Cooper & Cary Have Words

#155 The Wrong Bavinck (With Daniel Strange)

June 15, 2023 James Cary & Barry Cooper Season 1
Cooper & Cary Have Words
#155 The Wrong Bavinck (With Daniel Strange)
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

James and Barry outdo themselves by getting their Bavincks in a twist. Thankfully, Dan Strange is on hand to do some untwisting. Just who is J H Bavinck, and why should we care? (NOT to be confused with his better known uncle *Herman* Bavinck - ha ha! as if anyone would be THAT stupid!). What does J H Bavinck have to tell us about missions, cultural engagement, and how to have a civil conversation?

The word of the podcast is "elenctics". That's "elenctics".

Daniel Strange is director of Crosslands Forum and the vice president of The Southgate Fellowship. He is a fellow of The Keller Center for Cultural Apologetics and is the author of Their Rock Is Not Like Our Rock: A Theology of Religions (Zondervan, 2015), Plugged In (The Good Book Company, 2019), and Making Faith Magnetic (The Good Book Company, 2021). He is a contributing editor for Themelios and an elder of Hope Community Church, Gateshead, U.K., which is part of the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches (FIEC).

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Production and music by Cooper & Cary. Opening theme by Beyond Our Galaxy.

Cary:

Hello again. Cooper and Cary have words. He's back, i'm the Cary. I live in the south of England and over there in Florida is my friend Barry Cooper. Hello Barry, how you doing.

Cooper:

Hello James, i'm doing pretty well just coming off the back of a cold again. But that's what you get for having a couple of under fives in your household, and otherwise they're a joy.

Cary:

Let's crack on. We've got a guest who is in the north of England. formerly living in north London and now residing in Gateshead, near Newcastle in the northeast of England is Dr Dan Strange. I'm going to say hello to you first, before I then start talking more.

Strange:

Hello Dan, Hello hi guys, hi James hi, barry, great to be with you again.

Cooper:

Indeed. I don't know returning guest. I mean what a privilege for everybody.

Cary:

We'd like to call you a friend of the show and give you no right to reply on that. So in our discussions beforehand, we have made a startling discovery about a fellow called Bavink. Now, you may have heard the name Bavink a lot in the last three or four years, and when I'd heard that Dan had been thinking about Bavink, i was excited that we should probably talk about it and find out what all the fuss is about. I am, of course, talking about Herman Bavink, not realising, of course, that Dan has been digging into another Bavink and has written an introduction to a book that's been released by Westminster Seminary Publications JH Bavink.

Cooper:

we're talking about JH.

Cary:

And the book is called The Church Between Temple and Mosque, and Dan has written an introduction to it. So why don't you just say a bit about the two Bavinks and why we've heard a lot about one and not so much about the other?

Strange:

Yes, so great that you've made the distinction. At my prompting, can I say. Anyway, we'll pass over that.

Cary:

Well, this is like a double whammy. So can I just say this is a double whammy of ignorance, because I don't know about either Bavink, and it just reminds me. John Oliver did a lovely introduction in one of his shows about cryptocurrency, which is everything you don't understand about economics, mixed with everything you don't understand about computers. It's like, yeah, so give us the Bavink.

Strange:

OK, so Herman Bavink is the one that if you're interested in Neo-Calvinist Dutch reform theology and who is it?

Strange:

Then you may have heard of him. So he wrote some of the reform dogmatics and lots of other great things. There's a thing that was published a few years ago called the Wonderful Works of God. So he's a really a kind of a titan of reformed systematic theology dogmatics, and lots of people have been talking about him. A guy called James Eglinton who's an lecturer in Edinburgh University. He's written a very critically acclaimed biography of Bavink in the last few years. That won Christianity Today and Gospel Coalition Awards And it's a very good read. So Herman Bavink has been having something of a resurgence, with more of his work being translated from the Dutch. So that's Herman Bavink. Now he had a nephew. The fact the Bavink family were quite into their theology. So his nephew was a guy called JH Bavink And I'm using his initials because his name was Johannes Herman Bavink.

Cary:

Oh come on.

Strange:

We'll just call him JH for short, and JH was the nephew of Herman And he was, i mean, yeah, basically he was a missionary in Indonesia. He was born in 1895. He died in 1960. He was a missionary in Indonesia And before he returned back to the Netherlands to teach at the Free University of Amsterdam and Utrecht where he lectured in missions, and that's the Bavink that I'm really into. I like Herman the uncle, but I love JH the Missyologist. If you could only have one.

Cooper:

Bavink, it would be JH Bavink.

Strange:

Many people would have Herman. I go with Johannes Herman, so why?

Cary:

don't we just back up then briefly, because presumably they are both of the same school, which is Dutch Reformed Theology. Do you want to say a bit about what that is, because I think a lot of our listeners are probably more into Dutch Reformed Theology than they realize. There's a guy called Kuiper who is a significant person. Do you want to give us the school of Dutch Reformed Theology and why we know more about it than we think we do?

Strange:

Kuiper and Kerry have words Protestant stemming from the influence of John Calvin and, i suppose, the Magisterial Reformation. The focus, i think, with the Dutch Calvinists and the or you could say the Neo-Calvinists, as it were, is a real focus on not just what you might say on the issue of salvation in terms of Calvinistic theology, however you might want to define that but really the sovereignty of God, the Lordship of Christ over every area of life. And that's really been some of the distinctives of that kind of school. It gets, i mean again, it gets quite complicated in the Dutch Reformed School because they're the nominations, that kind of seed from each other and there's all kinds of politics. I mean, i've always been interested in the theology But I think, yeah, the sovereignty of God in everything and trying to apply that to all of life, but coming from a kind of a yeah, a Reformed Theological background, that's how I'd say. Talk about the family distinctives.

Cary:

And so it's very much a rather than running away from the world. it's not pietyism, it's not isolationism, it's not Christ against culture. It feels like there's very much a leaning into how do we interface with the modern world as people of faith, given that the world is Christian, whether they know it or not? Is it that way of thinking?

Strange:

Yeah, i think so. I mean it's interesting because I think JH My guy he's, i think he was definitely born into a more pietistical family But that Dutch Reformed especially as it's the resurgence of this kind of thinking has really wanted to talk about how do we have a Christian view of everything really, as well as being very informed, in wanting to talk about theology and the importance of theology and the depth of theology. So there's a real richness to the tradition as well And I'd probably say, even though I am not Presbyterian, there's a kind of a Presbyterian nature to much of it, but I'll forgive them for that.

Cooper:

That's fine. What was his attitude to World War II, for example? Was he sort of somebody who was sort of into that more sort of colonial aspect of things, or was he, was he pushing against that?

Strange:

Great question. I mean where the two aspects to that? So JH? So interestingly he ended up in Indonesia because at the time Holland was still in control of Indonesia, so there's a strong kind of colonial link there. But JH was a real radical because he started talking about he was big on contextualization And this is in the like the 40s and 50s when no one was using that term about what does it mean to have indigenous theology and not to have to establish leaders to engage the culture as it is? Here's a little anecdote I was speaking at a church last year in Belfast and a lovely elderly, very elderly lady came up to me and she said I was a Dutch missionary and when I was a girl, jh Bavin came to preach in my church And even then he was something of a seen as quite a radical because he wanted to talk a lot about how do we contextualize the gospel, how do we not bring just a colonial Western attitude.

Strange:

And he was seen as quite a radical In terms of the Second World War. Well, fascinatingly, when he got back, by the time he came back, two, i think two of his children no, three of his children were arrested. Two were put into a concentration camp. They all survived the war, but I mean his family were very impacted by World War II as well. So I do see him as something of a hero and a kind of a visionary really. But even in his time, in what might be called quite a conservative theological denomination, he was seen as being quite a radical.

Cary:

So why don't we talk about this work of?

Cary:

his the church between temple and mosque, and it struck me that 20 years ago, for obvious 911 reasons, we were thinking about Islam quite a lot, and it feels like we don't think about Islam very much at all anymore, for whatever reason, i think it did. The West is now busy turning itself, turning in on itself and ripping itself apart, whilst Muslim friends are sitting by with the popcorn just going. Oh well, this is all very interesting, so why is now a time to be thinking about this?

Strange:

this work, yeah, Well, i mean I wrote a piece for Gospel Coalition just a few weeks ago on this, on JH Baving, where you've probably been influenced by JH Baving more than you know, in that JH Baving wrote this textbook called The Introduction to the Science of Missions, which for many years was the standard textbook for those in reform Christianity who were studying missions, and it heavily influenced a guy called Ed Clowney who did a lot of preaching at Westminster, also a very important Missiologist called Harvey Kohn who was the teacher of a certain Tim Keller, and so there's a kind of a direct lineage from JH Baving down to Keller in some ways, and that's why I think you would have been influenced by Baving more And Baving's in Indonesia And what he's trying to do in a real kind of John Stockways. He's got the Bible in one hand, he's got the kind of the phenomena of all the different religions, world religions or religious traditions using that term loosely around him And he's wanting to understand yeah, how do we understand these religions theologically? And so he wrote three. The kind of the high point of his writing was three books. He did a book called Religious Consciousness, which is what is the messy mix that we see in the Bible about human beings who are running to God and running away from him at the same time. What does that mean? He did a book, this introduction to the science of missions, but this book, the Church Between Temple and Mosque, was posthumous. So he never. I mean it was based on some lectures actually that he gave in America, i think, to the federated mind colleges of Chicago. And what's fascinating is at the time one of the preeminent scholars of religion in the world, a Romanian scholar called Mircea Iliada, who would have you know was very academic, scholarly, kind of one of the godfathers of modern religious studies. He'd read religious consciousness and he invited Babin Cobra to teach. So we think these lectures that have became the book, the Church Between Temple and Mosque, were the lectures that he gave to these at this American university, where he really talks about how do we understand human religion and religiosity from a kind of a Christian standpoint.

Strange:

And my personal interaction with the book is in the early 90s. I was studying theology as an undergraduate at Bristol University, i'm happy to say it, and it was a very liberal department. I mean I was struggling as an evangelical from day one And I remember I got my first reading list and staggering into the library saying you know where do I look for any kind of reference point that would help me. And one of the journals, i think the Scottish Journal of Evangelical Theology had published one of these chapters in The Church Between Temple and Mosque, and it was like an oasis it was.

Strange:

Ah, he wants to look at Romans one and understand how human beings think and act. And what does that mean to do with religion? So that's, it's always had a special place in my heart. So when the book went hopelessly out of print it was published by Odomans, i think, and so Westminster Seminary Press said they wanted to do a reprint. So, yeah, so the book traces really how we're understand other religions in terms of the Bible, and again, what I've tried to do in my work is not just concentrate on what we might think are world religions but religiosity in general, of which is everywhere I would want to argue. So some of my work has been trying to take it out of Babinx Indonesian context and put it into your 21st British American context. But that may be getting ahead of ourselves. The book concentrates on how we are to understand religions theologically. That's what the book's about.

Cary:

Tell them, tell them, tell them, tell them, tell them, tell them You're trying to fight in here. This is the war room.

Cooper:

Yeah, one of the things you say in your article in the Gospel Coalition is that he championed the forgotten and strangely named discipline of elenctics. Am I saying that right?

Strange:

You are saying it right.

Cooper:

Yeah, wow, that's the first From the Greek word to convict or to unmask. Can you talk a little bit about what that was?

Cary:

Thank you, is that the word of the podcast is elenctics.

Strange:

Elenctics, elenctics. So elenctics used to be its own kind of discipline in seminaries. You could call it, i suppose, missionary apologetics. And yeah, it's a word that appears loads of times in the New Testament. Some of the verses that you might have heard is when Jesus is talking in John's Gospel and he says the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin. The word convict there is elenco, so it means to unmask. And then again when I was teaching well, when I teach theological students thinking about what are the qualifications for a presbyterian elder in the church, titus 1.9, teaching sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. That's the elenco verb as well. Also, in one Corinthians, the unbeliever who comes and sees prophecy in the church and will come is unmasked. So it's this idea of revealing our masking sin and calling people to Christ. Baving's great in that John passage because he said at the end of the day we can't really do that, only the Holy Spirit can do that. But through the proclamation of the Gospel we are to unmask sin and call people to Christ. So elenctics is a. it's a kind of a bit of evangelism, it's a bit about apologetics.

Strange:

But what's fascinating with Baving and again in the title, an introduction to the science of missions. Baving says that if you're gonna do elenctics well, you need a few things. You need to know the power of the Holy Spirit. He says you need to have what he says, a kind of a scientific or professional understanding of other religions. You need to listen to where people are coming from. And so Baving wants to say you need to understand ethnography and the context you're in and you need to do the kind of professional work. But then he also says you need the personal approach. in the introduction to the science of missions He has this great quotation where he says you know, when I'm talking to a Muslim I'm never just talking to a textbook, i'm talking to. every single Muslim has their own particular way of understanding things, and that personal contact as well as the professional kind of scientific. So he kind of combines those two things together.

Strange:

And then finally, i suppose the stance of elenctics. I mean, it can seem quite harsh, can't it? Oh, i'm in the business of unmasking sin. But Baving, one of the reasons I love JH Baving and I never met him. he died on the same 23rd of June 1964. And I was born 23rd of June 1974, interesting.

Strange:

But he seems like just a thoroughly godly guy. He always talks about meeting in love and the warm undertone of that. the gospel can only make wounds in the other person when we realize that it's wounded us first. And the classic kind of you know, one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. And it seems that, even though Baving that's why I love him, because it is this kind of bold in our defense, gentle in the manner of our defense He seems like a really godly, humble, quiet guy but with a really powerful message and the need for this unmasking of sin which I think we need to hear in our context at the moment, so that the side I mean in some ways my mission is to try and revive a Lenk tix as a discipline. I'm not sure how he probably needs the PR guys and the marketing guys to get on it.

Cary:

Well, we already have it in the Church of England. obviously It's what the bishops are promised to do. We all know that they say to the Archbishop be ready with faithful diligence to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God's word. thank goodness they do that. I mean, that's all I can say. I think that person-centered approach is really helpful as well, because it is really easy to have in your head a version of what the person you're talking to must believe, and whether you're talking to a Muslim, what kind of Muslim are they? And are they observant Muslims or are they not observant? but they think they are, and without even knowing their own predilections or preferences. but even speaking to the functionally secular British person, and we sort of assume they must have some kind of Sam Harris, richard Dawkins atheism in their heads and we sort of hammer them with this or that, the other And it's like, no, they don't think any of the things that atheists think and actually their agnostic thing is very confusing and they actually believe in angels.

Strange:

Yeah, exactly One of the best books I've found in the last few years, that where it's been trying to apply Bavance analysis to our context in the West, i suppose is a book by this journalist called Tara Isabella Burton called Strange Rights.

Cary:

I don't know whether you've come across it.

Strange:

It is excellent because it's a kind of a survey and ethnography of modern America, which I think does apply to the UK as well. You have to do some adjustments. But her big thing at the beginning is that all the research says that still, however much you talk about post-Christendom and the secular age, only 6% to 7% of Americans would be atheists and that those that we class as the nums, the NONEs, 45% of those believe in angels. So she talks about now the religiously. She talks about the remixed, of which she has different categories.

Strange:

But that is a startling, eye-opening analysis of modern American belief which says that we are as enchanted or differently enchanted than we've ever been. And what's great about that book is that she's not only talking about people who would say, oh, i'm a pagan, i'm a witch, i'm into it. It's all the stuff that we see all the time. It's about manifesting, it's about crystals, it's about Gwyneth Paltrow products, oprah Winfrey, and mixed with kind of alt-right stuff as well, she kind of brings it all together to say that there's a culture here that even if you're not involved, you see it all over the place in terms of wellness, well-being, and there's a real market forces to that, because the market is this multi-multi-million-dollar industry to try and promote these kinds of things, which I think are very religious things. So I think that's really helpful, that kind of analysis.

Cooper:

Does that make the work of evangelism harder or easier that the fact that that is the reality on the ground, of where people are at? do you think?

Strange:

Yeah, i think. well, it's just why I say there's a big discussion within sociologists of religion or religious studies. people This question have we in the West become disenchanted or are we enchanted? And I do like to say I think we're differently enchanted, but I suppose, from the elactic point of view, idolatry is still idolatry. I suppose there is a sense in which a recognition of the transcendent is hand be helpful, but of course, it can lead in all kinds of different ways, and that's why, for me, the category of spiritual but not religious is a description rather than thinking this is brilliant or this is terrible. It's just what do we face in front of us.

Strange:

I think, in terms of James's question, though, because we're not dealing with traditional religion and establishment in that way, it's even more important that we understand where people are coming from.

Strange:

I mean, i used to joke when I used to teach like worldview and culture at the college that I was at, and when I teach it now, the place I'm at now. If you're going to teach worldview properly, you'd need and you were going to give every, you know you'd need six billion hours to deal with every single person in the world. You can't do that. We have to generalize. So you have to talk about these broad categories, but you need to really listen carefully because the amount of cultures and subcultures you can't just talk about one culture, can you? There's subcultures and fractioning and all over the place, and that's where we have to really listen carefully but apply, i think, the same theological tools to those things. So I mean you could become completely paralyzed or discombobulated by this. It's just overwhelming. but that's where I think the Bible does give us a real guide as to how we are to understand these things theologically, which I think Babinke is very strong on.

Cary:

Yeah, and it's not just a question of finding out what someone's worldview is and theology, functional theology is. That's only really part of it, isn't it? Because we can point out the bag of contradictions and well, hang on. Sorry, you believe in angels, you don't believe in God. But if angels are created beings by God, blah, blah, and they're just like look, i just believe in angels, all right, what's wrong with that? And it's because when you dig deeper and dig deeper, look, i just don't want to die young like my sister did. All right, oh yeah. Okay, they are frightened of death. Other people are not frightened of death. They're frightened of being seen to be hypocrites or beings being ignored. And actually, one of the things you know, we need to do it. We need to go back to circle, back to Enneagrams, barry, by the way, at some point, because one of the things that I've found most useful looking at Enneagrams, from using Enneagrams in fiction to describe a character.

Cary:

So the other day I basically had to do a you know like rolling, rolling up Dungeons and Dragons characters. I just had to create a sitcom off the shelf. Nine characters, okay, nine Enneagrams. They're all frightened of different things, they all want different things And in a way they're more compelling characters than the 16 Myers Briggs, myers descriptors you know, i'm an INFP. That tells me what, that tells you what I'm like, but it doesn't tell you what I want or what I'm scared of. By and large, i think you can extrapolate some of that.

Strange:

There's a brilliant I think I was few years ago now. There was a this documentary, a series of debates that the theologian Doug Wilson had with Christopher Hitchens, okay, and there are all these very formal debates which are really interesting and like this it's enjoyable. But there's a bit of the end where they're interviewing Hitchens in the back of a car and basically starts talking about the school teacher he had or the school he went to And it obviously made a terrible impression on him. And you just think what's the relationship between these arguments that you're having, which you know in the public, and then this kind of experience that you had as a child about Christianity, and what's the relationship between the two and you?

Cary:

know, basically, isn't it? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Collision is the name of the movie. It's the name of the documentary. Yeah, yeah.

Strange:

The other thing is, I think and this is where Babin is very good in his understanding of other religions And this is the work that I've then kind of developed is he says there are these certain questions that humans have He calls them magnetic points that every human being always asks, not consciously but in the way they live their lives. And I found this a really potent framework analysis to be able to use to say these are the itches that all human beings have to scratch And really the church between temple and mosque, And then the book I did a few years ago called Making Faith Magnetic try to articulate those. Now Babin's context is obviously in Indonesia, in a very overtly religious context, But if this analysis is true, then the same questions all human beings ask, And that really is the gold. That's the kind of the best bit about JH Babin in this context in terms of articulating what those particular questions are, And I think we need to use them in all kinds of different formats as a framework for understanding how we engage culture in Gemma.

Cary:

So we're delving into a book which you wrote and released, making Faith Magnetic Five Hidden Themes Our Culture Can't Stop Talking About. So yeah, do you want to just say about what those five themes are?

Strange:

Can you?

Cary:

cast your mind back.

Strange:

Yeah, i can. No, no, no, this is my. This is what I love talking about. Babin says look, everyone has a religious consciousness, and this religious consciousness is the way that we both know God and don't know him in Romans 1, the way we run to him and run away from him at the same time. So it's messy. So religious consciousness isn't necessarily a positive thing. It's saying this is who human beings are. But he says that these perennial magnetic points that we have to try and find the answers to, and they're all don't compartmentalize them, they're all kind of connected. And these are my titles.

Strange:

So the first is totality. It's the need to connect. We. We know that, on the one hand, we know that we're insignificant And, on the other hand, when we connect with something or someone or some cause bigger, we suddenly find meaning and identity. And so that that the need to be connected and have that sense of totality is really important. And Bavingt talks about that in terms of Hinduism, buddhism, islam, but in making faith magnetic, i talk about Facebook, family trees. There's an amazing 2012,. I think Facebook had its billionth user. And in the book I talk about the advertising campaign And it could have just been like it could have been Zuckerberg's riffing off Bavingt doorbells, chairs, basketball a great nation. We need something to connect to. The universe is vast and dark, and that's what Facebook can provide. So the idea of totality and connection is the first.

Strange:

The second is norm Is there a way to live? So the first point asks totality is there a way to connect? The second is norm Is there a way to live? We all know that there are rules of the particular subculture we come from. Even subcultures that go against the norm have their own ways of conforming. In the book, a friend of mine used to be a goth in their youth, and apparently, if you're an experienced goth, you can wear baby pink, because it's ironic. If you wear it too soon, though, you'll be kind of cast out from the goth world. But again, even subcultures have their own ways of conforming. And since then, the whole thing about the view of Will Smith's slapping Chris Rock depending upon your norm, you interpret those events differently. Was this a great thing? Was this a man standing up for his woman or was this just complete violence? There's always a norm question that we have.

Strange:

Then there's deliverance is there a way out? This is a looking forward. We know that there's something wrong with the world, but what's going to solve it? We all have our different views on that. But it's also a looking back, it's nostalgia, it's deliverance from or to go back to a time when the world was better. It's like the romantics who used to build ruins because it kind of gave them that sense of the past. And CS Lewis talks about this in terms of the sense of the idea, this longing, i suppose not to get too philosophical, but Oh please carry on.

Strange:

No, i was going to say no, i wasn't going to be philosophical, but just to say deliverance also is the deliverance of how do I just get through the next day without another drink? How do I get through the next day as a single parent looking after?

Cooper:

a kid. This podcast recording.

Strange:

Get through this podcast, but then you can start doing great things with it, because some people need deliverance from deliverance. So I passed a friend of mine who was discipling two 30-year-old guys who were addicted to clash of clans on the phone, just because they don't want to deal with their life, they don't want to think about these, they don't want to think about death, they don't want to. So they just play the game. So that's why when people say about pop culture it's just about distraction, that's nonsense. You're still asking religious questions. You could never escape those kinds of questions. So that's deliverance. Then there's destiny. Is there a way of control? This is my favorite one. So in the book I talk a lot about superstition. Baving has this great line. He says we both lead and undergo our lives. So, like Monday, wednesday, friday, i'm the master of my own destiny. I can do what I want to. I can create the future. Tuesday, thursday, saturday, i'm just a puppet in someone else's chess game. I'm a puppet being pulled. I don't have any freedom, i don't have agency. And Baving kind of oscillates. Baving says we just oscillate between these two things all the time Am I in control or am I being controlled? And I found this fascinating, talking about this stuff in different cultures, because different cultures have their own spirit as to whether they think they're in control or they don't. I did this stuff in Slovakia And I was trying to get to the essence of it And I did this slack poll about do Slovakians feel they're in control or not? And for the Czechs, they're a country, as I understood, that always feel as if if first it was the Austro-Hungarian Empire, then it was the Czechs, we're just the run to the litter, it's all determined. We don't have any agency, we're never considered. They felt very controlled, whereas other places would feel, no, we are kind of, we can make the future. And this was brought home. The destiny one was really brought home.

Strange:

I did some work with students last year And I said to the undergrads the Christian Union there to the undergrads, what are the things you're dealing with at the moment, what are your friends dealing with? And it was two really interesting things. The first was everyone was into manifesting, kind of using crystals to bring about the future. So a friend of this student had thought they'd manifested their boyfriend that week. But the other thing, the students were there would been a boycott of the nightclubs in Newcastle because of injection spiking in the nightclubs, so people were fearful to go out. So there was this kind of weird thing. On the one hand, we can literally bring new things into existence through the crystals and the power of thought. The other is people are absolutely terrified of just having stuff done to them.

Cary:

Wow what a time to be alive, hey.

Strange:

Exactly, but again, the other thing, james, though, is that the malaise of a number of especially students have said to me. They say, you know that this isn't giving the exhaustive reason for depression and mental illness or any of those things, But a number of students have said to me look, we've been told since we're young, you are the generation that have to make a difference, you have to change things, and people get to university. Within the first two weeks they realize we ain't changing it, we can't do anything. I mean, we weren't going to pay back our student loans, we weren't going to get a house, we weren't going to get a job. How can we change the world? And that kind of the disillusionment of that.

Strange:

So, I think that the destiny one is really interesting in terms of fatalism versus freedom, which obviously is a perennial philosophical issue, but you see it all the time, yeah.

Cooper:

Yeah.

Strange:

Okay, so you got totality, weight to connect, normal weight to live, deliverance away out, destiny away, we control. And then the final one, which is, I suppose, the super magnetic point, is a higher power. Is there a way beyond? Now, that's not simply a belief in God In Babic, when Babic's in Indonesia, everyone believes in the God. The question is, which is the God that's going to give me connection, norm, deliverance, destiny Here? I think this is the final magnetic point that we have to excavate in the West, that we've buried deep. But the more we ask about connection and norm and deliverance and destiny, we're all coming in on this point And I suppose it's. Is there a reality beyond the reality? And in our context, in the West anyway?

Strange:

I think this is the whole thing about what you might call secular religious experiences. You know a friend of mine. His dad went to Jerusalem to the Holy Sepulchre an atheist, but they felt something. And in the book I talk about this great phenomenon called Champing You're like James in your CV context So it's a portmanteau of camping in churches. So churches that are derelict, you can pay to camp in the church. And there was this great interview on ITV where this lovely middle class mum was saying I just want my kids to wake up with light streaming through the stained glass window, to kind of give them a, give them an experience. Who wrote the book Nothing to be scared of?

Strange:

Julian Barnes, his book, julian Barnes where he starts the book by saying I don't believe in God, but I miss him, and I think that that really does. You know, you can have your hitchhens and your Stephen fries and your Dawkins, but really I wonder whether the your average Brit there is that kind of the influence of Christianity, yes, which you can't get rid of, but it's become secularized And the higher power kind of just asks that question. And so these are the five magnetic points. And then what I do in the book, and what Bavain does as well in his work, is to show how it's only Jesus Christ, how it's the gospel, it's only the gospel that can give us connection and a norm and deliverance and destiny, and Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life. So the point is it's trying to help us to get traction with people who say they're not religious, but through these magnetic points you can realize that they are very religious in the way that they live.

Strange:

So that's, basically how the magnetic points work.

Cary:

He did all that with no notes, which is impressive. It's all pretty cool Yeah.

Strange:

Hello, i am your Cooper and Terry virtual assistant. I am predestined to assist you.

Cary:

On the last one, the sense of higher power way beyond, you suddenly think, oh, i'm now seeing this everywhere. But you just think, no, no, i'm just looking for it. And if I, these days, if you look for anything, you'll find it, because we can have everything everywhere, all the time, whenever we want. But a friend of mine, a former comedy writer well, no, he's a still a comedy writer Danny Robbins. He's got a show. He's not a believer, but he's got a show on radio four which is now a big deal on BBC sounds as well, called Uncanny, and he's done a couple of scripted shows as well, called Witch Farm, and there was another one as well. But Uncanny's has been this huge thing that he's about to do a live tour And it's also going to be a TV show And he's been doing stuff about the supernatural for ages And essentially, the theme tune of this Uncanny is a very haunting tune, by lanterns on the lake, they're called, and it's a very haunting woman singing.

Cary:

I know what I saw And it's very personal experiences of people going okay, and normally it is. I don't believe in ghosts, but I've seen one And I really don't. I'm really not into this, but so this is what happened, and then this three months later this happened And then this happened And then this happened. What I find funny about it is they always then have two. They have a skeptic and a spiritual person, and I don't agree with the spiritual person either, particularly because they can they talk about things that I would just not recognize in theological terms. The skeptic I feel sorry for because they're really reaching to explain or what well, maybe it was the neighbors making noises, maybe it's this and maybe that, maybe that. One thing that the account explicitly ruled out is that it's like I just find it embarrassing, but it just seems to me that there is, coupled with the whole stranger things phenomenon which is just not something that would have been a hit maybe 10, 15 years ago, but maybe would have been in the 90s, in the X files years.

Cary:

It feels like this stuff. It feels like this stuff is kind of coming round again, doesn't it? Yeah, yeah.

Strange:

There's a great. There's a great that you'll appreciate this in terms of preaching. There's a great. There's a guy, derek Rishma Rishmari, who's a kind of rights for gospel coalition. Anyway, he did this great thing on this where he argues that you know, when we sometimes talk about the ancient, the early church fathers preaching against demons and all this stuff, we always have to kind of use it in a metaphorical sense and kind of be mythologize it. He's saying look, there's a, there's times coming where we're just going to have to be preaching that stuff literally again. Yeah, and again. You see that all the time, don't you? Especially again when you have, you know, living in cities where there has been immigration. People believe, you know all kinds of things, which is spirits, devils, but there's still. The mix with the secular is interesting because I think you're right, james, there's still the kind of you.

Strange:

There's been this, this writing recently on what people are calling metamodernism. So what happens after postmodernism? And part of it is this idea of a, not a naivety, but a knowingness about religion. We would like religion to be true. We know it's not, but we'd like it to be true, and that that because the, the certainties of modernity have been kind of crushed, but we don't want to go with the nihilistic postmodernity. So why don't we live in a thing where it would be nice to be true, But again, the great apologetic value is that's what you know. Kelly always goes on about Pascal who says you know, first make the unbeliever want it to be true before you show them it is true. So I wonder whether there are more opportunities at this point, because I wonder whether that kind of hardcore postmodern lack of meaning And yeah, i mean there's a huge.

Strange:

There's been a huge study done, i think, out of the University of Kent, which came out a few years ago called understanding unbelief in five continents. Oh, wow. What's fascinating is that some of the executive findings are, you know, people who are atheists or agnostics. We often say, oh, you know, they don't have meaning. They do have meaning. They talk about meaning all the time And I think that's the kind of the idea of hope and a narrative and an arc and all of these things are true because they're true theologically, and so all of this analysis for me just shows that the Bible is just so relevant and true because it's all there.

Strange:

We know and we don't know. We're running to God, we're running away from him, we're suppressing the truth. Paul says people of Athens I see you're very religious, the framework is all there. So, when all this stuff is in the air, you just think, yeah, this just confirms what the Bible is telling me. And the great thing is that the Bible, though, gives us a kind of a scalpel, a precision way of understanding it, so that we're not naive, because idolatry is idolatry, but we realize there's points of contact and they're going Bavance. Really good on that.

Cooper:

One love. Why don't you just make 10 louder, and make 10 be the top number and make that all the louder.

Cary:

These go to 11.

Cooper:

The thing that I tend to come up against in evangelism I'm sure you guys do too is that it's very hard to and maybe this is just we just simply say, well, it's the work of the Holy Spirit and there that is. But it's very hard, isn't it? to sort of convince somebody of the desirability of a particular thing, or at least that it's fulfilled in Christ, when there is a sort of vested interest in it not being Christ right? So that thing that you were saying about the deliberate suppression of the truth, romans 1.

Cooper:

I get the sense sometimes and I'm sure this is not true in every case, but quite often people like to say, well, i'm spiritual but not religious. The reason that they would say that is because, basically, that means it doesn't make any demands of them at all, but it does confer them with a kind of I'm quite a deep person. Maybe that's a bit of a sort of crass caricature, but do you know what I mean? Is there anything on that that would help to really sort of penetrate that sort of carapace of you? Yeah, yeah.

Strange:

So I think on the one hand, you're right. We make gods because we'd rather, even though idols do terrible things to us because they're not God, we still would rather believe in them rather than the living God. I mean, this is why people love. Fate is great for a sinner, because fate gives you some sense of meaning and overarching kind of legitimacy. But fate is impersonal. Fate doesn't care what I do, so I can have the legitimacy without the personal accountability. I'd much rather have that than a personal God who knows everything about me. So we're constantly trying to squirm around And I think all the gods that we make are trying to have the God bit, without the kind of implications of what that would mean, which is what I don't treat, isn't it? So that's the first thing.

Cooper:

All the sweetness, none of the calories. Yes, exactly.

Strange:

And I think then we need to realize that there is a squirming, there's a kind of oh, it's the suppression of truth, i think. The second thing, though, is I found Isaiah 41 really helpful here. So in Isaiah 41, you've got Israel is captive to the Babylonians, but the Assyrians, or they're coming, they're going to be the new superpower. So there's this approaching menace, and that's a great passage, isaiah 41, because it talks about idol construction, that is, the nation's billed idols, and there's that satirical bit where the idols are kind of toppling as this superpower comes, and I think that shows that, at the end of the day, we do have to create things outside of ourselves, because we know that we need protection. We build idols, but we can't get identity from those idols because we don't know who we are and we make things that shaky people make, shaky gods.

Strange:

When you see an approaching menace, come, you know, and I think, for all those gods that we build Barry, and there's so many of them, i think, part of the evangelistic well, all we can do is, i think, show We can't, at the end of the day, just show that this is what happens.

Strange:

It's how those idols start to topple, when just life happens. You know, how are these things? When just life happens to any of us, are these things that we built going to give us the identity and security that we need? We've built them, but actually they're just toppling, whereas what happens in that passage is that then God speaks and he gives the people of God their identity. You know Israel, my servant, jacob, and I have loved Abraham, my friend. So the living, stable God gives people their identity, which is solid and stable, no matter what the approaching menace is. And that contrast between the gods that we make ourselves that topple and the identity given to us from Christ is, i think, a real contrast that we need to be drawing out, and so it's trying to show how those, the gods that we make, even though they come from us, i still think we build things to give us a sense of identity, and that's where we need to show that they have feet of clay and they don't deliver, they can't deliver.

Cary:

And I guess everyone's building their own And I think, just going back to you know not quite where we started, but with having that one-on-one conversation with someone and discovering where they are, what they actually believe, as opposed to what I've read in books, people like this believe, and it feels to me like we're always striving for the magic gospel bullet that will bring millions to Christ, because it's the. we finally found the form of words, the magic spell. Oh, hang on. Already alarm bells are going off. But we really do think.

Cary:

I think, because of the nature of the Internet as well, we just think that the gospel can go viral in some way. I mean, it's called revival, i guess, isn't it? But we just think if we can just sort of crack this, work out the code, deliver the you know the data in the right way, whereas actually the Kingdom of God seems to be being built one conversation at a time, with one person at a time, with you, christian, with your own background and predilections, ethnicity, language preferences, churchmanship, all that kind of stuff with this unbeliever who also has their own stack of things they do and don't believe.

Strange:

And I think, james. The other thing that I've been thinking about is how do we as Christians cultivate the spaces to be able to have those conversations in terms of just civility? I'm currently working on a project where Kelly wrote an article a few weeks ago called Lemonade on the Porch, where he's arguing that in the kind of America 50 years ago every house had a porch where it would be kind of a public face, where you could come and serve lemonade without going into the house And the culture itself was the lemonade that would invite people in. Now churches are going to have to build porches And I wonder whether something like these magnetic points then could this be a how do we build different porches that allow civility? I mean, for me you could call it pre-Pree evangelism If I can have a conversation with someone where they can go away, just thinking, actually I've got a worldview this Christian has, but I have as well I think that's great for the gospel as you start to bring out those things but the ability to have spaces and places, a place to rest, to be able to discuss those things.

Strange:

I wonder whether our and I think the creative arts does that as well, in asking those questions, putting a stone in someone's shoe. I think, you know, tell it. You know, as Emily Dickinson says, you know, tell it slants. I think we'll need to be doing more of that for the sake of the gospel, because then if people come into a porch, then they might, they might go away, they might kind of. You know, isaiah again says about the idolatry no one stops to think. If we can get people to stop and think, they might go away and think, well, actually, what are these things that I'm trusting in And that might then lead them to say, go back to the porch and say, well, where does this come from? And then we can, you know, lead them into the, lead them into the building.

Strange:

But the idea of that, that kind of a place to be able to have these discussions, to have these conversations, so civility, i think, is really important, because there's just a lot of, as I think we said before the podcast, there's just a lot of talking past each other, and where do we have the space and time to just reflect on the issues of the day and help conversation? I mean the. You know, i know it's a sound bite, but I do think that conversational difference, recognising that we're all in the image of God. We all have dignity, even though I strongly can disagree with you can lead to conversional difference, where we are calling people to repent. I do think there's a relationship between those two and there's just a lack of civility around that. I wonder whether the church can help in a public setting, but for the sake of the gospel.

Cooper:

It sounds like the sort of Paul van der Klee sort of estuary group. That's one of those sorts of ideas, isn't it? And, funnily enough, buying the house here. We moved in on the week of lockdown And one of the reasons we were attracted to this place was there is a literal it's not so much a porch as a patio really, but it's on the corner of the street And we knew from speaking to the previous incumbent that basically people as they walk by walking their dogs or whatever, they'd quite often just kind of slip through the back gate into the garden. They'd sit there and, just you know, shoot the breeze. So it is a little tiny, little social mecca in our sort of block and it's great. I mean, the introvert in me is just like I just want to sit here with my book or whatever, and there's people walking by going hi And it's like but it's, it is a tremendous, it's been, it's put a lot of opportunities in front of us, so it's been great.

Cary:

Being pestered with gospel opportunities must be awful. Yeah, I know right. Yeah, Says the co-writer of Christianity Explored. I just want to read my book. All these people just keep one of them coming and talk about Jesus And it says ah there you with your spiritual hunger.

Cary:

That sounds like a really good place on which to end the main podcast. We'll have another bit more of a chat after we've stopped recording, as it were, for our patrons and Cooper and Kerry plus members. So if you're listening on Apple podcasts, you can join us on that. And also, it just helps keeps the lights on, keeps the engine running here at Cooper and Kerry towers. So, dan, thanks very much. Let's just mention making faith magnetic out in October 2021, five hidden themes of our culture. Our culture can't stop talking about. That's from. That's a good book company, isn't it? Yep, and then the other book.

Strange:

The Church Between Temple and Mosque. A study of the relationship between Christianity and other religions by J H Baving not J J R Hartley, j H Baving.

Cary:

J H Baving, with an introduction by Dan Strange. We didn't even get onto the mosque thing. Maybe we'll touch on that on the other side. But, dan, for now, thanks very much indeed. Thank you, guys. Thanks for listening. Speak to you next time, cheerio. So if I've read about Baving, i've probably read about the one you're talking about.

Strange:

No, you've probably read about Herman Herman's, the much more famous theologian. This is the missiologist, his nephew. But there's a. We're trying to have a campaign. But some of the people interested in Herman are also interested in J H. But J H was the. This is the missionary guy who was in Indonesia.

Cooper:

So not the Reformed Dogmatics guy.

Strange:

No, n ot the Reformed Dogmatics guy. I'm sorry, do you want me to go now?

Cooper:

No, you're just going to be doing a lot more of the talking, that's all.

Exploring the Two Bavinks' Theology
Understanding Religions Theologically and Elenctics
Understanding Worldview and Religious Consciousness
The Four Religious Questions
Magnetic Points and Higher Power Search
Building Civility for Gospel Conversations