Sean McDowell: Getting the Gospel to Generation Z + "Baba O'Riley" (The Who)


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By Timothy Paul Jones and Garrick Bailey, Timothy Paul Jones, and Garrick Bailey. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

“Generation Z.” “iGen.” “Centennials.” Whatever you happen to call this generation, the children who drew their first breaths in the years between Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” and Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” are the first generation of digital natives in human history. But how secure is the faith of these teenagers and young adults? And how can current church leaders help them to trust the truth of the Christian faith? That’s what apologetics professor and bestselling author Sean McDowell joins Timothy to talk about this week. Sean also acknowledges his little-known affection for keyboard synthesizers and the music of Depeche Mode. And, as always, Sean talks about superheroes, because he’s Sean McDowell and that’s what Sean McDowell does, because he’s amazing that way.

The focus on teenagers persists into the second half of the episode as Garrick and Timothy look at a song that’s known to most people as “Teenage Wasteland,” mostly because most people only hear the song on classic rock radio stations. The real name of this tune from The Who is “Baba O’Riley.” Even though it’s one of the greatest productions in the history of rock and roll, the song is actually a leftover from an unfinished dystopian science fiction rock and roll opera. The opera was supposed to be called “Lifehouse,” and the story line that Pete Townshend of The Who sketched out for it in 1971 sounds suspiciously like a certain film from 1999 known as The Matrix. After listening to “Baba O’Riley,” your intrepid cohosts analyze the song’s eschatology and unearth the twisted history behind Pete Townshend’s penchant for smashing guitars, which can be traced back to a low ceiling in London and an artist named Gustav Metzger whose lectures were attended by members of Queen, The Rolling Stones, and The Who. Along the way, Garrick and Timothy realize that “going Gustav” is the perfect phrase to describe the smashing of a guitar on stage. Also, someone should totally name their guitar-smashing band “Göïng Güstäv.”

This week’s Toybox Hero Tournament was so brutal that the dynamic duo was almost forced to change the rating of this episode. The contestant from Garrick’s family is a buffalo or a bison or some other sort of furry bovine that’s full of blood and meat and bones and various squishy physiological artifacts. (Garrick and Timothy are theologians not zoologists, folks. When it comes to the nuances that distinguish various mammals, they are basically clueless. They only remember which of their household creatures is a cat and which one is a hamster when the cat eats the hamster. Or the hamster eats the cat, whichever one it was that happened last week. Also, why hasn’t anyone ever named their rock band “Plätÿpüs”?) The other combatant is a lioness which inexplicably has a mane, suggesting that Timothy may need to have a discussion about feline gender roles with one of his children. The result of this sanguinary clash is much bloodletting and general pandemonium related to the toy animals that populate the Jones and Bailey households.

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

This Week’s Guest

Sean McDowell earned his PhD in Apologetics and Worldview Studies from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is now professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. Sean is the author, co-author, or editor of over twenty books including The Fate of the Apostles, So The Next Generation Will Know, and Evidence that Demands a Verdict. You can find out more about Sean and his ministry at his apologetics blog,

Links to Click

B and H Academic

Student Ministry by the Book: book by Ed Newton and R. Scott Pace

So That the Next Generation Will Know: book by Sean McDowell and J. Warner Wallace

Gen Z: study by Barna Group

Chasing Love: book by Sean McDowell (Dec. 2020)

Passionate Conviction: book edited by Paul Copan and William Lane Craig

Who's Next: album by The Who

Baba O'Riley: song by The Who

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Urban Ministry Podcast

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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).

44 episodes