The people of God are called to engage with the issues of the culture, which can involve at times, some difficult and challenging conversations. How to insure that the church's cultural engagement remains a positive contribution instead of furthering division is the subject of well-known scholar Darrell Bock's new book, Cultural Intelligence. Join Sean and Scott for this helpful guidance on engaging culture productively.

About our Guest

Dr. Darrell Bock is Executive Director of Cultural Engagement at the Hendricks Center for Leadership and Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies, both at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is the author of more than 40 books and is widely sought out by various media outlets for his expertise.

Episode Transcript

Scott Rae: Welcome to Think Biblically: Conversations on Faith & Culture, a podcast from Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. I'm your host, Scott Rae, Dean of Faculty and Professor of Christian Ethics.

Sean McDowell: And I'm your cohost, Sean McDowell, Professor of Apologetics.

Scott Rae: We're here with our special guest, Dr. Darrell Bock, who he and I go way, way back, longer, I think, than either of us would care to admit. But I think I've known Darrell longer than I have any person in my life, outside my family of origin. We grew up together, came to faith together, and have continued serving the Lord together at our various institutions. Darrell and I have been long time friends. And so, it's a delight to have you on with us, Darrell, to talk about your new book, your latest book, entitled Cultural Intelligence, and we'll get into a little bit about what that means, but we just want to welcome you. So delighted that you'd take the time to be with us.

Darrell Bock: Glad to be with you, and we can debate whether it was a charge or a block later.

Scott Rae: That's right. Let's just say we needed a referee almost every day, growing up. Now, Darrell, you've been a New Testament person for most of your professional life, specializing in Historical Jesus Studies. This book is, kind of, a pretty significant departure from that. And why the shift in emphasis, in what you've been devoting your professional life to in the last few years?

Darrell Bock: Well, it's almost two decades now, kind of, redirection in that. I think that the natural landing point for being serious about Jesus is how you live your life. And so, that means thinking through what the application is, and particularly, in the difficult spaces of life, are things that have concerned me for a long time. So, when I got pulled into the discussion on The Da Vinci Code, which is back in 2004, I got pulled into not just Jesus Studies, but the application of how the church is seen in the culture. And I've really never left that. The odd thing is, Scott, as you know, when I was President of the Evangelical Theological Society, I gave a talk, as my presidential address, that really mapped out.

And I didn't intend to do it at the time, but really mapped out where I've ended up. And just seeing it as the natural theological extension of where education should take someone, at least some of us, as we engage with what's going on around us and try and show the relevance of our faith, so that it doesn't just ended up in the space of four walls of a classroom or four walls of a church.

Sean McDowell: Darrell, you've titled the book, Cultural Intelligence. And I know the thoughtfulness that goes in a book is often to capture, kind of, the key idea that's being communicated. So, tell us what you mean by that. What's the big idea of the book?

Darrell Bock: Well, the big idea of the book comes in parts. First of all, I opened the book by making the point that the term culture itself is misleading, that we're actually made up of variety of cultures, and that they're like plate tectonics, you Californians will know something about this. Plate tectonics that rub against each other that sometimes create friction and challenge. So, the idea of Cultural Intelligence is having the ability to understand the nature of the cultures that we function in, the way in which they've impacted each other, and then think through what the best way is to engage is, especially when they're the kinds of differences that we see so prevalent in our culture, and especially in light of the polarization that we've seen more recently. The challenge of the book is that the argument is that the culture war that the church has attempted to fight, over the last several decades, is actually missionally misdirected and has done the church a lot of damage.

So, it was also an effort to correct that, by insisting on a certain way of engagement that is in contrast to the way we have been engaging and is designed to actually move towards people, rather than to do things that tend to alienate them. Not that there isn't challenge in what we do, that's part of the intelligence, is managing the tension between the challenge of the gospel on the one hand, and the invitation that is encased within it. And so, I walked through six passages that set a theology, a template for a theology of engagement. And then the core part of the book is about the way to have difficult conversations, how to have meaningful conversations with people you disagree with. And then a third key part of the book is the idea that we not only read from the Bible to life, but we need to learn how to read and teach people who... Teach the church how to go from life back to the Bible. So, there are, kind of, three pivot points in the book, in terms of the way it's structured.

Scott Rae: We'll take on all three of those pivot points here in the next few minutes, but Darrell, I know a lot of the work that you're doing as the Executive Director for Cultural Engagement at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Seminary revolves around a lot of the ideas that come out in this book. So, how has your work at the Hendricks center been designed to model some of the things that you bring out in the book?

Darrell Bock: Well, of course, we host a podcast, much like you do, that I think is offered in the same kind of spirit that your podcast is, which is to get people to think biblically on the one hand, but invitingly, and winsomely on the other. The tone as well as content matters in how you engage. This is one of the failures that I see in much of the church's engagement today. It's combative and it isn't inviting towards the gospel at all, if we're not careful. Even though there is the challenge element that is also a part of it, it's getting that balance right that's important. In fact, a lot of the book about intelligence, the reason we use the word wisdom sometimes, is getting the balance right, between factors that oftentimes are intention with one another and that are easy to get out of balance. So, that certainly is a key thing.

And then most all the areas that we work in are steps into difficult areas that our culture is dealing with. Our podcast is called The Table, and our opening goes, "Welcome to The Table. We discuss issues of God and culture." And we really are trying to walk into a variety of difficult areas and hear voices from a biblical perspective, as your podcast does, in doing that. But we are as focused on tone as we are on content. One of the points of the book is, you can be right conceptually, but if your tone is wrong, you're still wrong. And so, that's an important theme in the work that we do.

Sean McDowell: Can you talk a little bit about how you see the intersection of, kind of, our Christian faith and the culture? There's a lot of talk about, we should try to change culture, we're within culture, we're above culture. How would you theologically make the connection between, "Yes. We're supposed to preach the gospel." But also engage ideas in the culture itself?

Darrell Bock: Yeah, well, I think it's getting what the mission is right. This is actually another point in the book, is to redefine engagement missionally. And so, for me, at the core of that is, the gospel is the only answer. Politics aren't the answer, making people and demonizing people is not the answer. In fact, the key text in the chapter on the passages that form a cultural engagement backdrop and template is Ephesians 6:12, which says, "For our struggle is not, not, not, not, not..." That's emphatic, "Against flesh and blood." Okay? "But it's against cosmic forces and powers." The last word, Greek word in that sequence of describing these spiritual forces is cosmocrats. If you think a bureaucrat is bad, you should meet a cosmocrat. And because we've miss-targeted our battle, okay? And we've made the object... People are actually the goal.

I say, people are not to be the object of our challenge, they are actually the goal. We're trying to invite them into a sacred space. So, this gets to the answer to your question, Sean, the church is a place in which we invite people out of a secularized space, into a sacred space, to receive an enablement without which they cannot live as flourishing a life as God designed it to be lived at, that's a Genesis 1 starting point. And so, when we try and fix the culture without actually engaging in that heart change, we're already in an operation that's going to fail. And so, we've had the experiment of having God's laws present, and having good laws, but not having people's hearts change, that's the story of the Old Testament. And so, that's why you needed a new covenant. That's why you needed the gospel.

And so, we have to engage in such a way that will draw people to the light that is supposed to reside in the church, and it's supposed to reside in the church in a way that is counter to the way the world works. Now, obviously, if you live with principles of good relating, that can impact the culture, you want to do that, but it really can't happen without the heart change that the gospel talks about. So, that's only a partial solution. And so, when your solution becomes politics, or you get overwhelmed by the circumstances around you, or you react out of fear or frustration, First Peter 3, another passage that I discuss, talks about not reacting out of fear, in terms of the opposition that you receive, because your identity in Christ is solid and because of the hope that you have. But when you respond that way, you're almost for sure going to get off target.

So, it's understanding the nature of the mission properly. And then out of that, doing your engagement and having realistic expectations about what that can and can't achieve, which often means losing well, because in one sense, you could say the fact that Jesus was sent to the cross meant that the world didn't exactly accept what he was offering when he offered it. So, we have to be prepared to walk in the same space. And I think Jesus spent the second half of his ministry with his disciples, preparing them to occupy that same space.

Scott Rae: Now, Darrell, you said, just a minute ago, that you were of the opinion that the culture wars were actually harmful to the gospel. What do you mean by the term "culture wars", and how have they been harmful to the gospel?

Darrell Bock: Well, because it's set up people as an enemy. That's the short way to say. It made our war became a war against people, and we lost sight of the invitation that is so central to the gospel. And not only that, it actually forgets how we came to God and how we model the way God dealt with us in bringing us to himself. God came to us when our backs were turned to him, and he tapped us on the shoulder and drew us to himself. We need to remember that we're called to model that kind of relating. That's why Jesus calls us to love the person who is our enemy and to love the person who hates us, to respond to hate with love. And so, when we forget that, and when we engage in battle the way the world battles, and we get off target, we actually become another special interest group, like other special interest groups, and people will pick their special interest groups accordingly, and we lose our distinctive.

Scott Rae: So, how did we get to a place where our culture, and particularly our politics, are so divided? And I think it has become toxicly so. I mean, I don't remember anything like this in my lifetime.

Darrell Bock: No. I think the closest we got to it was in the sixties, and we were pretty young then, Scott. And-

Scott Rae: Are you saying that's why I don't remember it?

Darrell Bock: Yeah. Well, the point being, I agree with you, and I think what's happened is that we have lost sight, Christians have lost sight, of how secure their identity is in Christ. And so, they don't need to be as nervous about what's going on around them as they have tended to be. And even though there's the feel of loss, we're no longer the home team, we don't have the Judeo-Christian net around us like we used to, which was a really exceptional thing, we need to recover the ability to engage in a way that understands that the Bible taught, that the world will always be pushing back against Christians until Christ comes back and fixes it. And until then, our best witness is to be who we're called to be as believers.

Sean McDowell: In terms of models for cultural engagement, you cite both, Acts 17, with Paul in Athens, and Romans 1. Can you tell us what we can learn from those two passages?

Darrell Bock: Yeah. It's a contrast. Romans 1 tells us what Paul thinks of culture, which can be summarized in a very theological word, and that word is yuck. And so, when you describe the world around us, in the end of Romans 1, and you see God's response to the fact that people have turned their back on God, it's a pretty strong condemnation. In fact, whenever I read that passage, I think, "Paul has been watching my 10 o'clock in the evening news. He seems to be aware of what's going on around us." But when you watch him speak, in Acts 17, to that very same audience, with an introduction that says, "He went around Athens, seeing the idols, and his spirit was provoked within him." And that word provoke is not a weak word. His blood pressure changed when he saw the idols. He was, to use a German phrase, [foreign language 00:14:21], which means not happy, in seeing all those idols.

And so, he saw those idols, and yet, when he walked in, he starts off by saying, "I see that you're a very religious people." Which is a way of saying, "I see that you're interested in spiritual things. Let's talk about spiritual things together." And it's just a door opening that he begins with. So, the tone with which he engages the culture is sensitive in the way it engages, even though he is very clear about how dangerous and destructive that culture can be. And he's trying to come at people from where they are starting from, as opposed to coming at them from where he is starting from. And so, he extends a hand, an invitation to do that, by even the way he opens the talk, even though, in the midst of the talk, he's going to challenge them by getting them to think about the consequences of where they are, in terms of where they believe, versus the theology that undergirds what it is he's trying to say to them.

Scott Rae: Yeah. Romans 1 doesn't strike me as being a particularly winsome approach. It's, sort of, Paul's version of Jesus clearing the temple. I mean, how are those good models of the kind of engagement that we want to see when those... I mean, Jesus was pretty clear that he was not happy, when he cleared out the temple.

Darrell Bock: That's very true, but you know what's interesting is? This is an observation I've made because I've spent my life in Jesus Studies, guess who Jesus was the harshest towards? The Pharisees, okay? The people who should have known better. The people who claimed to represent God, and misrepresented him in the way they were handling their walk with God. I think that is a very significant observation to make. Now, there are times to be harsh and there are times to be direct. There are even times to be harsh and direct with those on the outside. But God really pays attention to how people who claim his name represent him.

And so, I think that's the most important observation to make about the nature of Jesus's ministry. He tended to draw those who the Pharisees tended to see on the outside and needed to be rebuked, he tended to be soft towards those people. But he was very hard on the Pharisees who thought that they had their act together and saw themselves as far superior to most of the people they were walking next to, of which the parable on the tax collector is probably the example.

Sean McDowell: Darrell, I'm curious, you cite the example of Paul in Athens, which is written in the book of Acts, to Christians, but it's him engaging non-Christians. Romans is written to Christians in particular. Do we have examples of Jesus engaging with non-believers, that we can learn from? Because I know his main audience was to believers, at least in the sense of, to his Jewish audience. Do we have him engaging any non-Jews that we can pull principles of cultural engagement from?

Darrell Bock: That's a great question, Sean, and I mean, we have examples of ministry to outsiders, for sure. I mean, when he's engaged with the Gerasene demoniac, he's in a Gentile area, for sure. He's showing extending the same hand of grace and service to them that he did within Israel, and pointing to who he was by what it was that he was doing. And I sometimes think the miracles get in the way of our understanding the principles of Jesus' ministry, which I think is wonderfully summarized in Luke 4. Now, this isn't going to be with outsiders, but it makes the point. In Luke 4, you have Jesus preaching and teaching in the synagogue. He has a ministry of the word, but then it's immediately followed by a day of [inaudible 00:18:11], in which he's ministering, right and left, to all kinds of people. And what he has is a word-deed match. What he says in the synagogue, he does in the way he serves the people around him when he's outside the synagogue.

I think that is the core ministry principle that you see in Jesus's ministry. And his miracles are PowerPoints, they're points about who he is, they're audio visual introductions to what he's about. But sometimes the miracle can get in the way in this sense. We say, we can't do miracles like Jesus did, we can't serve like that, that's true. But we can serve, we can show, by the way we engage with people, that we care about them. And that really is the point of the word-deed model that I think you see. So, you don't see Jesus so much... We don't see him speaking that much directly to people who are completely outside the hope of Israel, in his ministry, because he ministered primarily to Israel. But we do see the principles of ministry by how he engages and tries to draw people who think they are in, but really are not. Who need to come in, if you will. And that ministry, we see all the way through the gospels.

Scott Rae: And, Darrell, you talk a lot, in the book, about the kinds of difficult conversations that the Hendricks Center has been involved, facilitating these challenging, tense, often potentially divisive conversations. How can we do these better? These are hard, because culturally, we use a lot of discussion stoppers, we yell at each other, we use a lot of ad hominem arguments. We've got to do better at this. What advice do you have in the book, for how we can do these better?

Darrell Bock: One word that's simple to say, but hard to do, listen. We need to be better listeners. This is James 1:19 & 20, which I actually didn't address quite so directly in the book, I allude to it. But that's the passage that says that we're supposed to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, because the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. And so, we need to be better listeners. We need to move towards people, as opposed to what the other response is when you're in a difficult conversation can be, which is to push back or withdraw, become passive and just resign to not do anything. That doesn't work. And we need to do a better job of not demeaning the person we're in conversation with, simply because they disagree with us, but to actually try and see where they're coming from and why, and see if there are things in where they're coming from and why, that might connect to a bridge that might lead us into a conversation, either about authentic life or about the gospel.

Sean McDowell: Darrell, one of the ways that you suggest we engage culture actually begins within, in terms of how we teach the scriptures. And this fascinates me because sometimes I'm in... A lot of times, I'm in apologetic circles. And some of the ways lessons are taught are just fear-based, internally. And so, in the postmodernist, the Marxist, the LGBTQ taking over the world, and it's like this inside rhetoric creates an, us versus them, mentality.

Darrell Bock: The sky is falling. The sky is falling. Okay. The sky is falling theology is not biblical. It's just not biblical.

Sean McDowell: I agree 100%. I love to hear you say that with the enthusiasm, made my day, by the way. Tell me how we teach the Bible better, that won't encourage that kind of rhetoric and, us versus them, mentality.

Darrell Bock: Every difficult conversation is rooted in a person's identity and where they really reside, in terms of who they see themselves to be. And the Romans 8 says, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" There is nothing to fear, for the genuine believer. God has them in his hands, and that grip is tight and solid. That text goes on to say, "If God is for us, who can be against us? Is it going to be Christ? No, he died for us." And then at the very end of that chapter, as we all know, there's a whole list of things that Paul says cannot come between us and God. Our identity in him is secure. There is nothing to fear for us, for people for whom this life is but a temporary stopping place, a tent that we occupy, but that one day will be glorified. There is nothing to fear, and we know victory is in God's hands.

So, there's nothing to fear. The First Peter 3 passage, one of the passages I do talk about, talks about not responding to people out of fear. And, but rather to be prepared to talk about the hope that resides within, to give a defense for the hope that is in us. And then it goes on to say, "Yet with gentleness or meekness and respect." Or meekness and fear, it's [foreign language 00:23:22] are the Greek words. And so, tone matters, alongside content, but it's never to respond out of a fear. It's supposed to respond out of a secure understanding that God has me in his hands, and my call is to represent him well, knowing that the outcome... That the victory is secure for those to whom I am asking to respond, and I'm inviting into this sacred space. So, we're never to let the sky fall in our world because God is the one who orders creation and he's got the sky as well, in his hands.

Sean McDowell: Darrell, what you said about identity, I think is so important, because the solution to fear is love. First John 4:18 says, "Perfect love casts out fear." And in this book, you're talking about having the kinds of conversations that are just riddled with fear. Race, immigration, gun control, transgender topics. And in a sense, it doesn't seem to me, we can truly love people, unless we first have an identity of who we are in Christ, then we're freed up to love people and not be motivated by fear. So, what practical-

Darrell Bock: Go ahead.

Sean McDowell: Jump in. Go ahead. No, please.

Darrell Bock: No, I was going to say, and so, every difficult conversation has three parts. It's what I call triphonics, in the book. There's the topic that you're talking about, which is where most people get stuck. They think that what they're talking about is what they're talking about. What they're talking about is not what they're talking about. There's something else more profound going on. It's like a married couple who fights over something, what they're fighting over is not what they're fighting over, they're fighting over something usually more profound than whatever trivial thing has set them off. And then the second layer is the lens through which I look at things, which impacts what I see and how I assess it. And people have different lenses, this is one of the lessons of post-modernism. People do have different lenses that they look through. And if you want to understand that category, all I have to say is CNN and Fox, and you get it.

They're looking at the same phenomenon, but the stories that they're telling are very different. The third layer is the layer of identity, okay? What's at stake for me in this conversation? And how am I impacted by what's being said? We always act, in difficult conversations, out of our identity, whatever it is. So, if my identity is my political party more than it is my theological orientation, no matter how I try and connect those two, I'm going to be off. And so, it's really, really important that our identity be motivated, not just out of our Christian sense, but out of our Christian mission, which rotates around two greats, the great commandment and the great commission. Great commandment, as you all know, love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. There is both a vertical and horizontal element to the great commandment, and that great commandment includes everybody.

It includes my enemies, it includes the way Jesus taught about the parable of the good Samaritan, where he said, "The question is not, who is my neighbor? The thing to think about is being a neighbor." And then, of course, the great commission, which is to take the gospel into the world. It didn't say, "Go into the church and make disciples." They're already there. It said, "Go into the world and make disciples, teaching them to obey all that I've commanded you." And so, when you do that, you're engaged with people on the outside, you're inviting them from an outside space, into an inner space with God, because eternal life, as John 17:3 says, is knowing the father and knowing the son.

And so, it's not about a ticket to heaven or anything else. Eternal life is about a quality of life and a relational connection, more than it is how long it lasts, because it's who you're with that matters, not just the duration of when you're there. I tell people, there are a lot of people who, if you said, "You're going to be with eternity with this person." They would say, "No, thank you." But to have an eternity with God matters because of who it is you're connected to for eternity.

Scott Rae: Darrell, let's put some shoe leather on this in some more specific ways. So, give me a... Maybe not an exact Twitter style response, but sort of along that line, about how the Christian community can better engage the culture on issues of race, immigration, gun control, and transgender.

Darrell Bock: Well, I've got to give you a template to answer the question. So, I'm going to go over-

Sean McDowell: You've got 240 characters, okay?

Scott Rae: You got 30 seconds on each one.

Darrell Bock: 30 seconds on each one?

Scott Rae: I'm kidding.

Darrell Bock: Okay. So, there are three kinds of issues. Issues where you really have a worldview clash, and there's very little middle ground. Those conversations are, by far, the most difficult, but you're never relieved of the pastoral responsibility of how you're relating to that person. That's what the church tends to forget. Second category is, you share the same goal, but you disagree on how to get there. Racial reconciliation is an example of that category. The first category, examples are debates like abortion and some of the sexuality discussions we're having on same-sex marriage and that kind of thing. Second category, racial reconciliation. If I ask people, should the races be reconciled? I'll get numbers politicians would be jealous to have on their own personal approval writing. But if I ask the next question, how do we get there? Now we're going to have the discussion, but at least we share the goal.

That's the easiest category to deal with, in many ways, if you recognize what it is that you're going after. The third category is what I think is the most common and the most underappreciated. That is where there are two views, each of which has certain values that are in collision, because we live in a fallen world. What our culture teaches us to do is to choose one side or the other in a kind of all or nothing binary. I'm all in on one side and not in at all on the other. When the discussion we need to have is, how do I balance these values, both of which have merit? And what's their relationship to each other? And if we could turn our conversations into that kind of a direction, rather than an all out collision, I think we would help many of the conversations that lie in front of us. So, that wasn't a Twitter answer, it was more of a Facebook answer, but I hope I gave you a template to work with.

Scott Rae: All right.

Sean McDowell: You definitely did. Let me press you on one of these, and show us how this template actually works. And I realized we're on different levels, but what would that look like on the transgender issue, to apply it?

Darrell Bock: Well, the transgender issue would be difficult because you have some people who say that an order of gender doesn't exist, that it's a social construct or you get to choose your gender or something like that. But here's the hard part. There is a very small percentage of our population that is mixed-gendered, legitimately mixed-gendered. But the hard part is, how do you make policy for a very small group and then try and extend it to people to whom it does not apply? That's an aspect to that conversation. So, what I'm saying to you is, there are aspects of the transgender conversation that are legitimate, in terms of what it is that they're trying to address. But then the extension of that legitimacy to a generalization across the board is where the problems tend to come into that conversation, and probably will be where that conversation moves, if it's allowed to go there, which is helpful to everybody, if they'll recognize the distinction that I'm trying to make.

Scott Rae: Would you hold that broader conversation as actually a worldview conflict?

Darrell Bock: Yes. Some of these do move into worldview conflicts, for sure, which is why the sexuality issue is so important. But notice the clash that happens in that conversation when you talk about same-sex marriage. The value that's put forward in defense of same-sex marriage, at least to a degree, is a combination of issues tied to loneliness and love, "I should be able to choose who I love and I'm dealing with the loneliness that I feel or a direction that I feel." That has to be dealt with pastorally, alongside the issues of order and divine design that tend to come from the other side, that say, "No, that's unnatural. That's not the way it should work." So, there's a way in which some of this overlaps, as you have these discussions, these categories aren't clean boxes, in some cases, but recognizing how they work and how they interact with each other gives the potential for having a different kind of conversation, because I certainly want to address the loneliness that someone feels or the desire to be loved that someone feels.

Scott Rae: Darrell, one final question on this. What kinds of things are out there, that give you hope and encouragement about the church engaging in increasingly secular, religiously hostile culture today? What gives you encouragement?

Darrell Bock: I actually think that we have a chance, I'm not confident about this. But in the area of race and diversity, in a positive sense, to actually engage with brothers and sisters of Christ who are in different backgrounds, that is helping the church to develop a sensitivity in this area, if the church will not push back, that's a big if on the end. But I'm seeing an opportunity now, for the first time in a long time, to actually move in a positive direction in this area and in this discussion, in a way that we thought we had solved in the sixties, but really had only papered over some of the real issues that still need to be addressed.

Sean McDowell: Boy, that is really interesting. I've got a bunch of questions for you right now, but that might have to be another podcast we follow up with. But I love that you see the positive, and one thing you said a moment ago, Darrell, on the transgender issue, you talked about, kind of, humanizing people and seeing legitimate issues that need to be addressed, because in of some of the writing and teaching I do, I've read a number of queer theorists, and how these books almost always start is a heartbreaking story of somebody who felt like they didn't fit in. They didn't fit in to culture, fit into the church, fit into their family, didn't fit the stereotypes. And then this other theory outside the church came along and gave them language to express their anguish, and a home, and really, power to live differently. If we miss that and make it into a culture war, my goodness, we are missing, I think, gospel opportunities. So, I want to just-

Darrell Bock: I couldn't agree with you more, Sean. And let me make a second observation, because I'm doing reading right now, on critical race theory, because of the issues related to reconciliation, the kinds of conversations I'm in, in the deep South, on the issue of race. And they start in a similar place, they try and put the reader in a position of saying... Thinking through what it means to be a white person who's ignored in certain situations versus being a person of color who's ignored in certain situations, and asking the question, does race enter into the way that gets perceived by what's happening, even if race is or isn't there? That's where critical race theory, in the book that I'm reading on it, that's a primer, it starts. Here's what they get right, that we've missed. They start with the human emotions and the human self perception.

They are messing with identity, deep, okay? And we tend not to go there. We tend to operate in the area of ideas, and we operate in the area of ideas that are ways that are disconnected to the person. Yeah, I think you used the phrase "dehumanizing" earlier. And when we do that, we disconnect ourselves from the kind of conversations that we need. It's like music. Music sometimes gets to a person in a way words don't, and reaching out to the person in identity level gets to a person in the way in which words might not, or at least, until you do that, words won't matter. I often say, a person won't care about your critique unless they know you care.

And so, that's the humanizing element that needs to come in. And when we're good listeners, we will connect with those notes of pain that people throw out as music. And we need to connect to those notes of pain and be able to address how the gospel can speak to those notes of pain, because one of the things I deeply believe is, the gospel is the best way to speak to those notes of pain.

Sean McDowell: Darrell, this is such good stuff. I hope you will continue writing in the realm of Historical Jesus Studies because it's benefited me a ton, I cited to you in my dissertation. But please continue these cultural issues, that it becomes so pressing, because you're committed to scripture, and yet, this approach of humanizing relationship, listening, is something we all, myself included, can do a lot better. So, we want to commend, to our listeners, your new book, Cultural Intelligence. Cultural Intelligence really is a gem. So, Dr. Darrell Bock, we really appreciate you coming on.

Darrell Bock: Oh, it's my pleasure always, and it's always good to connect with you. I feel like we're really brothers and sisters in Christ, in terms of what we do, and Scott and I have had this relationship for so long and it runs so deep. And Sean, it's great to be with you and all the Talbot folks, we really do appreciate the ministry that you have out there in wonderful, sunshiny California, as I speak to you from the frozen tundra of Texas

Scott Rae: 75 degrees today, brother.

Sean McDowell: That's right.

Darrell Bock: And you always love to rub it in.

Scott Rae: I do. Hear, hear. Darrell, thanks so much for hanging with us and for just giving us some of the stuff that's on your heart. It's really good stuff. And as usual, super insightful and super helpful to our listeners.

Darrell Bock: Yeah, you're welcome.

Scott Rae: This has been an episode of the podcast, Think Biblically: Conversations on Faith & Culture. Think Biblically podcast is brought to you by Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, offering programs in Southern California and online, including a new fully online Master of Divinity. Visit to learn more about it. If you enjoyed today's conversation with our friend, Dr. Darrell Bock, give us a rating on your podcast app and share it with a friend. Thanks so much for listening, and remember, think biblically about everything.