the shape of leadership

Keep Christianity Weird!

A conversation with Nijay Gupta, Ph.D.

George P Wood on February 29, 2024


The first Christians were weird,” writes Nijay Gupta. “I am not talking about their clothing, music preferences, or hobbies. When I say ‘weird’ or ‘strange,’ I am talking about deviation from cultural norms and society’s expectations for how things ought to be done. Especially when it came to religion … the Christians were as backwards and as odd as you could be.”

Well, that’s how the Romans viewed them anyway.

In this episode of the Influence Podcast, I talk to Gupta about how Christianity deviated from Roman cultural norms and expectations, and why Romans viewed them as weird and dangerous — but also compelling.

I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine and your host.

Nijay Gupta, Ph.D., is professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary, a Pauline scholar, and most recently author of Strange Religion: How the First Christians Were Weird, Dangerous, and Compelling, published by Brazos Press.

We talked about his previous book, Tell Her Story: How Women Led, Taught, and Ministered in the Early Church, published by IVP Academic, in Episode 315 of the Influence Podcast.

This episode of the Influence podcast is brought to you by My Healthy Church, distributors of MEGA Sports Camp.

The MEGA Sports Camp theme for 2024 is Blaze a Trail. This VBS invites kids to live an adventure with Jesus. Kids will learn that Jesus blazed the trail for our salvation, and as they follow Jesus, they can live their own adventure that points people to Him.

For more information about MEGA Sports Camp VBS, visit
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