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EPISODE 46: The Air We Breathe

Western society holds strongly to some foundational values like equality, freedom, kindness, progress, and others. But all these values have Christian roots. Helping our non-Christian friends see this can help them move from unbelief to saving faith.

Recommended Resources:

The Air We Breathe: How We All Came to Believe in Freedom, Kindness, Progress, and Equality by Glen Scrivener

3 2 1: The Story of God, the World and You by Glen Scrivener

The Case Against the Sexual Revolution by Louise Perry

Learn more about Glen


Welcome to Questions That Matter, a podcast of the C.S. Lewis Institute, where we seek to pursue discipleship of the heart and mind. And today, my conversation partner is Glenn Scrivener. He is an evangelist, he’s a minister in the UK, in the Church of England, and he's written several books, including one that we use in our Fellows Program, 3 2 1. But the conversation today is going to be about his newest book, The Air We Breathe, with the great subtitle of: How We All Came to Believe in Freedom, Kindness, Progress, and Equality. Glenn, welcome to Questions That Matter.

Thank you so much for having me, Randy.

Christian Faith

Yeah, well, I've been looking forward to this for a while. I really appreciated your book, and I thought, “This is the kind of book that I would hope that Christians would buy a dozen copies of and give them to their thoughtful non-Christian friends.” So, I'm hoping dramatic sales happen before Christmas, because I'm really serious. This could be a really great Christmas present to give to even the most skeptical of nonbelievers. That's who you wrote it for, right? Am I correct on that?

Absolutely correct. And, in fact, one of the people I had most in mind was my father in law, for whom I bought another book for Christmas, which was Dominion by Tom Holland. And my father-in-law has historically been… He's kept the Christian faith at arm’s length for most of the last half a century. And I got to know Tom Holland a little bit, and I got Tom Holland to write him a little note and sign it.

Oh, nice!

Yeah. And Dominion has been this sort of best-selling history book, all about the history of Christianity and how we are all far more Christian than we had ever dreamt. And I gave it to my father in law, and it still sits proudly on his shelf, unread. And I thought to myself, I want to write a book that is like Dominion, that is from a more confessional Christian point of view, but is shorter and punchier, and that my father-in-law might read.

Well, I think you've accomplished that, because I waded through all 640 pages of Tom Holland's book, and I remember at several points thinking, “Okay, this is brilliant. This is amazing.” And his arguments are really very compelling, that our world is far more shaped by the Christian faith than most people even can imagine. But I kept thinking, “I don't know who I can give this book to because it's 640 pages.” And I also felt like… I kept longing at the end of pretty much every chapter in his book, I wanted a final paragraph saying, “And so we conclude dah, dah,” and it didn’t. Each chapter just came to an end. And so, when I heard about your book, it's, “Oh, this is less than 200 pages. This is the size book I could give to people.” But again, yours is explicitly Christian, with the desire of… you don't want to just convince people that, yes, Western society is shaped by the Christian message. You want people to embrace the gospel and to cling to it. That's your heart as an evangelist, but you do it really well.

Oh, thank you.

Tell us more about what you had in mind as you wrote this. Or who you had in mind.

Well, there was my father-in-law, one sort of person, and I should add about Tom Holland's Dominion, that if you do want to read his 640 pages, they are brilliantly written, and it's time well repaid. And he's very kindly endorsed my book. And the first word he says about my book is “punchy.” “Punchy, engaging, entertaining,” says Tom Holland. Yes, I very much pitched the book as Dominion for Dummies, and I'm the dummy.

But the other person I wrote my book for was a friend of mine who wrote a letter a few years ago, and one of the lines in it, she said, “Of course you realize I could never be a person of faith.” And that line just haunted me and has haunted me for the years since she wrote it. Because I think, in her understanding, there are people of faith and there are those who have no faith. And she was born without the faith gene. It's just not part of her constitution. She thinks of herself as physically and mentally incapable of having faith, and yet my friend believes in all the seven values that my book talks about. She believes in equality and compassion and consent and enlightenment and science and freedom and progress. She believes in these. She gives her life to these values. They are the pole stars that guide her in all that she does.

And none of those things are provable. None of these things can be demonstrated under laboratory conditions. None of them are the result of a mathematical equation or a logical proof. She lives by faith every day, and yet she does not consider herself to be a believer. So, I wrote this book for her, to show her, A, she is a believer and she lives by faith every minute of every day, and, B, those beliefs have not been derived from the secular worldview at all. They have come to her specifically and absolutely through the Christian revolution. And so, I really hope that this book… I hope it excites Christians and shows us how Jesus has shaped history, but I really hope that it gets into the hands of non-Christians, that they start to see themselves as believers, and that they realize they don't need to take a leap of faith. They are already hanging midair. What they really need is some ground beneath their feet, and only Jesus will do.

Oh, nicely said! Yes, yes, yes. I want to try to word it that faith is inevitable, not optional. Everybody is a person of faith, and that's a very important pre-evangelistic step, is to engage with people and say, “You know what? We're all people of faith. The question is not do we have faith or don't we? It's what is our faith in?” Let me give another angle about your book for our listeners. You begin the beginning of your introduction by saying, “An older goldfish swishes past a couple of small fries. ‘How's the water, boys?’ he inquires. ‘Water?’, they ask. ‘What's water?’” And you then say, “Goldfish are surrounded by water. They see things in the water, but they're just so surrounded by it. It's their whole environment, that they don't even know they're in water.” And then you say, “Here's the contention of this book. If you are a Westerner, whether you stepped foot inside a church or not, whether you've clapped eyes on a Bible or not, whether you consider yourself an atheist, pagan, or Jedi Knight, you are a goldfish. And Christianity is the water in which you swim.”

There it is. You talk about punchy. Well done. And I think that's exactly right. So, you're an evangelist. So how do you communicate this? I mean, we have a great example of how you communicate in a book. How do you communicate this in a one-on-one conversation, maybe with that woman that you were talking about earlier?

Yeah, I think as an evangelist, I'm often primed to answer the words that come out of the non-Christian’s mouth, as though that's the most important thing to focus upon. And so, they mention something about suffering, and then I go into the little filing cabinet in my brain, and I pull out a little theodicy folder, and I download on her the relevant information about how God and suffering can fit in the world. And that would be simply to attend to the words coming out of her mouth.

I'm more and more learning that what I need to do is to attend to the heart out of which that question comes, and even more, to attend to the ground on which she is standing in order to ask that question. Because, for any question that she asks and any objections she might have to the Christian faith, she is assuming a whole raft of transcendent values. And so, in conversations, it's really helped me more and more if somebody has, for instance, a critique, and a much-needed critique, to the church about child sexual abuse and the ways that the church has covered up child sexual abuse, for instance. I want to sit with that critique and join that critique and be on the same side as my non-Christian friend on that critique, owning it and perhaps even intensifying it and saying. “Oh, it’s even worse than you had thought.”

But then, at some point, looking at our feet, we are now standing shoulder to shoulder. We are now critiquing this terrible thing called child sexual abuse in the church. But at some point, I want to point to our feet and say, “What do you have to assume in order to have this critique? What are you standing on in order to make these accusations?” And you have to stand on things like, “Sex is meaningful,” “Bodies are like temples.” “Power should be used in order to serve and not to dominate.” You have to assume all these sorts of things, which are the unique gift of Christianity to the world, because the Greco-Roman world certainly did not think of bodies like temples and sex as sacred and certainly didn't think that power should be used in order to serve. The Greco-Roman world celebrated pederasty. It celebrated what it called child love. And literally they were calling pederasty child love. That's what the word means. Christians came along and called it so meaning child abuse, child destruction. Why do we have this category called child sexual abuse? And at that stage you're just having a very different conversation, I think.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And even the tone of it changes. Not just the content, but the tone is, “No, I join you in your outrage. Now let's talk about what basis we have for that outrage.”

Yes, yes. “I want you to have even more ammunition when you are firing at the sins of the church. I want you to have more ammunition. But at some stage, I want to tell you that ammunition is Christian ammunition.”

Is it possible to be a scientist and a person of faith at the same time? Are Christianity and science at odds with one another? I think there are a whole lot of people in our world who think that. Well, these apologetic questions and others are going to be explored in a prerecorded interview that we did with scientist and philosopher and mathematician and brilliant mind Dr. John Lennox. He is going to examine some of the latest scientific research and theories surrounding questions of the origins of life and concepts of the mind. He will demonstrate why a Christian approach to an understanding of the universe makes the most sense. So, if you're a believer who's looking for a way to explain the validity of the Christian worldview to some of your friends who are more scientifically minded or scientifically oriented, this is a really important event, and it's free of charge. But you do need to register for it because we'd like to be able to have all those connections in place.
So please register Here. We sure hope you can make it for this event.

All right, so now let's dig into that a little bit more. I think I've heard you on another occasion where you said the three big objections people have today are sex, suffering, and science. Was that you? Am I remembering correctly?

Yeah. That rings a bell from 3 2 1, yes.

Okay, so it's interesting. Apologetics books from 20 or 30 years ago included the question of suffering, but they probably didn't include questions about sexuality and maybe not about science. So your chapter on sexuality, it was appropriately disturbing to read because you did, you explored further in, just like you just said about child abuse versus child love. You write in your book, “If the revolution of the 20th century said women can be as free as men, the Jesus revolution had said men must be as restricted as women.” And I think you're saying the Jesus revolution from the first century, yes?

Yes. The sexual revolution that’s really shaped our world happens 1900 years before the Summer of Love.

Yeah. Say more about that, because you're right. People think, “Okay, the sexual revolution was in the 1960s.” You're saying, and quite a few other people are saying, “No, no, that's actually the second sexual revolution. The first one was the one that really shaped our belief that sexuality is sacred and that people are to be treated with respect and dignity.”

Right. And what we notice today is the fight, the battle, between those two sensibilities, the first century sexual revolution and the 1960s sexual revolution. Both of them have, at their heart, a desire to equalize the sexes, but as you mentioned, in the 1960s, through the pill and other social changes, it was women were meant to be as liberated, as they said, as men had been. Whereas in the first century, the church was saying to men, “Men, you must be as restricted in your sexuality as women had always been expected to be.”

And the double standard in the first century was not apologized for. The key word in sexual morality in the Greco-Roman world was modesty. And modesty absolutely meant two different things, whether you were a man or a woman. If you were a woman, it meant virginity before marriage and absolute fidelity within marriage. If you were a man, modesty just meant not going over the top, not being too licentious, to the point where you were open to the accusation of being effeminate, right? Which is ironic, given that actually what they expected of women was total chastity. But, I mean, in Latin, there are 25 words for prostitutes, and there is no natural way of referring to an adult male virgin. When you say virgin in Latin, you are referring to a woman. It doesn't even make sense to refer to a man as a virgin. And those two facts about prostitution and male virginity, those were very much linked. The price of a visit to the brothel would cost you the price of a loaf of bread. And the sexual economy was absolutely at the heart of the moral economy of the ancient world, and slaves were fair game.

And it was just a very, very different world, into which Jesus comes. Matthew 19. And he tightens even the Jewish expectations for sex and marriage and takes the stricter of the views about marriage and divorce in Matthew 19 and basically says, “Look, it's one man, one woman for life. There's no getting out of it. The doors are locked. No one gets out of this thing alive.” And Peter has the response that red-blooded men all over the world have always had to that which is, “Are you serious, Jesus? If this is the case, then it would be better not to be married.” And it's important to remember Peter was married when he said this, and we are not told how Mrs. Peter took it when she learnt of Peter's protestations here. Jesus says, “Look, the only other alternative is you can be a unit for the kingdom.” And part of why he uses the “phrase unit for the kingdom” is because there isn't really a natural way of referring to male virgins. But he's saying, “Look, you are to be absolutely chaste or married. Those are your two options. And that's kind of it.”

And in my research for the sex chapter, which is called “All About Consent,” I read two really fascinating works by non-Christians. One was by the historian Kyle Harper, who wrote a book called From Shame to Sin, and he just talks about the utter revolution this is on values. You could certainly transgress sexually in the ancient world, but it was about shame. It was about not living up to standards and expectations societally. It was not about violations of bodies or rights, and Jesus comes and reframes sex and sexuality in a totally different way. And then the other book that I read was by Joseph Henrich, who's an evolutionary biologist, and he's written a book called The Weirdest People in the World. And his book kind of notices… He was the one who coined the acronym WEIRD to refer to Western Educated, Industrialized Rich, Democratic Societies. They are W-E-I-R-D, WEIRD. And what is it that’s made the west weird? It's been Christianity. And as an evolutionary biologist, what's he going to point to in Christianity that's made the difference? Well, he's going to talk about the marriage and family program. But he says the control that the church managed to have over male sexuality was absolutely for the liberation of women and for the liberation of the whole world. And it has brought about so much of the benefits that we see nowadays. So that's the sexual revolution of the first century.

The sexual revolution of the 20th century has sought to kind of undo that and be the photo negative of it. And nowadays it's a fight between which sensibility will win.

So, I want to jump in. My role here at the C.S. Lewis Institute is about apologetics and evangelism, to equip and encourage people about reaching out, and I think a lot of people in the West. And you're in the UK, we're in the US, similar dynamics, where we really feel overwhelmed by the current sexual insanity, we might call it. And so, I think a lot of Christians are feeling like, “Oh, I just don't know how I could argue for something so weird, so narrow as just one man, one woman.” But your book helps us see, “No, no. That’s really, really good news.” Yeah, it's narrow. Absolutely narrow. The Christian view has always been considered crazy compared to the surrounding world, but that narrowness brings security and strength and a real intimacy that is how God designed sex to be. So, I think we need to check our hearts when we get into these discussions. It's not to play gotcha and not to say, “Do you see how hypocritical that is?” But more of, we really want to help people, we want to serve people. To say, “This whole thing about sexuality, it's far better than what our world is saying.”


So, I think you help us a lot with that.

And to pull at those threads. So, Tom Holland, in his book, talks about the “me too” movement. And where do we get the idea that Harvey Weinstein is such a monster? Because Harvey Weinstein, kind of taken out of a 21st century culture and put back into the first century culture, that's business as usual. That’s everybody. There's nothing even lamentable. There’s nothing even noticeable about Harvey Weinstein in the first century. The difference that has been made has been Jesus Christ. And just yesterday, I interviewed a woman whose new book is called The Case Against the Sexual Revolution, by Louise Perry. And she's a feminist. She's a materialist feminist, is how she describes herself. And she just pulled at that same thread that Tom Holland had sort of… he'd laid the trail there in Dominion. And her book is fascinating. And I had a wonderful conversation with her just yesterday because, listen, her chapter headings are: “Sex Must Be Taken Seriously,” “Men and Women Are Different,” “Some Desires Are Bad,” “Loveless Sex Is Not Empowering,” “Consent Is Not Enough,” “Violence Is Not Love,” “People Are Not Products,” and, “Marriage Is Good.”

Oh, my goodness! Wait a minute! Is she allowed to say that? I think that's great. Oh my!  Okay, we're going to link that in the show notes talking points.

Yeah. So, I was just inviting her: “Come on home. Come on home, Louise,” because she's just noticing. And when I sort of pressed her on where her beliefs come from, she's recognizing that so much of it has come from Christianity and so much of what she cherishes is not sustainable on purely secular grounds. And she writes for a very left-wing publication called The New Statesman in the UK. And this is the journey that many people are on. They're just pulling at these threads, and they're finding that at the other end of the things that they cherish is actually Jesus.

Oh, my goodness! Oh, this is really great. This is so empowering, I think. Well, you just said not sustainable, and it seems to me that's a recurring theme in your book, and so let's just shift it in the direction of science. So you have a whole section about science, and we value science. And your argument is… well, here, let me read it. You write, “Whatever else we learn from the examples of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton, it ought to be obvious that modern science was invented nowhere else but among devout Christians in a devoutly Christian age, drawing explicitly on Christian beliefs and practices.” And so I think if you're trying to base modern science on a strictly secular, naturalistic worldview, it's not sustainable, right?

Right, right. And you can do it from the philosophical point of view, as Alvin Plantinga does it. There's a great problem: If you believe in Darwinian evolution and naturalism, you kind of are soaring off the branch on which you are sitting. And his argument philosophically is simply if our brains have evolved purely in order to survive, that does not give us great confidence in their abilities to seek truth, because truth is a very different value from survival. And therefore, if Darwinian evolution is the only thing that's going on in molding the human brain, then we ought to have no confidence in the brain in its abilities to come up with a theory like Darwinian evolution. And so he comes from a sort of a philosophical point of view that the three pounds of gray matter that sit between my ears, if they are simply a biological survival machine, then why do we trust them to have any purchase on the mysteries of the cosmos? That's an odd thing.

So that's the philosophical thing. The historical thing is to then point and say, “Yes, and the scientific revolution erupted nowhere else other than amidst Christians, at Christian universities, carrying out scientific investigations for Christian reasons.” And the reasons why science works… Einstein had this great line about the miracle at the heart of the scientific method is the comprehensibility of the universe. Why should the universe be comprehensible if we are simply evolved chimps? Why should we be able to do science? And why should the mysteries of the cosmos be open to the neurons that are firing between my two ears? And the reason why that works is Christian theology.

So, science assumes the triangulation of laws up above, minds in here, and a world out there. And the triangulation needs to be able to happen, or you don't get science off the ground. Well, on page one of the Bible, that is taught, that humans are made uniquely in God's image and they are called to have dominion over the earth. And so, the triangulation is taught on page one of the Bible, which is why Genesis 1 is so often thought to be a science killer. It's actually a boost to science. It's actually teaching the very foundations upon which science has been built. And it's just worth going back historically and figuring out that this is where science has come from. And therefore, looking at the last 500 years of scientific advance does not take you away from belief in the Bible. Every single experiment that's done, every single advance in scientific knowledge is confirmation of Einstein's miracle. It's confirmation that we do, in fact, live in a universe in which humans are uniquely positioned in order to be able to understand the cosmos, which is an extraordinary belief to hold if you're a secular person. But it's exactly what you expect if you believe the Bible.

Again, as I'm thinking about wanting to encourage people to have these conversations, I'm thinking of two phrases that are good ways to pursue this. One is the phrase, “Well, what if?” “What if?” “So, science believes that we can know things and we can investigate and we can come up with the answers. Well, what if the reason for that stems from the fact that the way the world was created was with design and with intent and by an intelligent God, rather than a cosmic accident.” So, I think, “What if?” is a good start of a sentence. And then maybe similar to it is the phrase, “I wonder.” “Well, I wonder if we can think about this differently? I wonder if science is possible because there's a God who created the world in order.” And again, it's not to gotcha, “Do you see the hole in your argument? Let me point it out to you.” It’s more of, “No, I want you to look at something differently. I wonder if we could look at it from another angle.”

And I really do hope there are more of those conversations, which, by the way, we're finding fewer and fewer examples, because our world is yelling and screaming at each other through bullhorns, and we need to have more face-to-face conversation respectfully. And by the way, we treat people with respect because our assumption is all people are created in the image of God. There are no ordinary people, as C.S. Lewis said it. I have to quote C.S. Lewis at least once in every episode or I’m fired. So there, I got the quote in. So, do you have some other, I don't know, phrases or ways that are good ways to interact with nonbelievers?

Yeah, on the science thing, I think telling stories. Like throughout all my evangelism. I think stories are not just the sweet sugar that helps the bitter pill of truth go down. I think stories actually immerse people in a whole new way of seeing.

And so, one story I tell about science is, “Well, imagine the scene. You're in the laboratory. You're watching Betty the botanist. And she goes over to Gareth, the lab assistant, and she says, ‘Gareth, thank you so much yesterday for giving me that botanical specimen. I've run all sorts of tests on it. I've discovered those pharmacological properties that are going to help us in the fight against Alzheimer's. I've mapped the genome of this botanical specimen, which is a first for this particular species, and I just can't thank you enough for giving me the botanical specimen.’ And Gareth says, ‘Betty, yesterday was February 14. It was a long-stemmed rose, Betty. Do you understand what I gave to you?’” And the question is, does Betty understand the rose? And on one level, does she understand the rose? She understands the rose better than anyone else on planet Earth. On the other hand, does she understand the rose? No. Betty is a moron. Betty just doesn't get it. And she is even more of a moron if she tells Gareth it can't be a romantic gesture because it's a botanical specimen. That doesn't work, Betty. That doesn't work. It can both be a botanical specimen and a romantic gesture. But to understand that romantic side of things will require more from you than just running a spectral analysis. It will require you to understand the rose more fully, more richly. And then you say, “What if this world is like that rose? What if it's been given to us as a love gift?” Sure, go into the laboratory, study all you can, but do not think that by studying the world scientifically, you have exhausted the meaning of the rose. Unless you want to be like Betty. You don't want to be like Betty, do you? Immerse them in the story and then say, “Who are you in the story?”

What is spiritual warfare? And does it really matter? Or does it really affect my everyday life? C. S. Lewis, in his introduction to The Screwtape Letters, said this: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” Isn't that brilliant? Well, we're doing an event about spiritual warfare with our good friend and C.S. Lewis scholar Jerry Root. Dr. Jerry Root was professor for many years at Wheaton. Now he's Professor Emeritus at Wheaton College. And if you were fortunate enough to be at Wheaton and study under Jerry Root, you know that he is brilliant and a delight to listen to, one story after another and brilliant insight. And he's doing a special event for us about spiritual warfare. This one is an in-person event. So, if you're in the Washington, DC, area, if you're interested in learning more about spiritual warfare, if you follow Jerry Root, or if you're a Wheaton alumni, this event is for you. It's going to be at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Annandale. There is a cost for this event, it’s $10 per person, and there will be a question and answer period following Dr. Root’s presentation. We'll also have light refreshments, and we really hope you can make it. We're really eager to have Jerry Root with us. Once again, please register Here for the event.

I love it. Well done. And I want to underline… before you told the story, you said stories are not just the sweet sugar to help people swallow a bitter pill. No. And stories are not manipulative, and they're more than, “Well, Jesus told stories, so we should tell stories.” Well, yes, but-

Right, right, right.

… we tell stories, because, not only is that the way God has revealed Himself, I mean, look at the Bible. It's a one long story with millions of subplot stories. But we are story creatures. Our lives are a narrative. We fit into time, and we have a beginning and an end of this earthly life. It's a story. And so, we're not using it as a manipulative sales technique. We're doing it because that resonates with who we are as people, eternal creatures captured for a moment in time. So, yeah, we need to develop that skill of telling stories. Do you have another one for us? That story about Betty is a good one to finish on, but something tells me you might have another one.

Oh, I've got loads that are kind of like that. On sex or sexuality, you can talk about having your neighbor over, and they're a Buddhist, and they don't want to have the hamburger that you've just offered them from your barbecue. You don't think of them as being completely judgmental, and you don't think of them as a carnivore phobe, a carniphobe. You don't think of them as a meat bigot. “How dare you not celebrate my meat eating?” Nor do you think that the Buddhist kind of has meat at the heart of their worldview. But you probably sense that there's a richer vision for all of life that has implications when it comes to barbecues. And in exactly the same way, Christians and their views of sexuality, it's not the centerpiece of what we think about reality at all, but we have a much richer vision, which, if you want to learn about what that is, you can. But you can't just call us bigots or phobes for thinking about sexuality a little bit differently, unless you want to call a Buddhist a bigot or phobe for not eating meat.

And so one of the things that stories do is they take the heat out of a situation by immersing you in a different world, just seeing the same thing again from a different perspective. And they take somebody out of their ego as well. Because if I'm just talking to you about your view of science, for instance, you're going to be defensive. Of course, you're going to be defensive. You love science. Whatever. But if I talk to you about Betty, you don't care about Betty. She's somebody else. Now, you’ve got a bird's eye view. Now you're taken out of yourself. Now ego is not part of the conversation, and self-justification is not your goal. Nathan does it to David, doesn't he? He says, “What about the man who takes the ewe lamb and rips it out of the hands of his neighbor?” As soon as David recognizes his behavior in somebody else, he's able to see it. And that's, as well, what stories are able to do. People can get a God's eye view because we're these narrators who are viewing the story from the outside, and that gives us a very different perspective.

Yeah. And if I can quote Lewis again, it's “sneaking past watchful dragons” when we tell stories or we use illustrations. Well, we need to wrap this up. But let me read one more little part from your book, and we'll try to draw it to a close here. You say, “Western society has splintered into ever narrower identity groupings with less and less shared narrative to bind us together. When conflict arises, we have fewer social and spiritual resources to help us forgive and reconcile. The secular river is running dry.” And that's the world that God has placed us in. And it's a great opportunity for us to say it is running dry. It isn't working. We're at each other's throats. What if there's another way to look at reality? And you've really helped us, I think, see that. Any last thoughts on your part about The Air We Breathe?

Well, yes, the secular river has run dry. The book does not end on a sort of a downer and saying, “Oh, well, it was a good run.”

True. That quote, by the way, is more in the middle, rather than towards the end. So please.

Yeah, no, no. But I think quite often that is the way that people sort of phrase it. It's a cut flowers kind of culture, and we have lived off the bloom of the past, and now we're all perishing. But I guess two things I could kind of say at the end. Well, three things, really. We need to look back, look around, and look up.

And we look back on 2000 years of history. And it is not the case that Christianity was flourishing up until 1963, and then it took a nosedive, and now things aren't the way they were in the 1950s. That is not Christian history. Christian history ebbs and flows. The tide comes in, the tide goes out. And the tide is out at the moment, but tides go out, and tides come in. And looking back over history, I was greatly encouraged to see what a terrible state the church was in at many junctures. Bishops in medieval period just kind of like getting everybody to come to church on a Sunday because nobody had been in church, and then it's a total zoo when they come. And then the bishop ordering people not to come to church next Sunday because they just couldn't behave themselves. And the church has been in many dire straits. As G.K. Chesterton says, “The church has gone to the dogs many times, but every time the dog has died, not the church.” And we follow a Man Who knows the way out of the grave.

So, look back. I think look around, and global Christianity is an extraordinary success story. And if there aren't more Christians in China than there are in the US today, that will be true in the next couple of years, right? More Christians in China today than there are in the US. And Christianity is exploding in sub-Saharan Africa and South America and parts of Asia. Look around. Christianity is still the most dominant, most influential, most disruptive, most successful way of viewing the world that this world has ever seen, and it continues to grow.

And then just look up. Jesus is not concerned for the success of his movement. Even as he speaks just a few months away from Godforsaken execution, he says that the gates of hell won't prevail against the church. I mean, gates are static. Gates don't advance. The church advances, and the church plunders Satan's kingdom. And it has been plundering Satan's kingdom for 2000 years. And Jesus is not anxious about whether His movement will succeed. It is succeeding, and we're a part of it.

So, I hope the final word is a word of hope, that just as yeast works through a batch of dough, just as the mustard seed grows into the largest tree in the garden, so large that even the birds end up perching in its branches. Therefore, this is the movement that we're part of.

Oh, thanks so much. That's a great spot for us to conclude. We need to look back, we need to look around, we need to look up. Glen Scrivener, it's been great to be with you. Thanks for the time. Thank you for the work you did on that great book. And we're going to link information about it in our show notes. To our listeners, once again, we hope this podcast has equipped you for reaching out with the good news. And we hope that everything that we do here at the institute helps you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. Thanks.

We here at the C.S. Lewis Institute are delighted to tell you our newly redesigned website has been given an award. We're an early winner of the Gold Award by the dotCOMM Awards agency. They hand out very few of these awards for excellence in web creativity and digital communication. This year's competition had entrants from 2500 entries or even more. Designers, developers, content producers. I mean, it was amazing, and we are so very grateful that we were given this award. We thank you for your prayers for this ministry and support for our ministry. This redesign took a lot of time, a lot of work, and a lot of money. And we would love for you to be joining us as a financial supporter of our ministry for paying for these kinds of things, and also the great materials that we produce and events that we do. So please prayerfully consider, if you're not a regular monthly supporter of our ministry, we'd love to have you as a partner in that way. Or if it's only occasional gifts, we take those too, but we really need your help. So we hope that you can go to our Website. Thanks.

Brought to you by the C.S. Lewis Institute and the Questions That Matter Podcast with Randy Newman.

COPYRIGHT: This publication is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.

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