Josh Chatraw and Stephen Presley: How to Do Apologetics Like the Early Church


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It’s a two-for-the-price-of-one sale this week at Three Chords and the Truth: The Apologetics Podcast! (Or perhaps “two-for-the-price-of-none,” since you don’t actually have to pay to listen to the podcast anyway.) In any case, the festivities begin with church historian extraordinaire Stephen Presley, who joins us to talk about the greatness of U2 and how Christians did apologetics in the second century A.D. A second-century pastor named Irenaeus of Lyon turns out to be the star of the discussion with Stephen Presley, which gives Timothy an opportunity to recite his favorite lines from Irenaeus’ dismantling of the Gnostic heresy: “Behold, these four powers—the Gourd, the Hollowness, the Cucumber, and the Pumpkin! They have together begotten a crowd of delirious pumpkins.” (No, we’re not joking; Irenaeus actually did include these words in a theological treatise in the second century A.D. Also, “Dëlïrïöüs Pümpkïns” would be an amazing name for a band.) Timothy sees these words as a prophetic foreshadowing of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” the greatest Halloween program ever produced.In the second half, theologian and apologist Josh Chatraw joins us to discuss the apologetics of the fifth-century pastor and theologian Augustine of Hippo. But this is not just the story of Augustine. This is also the heartwarming story—soon to be turned into a Hallmark holiday film—of the musical redemption of Josh Chatraw. Josh is a world-class apologist who produces outstanding books but, when it comes to music, his responses tend to fall a bit short. In his first appearance on this program several months ago, Josh mentioned Kenny G, a recording artist whose saxophone playing sounds like an overly-chill choir of flatulent poltergeists. (Also, “Flätülënt Pöltërgëïsts” would be another excellent name for a band.) This could have prevented Josh from ever returning to Three Chords and the Truth, but your intrepid cohosts are more forgiving and gracious than you might have guessed. As a result, they’ve given Josh a second chance. In this program, Josh Chatraw begins his long journey toward redemption and recovery by appealing to the blues. Much hilarity and deep discussion of Augustine takes place along the way.This week’s Toybox Hero Tournament turns out to be so difficult that Garrick and Timothy are unable to decide who is the winner. The combatants are a weapon from Garrick’s middle child and a superhero from Timothy’s third child. The result is a Toybox Hero Tournament in which the outcome is up to you, the long-suffering listeners who must vote on a winner. Visit Garrick and Timothy on Twitter at to let us know who should win.

The new cover art for this season was created by Dani Wallace (

This Week’s Guest

Stephen Presley is associate professor of church history at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He specializes in patristics with an interest in the intersection between the history, theology, and exegesis of the early church. Dr. Presley received his Ph.D. from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where he carried out his research in patristics.

Josh Chatraw is the director of New City Fellows at the Center for Public Christianity and resident theologian at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. His writing and speaking focuses on public theology, apologetics, and culture. His latest book is Telling a Better Story: How to Talk About God in a Skeptical Age.

Links to Click

B and H Academic

Truth Matters: book by Andreas Köstenberger, Darrell Bock, and Josh Chatraw

Truth in a Culture of Doubt: book by Andreas Köstenberger, Darrell Bock, and Josh Chatraw

Liberty in the Things of God: book by Robert Louis Wilken

Against Heresies: book by Irenaeus of Lyons

Confessions: book by Augustine

City of God: book by Augustine

A History of Apologetics: book by Avery Dulles

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The Closing Credits

Three Chords and the Truth: The Apologetics Podcast thanks B&H Academic for their sponsorship. Music for the podcast has been licensed through and performed by Trent Thompson. Brief excerpts of music played in each program are included solely for the purposes of comment and critique as allowed under the fair-use provision of U.S. copyright law. “The fair use of a copyrighted work … for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, … scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright” (U.S. Code § 107, Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use).

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