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Engaging Culture with Humility: Dr. Bock on Christian Love and Politics | POD 028

Engaging Culture with Humility: Dr. Bock on Christian Love and Politics | POD 028

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HOSTS & GUESTS

Dr. Darrell Bock – Guest

Paul Brandes – Co-Host

Bill Gorman – Co-Host

 

Show Notes

Engaging Culture with Humility: Dr. Bock on Christian Love and Politics

How do Christians navigate the complex arena of cultural engagement with grace and truth in today’s polarized society? In this episode of theFormed.life, Dr. Darrell Bock shares his insights on reconciling the tenets of faith with the demands of compassionate societal governance. We’ll explore the virtues of humility and respect in our interactions, and the importance of distinguishing between those who pose a threat and those who contribute positively to our communities. Join us for a discussion that aims to equip believers with the tools for thoughtful, effective, and loving cultural engagement.

 

THREE KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  1. A compassionate, respectful approach to cultural engagement in a world of hostility and dogma, simply listening well without interjecting can win trust for a more fruitful conversation.
  2. Living out an authentic Christian faith that is positively engaging, inviting dialogue with humility and love rather than operating from a position of fear.
  3. The importance of listening to and understanding diverse cultural dynamics to foster meaningful, gospel-centered conversations within society.

#CulturalEngagement #CompassionateImmigration #ChristianLove #SpiritualDisciplines #EvangelicalismToday #RespectfulDialogue #LivingFaith #GospelHope #DrDarrellBock #theFormedLifePodcast

 

RESOURCES:

Cultural Intelligence: Living for God in a Diverse, Pluralistic World – Dr. Darrell L. Bock

Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels – Dr. Darrell L. Bock

Recovering the Real Lost Gospel: Reclaiming the Gospel as Good News – Dr. Darrell L. Bock

 

GUEST BIOS:

Dr. Bock has earned recognition as a Humboldt Scholar (Tübingen University in Germany), is the author of over 40 books, including well-regarded commentaries on Luke and Acts and studies of the historical Jesus, and work in cultural engagement as host of the seminary’s Table Podcasts. He was president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) from 2000 to 2001, served as a consulting editor for Christianity Today, and serves on the boards of Wheaton College and Chosen People Ministries. His articles appear in leading publications. He is often an expert for the media on NT issues. Dr. Bock has been a New York Times best-selling author in nonfiction; serves as a staff consultant for Bent Tree Fellowship Church in Carrollton, TX; and is elder emeritus at Trinity Fellowship Church in Dallas. When traveling overseas, he will tune into the current game involving his favorite teams from Houston—live—even in the wee hours of the morning. Married for over 40 years to Sally, he is a proud father of two daughters and a son and is also a grandfather.

 

QUOTES:

“…cultural intelligence is how to walk into that mix and how to interact well with that mix. The real key in the book is talking about becoming a good listener and engaging with people in a way in which your concerns and, in some cases, your agenda might need to be set aside for a while just to establish the relational connection you need in order to have the challenging conversations that inevitably come up because the the plate tectonics are rubbing against each other and pressure could be building.” — Dr. Darrell Bock

 

“I’m talking about films that are made that really ask live questions and what people are struggling with and wrestling with. And if you keep your ear close to the ground, you can see that they’re wrestling with the value of family or the importance of legacy or the importance of test, there are values that pop up, because even though, you know, theology says we’re totally deprived, it doesn’t mean that we’re we’re as bad as we could be. It just means that we’re that we’re messed up, that it’s not aligned, that it’s dysfunctional. But there are some things about who we are in our instincts that actually reflect having been made in the image of God and being responsive to people. And you’re looking for those kinds of things.” — Dr. Darrell Bock

 

“But in the end, if you don’t have something positive or something aspirational to move the person towards that takes them towards the gospel and the good news, all you’ve done is critique them.”— Dr. Darrell Bock

 

CHAPTERS:

00:00 Christians and cultural engagement in today’s world.

05:01 Understanding and engaging with diverse cultures.

09:54 Living out gospel, sharing hope with respect.

14:04 Christians should engage with cultural intelligence intentionally.

15:24 Understanding others requires a spiritual GPS reading.

19:49 Entertainment can ask live, important questions.

21:55 Promoting hope and goodness in Christianity’s message.

25:16 Reflect on election impact, advice to pastors and individuals.

28:18 Political polarization undermines meaningful value-based conversations.

31:24 Bible references to compassion, society’s right to decide.

I’m right. I win. You lose.

I’m right. I win. You lose.

Although not often used in common parlance, the abbreviation QED is used in philosophical arguments, mathematical theorem proofs, and legal briefs. It is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase quod erat demonstrandum which literally means “which was to be demonstrated” or “thus it has been proven.” Charitably, it means I have successfully supported my argument or belief. In real life, it has an acerbic edge to it, which translates as, “See, I’m right. There, I showed you. I win. You lose.” 

Have you ever watched a debate (i.e. a debate team, not political theater called “debate”)? Debaters (especially in high school) use their timed speaking opportunities to cite as many references as possible at a pace that approaches warp speed. They talk so fast the listener can barely make out anything they’re saying until they hit their concluding statement, spoken at the fortissimo level, which almost always goes something like, “Thus it is clear that the verdict must be awarded to the affirmative [or the negative if that is their assignment that day].” QED. Translated, that means I talked faster than you did. I cited more references than you did. My logic was flawless. I win. You lose.

Challenged?

Has your opinion on something or a conclusion ever been challenged? How did that make you feel? What was your response? As Christians in the 21st century, our truth claims are becoming less and less culturally plausible. We are being challenged more and more.

Do you respond with questions of curiosity—trying to understand the challenger’s position, or with an avalanche of polysyllabic prose in an attempt to bury your “discussion partner” and then end with an emphatic QED? I win. You lose.

Do you respond with humble confidence, willing to hear a different thought process, or are you so certain of your opinion that you lambast their ideas and then end with an emphatic QED? I win. You lose.

As I listen to and learn about matters of apologetics,1 I find that I need to guard my heart. I must confess a proclivity toward a less-than-charitable approach to those who disagree with me. When I listen to messages on apologetics, I need to be vigilant. I must work hard to avoid merely gathering “ammunition” to use against those who disagree with me.

Early Years

This character flaw of mine has deep and long-standing roots. During the early stages of my spiritual exploration, I was fearful of being duped. I did not want to be intellectually weak. I wanted everything to fit together in an understandable, provable set of facts. I did not want to be wrong. Chemistry had its redox reactions that could be balanced. Physics had its formulae (both Newtonian and Einsteinian) which explained and predicted motion. Pythagoras had his mathematical theorems. And as I was exploring the claims of Christ, I wanted facts—repeatable, provable facts.

My imbalanced bias toward empiricism continued through high school and got much more intense in college. I struggled. Interestingly, it was a message on probability equations associated with fulfilled prophecy that was the triggering “hook” for my exploration. When I began my personal relationship with Jesus after my junior year in college, the campus ministry with whom I participated offered training in apologetics. I gobbled that up as fast as it was offered. That was good. I grew. I became more confident in the veracity of the biblical claims. While the spiritual growth was good, the training also fed my unhealthy bias toward proving others wrong. That bias did not result in a winsome approach to evangelism.

Although the Holy Spirit has softened some rough edges over the years, that (primarily) prideful desire to be “right” and that desire to “win” linger—just ask my wife.

I am not suggesting apologetics is bad, nor am I saying I no longer love apologetics. I love every minute of study and learning. While I still want to understand and I still want to be “right,” I pray my desire to be right is rooted in a desire to know more about Jesus. May it not be rooted in a desire to win a debate.

Watch Our Motives

May we engage both sides of our brain as we listen to the truths of the Scripture. Do not eschew the facts, but keep them balanced with the existential realities of a life with the person of Jesus.

Whether we are discussing what I call external issues (e.g. the exclusivity of Jesus, the age of the earth, or the existence of evil) or internal issues (e.g. eschatological timing, sovereignty/human agency, original sin), may we know what we study and read rather than reading what we “know.” May we learn so that we can grow in our worship. May we learn so that we can do what is right, not win a debate.

In his first letter, the apostle Peter summed it up well. He admonished us to always be ready to defend our hope that is rooted in our faith in Jesus.

 “…[be] ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. YET [emphasis added] do this with gentleness and reverence….
I Peter 3:15-16. 

However, we need to be careful with that word translated as “defend” since it has potentially pejorative overtones in English. We need to continue reading to the next verse, as Peter describes how we are to defend—with gentleness and reverence.

As we absorb preaching and teaching and journey through the complex terrain of apologetics, may our pursuit of truth be guided not by a desire to win debates but by a gentle, reverent, and humble confidence rooted in a growing understanding of the God of Abraham.

 

1 The English word “apologetics” finds its roots in the Greek “apologia” which is best translated as “defense.” Combining the prefix “apo” [away from] with “logia” [speech], the word in this context contains no hint of asking forgiveness.