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Some stories in the Bible are hard to understand, let alone approve. For those who are questioning and finding it difficult to trust the God of the Bible and certain historical events as recorded in the Scriptures, it helps to hear stories from people who have worked through their own questions and doubts to arrive at healthy, more firmly held beliefs and convictions. On today’s episode, History scholar Susan Lim (Ph.D.) speaks with Tim and Rick about her own journey of coming to love the Bible, and they speak about her book, Light of the World: How Knowing the History of the Bible Illuminates Our Faith.


Rick Langer: Welcome to the Winsome Conviction podcast. My name is Rick Langer. I'm a professor here at Biola University and the director of the Office of Faith and Learning, and also the co-director of the Winsome Conviction Podcast.

Tim Muehlhoff: My name's Tim Muehlhoff. I'm a professor of communication here at Biola University and the co-director of the Winsome Conviction Project with Dr. Langer, my good friend. Rick, it's fun to have your friends on and it's fun to get them back, get them to come back. But we had a wonderful conversation with Dr. Susan Lim on how to have conversations with people in different faith traditions and Dr. Lim had been brought up in a Buddhist household. It was a great podcast.

Rick Langer: We talk a lot about crossing boundaries of convictions and things like that, but we're often thinking of social issues or political issues or things like that, or even conflicts within the Christian church. It was really interesting that ... to stop and have a conversation about things about world religion kind of gaps because those are very, very real in our culture as well.

Tim Muehlhoff: You know, it's funny, Rick, because of the time that we live in, it was our second book, Winsome Conviction: How Do You Disagree Without Dividing the Church? That all the politics that had been happening, my goodness, the pandemic. We've been working really hard to keep churches together, but we kind of forget that the first book that we originally ... it was based on a class that we taught, was called Winsome Persuasion, that we do want to have these good conversations with people outside the Christian community because we take seriously the Great Commission. So we forget that a little bit, but that ... what was so great about Dr. Lim coming on is we just had a great conversation about how to frame a religious dialogue, and I just encourage you to go back and listen to that.

Well, we had to have her back because she's written an amazing book and the book is about love of scripture. She's well qualified to write this book. Not only does she have a PhD in history from UCLA, she's a writer. She was a professor here at Biola University for 10 years. She was right down the hall from where I was. We had some great conversations. She loves to write. She's involved in church, but one of her great passions is the word of God. And Susan is so great to have you on.

Susan Lim: Thanks for having me, guys.

Tim Muehlhoff: It was really fun to have you on in the past. That was a great conversation, and we promise we'd bring you back to talk about your excellent book.

Susan Lim: Thank you.

Tim Muehlhoff: In your introduction, you make some really interesting comments. One, we were really humbled when you noted that Rick and I have changed your life and that we're your deepest spiritual influences. I take by the laughter, I might've been reading into that just a little bit.

Rick Langer: Between the line.

Tim Muehlhoff: Between the line.

Rick Langer: Between the lines.

Tim Muehlhoff: Subtext. No, you actually say this, "I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was a teenager, but then it took me over 15 years to accept the scriptures as God's word." And then you say, "Someone can believe that Jesus is Lord without understanding that the entire Bible is the word of God."

I really think that applies to a lot of people that we encounter, that salvation is one thing, but then there's a journey to accept God's word as being authoritative, giving us instruction for holiness. So can you elaborate on that and then talk about a little bit some of the hindrances that kept you from making that transition from salvation to accepting God's word?

Susan Lim: Yeah, sure. Well, I might not have written your names explicitly in the intro.

Tim Muehlhoff: Shameless, shameless, Rick.

Rick Langer: No.

Susan Lim: I did want to say though, before I came to believe God's word, I noticed that there are two different kinds of Christians. Christians like you guys who lead, I would say fruitful, faithful lives, and Christians who seem really wobbly in their faith. And after I did a little bit of research and investigating and just looking, I realized that the difference is people who build on God's word and people who don't. And so as sad as it was, I was one of those people who hadn't, I did not believe that God's word was true.

I came to faith in a very powerful way. Jesus revealed himself to me, but I was not raised Christian, so I didn't know any of the Bible stories. So when you are born in a Christian family, you know about Daniel and the lions and Jonah and the whale, all of those were so foreign to me.

So, I accepted Christ in the spring of my senior year of high school. I went to Berkeley that fall, and I'm in one of my college classes and someone is talking about the Epic of Gilgamesh, and it's a professor who's not a believer, and he still isn't, I actually emailed him recently. He knows the Bible super well. But it made me think, "Wow, there are stories outside of the Bible that corroborate the Bible." That was the first time that made me think maybe this isn't just partially true. I thought the Gospels would be true. I believe that Jesus became man died and resurrected. So the Gospels were true, but there are parts of the stories in the Old Testament in particular that were just so, so unimaginable, and there was no one to teach me at the time.

Tim Muehlhoff: Can I say how freeing that is for you to say that? Because I think I told you this, Rick, my middle son is just this kid who reads like crazy. So him and a friend decide to read the Bible in one month.

Susan Lim: Wow.

Tim Muehlhoff: Not one year, one month. So Rick, he would yell up to me ... I remember this, it was in the summer. He'd say, "Dad, listen to this passage." And he would read a passage and I would be like, "What? That's in the ... where are you reading that?" And Susan, it was passage after passage after passage, and I kept saying to him, "All right, listen, listen, stop. When you get to the Psalms, some of them, when you get to the Gospels, part of them, let's talk. But I have no idea what to say about what you just read." So it's very liberating to hear a person as educated and about as you to say, "Listen, I get it. Some of these are really hard to wrestle with." So I just wanted to stop you there and say what a gift that is to listeners who are saying, "My goodness, thank you for validating. I'm having a hard time with some of these stories."

Rick Langer: So let me just pick up on this, Berkeley professor talking about the Epic of Gilgamesh. I don't know how many of our listeners are familiar with this, but there's an ancient near-East non-biblical story, but it's about a flood epic, right?

Susan Lim: Right, right.

Rick Langer: And so what was it, I'm being intrigued to have you unpack. What was it that made a light go on or something for you? How did that impact you?

Susan Lim: Well, up to this point, I just imagined the flood with Noah and animals, and I just imagined the San Diego Zoo or something like that, all on an ark. And I was like, "Okay, nice story." And I'm a little embarrassed to be a Christian in a way at this point because I know that Jesus is real, but I'm like, "These stories are just nuts." And I'm in this class, and then I go talk to this professor and he goes, "Oh yeah, it's not the only flood account from the ancient near-East, there are a lot of others. So there are Sumerian and Babylonian and Akkadian," and all sorts of different kinds. And I was like, "So there was a flood?" And he was like, "Oh, yeah." And I was like, "Oh yeah, if there was a flood, everyone would be talking about it." And everyone was talking about it. So I was like, "So what else is in the historical sources?"

And so, that segues with my own story. I went to Cal as a bio major. My mom wanted me to be a doctor, a medical doctor, but I was so bad at O Chem, you guys, I just failed it. And I remember thinking, "If I become a doctor, I think I'll kill someone one day." But I fell in love with history and I would read these things of the past and it made sense of my present, and it made me realize that's why we're here and we're talking about affirmative action, and there are all these problems in the world. It makes sense.

But I was scared to tell my mom because it was like telling her I was not going to be successful. But the more I dug into history, especially of the Bible, there was nothing that contradicted what was in the Bible. And that's when I was like ... But I'm such a, maybe it's my own background, I'm a skeptic. I don't trust people easily. Actually, it takes me years and years to trust someone. In fact, when I got married to Brian, I had known him for ... we were friends for 13 years.

Tim Muehlhoff: Oh, wow.

Susan Lim: And you guys, he's such a great husband, just the best human being on the planet. And after we had been married for three years ... and he's even better at home than he is outside, I remember thinking, "He must have a double life."

It took me years to realize, no, he's through and through the gift that God sent me. I felt like that with God, like are you really this good? And are you really true to who you say you are?

And so, when I started reading the Bible though, it was so ... it was a double message that I felt like I was getting. He's good, he's love, he's grace. And I feel like we accentuate that at church, but how about the judgment part and whole groups of people being wiped out in the Old Testament, and God almost trying to kill Moses on his way because he didn't circumcise his son? God seems erratic. And how do all of those things come together?

And so, one morning as I was just reading the Bible, the spirit convicts me and says, "You don't believe what you're reading." And I just remember stopping and I said, "You're right." And it was almost like, do we break up? Where do I go from here? Because I can't fake it anymore.

But God is the author and perfecter of our faith, and if you have that moment of doubt, He's allowing that because He wants to bring you through it. And so I just sat there and I said, "Okay, God, what do you want to do with this?" And he started bringing people into my life out of nowhere that would be like, "Have you read this book by Bruce?" Like F.F. Bruce. And I'm like, "What?" "Have you heard of the term canon and canonization?" And just random people and things that I would never have crossed ... it would not have crossed over into my life, but He was doing that.

So if you're listening to this podcast, it might be one of the ways that God's gracing you to dig in deeper. Read more of Rick and Tim's stuff and come back and listen to other podcasts that these guys have done.

Rick Langer: And there's other, even better things out there that you can read too.

Tim Muehlhoff: You mentioned F.F. Bruce. Are you talking about-

Susan Lim: Canon Of Scripture.

Tim Muehlhoff: ... yeah, or Are The New Testament Documents Reliable?

Susan Lim: That's right. Oh, that's a good one too.

Tim Muehlhoff: Is the one I read eons ago. Susan, I'm so encouraged by this narrative because when Noreen and I just got engaged, I was sent a book called Did Jesus Rise From The Dead? By Gary Habermas, one of the great defenders of the resurrection, and Antony Flew, a great atheist thinker. And I was on the debate team. And so, I read it and it was a tie. It was at least a tie and maybe a slight nod towards the atheist. And there was literally no one I could go to talk to. Everybody freaked out because I was on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, there was nowhere to go. Do you know who is at Oxford Bible Fellowship in Oxford, Ohio? Dr. Edwin Yamamuchi.

Susan Lim: Oh yeah, that's awesome.

Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah, now explain why that just resonated with you. Who's Dr. Yamamuchi?

Susan Lim: The archeology guy, yeah. Well, when you go into archeology, it's crazy.

Tim Muehlhoff: It's crazy. So, think about this. I'm shut out by everybody. I literally can't talk to anybody. Everybody keeps saying to me, "Well, you do know the resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith." And I'm like, "Oh sorry, I temporarily forgotten that." So I knock on his door, office hours. He opens the door and I said, "Listen, I read a debate between Habermas and Flew." First words out of his mouth. "Well, Flew had a good day." And I was like, "Oh my gosh. Yes, yes." And he goes, "Well, it was one debate. It was one debate. And Gary Habermas is awesome, but the yeah, the atheist had a really good day."

Susan Lim: Wow.

Tim Muehlhoff: And I said, "Well, I have a thousand questions." And he was so patient, so kind-

Susan Lim: Wow.

Tim Muehlhoff: ... that I met with him for an entire year with my Bible study. He let me come to office hours with my Bible study.

Susan Lim: Wow.

Tim Muehlhoff: So can I, just for a second, if a listener is listening and they're saying, "Gosh, I'm right where you are. I'm having a really hard time with the trustworthiness," other than your book, what would be one or two suggestions, like, oh my gosh, you have to read this book. If you're dealing with those kinds of doubts?

Susan Lim: Oh gosh, I don't know if I can narrow it down to just one or two.

Tim Muehlhoff: Oh, then please go, go.

Susan Lim: But I would say, first of all, you would get a really good study Bible. And so, get a study Bible that has notes and has a intro to each of the books, and that gives you a timeline of everything. And even if you don't believe that God's word is true, read it every day, is what I would say.

Number two is that I was thinking, God is so humble, He never shows off. He could make Himself known to all of us in a moment. But for Him, faith is so important. It's like the lingua franca of heaven. Faith is what moves Him. And so as you're reading, ask for Faith.

Okay now, beyond that, I would say a lot of times the heady academic books are hard to go through. I love Bruce, but I don't know if anyone can ... just the regular person would be able to go through it. And so what I would say is start with whatever Bible study that you're doing, and if there's a specific book that you're doubting, then go to a source on that book itself. Because the doubt itself, when it's amorphous, it's like a beast. You can't tame it because it's so big. But if you're like, "No, I can slay this one part of it," then your faith will beget more faith.

And so, let's say you're reading on the flood, or let's say you're reading on ... let's say you're reading through Exodus, or let's say you're in, I don't know, Isaiah, and you're like, "Oh wait, so the Israelites were kicked out of their homeland and they were kicked out and they had to all go to Babylon and did God really speak through the prophets?" And let's say the wrestling has to be specific.

Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah, that's good.

Susan Lim: And I think as you're doing that, there are specific answers for specific books. And I hate to say this, but you guys, flood Tim and Rick's inbox. Ask them for sources, email them. Email there. And that's one of the things when you're talking about ...

Tim Muehlhoff: Dr. Yamamuchi, yeah.

Susan Lim: Yamamuchi, I found that people in ministry are some of the most generous people who are here. You guys could be doing something else, making a lot more money, but it's like a mission field. You're called here.

Tim Muehlhoff: I gave up modeling.

Susan Lim: Sorry, Tim, I didn't mean to laugh so hard.

Tim Muehlhoff: Wow, wow.

Rick Langer: Tim, let me read between the lines here.

Tim Muehlhoff: And may I note, she's still laughing.

Susan Lim: Tim has such a great sense of humor, you guys. I love Tim.

Tim Muehlhoff: All right, back to reality. Go ahead. This is great.

Susan Lim: Seriously, just go through the Talbot faculty list. If you emailed, you're like, "I'm having a question on New Testament," one of the New Testament guys or Old Testament or whatever, hermeneutics, whatever.

Tim Muehlhoff: That's really true, they're very ... and our apologetics department as well. So, one thought came to mind with a study Bible is let's brag on one of our colleagues, Dr. Sean McDowell is the editor of what is simply called the Apologetic Study Bible.

So, with these key passages, you'll get apologists offering their comments, and it's a really ... we've gotten it for each one of our kids just to have that as a resource. So, you might want to just check out on Amazon, wherever, it's just called the Apologetics Bible, Study Bible and Dr. Sean McDowell is the editor.

Susan Lim: No, I love Sean's work. And of course his dad, Josh. I think if you're looking for a book that has a lot of answers, evidence that demands a verdict, and then case for Christ, case for the resurrection.

Tim Muehlhoff: What a great gift that he's given us, yeah.

Susan Lim: And it's readable, it's relatable. Watch the movie. I would say there are so many sources out there that would be ... it would be so okay for people who don't want to go into hardcore academia.

Rick Langer: In some ways, it seems like you wrote your book for some of those kind of people as well, who wouldn't do what you did with F.F. Bruce, the Canon Of Scripture, and to say, "You know what? There's a lot of good things in here." But most people aren't going to go through 450 pages of dense, footnoted material to get them. But let me lift out of that some things that are valuable and make them accessible. I think that's one of the things, that you gave everybody a gift who isn't inclined to go pick up a heavy 450-page book.

Susan Lim: Well, thank you, Rick, yeah. I feel like in a way, I snuck in an extra book in here with all my footnotes. And so, if you have a lot of ... I felt like I told my story on how I came to believe in God's word, but the parts that are footnoted, you can go back and look at sources if you're interested in that. I guess-

Tim Muehlhoff: Let me just say this real quick, so this is not IVP academic, this is IVP popular.

Susan Lim: ... that's right.

Tim Muehlhoff: And it really reads that way. So if you're listening to this and you're thinking, "I just don't know if I have the wherewithal to read a book on all the ins and outs of the old New Testament," you do not write the book that way. It is very accessible to people, and I really appreciate how you wove your personal story. So it reads very much as, let's go on a journey with Dr. Lim rather than, this is a textbook. So kudos to you.

Can I bring up one thing that we are concerned about here, is deconversion. And you make a comment, "Spiritual confusion and the high rate of deconversion among other issues in the church can be traced back to a lack of love and reverence for the scriptures." So deconversion, we have John Marriott's here. They just wrote a book, him and Dr. McDowell just wrote a book, called Adrift, and it's a wonderful book about, "Hey, before you leave, let's have one last conversation." It's just a very powerful book. But unpack that a little bit, of that quote of a lack of love and reverence for the scriptures may be added to this deconversion movement that we're seeing among young evangelicals.

Susan Lim: Yeah. I feel like in a lot of ways, when people come to an emotional place of accepting Christ, that kind of feeling wears off, no matter how strong or how powerful it was, because life has a way of wearing you down. When you have a mortgage, you have a loved one in the hospital. When your body grows weak, that feeling can seem so faint. And that's why it's a term that came to my heart, which is called the second confession.

Tim Muehlhoff: Yes, unpack that for us. That was really good.

Susan Lim: Yeah, the first confession is the great confession that when Peter says, "You are the Christ," it's the confession, which is a gift that God gives because all three of us were here because it's a gift. God revealed Himself.

And I believe that a love, a belief and a love of the scriptures, is also a gift. We cannot get there just intellectually. Now, we do our due diligence and we have to know the scriptures, but Satan knows the scriptures. It says, "The demons know and they shudder."

And so, the second confession is a moment when God reveals His truth and then kindles our hearts to love and live out the scriptures because we can only do that by the power of the Spirit. And so, for these ... I remember when I was at Biola, you guys, I could just see it in the eyes of my students, some of them who did not believe that the Bible was true, and they have to go through 30 units of Bible and it's like this ... and I'm so grateful that they do though, because God's word is so powerful.

I would say for people who are on that, I don't know if this is true for me or right for me anymore, we have to come back to, do you believe that God's word is real? All of it. And if they say no, then I think that's when we have to meet them there.

But I think we have to ask the question to begin with because if we don't, then we don't know how to diagnose the problem. Because if you say, "Well, why aren't you feeling it?" It comes down to, do you believe this is God's word? And then we have to pray that they come to this place where God reaches out in grace and makes it real for them.

Tim Muehlhoff: That's great. Okay, so I've had three kids go to Biola and I'll never forget one of them calling me and saying, "Dad, did you know they voted on what books are in the Bible? How do we know they got the vote right?" And I was a little bit taken back trying to remember, you mentioned Josh McDowell, which those of us, the crew years, the Campus Crusade for Christ years, we were weaned on Josh and evidence that demands a verdict. I got to tell you, I was fumbling.

So, I just love the fact that there's certain topics you don't shy away from, so can you ... and this is just not fair in so many different ways, average listener who's like, "Okay, I've heard this term, canon. I honestly don't know much about it, and I'm even afraid to ask because I don't want to seem like I probably should know about this and I really don't." Can you just give us the quick introduction to what we mean by canon? And then they voted on the books, and I'm going to have my son listen to this podcast.

Susan Lim: Oh, man. Well, yes. So, they did vote. But let me answer the canon part first. So, canon basically is human terms for divine revelation. So, these are books that God divinely inspired to be written. I think some of your writings are divinely ... it's inspired, not divinely, but it's inspired.

Tim Muehlhoff: Okay. She recovered from the modeling thing.

Rick Langer: Wow. I think she might be-

Tim Muehlhoff: That was a really nice recovery.

Rick Langer: ... I think she might be overreaching, but go ahead.

Tim Muehlhoff: No, no, no. I thought that was totally appropriate.

Susan Lim: No, I think that a lot of writings are inspired. It moves us, it makes us cry. But there are only certain books, the 66, the 39 of the Old Testament, the 27 of the New, that we believe are God's wholly breathed, divinely inspired word to us. And that's what we consider the canon. Nothing else can be included, and those books cannot be excluded.

Now, how do we know they got it right? We need to break it down into the Old Testament and New Testament. Old Testament, so this is the tradition that Christians inherit from our Jewish brethren. And so, it's the rich Israelite tradition, and that's a different kind of set of books. So that quote, canon, was closed a long time ago, hundreds of years before Christ came. And if you look at a piecemeal, without getting too technical, so there are three parts, the law, the prophets, and the writings.

And so, for example, the Torah, which the first five books of the Bible, that was considered sacred from the start. And so, it's written throughout, Moses, "Thus saith the Lord to Moses." And so, whether it was an originally oral tradition and then it's written down later, those kinds of things we're not told but we do know that when it's in writing, from the get-go, they're considered secret.

The New Testament is a very different set of rules where it had to have been written by an apostle, so someone who walked with Jesus or what we call the test of apostolicity. And so, that means that it was written by an apostle or an apostolic associate, someone who knew an apostle. And so in that way, if you weren't like the 12, then you were James, for example, the half-brother of Jesus. And so that canon was basically closed by 180.

Tim Muehlhoff: Oh, wow.

Susan Lim: And so, nothing else written after that is considered canon. Now, the first time the canon is used is by Athanasius, a couple hundred years after that. But the term is late. The way that the church was using the scripture was from the get-go, from early church. So they took the Old Testament and they took what was the letters of Paul and the Gospels as the New Testament. And that was considered sacred from the start. So, I know that's a lot of information.

Tim Muehlhoff: It's so helpful to ... and a great teaser for the book because you go into much more detail. Again, this is very accessible, but I think that's important that we say to people, don't hide from your questions. Don't hide from them, and don't be embarrassed. I think sometimes it's embarrassment. I've been a Christian for a long time and I still can't answer super basic questions. Well, okay, let's learn and ask, and use resources like your book to be able to do it.

Susan Lim: Well, you know Tim, I feel like in a lot of ways we're all in the same boat. I'm so in need of learning too, still. And I think that it's a lifetime of learning. And so, I think even the questions that we have, I think it's great that we have a place like Biola where we can ask those questions. I would love a class to be developed here where people can say, "Can we bring our doubts here?"

Tim Muehlhoff: Oh, yeah.

Susan Lim: And can we even look at how did this come together? And it might be a question for people that are thinking of deconversion, or people that they know are on that cusp. I think that maybe you guys should teach it.

Tim Muehlhoff: There you go.

Rick Langer: I love that.

Tim Muehlhoff: It was good in a parenting strategy. Because again, it was semi embarrassing when my son was, "Okay, what do you think about this passage? What do you think about this? What do you think about this?" And I'm like, "Okay. I can either try to fake it and bluff it," or I can just say, "Okay, I wrestle with that. I have a hard time with that passage," which is what I love about your suggestion. Name it, and then go get resources about it, not this general doubt that you might be experiencing. I think that's really powerful.

One other thing you do that I just absolutely loved, is you normalized doubt. When you talk about even the giants had doubt and you mentioned Luther. Can you just unpack that a little bit? Because I think sometimes we think, well, the giants of the faith never struggled. They were from the get-go, the giants. And it's so good to hear that G.K. Chesterton struggled with depression. Luther struggled with depression as well. But when you say that even the giants struggle, who comes to mind and which one stands out to you the most?

Susan Lim: Yeah, so Luther wasn't sure if the book of James should be in the canon. And he was like, "Well, it has so much, quote, works in it." But what I loved was that he struggled to the end.

Tim Muehlhoff: To the end?

Susan Lim: Yeah, as in wrestling with the scriptures. And I think that's a beautiful thing, that we want to stay in the fight. When we're talking about fighting the good fight, it's that kind of struggle. In a way, I think the Apostle Paul, when he goes and he's trying to really connect with the Greeks and saying, "Hey, this temple and this, and let me tell you about this one God." I think that it's a way that you're trying to struggle in a way that is, I don't have all the answers, but I know someone who does, and He is the way, and He has all the knowledge, He has the truth.

And I think in terms of struggle, I write about this in my book, but Billy Graham, he struggled so deeply at Forest Home. There's that story about his tree stump confession.

Rick Langer: A rock up there till ... still today, you can go up and-

Tim Muehlhoff: Oh, I don't know the story. I don't know it. And I know Forest Home a little bit, but I don't know the story.

Susan Lim: So Billy Graham and what was his name?

Rick Langer: Chuck Templeton?

Susan Lim: Chuck Templeton. Thank you. They were preaching partners. Supposedly Templeton was even a greater preacher than Graham. And they both get to this retreat at Forest Homes. And there's a lady by the name of Henrietta Mears.

Tim Muehlhoff: Of course. Oh my gosh, yes.

Susan Lim: Yes. And Graham says, "I see such a fundamental difference between Templeton and Mears." And I think the difference is that Templeton says, "I don't believe the Bible is true, and to believe it is intellectual suicide." And then Mears is like, "No, this is the truth." And so by this point, Graham is not even sure like, "Hey, I don't know what I want to do."

He's the president of a college at this point, which is nuts if you think about it. And he has kind of this like, are we going to break up God, moment? He goes for a walk in the middle of the night and it's this watershed moment. And God reveals to him, "This is true." And he says, "I don't understand all of it, but I accept it by faith."

Now, he had been wrestling like Luther. If he talked to any person off the street, he probably knows scripture and history and theology better than anyone else. So when he says he accepts it by faith, it's not like a blind faith. But you know what? We're not going to fully understand everything.

It makes me think. So, I'm a former professor, but I'm a current student at Talbot. And when I was taking my TTSF program, my series, Kyle Strobel said something that always was so reassuring. He said, "There are parts of scripture that even the greatest theologians might not be able to answer." All Christians will say, "I'm still wrestling with that." And there are certain ones that we'll only know when we get to heaven. But doesn't that make sense? If God wrote the Bible, how can we fully understand all of it?

Tim Muehlhoff: And He's using human language to do it.

Susan Lim: Exactly. And so, I would say whether it's Billy Graham, whether it's Luther, whether it's any human being that has done great things, you'll see some kind of struggle that they've had. And if they didn't write it down, it's because they didn't want to, but it doesn't mean they didn't have struggles.

Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah, that's so good.

Rick Langer: Yeah, yeah. One of the things to bring this to the Winsome conviction-y, part of this issue that I think is really helpful, is that I think one of the things that happens when we have areas of doubt or things we don't necessarily know and someone pushes against them, we tend to react kind of like your body reacts when you step on some body part that you didn't know was hurt. And you're like, "Oh ..." I had plantar fasciitis problems for quite a while because I was running and my plantar fascia didn't like it. And so, you would step in a certain way and you just have this incredible pain and you get the whole flight or fight kind of reaction that kicks in.

And just using the fight or flight metaphor, when a person pushes on a conviction you have that you're not entirely sure of, you're either going to fly away or if you can't, you're going to fight. And one of the things that's really helpful is to just de-escalate in your own heart the idea that, wait a minute, every conviction I have, every belief I have about the Bible or about Jesus, whatever, I don't have to have it so firmly nailed down that no one could ever put their finger on it and hit the sensitive part. Because as you were just pointing out, Luther had those problems, Billy Graham had those problems.

Tim Muehlhoff: C.S. Lewis.

Rick Langer: C.S. Lewis. Yeah, you read some things with CS Lewis.

Tim Muehlhoff: A Grief Observed, oh yeah.

Rick Langer: And you're like, "Wow." And so to say, yeah, that's just part of being a person of faith, that you will have less than full knowledge and you'll have sensitivities. So to be able to just say, "You know what? It's okay for me to not know everything."

Susan Lim: Yeah, no.

Rick Langer: And it's okay for me to look at someone else and say, "You know what? What you just ask, I don't have a good answer to. And what I really appreciate about you is you make me think better. So, thank you."

Susan Lim: That's great.

Rick Langer: And I don't know what to say to answer, but I appreciate the prod to think through things a little better.

Tim Muehlhoff: And keep the lines of communication open with your kids, because that's great about Biola, is you have these freak out moments in parenting. All of us do, but there's so many great resources here. So we would take faculty to lunch, Noreen and I, and we would say to them, "Now, be very careful what you're about to say because whatever you say we're doing, so be very careful." But we got great advice.

And one great advice was keep the lines of communication open. Do not send their doubts underground. Don't do it. And so be able to say, "Yeah, I don't know. That's a really good question, but let's find out together. Let's go on a journey together."

Susan Lim: That's so good.

Tim Muehlhoff: That, I think was a really good piece of advice.

Rick Langer: Is there any parting shot, anything you'd want to say to our listeners as a concluding word of encouragement or exhortation to them regarding the scripture, or anything else for that matter too?

Susan Lim: Yeah, I know it's going to sound so random, but all you were talking, Rick, it just reminded me of Oswald Chambers and I love his writing and I've been reading a little bit about his story. And I would say his Utmost For My Highest has been one of the most formative books in my development of my faith. If you see it, it looks tattered because I've highlighted it so much. If that's one devotional you're looking for, I highly recommend that in his life too.

And he doubted so much. He had his own, what we call dark night of the soul. So Mother Teresa, who is infamous for her dark night, where you're like, "I'm not sure if God is there." And so I think in a way, we're on such good ground when we doubt, but like you're saying, keeping those lines of communication, and I know Tim, you have such a beautiful family, and you do too, Rick, but there might be students who might not have great relationships with their parents, and that's the beauty of the body of Christ, where God said the world would know that He is by the way, we love each other.

And so, as I get older who are maybe surrogate kids that I can adopt, or bring into my own family? And so many of my former students still, we still keep in touch. They're hungry for mentorship. So if we have time, how can we love these kids well and just go to their games, or go to their play, or make time to go to one of their openings or something like that. Yeah, I would just say that.

Rick Langer: That's great.

Tim Muehlhoff: I would say this would be a great book to read with your children to say, "Hey, let's each read a chapter and let's grab coffee and have a conversation." You do a great job at the end of each chapter with certain thoughts. So yeah, thank you for writing this book. We got to get this into the hands of people, of our students, for sure. That's such a no-brainer. But I'm thinking high school students. Let's start younger than I think traditionally what we think of.

So Dr. Lim, except for the modeling comment, this was a really powerful podcast. So, thank you for joining the Winsome Conviction podcast. We don't take you for granted.

And if you go to the Winsome Conviction, our website, we've added two new features. One is a calendar of me and Rick, you can purchase. No, I'm just kidding. Some months I have hair.

Rick Langer: Stop it, kid.

Tim Muehlhoff: Some months I have hair, sometimes I don't. No, there's two things you need to check out on the website. One is you can submit questions and we won't guarantee we always have the answers, but we would love to have certain segments where all we do is respond to your questions. We think that'd be a lot of fun.

Second, there's a lot of things going on that we just want you to be aware of, so that certainly you can pray for them. So, we're going to do a quarterly newsletter and you can submit your questions and email list. We'll do this electronically, and you can do that at

Rick Langer: And we'd also encourage you to subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, however you get them. Would love to have you be a regular listener and pass along episodes that you found particularly valuable on social media. And we just really appreciate you being part of our community.

Tim Muehlhoff: Yes, and I have a new book coming out called Modeling, My Dark Night Of The Soul. It's a exposé.

Susan Lim: You guys are great.

Tim Muehlhoff: Thank you for the Winsome Conviction podcast.

Rick Langer: So Tim, this is the part where I'd like to have closure.

Tim Muehlhoff: We're done. We're done.

Rick Langer: Which will involve you no longer talking, okay? So, thank you so much for joining us here at the Winsome Conviction Podcast.