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Live Q&A Panel with Drs. VanDrunen, Johnson, and Horton

Introducing the Speakers

Pastor Lance:ย So let’s begin: again welcome to our Live Q&A. Thank you very much for all our guests panelists who are who graced us with their presence even though we know that it’s night time there (it’s Friday) and we greatly appreciate the time that you’re spending with the church here in the Philippines. So let’s begin by first introducing again and give them some time to greet you. I’ll be introducing Dr. David VanDrunen first. He is our speaker for the topic: Christ and the State. Dr. David, you can unmute. There go ahead. Please greet our participants.

Dr. VanDrunen: Yes, good morning to you. Good evening here from California. I am very happy to be able to participate in this, and I look forward to hearing your questions and discussing some of these important issues together.

Pastor Kirby: Of course, with much pleasure. I’d like to introduce to you Dr. Dennis Johnson my former professor along with Dr. VanDrunen, Dr. Horton. He talked about the importance of education, Christ and Education. And let’s hear it from Dr. Dennis Johnson.

Dr. Johnson: Well it’s great to be with you all. Virtually, it was great to be with it was good to be with you all, in person a year ago, and so much has changed; but I’m looking forward to our thinking together about Christ’s Lordship and how it impacts our education of our children.

Pastor Lance: And let me introduce our our third guest speaker, Dr. Michael Horton.

Dr. Horton: Thank you very much for being here with us y’all. Thank you, thank you, brother. It is a real pleasure to be with you at least virtually. I wish that I could be there in person to see some of you I know and have enjoyed time with; and then to meet others. So excited to see the reformed faith growing in the Philippines, and people who love the Word of God and treasure it. I just wish that I had as good a shirt as Dr. Johnson. He is dressing very “snazzy” this evening; and I hope that it’s appreciated.

Dr. Johnson: I traveled to manila to get this shirt and it was given to me.

Pastor Kirby: Well one thing for sure, Pastor Lance and I will be working with that when you visit us again. Or we will make sure that you have that barong which is actually our formal dress here.

Q&A Proper

Pastor Lance: All right so let us begin with our first question for Dr. VanDrunen regarding the Church and the State. The first question is: “Should  Christians or pastors aspire for political office? So not just   Christians but specifically pastors, can they aspire for political office?”

Dr. VanDrunen: Yeah that’s a good question. I mean I certainly do think that it’s a valid vocation for Christians generally to aspire to political office. It’s one legitimate vocation among many that Christians might pursue. I think it gets trickier with pastors. I don’t have any theoretical absolute, opinion that pastors should not or cannot be  serve in political office. But I do have some questions and some cautions about that. Professor Horton, might know that there was a pastor here in Escondido who was just elected to the Escondido city council. Did you know that? Joe Garcia.

Yeah, well anyway so yeah he’s apparently a reverend. In any case, here are my concerns about it. For one thing, you know those who are ordained to the ministry of the Word have a very important job to do. And it’s a job that I think is extremely time consuming. It’s something that we need to dedicate ourselves to. Remember how Paul gave a warning to Timothy about about not being distracted just as a soldier needs to be obedient to his commanding officer, and not not be distracted by lots of other things. I think that’s a real warning to pastors; and of course, pastors are are still going to be participants in the broader cultural world, but I think they need to be very careful about taking on really big responsibilities outside of their ministerial office. I also have a concern that you know it’s very important for pastors to be focused on ministering the Word of God;

And it’s fine for pastors to have opinions about all sorts of other things about sports, and about food, and about politics; but I think it’s also a lot of people have a hard time distinguishing what is a pastor’s opinion about politics; from a pastor’s opinion being something that they think is being imposed upon them; or is being taught as the  Christian view; And so I think that’s another caution for pastors who might want to get too involved in politics. They need to be very careful about giving the impression that their political opinions are God’s truth that everyone has to agree with, and that’s often is not the case.

Pastor Kirby: Thank you so much now Dr. VanDrunen for mentioning that now. Having understood the the gravity of our task to preach you know twice every Lord’s Day, the morning/evening, it’s just so hard for us to imagine to even involve ourselves in that particular vocation. Well, I understand what they’re saying it’s not it’s not wrong to be part of the you know politics but for a minister it’s just hard for him to fulfill all the tasks that is expected of him, if he would be pursuing these things. So that’s just a very enlightening answer and I hope that helps a lot of our Filipino friends perhaps some of them are actually aspiring for political office someday.

So anyway Pastor Lance, did we move on to the second question? Okay for still be for Dr. VanDrunen but of course, Dr. Johnson and Dr. Horton may answer this question as well. So Dr. VanDrunen, let me read the question here: Whatever the motive is with the government’s quarantine rules and protocols concerning pandemic obviously have negative effects on the church, so some reformed churches choose to meet physically without any exclusion while some reformed churches they meet but to exclude children and people who are 65 years and older. So how do we approach this properly? What are the  considerations we can take to either justify or not justify our disobedience? (now if i may say disobedience to the government’s rules today) since we’re called to assemble together every Lord’s day to worship him.

Dr. VanDrunen: Well, thank you for giving me such a small question. You know it seems like there’s hardly a day goes by when I don’t have people email me me or calling me and asking me about this. You know it’s hard to give a concise answer, but I’ll try to give a few thoughts. I mean I think you know for one thing I think it’d be helpful to say, that this is actually a complicated issue. I don’t know how debates are going in the Philippines about this, but I know in the United States that you know there are some people who look at this very simplistically as if there’s just an easy answer, and I think that’s not really all that helpful. I think that there are complications here so let me begin by saying I think it’s helpful to remember that you know there are civil government has a proper jurisdiction, and the church has a proper jurisdiction, and what that means is that they have proper spheres of authority, And I think there are times when those spheres of authority can overlap in some extraordinary occasions.

So I do think we have to say that the church has authority over its worship, over its teaching, over its government, and discipline. And then if we think about the civil magistrate has as well. It has authority over a number of things. I think one thing that civil magistrate has authority over is public health and safety. Now, I say that as someone who thinks the government should be a lot smaller than most, other people think the government should be but even I would say the government has some jurisdiction over public health and safety. That’s if government has you know has any legitimate tasks to do I think that’s one of them. And so I think that this is why it’s a complicated question because the civil government does have jurisdiction over a pandemic. It does have proper authority over trying to protect the safety and the welfare of the people in the community. And I think where we’ve all become very aware that in trying to   trying to deal with a pandemic, things worship services get caught in the crosshairs. And so I think we have to say that yes the the church not only has the right but it has the responsibility in ordinary circumstances to be calling worship every Lord’s Day, not just online worship. I’m talking about gathering as the corporate assembly.

But I think we also have to say that there are extraordinary occasions in which I hope we would all agree that the church is not sinning if it doesn’t call a corporate assembly if there’s a natural disaster. You know we have terrible fires sometimes in Southern California where I am. If there was a terrible wildfire that was bearing down upon the church as worship is supposed to start I hope we would all say it would be legitimate for the civil magistrate to say, hey you can’t meet here. You have to get out of this area the church wouldn’t be sinning if it obeyed the civil magistrate in those circumstance. So I’m sort of narrowing this down and saying look I think that there is obviously the pandemic that we are experiencing it’s not of the same magnitude, in terms of imminent danger as a wildfire that is bearing down upon a church but there are very serious things going on. There are a lot of people getting sick there are a lot of people dying and so I think we have to recognize that we are we are in circumstances in which there is a kind of an overlap of jurisdiction, and so I think we just have to be willing to think hard about this. And also to be charitable with other people who might have different opinions about how all of this ought to work out.

Now, I need to try to be concise and maybe someone will want to follow up and I could offer some more comments. But let me say this: I do think that we as Christians as the church that we ought to give a good deal of latitude towards our civil magistrates as they make decisions about how to deal with this pandemic. Now we may not agree often with the wisdom of the decisions they make i mean i i have a lot of questions about the wisdom that some of our civil magisters have made in California um but i think that’s different from saying they have no right at all to make these decisions right sometimes civil magistrates they have jurisdiction to make decisions and we’re going to question the wisdom of how well they’re doing with this. But I think we still have an obligation to be giving a lot of deference to the decisions they make and yet at the same time i would say it’s not an absolute difference. I think that there may be occasions where we have to say we as a church, we as pastors, we as elders, have to care for the spiritual welfare of the people under our authority. And we may have to make some decisions at times that conflict with the decisions that the civil magistrates make. I don’t think we should don’t make that flippantly. We would not make that without a lot of grave reflection.

But it seems to me and and and you know I’m thinking about in terms of the situation we face right now in Southern California. We still have the freedom here to meet for worship outside and we have nice weather. And so most churches are able to accommodate this. And I think we should be grateful we can do that and not try to push the boundaries of doing things that violate the civil magistrates orders. So I think if at all possible we should try to abide by the current regulations but at the same time again, there’s there’s gonna be times when we just have to make hard decisions, and have to use good judgment in trying to take the various factors into account. So I think I’ll stop there just for the sake of time. But you know if someone wants to follow up you know I could perhaps offer some more comments.

Pastor Lance
: Yeah, I’ll probably go back to that topic about  COVID pandemic, and the relations to the state and the church but in order for us to move forward, let me again let’s jump to another discussion about the church and education. Then let me ask Dr. Johnson about the question of homeschooling. So the question is specific to homeschooling. Does homeschooling provide better benefits for  Christian families what are the advantages and disadvantages? Is it incumbent to the church as part of their covenant responsibility in nurturing the children to establish Christian schools?

Dr. Johnson: Well this is again a very complicated issue. Christian parents are responsible to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord which first of all, focuses on their discipling their children in the knowledge of God’s Word and the knowledge of the gospel. But as you’ve heard from I haven’t heard Pastor Mike Brown’s message, but since he’s talking about “Every Square Inch” being claimed by the Lordship of Christ, Christ claims Lordship over every part of our thinking.

And so we want our kids our children, our youth to learn, to look at everything from the perspective of God’s Word for the perspective of the Creator who is also the Lord and the sovereign of all things, and certainly there are a lot of advantages to pursuing that purpose, by way of homeschooling, if parents have the knowledge themselves of Scripture but also have the skills. Because our education for our kids involved not only teaching them what we might call Special revelation that is Scripture that brings the word of salvation, but also preparing them for life in God’s world means in addressing a whole bunch of General revelation subjects.

As I mentioned briefly in my message to you all, that they need to learn some math, they need to learn some reading, they need to learn some science. Now maybe in Ancient Israel most sons followed their fathers into farming, or into craftsmanship, and so homeschooling was very natural. For that many girls followed their mothers to become wives (mothers). Maybe all the other things that we read about the woman in Proverbs 31 doing which was much more than just keeping house. But that could often those life skills could be taught in the home. I think for many of us our children are going into disciplines that sooner or later they will need education from somebody beyond us. They will go beyond our skill set and our knowledge, and so homeschooling may eventually for almost all of our kids high school, sometimes college, maybe post college, go beyond our own capacities because of the way God has gifted our children and so on.

So homeschooling is good in some respects, but it is somewhat limited by parents own resources. It’s good because we can disciple them in the Word of God as we understand them. It also brings us to certain limits at certain points, and as I think about Scripture, it’s striking to me that some of the most clear examples that we learn in the narratives of Scripture about Godly young men going through education are Moses education in Egypt, which is commended in the   message of Stephen in Acts, and then Daniel and his three friends in Babylon. Here are men who are standing strong for God in the midst of an educational system that was as we know in Babylon committed to other Gods. As I mentioned in the message, the Babylonians tried to redefine the identity of these four young men by renaming them after Babylonian Gods and yet they stood fast. And so somewhere along the line, our kids need to be prepared also to engage the world around us even if we homeschool for some years. We also need to think about that we need to help them to become positive witnesses in the world.  Christian schools are a great alternative to the parents only because that brings in those who have gifts and knowledge in other areas, maybe those who have been trained in how to teach well and how to help children learn well.

So when I’ve lectured on this at Westminster Seminary California, I started this topic typically by saying, if you know there’s only one way to train to teach your children all the subjects, you are bound to disapprove of our family because we’ve done them all. Our kids went to Christian school for a number of years, a couple different Christian schools. We’ve homeschooled and we’ve had our kids in some public school at a certain point when they got into the high school years, obviously at the high school, and when they were in public school, we were thinking about what other influences were being fed in. we were conscious of the fact that particularly in California maybe not so much in Tennessee but in California, public schools supposed to rule out the possibility of God as creator and the way things are taught. Although, there are Christians in these public schools in Escondido when our kids were there too but the education theoretically is theologically neutral (which means hostile really to God to some extent), so as parents then we needed to be more proactive to help our kids process that to help them realize they’re going to be living in a world where there are a lot of people who don’t share their faith, and that there are answers to the objections maybe that they hear from teachers or from classmates to the truth of God. All right? Thank you. Okay, fair enough?

Right now well, that’s right. Though one other issue is the question of what can we afford right and what is available to us in our area. So again somewhat like the COVID question that Dr. VanDrunen handled magnificently. Thank you, David. This is an issue that we need to respect one another, as parents prayerfully make different decisions for the well-being of their kids.

Pastor Kirby: All right okay so to follow that up. This is very important to all of us (you know the question is), What is the role of seminary education in the ministry of the church? And what kind of disciplines or subjects that make a seminar degree complete or trustworthy or reliable.

Dr. Johnson: Of course, I’m biased to say that, of course, what we have at Westminster Seminary California is something that you should attempt to ask Kirby what did you study at Westminster California. It’s the perfect seminary in every way of course. Curriculum put together by Westminster it’s not unique to us but I think it mainly has four key areas obviously Biblical studies which means interpreting the Bible rightly and soundly. You’re going to be ministering the Word in preaching, in teaching, discipling in other ways as well.

Maybe we can come back to some of Pastor Brown’s questions that you sent us to that (he traveled so he’s not there) but certainly Biblical studies for the sake of preaching teaching and wisely guiding the church because there are threats against the church we need to you need to know something about church history how the church has understood the word and applied the word in different times and different cultures um obviously systematic theology is crucial because you need to not just take individual texts of scripture but ask about how the whole system of Biblical truth relates to one another, and that also involves them interacting with divergences from the truth false doctrine, and being able to answer that call especially to Titus emphasizes the importance of elders being able to answer false doctrine so that would be apologetics as well I’m watching for Dr. VanDrunen and Dr. Horton to say yes Amen, okay.

And then yeah you need some some practical training too a lot of that can be done in the church but if you have gifted pastors who can train other pastors in preaching, discipling, evangelism, that’s the Westminster curriculum. Obviously, it’s not uniquely Westminster. It’s a lot of what we inherited from Presbyterian education in America, at an earlier point from Old Princeton. We feel it’s stood the test time, prepares pastors well for the various tasks the pastors need to be engaged in as they shepherd God’s flock and prepare God’s people protect God’s people from false doctrine.

Pastor Kirby: All right thank you so much, Dr. Johnson. Let me just add a bit one of the things I appreciate the most for with our reformed churches or reformed perspective churches is that in our church order it’s very clear for us concerning the guidelines for reform theological education. In fact I’m looking at the URCNA (of course for United Reformed Church). I’m looking for the you know it cannot be flashed here but it’s in appendix one of URCNA church order it’s there, you know like what you said Biblical Language (Languages and Studies), Church History, Systematics and Apologetics, and of course Practical Theology.

And of course, I’m biased to you know biased to say that I’m thankful the Lord for the privilege to study at Westminster. So if you’re looking for a reputable reliable and trustworthy school. We have a virtual seminar for the upcoming right Dr. Horton? Is that right virtual seminary for a day?  So anyway, for our participation on the panel wow of course for our participants ,if you want to have a sneak peek of what’s what’s being done at Westminster Seminary California. You don’t have to visit California anymore for that. There’s a virtual seminar for a day coming. We will update you. So anyway, Pastor Lance so let’s move on our next topic.

Pastor Lance: Christ and Workplace for important with the government law prohibiting a company to discriminate a person against different religious beliefs or even gender issues right. But how can a boss, who is a  Christian, hire a or select a candidate for employment if the applicant is either different in religious belief (either a Muslim or an atheist) and there’s another category today, if there is a gender identity crisis or he or she belongs to the LGBT community. Can that Christian hire them for their company? That’s for Dr. Horton.

Dr. Horton: Goodness, gracious, I thought that was definitely going to be for Dr. VanDrunen or Dr. Johnson. Yeah, I think that here it’s very important for us to distinguish between (in fact all the questions that has occurred to me), kind of feed into the distinction between Elements and Circumstances. We usually apply that to worship but it’s really all of life that there are certain things God commands and those are required whatever God doesn’t require, doesn’t mean it’s a free for all. We still have to exercise Godly wisdom in the light of what God has said.

But aren’t in those areas of Circumstances, for example in worship, what time we meet, whether the minister wears a robe or not, where you know what is the exact order of service, and so forth you can apply that to all kinds of areas of life. So whether a Christian employer hires an employee with whom he or she has you know important differences, would be a matter of wisdom. It depends I suppose on what the job is, what the what the particular calling is.

But for a  Christian to discriminate against non- Christians for any reason apart from their ability to do that job I would say would be a blight on the Gospel because what you’re basically doing is telling people that Christianity isn’t really about the person and work of Christ, it’s really about whether you are part of my tribe. And if we all behave that way of course in a in a Muslim-majority country like Indonesia, Christians would have difficulty finding a job and then in a Christian majority country, they would you know they would be kind of non-Christians would be left out in the cold. What we’re telling non-Christians in that instance far more important far more important than whether Christians can get a job. What we would be telling Christians in a in a country a majority  Christian country is that on unless you join us, you aren’t privileged in this society.

And that is grossly I think to confuse the Gospel with a particular culture. That will set the evangelistic enterprise back who knows how far. This is always the problem: when Christians are persecuted they’re at their best and then Christians you know the success of the Gospel is so great, the salt and light is is sort of scattered so widely that you know you begin to have Christian influence, and then people start wanting Christianity to be privileged. And that is always I believe we can justify this historically always when Christianity itself gets into trouble, and be in the salt begins to lose its savor.

Pastor Lance: Yeah, so we need to make sure that they are good at what they’re doing, and based on that we just simply have to select them based on their ability to perform the job. Thank you for that Dr. Horton. I think for the three of us, for the three guest panelists we have this very important question a follow-up question with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And this is occurring in the Q&A panel so the question is: We know that the COVID-19 is you know so good. What if it becomes worse? What if the government becomes more and more restrictive? So the question is when would be the time for us Christians to really say, Okay that is enough. We have to really push back to what you’re doing right now to us.

Dr. VanDrunen: Well, I think one thing that that could help us to see when that line has been crossed is if we do believe that churches are being singled out with special kinds of restrictions that are not being applied to other organizations to other businesses. That then I think you can make a case that this is actually turning into a religious persecution issue in which it is not so much about the pandemic but it’s about putting the government putting the thumb on Christians and churches, And i think if you’re in that sort of a situation then i think you may come to a point where you say you know what if this is not really about the pandemic then we need to have worship services even if that’s going to lead to trouble for us.

Now if you’re not in that sort of situation. If pandemic gets worse the restrictions get worse, I mean I totally understand people wanting to know when does that line cross, and I think it’s pretty much impossible to say here is exactly when that line is going to be crossed. Because there are so many different factors to consider. I mean I think you know we who are in Southern California we have it a lot better than so many other people in the United States because our weather is good, and so we’re able to meet outside during the winter when most Christians in the United States are not able to do that.

And so it seems to me that we in Southern California might look at things differently from someone who is in a very cold weather climate. I mean I just in order to be able to meet together and to serve the flock, and but I think every pastor and the elders are going to have to they need to care for their flock. I think they need to be grateful that there are things like Zoom available in order to try to care for the flock in extraordinary circumstances. But I think it’s virtually impossible to be able to define here is the line that is crossed where now all of a sudden we can disobey government orders. I just don’t think that there is such a line that exists. I don’t know if Dr. Johnson or Dr. Horton might be able to give a more specific answer but I just I think to my mind I think it’s dangerous to think that we’re going to be able to get a black and white answer to this, that every Christian ought to be able to agree with. I just I think that’s probably going to be very divisive for for our churches if we look at the issue in that way.

Dr. Horton: Yeah, I would just add it you know it’s not only a question of jurisdiction what Christ has authorized ministers to say. That’s a big enough issue in itself. Christ is not I mean say as humbly as I can dear brothers, Christ has not authorized you or me to say anything that binds the consciences of the Lord’s people beyond his Word. So if you have a Facebook account or you are online, you’re blogging you are pontificating about masks, or you are telling people what you think is allowable as far as government prescription. You’re going to create a church that has your pro mask or anti-mask philosophy not a church built around the Lord Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. And so I would just for my heart brothers I just tell you please: Preach Christ and not yourself. what your expertise is in the Bible not in anything else.

Pastor Lance: Thank you for that Dr. Horton. Thank you for reminding us that. Dr. Johnson do you have anything to add to that?

Dr. Johnson: Nothing, yeah not really except Tennessee is interesting. It’s a bit different from Southern California in part because our state government has been less proactive in issuing State-wide mandates or prohibitions. The governor has made some very strong recommendations but he’s always said that their recommendations they’re subject to things related to local things and that’s given us a kind of a freedom. I’ve also seen really to illustrate what Dr. Horton was just saying the church that I’m a part of now. We have some in membership, some very strong anti-mask, some of whom have even wondered whether there is such a thing as a serious COVID-19 issue. The kind of people say it’s just like the flu, and then we have some others who are very deeply concerned about how contagious it is, and how you know, and so we’ll wear masks. And our elders I’ve been so impressed with the fact that they have emphasized over and over again we are not going to establish a church policies, it’s not required by the government here.

Yeah, we’re not gonna we’re not gonna establish a policy that excludes either of these groups of people who need to be able to worship together, and we’re going to emphasize how much we need to love each other, and respect each other. And I think that’s really important now we have a freedom here in Tennessee. In terms of actually being able to gather, at least in our county, other counties are more restrictive, because of a higher COVID rate but we’re fairly free still at this point. But the the way the church leaders have balanced things to ensure that we are united in Christ, and respecting each other’s thoughtful decisions. I think I’ve been very appreciative of that. Sometimes a little frustrated I’m more on the go ahead and wear a mask. It’s not that big a deal side of things. But I understand what they’re doing and so I appreciate that so we have that they’re they’re trying to shepherd the whole flock and not go beyond as Dr. Horton said, not go beyond what Christ has authorized us to speak about. I agree.

Pastor Kirby: Thank you for all of those answers. Let’s move to our the topic from Rev. Brown. I’m not sure who will answer this but it concerns discipleship. It’s a discipleship. I will merge two questions and of course everybody may answer. But before we ask that question, we also would like to welcome Pastor Nollie Malabuyo of Big Springs URC. We’re thankful that you’re able to join us, and it’s the same, is it one hour ahead of San Diego time, is that right? I think it is. Yeah, it’s mute yeah.

So anyway concerning the topic of Pastor Brown’s lecture, let me just read this. So there’s a church movement not just here in the Philippines but worldwide which not just encourage but also require or requires adult members to disciple, disciple 12 people. So let me be just you know let go of all formalization. This G12 movement wherein people are required to disciple 12, and each of the 12 would be disciplining another 12. So the question is   what can you say about this? and how are we going to define, or how are we to define true discipleship? And part of that, is it proper to teach that everyone is called to disciple like every member is called the disciple? or is it the duty of the office-bearers of the church?

Dr. Johnson: Can I give you a third alternative? And we can see what my brothers respond yes? It might be either one or the other. Must it be only the officers of the church discipling? or laying a burden on all the members to disciple? Couldn’t there be some who are gifted to disciple who are discipled by the leaders of the elder? I assume that this movement with chose the number 12 because Jesus discipled 12 apostles, and they’re trying to multiply it out (that’s going beyond scripture) but there are New Testament passages obviously we talked about seminary education a minute or two ago, and there are offices of past minister pastor elders who are charged to shepherd the flock not everybody has those gifts nor that maturity to do that. But at the same time there are passages in the New Testament that call believers to build one another up in various ways Paul says in Colossians 1 that his calling as apostle as well as preacher, is to proclaim Christ, teaching and admonishing everyone in all wisdom in Christ. That’s his specific calling as an office-bearer in the church but then in chapter three, he calls the whole congregation to be teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom.

So there’s a place for other believers to disciple others that’s among other things obviously we’ve been talking about parents discipling their children. Some of it may depend on what disciple means but there are places for those who are not officers. Titus is to disciple older women so that they can teach and give wisdom to the younger women for their role in marriage and the family and so on. There’s a clear example of non-ordained people being qualified by the pastor Titus in this case to disciple others, in their calling to living out their faith in Christ. So that’s I would say it’s both and in terms of others besides the officers having the responsibility but not to lay the burden on every single individual believer some may have more gifts than that and some gifts in other areas.

Pastor Lance: All right how about the others?

Dr. VanDrunen: You know that sounds like a wise Biblical answer to me so i don’t really have anything to add to that all right.

Pastor Lance: How about Dr. Horton?

Dr. Horton: My only question is why 12? You know what why don’t there is no there’s no Biblical limit on it.  Yeah, we should be reaching as many people as we can for Jesus Christ and and and the goal ultimately is not for every member to take on a certain caseload of disciples but to bring them into the fellowship of the church where they are enriched by the ordinary means of grace.

Pastor Kirby: Yeah, how about pastor Nollie, something to add to that?

Pastor Nollie: Okay, so nothing to add except to give some more better information to to our professors.  G12 was a started by a Colombian pastor who learned from you know the prosperity gospel, the big huge church in in South Korea, so the G12 movement is basically a pyramid scheme for money, prosperity Gospel, health and wealth. They don’t even use the Bible. They have their own workbook to to study and I’ve heard some people who were involved in this that their pastors told them not to not even to read the Bible just read the workbook. So that’s what it’s called, yeah it’s the government of 12. That’s what it is yeah.

Pastor Kirby: So the question remains who is the Judas Iscariot in that twelve right? So that’s what we always joke with those people but anyway yeah like what Pastor Nollie said it’s like fronts the scheme pyramiding scheme, and you also it’s like a system of carrot and the stick. So if you do this then you get the carrot then if you’re not you’ll be beaten by by your pastor, and make you appear that you are not that spiritual enough because you are you don’t have that well.

So but I know we still have other questions. It’s just important to highlight what you said that it’s important not to burden every everyone because I remember in one of my preachings, you know their mothers who are really you know loaded with all their responsibilities at home, so we should not expect them to be always in the church doing all these stuff because the mere fact that they’re attending to the needs of their children is it’s a ministry, it’s a glorious and gracious ministry that they’re fulfilling so that’s a good reminder for all of our participants here, that I think part of that is a democratization of the ministry like every member of minister so every member discipler.

I guess that’s really that goes against the true meaning of Ephesians chapter four, and by the way before I forget your essay there, Dr. Horton is an excellent one that I’ve read. I think it was edited by Michael Allen so I got that from Logos so I benefited from that greatly so thank you so much. So anyway Pastor Lance, let’s move on to the next question.

Pastor Lance: Another question regarding vocation, does the Bible give us principles on how best discern which secular vocations we can take? That’s for Dr. Horton.

Dr. Horton: That’s a really good question. Yes, I think the danger on one side is to explain expect a black and white answer for every question we have in life from the Bible. That always leads or often leads to Scripture twisting we make the Bible say things that it doesn’t say because we want it to be relevant to our lives.

The other danger on the other side is to say that when the Bible doesn’t explicitly address a particular situation. I’m not obligated to think through Biblical truths and Biblical commands in order to to have that influence my decision. Yes, I’m free to do x, y or z but here’s the thing wisdom (this is where wisdom) really comes in handy and it’s where this muscle of wisdom atrophies. If we don’t use it (wisdom) judges between not right and wrong but between good better and best, or worse. You know there’s a spectrum here.

Can I for example should I do something (well, we were talking about masks) should I wear a mask well what about in this situation? Yes, what about in that situation? Well, what are the prescriptions and requirements? What is everybody else doing? You know your what is wise in this situation. There are a lot of Christians especially, let me just say too a lot of us, when we became reformed we had all this Christian liberty and the first thing was how can we show everybody how free we are.

And you know as Paul underscores love is the rule regardless of whether there’s a direct command or it’s wisdom. Love is always the rule so now I have to say well in this situation, I can in that situation, I probably shouldn’t. I may make that decision in this situation, and my brother or sister might make a different decision in the very same context we give each other Christian liberty but maybe it’s a situation where it wasn’t wise for either one of us to do it, and then we talk about it. It’s the problem with legalists and antinomians is they can let that muscle of wisdom completely atrophy. You know where it gets flabby, you can’t use it at all, and you can only make decisions when they’re black and white, or when you’re absolutely free to do whatever you want to do. It’s that in between area of wisdom that’s actually really hard.

You know those are a lot of decisions we make as  Christians every day, and that’s the question when are we gonna be able to make those decisions that are neither right or wrong, but maybe better or worse depending on our situation. The Old Puritans used to have you know drawn that great compound “circumspectio” looking around and you know that’s what wisdom requires, looking around, you look around at your specific circumstances look around at what your gifts are. If you’re not gifted a particular vocation, it doesn’t matter whether your parents said that’s what you should do, because they did it. You’re not good at it!

So wisdom would say, you know are, you maybe you don’t know what you’re good at. Ask wise people. Ask people who know you, who care about you, who’ll tell you the truth. People say, well, you can do whatever you want well. No, you can’t do whatever you want! You’re good at some things, and bad at other things, and thank the Lord that’s the case, or we would just be going crazy looking for our vocation. God has gifted you with particular propensities, and abilities, and skills, and training. Do all to the glory of God, and make the most of the gifts that He has given you.

Pastor Kirby: Thank you. I think Pastor Lance, there’s a follow-up question. Should we continue to work or should one continue to work even if he or she is underpaid and does not receive the full benefits of his or her work? So I think Dr. Horton you can also answer that, but also our other panelists are free to answer.

Dr. Johnson: You know I guess What comes to my mind is Paul’s counsel in the context of another discussion but somehow he tweaks that other, 1 Corinthians 7, he starts with the question of Christians married to non-Christians, and then he broadens it out, and he talks about all kinds of ways that we may find ourselves in the world, and one of them is if you’re a slave, can you can honor Christ as a slave? You are free as a slave to work for that master who may treat you unjustly. Of course, Peter talks about masters treating us unjustly too you are free to do that, but then he goes on to say, but if you can get your freedom go ahead which was an option for Roman slaves if they could save up some money, somehow typically in the Roman system, they would put it on deposit in a pagan temple. Christians wouldn’t do that but they could save up enough to buy their freedom, Paul says you’re free to leave, but as long as you are there, give good service because as he says in several of his letters, ultimately in your job you’re not serving the supervisor who’s inspecting your work, you’re ultimately serving Christ, and you know there’s a lot of places in the Bible that say expect the world to be unjust.

Now you could make the case especially, if you’re working with a  Christian organization, you could say brother you’re not treating me well right, because Paul exhorts masters in Ephesians, Colossians, and then that whole little wonderful letter to Philemon, you know this guy who is your slave whom you quote own, no first of all he’s your brother, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to do what you tell him to do, but remember he’s your brother that relationship ultimately needs to color how you treat him as one who works for you.

So yeah an employee, if he can get a different job, if he’s made the case that he’s worth more than the employer, Christian or non-Christian, traits is paying him make the case, but if he can’t get a different job, if there’s no response, Paul says you’re free to do that. But as long as you’re working there remember that ultimately, you’re not just working for the paycheck with the approval of the boss, you’re working for Christ, and you want to honor him in the way you conduct yourself in the workplace.

Concluding Remarks

Pastor Lance: Thank you, thank you, Dr. Johnson. We’re at the five minutes. Before we end, so I would like to again appreciate everyone for being here. I know that have spending time with us, even at the night, requires a lot from you, so we greatly appreciate it, for being with us, and we have the three of you here. So that’s why there’s a lot of questions that we need to answer, but again we don’t have enough time so I would like to give at least some moments before we end, last words from all our speakers before we end this session. Let me start with Dr. VanDrunen.

Dr. VanDrunen: Well, I didn’t have some any last words prepared, but yeah you know I was showing some of the questions ahead of time even some that weren’t answered, and I think it sounds like there there are a lot of questions about how we can be involved in our political communities in righteous godly ways, and you know I think it’s just you know as a general remark, I’d say it is a good thing for us to be in our communities. I think we should remember that politics is not the only thing, and it’s not the most important thing, and I think that can often that can often get us off-track, but it is one good area, and if we are involved in the political realm, then I think it’s important that we do try to work for excellence, for justice, and I think there are a variety of lawful ways that we can do that, and at the same time, we always have to do it remembering that as the end of Hebrew says here, we have no lasting city, we’re awaiting the city that’s to come.

And so all of our politics it’s important but it’s penultimately important. In other words, it’s not the most important thing but we should look at our political involvement not as not as a means to try to gain power over other people, but as a means that we can try to bless other people, and try to bring good to other people, and I think if we that mindset, I think that’ll be a real help.

Pastor Lance: Thank you, Dr. VanDrunen, and Dr. Johnson.

Dr. Johnson: Well, I would just first of all express appreciation for the good questions that have been asked, and I know there’s been some there have been other questions asked in the Q&A, and the chat that Zoom provides for us that we just couldn’t get to. But I just appreciate the way you’re wrestling with really really important questions. And I’m going to tuck in the answer to one more that we didn’t get to. I was asked as parents disciple their kids, yes.

How do you handle the parts of the Bible that are really kind of sensitive like David’s sin of adultery and then his conspiring to have Bathsheba’s husband murdered essentially in battle and obviously that question is partly the question we need to gauge our children’s readiness to deal with some of the hard things in the Bible. But the question also asks how do we deal with this even though God accepted people like David as one of his own, and that’s the answer I think that’s really even the more important. Yes, engage where your kids you know David and Bathsheba if your kids are really little say David did something with her that a husband and wife should do, that’s all you need to know right now okay, we’ll talk about it in 15 years or something you know, but the question is as we’re going through the Bible, it is a Bible that is constantly about God’s favor to people who are sinful, and we want to teach those Bible stories not to say be like David or be like Daniel even though we don’t see as much of sin in Daniel’s life.

We want to teach those Bible studies to say this is the story of God in his grace to sinners, and he’s a gracious God to us too he calls us out of sin, he calls us to repent of sin, but it’s about God’s grace. It’s ultimately leading us to Jesus so I think the fact that Old Testament Saints sin is a great thing, bad but a great thing, because it shows us how we can lead our kids to Christ. It points us to our Savior.

Pastor Lance: Thank you, Dr. Johnson. Dr. Horton for your last word before we end. Thank you.

Dr. Horton: Sure well, Dr. Johnson was my professor so it’s always smart to piggyback on anything that he says. You know that’s ultimately the message here is that grace drives our vocations too right? A monk who had just left the monastery asked Martin Luther what should I do now? You know good grief. You taught me all this, and I now I left the monastery what do I do? And he asked him, what he did in the monasteries? Why I made shoes for the brothers. And he says, So you’re a cobbler? He said I didn’t know I was a cobbler. I just made shoes for the brothers and the monasteries. Well yeah, no you’re a cobbler! Well so what do I do now? Well, make a good shoe and sell it at a fair price.

Yeah, one of the things I love about the reformation’s approach to vocation is you can’t give this, isn’t just a reference, this is Scripture you know Romans 11, you can’t give anything God to obligate him to give something back. We say well, we’re serving the Lord. Well, we’re serving the Lord in the sense that we’re serving other people. The Lord has served us. Jesus said, I came not to be served but to serve and give my life a ransom for many. He serves us so that we can serve others.

Another great Lutheran quote is someone asked him. Well, if our good works can’t go up to God then where do they go? And he said out to your neighbor. God doesn’t need your good works your neighbor does, and boy is this freeing, it’s liberating. It means that our our callings and as we look out to a world in need, you know for instance, you know as Christians looking out to other Christians but to non-Christians the terrible storms, you all have been having, these are opportunities for us to actually love and serve our neighbor, not so that we can get anything out of it, or we can sort of enrich our spiritual quotient, but so that we can actually keep those gifts flowing. They come down. They don’t go up from us to God. They come down from God to us, and then out through us. God wants to love and serve the world through us.  It’s freeing. It’s absolutely liberating, and if you have any kind of philosophy of ministry, or philosophy of vocation that reverses that flow of gifts then it’s not a New Testament view of vocation.

Pastor Lance: Thank you, very much Dr. Horton. Thank you for that very timely reminder to all of us. What a fitting end. How a fitting ending for all of us. Thank you again for attending.  It’s now 11:45am so we have to end. Again, we appreciate you being all here. The three of you sharing your answers to all our questions. So I’ll be ending now this session, and I’ll be ending now the recording. Thank you very much. Thank you so much.

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