Victorian Christianity with Dr. Timothy Larsen
December 8, 2022
Timothy Larsen is an authority of Victorian Christianity. On today’s podcast we talk about his books People of One Book, The Oxford History of Protestant Dissenting Traditions, and The Oxford Handbook of Christmas.
Links to Tim’s Books:
A People of One Book - https://www.amazon.com/People-One-Book-Bible-Victorians/dp/0199667810
The Oxford History of Protestant Dissenting Traditions -
Contender: Going Deeper in the Book of Jude - This all-inclusive small group study on the book of Jude is out now. Check it out on the course page: http://courses.andymilleriii.com
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Today’s episode is brought to you by these two sponsors:
Bill Roberts is a financial advisor, who has been serving the retirement planning and investment needs of individuals, families, non-profits, and churches for 25 years. He is a Certified Financial Planner and accredited investment fiduciary. Bill specializes in working with Salvation Army employees and officers by helping them realize their financial goals. You can find out more about Bill’s business at www.WilliamHRoberts.com
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Welcome to the more to the story of Podcast. I am so glad you've come along, and this is one of those times where I am certainly going to geek out with an author that I have appreciated lately, and really grown to appreciate in my own study. But you're going to have to hold on because it's going to give context to the nature of of many of the people who are connected to this kind of to this podcast. And that's those who generally a lot of times are in the Pan Wesley and movement,
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Andy Miller III: and we find our origins in the nineteenth century, England. And so we have Timothy Larson, who is going to be coming on in just a second. Now, before I get there, I want to make sure you know that this podcast is brought to you by Wesley Biblical Seminary, where we are developing trusted leaders for faithful churches. And we do that through a variety of ah bachelors on graduate So masters programs and doctoral ministry programs that are helping us are helping young leaders or leaders in general be prepared to serve faithfully
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Andy Miller III: And secondly, we're thankful to that we have the support of Bill Roberts, who's a financial planner who helps people, particularly those who are serving in ministry positions when they have to calculate kind of strange things like housing allowances, and like um to prepare for their own retirement. And so Bill does a great job of this, and comes at it from a Christian perspective. You can find out more about him at William H. Roberts Com. And you can find the link pen in my show notes. And Finally, for those of you who don't know you can get a free resource from my website, and the
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Andy Miller III: that's Andy Miller Iii. It's it's called five steps to deeper teaching and preaching. It's a forty five minute Mini course that has an eight page document that's available for folks, and I would love for you to sign up for that. So if you sign up for my email list, you will get this free resource that's available for you
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Andy Miller III: all right on to today's program. I am so glad to welcome in Dr. Tim Larsen, who serves as a Mcmanus professor of Christian, thought some of you might even recognize that it is because it's connected. He followed Mark Noel into that position. So, Tim, I am so honored to have you on the podcast. Welcome.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Thank you. I'm glad to be here
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Andy Miller III: now. I I have an interest in this area because I served. I've served, and of six generations into the Salvation Army. Um, But the The nominations that are connected to our Seminary Biblical summary generally have their origins in the same place. So i'm just been fascinated by your research, and I've come upon it lately in more in depth. So what what is it that got you interested in studying Victorian Christianity?
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yes, Well, some of it was my,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: but I came quickly to see that
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: almost every issue that confronts the Church in our time the Victorians had to kind of do the first version of
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: figuring out something and addressing that. And so it's a I always see history as a great way to kind of refract a conversation,
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Andy Miller III: and, and, like you said. Like many of the issues that we're dealing with now, we can find precedent for that in the nineteenth century. Like it's from revelation to dealing with science to um any number of issues. Now, it's interesting that you study with David Babington. Now, i'm sure there's like many people who I think Ah! When he defined Evangelicalism at the beginning of his book. Um, the famous book a bit that he was. Ah, I don't think he would have thought the the word casual ad, or will be so connected
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: to his name. Absolutely. I mean It's a funny thing, because he was just trying to show the scope of the book that he was doing, you know. So it was like that was like, There's like an an initial like what it? What is the context of this actual something i'm doing. And yet it became so famous. It was just like it meant a need that was so much bigger than the need for defining his book, and it really got on. Oh, yeah, he and it just seems like like you said, I mean, they'll probably be. There's the nominations that use it. It's just a nice quick way to handle things.
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Andy Miller III: But he was trying to define a period like he's going from one thousand seven hundred and forty on. Like to say, this is what Evangelicalism is. So I think it's got. And, boy, it's great that you got a chance to study with him it makes sense. For ah, considering the type of things you're writing down for in particular, can you also focus on non-conformist? Traditions, which is why I find him to be so helpful.
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Andy Miller III: Okay, let me get into one of the big movements that you make in your scholarly works. Is this: move away from what's often identified as a secularization thesis. So tell me, what is that thesis, and why does it need to be challenged?
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yes, thank you. So the synchronization thesis was a sociological view, primarily at least in originally. It got, you know, transported to
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: other disciplines, that modernity, the modern condition inevitably leads to secularization, defined as the decreased social significance of religion, and really with a kind of implication that
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: if religion doesn't die out, it would be kind of like a really kind of marginal fringe, unimportant thing that the future is not religious. The future does not have faith, and that was supposedly almost like a kind of law.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: You know the the unfolding of modern reality.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Um! There are many ironies about it. One of them is that so? Secularization theory is actually older than secularization. So. So. So now um see the trends that are all to to about this as starting in the nineteen sixty S. But sociologists were talking about it already in the nineteenth century. And so I mean, it turns out that maybe the highest interpretations that ever happened in all of purchase history happened in the nineteenth century, and nevertheless,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: people were imagining. So. There are many, many things to unpack with that i'll let you kind of pro to what you want, but one of them is, you know what evidence counts? What is it evidence for? And then this assumption of inevitability about this
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: right, Do you think? Is Is it kind of connected to like a a talking point of sorts like with Darwin or um Dover Beach. Yeah, Matthew, these type of things like that are a popular move away from traditional Christian thought. Is Is that why scholars just kind of easily lump things together to fit into this sociological paradigm?
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yes, so many things get get bottled up and confused. So people were really attracted to it because of their own often
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: loss of faith or kind of becoming less connected to the Church or Christian thought than their parents or their grandparents.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: And so they made that kind of into a law of the universe. What had happened to them. But it turns out, even from a sociological perspective. If you look at what's going on, it's not intellectual,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: so that whole thing is a red herring that isn't this idea that somehow people learned something and couldn't believe anymore. There are things that are changing, but that's not what's driving them
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: interesting, and it's not like the process of the development of educational systems in England, like a lot of times people like now they know now they have these.
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Andy Miller III: So there's a couple of books we could highlight that you've written. One is a crisis of faith where you talk about people who went the opposite directions that you described. They they didn't. Actually, they were famous atheists who became Christians in the <unknown>unknown<unknown>th century. But I was drawn to people of one book, and This was a fascinating book, me in part because my own interest in Methodist and holiest studies, because you have a chapter talking about Katharine with William Cook. But what struck me about the rest of the
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Andy Miller III: book as a whole was that you were just highlighting the role that Scripture played in the nineteenth century. Not just in these Christian writers, but in and all layers of society from atheist, agnostics, and the like. So what i'm am curious. What led you to this? Was it just like after studying Victorians? Um, being Victorian studies so long that you realize nobody has written on this. I mean, this is this is a really fascinating book.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, it is a strange thing, because I mean one. Since you know, you're describing water to fish, you know, it's like the Bible is so important to Victorian culture, it's hard to find a way to overestimate it. And yet, for some reason, scholars don't talk about it,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: and even kind of, say, the opposite. They love to imagine that people are somehow breaking away from Scripture or subverting the Scripture. That's all. When literary scholars talk about that's Almost all they talk about is somebody they imagine is subverting a Scripture
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: for me. It's like they are actually thinking through Scripture that they
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: they cannot come up with their own ideas without using the resources of Scripture. So something like A. T. H. Huxley, who is like the most famous unbeliever he was called Darwin's bulldog,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: you know, is put in that kind of polynomial category of somebody who's attacking the faith. And yet, if you look at the
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: all of his writings. They are steeped in Scripture. If you look at his critiques of other ideas, he uses the category of idolatry, and that is not even superficial. He will say, flat out the Old Testament prophets to me. Explain what it's true when it's real, and so, when making them idolatry,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: he
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: buys that as the central way to expose what is false. And he's using that in scientific ideas he's using it in philosophical ideas. So he's just one example. But yeah, people are up on him much sleep for a second.
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Andy Miller III: Okay. So I'm: I'm fascinated by him because in my tradition, the savage army, he was the chief enemy.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah. And he went after a William Booth in the Times with this series of article. I'm sure sure you're aware of it. Well, in one thousand eight hundred and ninety. After Julian we developed the the social scheme, and in darkest England and way out the book, and Catherine had just died.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Nevertheless, Huxley came after him hard and invented words that are in the dictionary today, like Coreyantic, Christianity, is what he called the Salvation Army, and so he had a book where he identified the savage of these articles. Then he had an introduction to it called Ah, something about diseases, social diseases, and their their cures or something. Okay. So I I finally found a copy of this book. Yeah, the Ryland's Library. I'm: Sure.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yes, I have people.
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Andy Miller III: So when I was there I got the guy look, and and honestly reading it. I was expecting to come in touch with somebody who is like a
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Richard Dawkins, because the the army's literature is like this guy is just mean, terrible, awful. But well, I was surprised. You could have thought that this was written by, maybe kind of a liberal Christian,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: you know. The nature of his critique almost came like this is good for the Salvation Army, and his view wasn't good for religion. He had a concern for the Church of England. I I was so surprised.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, I don't
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: just jump in if you want. So you know he, it's hard for people to get back to it. But
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: he was a critic,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: and he was a critic on the assumption that Christianity would Hope Center would halt; that that the life of faith would go on now. His wife goes to church, his children go to church, you know, and so you kind of feel free to like, say, I want to try to like, you know, puncture some bad thinking, some hypocrisy, whatever it is. But you don't imagine it all going away. You're trying to purify it really, and so he he's a critic. But he's a critic within a context in which Christianity is so central
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: that he cannot conceive of it actually being taken down or being lost, he is trying to make it better in his own way.
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Andy Miller III: exactly that that says It's so much better than one, I was saying. It's interesting, too, like you, highlight in your chapter, that he supported keeping the Bible Bible education in schools.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: He not only supports it. He he votes for a resolution that has what schools teach as the first item as the Bible,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: reading and writing, and wrote to it, come after the Bible. It's like as the number one goal of public education. Ah, yeah, it's extraordinary. And he totally believed that. And he yeah. He quotes the Bible in a way that I don't mean to um criticize anybody else. But I think a lot of ministers couldn't be saying, you know the the depth of his knowledge of Scripture is so deep. But again, that's not making him some strange person that's making him a Victorian, where that was the most important cultural resource in the entire city
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Andy Miller III: And so this again, this moves against that idea that society is moving it away entirely from religion. But you're you're suggesting this. This was just the heir that they breathed like the the Bible Scripture of faith.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: And and also, you know, I think people are very confused about doubt doubt is
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: only makes sense. If there is an assumption of faith
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: dowed by its very existence. Yeah, um is the shadow of faith. You know there's unbelief. You can have unbelief and not have faith, but doubt automatically says I am responding to faith,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: that's what that means, you know. So they're doubting something.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, something that that that's there. It's, you know, and is kind of like It's It's big enough. It's important enough that it needs to be thought through. So, you know,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: if you absolutely know, something's not true. You don't doubt it. You just don't believe it. Um so.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: So whenever it to scholars all the time like. Oh, look, they're talking about doubt. It shows that there isn't faith. And for me it says, there's spake everywhere. Wow! You're always encountering faith, that's what that means.
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Andy Miller III: So you have this in in Huxley. You?
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, the person who created the word agnostic, right? And but you also highlight atheists and and people from other traditions in like this common. What, for instance, like you, you talk about the angle of Catholic tradition, and maybe, as people are
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: getting into just thinking about Victorian studies in general tell us about that tradition. What What is it that people often don't get about? What was going on with Pussy and Newman that tradition.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: So
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: what? What? What people tend to focus on? Not um wrongly, because that's what is new and different is their emphasis on apostolic succession on church tradition, on things that pull sort of even closer to Roman Catholicism in certain ways
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: on liturgy and ritual,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: and all of that is there. But what they never focus on is their deep obsession and commitment to Scripture, because that didn't distinguish them from other Christians. And what you kind of focus on is what distinguishes.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: We're. You know, part of what you know, and there's A. A. Cs. Lewis. Well, where he talks about that where, if you you look at people from the seventeenth century. What we notice is how much they have in common, but they noticed was how much they had there was we like. Oh, you're all assuming this, you know, and you don't assume that any more. And so I see you know commonalities. So Pussy is the leader of the Tractarians, especially after Newman. Um becomes a Catholic, the Roman Catholic right? And so you know, people call them Cruise I.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: His name became a synonym for the entire movement, and yet he spends his entire life writing commentaries on Scripture, and he sees it as not like just his vocation or what he's good at. He sees it as the
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: response to all of the modern challenges of society. If people could hear Scripture,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: they could respond correctly to the things that are facing society today, and he actually is recruiting all of his friends who are Anglo Catholics, saying what you should give your life to is writing commentaries on Scripture, and then we could solve the problems that you're worried about. And they're facing us.
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Andy Miller III: Yeah, that whole movement there is A and I'm just just in the literature at the moment,
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Andy Miller III: and people are regularly responding to that movement. And and it's interesting to think, like you highlight, that they see it as in this almost a liturgical way. The Holy Scriptures like this is how they want to highlight it like. Um. Let me ask you,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: let me just say one more thing on that goal head. The opposite is like the most Low Church Dissenting Evangelicals admired Pousy's Commentaries. Often,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: you know, someone like Charles Spurgeon will say, I disagree with him on all kinds of things. But his commentary on Daniel is great. He really gets what's going on in Scripture. And so it is, becomes this bridge where people can find each other.
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Andy Miller III: You know what? Speaking of Spurgeon, so you you have a chapter on him as well, and talking about him. Um! In this dissenting tradition, like from from the more orthodox view, so to talk to us about what Spurgeon's view was, and how that highlighted the book from him.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: So you know, Dissenters are those Protestants who don't accept the Established Church, or cannot at least join the current version of the Established Church. You have an Established Church in Scotland, and you have one in England.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: So it's a whole group of Protestants, and for Spurgeon he just had such a strong, clear conviction of the power of Scripture. He really really thought Scripture is
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: the power onto salvation. And so he wanted to preach a sermon that was Scriptural that got Scripture into people's, hearts, and minds. He had a strong faith that that, communicating the words of Scripture would be the mechanism for the Holy Spirit to bring about salvation.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: He really thought that that was the way to steady your own life. He had kind of great visions, for, like, if you were just reassured text in the middle of the day,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: you you would be kind of realigning your You're in the middle of your business day, and maybe you're like getting into disputes or whatever it is, and you're just going to read. Maybe it's just literally one text that's been selected to kind of. Just get your heart back. And lying with Scripture again
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: in his summer home he literally had um Scripture as the wallpaper, so he's like literally looking at all four walls. He's reading Scripture, and you you kind of get a sense that you could do many other examples like that. But the sense of the power of Scripture was deeply in his light of it.
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Andy Miller III: It seems like the it's hard to track it all in reading the literature, but the same is true with reading. The standard sermons of John Wesley is that it just flows from what they're saying. It's like it's it's their vocabulary when they they pick up Biblical images like. So, for instance, if you look at Albert Outler's Um. Ah. Edited volumes of the Standard Sermons of John Wesley.
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Andy Miller III: The footnotes that he tries to pick up on as many of those allusions as they can. It's just filled with it, and the same thing would be true with virgins. That's the way that they talk, and and I think it's the
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Andy Miller III: fur. There's this idea that you have that this was a group that was moved like the culture is nerving away from faith instead like this was their culture.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: It's what everybody knew. It is the most
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: um shareable cultural resource for everyone. I don't care what your personal opinions are. I don't care if you're lower class aristocratic you,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: wherever you fit into society. Whatever your moral choices have been,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Scripture is known better than anything else anything else. Um. And And and
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: also I think we we live in a culture now where there's very little memorization, because we? It's so easy to access words and texts just searchable on computers and phones. And there's something about when you memorize the text that these words spontaneously come to you in situation where you're seeing something, and it's rhyming with something in Scripture. And you're hearing in your head passes of Scripture. That is your response to whatever's going on in front of you, or whatever you're thinking about.
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Andy Miller III: Yeah,
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Andy Miller III: it's. It's true today, but not as much as it was in Victorian times like we could still see traces of that in our culture where people maybe don't know it. They're like kind of haunted by God, but it is. It was a different context for Victorian Christianity
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Andy Miller III: interested to in your chapter. Obviously, I think people who know me be interested in William Boot are Catherine Booth and William Cook.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah. And representing the Holiness tradition.
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Andy Miller III: Yeah, you help me, and I've Ah, I've been suggesting for a long time that William Booth and Katherine Booth. Oh, more to William Cook than is noted. And i'll say in general, the Methodist new connection. So one of the problems with William Booth societies is that
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Andy Miller III: many of the first commentators or biographers
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: I acted like as if he was allergic to theology. They would beg the Harold Becky, the first official biographers that he's plagued by theology, and so they they would put together stories that would characterize Coke as if this strange academic, who couldn't deal with the restless booth, and there's probably some of that's true,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: but it misses the influence that he has, and I was so glad to see you pick up on this, and i'll tell one story, and i'll let you talk about. I know i'm going to use it. Okay, I went in the archives this summer. I was at the International Heritage Center and
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Andy Miller III: of the Salvation Army, and in the the collection of books they had from the Booth family. There's Gramwell Booths copy of William Coke's System Act, theology seven hundred pages, and what was fascinating was how much
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Andy Miller III: Bramwell Booth had annotated that a book
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: he tore apart every page,
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: but he was just, and he was well aware, particularly when it got to issues in the sacrament. But anyways it's just a major influence on the boost, but and also of a major ah character person in this tradition. So tell me a little bit about William Coke, and in his um emphasis in Scripture.
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Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, so he um. I think of him as one of the kind of top handful of great Methodist theologians of the nineteenth century. So he kind of transcends the Methodist new connection, although he is certainly a
00:24:21.900 --> 00:24:34.540
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: you know, a true son of the Methodist who connection, you know he totally believes they are distinctives, but other Methodists. Even Wesley, a Methodist, totally recognized him as a gift to the body of Christ as a great, clear,
00:24:34.550 --> 00:25:03.629
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: theological thinker. Um! And i'll. I'll say, you know. Frankly, you know, I've done professional theological degrees. I teach theology, and yet I really found it helpful to read through his Christian theology. I I thought he just had some great clear arguments. Yeah, He had a kind of mind for like following in a way that was a straight line that people could wrast very clearly. This is why this matters. This is why this is not just some esoteric little conversation that special theologian has, that they have too much free time.
00:25:03.640 --> 00:25:12.290
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: But it's about what matters in terms of the Gospel and of Revelation and of Scriptures teaching. So he's a great theologian
00:25:12.300 --> 00:25:24.129
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: of his day, of his movement, and I think what you were saying earlier. I think there's a confusion there, because I think Catherine and William Booth are deeply in debt to cook,
00:25:24.300 --> 00:25:25.360
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: but
00:25:25.660 --> 00:25:45.040
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: there, that what their own innovation is about structure and flexibility and adaptability in ministry and ministry forms, It's not about the kind of theological deposit. It's about the effective delivery of those things, and that doesn't make them merely
00:25:45.050 --> 00:26:10.239
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Pragmatists are popularizers. They are also theologians and intellectuals, but their frustration with the nominations is not primarily about the kind of things that William Cook gave his life to clarifying. You know why these doctrines matter what Scripture is? Who God, is it's homement? They're they're learning from him and inviting that. But then they're asking,
00:26:10.250 --> 00:26:28.840
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Well, how can we make these resources available to the masses? And we need structures that are going to be flexible enough to meet the reality of the need out there and not get tied down in rules and bureaucracy and kind of bottlenecks in doing that.
00:26:28.870 --> 00:26:57.529
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, I I completely agree. Yeah, it's. Ah Cook seems to be in this position, Where? And if you read what is said, and I was able to check out some of the minutes from the new connection. Ah! Minutes of new Protection Annual meetings and these type of things he's very endearing towards the booths, like he and he recognizes he. He kind of releases William to ask him to become the district superintendent of London at a young age, and then he even tries to save him for the connection,
00:26:57.540 --> 00:27:19.139
Andy Miller III: like tries to create an office, so that there would be an avenue for Booth to be present. So now, nevertheless, Catherine does have some hard work for him at other points, but there still is some interesting like insight that he recognized. The booths have a a form that's different, and maybe they can take his theology and take it out. And I think that's what happened.
00:27:20.180 --> 00:27:24.790
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, I know another person in the book is Josephine Butler.
00:27:24.800 --> 00:27:37.460
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yes, yes, yes, who, you know, really opposed some very sexist and offensive double standard laws about
00:27:37.850 --> 00:27:56.579
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: you know what would happen was women would be inspected to see if they had viral diseases, but not men. And so and she actually uses the word double spanner that's fascinating. So she was a big advocate for women who were both caught up in the sex trade, and women who were falsely accused of it. But she's a
00:27:56.590 --> 00:27:59.080
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: an Anglican to search of England.
00:27:59.090 --> 00:28:12.249
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Nevertheless, she thinks of Catherine Booth as one of the greatest Christian figures of the century, and and I think many, many people who were a long way from Catherine and William Booth in their own denominational identity or theological addictions,
00:28:12.290 --> 00:28:24.439
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: nevertheless saw. Here is a great Christian. Here's a Here's somebody who belongs to everybody who claims Christ and cares about the faith to recognize the level of the deposit that is in them.
00:28:25.270 --> 00:28:38.790
Andy Miller III: Well, it even somebody like I know that, like Gabriel Evans, and a fair amount I work on Hugh Price Hughes um like this, he he. I found this place where he listed like the leaders of church history. And he puts William Booth right up on the list, and he's like a peer,
00:28:38.800 --> 00:28:48.010
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: A. P. Of his basically and same thing with Catherine. And I think Catherine more so because of women and ministry. Now you take an interesting slant. Do you say that both
00:28:48.020 --> 00:29:06.589
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Cook and Catherine Booth are Biblical and kind of step outside of the kind of tradition in suspect theology of having a doctrine of God first. But and it's still to this day. I think it's a good critique, by the way. Ah, ah! To this day the Salvation Army's first article. Faith is one on Scripture.
00:29:06.600 --> 00:29:09.719
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: So what do you mean by Biblicalist?
00:29:09.730 --> 00:29:36.660
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah. Well, i'll just pick up on that specific point that you're making. I mean, I was kind of saying It's kind of funny to start with a doctrine of Scripture. Ah! As a logical, you know. Ah, order in one way, because the Bible is meaningful because it's inspired by God. So you have to kind of like You have to start with God to make the Bible have any kind of special identity. So the traditionally theology starts with God, and then the Bible finds its
00:29:36.670 --> 00:29:41.240
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: significance and the fact that God inspired it. But it does make sense
00:29:41.250 --> 00:30:04.589
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: in a kind of methodological ordering, because if you start with Scripture, then you know what your authority is for establishing all the other doctrines. And so, then, when you talk about God you already have in place. I can use Scripture as the authoritative way to explain what statements about God are true or not true, appropriate or not. Okay, so it makes methodological sense. But it is kind of funny in a logical.
00:30:04.600 --> 00:30:12.769
Andy Miller III: Yeah, I thought I thought it was a good point, and I think it's helpful to see that that's where they are coming from, and also
00:30:12.780 --> 00:30:32.120
Andy Miller III: the connection that that that was something that the booths in the you know the early Christian Mission or East London Christian Revival Association, or any of the dozen names that they had at the start was mirroring the doctrines of the new connection, like they didn't didn't even try to
00:30:32.130 --> 00:30:37.219
Andy Miller III: distinguish them themselves too much from it. It's like a copy and paste, if there's such a thing at a time. That's what they did.
00:30:38.150 --> 00:30:45.819
Andy Miller III: Okay, The other one more on that book I wanted to highlight is, I thought it was interesting that you bring up the Unitarians, and we
00:30:45.830 --> 00:31:00.890
Andy Miller III: rightly like, because of Unitarian universalism, and and probably the far out way that that movement exists Now, compared to I'll just say mainstream Christianity don't think of it as very connected to the Scripture,
00:31:00.900 --> 00:31:02.289
00:31:02.300 --> 00:31:09.180
Andy Miller III: maybe it's just like kind of a modern bias. But you talk about Mary Carpenter and her
00:31:09.230 --> 00:31:21.650
Andy Miller III: her emphasis on Scripture. I forget the exact way that you every chapter. You have a way that they highlight what Scripture was. I forget what it was in that one. But there is it still was so prominent, and I thought that was interesting.
00:31:21.660 --> 00:31:41.059
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, there's you know, the Unitarians today. Don't want to see their own tradition. How biblical it was earlier on. So this gets kind of you know, retold and rewritten, and I've been frustrated with how many scholars have kind of imagined Unitarianism to be what
00:31:41.070 --> 00:31:46.089
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: they want it to be rather than what it actually was at the time. So you
00:31:46.100 --> 00:31:49.729
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: yeah her. Her father was the a leading
00:31:49.840 --> 00:32:01.829
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Unitarian theologian, and one of his main works was a harmony of the Synoptic Gospels. He was so committed to like the literal
00:32:01.840 --> 00:32:19.210
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: without error, truth of Scripture, that every little discrepancy of like the number, There are two blind men. That's not how people think of Unitarians at all.
00:32:19.220 --> 00:32:37.379
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: And it is again another manifestation of the fact that that these people know the Scriptures so deeply, whatever their personal opinions are, this text is inside them in such a careful minute way that all of these sentences and claims matter
00:32:37.390 --> 00:32:41.429
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: uh and that shows up, you know, over and over again in the book.
00:32:41.890 --> 00:33:08.590
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, it's that's interesting. I want to transition now and talk about um A. A series that you edited the Oxford History of Protestant Dissenting traditions. Now, That's a mouthful. That's five volumes. Yeah. And I and and you edited yourself the third volume dealing with the nineteenth century. But there's something I think it's helpful to me as well. It was helpful me to read your introduction to. You know each of the the the introduction dollars. That's
00:33:08.600 --> 00:33:11.589
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: all of them. Yeah, this series. Thank you for helping me
00:33:11.600 --> 00:33:12.600
Andy Miller III: the um
00:33:12.610 --> 00:33:41.799
Andy Miller III: ah unpacking the title because it a lot like we're we're in a time now, like just recently, just this week we've had the Queen's funeral. There is this: this: The influence of British culture is a big part of Western Christianity. And as you highlight to global Christianity. So i'm interested in even like getting to the idea of what dissenting traditions are. So even just let's talk about that title a little bit,
00:33:42.040 --> 00:33:53.609
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: sure. Yeah. So yeah, the basic distinction is between whether or not you are an Established Church that the State is sponsoring you and backing you up.
00:33:53.620 --> 00:34:10.189
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: So in England. That is the Church of England. And as you mentioned, we've seen that in the Queen's funeral, and I lived in England for ten years in the nineties, and it would always surprise me as an American, the ways in which
00:34:10.199 --> 00:34:34.429
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: that establishment actually is different from how. So, for example, it's in law that you would have to have an act of worship in the public schools that is mostly Christian, but nevertheless, you know it was. You know it was like. Here's like the State coming in and saying we're going to do something you would hear on the radio station. It would have like. All of a sudden you would have pressure. Minister, Come on and give a little five minute reflection,
00:34:34.440 --> 00:34:39.629
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: because the State was requiring them to do this.
00:34:39.639 --> 00:34:41.770
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Nevertheless, um
00:34:42.489 --> 00:34:55.610
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: a whole range of Christians, found that they could not agree with all of the theological claims or ecclesial claims of the Church of England, and therefore broke away or kicked out,
00:34:55.989 --> 00:35:06.220
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: and so they stand for those distinctives, or whatever they are, that they don't believe in. Bishops, for example, would be one common example,
00:35:06.390 --> 00:35:13.060
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: but over time especially, they came to see the idea of the state, the
00:35:13.610 --> 00:35:35.999
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: forcing Christianity, as against what Christ called that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, and therefore how the Church is strong, and how it thrives, is not through the coercion of the state it's the power of the Gospel, and so objecting to State churches became a theological principle for many of them, but it also was about freedom of worship.
00:35:37.950 --> 00:35:51.709
Andy Miller III: Yeah. So a dissenting tradition based upon the way you define it. Many of the movements that with denominations, or even groups that would say that they're not in denomination,
00:35:51.740 --> 00:35:59.319
Andy Miller III: find their origins in this dissenting Church like, or let me ask it this way, I guess, is make up a question. Who Who are Dissenters?
00:35:59.370 --> 00:36:15.699
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah. So it it really gets going in in the seventeenth century. So Presbyterians are an interesting example, because in some ways they want to be the State Church, and they actually become the State Church in Scotland,
00:36:15.710 --> 00:36:28.389
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: but not in England, so they become the centers of, not in a principle against established churches, but they're just not established. They have a different view of quality, but bad. This Incarnationists
00:36:28.400 --> 00:36:42.560
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: commercialists are kind of in the middle they they come become clear that they don't believe in State churches, but they flip with it, more especially in America. Massachusetts actually has a Congregational State Church for a while before the United States
00:36:42.720 --> 00:36:48.260
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: and Baptists never want it. And then Quakers in the seventeenth century.
00:36:48.480 --> 00:37:02.079
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: And then, of course, in the conversation that we're having a lot of time here in the eighteenth century, the Methodist movement happens. And What's fascinating about Methodism is It's very
00:37:02.200 --> 00:37:27.149
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: becomes the largest of all of the churches outside of the Established Church. And so, even though it's called new descent, they're the new kid of the block. They're also the biggest kid on the block. Very quickly, even in the United States mechanism.
00:37:27.180 --> 00:37:43.480
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Other versions of Methodism become larger than these historic ones from the seventeenth century, like like Baptist. So that becomes. And then what's interesting about the method is, of course, is that they were kicked out.
00:37:43.490 --> 00:37:57.369
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: So they take some while to figure out what is their own view of a State Church, because they they weren't against it when they were obviously in it; but as they are out of it for longer, they start to see some of the weaknesses of the State Church model,
00:37:58.470 --> 00:38:26.670
Andy Miller III: and it's All of this, then, makes it its way, as you say, come in that introduction out of England so many it's like it's like almost an out of England movement. And and this is Global Christianity, too. Not that there. And I don't want to say this the way that disrespects or dishonors those ah ways that the Church got to places sooner like the way that the Church arrived in like um via the you know
00:38:26.680 --> 00:38:41.089
Andy Miller III: athletic groups that came ahead of you know nineteenth century missionaries to China, or whatever I mean, like I recognize there. There's ways. But the kind of the Protestant missionary movement is, am I correct to say out of England.
00:38:41.100 --> 00:38:48.690
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Oh, yeah, absolutely yeah. And so these traditions. But it's also the out like it's really out. So you know, you say you
00:38:48.700 --> 00:38:56.120
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: What's a Major Methodist country? Fiji? What's a Major Presbyterian country? South Korea?
00:38:56.130 --> 00:39:05.400
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: You know What's a Major Pentecostal country, Argentina, you know So it's like you know like these things take on a life of their own, and the biggest,
00:39:05.410 --> 00:39:17.090
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: you know, far larger populations of them are in many other parts of the world.
00:39:17.100 --> 00:39:30.790
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Um, and so but yes, and part of you know. What happened in the seventeenth century was that the Dissenters were too big for the State to think that it could suppress them, it had to tolerate them.
00:39:30.800 --> 00:39:40.269
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: And so religious toleration comes out of England. But it's kind of an accident of this reality, that there are strong enough large enough and important enough
00:39:40.280 --> 00:39:50.810
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: denominations that are not going to do in the State Church that you have to find a new way of thinking about how to coexist together as a state with a plurality of different denominations in it.
00:39:50.970 --> 00:40:07.800
Andy Miller III: Yes, that's the break up of what had been in Christian history is that there have been established religious tuitions that they they couldn't even imagine not being connected to the State. Am I correct to say that?
00:40:07.830 --> 00:40:22.890
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, no, it's. You have. Ah, up until the seventeenth century. That is, you know, the assumption is just, not whether the State will sponsor a particular religion, but which one will they sponsor? That's the only question.
00:40:22.900 --> 00:40:34.770
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: So to imagine. Maybe we don't even build. We build a whole different model. That's not the model of a State Church is a really big new thought that's coming in and getting idiots.
00:40:34.790 --> 00:40:48.150
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: It's the dominant one now, and yet part of what I want to emphasize which loops back to your earlier thing is that this is not secularization. This is not the Church getting forced out of a State because
00:40:48.160 --> 00:41:04.959
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Christianity is dying. This is deeply committed, Christians rethinking their theology of Church State relations, and saying, This needs a change, not because Christianity isn't strong, but because we have misunderstood what the Gospel teaches about how best to propagate the Gospel.
00:41:05.260 --> 00:41:12.199
Andy Miller III: Yes, this comes in my own research and interest is trying to get to a place of understanding
00:41:12.290 --> 00:41:28.349
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: how William Booth in in the eighteen eighty S. And how the sunshine could have been in the traditional process of sacraments like this? Is it just like what is going on historically, ecclesiastically, to get to the place where that could happen. And so I've spent time trying to.
00:41:28.360 --> 00:41:41.490
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: It's the never ending die honestly. And so I I I was at Lambeth Palace Library this summer, and looking at communication between William Booth and various Archbishop of Canterbury,
00:41:41.500 --> 00:41:46.199
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Hmm. And I was just amazed at the way that William Booth
00:41:47.170 --> 00:41:58.689
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: held such high respect for the Archbishop, I mean. He called him all of the proper titles. I'm not typical American. I can't, your Grace all these things
00:41:58.700 --> 00:42:23.389
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: incredibly respectful, I mean almost just like here I come bowing before you before I even say what i'm going to say in this letter. Just make sure, you know, I know. But but there was part of it was like Why, he couldn't, and any. And this is the same thing as true for all of the various Methodist denominations that they didn't think of themselves in the church. Why? Because there was the Church. The Church was the Church of England, and they're trying to fight
00:42:23.400 --> 00:42:24.189
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: through this.
00:42:24.200 --> 00:42:31.209
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, yeah, I think for me, I You know what's more about this than I do. But it
00:42:31.380 --> 00:42:34.169
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: the The sacraments are
00:42:34.300 --> 00:42:37.560
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: a very strong locus of division.
00:42:37.610 --> 00:42:54.170
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: So if you're trying to create a unified Christian movement, I think that in the booth's mind it was we're going to do this thing that's collaborative, and therefore we're going to bracket this thing. That is how people distinguish themselves as different versions of Christianity.
00:42:54.180 --> 00:43:03.240
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: And yeah, I think that you're right, that he is seeing, you know. I guess if I say the other way around. You know, many, many
00:43:03.390 --> 00:43:20.130
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Anglicans of all kinds of theological stripes fantasized about wouldn't it be great for the Church of England if we can get to Salvation Army in the house. These are amazing Christians who are reaching people. They're connecting with the working class.
00:43:20.140 --> 00:43:27.790
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: So could this not be like an order. But you know, like Catholics, you know, Have you know Dominicans and Franciscans and graduates?
00:43:27.800 --> 00:43:35.489
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: We have the Summation Army in the House as an order that is, represents something distinctive, but yet in a larger unity.
00:43:35.500 --> 00:43:44.890
Andy Miller III: Yes, that's what was going, and that that's the the correspondence I was reading about, and eventually it just broke down. I think William Booth was not willing to give up his throne.
00:43:44.900 --> 00:43:49.730
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, and I like, I said, You know, I mean, you know I don't want to um
00:43:50.720 --> 00:44:04.340
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: dismissed possibilities that some of those are our autocratic weaknesses on his side. But you know he was. I mean, it's the same exact same thing to me as John Leslie, John Leslie. Yes, no, he wasn't
00:44:04.530 --> 00:44:13.190
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: trying to defy people for its own sake, but he always chose what he thought was effective transmission of the Gospel
00:44:13.200 --> 00:44:14.270
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: over
00:44:14.280 --> 00:44:34.119
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: those in-house systems, and if he was convinced, well, you might say it's against canon law to preach out doors. But if people are coming to Christ. We' to be in charge, and I get that. But he also like to say
00:44:34.180 --> 00:44:41.990
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: there could be a rapid response that was effective to do this, and you're going to clog it up in committees for seven years. We're not gonna that's right,
00:44:42.000 --> 00:44:57.990
Andy Miller III: and it's it's easy to to just ah mischaracterize him as just a pure auto crack, and and like you're right. There is autocratic tendencies in there, but there's a theological motivation for doing that, and it's connected to the fact that he thought that everybody in the world should be safe.
00:44:58.000 --> 00:45:00.269
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, like he wanted everybody because it
00:45:00.280 --> 00:45:04.499
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: so soon, so sue him, you know, like. Yes, i'm sympathetic.
00:45:04.630 --> 00:45:10.159
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: So the John Wesley piece is interesting, too, because that that's what happens.
00:45:10.320 --> 00:45:29.150
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: This will. And this is, I think, what starts Methodism down this pike. I might not be here today if John Wesley wouldn't have decided in one thousand seven hundred and eighty four to ordain Thomas Coke, and then by then, and then Francis Zasbury makes away the United States, and this leads a place where
00:45:29.490 --> 00:45:37.889
Andy Miller III: evangelical Methodism breaks the way, and that becomes a part of our truth. So I appreciate you highlighting. Those are connected.
00:45:37.900 --> 00:45:44.990
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: You want to say anything more about that for that period, and the method aside. I don't have a good question, but I just want to let you talk.
00:45:46.100 --> 00:45:56.600
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, I I think just um. You know It's easy to forget, like just the beauty of ordinary people, hearing the Gospel,
00:45:56.610 --> 00:46:07.479
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: knowing that it's addressed to them, knowing that even though a society might think of them as poor and insignificant and marginal that the gospel
00:46:07.590 --> 00:46:21.560
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: about their dignity as a human being, and I see that in Wesley a lot, I think people, it's hard to get back to it that you know. At the time churches were funded by pu rents. You literally sat in,
00:46:21.570 --> 00:46:37.579
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: based on your social station. The the wealthiest, most respectable, oldest families sat in the front, and you kind of sat in order of where you fit into society, and if you were very poor, maybe you stood in the back, or maybe you were in the balcony.
00:46:37.680 --> 00:46:39.329
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: And so for
00:46:39.550 --> 00:46:42.790
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Wesley to just say, let's be outdoors. We're in this, none of us.
00:46:42.800 --> 00:46:43.600
Andy Miller III: Yes,
00:46:43.730 --> 00:46:53.430
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: it's not going to be a sermon about how you need to do your duty to your betters, which was a very common eighteenth century sermon. It's going to be
00:46:53.770 --> 00:47:12.830
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: a sermon that that realizes that the drama of salvation and your soul is the highest individual drama there is, and the Holy Spirit is coming for you, and it's not about whether you're richer, for It's not about whether you have great clothes or where you're going to fit into this structure,
00:47:12.840 --> 00:47:13.830
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Um,
00:47:14.110 --> 00:47:25.970
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: you know. And so I I think people, you know. Again, we tend to focus on differences as historians like. What what do we think about? You know Christian perfectionism, or whatever. This is all about
00:47:25.980 --> 00:47:32.189
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: lesson is all about ordinary people hearing the Gospel being transformed by it. That's what he's really about. Amen.
00:47:32.200 --> 00:47:39.289
Andy Miller III: It's this movement, and that leads why I think it's significant like when you guys highlighting in this series in this history.
00:47:39.300 --> 00:47:50.490
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, is this is connected to a majority of of Protestantism right now, like if you look at Wesley being connected to the Holiness movement, and the only it's going to be connected to Pentecostalism.
00:47:50.500 --> 00:47:50.990
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yes,
00:47:51.000 --> 00:47:55.020
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: this is this, is it? And what you just said to me might take it for granted.
00:47:55.490 --> 00:48:11.449
Andy Miller III: Ah! Wesley's commitment to the ordinary work of of proclaiming the Gospel, and that transforming an ordinary person's life that might not have been said before. I mean, some people would say that which are some people in Wesley, his own influences. But that wasn't the common experience. Is that right?
00:48:11.660 --> 00:48:20.660
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Absolutely right? It's it's almost it's worse than that in some ways you know what what it happened was because it
00:48:21.130 --> 00:48:32.440
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: in the seventeenth century there had been so many wars, civil wars, wars on the Continent. The English Civil War and religion had been a factor in that,
00:48:32.450 --> 00:48:40.820
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: that when you get into the early eighteenth century there's almost a desire to dampen down people's religious fervor,
00:48:40.870 --> 00:48:47.219
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: their zeal because of a fear that it can erupt and create violence.
00:48:47.310 --> 00:49:02.840
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: So you almost like Not only are people not preaching to awaken people's souls, and have them have their lives fully allowed to Christ. We're almost like trying to put them to sleep. You know It's like Don't Do your duty. Calm down. And so for
00:49:02.890 --> 00:49:07.339
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Whitfield and Wesley and uh,
00:49:07.800 --> 00:49:12.649
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: the Countess of Huntington and others like to to make the focus
00:49:13.190 --> 00:49:26.159
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: what is going on in your own heart and my life? Are you being transformed by price. I don't i'm not. It's not enough to say, Do you assent to these doctrines,
00:49:26.430 --> 00:49:32.819
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: you know, refrain from doing these gross sins. But Do you know Jesus Christ? That is the question,
00:49:32.830 --> 00:49:37.839
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: you know, and it's it's it's transformative, and it's different, and it's powerful in that time,
00:49:38.080 --> 00:49:43.410
Andy Miller III: and i'm thankful for all of that we can pick up on it. And there's even a
00:49:43.560 --> 00:49:48.190
Andy Miller III: response to this that comes in the nineteenth century with the Anglo-catholic movement, the
00:49:48.200 --> 00:50:06.649
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: yeah, human and the like. So like, okay, we we have this privatized faith, and and that can be criticized pretty easily. People and people in our time are critical of it, and this might even move people in our time back to more liturgical traditions or or the orthodox movements, but still, like what you just said is so important.
00:50:06.660 --> 00:50:13.689
Andy Miller III: There something that is happening in your life like, How have you come in in touch with Jesus?
00:50:13.700 --> 00:50:33.419
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: The the resurrected G. That is said, Jesus is on the throat and is available for you now like That's what this tradition does, and why it's so significant, I think, even for for our time, like the challenges we faced with revelation, human sexuality, and like it does. There is this point of having to come to the place where I realize that Jesus wants to reveal Himself to you.
00:50:33.720 --> 00:50:36.119
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: I agree completely how you mess.
00:50:36.450 --> 00:50:51.389
Andy Miller III: Well, this has been such a a helpful fun. Conversation me now. I also have a book, too. That's come out the accurate handbook on Christmas, and of anybody who gives me think about Christmas they're already when people are listed in this savage sharing. People are already well longed away with their plans for
00:50:51.400 --> 00:51:00.090
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yes, so they are ready to go. So tell us about this book, and did this stem from your work already in Victorian studies.
00:51:00.100 --> 00:51:02.049
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: It did. Um:
00:51:02.140 --> 00:51:14.279
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, it's a strange thing. I'm a historian in a theology department. I'm: very interdisciplinary. I actually wrote a book about social anthropology as well,
00:51:14.510 --> 00:51:15.740
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: and
00:51:16.350 --> 00:51:36.950
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: the nineteenth century. The Victorian period is such a turning point for Christmas traditions. Most of what we think about as celebrating Christmas is refracted through Dickens and the Victorians. So it kind of. I realized it was just like it. Put a lot of things together. It took somebody like me who kind of was
00:51:36.960 --> 00:51:51.489
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: not very drilled down in one specific disappointment. Say, i'm going to talk about Christmas in all of its form. I'm going to have, you know, film studies. People talk about Christmas films. I'm going to have a sociologist and anthropologist, You know. I'm going to have people in food studies. Talk about Christmas foods. I'm going to have
00:51:51.500 --> 00:52:05.070
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: theologians and and Google scholars, and so I can put that team together and enjoy it. But then, at the heart of it, I could put the Victorian studies that I know, and I can do a chapter that is central to that conversation. But I
00:52:05.080 --> 00:52:19.000
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: bring you my expertise, and there was, and I was. I just love Christmas, and I grew up loving it. My father taught me to love it. And so it was in times when so many things
00:52:19.010 --> 00:52:33.640
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: we're wearying and depressing in pandemics and politics, and everything else, I thought, would it be fun to think about Christmas a lot of my time, and that, and it was a good way to live. But so what are some of the things that people Ah don't understand about Christmas.
00:52:34.410 --> 00:52:35.790
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah. Early.
00:52:35.800 --> 00:52:39.670
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, There are so many. I I i'm going to um.
00:52:40.020 --> 00:52:57.100
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: I go for go, go for one that not every um but he's gonna want to hear. But all of the early people who
00:52:57.340 --> 00:53:15.109
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: give the kind of like definition of how we think about Santa Claus. They're all um deeply committed Christians. So Samuel Clark Moore, who does put the night before Christmas, which is really how we think about Santa Claus with, you know the flying and coming down chimneys and stuff.
00:53:15.120 --> 00:53:21.779
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: He was a professor of Old Testament at a seminary. Um, in his father was a Bishop.
00:53:21.970 --> 00:53:32.889
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Ah, Frank Church, who wrote Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus was actually a very devout Christian man. He was the religion editor for the Sun newspaper in New York
00:53:32.900 --> 00:53:38.340
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: when he dies they don't mention at all that he wrote. Yes, Virginia, there's a Santa Claus, but
00:53:38.440 --> 00:53:57.370
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: they just do. A minister just talks about what a godly man he wants. You see this over and over again, and obviously in the nineteenth century, if you wanted to get a Santa outfit. You had to order it from a Christian supplies.
00:53:57.380 --> 00:54:07.490
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: It was the same. It was like a sunny school supplier. It was the only place you can get a Santa. How interesting! Because, wow, you know, and that's how people met. Santa Claus was not in a department store, but in Sunday School,
00:54:07.670 --> 00:54:15.389
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: and then the Salvation Army becomes very, very important at people of seeing Santa Claus in the street. So
00:54:15.400 --> 00:54:21.059
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: you ask, You know, when the question comes. Well, why is this. And my view is that
00:54:21.100 --> 00:54:27.390
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Jesus taught us that we're to give in secret. Don't. Let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.
00:54:27.400 --> 00:54:43.129
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah. And so what the Santa tradition did was it made giving be anonymous? Oh, it's not coming from me. It's coming from Santa Claus, and it made it fun and made it not patronizing It wasn't like i'm
00:54:43.140 --> 00:54:49.690
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: doing really well. And you're kind of doing poorly. You've been out of work for four years, so i'm gonna in my generosity help you.
00:54:49.700 --> 00:54:54.090
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Oh, Phantom, if that is, your dignity is kept in play
00:54:54.100 --> 00:54:58.480
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: so like very early on you have Santa Claus societies which are helping the poor.
00:54:58.530 --> 00:55:14.189
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: All they're saying is, not only do I want to help the poor, but I don't want to be a snob about it. It was really kind of fun for me to kind of explore the roots of this tradition.
00:55:14.300 --> 00:55:20.630
Andy Miller III: Now, i'm not trying to put you too much on the spot here. But have you ever had opportunity to volunteer at a savage army? Red Kettle
00:55:21.450 --> 00:55:31.829
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Haven't? But you know I deliberately carry lots of cash in my wallet for like two months, and I put a lot in every time I see one. I love them. Okay, so
00:55:31.840 --> 00:55:35.290
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: uh and and I would, and I would love to um
00:55:35.480 --> 00:55:42.189
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: a volunteer I want. I think it'd be great fun. I actually people who knew me. I once had a huge uncut beard.
00:55:42.200 --> 00:56:03.399
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Okay, some people remember that I and they often ask me, What is it coming back? And I say, well, if I knew becoming.
00:56:03.410 --> 00:56:22.179
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: The reason, I say is that idea of giving anonymously. It's a fascinating study when you're in. Now, I basically grew up on that kettle. Okay, like Ah, bringing about like this one. And I just. I love the opportunity to stand behind and see people get one of the things that people always say when the first time that they do it is I,
00:56:22.190 --> 00:56:41.700
Andy Miller III: and believe that the person who pulled up the Mercedes, I thought for sure they'd drop in a twenty. But it was a person who came in off the bus, or didn't look like they could do it. It was the story, or that they would hear. But also there are people who do not want to look at you when you you try and say thank you. They don't It's like a quick move.
00:56:41.710 --> 00:56:49.760
Andy Miller III: There's this other thing that happens is, it's an education. It's a fascinating thing. So even if you could just do an hour
00:56:49.770 --> 00:57:06.970
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: of of doing it, and i'm not just saying to you, Tim, but it like anybody to go to see the way people they teach their kids about giving by by that kennel. It's a fascinating thing, and that's connected what you're saying, what the Santa Claus tradition is.
00:57:07.190 --> 00:57:13.640
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: You know it's a what it's a wonderful feeling to give. I tell this you know to
00:57:13.780 --> 00:57:29.190
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: my pastors all the time that people are longing for something meaningful to do with their time and with their money. And if you, if you're not exploiting them if you're not manipulating them, but you actually are genuinely connecting them. So here is something meaningful that can be done with your time and money.
00:57:29.200 --> 00:57:31.230
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Uh, you're doing a service to people
00:57:31.240 --> 00:57:46.170
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: they want that they're trying to find an outline what I have money. I have time. If there's a way to connect me with something that is actually genuinely meaningful, that it really helps people. That's not just you using me that is making my life more fulfilling.
00:57:46.270 --> 00:58:00.890
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yes, absolutely um. So you said you said that you have to. I don't know. Is there? There's a scholar of Food Service or somebody who actually looks into in your Christmas book like what they they really look at, Like the history of the foods in this handbook. You have something Yeah,
00:58:00.900 --> 00:58:08.869
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: absolutely. Yeah, it's been a tired. There's an entire chapter on food. What people eat on Christmas, and why Christmas is actually It's fascinating.
00:58:08.960 --> 00:58:23.059
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: I told you I did a book on Anthropology. Mary Douglas was an anthropologist who talks about this that, you know food is a very important way to set a part. Time is special, and so that's partly. What we do is
00:58:23.070 --> 00:58:35.479
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: we have food that we only eat at certain times of the year. Now you could eat them any time, so why don't you get them any time, but you're like some of them are literally, you know, either a season or actually a day.
00:58:35.490 --> 00:58:48.480
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: For myself. I roast a goose every year again. You can hear the kind of dickens behind that. I do the cooking in our house, and and I only make juice once a year, and it's on Christmas Day.
00:58:48.490 --> 00:58:57.090
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: And again Mary took us. Taught me why I was doing that. It's like I can find a goose in the supermarket another time, and I can afford it, but I don't do it because i'm trying to mark this day as special,
00:58:57.100 --> 00:59:06.379
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: and this food is a way of saying that that here we're We're noticing something that's different, and it's going to remind us of what this day means to us.
00:59:06.390 --> 00:59:24.919
Andy Miller III: Oh, that's beautiful! I think a lot of my colleagues here who had Yeah, I just had just have on my podcast, Matt Friedman, who talked about discipleship in the Home, and and and his. He has a new book out on that subject, and he's just trying to find ways to be able to have these moments for your family to highlight this and and that fits right in there. I love that.
00:59:24.930 --> 00:59:42.590
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Well, one of the things that's interesting to me. Ah, I can definitely. I knew just by reading the back of your book Here I, Wheaton, and you know, piece together a few things, and and then assume that obviously be like you have a meaningful relationship with Jesus. But here's a a testament to you as a scholar. So this is this: I don't know what your own tradition is.
00:59:42.600 --> 00:59:49.160
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: So so congratulations. But i'm curious. What's your own spiritual experience?
00:59:49.260 --> 00:59:51.839
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah. I I
00:59:51.890 --> 01:00:06.449
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: most readily identified with the word charismatic. So so I think non denominational charismatic networks of churches is probably my deepest. I do have Pentecostal roots, so my mom's family
01:00:06.520 --> 01:00:16.969
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: was Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee, a holiness pentecostal denomination, and i'm very proud of my uncle, who served as State Overseer for Church of God,
01:00:16.980 --> 01:00:29.580
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: and actually was a pioneer in the ethnic and racial diversity of the nomination. The denomination was primarily a white Southern denomination in origin him to Tennessee.
01:00:29.770 --> 01:00:53.069
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: He was just very entrepreneurial about, You know where you move in finding you know, Haitian groups and all these different immigrant groups, and saying, We can hook you up to a wider network and pull them into the nomination. So i'm proud of my Pentecostal heritage, for sure. But I think charismatic is probably a better one. Word descriptor for who I am
01:00:53.080 --> 01:01:00.690
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: beautiful. Oh, I love it Well, I won't just know I didn't come at it through that perspective. It was later. I was thinking,
01:01:00.700 --> 01:01:20.689
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, and I I I appreciate what you were saying, because as a historian, and I tell my students all this time. I I say both. I want you to become, you know, true to yourself and your commission. Ah, but I want you to understand why somebody else would believe something in that and another, and the internal logic of what they're doing.
01:01:20.700 --> 01:01:26.569
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: So I try to kind of balance those two things to say when I teach this
01:01:26.730 --> 01:01:44.119
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: I'm going to really help you understand how these people think of what matters to them. But i'm going to teach another day of tradition. This agrees with him, and i'm also going to do the same thing with them, and you have to figure out who you are, but you need to know who you are, not by caricatureing them and having a straw man. But you have to see the best version of
01:01:44.130 --> 01:01:51.319
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: what what? The what, the what, the logic is, theologically you what they're doing, and what why, it matters to them. But then you have to stand where you stand.
01:01:51.330 --> 01:01:52.359
Andy Miller III: Yeah.
01:01:52.620 --> 01:02:15.090
Andy Miller III: One of the reasons that I have the the names for my podcast is more to this story is connected to the same tradition that we share, you know, going back to Wesley, and that's this the idea! There's more of this story than just experiencing forgiveness or sins. But there's a deeper work that God wants to do in our lives, so that's part of it, and I also like to get more of the story of the various books in your writing project,
01:02:15.100 --> 01:02:32.870
Andy Miller III: but I my third reason for having this title title of Podcast, and I like to ask the question, Is there more to the story. To Tim Larson is typically told. Like we know you' this historian. We've learned a little about the Christmas side. But is there something that you like to do that you don't get to talk about in these ah on these type of ah venues very often
01:02:33.480 --> 01:02:36.189
Andy Miller III: like, uh, do you like the canoe or something like that.
01:02:36.200 --> 01:02:44.040
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: Yeah, yeah, I follow the question. I I love murder mysteries. I I I have
01:02:44.290 --> 01:02:55.160
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: think I would be embarrassed if I found out a grand total of how many I have read. I often listen to them on audio books. I actually did write one myself,
01:02:55.170 --> 01:03:09.189
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: which was set at a church's. Okay, I put together my love of murder mysteries with my deep knowledge of conferences having gone to so many of them.
01:03:09.200 --> 01:03:12.620
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: So uh and i'm I'm currently to um
01:03:13.010 --> 01:03:31.090
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: confused a couple lines here. I'm working right now, among other projects on an anthology of Christmas stories, i'm gonna to talk to my editor tomorrow, actually, so we'll see if she buys it or not. But there's a Sherlock Holmes story that's set at Christmas time, and i'm gonna see if I can get it in.
01:03:31.100 --> 01:03:48.920
Andy Miller III: Oh, that is great. Well, Dr. Larson, thank you so much for your work. It's enriched me, and it's something that's that's helping me think about my own tradition, and even in that it impacts the way that I serve in my role in training pastors. So I really appreciate the way you dedicate yourself to your your
01:03:48.930 --> 01:03:53.449
Andy Miller III: and so just thank you so much for coming on podcast. It means a lot to me.
01:03:53.780 --> 01:03:56.950
Tim Larsen - Wheaton College: God bless you and your listeners, Andy. Thank you.