Younger Perspectives on Cultural Engagement

August 2, 2016
Darrell L. Bock, Kymberli Cook, Mikel Del Rosario, and Kasey Summerer

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Topic Time Codes

01:44
Dr. Bock introduces his staff as they present their experiences working in cultural engagement
10:33
Del Rosario explains the idea of helping people go from life to the Bible in his apologetics ministry
13:08
Summerer talks about movies and seeking understanding of what lies below the surface of cultural movements
18:13
Cook shares how her ministry begins by addressing the felt needs of individuals
20:42
Two dimensions to cultural engagement: Truth and tone
21:15
Gentleness, born out of peace and contentment, ought to drive conversations on difficult topics
23:07
How tone relates to loving well
25:07
Convicted civility means respect and dignity for all, regardless of their beliefs
27:06
The goal is not to win an argument but to lead people to Jesus
29:02
Extending an invitation to the gospel, showing concern for a person and not just an issue
31:31
Letting go of the need to control situations and embracing contentment
35:40
Ministering to those who have been deeply hurt by the Church
40:14
Tensions involved in moving from “life to the Bible”

Transcript

Darrell Bock
Welcome to the last cultural engagement chapel of the semester. We’ve got something completely new going on here. There is no introduction. So in a year I’ve gone from here’s Darrell to take care of it yourself. So anyway. Let me open us up in a word of prayer we’ll begin.

Father, we do pause before you and give you thanks this day for your involvement in our lives. From our very creation made in your image to being drawn to you and now indwelt by your spirit we give you thanks for your presence in our lives. We thank you for everything that it took to bring us here. Activity and promises thousands of years ago. Activity in our Lord Jesus, his life and ministry, his death and his resurrection. Activity in the present through the spirit that indwells us. And we pray that we might be people who are faithful in our walk with you. and that as we engage in life in this world, as we are sent as ambassadors on your behalf, as we represent you as children of God we pray that we may do so faithfully. Be with us now in this hour as we chat about cultural engagement and we pray that we might be encouraged by the things that we discuss. We ask these things in Jesus name, amen.

Our topic today is cultural engagement. And this is – we’re rapidly coming up to the third year of doing cultural engagement. So I thought what I would so is I would grab some students who have been here kinda since we launched for whom they’ve never known seminary without cultural engagement. And I can look at the faculty over there and they would all go, I know about seminary without cultural engagement. Anyway, but – and talk about the impact of what cultural engagement has meant for them. And then we have microphones here and about halfway through as we often we’re gonna open it up just for your kinda open ended cultural engagement questions.

So I have with me Mikel Del Rosario who’s worked with us in the Hendricks Center. Has kind of been my right hand person in terms of dealing with issues related to The Table and all the planning and posting and transcripting and all that stuff that you see, Mikel is responsible for.

And then Kasey Summerer who is interning with us now. And opted into an internship with us. Which I’ll ask you about the psychology of that later. Anyway.

And then Kym Cook who works in the – is our events manager at the Hendricks Center but also has – she and I have had many conversations about the relative value of theology versus exegesis at the seminary.
Kym Cook
Oh, my.
Darrell Bock
So anyway, so we’re gonna – I won’t pull you into that discussion now.
Kym Cook
Thank you. Appreciate that.
Darrell Bock
But I’m gonna start with Mikel. Mikel, you majored in apologetics at Biola when you were there. And we’ve talked many times since you’ve come about what you got there and what you’ve got here and how you’ve put that together. So why don’t you kind of tell people a little bit of your story and what got you started with this area of interest.
Mikel Del Rosario
Sure. Well, when I was at Biola I did my MA in apologetics, graduated 2003 from there. While I was an undergrad at Biola I also got to work in the philosophy department for Scott Rae and JP Moreland and got to take classes with William Lane Craig. So Biola is really – has a heavy emphasis on philosophy. And so I felt very prepared as a generalist coming out of that program to do apologetic speaking and training and do some adjunct work teaching apologetics.

But I wanted to specialize in historical Jesus. And so many years later after doing work overseas as a missionary and coming back, I found myself on campus a Biola again. And I met somebody who I used to work for, Scott Rae, and told him about that and he’s like, “You should meet my friend Darrell.” Because I was thinking about DTS. So coming over here, being able to focus more on the Bible and answer some of these kinds of Ehrmanesque kinds of challenges to Scripture and focus on historical Jesus is something I’ve really been appreciative of, to kind of put those two things together.
Darrell Bock
So what I’m hearing is there are kind of two parts to the way you’ve put cultural engagement together. One is a kind of a philosophical base and a world viewish kind of approach to things. And the other is the life of the details.
Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah.
Darrell Bock
Is that fair enough?
Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah, yeah. But then beyond merely the content of apologetics, whether it’s philosophical apologetics or Biblical apologetics, coming to cultural engagement which honestly I didn’t really know what that was when we first met each other –
Darrell Bock
That’s because no one does it.
Mikel Del Rosario
That’s right. Was to understand, yes, we have to have a ready defense. But when you’re not doing that ready defense, when you’re not in Q&A mode, how are you an ambassador of Christ when you’re not strictly doing actual apologetics? ‘Cause there’s a silent apologetic if you would that sets it up for that conversation. Because our apologetics, our evangelistic conversations don’t happen in a vacuum. They don’t hear these arguments in a vacuum. They come wrapped in a wrapper that is your life. And so how are we responding to the issues of the day and how are we seeing our work the way God does? Our coworkers the way God does? These kinds of things play into the way our apologetics and evangelism is actually heard.
Darrell Bock
Okay. You’ve mentioned the faith and work thing. Kasey, how do you put cultural engagement together and what have you gotten out of your experience with it?
Kasey Summerer
It’s been interesting. Cause when I first came on there as an intern with you I was really interested in the college study that we’re doing with the universities and seeing the different issues that arise there. But over my time that faith and work aspect has become huge. I’ve gotten to work with Bill Hendricks over there and just seeing how much that your giftedness plays into everything that you do. Not just the things you do on Sunday. Not just the things that you do during your workweek. But it’s holistic.

And during that process I’ve just grown to love it. And not only the faith and work movement, but how it really comes together with culture and culture engagement. And taking us back to Genesis 1 and not just Genesis 3 where most people are stuck.
Darrell Bock
Okay. Kym, you’ve watched this kind of as well develop. But you’ve got another element to your life that’s important. You minister with your husband to college and career level age people – I think that’s right. Do I have that right in terms of the ministry?
Kym Cook
Mm hmm. Yeah.
Darrell Bock
So what does that dimension add to this conversation for you in terms of thinking about how cultural engagement works? Particularly when you think about plugging it into a ministry where you’re ministering alongside your husband with substantially a pretty young group that’s trying to figure out where they’re landing in life.
Kym Cook
Yeah, yeah .Um. Well, the first thing you have to understand about me and y’all, Dr. Bock complete understands this, is that I hate tension. With everything in me. Interpersonal tension. Fake tension on movies. I can’t stand like the climax points at the movie, you know where everything, the plot’s coming together. I fast forward those. And it drives my husband crazy. I cannot stand tension. Theologically I can. But like in real life I can’t handle it.

So this – I actually, I think you knew this, but I was here a little bit before cultural engagement. And so I kind of ended up in this because I got a job there. And this person who really doesn’t like tension or controversial topics or anything like that is now doing luncheons about controversial topics and our brainstorming meetings are about all of the hard things going on. And everything Christians need to wrestle with. And I’m just sitting there kinda wanting to melt into my chair.

And so this, overall the experience of kind of being forced to talk about these things has made me realize that being Christian, you know like we talk about that at the seminar here often as far as like doctrines go. You know to be Christian is to believe these things. I feel like I’ve learned that being Christian is also to do certain actions. And to care. And to care about what’s going on and to care about difficult topics and difficult areas in our world. You don’t have to care about all of them and you don’t have to care about the ones that maybe people are just saying something so that they have something to say on 24 hour news. But that to be a Christian is to care and to pay attention to things and to engage on some level. And because that’s partly – I mean that’s what Christ did. And that’s what he calls us to when we’re called to reach out and make disciples and all of that. I’m an introvert that doesn’t like tension and likes to study. So that’s a very tall order for me.

But how it relates to the young adults at the church is, I’ve started, like believe it or not, this is groundbreaking for me. I have a news app on my phone now that I check. I know what’s going on.

I pay attention to what’s going on in the news. And I try to stay in conversations. And so when the young adults come to us with difficult topics that they are facing in the real world, I have – I kinda have an answer. Or I can at least – I can talk to them about it. And I’m a little bit more willing to do it because of – and to talk about those things because of what I’ve learned through the cultural engagement process here at DTS.
Darrell Bock
Yeah. One things I like to say about what we’re trying to do is when you come to seminary and you learn to handle scripture, usually what you do is you go from the Bible to life. You go from, you know you go through a book or you look at a doctrine or you look at a topic and you’re going from the biblical text to life. Unfortunately, when you get out in ministry most people work the Bible in the reverse direction. They bring their life to scripture and they’re asking in terms of where God has them, what does scripture have to say about what I’m going through? Or how do I view that? That’s actually reverse direction. And there actually is almost a different kind of hermeneutic. A different kind of reading that you have to undergo in order to read scripture this way.

The premise that we’ve sort of been operating with is the seminary does a very good job and seminaries in general do a very good job of having people go from the Bible to life. But going from life to the Bible, back to the Bible is kind of a different track. And it’s a little more typical. It’s a little more holistic. It requires biblical and systematic theology in a lot of ways. Brought together in a cohesive way that really seminaries struggle to do. So how much has – I’m doing that as a background. How much has that dimension of what we are trying to do impacted the way you think about reading and engaging with scripture? Mikel?
Mikel Del Rosario
Hmm. I think when I often go out to speak and get questions. I think, well, first of all, back up. Sometimes people say, isn’t it great that you get to use what you’re learning in seminary when you go out to speak? And I think, well, actually a lot of the things that I’m being asked to speak on are kind of these general apologetics kinds of philosophical questions. But then when I get the Q&A time, people aren’t – I’m going, well, people aren’t going to ask me about reading and apparatus, you know. How am I gonna bring what I learned from DTS to this? But people ask me questions that aren’t your strict apologetics questions of, you know content. They say, how can I relate to my gay friends? They say, how can I relate to this or that? The issues that we talk about. And so being able to have those people’s needs in your mind when you’re doing your homework helps us say, okay, I’m gonna study what this passage is about, but then I’m gonna remember that so that when someone has a question about their life where they’re at I can take them from life to the Bible and explain those kinds of things.
Darrell Bock
Okay. I’m gonna put a – we’re gonna save that idea in the cache because you’ve introduced something that I think is important in terms of how you personally interact on these issues. It’s not just what the issue is but how you personally interact that’s important. I’m gonna save that. I want to come back to that. That’s a really important theme.

Kasey, how do you think about going from life back to the Bible?
Kasey Summerer
Absolutely. This was very interesting and very intricate to the – I was teaching in the institute this semester on the topic of cultural engagement. And this was key. Lot of my people that were in my class, you know they’re coming in with those situations that they have questions about. And they’re looking for specific answers. And one of the things that I promised them was, well, I’m probably not gonna give you more answers. I’m probably gonna end up with more questions at the end. Because as we go to scripture, you have to try to hold it all together. Even starting from Genesis 1 in creation, there’s a goodness and there’s a lot of things that are implied in there. And then we have the fall. And then there is redemption and restoration. And somehow you have to try to pull these all together. So no matter how you, what decision you decide to engage on, whether it be to support something, to push something away, whether to critique something like that, you have to do it in a way that not only is speaking truthfully, but you have to keep in balance of grace and love and the goodness of the amgoday and everything in there.
Darrell Bock
I got to evaluate one of Kasey’s classes for the, I guess what do we call it now? They don’t call it the Lay Institute. That’s the old name. But anyway, he’s teaching this class on cultural engagement. And he does a class on movies. Okay, now at first ask yourself this question, where are movies in the Bible? Okay, just pause and think about that for a second. And so – and the tape begins with one of his students saying to him, I don’t watch television and I don’t watch movies. Okay. So how’s he gonna interact with that guy? Other than we want to give him an introductory ticket to the beginning of cultural engagement. But other than that.

So talk a little bit about how you handled your approach to movies and what you tried to achieve with that.
Kasey Summerer
Oh, man. There’s a lot of things that we covered. And of course we didn’t have near enough time to do it. One of the things that I wanted them to primarily see is you might have a spectrum of movies. And I kinda called it you might put it in three parts. This side over here, these movies that you would not even question about going to. Hey, you’d let your kids go to. In the middle there’s kinda the shady area where you have to think critically about it. And then there’s another side that’s even over here where you’re like, you write it off, oh, I’m not gonna go see it.

But what we do with these two chunks right here is a lot of times we really keep our arm’s distance away from them. And I wanted them to see that even though it is good and right to even certain movies be like, you know what, I don’t think it's wholesome to go see these, we still need to try to understand why these movies are being produced. What issues the broader culture is actually caring about and talking about.

And I thought I’d stir the fire just a little bit. And so I brought up the movie Fifty Shades of Grey. Like that. And of course a little bit of an older generation in there. And it was just, you could see the arms going up like this.
Darrell Bock
Fifty walls of grey.
Kasey Summerer
Absolutely. And I asked them, what, why is this movie being made and why are crowds flocking to it? And you read reviews on it and what’s the first thing it says? Well, sex sells. And I told them, well, if that’s the case, you can pop open your computer awfully quickly and for free rather than going to a movie and paying a bunch of money to do it. So there’s something that lies beneath the surface here. And I even brought up one of the songs that’s in there and it’s called Love Me Like You Do. And just showing to them that there’s a deeper issue here. That people don’t feel loved. There’s this void in their life. And they’re seeking out some way to find that love. Even if it is in all the wrong places. And you should just see the look on their face. They start to be like, wow. I didn’t think about all that hurt in people’s lives. And even maybe they had friends that went and saw it. and all the sudden there was something that was clicking in their mind that said, oh, I judged them for thinking that their only reason for going there is cause they wanted to see sex. But maybe there’s something deeper in their life that’s really a hold there.
Darrell Bock
And the interesting thing about that tape was is that – cause I’m seeing this on video tape. They’re recording it. Is watching kind of – it was kind of a normal classroom atmosphere. Until you got to this point. And then the whole dynamic of the class changed in terms of the kinds of conversations that took place. And what was being discussed, you kind of dug beneath the surface in terms of what it is that people are wrestling with. Which I told you we’ve got that thing in the cache. That’s what we’re working our way towards.

Kym, let me ask you this, cause it’s a variation of this kind of question. When you minister to this group that you find yourself ministering too, how much time in ministry is spent interacting with people in terms of what they are facing in their lives?
Kym Cook
Like 95 percent of it. You know. I don’t know. My husband does most of the teaching so probably 95 for me, probably 90 for him. I mean it’s – from where I’m at, you know and I’m a pastor’s wife at this point. I graduated in May so I’m not technical a student. Sorry. _____ _____. But –
Darrell Bock
She’s an alum.
Kym Cook
I don’t know. As you ask the question and what role does it take and hearing you all, especially you, Kasey, what you were saying, I just, I don’t know. I just think of the faces of the people in my ministry who they come up to me and, you know somebody had a really hard discussion with somebody at work about – and the person was kinda coming after them for believing. For being a Christian and for what they believe. And some of them are real technical questions, you know here we are kinda trained to answer but other ones are coming from that person’s felt need. You know. Fear over hell and all of that. Because fear is in our society and everybody’s afraid of, you know being killed somewhere sometime quickly. And suddenly. And so fear and despair are just permeating everything. And so they bring that to us. And it's just – this is why I am so thankful for the education that I have been given here. Because, not that they don’t have the Bible, but we can introduce them to elements of the Bible that can help ease that fear. We can introduce them to things that the Lord has said about himself that help ease those fears.

But exactly what you’re saying, it's coming from where they’re at in life and saying, here, there’s peace here. There’s mercy here. There is goodness here. And you can go out and you can show them that too. And at least you know why you believe this. You know and it can steady you in the midst of that. And that itself is an apologetic.
Darrell Bock
Now what we’re kind of surfacing here is that there are kind of two dimensions to cultural engagement. One is the dimension of the content of what you deal with. But the second is being very aware of where the people are coming from that you’re engaged with. And gaining some sensitivity to what they’re about and where they’re coming from.

Another thing that we do spend a lot of time talking about as we think about cultural engagement is the issue of tone as we engage. So I’m gonna go in reverse order this time. Ladies first. So let’s talk about the tone of engagement. And I think the way I want to talk about this is what you see out there oftentimes in tone. Particularly if you’re on Facebook or in social media.
Kym Cook
Which I avoid.
Darrell Bock
You’re consistent. I’ll give you that. So versus kinda the way we’ve tried to talk about tone here. What have you picked up from what we’ve been doing?
Kym Cook
Well, I mean I kinda feel like it's a little bit of, you know what I was just saying about the peace. That as Christians we should be, you know known by and marked by the peace and contentment of the Lord. And when we approach our conversations and when we approach difficult tension filled conversations with that peace and with love and mercy and like I said, even contentment in where you’re at. Even if it doesn’t come out like you want it to or, you know things are difficult. It’s still – I don’t know. I think that that speaks volumes. And I think that that part is a part of the tone element is just coming at it and being gentle and still standing up for what you believe in absolutely. And saying it clearly and saying it well. But at the same time I think that those elements of just gentleness, we don’t have those in our culture apart from Christi.
Darrell Bock
Hmm. Kasey?
Kasey Summerer
Tone. I love tone. When I – first of all I want to clarify, when I think about tone, a lot of times the first thing we go to is just how we say something. But when I think about tone in this whole idea of engagement it’s bigger. It’s about the how of how we approach everything. So first of all, obviously how we talk to someone. But even how you show love to someone. Whether it’s a hug. That sets the tone for the conversation.

I kinda set up in my class during, when we were talking about this issue, of two categories. Things that we have in our control and things that are out of our control. And the things that are out of our control might be someone’s philosophy in life. What is their faith? What is their epistemology and what do they hold as being the grounds for truth? We can’t change those. And so we have to learn to adapt to that person’s – who they are. We can’t just go in there and try to force them to change that

The second thing is the things that are in in our control. And tone is the primary one of those. And we can learn how to adapt that. Even someone’s sensitivities. When you’re walking into a conversation, have you asked that person about their life a little bit so that you know what the things they’ve gone through? So that you know what things not to say?

A lot of times as Christians we get stuck in this Christianese kind of a thing using highfalutin words that by the time you roll one or two of those out there just like (noise). And guess what, their ears shut too. So just learning how to be sensitive to that person’s filter. Because you have to let that person know that it’s a safe place and that you care about them with the tone of not only your voice and what you’re saying and the way that you’re loving them before they were even willing to listen to those other issues that are, you know those core doctrinal issues that you’re trying to eventually get to. But it’s probably not gonna happen right away.
Darrell Bock
Mikel?
Mikel Del Rosario
When I finished my internship with you and Garett challenged me to come up, since I’m a musician, come up with some kind of analogy. How can you relate like guitar and apologetics? You know what, it’s tone. People chase the tone. Guitarists, people in the audience, people chase the tone forever. But sometimes as Christians we don’t think about that tone. And as we look in the scriptures, especially the early church, we see that tone is loving people well. Tone is caring about how do I serve the other person with this information, with the gospel that we have. From Paul in Acts 17. He’s not belittling people because they never heard about the Bible. He starts where they’re at. He says that we were made in God’s image. And then he makes that relationship between your creator and who you are.

And so when we serve people by thinking, okay, what’s the most important thing about you, it’s not this or that about you. It’s that you’re made in the image of God. And so when somebody asks me how do I relate to my gay friends and talk about convicted civility, being strong on what the Bible says about biblical, sexual ethics but also loving people like Jesus would have us love them. To say that what is most important about you is that you were made in the image of God.

So serving people well is what tone is about. So when I’m doing my homework and I’m thinking nobody’s gonna ask me how to read an apparatus, we are looking at the variances, and I know why 400,000 _____ don’t shake my faith. But I’m not going to belittle somebody because they never heard about these things before. I’m gonna take what God’s given me and share with them why they can have confidence in the Bible in a way that respects where they’re at.
Darrell Bock
Okay. now the mics are open so do feel free if you’ve got a cultural engagement question or something about cultural engagement or something reflective about cultural engagement you want to ask us a group, feel free to move up to the mics. But one more question here. The hard part of cultural engagement I think for a Christians is dealing with the fact that we, all of us live in a fallen world. And we’re inevitably intentioned between what we know scripture says we should be and where we all are to one degree or another. And so this inevitably brings up the element of cultural engagement is really in some form going to inevitably be cultural confrontation or at least that’s how some people will think about it.

So how do you view the balance between the challenge of challenging where someone is on the one hand and the reminder that in the midst of that the ultimate goal is extending a hand with a invitation to participate in the gospel in another? In other words, the goal is not to crush the enemy, but to actually open the door, hopefully a door and a path towards faith. How do you wrestle with that tension?
Mikel Del Rosario
I think sometimes in conversation we are so quick to want to give people the answer sometimes we don’t listen to the questions. And so to really care about the person and say, is this really the question they’re asking? And even if it is, what’s behind that question? Sometimes just getting them to take the next step to move them to the next conversation is good enough. That we just want to keep those lines of communication open. It’s real easy for us who have studied different arguments for things to want to drive them into a place where they can see things from our perspective. But as you said, the goal is actually not to win this “culture war” or win this argument. But to lead people to the place where they can encounter the savior. Sometimes just moving them to the next conversation is a step in the right direction.
Darrell Bock
Kasey.
Kasey Summerer
absolutely. To add to that, when we’re having these conversations, couldn’t say it better than just asking great questions. Being interested in someone’s life. One of the things we always talk about is, hey, how do you find odors _____ _____ someone’s life? Some of the simplest ways that are just completely uncomplicated is just get to know them. We’re all human. We all have certain common experiences. And at least being able to, hey, we have a common experience, how was your experience with that? And all the sudden that person will start to open up. Because they see, oh, this person actually cares about what I think. About what I’ve gone through. You’re validating that person’s experience. Even though it may be – they may have chosen a path that wasn’t doctrinally sound. But guess what? You’ve still affirmed that their experience was valid. And I feel like that’s something that as Christians a lot of times we are not the best at. Is we connect so firmly with that person’s decision that we invalidate that person as a person and their experience. So validating a person and like you said, keeping a conversation open, is huge. And that takes discernment.

One of the things I’m big on is that this whole thing called cultural engagement, it’s not necessarily a science. It’s an art. You’re gonna win some, you’re gonna lose some. But in the process, like you said, being able to keep that gospel out there at the hands length and there’s an invitation there. That that person knows that it’s always on the table and you’re not forcing it on them, but it’s there.
Darrell Bock
Let me come back to the phrase that you used. Validate their experience. Cause I think this is something that could be understood or misunderstood depending on how you’ve got it. What exactly do you mean by validating their experience? What do you mean and maybe what don’t you mean by validating the experience?
Kasey Summerer
Absolutely. And I’ll start with the what don’t I mean. Cause I think that’s important. A lot of people when they hear, oh, you’re validating their experience, what they hear is oh, you are confirming what they’re saying. You think that that’s right. And that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying by validating someone’s experience is saying, you had a valid experience. You are human. You made a decision. You maybe experienced something in a certain way. Does it mean that it’s right or wrong? That’s in a sense a separate issue. But validating someone as a person, that has dignity, that have real emotions, they have real thoughts. They have real questions. That’s important. If that makes sense.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, it does. It does. Kym, as you think about it, how long have you and Travis been ministering at Park Cities?
Kym Cook
Five years.
Darrell Bock
Five years.
Kym Cook
he’s been there five years. I’ve been with him for like four.
Darrell Bock
Okay. So you’ve been in ministry here for a while. What – and you’ve now graduated so we’re gonna – I’m gonna draw on that expertise, okay. All right. By the way, she is proof that eschatology does happen. Okay. You know. There is a graduation that does come. Anyway.
Kym Cook
[Inaudible]
Darrell Bock
Yeah. Anyway, what advice would you give about the seminary experience and the preparation that seminary gives you given where you are just really out in ministry?
Kym Cook
As it relates?
Darrell Bock
As it relates to issues of interacting with people, cultural engagement. Some of the personal things that we’ve talked about here.
Kym Cook
Mm hmm. Oh, goodness. I mean half of y’all are in ministry longer than I’ve been so you probably know. I think, like I was saying just a little bit earlier, and I hate to keep hitting, you know this nail on the head, but like I – this element of contentment and confidence. And in what you believe and in your relationships with the Lord and how he is shaping everybody. And how he has different paths for everybody. Not to heaven but like as he brings them to himself. And that, like you were saying, you know or I’m sorry, Mikel, that like maybe your conversation with them is only bringing them to the next spot. Or you know kind of just letting go of a need to control their decision be it for Christ or just to make a righteous decision in their life. And to just have confidence in the Lord and in his ability to work in them as he’s worked in you and brought you to this point. And that approaching events and coffees and Sunday morning and all of that really, and on good days I do this and I try other days, with prayer before each time. And just saying, I don’t really know this person and I’m about to have coffee with them, Lord, please make something of this. Or, you know Lord I am so tired and I don’t want to be here. And God just take me as I am and show me the people that need love today. And in the midst of that just ministering with him and allowing him to just use you. I don’t know if that’s helpful or not.
Darrell Bock
Let me paraphrase or try and put in different words what I think part of what you’re saying that I think is pretty important. And that is when you minister out of a confidence and you minister out of a peace, you don’t minister out of anger. You don’t minister out of frustration. You don’t –
Kym Cook
Or have an agenda.
Darrell Bock
Or have an – there are all kinds of things that come with it. And so it’s having the calmness to be able to step into the difficult conversation and not feel threatened by the conversation you’re walking into. Is that what –
Kym Cook
That is way more eloquent than I was. Yes.
Mikel Del Rosario
And letting people know you have their best in mind. In everything. Not just in spiritual things. Cause if you have their best in a coworker relationship on in a tutor mentee relationships, whatever, then they can trust that when you’re talking about what’s most important to you in life that you’re doing it cause you want their best. You’re not there to try to make yourself look smarter or try to add another conversion onto your belt. But that you really have their best in mind.
Darrell Bock
Yeah. We have a saying that we often use when we talk about this. It goes, they won’t care about your critique unless they know you are. And so in that sense having that dimension to the way you’re interesting is important. We’ve got some people standing up here at the mics I think so go ahead.
Audience Member
Hi. Yep. I have a question in terms of how can we best engage with people who have already been hurt by the church or by Christians or by any of us who have shown them condemnation. How can we love them well and show them that that’s not the way that Christianity or the church truly is? How can we engage with them when they already have that mindset?
Darrell Bock
Let me tell you about a podcast we taped last week. It was with a fellow named Caleb Cultnebach who’s in our _____ program. He also is a Talbot Biola grad. There seems to be a line that runs from California to Texas. And he was raised in a home that ended up – he ended up being raised in a home that had three gay parents. Okay. So let me walk you through this. His parents got divorced when he was two years old. His mom came out as gay and the woman that she had a relationship with moved into the house and raised him. His father he discovered was gay when he hit college. So he’d basically been raised by three gay parents. He talked about – this podcast begins with him talking about marching in gay parade marches with his mother when he was young. And he’s feeling the hostility coming from Christians as he’s in the march.

He talked about his attitude to Christianity that he had growing up because of those experiences. And then he talked about the contrast of some of the relationships he entered into with Christians that basically opened him up for the gospel. And the way in which what he saw from those people was different from what he experienced in the parades. And he talks about this on the podcast.

He eventually came to the Lord. And is now in ministry. In fact, he pastors out in California. And with a special – he’s just written a book called Messy Grace talking about this experience. And so what you’re seeing is a person who – I’ll use the phrase that Kasey used – validated experience. Validated experience. Not in saying that we think your experience is true or right or right on. But simply we understand where you’re coming from and have gotten – and got to know them well enough and close enough to come alongside. And to walk through that experience with them. And in some case to crash the stereotypes that had developed previously because of the experience that they had previously.

So I think that is often a very long process. It can be a very hard and bitter process. I have family members in my own family, particularly in my wife’s family who had bad religious experiences growing up. So religion was a bad thing initially. So to be around religious people in their minds who don’t match what they had experienced creates disconnect that then they have to process. Which actually ends up being pretty healthy.

So that’s I think one element of the approach that I think we’re talking about. Yeah, Kasey.
Kasey Summerer
I’d really like piggyback off that. And you hit it right on the head as far as we just have to look different. We have to start getting a lot better at looking different than the world does. Whether it’s from Facebook conversations where people are trying to win arguments by just telling at each other. That’s not gonna get you anywhere. That’s not gonna win any brownie points. Because it sees two same things coming from both sides. I wish I had a lot more time to talk about it. But going back to the truth, goodness and beauty conversation. We have to start showing people not only that it’s true but we’re living in more and more of a generation that they value that beauty and the goodness of where it's coming from. And I think that’s just foundational of where – we’ve got to start showing people more of that beauty and the goodness that they’re not seeing from the rest of the world.
Mikel Del Rosario
And I would add that you empathize with people. You are outraged with them when it’s appropriate to be outraged with them. You call out hypocrisy in the church just like Jesus did with religious people when it’s appropriate to do so. And eventually you point them to Jesus. And say, well, there are so many hypocrites in the church, do you really think Jesus approves of stuff like that? You know. And you point them to Jesus. And then you be that Christian. You be the Christian that shows how Jesus would love that person. That’s a tall order. But through the power of the Holy Spirit we can do it.
Darrell Bock
Next question.
Audience Member
Hello. Dr. Bock, you said that to go from life to the Bible that’s a different hermeneutic than it takes to go from Bible to life. I was wondering if you could explain that a little more to tell the differences.
Darrell Bock
Man, I would love to give $5.00 for asking that question. That was wonderful. Yeah. Let me tell you what I think the key thing is. And I think the key thing in going from life to the Bible is spotting the tensions that a fallen world puts you in. And what I mean by that is that sometimes what you find life is delivering to you is either a choice between two poor choices but you have to do something. Or in some cases you’ve got two biblical principles that are running into one another and you’re trying to figure out how to balance them.

And so underneath the core reading of the text is this recognition of what you’re actually contending with in life. That is informing the decision that you’re trying to make. I often joke that in politics we see this all over the place. But what we see happening in politics is we see different ideologies choosing one biblical value or another biblical value and using it to trump the other, the second biblical value and in the process negating the conversation we need to have.

Let me give you an example. And this will be controversial. And I will pay for this later. And it’s on the topic of immigration. If you watch the debate on immigration just two nights ago and you saw some people standing up for the nation and the right to have our borders, to find who our people are, etcetera, and then you saw other people raising questions about compassion for foreigners and not breaking up families, etcetera. No my next question is, which of those values is biblical? The fact is all of them are biblical. The idea that a nation has a right to establish its borders and set its – and protect its people and be a nation of laws and have social and civil order and ask people to follow the law, it’s a very biblical idea. But so is the idea that you care for the foreigner, that you care about families, etcetera.

So the conversation that we actually never have that we need to have is how do you put all that together in a package that works? Okay. And is simply labeling what we do in immigration as either being softhearted or amnesty or whatever these buzzwords that we use to try and really they don’t help us in our conversation. They actually prevent us from having the conversation we need to have. Is there a way of taking the biblical values that life is throwing at you in which you’ve got two things kind of running in and colliding into one another and how do you make that work?

We’re in the same situation the LGBT discussion. How do we have – how do I live with a neighbor who I have to live as a neighbor with and who the Bible calls me to love whose values represent everything or many things that the Bible challenges as being immoral? How do I put those two things together? How do I do that well? And how do I do that well especially when in the end my theology tells me the only solution to the problem that I face with that person is not something I do legislative but a changed heart. How do I get to that place? With the message of the gospel. And how do i- that’s life, okay, coming at you and you’re asking how do I put the elements of the Bible together which tell me on the one hand I have this moral position that I’m responsible for and this moral position that I represent as a person who’s a Christian and who has certain biblical and moral values that I think are true and authentic to living and rooted in the image of God. All wonderful things. How do I put that against the idea that the only way that the person that I’m challenging morally is going to get a better life is to come into the experience of the gospel? How do I put those two things together? That’s life. That’s life in a fallen world.

And the key thing is is that I’m not in any different position than that person I’m talking to. That’s the other thing to never forget. That everything that I have received in Christ I get not because of who I am but because of God’s goodness and grace. And that’s what I’m offering to the person I’m having the conversation with. Who I’m culturally engaging with. And so if we don’t culturally engage in a way that reflects those core gospel commitments and that core self-understanding that what they need is also what I need. And we share the same space in many ways. I don’t think we’ll culturally engage well.

Well, unfortunately, our time is up. But let me have you thank our panelists.

And let me close in a word of prayer.

Father, we do thank you for this opportunity to reflect on who we are as your children. And you’ve told us that we are ambassadors. Our prayer is that we might represent you well in the world. That as citizens of a heavenly kingdom that transcends nations that we might love people of all kinds of different backgrounds and nations and beliefs. That we might do so well. That we might engage well. That we might in the midst of taking a stand for what we believe you to have made us into as human beings and where you hope to take is. That we might do that wisely, sensitively, courageously, boldly. And yet have that peace. That says that we don’t need to minister out of fear or out of frustration because we know you are a god far bigger than that which we face. We ask these things in Christ’s name. Amen.

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