The church will always face external threats. The gospel will always incite opposition. What if our biggest problem, then, isn’t hostility from the world but compromise inside the church?

Gerald Sittser marshals that argument in his new book, Resilient Faith: How the Early Christian ‘Third Way’ Changed the World, published by Brazos. He writes: “The problem we currently face is not primarily political or ideological. The problem is the compromised identity of the church itself and the compromised message of the gospel.”

Vague messages of spiritual uplift that demand little in discipleship don’t hold up in a world gripped by a deadly pandemic of COVID-19. But the early church shows us a different, better way. In fact, as Sittser points out in this interview, these courageous Christians out-lived their unbelieving neighbors precisely because they cared for the sick and dying. After a major plague in the Roman Empire in 250, even the church’s most bitter critics like Julian the Apostate admitted that the Christians had won much sympathy for their gospel.

Sittser joined me on Gospelbound to explain how this “third way” in the early church attracted attention not for being loud and obnoxious, but by being different. We also discussed why millennials drift away from the church, how to change a church culture of entertainment, the high price of fighting for power and privilege, and more.


This episode of Gospelbound is brought to you by Southeastern Seminary. In a disenchanted world looking to themselves for answers, Southeastern’s three-year Doctor of Ministry in Faith and Culture plants graduates at the intersection of theology, culture, and church to bring the world a better story—the gospel. Learn more at sebts.edu.