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Pentecostalism

From obscure beginnings in the United States to a worldwide movement, the spread of Pentecostalism can be neither ignored nor underestimated.  Join us as we look at the complicated origins of this movement and what it means for the Church today.

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide

Episode: 77

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The Mormon Succession Crisis

Following the death of Joseph Smith, Mormonism faced a serious crisis.  Who would be the next leader?  To make matters worse, several contenders stepped forward to claim the spot.  However, Brigham Young would take the lead and begin the next important chapter in Mormon history.  Join us as we discuss the various splinter groups that resulted from this crisis and an overview of the life of Young.

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide

Episode: 72

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The Forgotten Era of the Missouri Synod

How does the past come to be forgotten? Maybe there are parts of our own past that we’ve forgotten. Join us to remember the period of Missouri’s greatest growth in the time between the Civil War and the Great Depression and to hear how we can think about our fathers in the faith and imitate their zeal for Christ.

Historical works mentioned in the podcast include:

Ebenezer: Reviews of the Work of the Missouri Synod During Three Quarters of a Century

The Concordia Cyclopedia

Walther’s Works: Predestination

The Synodical Conference: Ecumenical Endeavor

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide
Regular Guest: Rev. Adam Koontz
Episode: 51

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The Later Life of Joseph Smith

The life of Joseph Smith is a mixture of remarkable success and heartbreaking failure.  Mormonism grows despite tremendous opposition, and Smith dies young at the hands of a mob.  Join us as we conclude the story of Joseph Smith from Ohio to Missouri to Illinois in this next installment of our series on Mormonism.

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide
Episode: 49

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Fire From Heaven: The Evangelical Lutheran Tennessee Synod

You’ve probably never heard of the Tennessee Synod, but you definitely should know about these remarkable men of God. Listen to learn about this group that fought the good fight of faith and were the first to publish the entire Book of Concord in English.

The history of the Tennessee Synod, written by Socrates Henkel, can be found here.

The collected works of David Henkel, some of which we will discuss in future episodes on the Tennessee Synod, may be purchased here.

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide
Regular Guest: Rev. Adam Koontz
Episode: 43

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Ulrik Vilhelm Koren


Ulrik Vilhem Koren listened to God’s call to serve the Norwegian immigrants settling on the American plains despite great personal cost.  Leaving behind a comfortable life, Koren led the fledgling Norwegian Synod through many difficulties and controversies, leaving behind a legacy that deserves to be remembered.  Prof. Mark DeGarmeaux talks about the history and background of Koren, Norwegian Lutheranism, and the challenges of the American scene.

Koren wrote “An Accounting (En Redegjoerelse)” during the Election Controversy as a way of explaining the issues at hand to the Norwegian Synod. You can find a translation of this important work here.

Photo courtesy of ELS Ottesen Museum.

Host: Rev. Zelwyn Heide
Guest:  Prof. Mark DeGarmeaux, Professor of Religious Studies, Bethany Lutheran College, Mankato, MN
Episode: 38

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The First Council of Constantinople


The first ecumenical council answered the challenges of Arianism, but failed to make it go away. With Arians gaining strength in every level of society, even with Arian emperors, how would the Church respond? Join us as we discuss the history of the second ecumenical council at Constantinople, the relationship between the church and the state, and why religious toleration isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide
Episode: 32

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Review: Seven Books Against the Pagans

Paulus Orosius, Seven Books of History Against the Pagans.  Translated by Roy Deferrari.  Fathers of the Church Series, no. 50.  (Washington, D.C.:  Catholic University of America Press, 2001).

Lately I have had a deep interest in late antiquity.  The establishment of the Church, the shifting of the Roman Empire from the west to the east, the struggles of Christianization—all of it continues to have a strong influence on our world today.  What better way to get a handle on it than to delve into primary sources?

I was initially attracted to one such primary source, the Seven Books against the Pagans by Paulus Orosius, written in the early 5th century, because it promised to be an important witness for the life of the Emperor Theodosius the Great.  While it kept that promise, it also raised another important question:  how do we answer critics who claim that things used to be better before Christianity?  Or perhaps a little wider, what do we say to the complaint that truth divides and causes more problems than it solves?

Orosius studied under St. Augustine in a time of tremendous upheaval.  In the year 410, Alaric, the first king of the Visigoths, sacked the city of Rome.  Even though the center of the Roman world had been shifting steadily eastward since Constantine founded Constantinople in 330, Rome remained a symbolic bulwark in the Roman imagination.  Its fall meant that everything had gone horribly wrong, and consequently it seemed as if the very world was coming to an end.  Though Christianity was well established in the Empire by this point, suddenly a strong criticism arose:  what happened to the good old days?  Why have we fallen so far?  For many, the only change between the heady days of Augustus four hundred years earlier and now was the introduction of a foreign element in the Christian religion.  It must be the reason why.  The old ways kept the peace.  The old gods had been forgotten, and therefore everything has gone off track.

Augustine himself famously addressed this argument in the monumental City of God, but he felt that the argument needed to be strengthened further.  Where he focused specifically on Roman history, he felt that it needed expansion.  He therefore asked Orosius to compose a similar work, but to expand his view to the world as a whole.  Orosius, like Augustine, therefore wrote Seven Books against the Pagans to prove a remarkable thesis:  things used to be far worse, and only with the coming of Christ and the Church has the world seen improvement.  Even if things are bad now, it is like complaining of the cold at the first sign of winter, forgetting the blizzards of years gone by.  Using various sources, he covers thousands of years of history in an effort to prove just that.

Admittedly, this thesis seems to ring hollow for many.  Especially as Orosius enters the Christian era, his coloring of people and events tends to grow.  He expresses confusion as to how Constantine could put members of his own family to death.  His connection of the ten persecutions prior to Constantine to the plagues of Egypt, while imaginative, seems forced.  His triumphalism leads him to downplay the very real problems in his own day, even as he admits them.

Yet Orosius leads us to address the question seriously.  Seeking the truth often means stirring up trouble.  Men frequently prefer peace to truth, and addressing old problems means disturbing that peace.  Orosius answers by saying that the good old days weren’t as good as they seemed.  There is truth to that.  Peace at the cost of truth cannot be good in any circumstance.  We don’t have to follow Orosius by arguing that the present time is necessarily much better.  There will always be division and problems in this life.  Christ promises a cross, not peace.  Yet at the same time, he ought to be commended for pointing out an obvious truth in a somewhat distorted way:  what God does is always good, and truth is to be preferred to peace if it comes to that choice.  Things may be as terrible in this sin-filled world as they have always been, but how blessed are the eyes of those who see the things which former generations longed to see!

The Second Great Awakening


Few movements have had a greater impact on American Christianity than the Second Great Awakening. Whether in the way it changed the established churches or brought entirely new movements into existence, it extends into nearly every sphere of American religious life. Join our discussion of the lessons and cautions of this movement as we look at its history, some of the most important figures in it, and how it continues to have enormous influence today.

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide
Episode: 27

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The First Council of Nicaea


Few events in the history of the world have had so profound an impact than the relatively short ecumenical council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. Constantine the Great seeks to preserve the fragile unity of his empire even as the Church threatens to be torn apart over the question of how God the Father and God the Son relate to one another. The First Council of Nicaea is not a political maneuver by wily politicians, the caricature which crops up especially today, but a bold and concise confession of the truth in the face of overwhelming odds. Join us as we discuss the historical background of this council and why this historical event shows that God continues to work in history to preserve His Church.

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide
Episode: 24

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