Andy Miller III
Cover Image for The Story's Story with Eric Huffman

The Story's Story with Eric Huffman

July 20, 2023

Pastor Eric Huffman is the founder and lead pastor of The Story Church, host of the Maybe God Podcast, and author of "40 Days of Doubt" and "Scripture and the Skeptic." Pastor Eric's passion is to lead new generations to ask their questions, to doubt their doubts, and to know the truth of God through Jesus Christ.

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Welcome to the more to the story. Podcast, I'm so glad that you have come along. We have a great show today. I'm excited to talk to my guest, and I'm excited for you to hear his story, particularly about the story church. But you're going to have to get that in just a second. This podcast, is brought to you by Wesley Biblical Seminary, where we are developing trusted leaders for faithful churches, and we know there are faithful churches to the Faith, once for all, the delivered to the saints

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Andy Miller III: all around the world, and we are excited to prepare pastors who are enthusiastic and ready to serve those churches. We're particularly excited that at this point in the life of the kind Pan Wesleyan world. The global global Methodist church is emerging. We have, in the last 6 weeks added 150 global Methodists, students

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Andy Miller III: to our student body. So now we have over 450 students, and we're excited to serve them. We are fully online. But we also have a in person campus

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in the Jackson Mississippi area, so we'd love for you to find out more about Also, I'm thankful to my friend Bill Roberts, who's a sponsor of this. Podcast he's a financial planner who is particularly gifted with helping people who are serving in ministry to be able to think through things like with about housing allowances and all kind of the strange things that happen for people who serve as pastors. And So I encourage you to look at his website. You can find him at William

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Andy Miller III: or a link in my show notes. Finally, I'd love for people sign up for my email list, Andy Miller, the That's Andy Miller. I I If you sign up for that list I'll send you a free tool. It's called 5 steps to deeper teaching and preaching. And it is a it's a 45 min video teaching session along with an 8 page document to guide you towards your process of going deeper in Scripture, so that you can present it creatively in a way that connects with your audience.

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Andy Miller III: All right. I am so glad to welcome in somebody I've just heard about recently. Eric Huffman, who serves as a pastor of the Story church in the downtown. Houston area area. Eric, welcome to the podcast

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Andy. Thanks for having me. It's really good to be here. And I'm excited to learn about your podcast your work, too, brother. I'm kind of new to your party as well, so I'm really excited to be making this connection.

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Andy Miller III: Well, I have been a a long time fan of unbelievable, and I'm still mourning the fact that Justin Briley has moved away after I mean I I have been listening to him for over a decade and such a big fan of his. And then I was listening to a kind of a random episode. I didn't know it's gonna be a pastor sharing with a a

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Andy Miller III: parishion or a church member who has some questions. And then I heard your story, and I was like, Oh, my goodness, this guy, this guy would be great, great for the podcast but Wesley Biblical seminar needs to be, connect him like, why do I not know more about him. So it's a real, a real treat to hear hear from you. Tell me about your interaction with Justin Briley and your podcast, before we get going on your story?

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erichuffman: Yeah, I don't really know how the Justin Biley podcast. thing happened. I think it, my church, member, grace hill emailed his show. He wanted to ask a question or something. And then Justin said, Well, tell me about your church and your interactions with your pastor, and and that's sort of how that conversation came to be. And

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erichuffman: the episode on on unbelievable was just me and Grace sitting and talking through some of her, you know, doubts and and questions. Our ministry in Houston has always been about since we started in 2,015. The story church

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erichuffman: the mission has always been to inspire non religious people to follow Jesus. So we've got a heart for the skeptic lot of Interesting conversations with daughters, you know, happen all the time at the story, and and Grace is one of those. So She kind of facilitated that and made that happen.

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erichuffman: I've always like you've been a huge fan of Justin. And the unbelievable. Podcast but while we were recording that episode, he told us, Hey, I don't know when this is gonna, be announced. But I'm leaving, you know, premier Christian radio and and I'm leaving on the unbelievable podcast and I don't know what's next for me and all that.

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erichuffman: So that was a huge shop to us. to learn that. But

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erichuffman: What's interesting is through that interaction with him. We sort of worked on him to come as he figures out what's next for him. Long term. He's gonna facilitate some episodes and produce some episodes for our podcast

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erichuffman: called the maybe God. Podcast yeah. And so he's already done one or 2 of those. we have he interviewed me and Bart, him polo sort of one on one kind of, I believe, unbelievable podcast style, for maybe God. And so yeah, if your listeners are looking for another podcast to get connected to I hope they'll check out. Maybe God.

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Andy Miller III: you heard it here, folks, Justin Briley's going to the maybe God podcast yeah, even though he's on the market. You kind of feel like it was a a deal going. Not that I've I've interacted with. I I I, this moment of personal privilege here I've occasionally sent a commoner question in, and it I love it. When people in England say my name, it just sounds so much better than like we have Andy Miller the 30. I can't even I can't even imitate it. Everything sounds better in that accent, man, doesn't it? Does it?

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Andy Miller III: Well, I imagine that as we work through your story about the story church, we'll get a little bit more about your church, but it is really interesting to me. And let me just start like one interesting thing is that a lot of times people, and forgive me for using just a so sometimes polarizing language, conservative but like kind of like an evangelical perspective, people think, well, they're not really open to questions. They just want to tell you what you're supposed to believe. I mean, that's

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Andy Miller III: that's not what I hear from you.

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erichuffman: No, I think it's because of where I come from, and and the trajectory of my own story that I really do believe the church should be a place for sort of

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erichuffman: those, you know.

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erichuffman: hard Conversations that often are challenging that can seem like, you know, we're allowing heretical things to be said at the church, and you know, and yet we're willing to wrestle with them. And

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erichuffman: because I'm just, I just think, Hey, the truth is true, or it's not. If it's true, it's reliable, and it it's defensible. And it, you know, doesn't need us to protect it. So you know I think we should. We should always proclaim it and project it with grace and truth. Obviously the gospel is what it is, but we should also do that with

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erichuffman: open this in terms of our posture toward people who have maybe heard a false version of the Gospel, or or maybe they've been hurt by people proclaiming the gospel. Whatever reasons people have for walking away. And and You know. I think I think the Gospel can take a little heat cont the Bible can take a little criticism. there's nothing about our questions that poses any challenge to God. So why shouldn't we, as a church be open as well?

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Andy Miller III: Amen. Yeah, that's that. That's the role that we take here at question Biblical scenario. We want people to ask our hard questions and work for those questions, and we want that to happen in churches, too. You know you talk about like we're not gonna it just because there might be something heretical. It comes up if you were to come to some classes where there's small group discussions. Or if you're in a small group at a church.

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Andy Miller III: it's probably a lot of a lot of heresy there. But it's okay, like we have to kind of work through that and like, be able to listen to where people are before we can lead them to the faith once for all deliver to things that's right. They can ask those questions at the church where they can find truth and correction, or they can ask them

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Andy Miller III: at Reddit or online, or at the coffee shop, or wherever, and just find more heresy. So why shouldn't we open our hearts and ears to the questions of of daughters and skeptics. That's that's sort of our thing. Yeah. So tell me about your experience. You grew up as a pastors, kid. Then you became a united method as pastor. But it's maybe not the typical story.

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erichuffman: Yeah, it's a little different. some of your listeners might resonate with parts of it. I I grew up in the deep South the closest town was Tex or Canada, Texas. My father went into full time method as ministry. When I was in the sixth grade But even before that he was deeply involved at our local church and sort of became the pastor of evangelism. Sort of, and it became a part time local pastor, and then went in full time. So I feel like I was pretty much raised as a preachers kid from day one from the get go

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erichuffman: And I had a really sweet upbringing. I wouldn't change a thing honestly about my upbringing and Red Lick, Texas, where you know I never had to worry about.

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erichuffman: you know anything really, except getting home for dinner in the summer time, and and it was a really sweet, innocent upbringing. I think something about that kind of sheltered upbringing did leave me a little bit vulnerable

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erichuffman: to the rapidly changing world, especially the world of academia and I don't think I was prepared upon departing. You know Redlick Methodist Church. I don't think I was prepared for what was waiting for me on my college campus, even though I went to a Methodist affiliated school.

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erichuffman: you know, I kind of assume. I think my parents and others just assumed it would be a an extension of my youth ministry experience, in a way, because it's Methodist, it's us. And got there. And

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erichuffman: about halfway through my college experience I

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erichuffman: had, for all intents and purposes, renounced my Christian faith. I still called myself a follower of Jesus, but I refuse that most of those times I refuse to call myself a Christian because I thought Christians were

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erichuffman: evil. I thought Christians were the ones messing up this country, and Christians, especially conservative, rich white Christians, became kind of the bane of my existence, and the source of all wrong with the world, and and I became a disciple of, I guess what's called a liberation theology or sort of I've heard it called neo Marxist theory as well. I think that's probably more true than liberation, theologians would like to admit.

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Andy Miller III: were you in theology, in your undergrad.

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erichuffman: a heretic or an apostate of sorts, and started denying fundamental things like the

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physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus.

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erichuffman: and assuming, you know, that I knew more than the Bible writers did about all that, and and what really rose on Easter was the the church which to me at that point was sort of a social move. Social justice movement?

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erichuffman: That was sort of spirit inspired, but in a very new, agey kind of a way, all those sort of typical left, leaning academic tricks and tropes that are taking so many captive these days, I fell for it, and I lived that way for the next 13 years. So from age 20 to age 33

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erichuffman: I was I don't

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erichuffman: think I was a Christian at all. My mama would disagree my mama, that I never became anything other than a Christian, and I don't want to hurt her feelings, but she didn't do anything wrong. My parents didn't do anything wrong, and raising me, it just is my story and But I think if you're denying the resurrection of Jesus, that's pretty clear evidence. You might have to fall away. And so the

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erichuffman: The reality is, I was still around the church.

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erichuffman: It was it was the.

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erichuffman: I think it was my own

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erichuffman: politics that was my guide more than a, and it was my guiding light. My foundational principle was just my politics and as much as I could fit the Bible into that framework I did, and whatever parts of the Bible that didn't fit into that framework

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erichuffman: I just left out. So

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erichuffman: that continued, even though during those 13 years I was license.

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erichuffman: United method is pastor. Yes, this is the wild back to me.

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Andy Miller III: I I find it really you. You went to it beyond going this undergrad experience for being a religion and philosophy and kind of being set in that direction. You went to a seminary like, did you get a an M. Div. Or whatever degree you might be needed for that experience. And then and then you went through the process of becoming ordained. But you're saying you weren't a Christian.

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erichuffman: went to seminary because I wanted to be like the professors who had radicalized me. Honestly, I thought they were the smartest people I'd ever met.

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erichuffman: They went to seminary or some theological school, and I, and so I wanted the same, and So I went to a very left-leaning United Methodist Seminary and up in Kansas City, and pursued that at during that time I was further radicalized into my liberation, the theology and affirmed in my own views.

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erichuffman: and you know it's funny. Back then.

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erichuffman: guys like Adam Hamilton and his ilk were the. We're public enemy number one, and we're we're talked about as being the sort of

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erichuffman: these sort of

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erichuffman: the sort of empire driven

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erichuffman: evangelical, you know, colonizers

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erichuffman: to the extent that you know he's right up the road from our seminary, but we hardly ever heard from him in our classes and stuff. But it's funny if you know about how things have shifted in Methodism over the recent years. You'll see here how ironic that is. But

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Andy Miller III: I remember when he was on the cover of Good news magazine at that same time, fear of time period. Right? So this is like kind of a shocking thing if you know where things have come lately. And so then, looking back to that period like, you're working through all of these things, but yet affirmed.

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Andy Miller III: yeah.

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erichuffman: And and in my credo work and all that you know I I was open about my doubt about the bodily resurrection, and and what how I understood. You know the atonement to have not been, you know anything remotely, looking like a a penal substitutionary atonement in any way. And it was just, you know, it's all sunshine and rainbows and stuff in that world, and and that's kind of where I, the the only sin

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erichuffman: in that framework is corporate St. And by corporate I don't mean like

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erichuffman: a group of us sending. I mean, like, corporate, yeah, yeah, capitalism and and the like. That's really the only sin we should be concerned about systemics in and things. And and there's a you know, calling out individuals in is just hate and judgment in that worldview. And that was my world view. And and the work I did for churches. Then I was licensed, and then later ordained in that as a United Methodist clergyman.

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erichuffman: I would I I led churches. I started a couple of churches, but they were not not healthy churches, and they were

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erichuffman: a a reflection of my own heart which was angry. Rebellious.

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erichuffman: selfish in a way, but also self aggrandizing, wanting to show the world how much good we're doing. So we had a soup kitchen, and we had a almost shelter. Good stuff right on that, on the surface, like youth ministry for urban youth that were sort of discarded by the world. And we did marches. We organize marches for open borders. We organize marches for women's rights to choose, you know. reproductive choice. We were, we, we said.

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erichuffman: and none of that, I mean.

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erichuffman: I still believe we. The Church has a mandate Biblically, to be compassionate to everyone, especially immigrants and refugees and you know, mothers. And and so I still have a heart for some of those issues, but in very different ways now. But in those ways I was just a basically a political operative with a a robe and stole.

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Andy Miller III: Wow! I had a similar experience now, this might sound funny to some people. No, it didn't go that far, and so maybe why, it was great that I landed at Asbury University and Asbury Seminary. But even there I had this experience where some of the I imagine you are about the same age. But this would have been like early to mid 2 thousands and And while I'm there like these ideas weren't being seen. There's a way that you could be an evangelical and still say, we're into

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Andy Miller III: various forms of social justice. And it was, it was like, just went hand in hand. And so I I came out of seminary. And this this is no, this is me. My decisions that I made. But I looked at the ministry of the savage army that I was leading. I was in Arlington, Texas, for 5 years, and then I was in

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Andy Miller III: Georgia, in the Atlanta area. I even looked at like the Angel Tree program, the works where we were doing it. I I I use language redistribution of the wealth like I was thinking like, that's what I'm doing. I'm a but I I saw that through like a somewhat orthodox lens, but was interesting like what drove me back.

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Andy Miller III: I was realizing like how I could best help people

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Andy Miller III: was that when I looked at just giving people stuff and just giving them a place and like not come into place. We're seeing that there are people creating God's image with a capacity to be able to thrive themselves. That then started to pull me back to a more conservative perspective, because I felt like, well, and they and then I began to see.

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Andy Miller III: okay, maybe we need to be careful with some of this language, some of the language of what what's implied. And then I I actually went to Perkins in your area in that same, and I saw that language for what it was, and it started to started to really

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Andy Miller III: lead me in a place where I was going back to some other principles. It sounds like we did similar things, but you had a maybe a more. It was a more dramatic. Yeah, I I will tell you. I think. you know. Thank God, I was saved from that worldview because

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erichuffman: toxic isn't even the word for it. I mean, it's I mean. I hate to say it because I know a lot of people I care about have this similar world view today. But it's an evil.

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Andy Miller III: the evil system.

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erichuffman: It's an evil world view that is.

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erichuffman: I mean beyond toxic. I mean, it's it. It's It's really heinous.

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erichuffman: And it is. I started to see through it.

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erichuffman: and I think it was seeing some of the cracks in that foundation that I thought I was standing on at that time. That really opened me up to the conversion experience I had later. But you know, I started hearing

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the people I thought were the good guys, the the nice

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erichuffman: white Liberals saying things like,

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erichuffman: You know, there was this fight in the Methodist Church that's been going on forever. The United Methodist denomination about human sexuality and and the real hang up from the white Liberal perspective was Africa. And you know, if if Africa would either get out of the way, or or if they, if we could teach them to vote our way.

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erichuffman: Then we could have what the church we want. And I started hearing things like, well, eventually those poor people will catch up. You know. They're still.

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erichuffman: They're so rudimentary, and they're thinking they're they're tribal and unsophisticated. They're not like us. By by the grace of us, maybe one day we can shape them into being good white Western Liberals like us. And I'm just. I'm starting to hear it, like, I thought we loved Africans as Liberals. I thought I thought we saw them as equals, and we have something to learn from them and not just teach to them in.

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erichuffman: And there was such latent racism.

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erichuffman: Yeah, there was like a bigotry of of low expect. The soft bigotry of low expectations is what George W. Bush once said in a speech. And I I saw it. I was like, Yeah, this is racist

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erichuffman: And and then, you know, I I I heard white Liberals say things like.

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erichuffman: well, you know, we can be offensive in our language toward the wealthy and the powerful and white Conservatives, or whatever, because it's okay to punch up.

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erichuffman: but you should never punch down, and just even in a a sentence like that which seems innocuous, I'm like, Wait. So you think

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erichuffman: some people are beneath. You and others are about like by what metric.

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erichuffman: When you say to talk bad about, you know, certain groups is to punch down. You're you're suggesting they're below you or below us now. And I just started to see through, and

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Andy Miller III: that that whole veneer. It's a really thin worldview. And it was sort of those questions and cracks in the system that I that I was thinking about as I went to the Holy Land in 2,013, and that's kind of yeah. So those get there. This is interesting. I I was so surprised as you're telling this story, and I didn't know when I started listening, that you're in the same tradition like in the West End, you know. I Methodist tradition and

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Andy Miller III: So I was. I was interested. I learned that. But you first started. Tell about this experience of going to the Holy Land, so tell us what happened there.

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Andy Miller III: So I didn't go to the Holy Land to meet Jesus. I don't make that clear like I went to the Holy Land because I had an opportunity

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erichuffman: to meet with and find solidarity with

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erichuffman: Palestinian settlers and and refugees that had and were being pushed off family lands.

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erichuffman: for the sake of you know these Israeli Zionist settlements, and so it. It fits with the world view. I was in, in a way, because, you know, it was a a political fact finding mission, and and I was going to come back and give talks about peace and the Holy Land, and things like that from a Palestinian pro Palestinian perspective.

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erichuffman: And I got a lot of that. But that's not all I got. It wasn't even the most important thing I got out of that for what I was kind of funny with that in that trip was stuff that flew in the face of much of what I learned in seminary. For example.

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erichuffman: you know

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erichuffman: I think this was my own stupidity, and not doing my own research. But I had come away from college and seminary with this idea that there was scant evidence, if any at all for the existence of historical existence of people like David

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erichuffman: in the Bible.

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erichuffman: and you go to Holy Land like well, that that ship is so like that. David's existence has been verified, you know, for the last 50 years, really, by archaeological findings, and a lot of the latest research. And you know his name is all over that land. So yeah, okay, so David existed. Who cares whatever? But then you start to be confronted with all this other evidence like, you know.

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erichuffman: Nehemiah's wall and Hezekai's tunnel, and you know, all kinds of historical on the ground. Extra Biblical evidence of things in the Bible that, you know I had sort of the the my doubts about the Bible had been my

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erichuffman: had been a huge crutch that I had walked in my liberal worldview with for for years, and that was starting to disintegrate. And then I was confronted with the stuff about Jesus. which is was overwhelming to me. For some reason I have trouble

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erichuffman: finding others who are as overwhelmed by this as I was, but

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erichuffman: to to encounter evidence on the ground in Galilee

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erichuffman: from the first half of the first century Devout

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erichuffman: Jewish peasants.

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erichuffman: who knew, no doubt knew Jesus of Nazareth personally, because it wasn't a huge community, and he was somewhat something of a celebrity that's historically undeniable.

00:24:09.230 --> 00:24:14.679
erichuffman: But to see evidence on the ground of these devout Jewish people worshipping a man.

00:24:15.480 --> 00:24:24.369
erichuffman: and not just any man but a dead man. who again, the most historically verifiable fact about Jesus's lives, that he died on a rolling cross.

00:24:24.610 --> 00:24:31.439
erichuffman: and he was buried in those of vermothy assume, like those are the most attested to it. Facts about Jesus existing

00:24:31.640 --> 00:24:57.329
erichuffman: And if you know anything as I did out of there, I knew it at minimum. That Jewish people, you know, don't worship anyone, but God is like Rule number One, and you certainly don't worship a man. But you definitely don't worship the dead man, and you absolutely don't worship a man who died under a curse on a cross. And yet they were writing on the the evidence that I saw was in the house church

00:24:57.380 --> 00:25:14.300
erichuffman: in Capernaum, which is widely believed to have been the house of Peter. It's not certain, but there was definitely a house church in the first half of the first century, and that's historically, scientifically proven like it became a huge gathering place. whereas before. It was just a family home.

00:25:14.780 --> 00:25:23.270
erichuffman: and they were riding on the walls. God Jesus Christ! Lord, you praise Jesus, Mary, mother of God, calling the dead man God.

00:25:23.510 --> 00:25:24.730
erichuffman: and

00:25:25.750 --> 00:25:50.249
erichuffman: it all came to a head for me. Then it came crashing together this sort of reality of Jesus exist existence, and the reality that, apart from Paul, apart from the Gospel writers, like on the ground outside of the Bible, evidence of first century in the first half of the first century. So before 50 80, there were Jewish people worshipping Jesus after he died, and what in the world

00:25:50.450 --> 00:26:03.810
erichuffman: could have led them to do that like knowing what we know about Judy is that like, and not only for those limited people and Caperna to do it, but for the movement to spread beyond Caperna and beyond Galilee, beyond Judy, or whatever it's like.

00:26:03.830 --> 00:26:07.610
erichuffman: What in the world could have sparked a movement

00:26:07.710 --> 00:26:11.080
erichuffman: built on such a scandalous.

00:26:11.720 --> 00:26:13.980
erichuffman: the auspices

00:26:13.990 --> 00:26:18.280
erichuffman: other than appearances of the man who died.

00:26:24.600 --> 00:26:28.029
erichuffman: I I don't I I could not account for the uprising

00:26:28.270 --> 00:26:34.829
erichuffman: that happened in the church and and for the fact that it was based on such a a a insane

00:26:35.020 --> 00:26:41.790
erichuffman: assumption. that that a man should be worshipped as though he's got

00:26:42.380 --> 00:26:47.269
Andy Miller III: so that moment, then change everything for you like. So you come. You come to this truth.

00:26:47.290 --> 00:27:14.920
Andy Miller III: Your life, your, you know, since you left Red Red Lake, Redlock, Red Rock, Red Lick, Red lick. Oh, yeah, like Indiana. Okay? I mean you, you have a career. Did you have a family at this point? Yeah. My wife was a pastor, too, but she's always been faithful, and I think that she was a a lifeline and a tether to me. For years she was always faithful and praying. We fought a lot

00:27:14.920 --> 00:27:22.640
erichuffman: because she was. She saw what I'd become, and she was ashamed of some of the things I would preach and write for those 13 years, but she didn't give up on me.

00:27:22.730 --> 00:27:50.090
erichuffman: And yeah, we had a toddler and an infant at home at that time. Yeah, I texted her. I think it was like the middle of the night back home. She wasn't with me, but I'm texting her all these things like my God! My God! It's all real. It's true like, and she wakes up to these text that she' to this day talk about like I had no idea what he was talking about, and I just knew something crazy. It happened. And you know, I don't even think she could believe that I I could be after all those years.

00:27:50.090 --> 00:28:04.819
erichuffman: Yeah, I didn't tell the part about where, as I was wrapped up in that sort of leftist worldview, I was also internally just an absolute mess by just addictions and porn and and just lust and ugliness. And

00:28:04.860 --> 00:28:06.070
erichuffman: and so

00:28:06.230 --> 00:28:27.239
erichuffman: there's a lot that had to change. And so yeah, I was absolutely a absolutely wrecked by the realizations I had about Jesus, and to the extent that I knew we couldn't stay in Kansas City any longer. I knew we would need a fresh start somewhere, because so much of my reputation and identity was built around that angry, you know.

00:28:27.380 --> 00:28:29.359
erichuffman: despairing sort of

00:28:29.680 --> 00:28:32.380
erichuffman: dark world you that I had been living.

00:28:32.670 --> 00:28:37.719
Andy Miller III: Wow! So what? How do you then, like you come back from Israel? Leave Kansas City.

00:28:37.970 --> 00:28:45.549
erichuffman: start to Bill. I mean you. You've studied everything I mean. I guess your wife might have been able to help you.

00:28:45.720 --> 00:29:03.369
erichuffman: So first of all, on the way home from the Holy Land. my guide, who is an archaeologist and a pastor, gave me a book called The Reason for God by Tim Color. And I had never heard of Tim color at that point in my life, and I read it on the flight home and was absolutely blown away.

00:29:03.500 --> 00:29:14.030
erichuffman: And I think most people on the Christian left either haven't heard of or have just avoided, people like Keller and Cs. Lewis, for that matter, and other people that make sense of the

00:29:14.240 --> 00:29:15.620
erichuffman: the Christian day.

00:29:15.680 --> 00:29:39.540
erichuffman: but I I mean there's so much depth and beauty in those writings. And so I came home to Kansas City, started preaching what I knew to be true at that point, which is, Jesus is who he said he was, and if he is, we better take him seriously, including We have to take seriously what he said about the Bible, and the Word of God, and so that changes everything. You can't keep picking and choosing. If Jesus is Lord.

00:29:39.730 --> 00:29:45.340
erichuffman: So That was a radical difference. And I made frankly, I think I made a lot of

00:29:45.720 --> 00:29:51.830
erichuffman: enemies, I guess, or disappointed a lot of people who had sort of bought out into the the old Me.

00:29:51.980 --> 00:30:01.759
erichuffman: And wanted me to continue that. And then, when I came home, and it was hard. It was some of the hardest times I've had it frankly. But a year. Let's see.

00:30:02.320 --> 00:30:09.960
erichuffman: Yeah. A year and a half later we made the move to Texas, and a a year after that we started the story church in Houston.

00:30:10.210 --> 00:30:17.150
Andy Miller III: So you're working through all these these changes. I like your worldview, I mean, and you you

00:30:17.180 --> 00:30:24.270
Andy Miller III: was there a moment. It doesn't have to be, of course, a moment of conversion, so to speak. Or was it? Was it there it at

00:30:24.300 --> 00:30:40.180
erichuffman: It was right there on the shore of I mean I just it all came together, and I just I repented. I kept saying, I'm sorry, and then I just the the feelings of total just crushing guilt.

00:30:40.300 --> 00:30:46.030
erichuffman: Coming up against this overwhelming grace was something I'll I'll never forget

00:30:46.110 --> 00:30:47.840
erichuffman: and

00:30:48.060 --> 00:31:17.369
erichuffman: I won't say everything changed overnight, although I do believe I became a new man that day. But it took me a while to work through the the stuff that I had been, you know, surrendering to for years before that. but it was a. It was a liberative process in ways that I had never experienced before. And What were your lifelines? And there, intellectually, as you're like reformulating your beliefs. What I mean. Cs. Lewis Tim Keller. You mentioned them. What? Where? What else did you lean into?

00:31:17.440 --> 00:31:26.809
erichuffman: Yeah, I I think I went heavy into apologetics because I needed it to make sense in my head all of it. You know everything from

00:31:26.880 --> 00:31:44.819
erichuffman: creation and you know I was all in for evolutionary theory as the answer to all of our questions before my conversion, and I needed new answers. So I went. I went heavy into Alvin, planning a

00:31:44.840 --> 00:31:54.130
erichuffman: heavy into William Lane Craig, who I have to come friends with, yeah, yeah, he's preached at my church. I've been on the podcast that maybe God.

00:31:54.220 --> 00:32:07.350
erichuffman: you know, I mean, other pastoral guys like Teller and others have been very helpful to me. But did a ton of reading from like John Pokinghorn.

00:32:07.580 --> 00:32:23.279
erichuffman: gosh! Who is a linux, John Lennox that was very helpful to me. a couple of Podcasts were very helpful to me. What is? What are their names? to husband and wife. Team

00:32:24.100 --> 00:32:25.860
erichuffman: She is British

00:32:26.620 --> 00:32:30.239
erichuffman: the names escaping me now. But it'll come to me.

00:32:30.330 --> 00:32:33.339
erichuffman: Amy, or you in has been a real help for me.

00:32:33.450 --> 00:32:47.910
Andy Miller III: And several several others. But yeah, I've just been really fortunate that God didn't give up on me. Amen. Oh, Eric, it's so awesome to hear this. I'm sorry that we couldn't have like, somehow got a Wesley Biblical seminary

00:32:47.920 --> 00:32:54.100
Andy Miller III: fly or under your door, you know.

00:32:54.380 --> 00:33:03.350
Andy Miller III: Well, okay, so the story church telephone. I mean this, the story church is so closely connected to your story. So tell us about that. And what's going on there.

00:33:03.590 --> 00:33:23.569
erichuffman: Yeah, we started the story church in 2,015 as As we moved to Houston, it was a part of a of a larger Mother Church, St. Luke's Methodist in Houston. and it was just a crazy, I guess. Success story by the numbers. Anyway, from the start I just the trajectory

00:33:23.580 --> 00:33:46.659
erichuffman: has been amazing, and then, you know, things happen covid And then we got kicked out of our mother church and left the denomination. All of that in the last. So you got kicked out of the Mother Church? I'm not. I'm not looking for names, I'm not like, you know, and you've been good like not saying where you went to school, and that kind of I appreciate that. But

00:33:46.730 --> 00:33:50.139
Andy Miller III: he kicked out your mother church. What happened?

00:33:50.170 --> 00:34:10.999
erichuffman: Yeah, it. it was really sparked by. Well, I think the bigger story is, we were going one way, and the Mother Church is going another in regards to the united method is split, but we didn't know what that would mean. And then, even though I wasn't Wca. Or anything affiliated officially, I was invited to speak at a Wca. Event.

00:34:11.050 --> 00:34:13.169
erichuffman: I criticize church leadership.

00:34:13.489 --> 00:34:19.489
erichuffman: at the time denominational leadership for not prioritizing Scripture as the

00:34:19.630 --> 00:34:30.609
erichuffman: sort of lens through which to view all of these problems based in the Church. And gave that speech on May the first of 2,021, and I was summarily dismissed from my mother church on May the fourth

00:34:30.610 --> 00:34:55.090
erichuffman: 21. thanks to a friendly bishop at the time in Texas. we were given a little bit of a of a runway to leave And so we were able to leave with the story. We found a place to rent a little old virtue of Christ scientists that had closed here in Houston. We started running that. And we've been here ever since. And recently we purchased a property

00:34:55.179 --> 00:35:03.430
erichuffman: basically next door to the mother church that gave us birth. So we're moving back to the, to the.

00:35:03.570 --> 00:35:08.799
erichuffman: to the backyard where we were born. in early next year.

00:35:09.590 --> 00:35:26.669
Andy Miller III: I'm guessing that was Scott Jones. the Bishop that you're talking about. There. He! He! He just spoke at our commencement, and we had him here. And so we really really appreciate the work he's doing, the courage that he's demonstrating, and in others, too. Who? Who, you know

00:35:26.970 --> 00:35:35.799
Andy Miller III: we really have had a and maybe even his directory could have been the same as yours. But it's exciting to see like, well, that's emerging. So

00:35:36.100 --> 00:35:38.499
Andy Miller III: So I'll pause right here.

00:35:39.350 --> 00:35:49.910
Andy Miller III: Yeah, yeah, yeah, we're good. I think it's good. It's just every now and then I maybe it's a headphones. It comes to that out a little bit so. But I think you'll be fine.

00:35:50.690 --> 00:35:59.390
Andy Miller III: Will I have a recording to on my side, or will you just have a recording it might be. Maybe it's every now and then. I it's something in

00:35:59.470 --> 00:36:22.969
Andy Miller III: how I'm hearing it, and it's it might be good. So I think you'll be fine. I just know hearing you say you have like a produce kind of thing. You might be disappointed that I'll be fine like I don't. I don't do much editing. Okay? Well, I'm sorry to make you edit this little piece, but I am going to lose my computer if I don't get my charger here in a sec. Oh, you want to go get it right now. You don't mind. That's good. It's good. Yeah, real quick.

00:37:21.210 --> 00:37:22.150
erichuffman: You hear me?

00:37:22.540 --> 00:37:25.580
Andy Miller III: Yeah, I gotcha, yeah.

00:37:25.700 --> 00:37:36.610
erichuffman: My whole production team is in the Dominican Republic and lost without them. And even little details like charge on this computer. I thought it would laugh, and it didn't.

00:37:37.050 --> 00:37:41.169
erichuffman: No sorry about that.

00:37:41.370 --> 00:37:52.349
Andy Miller III: Lose it entirely.

00:37:52.490 --> 00:38:03.200
Andy Miller III: So I'll pick up here and we'll see. I have a guy who does this for me. He's really good. So, Jeff, thank you for this right now, whenever you

00:38:03.450 --> 00:38:10.570
Andy Miller III: I think we were just talking and say, yes, Scott Jones, and I can say a word about him. Let's do it in 3, 2, one.

00:38:11.440 --> 00:38:16.839
erichuffman: So yeah. Scott Jones Bishop Jones was a god sent to us.

00:38:16.910 --> 00:38:28.370
erichuffman: and you know it wasn't easy. We weren't always happy with him. He wasn't always happy with us. but I'm grateful for him every day, because that situation could have been

00:38:28.430 --> 00:38:31.339
erichuffman: a heck of a lot worse. And

00:38:31.390 --> 00:38:37.139
erichuffman: yeah. So he negotiated a way out for us. And now I like. I'm not sure I would change anything

00:38:37.180 --> 00:38:58.700
erichuffman: because of how ugly it's gotten in the United Methodist world, and you know we never had to have a vote. Oh, interesting! What happened? So you didn't disaffiliate. We didn't have to. We were part of another church. We were under Saint Luke's and I Methodist, and so we just left, and I and my wife and I and our other on staff pastor surrendered our credentials

00:38:59.180 --> 00:39:10.889
erichuffman: and established the story as an independent church which was never really in our plans. but But that's sort of water into the bridge now. It's been

00:39:11.060 --> 00:39:19.560
erichuffman: amazing. Ever since, you know, it's been a full of challenges and a little bit of heartache here and there. But, man, I'm glad we're out of that quagmire.

00:39:19.640 --> 00:39:35.199
Andy Miller III: Bless you, yeah, I haven't been I I'm not. I've not been in the 9 Methodist Church. I've been very well aware of what's going on there, so I I heard you talk about this before. Tell us what happened after you. You didn't disaffiliate. But after you are your own entity at? Yeah.

00:39:35.310 --> 00:39:47.960
erichuffman: Yeah. So after we establish the story church as an independent church, you know. Around that time we were talking to other churches that were in a similar position. They had either disaffiliated or something similar has happened to us happened to them.

00:39:48.260 --> 00:39:56.989
erichuffman: and what we realized is, there were things we really were going to miss, and our churches were going to miss from being a part of a connection.

00:39:57.060 --> 00:40:01.380
erichuffman: There were other things about being a part of a connection like the United Methodist.

00:40:01.560 --> 00:40:13.330
erichuffman: We will never in a million years, miss. So we started talking about how can we, you know, really pursue the things that we will miss, and we will need like

00:40:13.570 --> 00:40:26.050
erichuffman: like conferencing as well as the in the Wesley incense, right? Not in not in the modern annual conference sense, necessarily, but like holy conferencing. And and you know, accountability.

00:40:26.100 --> 00:40:36.419
erichuffman: And even more practical things like where our boards go local governance goes to solve big picture problems. And you know, when

00:40:36.500 --> 00:40:42.200
erichuffman: there is a vacancy at the top? Who do our boards talk to? And can we forge a network

00:40:42.240 --> 00:41:04.479
erichuffman: that could answer some of those questions or be a source of support and accountability. And so out of that came what's now known as the Foundry Network, which I understand you've talked to Jane Bishop about that. He's sort of a partner in crime with me, and that and So that's been fun to watch that develop. It's not. I don't think any answer to these dilemmas we're in now, or perfect. But

00:41:04.480 --> 00:41:21.810
Andy Miller III: But it's been a real blessing to us.

00:41:22.210 --> 00:41:37.489
erichuffman: They make sure you pay your apportionments to make sure you don't take money, you know, as a pastor, they make sure you don't cheat on your spouse or touch children, or whatever it's like. That's basically the extent of accountability. But you know, Biblical accountability goes so much deeper than that.

00:41:37.490 --> 00:41:54.760
erichuffman: And pastoral accountability is so huge and and important that it it's not just about preventing a negative. It's about accentuating positives, you know, in a pastor's life and in a church's life. And so we look to resource each other. you know, with ideas and

00:41:54.820 --> 00:42:10.750
erichuffman: and suggestions, and you know, we'll speak at each other's churches, or we'll send a staff member to go and educate a whole other churches, staff or whatever about something particular. So there's all kinds of ways that that that is fleshed out. And we're having fun figuring it out.

00:42:10.910 --> 00:42:37.879
Andy Miller III: Now, this might seem like a straw man sort of argument, but I just want to like laid up there, because it's what people might be thinking, but they might say, Well, you know, Eric Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll was a part of a a network, too, and they're supposed to have accountability. And look what happened after they were exposed, and all this challenges. And now the church doesn't exist. some people think we need more and more accountability and that a networks not going to be able to provide that. How do you respond?

00:42:38.610 --> 00:42:43.439
erichuffman: I think that's probably right, that a lot of a lot of churches do need more

00:42:43.990 --> 00:42:55.579
erichuffman: accountability for every mark, Driscoll. I guess I could point to another, you know. Rick Warren, or some other person who is managed to be locally governed and

00:42:55.590 --> 00:43:08.100
erichuffman: avoid some of the pitfalls. that you know that come our way. I I could also point to for every Mark Driscoll, about a hundred United Methodist leaders that we're not held accountable. Maybe not.

00:43:08.340 --> 00:43:22.700
Andy Miller III: Yes, yeah, maybe not. When when it comes to like abusive, overreaching leadership like Driscoll wasn't held accountable for. But I don't remember any Methodist pastor being held accountable for not making disciples.

00:43:22.860 --> 00:43:24.540
erichuffman: I know I wasn't

00:43:24.740 --> 00:43:28.660
erichuffman: about how many people can you attract on a Sunday, and

00:43:28.890 --> 00:43:36.029
erichuffman: how much money can you bring in? But you know, if you didn't make a disciple in a year, no one slapped you on the risk for it. They promoted you.

00:43:36.450 --> 00:43:47.010
erichuffman: So we can talk about accountability and systems and things. But I just think we need to. We need to judge the fruit and not just analyze the you know, systemic choices being made. Let's see.

00:43:47.090 --> 00:44:10.730
Andy Miller III: let's see the fruit of the spirit. Yeah. And in the foundry network. I'm I. It's really intriguing to me, because it is a and most of the people is. My podcasts are in the Pan Westland world anyways, but it it has, like Wesley and theology at its core. It has a a biblically focused statement on human sexuality. you tell us a little bit more, though, about the foundry network.

00:44:11.370 --> 00:44:22.130
erichuffman: Well, I think it it is. It's definitely Wesley and theology. although I think had a lot of people in the Wesleyan world push back against that, and so you can't be Wesley, and and

00:44:22.300 --> 00:44:40.989
erichuffman: locally governed like to be Wesley, and is connectionally governed. I'm not sure I was so arrogant. There's a little fundamentalist, in my opinion. but but but I am. I am sensitive to the argument, and I think I I I've already fielded enough questions and push back

00:44:41.170 --> 00:44:43.290
erichuffman: about

00:44:44.150 --> 00:44:47.710
erichuffman: about our theology as an independent church.

00:44:47.810 --> 00:44:58.030
erichuffman: you know, and and especially regarding women in ministry, I mean, with the moment we left the United Methodist Church we had a few people in our congregation start asking, all right. So when can we now be Biblical about

00:44:58.350 --> 00:45:18.960
erichuffman: about women and ministry, and not having women in ministry anymore. When can we stop baptizing babies? You know that you got you got people sort of once the denominational covers out of the way. You have people sort of coming out of the woodwork to try and try and push the church in one direction or another, theologically. And so you really have to be able to stand your ground and make your case

00:45:19.130 --> 00:45:33.959
erichuffman: for some of these things that used to be, you know, sort of denominationally covered which is kind of been nice, I've been it. I've I've had the space and had to make the space to make the case for inter baptism in a way that I never had you before.

00:45:34.020 --> 00:45:47.740
erichuffman: And I, I feel like, was able to do that and teach a lot of people, you know they why, we have, Biblically, when we have the historical practice of of a baptism versus believers, baptism, and the same for women in ministry. We don't. We don't do it in spite of the Bible. We do it because the Bible

00:45:47.860 --> 00:45:58.329
erichuffman: so It's been a. It's been a good way to stay sharp. As I said before, no one at the foundry network. Thanks. What we're doing is the is

00:45:58.370 --> 00:46:12.209
erichuffman: perfect, or or in any way a good solution for most churches, I think for 95 of former United Methodist churches. the founder networks not for them. And we're not trying to grow it. You know, we're not really anxious to

00:46:12.370 --> 00:46:22.430
erichuffman: to grow the thing. We don't have a central office. There's no financial component to it. It's really about fellowship and and accountability as much as possible, but

00:46:22.650 --> 00:46:27.260
erichuffman: I think a lot of us are a little bit denominationally scarred.

00:46:27.480 --> 00:46:33.080
erichuffman: And so that is sort of charted some of our steps. I think we're so anti

00:46:33.110 --> 00:46:38.679
erichuffman: going back to whatever that was. that we are. a little bit slow to

00:46:38.770 --> 00:46:56.349
erichuffman: to want to get back into anything similar. but at the same time, like, we are so happy about the success of the global Methodist church, for example, and for churches that have gone free Methodist or churches that are doing the Methodist collegiate thing and and

00:46:56.650 --> 00:47:03.069
erichuffman: thing out of Florida. It just. It's exciting to see God working in all these different ways. And I think

00:47:03.340 --> 00:47:15.380
erichuffman: that's I think that's maybe his plan through all of this, and I don't think it needs to be uniform. I think we can all champion each other. At least that's our plan. As far as the boundary network is concerned.

00:47:15.410 --> 00:47:31.729
Andy Miller III: I can't help but jump back to the comment about rather not. It's Wesley. And I said, I kind of inter interjected, there, that's kind of pretty arrogant. Because, you know, if it's really Wesley, and it's probably going to be, we're gonna go back to the church of Inkling. And it's that there's really a sense like, if you really want to take this

00:47:31.730 --> 00:47:55.270
Andy Miller III: like. And and this is a bit like, I study the nineteenth century holiness and Wesley and kind of world. The the emergence of the savage army came in that context, and there's all sorts of splits that happen in, and people might not even know this, that, like the premier method shirt, start in the early nineteenth century. Well, I have a friend who's in a band meeting with me. He is a graduate, do double graduate of Wesley Medical Seminary.

00:47:55.270 --> 00:48:19.950
Andy Miller III: He's serving a a church that you might not know it, but it's a Primitive Methodist church from that same tradition, we have Congregational Methodist church, a ev evangelical Methodist Church, and I, I have on my podcast 2 guys about our our age who have, like contemporary churches. They're called the Association of Independent Methodists, and they're like they're thriving. They're growing. And they're they're growing in part because some people are coming their way, but they're planning churches

00:48:19.960 --> 00:48:24.200
erichuffman: so like there's a lot of other ways to express it. Express what

00:48:24.630 --> 00:48:52.100
Andy Miller III: Wesleyan is not not the Western church. But Wesleyen is a Methodism, broadly is. So I I'm really encouraged by all these new expressions and the Biblical fidelity that I see in you guys. So I'm I'm really like I I I've I've changed my credentials to the goal Methodist church, and I'm thankful for that. I'm I'm in a again, not not serving a church at this point, but I love the church I'm in, and I'm thankful for it. But I'm really glad to see what you guys are doing. It's really exciting time and Wesleyanism.

00:48:52.100 --> 00:48:55.950
erichuffman: No, it really is. I agree. I love your perspective on that 100%.

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Andy Miller III: Well, Eric, you've written a few books about your experience. Can you tell us about that? Or at least one? What what type of type of things are you doing that? I think, as I listen to you, they might really want to check out the work that God's doing through you.

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erichuffman: 40 days of doubt, devotions for the skeptic which is just 40 days broken up into 40 questions. Skeptics ask about Christianity, about the Bible, about Don, about

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erichuffman: social issues and things like that really short. You know, snippets that I think are good for beginners.

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erichuffman: And then, in 2,021 I released a book called Scripture, and the skeptic.

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erichuffman: which is more about. You know how to really embrace the whole Bible as a skeptic. And you know, somebody that might have more questions and answers about religion and things, but to consider the whole of Scripture

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erichuffman: as God's true and and trustworthy word, 2 of us. So, rather than picking and choosing, and the buckets and all that like. Yeah.

00:50:06.790 --> 00:50:18.340
erichuffman: let's take. Take the whole thing as God's story to us, and and not discard any of it. So that description of this guy that came out in 2,021 and

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erichuffman: so those are the 2. I I've written, there's the podcast yeah, that's great and and in the podcast is called, maybe God. Maybe God. Yeah, we just finished our first film. Actually, we made a documentary film called across, and it is about the Southern border crisis and a Christian response to it. I am really proud of it comes out on June twentieth, and you can find that at a cross documentarycom.

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Andy Miller III: Great? Yeah, this is great. Oh, well, I always ask this question, why? I try to ask this question. If I can get it in in time, the my podcast. Is called more to the story. So I I'm curious. Is there more to the story, to Eric, we've got a lot of your story here, but there's something that you don't normally talk about on your podcast some hobby that you have, or something like that.

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erichuffman: Oh, so, my hobby that I have. Well, I'm an avid

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erichuffman: baseball fan So that's although I don't really hide. But I'll tell you my, my most recent guilty pleasure is playing this video game with my kids that I don't think any grown man could play video games unless it's with their kids. And in that case it's just to be with your kids. It's not really to play the game, you know. my! My apologies to any grown man that play with joke

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erichuffman: the personal opinion? Yeah. So I've been playing this assassin's creed Odyssey game, which is the most epic video game I've ever seen in my life, but it takes

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erichuffman: years to finish, and so But it has been the best bonding time for my kids and I. They're both early teenagers, and and so it's been the coolest thing to sort of get into that with them. And also my last guilty pleasure is that I'm I've become strangely a pretty huge swifty. So my daughter and I listen to Taylor Swift all the time, and she's got me.

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Andy Miller III: I'm in the cult. She's got me all in man. That is unique. This might be used against you in the future. Okay, what's your baseball team?

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erichuffman: The Astros. Okay, don't hold it again. It's a few cheaters, I know. You know. God said to love the centers right well. I'm a Cubs fan. I'm a I I grew up in the Chicago area. But look, my life is fulfilled. I I 2,016. I like this team man. I'll I love the Bellinger pick up so

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erichuffman: well we can hope well, thanks so much for your time, Eric. It's great to. It's great to for me just personally to engage you here and looking forward to following you. And what's happened at the story church and the foundry network. So thanks, so much for coming on the podcast.

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