Aaron Renn: There was one guy who put out an I an idea for what to do. And that was Rod Durrer with his book, The Benedict Option in 2,017

00:34:39.250 --> 00:34:45.029
Aaron Renn: and Evangelicals basically rejected the Benedict option. So Christianity today Magazine

00:34:45.060 --> 00:34:53.090
Aaron Renn: commissioned 4 people to write essays reflecting on the book, and all 4 of them have substantial criticisms of it.

00:34:53.239 --> 00:35:08.999
Aaron Renn: and you know yes, I do think you know his. He's a role. He was a Eastern Orthodox, formerly Roman Catholic. He'd be the first person to die is knowing they got the evangelical world so clearly. Things like using the monasteries. His example didn't really play well, but I think there's a still a great sense of denial.

00:35:09.090 --> 00:35:21.600
Aaron Renn: He also had a little bit of the misfortune of his book coming out right, as Donald Trump was about to take office. In fact, his book was essentially written assuming Trump was going to lose initially, and then I think he had to make a few revisions to it. Because

00:35:21.620 --> 00:35:29.289
Aaron Renn: basically, I think it's like you're saying that the sky is falling rod. And here is Donald Trump has just been elected president. It seems a little, you know.

00:35:29.610 --> 00:35:43.569
Aaron Renn: Yeah off. But I think there really wasn't sort of a sense of denial. I think there's much less the case today. But nevertheless, there really hasn't been what I call a negative world strategy emerge. And instead, we've sort of seen what I would call it realignment.

00:35:43.630 --> 00:35:51.979
Aaron Renn: Some people are sort of switching teams. Other people are deconstructing. And we're also seeing deformation of some of these strategies.

00:35:52.040 --> 00:35:53.189
Aaron Renn: And so

00:35:53.640 --> 00:36:04.109
Aaron Renn: the culture where people have essentially doubled down. And they're like, you know. What you need to do now is take the gloves off and really fight. This time we're really gonna fight.

00:36:04.230 --> 00:36:07.319
Aaron Renn: And so this group, I think we see change

00:36:07.430 --> 00:36:16.410
Aaron Renn: and it's probably a little more Machiavellian, maybe, than it it used to be. Where, like, you know, I think, go back to Clinton scandals, people would have just said, look.

00:36:16.490 --> 00:36:32.539
Aaron Renn: moral character is paramount in a political leader. If you don't have moral character, nothing else matters. Bill Clinton is simply, morally unfit for office. Then, when it comes to 2,016 election, they're like, well, you know. Can't let Hillary win. Can we like rail politics sort of a rules a day.

00:36:32.610 --> 00:36:34.079
Aaron Renn: So I think that's one.

00:36:34.300 --> 00:36:43.790
Aaron Renn: I think that's kind of what we've seen there. And you know, there's, you know, some people that are, you know, variety of people there. Some people sort of held their nose and voted for trump.

00:36:43.960 --> 00:36:53.000
Aaron Renn: you know, others, you know we're enthusiastic, but I think that's kind of what's happened then on the on the cultural engagement side. I think we've seen a shift away from engagement

00:36:53.070 --> 00:37:07.750
Aaron Renn: towards what I call synchronization with the culture. And and I think, you know, they really haven't changed a lot theologically, but their rhetoric has morphed a lot, and they overwhelmingly like to stress

00:37:07.810 --> 00:37:17.850
Aaron Renn: the ways in which they agree with the culture and tend to minimize or nuance the ways that they're in disagreement with it. And so they talk a ton about racism.

00:37:17.950 --> 00:37:23.670
Aaron Renn: They they talk a ton about, you know, refugees and things like that.

00:37:23.980 --> 00:37:42.059
Aaron Renn: you know. But when it comes to something like abortion. They wanna talk about being, you know, holistically pro life. And you know, anti death penalty. Advocacy is a life issue and care for the immigrants is a life issue. And you know, more welfare for single mothers is what is a life issue? It's just something that's like they emphasize. I try to emphasize that stuff.

00:37:42.390 --> 00:37:47.159
Aaron Renn: More so than that. And the other thing is like this group is really

00:37:47.400 --> 00:37:58.510
Aaron Renn: is coming to define themselves as opponents of the culture warriors, just as the culture war was defined, as you know, basically exist

00:37:58.670 --> 00:38:06.019
Aaron Renn: in its very nature by opposition to the culture, the culture engagement people who originally, I think, had their own agenda.

00:38:06.190 --> 00:38:16.459
Aaron Renn: They didn't necessarily spend a lot of time like criticizing other Evangelicals right? They sort of sort of positive agenda. Now almost everything they do that's piets and exaggeration. I shouldn't say that

00:38:16.600 --> 00:38:37.219
Aaron Renn: a lot of what they do is explicitly with regards to, you know, cultural cultural war people that they they dislike. And so I think, if you know the the Atlantic reporter, Tim Alberta, who has a new book out, called The Kingdom the power and the glory is a perfect example of this. And it's basically just a vicious attack

00:38:37.310 --> 00:38:47.600
Aaron Renn: against trump voting evangelicals while sort of putting the cultural engager types on a sort of moral pedestal. And so, you see, you see a lot of this. I think that the

00:38:48.230 --> 00:38:55.460
Aaron Renn: the he gets us super bowl this category, because, you know, last year, like I got in trouble last year.

00:38:55.650 --> 00:39:02.790
Aaron Renn: when with when they put out their articles, when they put out their their super bowl ads. In 2023. I actually defended them, I said, look!

00:39:02.830 --> 00:39:09.889
Aaron Renn: And in the book you read this book you will see me say positive things what he gets us campaign.

00:39:10.130 --> 00:39:17.920
Aaron Renn: and you know it was really you could criticize various aspects of it, but they were studiously apolitical. They were trying that this year's

00:39:17.950 --> 00:39:23.380
Aaron Renn: he gets us. Campaign was very explicitly, culturally, and politically left.

00:39:23.600 --> 00:39:38.230
Aaron Renn: And so the foot washing add essentially, you know, every last one of the scenes is somehow related to kind of a cultural theme. But the point the point I want to make on that one. There was one

00:39:38.910 --> 00:39:41.349
Aaron Renn: which was a scene from an abortion clinic.

00:39:41.550 --> 00:39:44.379
Aaron Renn: And there's somebody

00:39:44.570 --> 00:39:58.999
Aaron Renn: the good, you know. The good person is washing the feet of this girl. Proof specifically just had an abortion, while in the background there was this group of anti abortion protesters who were sort of but their backs turned, ignoring the scene. And they're clearly the bad guys.

00:39:59.210 --> 00:40:02.119
Aaron Renn: And so the point here is, you know, one

00:40:02.140 --> 00:40:06.469
Aaron Renn: is, you know, you could say it's the posture of like not condemning abortion.

00:40:06.750 --> 00:40:11.480
You know it's not going to make a condemnation of abortion. But, more importantly, and this is what I think is critical.

00:40:11.590 --> 00:40:14.090
Aaron Renn: They can't help but

00:40:14.130 --> 00:40:24.020
Aaron Renn: talk about the evil abortion protesters over there. It's really becoming like an inseparable part of how a lot of them engage with the world.

00:40:24.070 --> 00:40:35.690
Aaron Renn: You know, they're really they're in that. I think that's a very unhealthy way to engage with the world. It wasn't enough to just put this thing up here. They gave your perspective. You also had to take a pot shot at them in the Super bowl.

00:40:35.760 --> 00:40:37.300
And so I think that's

00:40:37.310 --> 00:40:48.379
Aaron Renn: that's kind of the reality of of what's been going on there. And of course it's though, you know again, the culture war has moved from. Essentially, you know. you know the outside of the church to now it's inside of the church.

00:40:48.540 --> 00:40:54.790
Andy Miller III: And to be clear. I mean the cultural and the culture warriors. They're giving as good as they're getting okay. These guys are not.

00:40:54.910 --> 00:40:58.999
Aaron Renn: you know, they're they're definitely like, you know, hostile as well.

00:40:59.110 --> 00:41:04.849
Aaron Renn: And so yeah, that's what we're seeing. And that's kind of what I'm seeing. And I think, look, you know.

00:41:04.880 --> 00:41:09.929
Aaron Renn: we ought to think, you know, think more critically about how to engage.

00:41:09.990 --> 00:41:14.419
Aaron Renn: you know, and how to structure our lives, our ministries, etc., in this in this negative world.

00:41:14.510 --> 00:41:37.370
Andy Miller III: Yeah. And they end up having this identity that comes through the differentiation apart from a whole nother group of people, and as somebody who has prayerfully stood in front of an abortion clinic, you know you can't help but see that as an attack on you or attack on what you're trying to do and like. It's it's assuming that there are bad motives there, and kind of the message as a whole is.

00:41:37.620 --> 00:42:02.930
Andy Miller III: those people say they're representing Jesus, but they're not. This is the person who is now. Just. Last week I had on, I had a panel on to talk about that. He gets this campaign and the kind of the challenge, the challenge of the of using even the idea of foot washing. But it seems like it's pushing against a certain version of Christianity to say, no, this is what actually is. And I had an interesting experience effect that the

00:42:02.930 --> 00:42:15.319
Andy Miller III: one of the firms there. There are at least 2 major marketing firms that are part of this. One of them is called Lerma, and they were the the executives who are part of that team. We're also the ones

00:42:15.320 --> 00:42:38.510
Andy Miller III: who influenced the Salvation Army, a group that I was a part of denomination of more than a million members around the globe. But certainly America's favorite charity most recognized charity that comes from an evangelical Wesleyan holiness heritage. About 2025 years ago they came of the kind of the antecedents to Lerma

00:42:38.740 --> 00:42:59.620
Andy Miller III: it was another firm at the time developed. I would call it more of the the cultural engagement, branding package for the army which used to be the branding promise used to be heart to God and hand demand, or like soup, soap, and salvation, or there's any, and instead, it became doing the most good.

00:42:59.630 --> 00:43:05.259
Andy Miller III: doing the most good. Right? What's that? This is that kind of

00:43:05.540 --> 00:43:17.899
Andy Miller III: same sort of perspective, which is, we don't want to actually offend anybody by calling out what might be involved. Now they're not. They're certainly the founder of the savage army, William Booth would have been

00:43:18.070 --> 00:43:47.949
Andy Miller III: classified as a cultural warrior, for sure, like wanting people to recognize their sin, and like, have it all out there, the reality of hell, and all of that is in front of people, so that you could see what a loving God would do. But the same time it's led to a minimization of the ecclesial heritage. That's a part of the movement. So so when I see that ad when I see he gets us, I kind of know the people who are involved in it, and on one side I can't help but see, this hasn't helped. This. My point is with doing the most good

00:43:47.960 --> 00:44:21.539
Andy Miller III: that branding idea, and that package has certainly and helped the profit or the the profits of the nonprofit. But it hasn't helped the ecclesial identity or the disciple making function of the tradition. And so my concern is the same thing would happen with he gets us. I don't want to be a cultural warrior, I mean. Who wants to say? Oh, that I'll I'll claim that that task now. I'm just curious if you have any thoughts on that with but with the he gets us campaign, and how that might connect a little bit more with what could happen in the church.

00:44:21.910 --> 00:44:32.279
Aaron Renn: Yeah. Well, one of the things, you know, when I initially came up with this this idea of the 3 worlds in 2,014, so that may be one of the reasons why I picked that date

00:44:32.420 --> 00:44:38.389
Aaron Renn: I sort of, you know, had this insights, and I started writing. Got a bunch of bullet points feverishly.

00:44:38.560 --> 00:44:49.660
Aaron Renn: And actually, it was after I saw a series of short films called for the life of the world at Indiana, Wesleyan University. I drove back, and I typed up a bunch of stuff

00:44:50.370 --> 00:44:54.609
Aaron Renn: because I thought the films were great, but I thought they were the films, for, like the world that was ending.

00:44:54.750 --> 00:44:57.150
Andy Miller III: and soon we would be in a different environment.

00:44:57.340 --> 00:45:00.819
Aaron Renn: And you know at the time what I thought was.

00:45:00.920 --> 00:45:10.680
Aaron Renn: there was, gonna be some. Once there, you had to incur a material status penalty to become a Christian, there would be a mass blowout of people leaving the church

00:45:10.840 --> 00:45:12.790
Aaron Renn: that did not happen.

00:45:12.840 --> 00:45:20.500
Aaron Renn: Definitely. We've seen an uptick in deconstruction. I think that's very related to changing times.

00:45:20.640 --> 00:45:23.880
Aaron Renn: you know, at 2,022. The

00:45:24.050 --> 00:45:35.189
Aaron Renn: Christianity today ran an article about how you know. Among Gen. Z. There's no longer a gender gap in church attendance, you know. It used to be significantly more women than men attending church.

00:45:35.640 --> 00:45:40.239
Aaron Renn: That's no longer the case in younger courts, and I think one reason is.

00:45:41.250 --> 00:45:50.929
Aaron Renn: you know, the status. The loss of status of Christianity is sort of like, you know, repelled, you know a lot of lot of women for the church, you know. It's become. It is sort of becoming a repellent

00:45:50.960 --> 00:45:53.840
Aaron Renn: in some respects for people.

00:45:53.890 --> 00:46:03.459
Aaron Renn: But really, I think what ended up happening was, I didn't anticipate that what people did is is this sort of synchronization towards the culture, and you know what

00:46:03.470 --> 00:46:17.129
Aaron Renn: what I said was, you know, let's call it the negative world, but it it might be better called suspicious than negative, merely identifying as a Christian does not, does not necessarily get you like in trouble.

00:46:17.270 --> 00:46:23.909
Aaron Renn: It's just that the contents of your Christianity, and not very materially

00:46:23.980 --> 00:46:26.099
Aaron Renn: from mainstream secular

00:46:26.220 --> 00:46:39.829
Aaron Renn: consensus. So someone like Pete Budaj Edge can say I'm an Episcopalian, and he's not gonna get in trouble for that. You know. Raphael Warnock, who is a Christian pastor who is in the now in the UN. Us. Senate.

00:46:39.860 --> 00:46:44.320
Aaron Renn: right? Nobody ever calls him a Christian Nationalist. He's not attacked

00:46:44.390 --> 00:46:49.240
Aaron Renn: by people. And so this idea, where essentially a

00:46:49.740 --> 00:46:52.590
a sort of denatured Christianity

00:46:52.870 --> 00:46:56.149
Aaron Renn: that's compliant with the culture is okay.

00:46:56.490 --> 00:47:02.390
Aaron Renn: But you know one that conflicts with the culture is not, creates an incentive for people.

00:47:02.530 --> 00:47:09.299
Aaron Renn: Two's Christian identity is important to them. To find a way to bring that in into sync with the culture

00:47:09.320 --> 00:47:16.450
Aaron Renn: as they possibly can, because people respond incredibly to status signals. They do. And so

00:47:16.790 --> 00:47:21.300
Aaron Renn: sort of what I said is this is more of a mainline trajectory.

00:47:21.480 --> 00:47:27.759
Aaron Renn: Where, you know, the cultural engagers become much more

00:47:27.790 --> 00:47:32.790
Aaron Renn: you know, driven by the culture than influencing the culture.

00:47:32.810 --> 00:47:45.610
Aaron Renn: and they sort of get dragged along with it. They retain, you know, their cachet for a while, but they begin slowly. Kind of us what I call the slow bleed you start losing, you know, over over time.

00:47:45.640 --> 00:47:58.160
Aaron Renn: and III to bring it back to. He gets us. I think that the the Super Bowl ads this year, and he gets us. We're very much in a mainline register. And here's what I mean by that.

00:47:58.210 --> 00:48:07.710
Aaron Renn: Those ads basically portray Jesus as an ethical teacher and a moral exemplar, which, of course he is.

00:48:07.800 --> 00:48:21.909
Aaron Renn: But that's what Mainline Protestantism always said. You know, Jesus was a great moral teacher. He was a great moral example. They just didn't believe he was the Son of God. Right? I mean, they may have said that, but they didn't believe he was, you know, Rose from the dead. They didn't believe any of that. So

00:48:21.920 --> 00:48:23.930
Aaron Renn: you know, whereas I think if you go back

00:48:24.300 --> 00:48:31.089
Aaron Renn: to to even the 20, you know. Look some of the other ads that he gets us. The whole idea was to portray

00:48:31.350 --> 00:48:33.640
Aaron Renn: priced as relatable.

00:48:33.830 --> 00:48:38.590
Andy Miller III: you know he understands. So there was one. There was a great ad called Physician

00:48:38.730 --> 00:48:40.340
Aaron Renn: that was in their campaign.

00:48:40.430 --> 00:48:43.130
Aaron Renn: and it's a

00:48:43.850 --> 00:48:51.930
Aaron Renn: it shows this guy who's like a doctor during Covid, and how he's getting beaten down by all this, and they talk about it. And it, you know.

00:48:51.950 --> 00:48:57.420
Aaron Renn: it's sort of talked about. You know how Jesus felt. You know, Jesus was hurt by people's sufferings, too.

00:48:57.820 --> 00:49:11.379
Aaron Renn: and also, of course, so so it makes reference. It also kind of. So you know, Jesus was made like in all ways unto his brothers. Therefore he's able to sympathize with us because emphasizes that aspect of Him also sort of emphasizes.

00:49:11.400 --> 00:49:21.019
Aaron Renn: Christ is the healer, the one who physically healed and is sort of the great physician of the soul. I kid, you know it's it's not the the well who need a doctor. It's the sick. All that stuff

00:49:21.110 --> 00:49:24.690
Aaron Renn: so very good there and then even the Super bowl ads last year.

00:49:24.900 --> 00:49:33.289
Aaron Renn: you know, there was one called love your enemies right? So you could say, That's an ethical teaching. But frankly, if

00:49:33.410 --> 00:49:46.229
Aaron Renn: they hadn't put love your enemies in the URL. At the end of it. You would not take away from that video that the message of it was to love your enemies, the tag, the actual tag line on it was Jesus love the people we hate.

00:49:46.470 --> 00:49:52.240
Aaron Renn: It sort of showed that the universality of Christ love it was less

00:49:52.360 --> 00:50:17.269
Aaron Renn: about. You know the why can't we all just get along, whereas this year was very clear, and then the other one at last year was be childlike and so it's like a little of these little kids running around doing things. It's like Jesus didn't want us to act like grown ups, or something like that, was their tagline, which course is a reference to the Scripture, that unless you come as like a child, so it's almost like referencing that. So again, this year it's the mainline emphasis.

00:50:17.550 --> 00:50:27.479
Aaron Renn: not to say that Jesus wasn't a you know, a moral teacher, but they're emphasizing the things about him that are very consonant with a mainline traditional liberal mainline.

00:50:27.610 --> 00:50:37.300
Aaron Renn: I shouldn't say that there's, you know, liberal mainline perspective on liberal Protestant perspective on Christ. And so I think that trajectory.

00:50:37.460 --> 00:50:47.250
Aaron Renn: Of course it's not set in stone. We don't know how it's going to. It's going to go. But I think the focus on like doing good works and things things of that nature.

00:50:47.500 --> 00:50:58.039
Aaron Renn: Seeing seeing the currents of culture as reflecting God at work, and therefore our joining of the culture

00:50:58.380 --> 00:51:11.440
Aaron Renn: is, you know, kind of aligning with what God is doing the very much the Christ of culture model from H. Richard. I think it's it's like that sort of mainline emphasis. I think that's

00:51:12.450 --> 00:51:17.519
Aaron Renn: that's a pot. Certainly a possible trajectory. For any number of people

00:51:18.360 --> 00:51:41.599
Andy Miller III: it it's helpful to be able to think through that in a in a critical way. Also, I appreciate you bringing up where it's been, and we don't know where it's going altogether. But it's certainly there's good reason for people to have caution with it, and you have a maybe we'll get into if you meant some positive words for pre evangelism as an idea. So yeah, it's something like, so when it comes, things like, I mean, what I try to do is try to be independent.

00:51:41.720 --> 00:51:44.759
Aaron Renn: fair. you know. Honest.

00:51:44.830 --> 00:52:00.109
Aaron Renn: you know, a, you know, rigorous, you know, authentic in my work. And so I wanna call him like I see him here. And so you know, I think you know, when they do when he gets us does great things like. I want to say positive things about about it, and I like to find things positive to say about people.

00:52:00.380 --> 00:52:07.020
Aaron Renn: But you know again, this year I really thought it was not good. Let me just point you that way. So I'm gonna I'm gonna say that. So

00:52:07.130 --> 00:52:17.490
Aaron Renn: you know, I might not have said anything. But after I put it after my book just came out, and I say nice things about them. Then those ads come out like, Oh, no, I'm gonna get. I'm gonna get brushed

00:52:17.540 --> 00:52:31.650
Andy Miller III: comparisons with Rod drear a few times and the Benedict option 1 one way that he did that was interesting. And just shows how culture and intra Christian culture changes quite a bit.

00:52:31.650 --> 00:52:55.649
Andy Miller III: He looked at the what's often identified now as side be Christianity, or kind of the Guy gay Christianity movement that would say, well, we're gonna have a orthodox position about activity. But identity is something that's based depending on our sexual identity. And so he had some positive words on a couple of pages for those for that movement us to sometimes called the Spiritual Friendship Movement, but it didn't take but of

00:52:55.650 --> 00:53:06.450
few months after, where that was on a totally different side than what he actually realized where it was going. And while I'm think about I just II feel like your book, and I as much I appreciate

00:53:06.570 --> 00:53:17.359
Andy Miller III: Benedict option to me like the idea of getting into a community a community of support that will help you deal with what's happened, as you call the negative world.

00:53:17.360 --> 00:53:43.599
Andy Miller III: That's been something I've adopted. I mean, these type of works have helped me think through this. I've I've pivoted careers in this time to serve at a seminary where we're training leaders, and I left a denomination where I've been serving like 6 generations of my family. I've been a part of it, in part because I think there's something that needs to be for my own children. There needs to be a different response in light of what's happening in society.

00:53:43.710 --> 00:53:59.020
Andy Miller III: But I also I also appreciate about your book like Roger's book, but I think what you have will have. Has an ability to connect with the evangelical world. A little bit more, is it? You don't just identify this framework at the same time you also.

00:53:59.020 --> 00:54:22.570
Andy Miller III: and you're not trying to prescribe what everything should look like. But you give some starting points for how to respond, and you do that in through 3 3 different ways. One is like what we should do personally, but institutionally, but then also a missional task. And so I appreciate that emphasis. I love to just think through a few of those ideas with you like when you think about what needs to happen. Personally.

00:54:22.570 --> 00:54:44.639
Andy Miller III: people needing to take responsibility to be resilient. These are key ideas. Maybe one of those points. I don't wanna give away too much of the book, but one of those points of how people respond personally might be something. That you could address here may look we. Let's hit the resilience. II love that chapter. Yeah. Well, again, you know, when Christianity is viewed positively.

00:54:44.760 --> 00:54:46.569
Aaron Renn: Then,

00:54:46.590 --> 00:55:10.829
Aaron Renn: you know, you don't have to take account of how being Christian is gonna affect you. If it's gonna affect you, it's probably gonna be good now, you know it's you know I don't. I wanna? And I was stress. And I think I make it clear in the book. You know there's no, I don't think that Christians being persecuted in America now, there may be an isolated case here and there where people experience what you could call persecution.

00:55:11.090 --> 00:55:25.050
Aaron Renn: You know. But that's what I say. People like to take isolated, you know, injustices and turn them into pervasive societal wide problems. I think we've seen that on many things. I think it. I think we don't.

00:55:25.190 --> 00:55:42.110
Aaron Renn: But again, our society, you know, it doesn't do what China does, and throws you in jail. You know you're not going to be a victim of sectarian violence here like you might be in, say Nigeria or India. But what we do have is a society that puts subtle forms of pressure on people

00:55:42.840 --> 00:55:47.260
Aaron Renn: that can maybe be more difficult to recognize and respond to.

00:55:47.670 --> 00:55:57.300
Aaron Renn: And you know. The example I have to say is, look, you know. Paul was stoned. He was beaten with rods. He was shipwrecked all this stuff. but going in jail.

00:55:57.780 --> 00:56:07.149
Aaron Renn: but nobody ever took away his ability to feed himself by being a 10 megger. He could always make money. Well, today, you know, you might be a loser job.

00:56:08.110 --> 00:56:14.929
Aaron Renn: you know, or something like that, if you say the wrong thing. And even though that that may not happen to most people, we've seen it happen to enough people

00:56:14.980 --> 00:56:26.620
Aaron Renn: not necessarily for being Christian, for just you know any sort of violation of these secular taboos you could find yourself zapped. And so you know, sometimes your number just comes up. And so I do think

00:56:26.850 --> 00:56:36.550
Aaron Renn: in kind of our world today we have to be more intentional in thinking through things like, where should I live?

00:56:36.740 --> 00:56:37.480
Andy Miller III: -

00:56:37.970 --> 00:56:44.060
Aaron Renn: What career should I pursue? How much?

00:56:44.570 --> 00:56:49.540
Aaron Renn: you know? How much debt should I take on? How high. How high a lifestyle should I live?

00:56:49.720 --> 00:56:54.490
Aaron Renn: A lot of things like that, and structure our lives to create?

00:56:55.310 --> 00:57:01.599
Aaron Renn: You know more resiliency in the face of hostility. So I was living, you know, in New York City.

00:57:02.070 --> 00:57:06.779
Aaron Renn: Working for a nonprofit there I had a you know, wife and a young son.

00:57:07.920 --> 00:57:19.119
Aaron Renn: We moved back to Indiana like well, we staying in New York. Not a good idea. We moved back, and then again, a year ago, we moved from downtown Indianapolis to the suburbs.

00:57:19.670 --> 00:57:25.160
Aaron Renn: you know, because, you know, a lot of reasons to do that, you know, but one of them is just. The reality is

00:57:25.220 --> 00:57:33.440
Aaron Renn: that this downtown environment is culturally unfriendly territory actually much more unfriendly than, say, the Upper West Side of New York. I mean, I think.

00:57:33.700 --> 00:57:45.629
Aaron Renn: you know, New York is actually a quite safe place to to be, as a a, you know, a dissident or contrarian thinker in a lot of ways much more so than some of these flyover cities believe it or not.

00:57:45.920 --> 00:57:58.759
Aaron Renn: And so we're out, you know. Now we're out in the suburbs. Oh, by the way, my wife and I are both from here. So we're in a place that's culturally familiar. Our family is nearby that makes sense. And so these are things that we do. If we, you know, if we were in New York City.

00:57:59.130 --> 00:58:03.979
Aaron Renn: you know, we'd be more isolated. We'd have massively higher expenses.

00:58:04.300 --> 00:58:06.470
Aaron Renn: more life stresses.

00:58:06.690 --> 00:58:15.560
Aaron Renn: and not that. Everything's perfect here, by any means. And you know and oh, that's the decision for everyone, for many people living in New York is a great decision.

00:58:15.750 --> 00:58:27.620
Aaron Renn: And so I think the key is, we need it to just intentionally consider it in terms of things like that. And we also have to consider again. It's not just about the religious dimension. When you look at our society.

00:58:27.920 --> 00:58:33.860
Aaron Renn: how do we? Successfully

00:58:34.030 --> 00:58:37.110
Aaron Renn: reduce our, you know, risk exposure

00:58:37.250 --> 00:58:49.089
Aaron Renn: to things like drugs. You know the the son of the former CEO of Youtube just died of a Fentanyl overdose yesterday and at Berkeley.

00:58:49.240 --> 00:58:58.740
Aaron Renn: And you know this is something that's affecting, not just or people. It's affecting everybody. huge risk to your kids from drugs today.

00:58:59.250 --> 00:59:00.220
Aaron Renn: How do you?

00:59:00.440 --> 00:59:09.669
Aaron Renn: What do you do? You gotta think about this stuff. You know our society, you know, you know. Think about here. You got a young son. He's got this phone. He likes sports.

00:59:10.400 --> 00:59:24.250
Aaron Renn: You might end up in enormous debt from gambling, like lots of people are having that. They're getting sucked into the phone gambling. And you're going up against corporations with billions of dollars that are deploying psychological top psychologists and and psychological research and

00:59:24.450 --> 00:59:34.909
Aaron Renn: addiction technology to get people hooked on that stuff. You can't. You're not gonna beat these people. It's asymmetric warfare. And so you gotta spend a lot of time thinking about how you structure your life.

00:59:35.220 --> 00:59:37.259
Aaron Renn: There. Now, I do think.

00:59:37.800 --> 00:59:57.250
Aaron Renn: You know some of the old approaches that people had like. I just won't let my kids listen to rock and roll music, bad influences. It's a pure purely insulating, is not practical. So we have to be equipping people. And so you know. So we now need to say, Look.

00:59:57.910 --> 01:00:05.949
Aaron Renn: you're going to. It's like, it's like a lot of people, you know, it's like the it's like the smartphone. Everybody knows the smart phones have these horrible impacts on young children.

01:00:06.040 --> 01:00:08.619
Aaron Renn: So you can say, I'm just not going to get my kid a phone.

01:00:09.150 --> 01:00:16.879
Aaron Renn: He's not gonna have one right? Right? Well, at some point you're gonna turn 18. They're gonna go go. They're gonna move out. They're gonna go to college. They're gonna get a job. They're gonna move out.

01:00:17.380 --> 01:00:24.169
Aaron Renn: And then what's gonna happen. They're probably gonna get a phone right? Right? You're gonna you're gonna learn to deal with deal with it at some point

01:00:24.300 --> 01:00:31.140
Aaron Renn: at some point. You. Ha! You know it's I think you know, if you haven't like done anything, it's like they're going to get exposed to this stuff cold.

01:00:31.740 --> 01:00:35.180
Aaron Renn: And again, there's no, there's no so one size fits all. So

01:00:35.400 --> 01:00:48.460
Aaron Renn: you know anything you do. Okay, I'm gonna give my 16 year old ph10, now there's this. So it's like, there's no risk free solution here. Yeah. And different people are gonna come to different choices. And I think that's fine. But it's the sort of thing we have to think about.

01:00:48.600 --> 01:00:50.379
Aaron Renn: Yes, what are we gonna do?

01:00:50.820 --> 01:00:55.300
Aaron Renn: How are we going to respond to all of these things that are in our culture

01:00:55.550 --> 01:00:58.249
Aaron Renn: that are antithetical to human flourishing.

01:00:58.380 --> 01:01:01.350
Aaron Renn: that put you at risk from your your faith, etc.

01:01:01.990 --> 01:01:05.840
Andy Miller III: I love the way that you so quickly say that it's like

01:01:05.970 --> 01:01:35.370
Andy Miller III: you're not going to insulate. Instead, we're gonna prepare people. Oh, man, I just lost some. What's the word that you said, insulating, not insulating, but equipping, equipping. Yes, like that was I read that out loud to my family, just to make sure, like we get. This is what we're trying to do. We brand the exact same thing as we've we? Finally we had held off for a long time in a similar way that you know, going back to the positive world, the cultural warriors side. You know, my family held off on secular music, held off all these type of things. We but still

01:01:35.370 --> 01:01:40.770
Andy Miller III: we had to get to a place where that time will come where you have to make this decision on your own.

01:01:41.080 --> 01:02:04.110
Andy Miller III: I found this to be the an interesting change of direction when you say that we now have to be like you say, the moral majority was an assumption of the positive world. But now we really have to learn as an evangelical community how to live as a moral minority and interesting with that

01:02:04.110 --> 01:02:22.520
Andy Miller III: is, you point us to at least one group, a few different other religious groups who've learned to live as moral minorities. And you point out that the Catholic tradition, which interestingly also thought the social stratification, stratification that you showed how the Catholic Church has been able to have people from various social

01:02:22.520 --> 01:02:37.589
Andy Miller III: financial socio, economic categories stay within them. But do you look to them as as a maybe a guide? Not theologically, but how we might be able to persist in this negative world as a, my, a moral minority.

01:02:38.660 --> 01:02:54.549
Aaron Renn: Yeah. So you know, I said, Well, how do you learn from other minorities? It's tough to go from being a majority to a minority. And you know, there's there's minorities who've been very impressive, like Jews or Sikhs, but they're small. They're very small communities.

01:02:54.630 --> 01:02:58.479
Aaron Renn: They're not as large, you know, as Evangelicals. They're also ethnically linked.

01:02:58.660 --> 01:03:08.380
Aaron Renn: And so what would be a good comparison? And what I came up with is, how about early twentieth century Catholicism, because America really was sort of an anti pro anti Catholic country

01:03:08.420 --> 01:03:27.760
Aaron Renn: at that time. And these folks said, Well, if we wanna live as faithful Catholics in this Protestant country we have to create an ecosystem, or an environment or an economy that allows us to do so. So they created all their parochial schools. They created a Catholic universities, they created Catholic fraternal societies. All this Catholic infrastructure

01:03:27.860 --> 01:03:34.240
Aaron Renn: that allowed them to, you know, identify, sustain, commute pass on community life.

01:03:34.300 --> 01:03:39.069
Aaron Renn: and even when they were admitted to the mainstream institutions, they never let go of that.

01:03:39.140 --> 01:03:44.920
Aaron Renn: And so, you know, we need to be thinking like that in terms of what? What to do

01:03:45.560 --> 01:03:58.280
Aaron Renn: learn learning from people like that. Maybe also learning from the Mormons, you know, the Mormons were on the outs for a very long time. and I mean, talk about some people who who did get persecuted. The Marbins were basically persecuted.

01:03:58.450 --> 01:04:03.030
Aaron Renn: And you know. So and yet look, look, look how impressive

01:04:03.270 --> 01:04:13.580
Aaron Renn: the Mormons are today in in terms of you know, many dimensions. Yeah, they're influenced. They're they're very, very financially successful. They're growing.

01:04:13.900 --> 01:04:32.209
Aaron Renn: you know, and you could learn a lot. And they're still you know, they still have great family formation rates and things of that nature. I mean, if you look at so many statistics like Utah is like a foreign country, you know. It's like it's like how much, you know, it's like, Wow! Wouldn't it be great if America looked a lot like Utah? What can we learn from them.

01:04:32.550 --> 01:04:41.370
Aaron Renn: for example? And again, I don't think there, you know, these situations are there, like one of the things is different about Protestantism is Catholic. Catholicism is kind of one integrated church.

01:04:41.390 --> 01:04:51.440
Aaron Renn: and if you spl if you if you become schismatic, there are issues with becoming schismatic theological issues that don't apply in the case of Protestantism.

01:04:51.690 --> 01:05:09.680
Aaron Renn: You know. Mormonism. Yeah, there was. There was some schisms early. So there's different Mormon groups, but they're also more unitary and how they run things is very top down, I think, in some ways. So the sort of free for all that is American Protestantism, you know, is a little different.

01:05:09.720 --> 01:05:14.349
Aaron Renn: But again. I'm not saying you just pick up what somebody else did and and adopt it. But you could learn from it.

01:05:14.480 --> 01:05:39.439
Aaron Renn: Yeah, certainly. We're not gonna have the same theological structure as another institution. But how they, as an institution in general just respond to challenges, might be something we can learn from, and I think that you know Evangelicals have been doing this a bit organically. So we've seen the creation of this, you know. Vast educational infrastructure. Much of it had just in the last 2030 years. I mean, you must have been like a first generation homeschool kid.

01:05:39.440 --> 01:05:50.190
Andy Miller III: Thank you. Thank you for that. Yeah. Yeah. And you know, it's it was quite different, you know. And so, like, you know, now, like, there's, there's something like 11% of Americans. Kids are home schooled

01:05:50.310 --> 01:05:56.370
Aaron Renn: like that's a ton. It's not all Christians. A lot of them are. Obviously, there's the, you know, Christian School movement, the classical Christian School movement.

01:05:56.650 --> 01:06:01.980
Aaron Renn: Basically, they're they're say, we gotta create our own create our own infrastructure here.

01:06:02.150 --> 01:06:06.289
Aaron Renn: And that's an example of of doing it.

01:06:06.940 --> 01:06:19.049
Andy Miller III: No, that that's really helpful. Yeah, I was. I was in that first group. I was. I graduated high school in 1998. So the Internet was just coming around. So it was a whole nother time. But now my kids are on

01:06:19.050 --> 01:06:40.430
Andy Miller III: homeschool basketball teams that travel around. There's pockets. There's there's choices just even in the Jackson Mississippi metro area of what type of co-OP learning opportunities are available. It's amazing what happens. And I'm interested. What you think about like, what happens for institutions like. For instance, I serve institution that's serving a church in this time. And like, we have to think about

01:06:40.430 --> 01:06:55.540
how we are going to respond to cultural changes, and to be able to be flexible, yet nimble, but yet also want to be responsive. You have some helpful words, institutions as well. What is it? What is it? How can an institution be prepared

01:06:55.630 --> 01:06:58.809
Andy Miller III: to respond to this negative world?

01:06:58.930 --> 01:07:10.380
Aaron Renn: Well, there's a lot to think about. I mean, I think institutions have a hard time adapting to changing times. There's a certain kind of DNA that gets found that as an institution it's very difficult to change that

01:07:10.510 --> 01:07:22.840
Aaron Renn: A lot of evangelical institutions are still very boomer dominated. and I think, as our is our sort of overall society, which is but you know, still has a lot of old people kind of running it.

01:07:22.990 --> 01:07:31.910
Aaron Renn: You know, they're not likely to change at at that stage life, it's like, you know. Oh, let's reinvent the thing probably not gonna happen

01:07:31.950 --> 01:07:39.580
Aaron Renn: right? And so And so what I would say, though, and one of the things I'd hone in on is, you know again,

01:07:40.040 --> 01:08:09.589
Aaron Renn: you know, is focusing what I call, you know, just institutional integrity. I mean, the fact of the matter is, there's declining trust in institutions in our society that's eminently deserved. In fact, I might argue that many of our institutions are still too trusted rather to the amount of trust they actually deserve. So we need to behave in a manner that's worthy of trust, you know, being good stewards of people's money, for example. You know. And and so you see, you know, the number of churches and ministries with scandals is just absurd.

01:08:09.770 --> 01:08:15.570
Aaron Renn: you know. You know, infidelity scandals, financial scandals, people getting rich

01:08:15.730 --> 01:08:33.109
Aaron Renn: off of a nonprofit ministry, you know. Abuse scandals and things of that nature. And so it's like, Wow, we had to like clean up our own act there. I think we have to make sure we got competent people like in charge to know what they're doing. And like, you know, we have a competence crisis, I think, you know.

01:08:33.189 --> 01:08:50.450
Aaron Renn: and we see, like a great example. This Boeing plane is Alaska Airlines plane. With a this door plug blew out and mid flight. I guess everybody saw that. You know, it's like, you know, you can't have that sort of thing happen. So you know if that happens if this equivalent to that happens to your institution. That's a problem.

01:08:50.540 --> 01:08:54.839
Aaron Renn: So you need to have competent, you know, on top of it leadership.

01:08:55.200 --> 01:09:19.339
Aaron Renn: And then the other thing I talk about is missional integrity. Which I think is maybe the most important part, and I use integrity here not just in the terms of like, you know, honesty and all of that, but in terms of like structural integrity, when the pressure of the negative world bears down on your institution in your church? Is it gonna crumble? Is it gonna deform? Is it gonna collapse right like a submarine getting exploded? Or, you know, playing something bad happens to it.

01:09:19.500 --> 01:09:30.920
Aaron Renn: and it means you have to understand. You have to have clarity about what your mission is. and then stay on it, because I think a lot of people want to pull you off mission. And so like, I mean, I can tell you a hundred percent

01:09:30.960 --> 01:09:43.029
Aaron Renn: that a lot of these churches. They're constantly getting fresher from various people to talk more about race, or talk more about this, or talk more about that. A lot of these churches

01:09:43.050 --> 01:09:49.569
Aaron Renn: that had no real history of like talking about racial issues all of a sudden went, woke, and, like big changes

01:09:49.660 --> 01:09:56.190
Aaron Renn: in like a very short period of time. and these people are just getting blown here and there by the wind. The latest bad. They're onto it.

01:09:56.230 --> 01:10:02.720
Andy Miller III: Obviously, you know, when the world changes, we have to change with it. But we have to have a good understanding of our mission is.

01:10:02.910 --> 01:10:10.089
Aaron Renn: and where we stand on things and be able to to stay with that. And I think the institutions that are able to do that

01:10:10.200 --> 01:10:14.949
Aaron Renn: are the ones that are really gonna differentiate themselves. And you know the example.

01:10:15.720 --> 01:10:23.410
Aaron Renn: That's not a per say, a Christian example that I think has. Really, it's kind of embarrassing in a lot of ways, is Hillsdale College.

01:10:23.690 --> 01:10:25.560
Aaron Renn: you know, Hillsdale

01:10:25.690 --> 01:10:34.340
Aaron Renn: was sort of a regional, you know, Liberal Arts College. Not that long ago that drew most of its kids from Michigan. Right? It wasn't even like baptism. Now

01:10:34.460 --> 01:10:50.280
Aaron Renn: they're they're extremely selective. They're approaching Ivy League levels of selectivity. you know. Only 21% of applicants get admitted to Hillsdale. You know, donations are pouring in the door. Yeah, you know, there. And because they really articulated a unique

01:10:50.630 --> 01:11:00.389
Aaron Renn: vision of what they are, their distinctives around traditional liberal education around the American founding and American sort of political and cultural values.

01:11:00.430 --> 01:11:10.690
Aaron Renn: And it's resonated with a ton of people. And you know, they've really said, this is what makes us distinct. They've doubled down on their distinctives, and they've held firm.

01:11:10.900 --> 01:11:13.840
Aaron Renn: Yeah, on it. And

01:11:14.080 --> 01:11:20.929
Aaron Renn: you know they you know, even with a you know, I think, even like they navigated the Covid thing, you know relatively well.

01:11:21.020 --> 01:11:26.840
Aaron Renn: and saying, You know, okay, we're gonna we're gonna try to keep going. We know these people are coming after us. There's these issues.

01:11:27.120 --> 01:11:38.909
Aaron Renn: And at the same time, you know, they took some heat from for people from being too, too, you know, too responsive to Covid. There was no wind situation there, but they navigated that very well, and which a lot of people didn't.

01:11:38.940 --> 01:11:42.889
Aaron Renn: And and so, you know, they're going from strength to strength.

01:11:42.980 --> 01:11:48.380
Aaron Renn: whereas I think a lot of the you know the Christian, you know more explicitly. Christian colleges,

01:11:48.800 --> 01:11:57.240
Aaron Renn: you know, have not articulated that unique, compelling vision of who they are, what is what makes you distinct. And so for your own institution.

01:11:57.320 --> 01:12:05.620
Aaron Renn: you know just having that, you know, understanding of. You know your core values. What makes you distinct? Why are people gonna choose you? What's your mission?

01:12:05.800 --> 01:12:07.990
Aaron Renn: And being able to to stay on that

01:12:08.050 --> 01:12:11.509
Aaron Renn: and articulate that and like confirm to that.

01:12:11.820 --> 01:12:17.809
Aaron Renn: I think it's very key in a world where there's a lot of pressures and things, you know, all over the place, taking here and there.

01:12:18.050 --> 01:12:43.039
Andy Miller III: Yeah, that is part of what's the story of Wesley Biblical Seminary has been that we held to this. We're an Evangelical Wesleyan institution, and we held to Biblical and errands, and the reality and promise of the sanctified lot of of pursuing, seeking, sanctification, sanctifying grace in this life. These are like things that actually marginalize us as an institution for most our history. But then, like as we've held to these

01:12:43.040 --> 01:13:06.150
Andy Miller III: beliefs, along comes the global Methodist church and other denominations that have like held to these sort of standards that we have. And now that it's opened up the doors to us to be able to serve this denomination. Hence we have, like more students. Now. We almost have more students right now than we do alumni across our 50 year history, and also the flexibility, too, that we've adapted

01:13:06.150 --> 01:13:14.709
Andy Miller III: to the online environment. And I have a friend who teaches at Hillsdale, and one of the things that he describes he used to be at an R-one school.

01:13:14.710 --> 01:13:39.849
Andy Miller III: He describes how awesome the students are like. Just how amazing like they come wanting this type of rigor. And from that particular type of tradition, II love to an emphasis you have in the book. When you're thinking about the mission of institutions is that they they have to have also not just a the these core convictions. But also they need be thinking multi-generationally.

01:13:39.850 --> 01:13:55.159
Andy Miller III: that's all that's missing is like we have a and you. You use the example, Hezekiah, from Scripture. I appreciate that, too. I know I might be getting close on your time. But love for you to comment on that like. Why, multi generational, a multigenerational perspective is what we might need.

01:13:55.180 --> 01:14:05.999
Aaron Renn: Yeah. Well, a lot of especially a lot of churches. You know, they they're founded and they grow under a charismatic pastor. And you know people are there. And then, when you know when that guy leaves.

01:14:06.110 --> 01:14:09.859
Aaron Renn: you know what happens. So you have to have a plan

01:14:09.940 --> 01:14:22.609
Aaron Renn: for like the next generation of leadership. And I think a lot of these places. They haven't really raised up a new generation of leader again. A lot of them are still sort of dominated by kind of older folks. And so I think there is a point of

01:14:22.840 --> 01:14:27.910
Aaron Renn: you know, and there's also, you know, a a sense in which you know, a leader can say.

01:14:27.970 --> 01:14:31.420
Aaron Renn: You know I never personally crossed the line on anything.

01:14:31.720 --> 01:14:36.899
Aaron Renn: Theologically. But you. I brought my church right up to the edge of the line.

01:14:37.430 --> 01:14:43.740
Aaron Renn: And now, when I'm gone, if the next generation crosses right, they cross into it.

01:14:44.160 --> 01:14:46.510
Aaron Renn: You. You can't say that you had nothing to do that

01:14:46.560 --> 01:14:56.449
Aaron Renn: with that. And so if things go, you know, if if things go off the rails after you step down from an institution as its leader.

01:14:56.550 --> 01:15:07.699
Aaron Renn: then most likely you have something to do with that. Now you're not top blame completely. Oh, it's your all your fault right? And you know that's not that true statue at all, either.

01:15:08.270 --> 01:15:11.330
Aaron Renn: But, like, you know, if you screw up the succession plan.

01:15:11.460 --> 01:15:14.570
Aaron Renn: if you know there's issues there.

01:15:14.700 --> 01:15:20.989
Aaron Renn: If you don't, you know, if you leave your, you know, successor at a pile of debt and a whole lot of other things.

01:15:21.320 --> 01:15:29.040
Aaron Renn: you know. Then then you got to take some responsibility for that. So thinking, I just think, you know, we we have to have a transcendent perspective

01:15:29.410 --> 01:15:43.969
Aaron Renn: on the world. which is to say, you know, we need to be. You know, we need to be eternally minded in the sense that and not that we're looking for God to teleport us off this rock. But the point is that ultimately our ultimate inheritance is in heaven.

01:15:44.020 --> 01:15:49.870
Aaron Renn: We should be storing up treasures in heaven. So if we, if we can't, if we don't understand

01:15:50.050 --> 01:16:12.120
Aaron Renn: that there's values beyond this world. We're missing something important. And I also think that that applies within this world, having a perspective that goes beyond our own life or our own tenure. You know the the cathedrals famously. The cathedrals of Europe, were started by people who knew they would never see those projects complete. It took hundreds of years sometimes to build these cathedrals.

01:16:12.160 --> 01:16:13.240
Aaron Renn: And

01:16:13.310 --> 01:16:24.050
Aaron Renn: it's like the proverbial man planning a tree under whose shade he will never sit. And unfortunately, what we've had in America is a generation that's liquidating future value

01:16:24.230 --> 01:16:28.139
Aaron Renn: like, how can we take all the future money off the table?

01:16:28.710 --> 01:16:29.940
For ourselves.

01:16:30.160 --> 01:16:37.770
Aaron Renn: Yeah, yeah. You know, I went through a company that had been a partnership. I work for a company that was a partnership, and they Ipo, the company

01:16:37.820 --> 01:16:47.420
Aaron Renn: which basically allowed the partners to capitalize all the future value that future generations of partners could have earned, and give it all to themselves, and walk away with all of it.

01:16:47.580 --> 01:17:00.939
Aaron Renn: And you know, that's kind of what's happened in our society. and it's less about like the idea of leave. Leave the place a better better than when you found it. You know. Now, a lot of people are inheriting like going to inherit a mess.

01:17:01.120 --> 01:17:03.700
Andy Miller III: Yeah, and a lot of these places. And so

01:17:03.730 --> 01:17:15.900
Aaron Renn: we need to be thinking about that. And so part of my part of the way I see my own mission is, you know, I'm probably not gonna run any organizations or something like that. I may not be building an organization at this stage of my life.

01:17:16.010 --> 01:17:23.600
Aaron Renn: But I want to create the space and the conditions. you know, in which I mean I'm Generation X, so that millennials in generation Z.

01:17:23.630 --> 01:17:34.029
Aaron Renn: Can build something better. They have more opportunities to sort of rebuild things and regenerate things, you know, because what I did that's kind of a perspective. I kind of want to adopt.

01:17:34.510 --> 01:17:37.010
Aaron Renn: So that level across generational perspective.

01:17:37.310 --> 01:18:02.290
Andy Miller III: Yeah, that was really helpful. And use that analogy, too, in the book, too, about thinking about the cathedrals of the past. Well, Ra, I really appreciate your time, Aaron. It's been a blessing. I always asked a question at the end, my top, my podcast is called more. This story. We'd like to think about the kind of the theological side of that that there's more to the story than just getting our sins, forgiven. But also, II like, is there more to this story of Aaron Renn, you've been on a lot of podcasts.

01:18:02.290 --> 01:18:08.900
a lot of interviews, written a lot lot of articles. But is there something that people often don't know about you that maybe you could share with us?

01:18:09.960 --> 01:18:27.739
Aaron Renn: Well, you know, III love opera, you know, people say, and you know, when I lived in New York you know II lived a 10 min walk from the Metropolitan Opera House. So I go to the Opera like once a week. That might be one of the things I miss the most about not living in New York anymore, because we don't have an opera like that here.

01:18:28.050 --> 01:18:48.319
Aaron Renn: But that's one of the things you know. When I talk about the cultural engagement people, you know, in essence, that's me. You know I did grow. I grew up in the culture war rural kind of church world. Then, as an adult, you know, living in New York and Chicago. And you know, like, you know, liking things like fine arts. And that life?

01:18:48.590 --> 01:18:55.780
Aaron Renn: yeah, you know it gives me a perspective on that, on that as well. But yeah, that's one thing. I you know, I think opera is great.

01:18:55.910 --> 01:19:24.330
Aaron Renn: Yeah, I had a similar shift like I was a music major at Asbury University, and that kind of moved me in this direction of this cult cultural engagement as a way of doing something with excellence and that type of thing. But okay, curious. What opera? If you had to see you got to see one opera, what would it be? I? Yeah. My favorite is actually Don Giovanni. Okay. By Mo. Mascules. Yes, yeah, yeah. It's it's you know, you could learn a lot about the world

01:19:24.330 --> 01:19:28.040
Aaron Renn: the way the world works by watching Don Giovanni, which is the

01:19:28.040 --> 01:19:38.769
Aaron Renn: basically the canonical retelling of the Don Juan death. And he does. You know he I mean, I don't think I'm spoiling anything to say. He does get just desserts at the end, but

01:19:38.850 --> 01:19:45.629
Aaron Renn: that's a good one that I that I like, and a lot of great music in there can't go wrong with Mozart. Oh, man, I love it

01:19:45.630 --> 01:20:09.620
Andy Miller III: well, I wouldn't have predicted that answer. So I appreciate it again, friends, I just wanna remind you, check out this new book life in the negative world. And if you share a link to this podcast on your social media. Tag me. Andy Miller, the third author page, or on Twitter Andy Miller Iii, you'll get entered in to be able to win this book for yourself. My thanks to Zandervan for sending sending this book to me, and one for myself, and then one that

01:20:09.620 --> 01:20:24.299
Aaron Renn: 4 that I can share with some of my listeners. Aaron. Thank you for for this helpful analysis of what's going on, and culture and evangelism. And this picture of where we can go. It's meant a lot to me. Thanks for having me.

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