Now tonight, again, we want to just kind of have a time of question and answer relative to Grace Church. As we did last time, we’d like you to sort of devote your questions to the subject of the church, its life, its ministries, its history, its theology or philosophy, or any dimensions of ministry, or anything that’s of interest to you about our church fellowship. And we want to be very vulnerable about that; don’t want you to feel like there are things that you can’t ask.
We’ll do our best to answer any question you have. So just pop up behind a microphone, and fire away. And if you don’t have any questions about the church, or when you run out of questions about the church, we’ll answer any other questions you have. Okay? So, we’ll wait a minute, ‘til you get yourself in gear. Okay, I see some movement out there. Good. Great. Don’t be shy. We want to make sure you...
AUDIENCE: Good evening, John.
JOHN: Hi, Fred.
AUDIENCE: Just for our information, about how much of our income goes to our missionary program; do you know? Maybe 20 percent, or?
JOHN: Yeah. You won’t believe this, but it all depends on how you define that. We would classify approximately 50 percent of all of our church income as in the category of outreach. That is, it extends beyond this church. It’s that high. Now, that encompasses our cross-cultural missions work all around the world. That involves our radio ministry, which is definitely in the category of outreach, and may be, in some terms, the most effective outreach we have, because it is a direct representation of our teaching ministry here.
In other words, it’s just taking the very thing that’s done here, and putting it out there all around the United States. And then we have tape outreach in New Zealand and South Africa, quite a type base in Germany. Several of my books have been published in Portuguese, some in Spanish, some in Chinese, Japanese, and so forth. So, if you looked at our annual - at the annual receipts of Grace Church, it would be about 50 percent of that is used in direct outreach beyond the walls of this church.
I think most people are kind of surprised to hear that, because people may not know that we’re that committed to that kind of outreach, but that’s true. Now, I can’t break that down any more specifically than that, but we really have a - our elders are very much committed to going beyond. By the way, Fred, just along that line, I met with the people from Moody Films yesterday, and we had lunch, and I just made another film for them on the subject of walk with God.
I think we’re going to make four of them. It’s kind of an interesting little series we’re doing. Myself, and Earl Radmacher, the president of Western Seminary in Portland, and Gordon MacDonald, who’s the pastor of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts, the three of us sit around and talk, and they film it; and we talk about the Christian’s walk with God. And the first film was really a very, very effective thing - in fact, they want to make three more - and this has given us a whole new avenue of outreach.
And so, we were talking about these films yesterday, and the guy said - just off the cuff, he said, “You might want to know that Moody Science Films has just committed $100,000 to produce the family series in Japanese, and it’s being made now;” $56,000.00 to produce it. And so, it’ll be all – it’ll be me up there talking, only it’ll come out yung chow wung chung, you know, whatever – hah so and all that. But it’ll be in Japanese or - and then they’re - they may go into other Asian languages as well.
But as of now, he told me that one million people have seen that series, and that’s in the first six months. So that, again, is a tremendous outreach of our church, and we don’t even have any financial outgo in that. But that, the message that we gave - remember the family series, how vital it was - has now been seen by a million people. The films are being distributed in New Zealand, Australia, and in England already, in the English language.
And now they’re moving into the other language, and the first one they’re going into is Japanese. They’ll make ten sets of the films to distribute all across Japan; and so we’re really excited about the outreach God’s given us. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Hi, John.
AUDIENCE: I have kind of an off-the-wall, two-part question. I work with some guys from Church on the Way, and we’re pretty good friends. And I was curious, they have some definitely views as to that Grace Church is a church without the Spirit, is how they word it me, and I was wondering what our relationship is with Church on the Way, and your personal relationship with Jack Hayford.
JOHN: That’s a fair question. From what - from the standpoint of the church, yes, they believe we would be without the Spirit, in the sense that we don’t accept the Pentecostal baptism of the Holy Ghost, they call it - the baptism of the Holy Ghost. And so, they think that we have missed the Spirit, which of course, is ludicrous, you know, it’s just - I mean, how can you say that, you know?
For example, one night Walter Martin, and Rodman Williams - who’s the president of Melodyland Seminary, which is in the same kind of theological bag - they were discussing my book on the charismatics. And Walter Martin I know pretty well. Walter Martin’s gone into the charismatic movement. But he and I, we know each other fairly well, I think; well enough for him to know, you know, me personally, and know my ministry, and the ministry of this church.
And this other fellow, Williams, said, “Well, I’ll tell you one thing, I don’t know this McArthur; but if he doesn’t get the baptism of the Spirit, God will never bless that ministry.” And so, Walter Martin said, “Well, uh, I-I-I-I have a hard time agreeing with you on that,” and he sort of mumbled around, you know. He doesn’t really know what to do, because on the one hand, he’s advocating that; on the other hand, he knows that God has blessed this ministry, and it’s obvious to him.
Jack Hayford would never say that. Jack and I periodically have breakfast or lunch, or we get together and talk, and he really is a man devoted to Jesus Christ. There’s no question about that in my mind. He is devoted to Jesus Christ. And he desires to do what’s right and what honors God. I think he is a man without guile and deceit. I don’t think he’s a deceiver at all. I think he’s an honorable, honest man, with integrity. He comes out of the heritage of Pentecostalism, and I consequently think that’s where, you know, that’s where he is.
I mean, that’s the way he was raised, and that’s where he’s comfortable, and that’s what he’s learned, and that’s his vernacular. He would never say that we are void of the Holy Spirit, even though his theology might dictate that to him. He is the president also of LIFE Bible College, which stands for Lighthouse of International Foursquare Evangelism. It’s the school started by Amy Simple McPherson, who started the Foursquare denomination, of which Church on the Way is a church, is one of their churches.
And she’s a story in herself, you know. But he is the president of the school down there, and he invited me to come down and speak to the student body in chapel, on the matters regarding spiritual growth and so forth. And then, when they dedicated their new church about a year ago, I was the keynote speaker, to speak on the importance of the Word of God to their whole church family. And that was - I don’t think he would do that if he believed for a moment that I was void of the Holy Spirit.
I think he did it because he knew that I - I would represent his feelings about the authority of the Word of God. So, I think, basically, he’s a man committed to the Word; he’s a man of integrity; he’s an honorable man; he’s a good man. I would consider him a friend, but we definitely disagree on those theological areas. There are people over there, I know, who tell me they’re praying for us, that we’ll get the Spirit, you know; I mean, I hear that all the time.
And as I have said about them, I’m not worried about them getting to heaven. I’m worried about them flying right on by, so we’re just praying that they’ll stop when they get that far, you know - they get so far out. But I have always felt that Church on the Way could not be put into any other category than a group of people who really are committed to the truth, and really seeking to honor the Lord in that way, which I think is in error. I think it’s inadequate.
I don’t think it - I don’t think it comes to full maturity in the Scriptures. So, I mean, there are others that I think are deceivers - full-fledged deceivers - like the Kenneth Hagans, and the Kenneth Copelands, and the Oral Roberts - and those kind of people, to me, are just first-rate con men - false prophets of the first order. And that’s a whole different ball game. There are a lot of problems in that movement, because it’s so personality-oriented.
I don’t see that at Church on the Way. I see that in a lot of other places. They really do hang in there with the Word of God. I see - for example, Jimmy Swaggart. You listen to him; he is the hero of every story he ever tells. Every story he tells, he is the hero, and all he does is tell stories, about himself being the hero. He weeps and cries, and emotes all over the place, and he’s always the hero of all his stories; not Jesus Christ, Jimmy Swaggart.
Oral Roberts said the other day in the newspaper that he has - God has given him a cure for cancer. And if people will send money to him, enough money to finish the hospital, he’ll reveal that cure. To me, that is the vilest approach I have ever heard in my life; and you get all these poor cancer victims mailing in their money so they can get a cure, and you know that it’s nothing but a ruse to get money. So, that’s a whole different kind of thing.
I’ve tried to ask Jack the right kind of questions, but I basically - he knows where I’m at. And it doesn’t do any good to just constantly confront the differences, you know. He knows where I’m coming from. I say - when he says to me, “I saw Jesus the other day; He came in and talked to me,” and I say, “Really? Physically?” He says, “Yeah.” He says, “What do you think of that?” I said, “I think you’ve got a tremendous imagination,” see? So, we just leave it at that, you know?
But I think he’s a good man, honorable man. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Hi, Jack. My name is Thomas.
AUDIENCE: And I had wanted to try to relate this to Grace Church; I didn’t know where specifically. Directing it to Grace Church, you might direct this question, how we at Grace Church can be more aware of this particular movement? You’ve mentioned it from the pulpit the other - maybe a couple weeks ago, the New Age movement.
AUDIENCE: And I guess Constance Cumby –
AUDIENCE: Has written a pamphlet, and I’ve been listening at work to about a series of about five or six tapes that she’s done. And to me, it’s - I’ve just been learning bits and pieces. It’s - she says –
AUDIENCE: It’s a revival of Nazism, and she takes Revelation 17 and says that’s a revival of Nazism, is the fifth king, or the one that was not –
AUDIENCE: And has come again. And I guess there’s Creme, Bailey, and Spangler are also involved in that. And she says that it’s infiltrating all sorts of organizations, throughout the whole United States, and even the world.
AUDIENCE: And how as we, as Christians, can know more about that, and exactly what its purpose is.
JOHN: Well, I don’t know if you all are aware of this, but about, I don’t know, six months ago or so, a program called the Southwest Radio Church - David Webber, some of you may have heard of him. It’s kind of sensational, and you can’t really – you can’t really bank on everything you hear; he gets a little far out. But every once in a while, there’s some really good stuff. Well, they came up with this lady, who’s a member of a Baptist Church in the Detroit area, named Constance Cumbey.
And she’s an attorney, and she spent years and years studying what is currently called the New Age movement, and she’s - she came on there, and she did about six or eight programs. I listened to the tapes, and then they produced manuscripts or transcripts of the tapes, and I’ve gone through those. And basically, what she is saying, from all of her research, is that there’s a network linking together satanic plots, satanic efforts, to capture the minds of people, and capture the world, and it comes through all kinds of avenues.
And some people are sort of aghast, you know; “Whoa, this conspiracy, this incredible conspiracy.” You really shouldn’t be shocked by that. I don’t think Constance Cumbey has come up with anything that’s very revolutionary at all. I think all she’s recognizing is that the kingdom of Satan is organized, and it’s always been that way, and it all hangs together somewhere. Sure, it’s related. All the false religions in the world are linking up.
She sees this thing linking with this thing, and this thing linking with this. For example, there are some organizations in America, like, that work with E.R.A., the equal rights movement for women, and there are other organizations that are working for the anti - the pro-abortion movement. And you take all these various kinds of what appear to be political and quasi-political things, and if you look in the inside of those things, you’ll find those people are all linked to mediums, and demons, and occult, and all of that stuff.
That isn’t anything new. But I think she’s right on; I think it’s exactly right. Satan has got a network of things going on. There’s little question. For example, when I did some research on Hitler - when I preached on the antichrist some years back, in Revelation, did some work on Hitler, I found out some very interesting things about Hitler. The Third Reich was basically generated by some demons, who were contacting some Tibetan monks.
Hitler imported these Tibetan monks into Germany, and because he was totally up to his neck with demons, and the occult, and medium spirits, and just - he was bizarre. In fact, when he spoke, he spoke in a voice that wasn’t his own. The people that knew him knew when he got up in public, it wasn’t his voice. He was a perfect prototype of what the antichrist will be like; tremendous political power, tremendous military power.
Took a brilliant, intelligent population of German people, and turned them into massacre - massacring murderers, and people who committed genocide. Just unbelievable that he could do that, when you think of what Germany produced out of the Reformation, you know, and the brilliance of the German people, and so forth. But he was all demonically orchestrated, and it all went back - in fact, there are two books, one called the something of the magicians - what was it called?
Anyway, written by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, in which they studied Hitler and all of his occultic connections. He was up to his neck with demonic mediums, and they had this Society of the Black Dawn, and all this stuff, and they were hiding out in these little places, and contacting demons, and demons were orchestrating the whole Third Reich thing. So, there’s little doubt in my mind, that’s still going on.
You go back into the book of Daniel, and you find that Daniel points out that there are demons that are in charge of the various nations. And demons are - they dwell in high places, there are certain places where they seem to be located in space; and then they come to earth, and they work in their various organizational manner - manners. And so, I think Constance Cumbey, just by continually researching various books, is being able to find this thing, and this thing, and this thing, and link them all back to a common occultic, satanic source.
And I think that’s exactly right; exactly right. I don’t think these organizations that are, for example, pro-homosexual, and pro-abortion, and pro-women’s liberation, to the point where it’s nothing but a masquerade for lesbianism, and all that - I don’t think those are strictly political organizations. I think those are just as satanic as the flat-out occult worship of Satan, and if you trace the stuff back far enough, you’re going to find that in its roots, and that’s what she’s finding out.
You only have two systems in the world, the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of darkness. And the kingdom of darkness, if you look long enough, will be linked up with itself. And I think that’s what she’s cover – what she’s covering. I think when she gets into trying to exegete the book of Revelation, she really bails out of the boat. Trying to see the Nazis in Revelation 17 is like trying to see Revelation 18 as America, which Charles Taylor does.
He may be bailing out on that, too, because America’s fast becoming a second-rate power. But whenever you – you know, these people who have a little bit of this kind of approach, and not a lot of biblical exegetical knowledge, start looking into the Bible and reading into it, they get into a little trouble. But I think she’s right on in terms of a real network of satanic activity. You see, Satan is trying to capture men, and he’ll capture them any way he can capture them; any way he can capture them.
You get back, for example, in the roots of Scientology - maybe some of you saw 20/20 the other night, which - which had an expose of Scientology. Scientology is a first-class rip-off. In the first place, it’s money, but if you get deeper into the thing, you’re going to find it’s up to its neck in the occult, too. So, it’s all linked.
AUDIENCE: Yes, John, I have two questions, one related to your teaching, and then one to us, the people of Grace. When you are going to take a stand on something, like the charismatic movement, and you’re teaching, or you get a burden for something, do you go to the board of elders with that burden before you teach it, or?
JOHN: Usually; usually. If it will be controversial –
JOHN: Or if it will be new, and something that’s not closely related to something I’ve taught in the past, I will do that. I will test the water. I don’t necessarily tell every single elder. I can’t get around to 50 people. But I’ll pick out a segment or a sampling, and I’ll bounce it off them, just to be sure. I thank the Lord for the confidence they have in me, and I think that I’m far enough, you know, into the process of dealing with Scripture that I’m not going to come up with something that’s so off-the-wall it’s going to blow everybody away.
But when I do come up with something that I feel is very definitive, and it may mark us out in a very unique way, and it may be a very strong stand that heretofore we haven’t taken, I normally would run that by the men, yes.
AUDIENCE: Some of the people here might be fairly new to Grace, and can be overwhelmed by the size. And I remember, you know, ten years ago, when I first started coming here, and you would teach on, you know, if there’s something you want to change. I mean, you can walk in and see that this is a big church, and think that we’ve got it all together, and we don’t. If we have a burden, or if someone in here were to have a burden for a ministry, or something that they feel they could contribute, what would they do to make that contribution?
JOHN: Well, I think the key thing would be to - one of the - there are several things you could do. But I would just contact an elder, and the best way to do that is to write a letter to the board of elders. Or else, if you have a personal knowledge of an elder, just go to him. This happens all the time. There’s - the faces of the elders are in there, and under their faces is a list of the ministry that they’re involved with, and it’s there for that very reason.
You go look at the man’s name, find the guy who’s in the area where you’d like to work, send him a letter. You know, if you want, you can send it to my office. Sure. We – we really would respond to that. But the elders, basically, are out there, scattered among the people all the time, and I would just say if you have a burden, or a ministry that you want to see happen, you need to go to an elder, and press upon his heart the thing that you feel is needful, and even follow it up with a letter, and we’ll respond to that. Sure. The men are very good about that. Okay?
AUDIENCE: Yes, John. I had a question regarding the board of elders; kind of follows with her question. Being new to that, since in every other church I’ve been in, it’s been like a one-man show. You know, the pastor is the teacher, the Sunday school teacher, the administrator, just about everything, and how did that come about at Grace Church? What is the history? Has it always been under elder rule? And, you know, how did you ever come upon elder rule - I mean, other than, you know – and of course, I know in the Word of God –
AUDIENCE: You’ve come to that. But how did it all start?
JOHN: Well, it’s biblical. I mean, what are you going to do when the Bible says elders are supposed to rule, but say, “Oh, you’ve got to have elders, and they’ve got to rule.” And then it says elders are supposed to feed the flock, and you’ve got to have them do that. And every time the word elder is in the Bible in relation to a local church, it’s always in the plural, except twice when it’s used to refer to the elder John, and that’s just one of many.
So, it’s always a plural group of men, who feed and lead the flock, so, to me, that’s always been there. Now, just to give you background, I was raised a Baptist. Now, Baptists have a pastor who sort of runs things, and then – and then the people vote on everything, and that’s the worst form of government. You know, I don’t know how we got that form of government, except that I think that when America was - sort of began as a democracy, they thought since democracy was so good for the political entity, it might be really great in the church.
But the church is never to be run by the people; the people are always to submit to the authority of those who are over them in the Lord. So, what you have in the Baptist or the Congregational kind of ruling situation is you have constant friction, because everything is an issue for the people to vote on, and everything they vote on therefore splits the people.
JOHN: Except that which is unanimous. So, you have divided people, all the time; and what you’re doing is you’re putting your decision-making process at the lowest level, because you’re giving the lowest person in the membership of the church the right to make decisions. Which is - I mean, that’s ridiculous. I mean, no one would ever run a corporation that way. No one would run anything that way. So - and that’s not the way God set it up.
He set it up that there would be people who would represent Jesus Christ, and they would rule on His behalf, and the people would learn to submit to them. And they would be the kind of men who represented the people by having been approved of the people and set up by the people to be their godly leaders. In other words, they aren’t imposed on the people; they are chosen from within the people. So, it’s a representative type of thing.
Well, I was raised in a Baptist church, and I watched all that hassle, and people - you know, churches were splitting, and all this stuff. So I - very uncomfortable. Went to a seminary that basically sort of taught the - well, they didn’t really teach any specific kind of ecclesiology at all, and so I just sort of began to study them when I was in seminary. And I looked at the Episcopalian form of government, the Presbyterian form of government, the Congregational, and I didn’t feel comfortable with any of them.
So, I just decided when I came to Grace, we were going to dig into the Bible, and see what the Bible said about it. Now, Grace had every form of government. They had elders who made decisions, they had deacons who made decisions, they had trustees who made decisions. They had the board of education, the board of youth, the board of missions, and everybody was making decisions all over the place. And then they brought things to the congregation on top of that.
You know, if you can’t pick one, just use them all. But fortunately, there was a great spirit of unity, and things worked. So, when we came, we began to refine that down to the biblical standard, and we really resist any label at this point. We believe that the congregation chooses out from among them men who are full of the Holy Spirit, approving those men, by the terms of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, who should be over them in the Lord, and those men are the ones who feed and lead.
And it’s a marvelous thing, because you’re giving the ministry into the hands of the godly people. And if - where you have a church like - there are many churches that are paranoid about this. There are some of these Baptist churches that are just as nervous as they can be when their men start coming out to our conference, because they’re scared to death of the fact that they’re going to come back with that kind of teaching.
And then these guys that are sitting on top of a little pile somewhere are going to lose their power, you know, and they’re afraid to death that they could – they could lose their power. Believe me, there’s a lot of that going on, a lot of people who are very intimidated about that. For example, recently I was to speak at a major Bible conference in the East, and I’ve spoken there twice before, and I’ve had a great time. And they called up, and said, “You can’t come.
“We just cancelled you out, because somebody said you believe in elders, and they said if the school has you” - and there were probably about 5,000 people at the conference. “If the school has you here, that’ll be tantamount to the school affirming your belief in church government.” So, I just wrote back, and said, “Well, the loss is mine, because I will miss the fellowship, and God bless you,” and so forth.
But, you see there, somebody, some guy was afraid that some of his people in his church are going to get the idea that there ought to be a plurality of godly men leading the church, and not him calling all the shots, and so that’s very intimidating. You - the ministry can attract petty tyrants who want to control things; really can. There are not a lot of those men, fortunately, but boy, some - some groups seem to be able to pile them up.
AUDIENCE: John, my name is David Baumgardner. I had a couple of questions. First of all, I wondered what the role of the church, if any, is to be in political movements, i.e. Moral Majority, things like that. And the second one was as you as a teacher, or anyone for that matter - how much of the Scripture do they have to have mastered in their own life before they’re qualified to really teach others that?
JOHN: Okay, good. Good questions. Question number one, what’s the churches involvement in politics? That – that seems to be asked a lot. The other day, a guy called me up, and he said, “I want you to come down to a certain hotel, and I want you to sit down with Jerry Falwell. He wants to talk to you.” So, I did, and I’m just not where he’s at. He’s a wonderful guy, and he loves the Lord, and his heart is right, and he’s busy as a one-armed paper hanger, running around raising money to do whatever he wants to do.
But I can’t - I mean, I’m - it’s like two trains going on different tracks. I mean, I just can’t connect up with his engine. I believe in promoting the Kingdom of God - and I’ve said this before, and people don’t understand it sometimes when I say it. In the form of a question, what would happen to the church if America went down the tubes? And the answer is absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing. And until people realize that, they’re really at a loss in this area.
The church of Jesus Christ, and the advancement of the Kingdom of God, has absolutely nothing to do with America; you understand that? That’s very basic. Now, that is not to say that I’m unpatriotic. I love my country. I thank God for this country, and the freedoms that we have. I submit to every ordinance of the laws of this country the best way I can, in order that I might not bring a reproach on Christ.
And if they’re ever going to accuse me of breaking the law, it’s going to be a law that they make against the Word of God, and I’ll - because I’ll submit to the other things, and I don’t feel like fighting the country. I may - I may disagree with the government’s stand on abortion; I may disagree with their stand on this and that, and stand on the other thing. But my goal is not to save America; you understand that? My goal is not to preserve the political entity of the United States of America.
And so, on the one hand, then, I cannot get too involved in that which is what I call civil religion - and may I say to you that there’s a big, big difference between civil religion and biblical Christianity, and America has never been a Christian nation; it has been a civilly religious nation. “In God we trust.” Do you think people in this country trust God in - in the salvation sense? No, no. That’s civil religion. That’s not biblical Christianity.
America has never been a nation filled with people committed to biblical Christianity. It’s always been a nation of unbelievers, except for those who loved Christ within that; the remnant. So, you know, just - just pumping morality all the time, that isn’t the message. Give people Christ, and He’ll change them into moral beings that they want, they should be. Just give them morality, and all you’re going to do is make them feel better about themselves - and I don’t know whether that helps.
So, I think the church ought to be the church. Jesus never tried to change slavery. He never tried to overthrow the Roman government. In fact, when they tried to get Him to do that, He disappeared out of the crowd, didn’t He? He just never let them push Him into political situations. That is not to say He didn’t say, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” But there’s no question about where I stand on the abortion issue, because that’s biblical.
No question about where I stand on the issues of family, and so forth; that’s biblical. There’s no question about the advancement of the Kingdom of God, because we preach the Word of God. Georgi Vins said to me, “Boy,” he said, “that’s just where we are in Russia, exactly where we are.” He said, “Do you know the church in Russia submits to every ordinance of the Russian government, even where they’re - they’re unequitable and unjust. And we do that, so if we are ever persecuted, it will be for our faith, not for breaking some - some national law.”
And all this saying - and this is where I think Francis Schaeffer has gone off the deep end, and Frankie Schaeffer - the time for - what did he call it? The time for anger, or whatever. Huh?
MALE SPEAKER: [Inaudible]
JOHN: Yeah, yeah. I don’t like that. I don’t like this protest against the government, disobey the government, you know, all this stuff. That is not what the Bible says. It really is not. You know what, it says in Romans 13 that the government is there for the punishment of evildoers, and the good of those who obey the law. And if you just obey the law, you’re going to be able to survive. They find that even in Russia. And if they get persecuted, it’s strictly for their faith in Jesus Christ.
So, I have a hard time with the protest kind of thing. I have a hard time trying to save America, because I don’t think America’s an issue. It is for me personally, and I’ll do that in my own political way, as I vote, and as I be concerned, and write letters to senators. But that’s not the message I preach, and that’s not what I would use the pulpit for. I think that’s a prostitution of the intention of the pulpit. And I think, what are you really giving people?
I mean, is that a life-changing, eternity-determining message? It isn’t. You give them Christ, and - Walter Judd one time says, “You can either try to change society from the outside or the inside, and you make a choice at some point in your life.” And I would choose to see it changed from the inside, you know. Okay.
AUDIENCE: I just wanted to know how you felt about being on like TV, and things like that.
JOHN: Did you mean anything in specific?
AUDIENCE: Well, okay. Last night I saw you on Eye on L.A., and like, about the music things, and -
JOHN: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I didn’t see that. But some time ago, they said they were going to do a special on satanic rock, right?
JOHN: On those weird people like Ozzy Osborne, who named his child Satan, of all the incredible things. Anyway, those are weird people, and those are satanically-oriented people, so they did this little segment on satanic rock. And the guy that produced it goes to Grace, so he wanted to expose it for what it was; so, I was the exposer, I guess. Did it come off all right? I didn’t see it.
JOHN: Did I – did I say anything significant? What they do is, see, they - well, what they do, see, is they shoot about 30 minutes of stuff, and then you don’t know what they’re going to use. You know, it’s one of those things, they could cut you up and make you say anything. But, if they ask me – like I did, they did a deal on the Reader’s Digest Bible - I don’t know if any of you saw that - It was on the channel 11 news, and they came out and interviewed me on what I thought of the Reader’s Digest Bible.
I said, “It takes a lot of gall to edit God.” And I said, “Secondly, it’s interesting to me they edited out the part that said, ‘If any man take away from these things, it shall be added to him the plagues that are written it.’” And for sure they edited that verse. So, I get it. But I think there’s a time and place for us to speak. You know, it’s very interesting to me that when the woman’s - remember when all that blow-up came on the women’s thing?
And they had the articles in the Times that we had fired all these women, and we were really off the deep end, and we were chauvinists. And John Dart just really battered us from pillar to post, and he said, you know, “This guy over here is firing all the women secretaries, telling all his women to go home.” And the next Sunday, you know, our attendance went up over 1,000, and ABC, CBS, and NBC were out there on the patio, and some of you people may have been there. They were interviewing ladies.
And then on the next news, the night – the next night I was on the channel 4 news, and Jess Marlow - before he went to channel 2 he was at channel 4 - he says to me, he says, “You know, they seem like intelligent women.” So, you know, so they were really on my case, and they asked me really dumb questions. They did that five-minute interview, and they said, you know, “What do you think of the Ram cheerleaders?” and all that kind of stuff; you know, really dumb stuff, and - just trying to make jokes.
And I gave them answers and answers. I think there is a place sometimes to speak. And it’s interesting that even though they thought of me then as somebody who was, you know, really off-beat - and then to make it worse, when I got sued, you know, and that hit the front page of the papers, that this guy’s been sued, and this guy’s parents say he’s, you know, they got a cult over there, and they implied that Jim Jones kind of thing.
Well, well, I thought, you know, the whole city was going to think of me as really some kind of a strange person with all this happening. But the fact of the matter is, one day Linda Douglas came to me, from CBS, and she said, “You know, whenever - whenever the journalists in this city want somebody to contact in terms of getting what is the basic fundamental or orthodox position, we always come to you, because we discuss you as our local sane theologian.”
So, I thought that was very, very interesting. When they want to get an orthodox representation, they - they’ve sort of learned that they can - and it’s okay if I can say, “This is what we believe. You know, this is” – although I - and that’s about as far as it’ll go. I do not think that that’s the platform to articulate the Gospel, so when I’m asked to go on a TV show to debate somebody - for example, Phil Donahue has literally hounded us.
I mean, when I say hound, I mean, would you believe like 15 phone calls within three days, to come on and do this? I won’t go on there, because I know that that’s not the way you articulate the Gospel, by having Phil Donahue, with his caustic, bitter approach, and his clever technique, in that kind of an audience, where you can never finish anything, because they cut you off all the time - that he would just make you look bad. And that’s not the platform for the Gospel.
So, I won’t go on to preach, but when given the opportunity to make a clear statement about what the Bible says, I’ll go on television, if I think that’s a reasonable thing. And I have found that the people are very gracious, the journalists. And I’ve never felt that they’ve taken me and misused what I’ve said, so I think that’s been good. And I think we’ve given, had the opportunity to give a good testimony in those kind of things. Yes? Yes?
AUDIENCE: Um, forgot what I was going to say.
JOHN: That’s okay. You think about it. And he had another question that I didn’t answer –
JOHN: Didn’t you? Yeah.
AUDIENCE: I was asking at what point do you qualify to teach the Bible.
JOHN: Yeah. At what point are you qualified to teach the Bible? Probably never, you know. I think the point at which you’re qualified to teach the Bible is when the people recognize it. And you usually start by studying, start be learning yourself, teaching yourself, maybe discipling somebody, and then you grow into a small kind of ministry, maybe you sit alongside another teacher, and you listen. And then from time to time, you give input in a Bible study in the home, and you begin to develop.
I think it just sort of emerges. It’s hard to know when you’re qualified, because it’s a constant growth process; that depends on what level. I think all of us should be teaching the Word of God on some level, right? A father should be qualified the minute he gets a child in his home. He’s responsible to teach it. So, all kinds of levels. If you’re talking about ordination, or official recognition as a teacher in the church, and really putting him out, I think when you’ve proven yourself faithful, and when you have a good knowledge of the Word of God, you can be ordained officially.
For example, right now we’re working on a final test, which would be given to all the men that are ordained at Grace Church. If you’re ordained at Grace Church to the ministry, you will have to pass this test. It’s a comprehensive test. It’s like a bar exam, or a medical exam. You will have had to prove already your spiritual qualifications and call to the ministry, and demonstrated them within the congregation. Secondly, you will have had to demonstrate your leadership capabilities.
That takes years, you know, and maybe when the men are going through seminary, we’ll see that emerging. Finally, you’ll have to demonstrate your knowledge of the Word of God, and the test will be this. We’ll give them all a copy of exactly what they need to know. Here’s what they’ll need to know. Number one: the background and theme of every book in the Bible. Number two: the general thrust and significance of all the key chapters in the Bible - and we’ll give them all those; we’ll list a couple hundred of them.
Three: the ability to explain definitive and key chapters - I mean, key passages. For example, 1 Corinthians 13:8 and following, the perfect thing has come. First Corinthians 13, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Philippians 2, the kēnōsis of Christ. So, they would have to have all of that basic knowledge. The little booklet, What We Teach, they would have had – they would have to know all that theology, and asked any point of theology, to be able to give the proper biblical answer, with the texts, and being able to quote the verses that support that.
They would have to have about 50 different areas of counseling, which, if they were asked to counsel a person on, say, a person had depression, where would you go in the Scripture? Give us the verses and quote them, and lead them through a response to their problem of depression. And so, what we’ll do is we’ll give this whole thing to a guy, and say, “Look, whenever you’re ready, you can take it.” In other words, it doesn’t necessarily mean seminary or not seminary, Bible college or not Bible college.
It only means that you’ve mastered this information, by whatever process. That would be the final affirmation of ordination. And what we’ll do is give them all of that, and that’s what they’ll study, and come in and take an oral test, and we’ll - we won’t tell them which of the books we’ll ask them, which of the passages we’ll ask them, which of the doctrines we’ll ask them. And they’ll have to show 75 percent proficiency in all the questions that are asked.
Because I believe that if we don’t - you know, the world wouldn’t pass a guy in its professions unless he showed proficiency, and I don’t think we ought to send men out as authorized teachers of the Word of God unless they can demonstrate proficiency in that. So, that’s what’s going to happen. And I’m excited about it for two reasons. Number one: it’s going to give men the capability of knowing exactly what they need to know.
And part of the frustration in the ordination process, in the past and in other places, is guys don’t know what they’re supposed to know. So, they can study, and study, and study, and come in, and have studied the wrong thing. But if we tell them exactly what they need to know - and Bible knowledge is basic, and not all seminaries give you a lot of Bible knowledge. They give you a whole lot of stuff, not necessarily right out of the Bible, unfortunately.
But that - that’s the way we’re going to approach it. Did you remember your question?
AUDIENCE: Yes, I did. I was listening to you, and that’s why I couldn’t think before.
AUDIENCE: When I first became a Christian -
JOHN: Is that what I do to people?
AUDIENCE: When I first became a Christian, I started listening to the radio stations, the Christian stations, and it was a choice between you and Jack Hayford, when I didn’t really know the Word thoroughly, and I wanted to express my gratitude for that ministry. And secondly, for Grace’s attitude toward special ministries; that was one of the two major factors in the decision about coming here to Grace; also, the teaching of the Word here.
JOHN: Well, you know what’s - you know why we’re so responsive to special ministry? If we don’t, Debbie runs over us.
AUDIENCE: That’s right.
JOHN: Did you know that? No, she doesn’t. Go ahead.
AUDIENCE: I had – I really - in the Christian community, that attitude has been very backward, and the cults, one of which I was a member of, have - have a lot on us in that respect. And so, Grace’s attitude is a very positive one. And of course, it effects our family dramatically. My two questions were, the first was, had been on that show, and you’ve already answered it, as to how you were chosen. And the other is on Sunday school program here at Grace.
I was wondering how we came to choose the Acts program that we have; and secondly, is there a possibility that we would have a Philadelphians-type class again offered? I miss it a lot.
JOHN: Okay, I don’t even know what you - what is a Philadelphian class?
AUDIENCE: It was the 25 to 40 age group [inaudible]
JOHN: Oh. I see. Most of what we do in terms of those classes has to do with our space problems, consolidating, and I’m not sure I can answer that. We really work all the time - and we have a lot of lay leadership, you know, and Galileans, and Agape Fellowship, and Koinonians in Friendship, and the Joint Heirs - and those people are really, along with the elders that work with them and those lay leaders, are constantly evaluating and reevaluating that need.
As I understand it now, the Joint Heirs would be from marriage to 30, and the Galileans from 30 to 45. I don’t think we’ll go back to 24 to 30, as such. But what usually happens is you add groups on the bottom end because the groups grow old. You know, they don’t promote until they go to heaven. You know, eventually, if you’re in the Galileans, you will be the Friendship class. You will be the senior citizens, and we’ll have to had to add on the bottom all the way up.
And that’s pretty much what we’re doing. We cannot have - we would like, I think, in the future to think about splitting up, for example, the Galileans, which is huge, and there are a lot of ways to split it. It isn’t necessarily just split it all down the middle and separate everybody. You could have an opening together and split into many electives, so, we’re working on that. But the problem has been the space factor, see; all we’ve got is one big family center gymnasium.
When we get our new building up, we’re going to have a little more flexibility. So, I’m not - I can’t predict what the future will hold in that regard. Now, as to Sunday school, how do we choose the Acts style of program? That’s just it’s kind of - I hate to use this world – evolved, you know, depending on our needs, and the demands, and the ministry of those who lead. Nothing happens - and I would assure you of this - nothing happens here that isn’t continuously being evaluated.
It is a constant process of evaluation, and if something is not as effective as it ought to be, we want to change that. But the Acts program is - in other words, we’ve got to have those little guys in there for two - for a three-hour period, basically, and so we have to devise and develop a system by which we can effectively work in their little hearts for that period. And so, you have the Bible hour, and then you have the Acts classes, and so forth.
And we’re working on developing our own curriculum and doing some special projects. But - but our children’s staff and our youth staff are just the very, very finest, and they’re continuously evaluating everything. To be honest with you, I have never been to a Sunday school class here, which sounds strange, but I have never, because we’ve always had three or two services, and so I’m always here. But - so I can’t really personally evaluate it.
But I have absolute confidence in the folks that are involved in that. Yeah?
AUDIENCE: Hi. I want to know what our church, Grace Church, and the Christian church in general’s, responsibility is to false teachers. And I’m referring - I have an example of a church - so-called church - based out in Hollywood, called the Fundamentalist Army. The things associated with it are beatings among the people, a leader who claims to be the only one leader. He claims he’s an apostle. He -
JOHN: Who is he?
AUDIENCE: Dr. Hymers.
JOHN: Yeah, that’s what I thought; the Open Door Churches?
AUDIENCE: Yeah, well, now they call it - they no longer call themselves a church. They now call themselves a movement, the Fundamentalist Army. They – they have tickets where the people can’t go to church unless they have their class ticket. They have to have it punched. If you don’t have it, you can’t get it in.
JOHN: Yeah, you know, we’ve rescued -
AUDIENCE: One thing – one thing that – if I can interrupt.
AUDIENCE: Excuse me - that I found out, that I don’t know if you’re aware of, but they use your name as an endorser of the movement, and your father’s name. And I wondered what our position, or - and is there anything that we can do? Because a lot - there’s a lot of ex-Army members that are here at Grace now.
JOHN: Yeah, we’ve recovered a lot of people out of that movement. I know that. In fact, I know some of them. I didn’t – I don’t know - you know, what are you going to do if they use your name? I mean, I’ve never met the man in my life. I’ve never attended anything they’ve ever done. They – they - they have gained credibility because they’ve pulled off some of these big Bible rallies down in L.A., and they invited guys like James Boyce, and well-known evangelicals, who came and gave their support to this thing.
And I knew from the very beginning that it was not right, and I refused to be a part of it, or to endorse it. But that doesn’t mean anything; if they’re going to use your name, they’re going to use your name. Our responsibility, I think, is as all things, in terms of Acts 20, Paul says to warn people. And if a warning needs to be sounded, it needs to be sounded by the people who are a part of that movement. It might be helpful for you to articulate very carefully your testimony to people in the circles that you’re in, or those people who have come out of that movement, so that everyone knows.
Those kinds of movements don’t...don’t threaten people who are in a position of being submissive to the church and to the Word of God, because they’re erroneous, and that’s why church membership is important. When you join Grace Church, you come under the leadership and submission of the elders. You say, “I want to follow your lead,” and part of our responsibility is to help you with that. And if you run into that, you need to come and ask us about it.
Ask your teachers, your leaders, your flock leaders, your Bible study leaders, your fellowship group leaders, and write a letter to me, and I’ll tell you about it. We’ll give you all the data we’ve got, and we’ve got a ton of it coming in now. I have heard a lot about abuse, physical abuse, and beatings, and intimidation, and all of these things. So, this is a good way to do it, and we need to be warned about those kind of things.
Any time you get any kind of movement where one man controls people, it’s not of God; and that’s characteristic of that one.
AUDIENCE: But is there anything that we can do to - because I think a lot of the people, what the thing is that they see -
JOHN: I’ll tell you what you can do. What you can do is – is get us the data that we need, and - has Spiritual Counterfeits Project at all dealt with this?
AUDIENCE: I don’t – I don’t think so. I know there have been some people contacted, but it’s always ended up where nothing came of it.
JOHN: Yeah, if you have some - some direct material to give us, the approach that we should take, of course, is to confront Dr. Hymers. And I think we would be willing to do that, if we had some objective data to deal with, because I think we’re responsible for that; just like the Lord gave us the opportunity to confront Dr. Schuler a few weeks ago. Those are things - by the way, did you know two weeks ago I spoke at - did I tell you I spoke at the luncheon of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s International on what’s wrong with the charismatic movement?
They asked me to speak there. So, those are good opportunities, I think. And it was really very interesting; very interesting. Thank you for that. Did you come out of that movement? No. Several of your friends did. Bless their hearts. It’s very traumatic for them. It really is. Yes?
AUDIENCE: John, what are some of the highlights you’re anticipating in ‘83, as far as travel, books –
JOHN: Well, I - I may have mentioned, I am so excited to be finishing this book on worship. I have felt so deeply in my heart this tremendous weakness in the church, and there’s nothing – I mean, when I started - remember the series I did on worship some time ago? I found one book; in all my research, I found one book on worship, and it was not that good, and it was about 40 years old. It just, it seems to be a lost issue. Now, you can go back and get Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy, or you can find J.I. Packer’s book, Knowing God, and they sort of come at it, but not a direct hit.
And then another book came out recently in the critical concern thing that’s helpful, but it deals basically with how to organize your worship service; you know, have a song here, and then the people stand up and react, or whatever. It doesn’t, you know, get to the heart of the thing. So, I told Moody Press. I said, “Look, I want to do a book on worship,” and they said, “Well, do it. Let’s do it.” And so, I’ve been working on it ever since that series started, and I just work on it all the time.
In fact, this week I finished the eleventh chapter, I think, and that’s - I have to have 13 - let’s see, 12, 13, 14, and maybe 15, by the 20th. So, the editor will get me those, and then I’ll have to rework those, and get them back, and then when I go - I’m going to go back to Chicago, because I have to go to a board meeting at Moody. I don’t go very often, you know. I haven’t been gone in about three or four months, I think, that I can remember.
But I have to go back for a board meeting, and then I’m going to go up to Bethel College, and speak to the college and the seminary. And I think they’re in a drift, and they really need a strong message, so I may speak on empty words, and empty hearts, and the holiness of God, and try to really just drop a bomb, you know, there. And so, I’m looking forward to that. But in the process, when I get to Chicago to the board meeting, the Moody Press editor’s going to pick me up.
And he’s going to drive me to Minneapolis, so that I can hold in my hand the manuscript, go over the final thing, make all the final corrections. He’ll drive right back, and put it on the press; it’ll be out July 1st. So, its title is The Ultimate Priority. And they said to me - and I don’t – you know, I just thank God if this happened. They said to me they think it’ll be another book that’ll go like The Knowledge of the Holy in terms of a long-term impact on the church, because of the nature of the subject and the scarcity of material in that area.
I’m very excited about that. I signed a contract with them about two years ago to write a commentary on the entire New Testament, the first volume of which’ll be released this year also. I’m working on that now, and the first volume will be in the book of Hebrews. There is not much out in Hebrews as a commentary, and I’m very excited about a commentary in Hebrews. Also, the book on the family has been put into a curriculum, and now it’ll be used in Sunday schools all across the country, with study questions and study guides.
And so, our message on the family that I asked God to get out, got out, on tape. It got on radio. It got out on films, and now it’s going into a Sunday school curriculum, so I just really thank God for that. Also, I wrote a book some years ago called Focus on Fact, which I rewrote, and it’s going to come out, called Why I Trust the Bible, and it’ll be released in the summer also, by Victor Books. So, a lot of those kind of things in terms of personal things.
We’re going to get our video equipment, because you people gave so generously. And we’re going to start making some series, like on Wednesday nights. Like, I might take four Wednesday nights and do a special series, and it’ll be shot on video over in the chapel. And then we’ll have it, so when people come to the church, and they want to get in on the basics, we can have them in a special like our fundamental classes. We can show them these basic series that are really important to their spiritual growth.
You know, somebody can jump into our church at this point, like many of you, and you missed the stuff in the background that really laid the foundation. So, we want to redo those, video those, and have those available. I’m also excited, I think in about - well, before summer, or early in summer, we’re anticipating finishing the building, and that’ll be an exciting kind of event. Let’s see. Oh, this summer, I’m going to go back to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to speak at the Bible conference there at Lancaster Bible College, which is a fine institution, speak at their graduation.
Then I’m going to drive with Patricia up to Rumney, New Hampshire, for a wonderful three-day conference with all the pastors of New England. And I think that the guys from Montreal, those French pastors that we worked with, are going to come over, so we’ll have some great days together. Then I’m going to go over to Schroon Lake for a Bible conference for a week, come home, I’m going to spend one week at Mount Herman in a Bible conference, a week at Hume Lake in another Bible conference.
So, those are great things, that I thank the Lord for those opportunities. And then I – and then all of the stuff that I don’t know that the Lord’s going to do, which is even more exciting. It’s great. I really thank the Lord for the help that I have. I thank the Lord for the men that God gave me. You know, I was just thinking last night; I was driving home, and I was thinking about Bill Rodgers, and whenever I think about him, I kind of get a little choked up, because I miss him.
He’s a very dear man, and he gave himself to me in a marvelous way, and I - I never will be able to repay him for that. And I was just thinking about how wonderful it is that God gave me Bill. And then when Bill left, Paul Guay stepped into the gap, and really was a help. And then the Lord sent along Jay Letti, and Jay’s right over here. And it just seems - Jay’s just a gift from God, and his wife Linda. I never think it can be any better, but it always seems that it is.
And you know, if God hadn’t given me these people, I could never ever do what I need to do in response. And you think I do a lot of work. But if you look real close, they’re the ones that are panting, and I think the Lord for them. Yes?
AUDIENCE: I was just curious – get close here - you say - well, you’re the fifth generation teacher in your family. I was just curious if the – if one of your sons has an interest in the ministry.
JOHN: I’m curious about that, too. I don’t know. One thing I’ve never done, and that’s I’ve never told my children what God is going to make them into in terms of that. They get bugged enough by people asking them that; really, you know. “Are you going to be a preacher like your dad when you grow up?” You know, they’ve heard that so much, you know, they just - one of them said to me one day, he said, “You know, people are forever asking me if I’m going to be a preacher.
“And then when I say I don’t know, they say, ‘What’s the matter? Don’t you - isn’t the Lord - aren’t you close enough to the Lord to know?” I mean, they’re just kids, basically, and when the Lord gets ready to develop them into that - I didn’t know until after my couple of years in college, and when I got out of seminary, I didn’t know where God was going to put me. So, I’m not worried about that. They all love Christ. I see them internalizing their faith in Jesus Christ.
I have absolutely no doubt in my mind, no fear that they would ever walk away from the faith in any way, shape or form. I have seen Jesus Christ alive in them; every single one of them. Even Melinda, who’s nine. You know, I mean, she’s just hysterical. She has grown up in the midst of an unending theological conversation, basically, and her approach to life is amazing. It isn’t that she’s especially intelligent; it’s just that she’s picked up the vocabulary she hears, and the vocabulary she hears is biblical.
We have this little deal every day, we - somebody in the church gave us one of these little fat calendars, you tear off the days, and on each day, and then above the day, it has a verse. And so, every day we memorize a verse at the breakfast table. And I read them Adoniram Judson, you know; that’s a long book. We’ve been reading that thing forever. And they keep saying, “We haven’t - when are we going to get to Burma, Daddy? We’ve been trying to get to the mission field for six months. It’s a big - this guy’s very slow getting Adoniram to Burma.”
But anyway, it’ll be a great day when we get there. But then we tear off a verse, and we – we got to memorize a verse, then Melinda puts yesterday’s verse by today’s verse, so we refresh, and then she starts this little line up on the ice box. And she is just internalizing all these spiritual things. And the other day - well, it happens quite often, but the other day she popped out of the car when I got out - I bring her to school - and she said, “Don’t forget, Dad. Be angry and sin not. Let not your – let not the sun go down on your wrath,” and pffft, you know, off she goes.
So, it’s – I have - I don’t care what they do. I don’t care if they dig ditches, or - I don’t care what they do. I don’t care if they’re preachers. That’s not for me to decide. I care if the girls are preachers, and they shouldn’t be preachers. But I don’t care. I just want them to do what God wants them to do; that’s all.
AUDIENCE: Could I ask another question?
JOHN: Yeah, go on.
AUDIENCE: We see all right kinds of evangelical movements all around the world, and I was just curious in particular if you would have an opinion on, say, an Arthur Blessitt, and what effect he would have in the world.
JOHN: Arthur Blessitt, I think, is basically just a sort of an avant-garde evangelist. I think basically he’s just preaching the Gospel. He’s a Southern Baptist, by the way, but he gets along well with the charismatics, because he’s kind of far out; better than with the Southern Baptists. But he is an evangelist. He’s just chosen a very strange style. He’s what you’d call, in years past, a street preacher. And, I mean, you’d have to say he’s out there on the highways and byways, compelling people to come in.
I mean, I’m not quite sure I understand why he drags a cross around the world, but I think he thinks that’s how you get people’s attention, and it’s amazing. The Lord can use almost anything, and he can get around almost anything. So, I sure think he’s preaching Christ. It wouldn’t be my approach, but then I’m not calling the shots, you know? I think we need people who are out there on the highways and byways, compelling people to come to Christ, and he’s doing that. I wouldn’t second-guess that. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Yes, John. My question would be how committed is Grace Church in terms of financial support to our elderly in the church? And the other question would be how far do you personally feel a parent should go to see to it that your children have a Christian education, vs. public school?
JOHN: Yeah. I think - in answer to the first question, I think Christian education is a great thing. I don’t think – I don’t think it’s the sine qua non. I think - I don’t think you ought to go to work and leave the home, so that you can put your kids in a Christian school. I think you ought to stay home and be a mother to them, and you’ll accomplish more, because the school cannot accomplish what you won’t do at home. That’s - and I think, I think kids - it’s amazing.
Most of all of us went to public school, didn’t we? And, you know, the Lord was able to work. That is not to say that we shouldn’t have a Christian school. There’s a tremendous value in enrichment, but if it’s impossible - for example, many people aren’t in the proximity to one, or they can’t afford one, or whatever. I think if there’s any way you can do it, do it. Make some sacrifices and do it. But if you can’t do it, then just do what you’re supposed to do anyway.
And even if you do put your kids in a Christian school, don’t let that take over for what you’re responsible to do. Your first question, I would say as elders, we are very sensitively committed to meet the needs of this church; widows, orphans, whatever. And we really do want to do that, and if there are older people, or any people, who have need, there’s a process by which they can contact our administration office, and they’ll receive counseling as to their need, and we’ll try to resolve their need, and meet that need.
We are definitely committed to doing that. I will be very honest with you. I think it is a tragedy that we have abandoned the elderly. You know, we - this is new in society, in history, that you ship people off. I understand that some people need nursing care nowadays, whereas in days of old, they would be dead, but they’re kept alive by medication, which creates a problem that we haven’t had in the past. But basically, we don’t keep people in our homes because we are such an intensely mobile society.
And we say, “Well, we can’t have this older person in the home, because if we leave, you know, she’ll fall over, or she’ll get burned, or he’ll have a problem.” You know what I’m saying? And so, I understand those things, but if there’s any way at all, I just - I think they make a contribution to the richness of life, and they also demonstrate a certain kind of reality about life, that we isolate; you know? Yes? I think we’ll end with this question.
AUDIENCE: I just want to ask what your stand is on Christian rock. I never heard your view before.
JOHN: Yeah, I can’t stand it. But I can’t stand any kind of rock. It just sounds to me like absolute chaos, and since I see God as a God of order and beauty, and to me, there’s nothing - people say, “Oh, well, that’s ’cause you’re not hip, and you’re in the - you old generation people,” but, you know, I could never stand it. It always seemed to me to be, number one, musically stupid. And I am enough of a musician - I’m not a great one, but I have enough of an appreciation for good music – that, to me, it’s musically stupid.
Secondly - and I’ve talked to really fine musicians who say the people who play it are lousy musicians. Thirdly, the lifestyle of the people involved in rock music would make a black mark on a piece of coal. You couldn’t advocate it for the sake of its musical virtue; it’s - it doesn’t have any musical virtue. You couldn’t advertise it, or advocate it, on the basis of its – of the skill of the artist, I don’t think; I mean, from what I’ve heard.
And you couldn’t advocate it on the basis of the lifestyle of the people, and then the words are always sort of trashy and trite. You know, all this baby stuff, and, “I dig you, baby,” smash, bang, crash. I don’t - I mean, to me, that is no class in that stuff. But, now, Christian rock, to me, is almost an anachronism; it doesn’t even make sense. And that’s a - I’m just being honest with you. You know, I’m not giving you a lot of biblical stuff.
I did a deal on Ephesians one time, and I did a thing on rock music, that tape; you can get that and listen to it. But that’s not my thing. Somebody asked me the other day why do we have the kind of music we have at Grace. There’s lots of kinds of music, and I like a lot of music. You know what, you know what J.I. Packer said? “The greatest contribution the American society has ever made to the world is jazz.” That’s interesting coming from J.I. Packer, who’s a stuffy old Englishman who wrote a book on Knowing God.
So, you know - and some – well, you might enjoy jazz; and then there’s Country and Western, and who doesn’t like Country and Western? I mean, a sanctified Christian likes Kenny Rogers, just sort of moaning into and then, you know - and some of you go back to Perry Como, you know, whose voice couldn’t - couldn’t wake up anybody if he yelled in their ear, you know. He has to stick a microphone all the way in his mouth, and, you know.
But, I mean - and I like him, and there’s a lot of things, you know. I hear songs that are from the popular things I like. I hear classic songs. There’s a lot of things you like. But I guess you make a choice that either you’re going to go with the flow at the level it’s at, or you’re going to try to lift people. And I think there is some music that really doesn’t demonstrate the wonder of God’s creative majesty, and I think that great music does that.
It has great lyrics; they’re poetic, they’re wonderfully written. Very often, they’re Scripture. And secondly, it manifests skill in the writing of the musical lines, and it demands excellence in performance. And what you’re doing is lifting people. See, most of us like the music we feel, and we’ve lost the sense of music as cognitive. You go back into the area of Bach, and Brahms, and Beethoven, and Mozart, and those people; music then was cognitive.
In other words, it was a thinking thing. You sat, and you admired the skill of the musician, and you admired the genius of the composer. We don’t want to do that. All we want to do is just hmm, mmm, see. And so, we have come to the - we are living now at the animal level, in terms of music, and we want to feel the music. We don’t want to appreciate it. We don’t sit down to listen to music anymore; we like it in the background, but we don’t want to sit.
When’s the last time you sat down, turned on music, and listened to it? You know the only place you do that, I’ll be the only place you do that, is at church. The rest of the time, you’re going all around, doing all kinds of stuff, and somebody finally says, “Turn that stuff off. It’s driving me crazy,” because you’re doing something else. We like music sort of in the background; it just sort of lulls us along. And hey, it’s true, you know.
That Muzak thing says they can increase the productivity in a corporation or a plant or whatever by turning that stuff on. And it’s true, because it affects your cells in your brain, and your ears, and all that, so. But I like to think of music as manifesting the genius of the mind of God, and music is mathematical, and when it’s really done well, it’s great. And there’s a place for music that is feeling music. You know that. We have that kind, too.
And there’s a marvelous place for that, and I love that kind of thing, and we want to do that. But you don’t want that constantly, or - because we’re not - our faith in Christ is not a feeling faith. It is a cognitive faith, and so our music, in a sense, has to come to that kind of level as well. Although there are times when we just want to feel what it is to know Jesus Christ. We want to enjoy the worship, and the warmth, and the fellowship, and that’s what we like about communion, isn’t it?
And so, there’s a place. And I wouldn’t mind some down-home, hokey stuff, and I wouldn’t mind a little Country and Western. We let Don and Gayle up there banging on her guitar now and then. And I like the stuff that Jubilant sings. I love it, and we all love it, but I just, we just want to, you know, have a spectrum of stuff; but always on the upper level, rather than just staying down here in Tin Pan Alley. Okay? Well, it’s certainly been great. I’ve enjoyed it.
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