For evangelicals (especially charismatics), the jokes on the @TheosU_memes Instagram account are a little too on the nose. Nathan Finochio, founder of TheosU, is the man behind jokes. They are funny and true with a brand of irreverence that isn’t seen often in the Church. However, according to Finochio, they are important. On this episode of the Church InTension podcast, The King’s University President, Dr. Jon Chasteen, talks with Finochio about his latest book, Killer Church, consumerism in the Church, and the importance of humor.
Dr. Jon Chasteen: Man, one, thanks for being on the show. The other thing is, I’m really intrigued by you, as I listen to your podcast. One, it’s hilarious. It’s funny. I love it. It’s edgy. But one of the things that really intrigues me, man, is I feel like, and I don’t know you, so I don’t know this to be true, but I feel like I went to the same church when I was a kid, as you did.
My dad was a pastor for years. My dad pastored Pentecostal Holiness Church, International Pentecostal Holiness. And so, one of the particular episodes that was really intriguing to me as you went into this thing where you were like, “Maybe I’m a Charismatic, I don’t know. Maybe I’m Pentecostal. I don’t know.” You were wrestling within yourself trying to figure out who am I? What do I believe? And so, I think there’s a ton of people, dude, that don’t even know that there’s a difference between a Charismatic and a Pentecostal. Does that make sense?
Nathan: Right. Yeah, yeah.
Jon: So, I think if you ask the average person to define the difference, they would have no idea what you’re even talking about. They just lump them all into the same Evangelicals, Charismatics, Pentecostals, we’re all just one, right?
Nathan: Yeah, yeah.
Jon: So, help us. What is the difference between a Charismatic and a Pentecostal?
Nathan: Yeah, I mean, so Pentecostals, gosh. Okay, so I’ll probably do this imperfectly, but Pentecostals are more structured than Charismatics.
Jon: Yeah, yeah.
Nathan: It’s an actual movement. It’s a theological movement. There is some diversity in it. They got Foursquare brand, right? You’ve got the AOG brand.
Jon: Yep. IPC, whatever it is. Yeah.
Nathan: Yeah. In Canada we got the PAOC. But yeah, you can follow it back to they have a certain structure, governmentally. They have…
Nathan: I guess, yeah.
Jon: All of the things that come with it.
Nathan: Yeah. I mean, they got Stanley Horton and they have a systematic view. As far as I know, there is not a charismatic sys theo. Charismatics are people who, there’s no structure. There’s no history, really.
Nathan: They just practice the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in whatever kind of way. And obviously, there’s going to be roots, the 1948 revival.
Jon: Jesus Movement all up through there.
Nathan: Exactly. Jesus Movement, Latter Rain. And some of them do maybe come out of Pentecostal Movement. There’s Word of Faith, there’s all kinds of different offshoots. But yeah, charismatics are just, they don’t have the Pentecost, the specific Pentecostal history with the denominations. Charismatics, most of the time are non-denominational. They’re unaffiliated. They don’t have a systematic theology. The Charismatic, I like to call the Charismatic world, the wild, wild West of Christianity. That is exactly what it is. It is the wild, wild West, the fastest gun slingers, usually the church, the pastor, right?
Nathan: I just watched the series called Billy the Kid. It just came out and the first season dropped. It was fantastic.
Jon: Is it good?
Nathan: I liked it. It was like, it’s gritty, it’s like Yellowstone vibes in terms of heavy, gritty content.
Nathan: Not for the faint of heart. We have these notorious players. The good, the bad, the ugly. We like them all. Aimee Semple McPherson is definitely, she was a little bit that way. And that’s where maybe some of the Pentecostal Charismatic crossover happens. Where it’s like, yeah, we have these imperfect heroes. I mean, you’d probably know more than I would, but William Seymour was a pretty awesome guy, but the dude, was it Charles Parham that he learned from?
Jon: Yeah, yeah.
Nathan: And Charles Parham was like a racist. He wouldn’t let Seymour in his class. It was pretty messed up. So yeah, it’s a strange thing. So, I’m not governmental the way that Pentecostals are. I don’t believe that congregations should vote in elders. I don’t know how I feel about denominations owning land. So, I don’t believe that tongues is the initial evidence of the Holy Spirit. I think that if you want to get technical, I think it was Gordon Fee that said, if you want to get technical, “A tongue of fire is the initial evidence of the Holy Spirit.”
Jon: Yeah. Who’s got that one?
Nathan: Yeah, totally.
Jon: What do you feel like, how’d you grow up? How would you describe the church that you grew up in?
Nathan: Okay, so my dad got saved as an 18-year-old drugged out hippie in 1972.
Jon: My dad’s the same.
Nathan: And he got saved at a coffee house, a teen challenge coffee house. And that coffee house was somewhat connected to a local church in the downtown area of Hamilton, Ontario called Maranatha. And Maranatha was planted by a guy by the name of Hugh Layzell, whose father, Reg Layzell, was a famous Canadian Pentecostal Pastor who had been kicked out of the assemblies for prophecy and all the charismatic expressions. Basically, he was a Latter Rain guy and started to implement that in his church, Glad Tidings in Vancouver, BC, and he was kicked out.
Well, these were Pentecostal Holiness people. Hugh, my dad’s pastor, who mentored him, never went to the movie theater in his life. And Hugh’s kids, who my dad knew, the first movie they ever saw was when the Star Wars movies were released, and they saw them in their 50s. So, that’s the church that I grew up in. I grew up in a Pentecostal Holiness influence.
Jon: Was it like UPC Pentecostal Holiness?
Nathan: It was Canadian.
Jon: Did the women wear pants?
Nathan: The women began to wear pants.
Jon: Oh, progressive.
Nathan: Basically, we were independent. It was an independent charismatic church. That’s why I identify more as a Charismatic at times, but my roots are Pentecostal Holiness and a Latter Rain. Does that make sense?
Jon: It totally does. And dude, I’m going somewhere with this. I’m not trying to lay you on a couch and counsel you. Tell me about your childhood, Nathan. What I’m trying to get to, dude, is one, your book. I want to talk about your book. It’s a great book, Killer Church. Here’s why I’m plucking this out of you, is because I feel like we would be similar in a lot of ways in that I grew up in a church where it’s, I mean, Jericho March is explaining the spirit. You name it, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it all.
Nathan: Yep. Same.
Jon: And some of it I’m like, “That’s God.” Other times I’m like, “That’s not God. That’s stupid people imitating a move of the Holy Spirit.”
Jon: So, I grew up, when I turned about 16, I was like, “Forget this. I don’t want to have anything to do with the church. I’m out of here.” And so, then when I got to college, I had this, whatever you want to call it, discovering God for me, discovering my faith, not my parents’ faith. So, now that I’m a pastor, so a lot of our listeners are pastors, not all of them, they’re just leaders or laypeople. So now I have this, I find myself at times wrestling like you wrestle where I long for order and structure, accountability, all of those things. But I still want to see God move. I still have this hunger in me to see the Charismatic come out, but I want it to be done with order.
So, there’s a part of me that I totally, I wanted to unpack that with you because I, the same thing I sense you’re wrestling with. I’m like, man, I don’t think you are the only one. I don’t think I’m the only one. I think there’s a ton of people that are like, they don’t know how to articulate it. They don’t know how to articulate Pentecostals and whatever.
Nathan: I think what I’m struggling with at the moment isn’t just how I define where I fit. Because once again, structurally, the guys that mentored my dad, they had come out of the Pentecostal. They were kicked out, so they were independent. For all intents and purposes, if you cut them open, they bled Pentecostalism. But once they got out of Pentecostalism, these guys began to study and read and learn from others who were, because they looked for people to connect with. And so, they began to hang out with all these West Coast Charismatics, independent charismatics, like Dick Iverson, who pastored Bible Temple in Portland, Oregon, Violet Kiteley in San Francisco, Leonard Fox in California, and all that’s to say, so we weren’t just dispensationalists anymore.
Jon: Right, right.
Nathan: We began to prioritize the prophetic over speaking in tongues. Although, speaking in tongues is important, and we believe that people should, people get saved, we talk to Peter Package. But where I’m at right now, dude, is beyond all that. Where I’m at, I’m trying to define what a win is, and that is where I’m actually struggling.
Jon: That’s really good. That’s really good.
Nathan: My big struggle is, for example, you said a move of God. Yeah, I want to see a move of God too.
Jon: What’s that mean?
Nathan: Exactly. So, it’s like…
Jon: What does that mean?
Nathan: Totally. Because I was the guy at youth group when there was a move of God going on that I was like, “I enjoyed this. I enjoyed 15 minutes of this. I’m over it.” You know what I mean?
Nathan: And I know that tomorrow’s coming. It’s a Sunday night…
Jon: Then what?
Nathan: And tomorrow, exactly. Then what? And so, for me, I was just recently at a conference and there was a revivalist guy there. And I’m trying to wrap my head around revivalists because I don’t know what to make of them. I feel like so many of them are charlatans, to be quite honest with you. And maybe, not intentionally, it’s just because they’ve learned a certain type of behavior.
Jon: They learned a behavior.
Nathan: And the win, exactly. So, it’s like they define a win as manifestations, loud, spontaneous, ecstatic. And if our congregation just gets whipped up into a frenzy, and a lot of times this is cultural, Hispanics, namely, we see this, it’s African as well. But obviously, I grew up, I mean for God’s sake, Canadians. I was ground zero during the charismatic renewal at the vineyard in 1993.
Jon: That’s right. That’s right.
So, it’s not all cultural, but all that to say, yeah, I just don’t know if I believe that revival is a three-hour worship service.
Jon: It can’t be. It can’t be or it doesn’t change anything. There’s people, great people, awesome people, even in my church, they are constantly, will say words like, “We just need a move from God. We just need God to breathe on.” And I’ll always ask the question. “Okay, I agree. Let’s go for that. Can you tell me what that means?” It’s usually some sort of, in the church, in the altar, people are, whatever. And usually they can’t really define it. So, for example, it was just a couple of weeks ago, there’s an amazing organization called Embrace Grace that has churches all over America, where they basically partner with women who are pregnant, that are considering an abortion. And we love them.
We throw them a baby shower and just love them through that, and they have babies. So anyways, I get to the church and I’m like, “Hey, check out these pictures. These are five women that don’t go to our church, but our church loved through them baby showers. And here’s five babies that would’ve been aborted that aren’t aborted.” I’m like, “That’s revival.”
Nathan: Wow. That’s revival. That’s revival, totally.
Jon: It didn’t happen in the four walls of our church. It happened when we saved five people that would otherwise be dead. Why can’t that be revival?
Nathan: Yep. Come on. That’s so good. What if revival was a husband and a wife and their family loving church, loving God, staying together, growing in their faith. What if revival looks like mom taking the kids to soccer and just being a vibrant part of the community and dad with joy going to work and providing and being blessed in his going out and his coming in and serving at church and these guys are greeters in the church parking lot and being a vibrant member and giving. What if that’s revival? What if health, what if spiritual vitality and human flourishing a revival?
Jon: Consistency and faithfulness.
Nathan: Yes. Totally. Exactly.
Jon: And one of the things you said in, I heard you say this, I think it was one of your episodes when you guys were wrestling with this, is you said, “What if I’m encountering the presence of God in Eucharist? What if that’s good enough? What if that is a moment of holiness and reverence and honor?”
Nathan: Yeah, exactly. And that’s a lot for a guy who is, I am absolutely sacramental in, how do I say this? The idea, I’m there, but I’m not practically there because I’m not in those churches. You know what I mean?
Jon: Right, right.
Nathan: I don’t attend a Catholic Church. Most every Sunday, I’m going to charismatic evangelical church. And typically, there’s no Eucharist, but I’m sacramental in that, I’m like, “Man, we should do this more.” So anyways, I’m trying to figure it out.
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Jon: Let me shift gears. So, one of the reasons I bring this up is there’s a lot of people who have thoughts, concerns, some of the stuff we’ve been talking about. No matter what the topic is, the difference is how do we go about addressing it? There are thoughts, and then, there’s tactics. So, I’ve got your bio here and I can read it if I wanted to. You’ve done a lot. You’re teaching pastor, you’re with Hillsong podcasts, memes, all the stuff you’ve done, you’re an author, you’re a speaker. Here’s what I would call you. I don’t even know you, but here’s what I would call you in a good way. I would say Nathan Finochio is a disruptor.
And what I mean by that is we all have things we believe or that we’re wrestling with or things we’re trying to communicate, but what I love about what you’re doing, and there’s probably a lot of people who don’t love what you’re doing with your podcasts and your Instagrams and your memes, they think it’s irreverent or whatever people may or may not say. But what I like about it is, I’ve heard a lot of people talk about this. I’ve actually heard Joe Rogan talk about this. He had the other guy from Babylon Bee on his show, I can’t remember his name.
Nathan: Seth Dillon.
Jon: Yeah. They were talking about the need and more than a need, it’s a must for comedy to be a part of the disruption. In Woke America, it’s like comedians attacking everybody. But what comedy does is it highlights the idiocrasies of our culture in a fun, healthy way, but at the same time, yeah, why do we do that? That’s weird. That’s stupid. And so, what I like about, whether it’s your TheosU Memes, Instagram, or don’t you have one called Woke Jesus or something like that? I can’t remember that one’s called.
Nathan: Yeah, my brother runs that account.
Jon: Oh, that’s your brother?
Nathan: Yeah. It’s an auxiliary.
Jon: Whatever it is, I would just call you a disruptor, dude. You’re a guy who’s going to poke things, you’re going to say things that others may not say, whether it offends people, rubs people the wrong way, it’s almost necessary. There needs to be friction for people to see things and look at things and be like, “Yeah, why is that? Why do we that? Why do we believe that?” So, have you always been that way, Nathan? Have you always been kind of a buck the system? Again, I don’t know you, but I grew up in the ’90s, late ’90s, early 2000s. So, I’m like, “Nathan is a Christian Green Day.”
So, there’s this punk rock thing about you, and there’s this, but I think God’s using it to highlight things about the body of Christ that needs to be confronted. That whether it’s you guys *67ing somebody and poking fun of something, whatever it is, there’s something about it that’s like, “Yeah, why don’t we call these things out? Why don’t we talk about these things?”
Nathan: Yeah, that’s good.
Jon: What is it in you that makes you, have you always been this way?
Nathan: I think, yeah, I think I have. I think I am motivated probably by a lot of fear and a lot of anxiety at a base level. I want to know where the line is. I want to know what we believe, because I know that what we believe is really important and it really matters and I don’t want to be wrong. It’s not that I just don’t want to be wrong for pride reasons. I don’t want to be wrong because I don’t want to mess things up. And I know what happens when things are wrong, and people start to believe really weird stuff. It just makes the church look stupid and it makes people think stupid ways.
In the church that I grew up in, there was a lot of strange characters, and we had fundamentalist homeschoolers in our church, and then we had families that had a TV and their kids were worldly. You know what I mean? And I was just watching all the tensions. And I remember as a young person, just observing, “Oh wow, there’s some people who are more hardcore than my parents.” And I’d always ask my dad, “Why are they like that?” He’s like, “Well, this is what they believe. So, yeah, I don’t want to be weird needlessly. I was painfully aware that we were the weird Christian family in our neighborhood. So, my mom would hand out tracks to teenagers.
Jon: Oh, yeah.
Nathan: Yeah. I mean, my mom was like, I hated going to the mall when I was a teenager, because my mom would have a stack of tracks that she’d just go in annihilate a group of young people with. So, I was super embarrassed of my faith. I wasn’t embarrassed of my faith. I was a Christian. And I would tell anybody that and I would defend that. And I was convinced of it.
Jon: There’s the tactics. Yeah.
Nathan: Exactly. The tactics and the manifestation and the incarnation of it and all that. So yeah, my church wasn’t the kind of church that you’d invite a friend to.
Jon: No. Heck, no. Heck, no. I would never have invited my friends.
Nathan: No, no, no.
Jon: Because if I did, that would be the night that somebody took off running down the aisle screaming.
Nathan: Yeah. Yeah. So, I went to Bible College and I became pretty convinced that you could own a Green Day CD and wear a Green Day shirt and love Jesus at the same time and be loved by Jesus at the same time. And so, that’s kind of where I’m at. I’m just at a place where I think that, that’s good for the church. G.K. Chesterton changed everything for me and C.S. Lewis in terms of how I perceive culture and common grades and the intersection and what is the threshold of worldliness and Christianity. I’m interested in those conversations. What is that threshold? Yeah. What’s too much? What’s not enough? So, I think Jesus said, “Being in the world, but not of it.” Yeah. I think that there’s a lot of Christians that aren’t even in the world.
Jon: That’s so true. Yeah.
Nathan: So, what is that threshold and what makes one worldly? So, I’ve been exploring that because that’s where I grew up. I grew up with, “Separate yourselves for tomorrow, do things among you and come out of them and be separate, sayeth the Lord.” We had to learn those verses at the Fundamentalist Baptist. I went to a Fundamentalist Baptist school that was run by our church from grade one to grade 11. We did the A.C.E curriculum.
Nathan: I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it.
Nathan: It’s from Texas.
Jon: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Nathan: Yeah. Anyways, so yeah, I’ve always been a challenger and I’m just trying to figure out. I have a lot of questions.
Jon: What I hear you saying that really, I love it. It brings clarity to me, but also to hopefully people listening that anybody who would ever look at Nathan and what you’re doing and say, “Oh, it’s irreverent. Oh, it’s ungodly, whatever.” To me, what brings it real clarity, and honestly, a real purity about it is what I hear you saying is the why. The why is, because man, I want to get this right. I don’t want to just believe for the sake of believing and live my life in a way, and then someday get to heaven and be like, oh crap, I messed this whole thing, I was doing everything wrong. So, there’s a real purity about, no, I genuinely want to figure out what I should believe and act and say and do. So, I think that’s awesome.
Nathan: There’s this question that I’ve been trying to figure out. And that is, so Chesterton said this thing about Christianity. He said, “The test of any great religion is whether it can be mocked.”
Jon: Wow. Wow.
Nathan: Yeah. And basically, I believe his thought was Christians are, it should be okay if people make light of stuff. He’s like, “In fact, making light of stuff is one of the ways that we actually process and deal with the severity and how heavy the content really is.” So, for example, and he talks about, I believe this is an orthodoxy, but he talks about how all of our jokes are about really serious things. So, for example, you know, make jokes about the hangman. And a judge judges a guy and then he gets hanged. And it’s like, well, nobody’s joking about being hung, but it’s the serious things in life that we joke about, because it’s the only way that we could process how fragile life really is.
Nathan: And it’s a paradox. And you have these young guys, like Andrew Tate on the internet, and they’re talking about how Christianity sucks because it’s so, Islam, I mean, nobody will make fun of Muhammad, because if you do, then a Muslim will kill you.
Nathan: But Christianity is weak and the West is lost because Christians are soft. And they used to be hard, but now they’re not. And Andrew, guys like him, I think there’s a lot of Christians that believe that. We shouldn’t joke about the Holy Spirit. I agree, we shouldn’t joke about the Holy Spirit. I don’t joke about the Holy Spirit. I joke about really weird Christians who think that they’re doing spiritual things.
Jon: Agreed. Agreed.
Nathan: I would never joke about the Holy Spirit. I would never say a joke at the Holy Spirit’s expense.
Jon: That’s right.
Nathan: Because the Holy Spirit is God. But for example, Life of Brian. Life of Brian is I think a comedic masterpiece. If you haven’t seen Life of Brian, it’s Monty Python. And most Christians would probably, they’d choke on, basically, it’s about a guy named Brian who was born next to Jesus in a manger over. And so, his whole life, he’s being mistaken for Jesus. And he, eventually gets crucified. And it’s stinking hilarious.
Jon: What’s it called? Life of Brian?
Nathan: Life of Brian. Yeah.
Jon: I’ll write it down.
Nathan: If you like Monty Python, you’d love it. And most Christians would be like, “This is the worst thing ever.” But the actors aren’t making fun of Jesus. They’re just going, “How funny would it be if there’s a guy named Brian and he got crucified and he was mistaken for Jesus Christ? Anyway, so I love content. Like for example, Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais, I love it when these guys make, I think that humor is really important for processing really heavy things. And just because you’re talking about the church or you’re talking about, for example, Ricky Gervais talked about how there’s a lady that complained on Twitter because he made a joke about peanut allergies. He’s like, “I wasn’t making fun of people with peanut allergies.…but lady” like, he makes jokes about the Holocaust. He makes jokes about, but they’re not jokes about the Holocaust or at the Holocaust or at the victims. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Jojo Rabbit.
Jon: No. You’re telling me, great. I’m getting all kinds of show ideas. Billy the Kid, I’m writing this down.
Nathan: Yeah. Jojo Rabbit. Jojo Rabbit is a comedy by a Maori director. He’s from New Zealand. I think his name is, I can’t remember, Waititi. So, it’s about this young kid who is 12 years old, and he is Hitler Youth, and he’s in Germany. And Germany gets invaded, and it’s all about how he’s in love with Hitler. And Hitler is his best friend. He wants to meet Hitler. And he has this dream about meeting Hitler. And it’s just a really, really, it’s a hilarious comedy. But there’s Nazi symbols in it and the director who is an indigenous person from New Zealand plays Hitler.
Jon: Oh, no.
Nathan: And obviously an indigenous person, these are marginalized, oppressed people groups who’ve had everything stolen from them. And the movie is actually about not hating people, about not being racist. You know what I mean?
Jon: Yep. It’s threaded in comedy. It’s threaded in that.
Nathan: Right. Exactly. But the medium is, so the content is don’t be a racist. The medium is Nazi Germany, right?
Jon: Right. Yep.
Nathan: So, this is what often happens with a guy like me or a guy like G.K. Chesterton or a guy like C.S. Lewis or anybody who’s ever going to think outside of the box and try to get people’s attention, is that people mistake your subject for your medium. So, if I make a joke, if I’m doing a character and it’s like a revivalist, and he has a Southern accent and he is talking about, “God told me to do this. God told me to do that,” that’s the medium. But don’t mistake the medium for the content.
Jon: Right. The lesson to be learned in it. Yeah.
Nathan: Yeah, exactly.
Jon: Larry Cunningham. Larry Cunningham.
Jon: Brother Terry. Brother Terry.
Nathan: Exactly, exactly. Brother Terry.
Jon: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Nathan: And the reason why we get into trouble isn’t because we’re irreverent. The reason why we get into trouble is because people don’t know how comedy works. And this is a problem not just in Christianity, but it is a problem in America at the moment.
Jon: Yeah, yeah. Oh, totally, totally.
Nathan: Everywhere, people just don’t know. So, it’s top of Maslow pyramid stuff. I never thought I’d say that.
Jon: Yep. It is though.
Nathan: People would have to literally have a brain to understand how comedy works. But I’m not backing down. I’m going to continue to use comedy to critique culture.
Jon: So, I had a friend, this has been a while ago, say, “Hey, you got to get on HBO and watch this show called Righteous Gemstones.” So, I watched the first episode and I’m like, “Oh my gosh.” I was offended, obviously. I mean, I’m just going to be honest. I was like, “I’m a pastor. This is offensive.” And then I thought, “Wait a minute, I get it. I need to learn from this. This is literally how the world sees the church. This is alarming.” So, it’s a little bit different than the comedy you’re speaking of, but it’s kind of that same thing. I don’t know that that was their motive. I think their motive really was to bash the church.
Jon: The comedy is like, “Okay, I learned from it.’ I was like, “This is how the world sees us. What are we doing wrong, people?”
Nathan: Absolutely. Yeah.
Jon: We got to do something about this.
Nathan: Ned Flanders is the same thing.
Nathan: Any Christian who gets upset at Ned Flanders from The Simpsons, like, “Dude, you’re missing the point.”
Jon: You’re 100% right.
Nathan: Ned Flanders is my favorite character because I know Ned Flanders and I know his kids.
Jon: I know Ned Flanders. He’s my neighbor.
Nathan: I’m that kid. Exactly. Yeah. We were those kids. What’s the game that they played?
Jon: That’s hilarious.
Nathan: Let’s play trip to Jericho. It’s like, “Dude, that was my childhood.”
Jon: Yeah. That’s so good. I forgot about Ned Flanders. So, man, one of the things you talk about in your book, and I don’t want to keep your day, I know you’re a busy man, so we’ll wrap it up pretty quick. But one of the things you talk about in your book that I think is super cool is the component of worship. And how, actually to our listeners, you need to get this book. It’s called Killer Church. It’s brilliant. Nathan’s a brilliant guy. It’s very well written. But you talk about worship and how God actually has a preferred worship, and I don’t want to say it all because I want you to unpack it.
But part of that component is how maybe decades ago or even centuries ago, the church was like, “Hey, this is who we are. This is how we worship. And if you don’t like it, not in a mean way, but there’s the door.” And now, it’s becoming this inclusive call, call it whatever you want. Everyone come, butts in seats, don’t offend anyone, don’t hurt anyone’s feelings, or they might leave the church. So, unpack that a little bit, some of your thoughts on that.
Nathan: Yeah, I think, well, I think you nailed it. We’re in a kind of a post seeker mess. I think that’s happened in Evangelicalism. We realized that we were cringe. We removed the speed bumps and sort of sanitized stuff, but we sanitized too much. So, I know that you can’t disciple a chair. You got to put somebody in there. But now that people are there, we’ve made everything, particularly Sunday mornings. And if you’re Charismatic, you would know this. Remember the charismatic movement 20 years ago and now charismatic churches today, it’s the attractional model. And I don’t necessarily think that everything needs to happen on Sunday. I don’t think that Sundays are necessarily for the deepest discipleship either.
Jon: That’s right.
Nathan: But yeah, we got rid of some distinctives and some important things. And along the way, we forgot why Sundays even exist or why the church even exists. And in creating an attractional model, what we were actually doing is discipling Christians into consumerism by accident. So, “Hey, come to our church. Everything is a promo now.” It’s like, “We’re starting a brand-new series on relationship. Oh, you need to know. Don’t be single. Find your husband.” I was like, “Oh, I’m going to that church this weekend.”
Jon: We have donuts and coffee at the door.
Nathan: Exactly. We have the best children’s ministry. And it’s not that you shouldn’t have the best children’s ministry either. I was just at that he-who-must-not-be-named Mark Driscoll’s Church.
Jon: I saw that last weekend. Yeah. Good for you.
Nathan: Yeah. Mark invited me and…
Nathan: Yes, yes. Voldemort himself.
Nathan: And it was fantastic. We had a really great time. I love Mark and his family. They’re pretty cool. It was surreal for me because I’ve been a fan of his for 25 years since the Mark Driscoll days and all that. Anyways, so he had a huge kids’ ministry. Man, their kids’ ministry is insane. Six months a year, they have bathing suit, children’s ministry where they have these huge inflatable water slides where the kids literally just begged their parents to go to that church because they can just go on water slides. It’s genius.
And of all places, I never thought that it would be at Mark Driscoll’s who was a teaching pastor. So, it was really cool. And I was just blown away. I’m like, “Man, if I ever pastor a church, I’d want it to be the kids’ ministry to be just like this, where kids were able to just be kids and have fun.” But what’s happened is, and I think that that’s a cool pairing because Mark is the opposite of attractional. You know what I mean?
Jon: Right. Totally. He’s not doing at the movies, he’s not doing the typical everyone come. Yeah.
Nathan: Yeah. And I’m not saying at the movies is wrong.
Jon: I’m not either. I’m not either.
Nathan: Yeah. Totally.
Jon: But I totally get what you’re saying.
Nathan: Yeah. I’m just saying, “Hey, we should be aware that we’ve turned our priests into consumers.” And this is why I believe people are deconstructing is because they begin to ask questions that only a consumer would ask when they begin to posture themselves as a consumer. So, this doesn’t serve me politically. Wow. This doesn’t serve me relationally.
Jon: Wow. That’s interesting.
Nathan: It’s like, why do you have questions about the Bible? Because you haven’t heard about it.
Nathan: He hasn’t been talking to you. All you’ve heard is that Jesus is a desperate boyfriend who is constantly slipping into your DMs and he is obsessed with you and he’s a stalker. And the moment that that is challenged in scripture, you have a problem with it. Because you know what? You’ve been taught to challenge that narrative because we’ve been teaching one side or one shade of grace for 20 years.
Jon: That’s right.
Nathan: And not the whole story, because that would not be attractional.
Jon: That’s right.
Nathan: So, I think that, that’s where we are. So, Killer Church is really, it’s a response to what I believe to be some of the deep-seated issues facing Evangelicals and Charismatics at the moment.
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Jon: Pastor Brady Boyd’s a friend up in Colorado Springs, and he always tells me sometimes how worship songs have become, he calls them, you have worship songs that are really glorifying God and worshiping, and then what he calls Jesus is my boyfriend songs.
Nathan: That’s right.
Jon: So, it’s funny that you mentioned that very same thing because I think you’re right. Whether we’re talking about Charismatics, Pentecostals, whether we’re talking about church styles, whatever, you said it while ago, you said, we’ve only taught one side of grace. And a lot of times it’s not either or. It’s and both. It’s not Charismatic or Pentecostal. There are elements of being Charismatic that I want to cling to, that I want manifestations. I want God to move on Sunday morning. I want altar calls. I want those things, but I don’t want him to be the end all, be all consuming thing. I also want to lean in to the other side. So, it’s not either or, it’s both.
Nathan: That’s it. Yep. I 1,000% agree. I believe for healing. I’m going to prophesy over people, encourage them. I want to see people delivered at, I believe that God can heal somebody, deliver somebody in a moment at an altar. And so, I will always be that person.
Jon: No, I agree. So, let me ask you this. I think we’re about the same age. How old are you? Can I ask you that? You’re not a woman.
Nathan: I’m going to be 40 in two weeks.
Jon: So, you’re an old man. I’m 43. So, we’re about the same. And I’m right on the cusp, depending on which publication you read as to whether I’m Gen X or Gen Y. I’m right on the edge of Gen X. You would be right on the beginning of Gen Y. Do you think a lot of these things, even if you’re closer to Gen X than you are Gen Y or Gen Z, which you are? I think what you represent, the disruptor in you, I think this is what the next generation is really squawking about. I really do. I think that a lot of the same concerns you’re bringing up, which are valid, super important concerns about the church are part of why people may or may be leaving the church.
Do you think that’s true? The deconstructing, they’re challenged by the same things. There is this inner thing that you and I are wrestling with on something needs to change something? Or do you think it’s more of the consumer thing? The thing church has done to itself, we’ve created a monster and it’s our own fault.
Nathan: Yeah. Yeah. I think number one, we taught people that church is all about them. So, then we blamed them when they believed that Christ was there to be their butler. That’s how we presented it. We presented Jesus as he leaves the 99. It’s like, well, yeah, but he also lets the rich young ruler walk.
Jon: That’s right. That is so good.
Nathan: There’s not a balanced Christ that we have presented. And I think that how you learn something matters. Our altar call is a lie. They’re a lie. Jesus loves you and he just wants to save you right now. Just invite Jesus in your life. So, Jesus said that, “If any man would come after me, he must pick up his cross, deny himself and follow me.” So, it’s like that has to be in our altar calls.
Jon: Wow. This is really good.
Nathan: We should recognize that we’re sinners and that we need saving. So there has to be, my dad does, I was talking to a pastor recently or last night about deliverance. There’s some deliverance stuff, wacky deliverance stuff that’s been happening. And my dad is big into encounters, but we teach that an encounter has to be a truth encounter and a spirit encounter.
Jon: That’s good.
Nathan: You have to encounter truth and he… Because the Holy Spirit, his primary, according Jesus was to convict a world of sinners.
Jon: That’s exactly right.
Nathan: So, I don’t believe that a lot of these people were even saved. And I’m not a Calvinist, but I question the salvation of a lot of these people who are deconstructing because this is not how you learned Christ. And maybe, it’s some of these pastor’s fault. When Jesus talks about the Parable of the Sower, it’s like, well, the sower is responsible. I think there’s some responsibility in the sower too.
Nathan: You know what I mean?
Nathan: It’s like, dude, “Why are you throwing seed on the sidewalk?”
Jon: That’s a good way to put it. That’s a good way to put it.
Nathan: So, I…
Jon: Go ahead. Finish. Finish.
Nathan: That’s where I’m at. I think that deconstruction, that church leaders in the last 20 years and what they’ve done to try to reach the lost and then preaching to the lowest common denominator are partly to blame. And then, just another thought, I’ve never, I don’t know anybody who’s ever deconstructed and then become a gay Canadian or something, and they become a Republican.
Nathan: Deconstruction is absolutely a political tool. To say that it’s not, would be intellectually dishonest.
Nathan: Nobody deconstructs out of their faith and then becomes a Republican, right?
Nathan: They become a progressive because it is the, deconstruction is the disciples of track for progressivism.
Jon: Wow. So, I’ve heard some people not call it deconstruction, they’ve called it demolition. It’s really more of a very destructive process.
Jon: Do you think it can be done in a healthy way? We had A. J. Swoboda on. Do you know Dr. Swoboda?
Jon: We had him on the podcast one time, and he was talking about deconstruction, and he thinks if it’s done well, I guess maybe to use the analogy of construction, hire the right contractor, so to speak. If you’re going to tear out a wall, make sure it’s not a load-bearing wall. Do you think deconstruction is possible to be done in a healthy way? Or is it once you good on that path, that’s going to be bad?
Nathan: So, I disagree with AJ. I don’t think that, what he’s done is he’s taken the word out of its philosophical context. And what he’s doing is he’s trying to baptize a word…
Jon: That’s really defined.
Nathan: A posture, exactly. And then, he’s bringing in completely different, for example, he’s using deconstruction in builder terms, but it’s not a builder term. It’s not something that guys on a job site say. Does that make sense?
Jon: Yep. Yeah. They call it demo day.
Nathan: Exactly. Exactly. So, now, it doesn’t mean that just because Derrida had an idea that we have to be, that words can’t morph and form. But the issue is that you’re not taking people leading the overt and leading thought leaders or thought gurus of deconstruction seriously when you steal their term. And then you begin to put your own meaning into it, if that makes sense.
Jon: Go ahead.
Nathan: So, for example, If I’m going to defend the idea of nationalism, then I have to talk about what nationalism is historically and how nationalism differs from patriotism, how it differs from empire. And I might be able to baptize that word. If we talk about what a nation is, we talk about what nationalism then is in context of the nation. That’s different. But the deconstruction, it has certain political and more importantly, philosophical roots. Right?
Jon: Yeah, yeah.
Nathan: And everybody who is using that term insists on being taken seriously. Let the naked pastor, all of these huge deconstruction accounts, anybody who says I’m deconstructing doesn’t mean I’m Martin Luther. I see problems with the church because of the Word of God, and I’m going to begin to demo some bad man-made traditions, and in place, I’m going to stick to the word. The reformers weren’t deconstructors. The moment the deconstructors start to use scripture, it’s not deconstruction. That’s just reformation, right?
Jon: Totally interesting. I totally get what you’re saying.
Nathan: I don’t think there’s any baptizing the word.
Jon: So, to take it even a step further, maybe this is crossing the line, but I’m with Nathan, so I’m allowed to find the line, right?
Jon: So, this is the Church InTension podcast. So, let’s take another word. You used the word nationalism. Is what you’re saying, what if somebody tried to take the word abortion or the word…
Jon: It’s like a word that’s already defined by culture and all of those things. A word that everyone, when they hear it, they’re like, “Oh, I know exactly what you’re talking about.” And it’s trying to take a word and redefine it, so to speak. That’s what you’re saying.
Nathan: That’s correct. So, for example, nationalism is a word that has, it’s not just a pejorative. It doesn’t mean nationalists doesn’t mean white supremacist. A nationalist is somebody who loves their nation, who believes in borders, who believes that nations should have a certain ideology. A nationalist is not an imperialist and a nationalist is not a tribalist. A nationalist is somebody who belongs to a nation that believes it should have borders.
Now, we could make nationalism or a nationalist, a pejorative it. One could argue that. One could argue against it, but it’s a somewhat of a neutral word, if that makes sense. Abortion has, you know what I mean? But nationalist has a one meaning.
Jon: I see what you’re saying. Yeah. Yep, yep, yep.
Nathan: But it’s not like abortion. Abortion just means you terminate a pregnancy. Now, we could talk about when if there’s ever a time to terminate a pregnancy, morally or ethically and that can be a conversation.
Jon: Yep. So, let me ask you this…
Nathan: But I’m not going to say, I’m never going to use the word abortion now as a jargon for pro-life, as in, “You should have an abortion.” Well, what do you mean by that? You should save your baby’s life.
Jon: That’s right. That’s what I mean.
Nathan: What are you talking about?
Jon: So, if somebody took the word, if somebody was talking about deconstruction, and they went on to describe what they meant by it, but they never used the word deconstruction. I guess what I’m asking you, are you opposed to the concept behind the word or just the word they use to describe it?
Nathan: I think that defining terms is important, like you said. So, you mean that there are some bad ideas that Christians need to lose and replace them with biblical ideas, then you are a reformer or you’re just doing this thing called learning.
Jon: That’s what we’ve been talking about this whole podcast. We’re trying to figure out some stuff.
Nathan: Exactly. We’re learning. So, I’m not deconstruction. I’m not deconstructing as a Charismatic, I’m learning.
Jon: Yeah. That’s really good.
Nathan: I’m learning about what I believe.
Jon: I think that’s important.
Nathan: And hopefully, I’m reforming. So, what I’m doing is I’m going, I care about the Bible, the Bible’s God’s word, do my traditions. The Bible will be my measuring tape. So, as a Charismatic, when I say, “I want a move of God,” okay, how do we define that? What is that? How would scripture define it? You know what I mean?
Nathan: That’s not deconstruction to go, “I no longer believe that we should fall out.” My dad, when he got rid of catchers, people stopped falling out. It was interesting how that worked.
Jon: Did it get rid of the courtesy cloth people? What are they called?
Nathan: Oh, yeah. The modesty cloth.
Jon: Modesty cloth.
Nathan: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So, some of our traditions of falling out in the spirit. That’s probably one of the things that I’m like, “I don’t know if I really believe in that anymore.” You know what I mean?
Nathan: If there’s no catcher, people don’t fall out in the spirits.
Jon: The word is on the Bible.
Nathan: Can’t you see how that works?
Jon: Yeah, yeah,
Nathan: Yeah. Exactly. So, all that to say, but that’s just the process of learning. Learning immediately involves unlearning. You know what I mean?
Jon: Totally, totally.
Nathan: Because you are replacing a new idea with a bad idea or whatever. Deconstruction is a posture of extreme cynicism. A conservative is somebody who wakes up and they see good in the world, but they know that the world could better, but they see good in the world. A progressive is somebody who wakes up and they see nothing good in the world.
Jon: That’s good.
Nathan: That’s cynicism. And they believe that everything needs to change. We got to change the whole system.
Jon: Yeah. Tear it down. Yeah. Tear everything down to the ground.
Nathan: Yeah, exactly. Nobody with a brain in their head would look at Western civilization and think that it needs to be burned to the ground. So, that’s the problem with progressivism and that is deconstruction. It’s wild cynicism. The Greeks believe that the cynics should have their eyes plucked up because they saw nothing good. And that is exactly —
Jon: While they enjoy the very thing that they’re…
Nathan: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Jon: They enjoy the roads of Western civilization and the modern, yeah.
Nathan: So, that’s where I’m at.
Jon: So, thanks for coming on, dude. Again, I want to respect your time. After this podcast, we’ll exchange phone numbers. But if your podcast ever prank calls me, I know your voice now. I know the Larry Cunningham voice like you will never, never get away with it.
Nathan: Yeah. We tried a couple of times yesterday on a new episode.
Jon: Oh, yeah?
Nathan: And they were not buying it. The cat’s out of the bag.
Jon: Well, you’re going to have to change characters.
Nathan: I just need to call more Mormons.
Jon: I have an idea, dude. Next time, you’re on my podcast, all right, we’re going to prank call Southeastern. We have to start prank calling other universities. Okay?
Nathan: Done. We’ll do it.
Jon: All right. And so, listeners, Nathan Finochio, if you don’t know who this guy is, you need to check him out. He’s got TheosU. It’s a great platform. If you’re just looking to get a, you’re like, “Man, I want to learn some Theology, but I don’t need to go to seminary. I’m not looking for a degree,” check it out. Now, I will say, if you decide after taking some classes at TheosU that you need a seminary degree, or you want to go back and get a college accredited degree, The King’s University is the only one. It’s the only one worth partnering with.
Nathan: That’s good.
Jon: But also, he’s got a great podcast. He’s got WTF podcast, he’s got TheosU. If you don’t follow @TheosU_memes on Instagram, you’re a loser. Let’s just say it. You got to get a life.
Nathan: I agree.
Jon: Nathan, I appreciate you, man. I appreciate what you’re doing. Let’s be friends.
Nathan: Let’s do it.
Jon: I appreciate you and everything that you’re doing, man. Thanks for being on today.
Nathan: Thanks for having me today, Dr. Jon.