“How We Know”
October 29, 2023
Faith Presbyterian Church – Morning Service
The Reading of the Word
We return this morning to the book of Deuteronomy, as Moses instructs the people of Israel, while they stand on the verge of the promised land.
We have spent the last few weeks in chapter eleven. Two weeks ago, in the first portion of the chapter, we considered Moses’s words about what path we are on spiritually.
Last week, we looked at the larger section of the chapter, and the key question was: “Where?” “Where –do these paths take us to?” – whether to blessings or curses in our relationship with our Maker.
So we’ve considered what path we are on, and we’ve considered where that path is leading us.
Now, this morning, as we look at verses eighteen through twenty-one, we will come to the of question “How?”: “How do we walk the path of faithfulness towards God in the day-to-day patterns of life?”
With that question in mind, let’s hear now from our text: Deuteronomy 11:18-21.
Please do listen carefully, for this is God’s word for us this morning.
Moses said to the people:
11:18 “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that Yahweh swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”
This is the Word of the Lord. (Thanks be to God.)
“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” [1 Peter 1:24-25]
Let’s pray …
Prayer of Illumination
Lord, look upon us and deliver us,
for we do not forget your word.
Be our advocate and redeem us,
and give us life according to your promise.
Great is your mercy, Lord,
and so we ask you to give us life according to your law.
Help us now to love your word,
and give us life according to your steadfast love.
The sum of your word is truth,
and every line of your word endures forever.
So help us to attend to it now, and to grow in your truth.
We ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen
[Based on Psalm 119:153-154, 156, 159-160]
As I said when we began, it’s important to situate this passage in context of the rest of chapter eleven. Moses has called the people to walk on the path of humble reliance on God, rather than the path of self-assertion. He has reminded them that that path of humble faith and obedience will lead them to blessings in their relationship with their Maker, while the path of resistance and rebellion will lead to curses. And so, when we come to our text this morning, the assumption already is that his listeners will want to know God and live for God. And so the question he tackles here is how we can better know and live for God – how we walk the path of faith.
Because the path of faith is not particularly easy. It requires discipline. It requires resisting temptations to stray from God and break his commandments. It requires perseverance. It requires standing against the false gods of the unbelieving world around us.
And while we may agree with Moses that knowing God, our Maker, and being in a right relationship with him, is of supreme importance, and while we may agree that it is the path of humble faith that leads us closer to him … still … in the day-to-day trenches of life, we often struggle to actually live that out. We wonder how we can do that better. And we often wonder how we could help others to do that better as well.
Well, that’s what this passage is about. It’s about how we can better walk the path of Christian faith. And it revolves around how we know God and his Word.
And from this text, we’ll consider three things:
- First, we’ll consider how we know.
- Second, we’ll consider how we learn deeply.
- And third, we’ll consider how we teach deeply.
So: How we know, how we learn deeply, and how we teach deeply.
How We Know
First, Moses brings up the subject of how we know.
And at this point, I’m not talking about the steps of learning or gaining knowledge … but about the different types of knowledge we might have.
Because in verse eighteen, Moses makes it clear that when it comes to knowing God and knowing his Word, our goal is a very specific type of knowledge.
Moses says: “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”
What kind of knowledge is Moses describing here?
Well, first it’s a deep knowledge. It’s a knowledge where words don’t just pass through our minds, or get filed away for later recollection. But rather, Moses says, these words are supposed to be laid up in our hearts and in our souls. First, there is a sense there of storing something precious. But second, the place that knowledge is to be stored is in the depths of who we are. The heart and the soul represent the central, core, deepest parts of who we are. It’s the part of us that shapes our will. It’s the part of us where knowledge is less intellectually deliberative, and more a deep-seated conviction.
In our society, to speak of our “heart” has more emotional connotations, and while what’s in view here would certainly include emotions, it would also include more than that. And so, as James K. A. Smith has noted, the term “gut” might be a better one for us today. The type of knowledge – the depth of knowledge – that Moses has in mind here, is when we know something in our gut – with the depth of who we are – with a conviction that is firm, and that can spring to action almost automatically or instinctually. This is what it means to know something in our heart and in our soul.
But Moses, we should note, doesn’t stop there. He also says in verse eighteen that God’s word should be bound to our hands and set between our eyes. The symbolism seems fairly straightforward here. God’s word should shape our actions – the work of our hands – and it should shape how we see the world – as it’s set between our eyes.
And so, taken together, as we look at verse eight, Moses makes it clear that the type of knowledge he is calling us to when it comes to God’s word, is that we would know God’s word in our gut – in the depths of our being – and that it would then shape how we see the world and how we act in the world.
He doesn’t put it in these exact terms, but it seems that Moses here is contrasting knowing something with only our heads.
Moses knew that the people heard him as he spoke these words to them – he knew that his words had entered their ears and then their minds. But just because he’s dumped religious data in their minds, Moses doesn’t assume that the work is done. Far from it. He tells them here that it needs to go deeper than that. It needs to travel from their heads to their hearts – from their intellect to their gut. And then he exhorts them to work on rooting these truths, which they’re already heard, more deeply in their being.
Now this distinction (which is worth spending a few more minutes on), between head-knowledge and heart-knowledge, or between knowing with our intellect alone versus knowing with our gut – this distinction is not unique to knowledge of God. But this distinction shows up in all sorts of day-to-day ways.
One way I like to think of this (which I’ve mentioned before) is the distinction between how we believe in atoms and how we believe in germs – how we know that the physical world is made of atoms, and how we know that the physical world is filled with many germs.
I would assume that few here would dispute the scientific claim that the physical world is made up of atoms. But I would also say that it tends to be something that we all believe more with our heads than our hearts – more with our intellect than with our gut.
The world is made of atoms. And atoms are mostly empty space – empty space in and around the electron cloud. Which means that you and I both believe that every physical object around us, including what we are standing or sitting on right now, is made up mostly of empty space. But that’s not how we perceive it. We perceive it as solid, and dense. And it’s not just that we perceive it that way with our senses, but even though we know, intellectually, that these physical objects are mostly empty space, we don’t automatically remind ourselves of that as we perceive the world … and it doesn’t really affect our day-to-day actions. Our knowledge about the atomic nature of the physical world is an intellectual belief for us, and it is one we hold sincerely – we don’t question it – but even so, it hasn’t reached our gut … we don’t automatically perceive the physical objects around us as being made of atoms and therefore being mostly empty space. [This illustration is inspired by Rohnson, 1-3]
I mean, now that I’m talking about it, you might be thinking about it. But even trying to see the world that way for a few moments feels strange. It’s disorienting. It’s not natural for you to think of how the pew holding you up as mostly empty space – as mostly the space taken up by the electron clouds of each atom. You might think about that for a minute or two. But then, when something else gets your attention, that atomic perspective leaves your mind. And while you may never stop believing, intellectually, that the physical world is made of atoms, you go about your day without perceiving the world that way. Because your belief in atoms resides in your intellect, but not in your gut – your head but not your heart.
And you might think “Well, of course, Steven, but that’s because I can’t see it. I need to see it to perceive the world that way so automatically.” But that’s not actually true. And to consider that, all you need to do is stop and think about how you believe in germs.
As with atoms, you’ve probably never seen germs directly, with your own naked eye. But also, as with atoms, you’ve been told that they’re everywhere. And you probably believe that. But I would argue that the way you believe in germs is different from the way you believe in atoms.
Think about it like this: Imagine that you are volunteering to clean up a local park. And the group organizing the clean-up sends you out there to pick up trash, and they give you trash bags, but no gloves. And so you have to use your bare hands. And you spend a few hours out there in the morning picking up trash. You’re picking up cigarette butts, empty soda cans, used napkins, gum that needs to be pulled off the park benches, things like that. And around noon you finish pulling one more piece of gooey gum off a bench. You toss the gum into your trash bag, you sit up on the bench, and your group leader walks up to you, pulls a sandwich for you out of the plastic bag it had been in, and holds it out, with nothing wrapped around it, for you to take it. What do you do? Do you grab the naked sandwich with your bare hands, and begin to eat it?
Well … probably not. But why not? Why not just take the sandwich, or brush your hands on your shirt and then grab it?
But my guess is that most of us, even if we were hungry, would instinctually pull our hands away from that sandwich, and ask if there’s somewhere we could wash our hands, or if they could wait while we get some hand sanitizer.
Or imagine you are standing at the sink of the church’s bathroom, and behind you someone comes out of one of the stalls, bypasses the sink, and then holds their hand out to shake yours. Whatever you do, you’re probably going to feel some level of distress over that, even if you can’t see a single disturbing thing on their hands.
And those responses, for most of us, would be automatic – they would be instinctual … they would be gut-level. And we’d respond that way even if we couldn’t see any dirt. But why would that response be so automatic when we can’t see anything?
Well … because we believe in germs. And not just because we believe in germs intellectually, but because we believe in them at a deep, gut level. We perceive the world as having germs in it, with some things having more germs than others, and we perceive it that way even though we can’t see those germs. [This illustration is inspired by a comment in Brown, 30]
We have not seen atoms. And we have not seen germs. We believe in both. But the way we believe in each is different. We believe in atoms intellectually – with our heads. But they don’t automatically shape our perception of the world or our actions in the world.
But we believe in germs not just with our intellect, but also with our gut. We believe in them not just with our head, but with our heart. And so, even without us needing to think about it, our belief in germs shapes our perception of the world and our actions in it – we perceive the world as having germs, and we automatically, instinctually, are drawn to or repelled by certain things because of that gut-level belief.
In Deuteronomy 11:18, Moses is telling us that he wants us to cultivate gut-level belief in God’s Word. He wants our belief in God’s Word to penetrate our heart and soul. And he wants it then to shape our perception of the world and our actions in the world, in an almost instinctual sort of way.
It’s an odd way to put it, but in some ways, Moses’s point, is that he wants us to believe in God and God’s Word the same sort of way we believe in germs: on a gut level that shapes our perception and actions.
The problem is that we often believe in God and his Word more like we believe in atoms: We believe it … intellectually … but it usually remains distant from how we see the world and how we live in it.
And that difference is, I think, the first thing we need to see here – the different ways or depths we might believe in God and his Word.
Once we see that, it leads us to the question of how we move our knowledge of God and his Word from our head to our heart – from our intellect to our gut. How do we move it from a theoretical agreement to the way we perceive and act in the world?
There are several answers to that – some focused on God’s part in that process, some on ours. Today we will focus on the aspect Moses focuses on here, because in the verses that follow, he gives us some very practical guidance on the question.
How We Learn Deeply
And what Moses points out here is that we, and others, learn deeply – we move our knowledge of God from our head to our heart – through practice.
We learn things more deeply through repeated practice.
Take a look at verses nineteen and twenty. Moses, speaking of God’s words, tells the people: “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
What’s striking here, I think, is that Moses’s focus is not on the importance of high-level theological lectures … or deeply inspiring and emotionally moving moments … or profound four-hour daily quiet times. Those things may have a right place – don’t get me wrong. But when Moses tells Israel how to move the knowledge of God from their head to their heart – from their intellect to their gut – those bigger, more profound events are not what he talks about.
He talks instead about simple, repeated moments of returning to God’s truth. A conversation as you sit at the table. Another as you walk to the fields. A reflection as you lie down to sleep. A prayer as you rise from bed. A reminder on a doorpost. Another on a gate. Moses lists six occasions throughout the day. I don’t think there’s anything magic about that number. But I do think there’s a point in their repetitive nature. They’re tied to things you do and see every day. Six brief moments, day after day, week after week, year after year. If an Israelite did this six times a day – however brief those moments of reflecting on or speaking of God’s truth might be – then he’d do it over two thousand times a year, and well over 100,000 times in a lifetime.
That is practicing your faith in God, in small ways, over and over. None of those moments are impressive as isolated actions. But taken together they can root knowledge and faith deeper in our hearts, centering them more and more in our gut.
Of course, we already recognize this process in other areas of life. When a great pianist plays the piano, and she reads a b-flat on the staff in front of her, she doesn’t have to stop, and look at the keys in front of her, and think “Ok … now which of these keys is the b-flat?” She knows it automatically – instinctually. The knowledge is in her gut – or, we more often say: in her fingers. She sees the note, and her finger moves to the key without a thought. Why is that? Because she’s practiced it, and reinforced that truth to herself over and over again. Over years of practice, over and over again, she saw that note on the page, and moved her finger to that key, so often that it became an instinct. The beginning piano player is discouraged as they start, and as they see the note, and have to look down at the keys, and think about which key to press. They have a right belief about which key is the b-flat, but it resides in their intellect, not their fingers. But practice, over and over again, moves that knowledge, we might say, from their head to their fingers.
In a similar way, when an experienced short-stop has the ball hit to him, with no one on base … he doesn’t have to stop and think about where to throw it. He scoops it up and sends it to first base. If you’ve ever watched little kids in a little league game, you’ll know that that knowledge of where to throw the ball isn’t in-born. But through practice after practice, drill after drill, game after game, it becomes automatic and instinctual, as the knowledge moves from the player’s head to his guts.
And the same is true, I think, when it comes to what we said earlier about germs. I think one of the main reasons we believe in germs at a deeper gut level is because we have daily actions that reinforce that belief – that put it into practice – and that then shape our perception of the world. Every time we wash our hands, every time we reach for hand sanitizer, we root our intellectual belief in germs deeper in our gut. There’s no parallel action like that when it comes to atoms. But with germs, there is. As a young child, you didn’t perceive the world as containing germs. But then you were told over and over again to wash your hands in one situation or another. The explanation was always the same: germs. And as you followed that guidance, over and over again, multiple times a day, day after day, week after week, for years or even decades, you have reaffirmed and reinforced a belief in germs, through practice, thousands and thousands of times. And that practice has moved that belief from your intellect to your gut – from your head to your heart.
And in verses nineteen and twenty, Moses is telling us that in the same way we need to practice our belief in and our obedience to God’s Word by going over it, and repeating it, and putting it into action, again and again. And that’s something we can do both together, and individually.
We do it together, as a congregation every week. Every Sunday morning, when we come together for worship, we walk through the shape of the gospel together – we practice it. The Lord calls us to himself, he cleanses us of our sin, he converses with us through his Word, he communes with us at his table, and he commissions us to go out and live in the world as he has called us to. That’s the shape of the gospel. Each week, we are reminded of that gospel shape in the worship service. But we don’t just remember it. We also actively participate. We worship and praise God, we confess our sins to him, we lift up our petitions to him, we reflect on his word, we offer ourselves to him in worship, we come forward to his table, we go out in mission with his blessing. In this way, we practice the gospel every Lord’s Day. On any given Sunday it might not feel that profound. It might not feel like it’s shaping your heart. But do it again the next Sunday. Actively practice that gospel pattern four times a month with God’s people, 52 times a year, 520 times a decade, 4,000 in a lifetime … do that and it will shape your heart.
But, of course, that’s not the only practice we have available to us with God’s people. We can return and walk through God’s truths again in Sunday evening worship: praying with God’s people, worshiping our King, reciting the psalms together, hearing from the catechisms again, and receiving God’s Word once more.
Then, every Wednesday night, at prayer meeting, we have the opportunity to not just say we believe that God hears and answers prayer, but to actually act like it’s true together – to practice it, by spending an hour together in prayer for the needs of people here and around the world.
And so, there are chances to walk through and practice our faith here together, multiple times every week.
But the opportunities for such practice don’t stop there. We can pursue them with our family and our friends – and we’ll say more about that in a few minutes … but we can also pursue them on our own.
When it comes to growing spiritually … do you maybe tend to focus more on the big … ambitious … intense … rigorous … or more emotionally inspiring ways that you might grow? And if so …, do you tend to overlook the sort of ordinary, brief, repeated forms of spiritual practice that Moses describes in our text – practices that might be unimpressive as isolated actions … but that, when repeated, over time, can actually change our hearts?
To refashion a comment by Robert Capon, we can tend to approach spiritual growth the way many people approach physical exercise in our culture. We try to go from doing little or nothing, to adopting dramatic, ambitious, intense plans. And then, more often than not, it all falls apart in a few days … or maybe a few weeks … and then we are back to nothing again.
But what if, instead, as Moses encourages here, you focused on brief, mundane, ordinary spiritual practices … that you then tried to repeat, day after day.
What if you replaced the first five minutes you spend in the car alone each day with listening to one chapter of the Bible, before you switch to your usual music or podcast? Do that every day and you’ll listen to the entire Bible in three years. Or what if, when you woke up in the morning, and you got your coffee, you spent five minutes reading a psalm on your phone, before you clicked over to the news, or social media, or the wordle? Do that every day, and you’ll read through the entire psalter four times a year. Or what if right before going to bed, you and your spouse prayed together for just three or four minutes – maybe alternating who prays from night to night? Do that each night, and in ten years you’ll have prayed together, as a couple, over 3,000 times. Or what if, every time you exercised you spent the first five minutes of it praying for other people – even if it was just whoever comes to mind. It might not be the best setting for deep thoughtful prayers, but what if, as you run, or walk, or bike, or swim, or something else – what if, you prayed just one short phrase with each breath, linking them together short, one-sentence prayers for your family members, or your friends, or your church, or your co-workers, or the global church, or world-wide current events? How many one-sentence prayers might you lift up in just four or five minutes before switching to your regular listening material?
How can you practice your faith, in small, modest, but still meaningful and repeated ways, similar to those Moses outlines in verses nineteen and twenty? Maybe just pick one thing to start. And then try to do it … again and again. I know it’s hard to actually do these things – I struggle with it too. But let’s try. And as we try – as we practice our faith in these ways – our knowledge of God will move more and more into our hearts and our guts.
That’s one major application for us to consider here, about how we can learn Gods truth more deeply.
How We Teach Deeply
The other application for us to consider from this text is how we can teach God’s truth more deeply to others.
Because verses nineteen and twenty are not just about how we learn more deeply, but also how we teach others more deeply. And verse twenty-one focuses on the results not just for us, but for others.
We all have people we love, who we are trying to encourage to know God more deeply, whether our children, as highlighted in these verses by Moses, or our spouse, a friend, a sibling, or someone else in our lives. So how can we teach them God’s truth more deeply?
And again, Moses focuses on one simple aspect of this: We can speak digestible lessons to them, over and over again.
That’s what Moses is saying in verses nineteen and twenty. Look at verse nineteen. You can’t give a seminary-level lecture on a walk to the field, or to someone lying down before bed. Look at verse twenty. You can’t fit a chapter of Calvin’s Institutes on a doorpost or a gate. The settings and circumstances Moses points to lend themselves to short, digestible, lessons … brief, manageable prayers together. Concise reminders. Focused exhortations.
When ministering to others, or teaching others, we can tend to expect too much from a single interaction. And so we try to cram everything in all at once. We want to sit our kids, or those we’re ministering to, down, and then do a massive data dump. We want to turn on the firehose, and give them all kinds of important truths to focus on. But that’s not what Moses recommends here. And that’s not how deeper learning usually works. A young piano student doesn’t dive in to a long piece by Bach, all at once, in the first sitting. She may spend the entire first practice on just the first few lines. Maybe even just the first few measures.
And if Bach requires such an approach, then we shouldn’t expect God’s Word to call for less. We shouldn’t expect to achieve life-changing spiritual transformation in one sitting – at least not ordinarily.
A better approach requires patience. The patience to take things in smaller bites. The patience to go slow. The patience to repeat the same truths … over and over again.
Who are you working to teach spiritual truths to right now? Maybe it’s a friend. Maybe it’s a child. Maybe it’s a peer. Maybe it’s someone newer to the faith than you. But somewhere you have a relationship with someone where you, at times, try to speak spiritual truths into their lives, and to help them learn those truths at a deeper level. Think about that relationship.
In that relationship, you need to think of yourself less like a data-entry clerk, and more like a sports coach or a music teacher.
I’ve worked in data entry. You get the data. You enter it into the spreadsheet. And then it’s done – it’s in there, it stays there forever, and you move on to the next thing. You don’t repeat it. Your job is to put in as much data into the spreadsheet as quickly as possible.
But people aren’t spreadsheets.
And so spiritual instruction is usually much more like the work of a coach. A coach gets the team out there, and every day they go through the same drills, over and over again. A coach knows that learning the fundamentals (and the complexities) of a sport means teaching it in digestible bites, repeated again and again. And the sports coach has to have the patience to repeat those drills day after day … and the patience to know that his players will need those drills not just to learn the fundamentals initially … but also to maintain them. And the same is true with learning and maintaining musical ability, or languages, or so many other skills.
And Moses reminds us here that that is also how we are often called to teach God’s truth to the people around us. In digestible bites. Over and over again.
That might discourage us … but it shouldn’t. It shouldn’t discourage us because it means that to some extent, we can all do this effectively. What Moses outlines here doesn’t require genius or postgraduate training.
And that’s true with other subject matters as well. You don’t need a PhD in microbiology to teach a child to believe in germs at a deep level – you just need a basic set of knowledge yourself, and the patience to remind them, and help them wash their hands again and again, day after day. Then the knowledge will sink in.
In the same way, you don’t need a seminary degree or to have read a thousand pages of dense systematic theology in order to teach those around you to believe God’s truth at a deep level – you just need a basic knowledge of God’s Word yourself, and the patience to help them reflect on it in small ways, over and over again, day after day.
The approach Moses outlines here is simple. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It requires patience. It requires intentionality. It requires restraint to keep things manageable and digestible. That can be hard – I know it is for me! It’s difficult. But it is doable.
That’s what Moses reminds us here, as we consider how we are called to teach God’s truth to others at a deep level.
God has given us a serious charge here: to learn his truths deeply ourselves, and to teach them deeply to others. The way to do that is simple: we need to intentionally, repeatedly, come back to and practice God’s truths ourselves, and teach them in digestible, repeated ways to others.
In the day-to-day of life, that work will feel ordinary and mundane. It will feel small and unimportant.
But in verse eighteen, Moses reminds us that with this simple work, we lay up God’s truth in our hearts, and we help store it up in the hearts of others. And from there it bears fruit: shaping our perception, directing our actions, as verse eighteen reminds us … and yielding eternal results, as verse twenty-one reminds us.
Simple, daily work, that can yield a heart-level, eternal result. Persevering in that work with patience may be difficult. But the harvest it can yield, by God’s grace and his power, is well worth it.
And so, let’s do the work that Moses here calls us to do. And as we diligently scatter the seed of God’s word in our hearts, and the hearts of others, as we water it day after day, week after week, month after month, let’s pray that God himself will give it growth, and that by his grace, our simple labors will yield a harvest that is thirty-fold, sixty-fold, or even a hundred-fold, in this life, and in the life that which is to come.
This sermon draws on material from:
Alter, Robert. The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary. New York, NY: Norton, 2004.
Barker, Paul. Introduction and notes to Deuteronomy in The ESV Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.
Block, Daniel I. The NIV Application Commentary: Deuteronomy. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.
Brown, Peter. Augustine of Hippo: A Biography. Berkley, CA: University of California, 2000. (The analogy of germs in this sermon is an expansion and reapplication of Brown’s comment on page 30: “Moreover, Augustine grew up in an age where men thought that they shared the physical world with malevolent demons. They felt this quite as intensely as we feel the presence of myriads of dangerous bacteria.”)
Rohnson, Jon. The Men Who Stare at Goats. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2004.
Smith, James K.A. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Cultural Liturgies Volume 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2009.
Theopolis Podcast. Episode 654: “Love and Serve Yahweh (Deuteronomy 11).” With Peter Leithart, Alastair Roberts, Jeff Meyers, and John Bejon. June 28, 2023. https://soundcloud.com/user-812874628/episode-654-love-and-serve-yahweh-deuteronomy-11
Wright, Christopher. Deuteronomy. NIBC. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996.
Note: In my preaching I often cite and draw from a range of sources, which includes material from Christians within my theological tradition, Christians outside my theological tradition (in keeping with our church’s core value of “Reformed Catholicity”), and also (following the Apostle Paul’s example in Acts 17) non-Christians who are well outside of Christian orthodoxy and orthopraxy. And so, when I cite an author or a source, that citation should not be understood or construed as me necessarily agreeing with, endorsing, or recommending to others anything else from that author or source, except for what I explicitly say I agree with, endorse, or recommend. When engaging with different materials and thinkers, all Christians must exercise wisdom and discernment to determine what is helpful, appropriate, and edifying for each person, taking into account their current needs, wisdom, and spiritual maturity.
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