Andy Miller III
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State of Theology Survey with Stephen Nichols

June 29, 2023

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Welcome to the more to this story, Podcast. I am so glad that you have come along. This is a very interesting show coming up, and I have been excited about this conversation, and I've heard about the content that we're gonna talk about here for a while, but now it's going to be exciting to talk to one of the people who is leading that process. But you'll just have to wait a second

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Andy Miller III: First, I want you to know that this podcast is brought to you by Wesley Biblical Seminary, where we are developing trusted leaders for faithful churches, and we're excited to say we just have been approved by the Global Methodist Church to train pastors for a day ministry there, in addition to their course of study. So if you're in that tradition, or you're becoming a part of that tradition, we would love for you to check us out at Wbs Edu and for anybody else to we don't discriminate against any denominations where we're not affiliated with one particular denomination.

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We come from the evangelical Wesley and holiness. Tradition, and we have a variety of programs serving church leaders, and we'd love for you to look into our school a little bit more. Secondly, i'm thankful to my friend Keith Waters, who it with his company. Wpo. Development helps churches, schools, nonprofits all over the country, work through a plan from mission planning study, the strategic plans, the capital campaigns to really develop a vision for where they're going, and how they can actualize it.

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Andy Miller III: And finally, I have a free resource available for people 5 steps to deeper teaching and preaching. It's a 45 min Mini. Course that I offer that has a an eight-page document that you can use to study Scripture better. And then to think about the congregation You're serving

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Andy Miller III: in a way that is creative. So I really love for you to check that out. You can get that free that's Andy Miller. I I Well, I am delighted to invite in to welcome into podcast Dr. Steven Nichols, who serves as the President of Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida, and is a chief academic officer for a legioneer Ministries

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Dr. Nichols. Welcome to Podcast.

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snichols: Oh, thanks for having me looking forward to our conversation together.

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Andy Miller III: Absolutely Well, what I I didn't actually realize that you're the President of Reformation Bible College until I did a little more research. I was at first just interested in the work that you're doing with Legioneer through the state of theology survey, and we'll talk about that here a second. But could you tell us a little bit about Reformation Bible College first?

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snichols: Yeah. Well, we have the same founder as Ligander ministries. Our C-sproll founded Ligamer back in 1,971, and in 2,011 he founded reformation Bible college. When the Study Center opened its doors you had to go

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snichols: to the Legacy Valley outside of Pittsburgh. It was life on life, discipleship. The teaching was all in person. Then, of course, it grew into cassette tapes and video cassettes, and it became an international ministry and

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snichols: use of the Internet and a worldwide reach. But

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snichols: our C. Visited Geneva, and it was impressed upon him that the reformers all were involved in colleges and and starting colleges, and so in 2,011, he opened the doors for Reformation Bible College. We called our sort of back to the future initiative here at at Legioneer, with bringing students on to our campus life on life discipleship. It's just to undergrads, not a our, Our. C said, you know.

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snichols: So by the time they get seminary they already know everything he wanted undergrads because he wanted to shape their minds. Right. So so yeah, so it's. And I got down here in 2,014, and it's just been a delight, and God has blessed us with the growing campus. A delightful student body.

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Andy Miller III: So yeah, it's wonderful to be part of Rbc: thanks for asking. Absolutely. Yeah. So our ski scroll a lot. People will know his name, but some people won't. I know he's passed away in the last a few years, so give us a I I imagine you had some interaction with him as well. So just tell us a little bit ours, ours about our city scroll.

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snichols: Yeah. Well, the main thing you need to know about him is he's from Pittsburgh. And now there you go. You're from Pittsburgh. You know that's all you need to know. So you know this is he's born just before World War 2. It it's a it's a different era right and then he's grown up in the fifties and the

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local neighborhood outside of Pittsburgh

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snichols: goes to College, Westminster College, which is an historically Presbyterian college, but when he gets there. It's, you know, long since left. It's it's a original moorings and intentions.

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snichols: but he goes to college and gets converted.

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snichols: and he begins immediately for the first time really reading the Bible, and he comes to the realization that this is a God who plays for keeps, and the idea that really is central to our see. In fact, he says, it's central to the Bible is the holiness of God.

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snichols: Yeah, and that is his classic text to book comes from 1,984. If there's any book of Rcs. You want to read it's holiness, of God.

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snichols: But, as I mentioned in 1,971. God used him to open a study center there in the Legioneer Valley, and it was just teaching it's all was. It was teaching, teaching, teaching theology, and and actually what he said. We want a place where Christians can come for answers, just as today's

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snichols: tumultuous moment in American culture. The late sixties early seventies was a tumultuous moment. and he wanted a place where Christians didn't have to feel like they had to run from the questions or compromise to answer the questions.

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snichols: but that we could answer these questions and so open the study center. God bless the ministry! Now it has an international reach. We're functioning in somewhere near 38 languages, with active websites in 12 languages.

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Andy Miller III: and God has just continued to bless this ministry. It's a teaching ministry, is but it's not it, is it? Obviously your college is academic institution, and you serve as the Academic chief academic officer for legioneer. But it's not like a degree. Institution.

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snichols: Exactly. It's just teaching resources. And we this stuff out is for free as we can. Obviously, so what we sell. But you know we have lag in the website we've got teaching series on. There. We have a leg in your app which has all kinds of teaching series loaded on it daily, daily teaching.

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snichols: And that's really what we are. We're just a teaching ministry to come alongside of the church and assist the Church in that wonderful task of discipleship.

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Andy Miller III: Hey, man, I love it Well, I've been interest. I was interested in Rc. Scroll comes from a different theological tradition is me, but still in the broad evangelical tradition, so I always just appreciated his fervor. But he had a certain charisma that was just unique, and and and and drew people to and looking back at some of the videos that league in here put out. Probably

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just if if you just youtube our C for scroll, you're gonna find some really interesting things he did he? This was kind of a cutting edge figure with the approach that he had, and using of use of video just to was what was it about him? I mean there, I don't. I've a hard time putting into words, but he he had a magnetism to him.

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snichols: He did he he! I think I I looked at it as, or I look at it as he genuinely cared about people.

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snichols: and when he spoke and taught. He cared about you, and you feel like he cares about you, and he's also just a great teacher, so so that just comes off and comes across in the teaching, and I think you know he was gripped by God and was in his conversion. And then his realization that this is a holy God that we come before, and that passion

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snichols: that was personal. You you get a sense of that as well as it comes out. But the other thing I've always appreciate about him. Was he's off very, very, very conservative, theologically. All for cutting edge use of technology.

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snichols: And you know, he gave Ligand near its mission statement, and it's to proclaim the holiness of God to as many people as possible.

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snichols: and so he he's doing vhs tapes in 1974 he had they had to mail churches, cassette recorders, so they would have something to play the video cassettes on because nobody had cassette recorders in 1974.

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snichols: So so very funny

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Andy Miller III: it in my denomination I grew up in the savage Tun army, and my my grandfather served as the national leader of the salvation and kind of like a bishop, and he's a very K. In a. I mean this without the with not disrespecting him or the savage army. But it's a very controlling system.

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Andy Miller III: and he was a part in the mid eighties. When he was in leadership they had to decide this, they this big task rather or not. They would embrace videotape like they can salvation armies by

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Andy Miller III: video Vhs players. Now, my grandfather actually opted for I don't. I can't remember the name of an alternative technology. He said, No, and he said, no.

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Andy Miller III: and he's a a kind of progressive thinker at leader type. But he does that. And so then they said, you can only have it's just to show you that's the mid eighties. So in the seventies Rc. Scroll is already doing this, so that it really was revolutionary.

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Andy Miller III: Well, one of the things that is interesting I have really appreciated from league in your ministries. Is this state of the theology state of Theology survey that you come out with on a regular basis, and I've heard about it through the years, and and oftentimes it's troubling, but it's also helpful. I mean one of the things

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Andy Miller III: so tell tell us about that. When did this start the state of theology? A survey that you guys have put out, and and what's the foundation like a theoretically for it?

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snichols: Sure. Well, you know the first rule speech is, Know your audience right? And so all of us in Christian ministry. We need to know our audience, and so we all have the anecdotal sense of things of where culture is theologically and where it may be ha have slipped over years, or what really dealing with. We wanted to come alongside of that anecdotal evidence and data and bring some good solid survey data to 2,014 is actually when I first got down.

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snichols: Here is one of the first projects as involved in, and have been involved in very intimately since, and so it's a project near and dear to my heart. But this is taking the theological temperature

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snichols: of both, because the way we do the demographics, both United States culture and the United States general population, but also we can dig in and get a little sense of evangelicals within that as a sub

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snichols: category. In addition to the gender categories and age, group and education and region of the country, this sort of typical things we partner with life way research which is the research arm of the Southern Baptist. Very reputable research firm.

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snichols: We sample 3,000

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Andy Miller III: every year. We do it. Most of your political national pew polls or gallup polls are 1,000 interesting.

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snichols: Ours is a 3,000, so it's a it's a from the statistical data. I don't do do with that side, but from the pollster statistical side it is a solid, reputable poll. We've been doing it in 2,014, so we've got the snapshot.

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snichols: We do it every other year, so we've got the snapshot of 2022. But we've got some longitudinal data as well, so we can take a look at trends, which I think is so. It it's all there with. This is really a service to the church

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snichols: we we want. We want folks to see this. This is great for pastors to see. We've heard of youth group youth leaders who are using this with their with their kids in a youth group to think about doctrine. I've even

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snichols: was told At one time the Evangelical Free Church was using it as part of their ministerial training, and on our website. If you do a deep dive into the questions, we show what the answer is, biblically, and trace.

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snichols: Trace out Biblical texts to go and study. So you can see what the Bible teaches about this. So it's it's both the temperature barometer, the temperature taking mechanism, but also hopefully a teaching tool that we would love for the church to just use in the best way they can.

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Andy Miller III: Yeah, that is great, and I think it's helpful for you to set it up like that, because when it comes out, and I think you do a great job getting it out on a publicity stamp from a policy standpoint. But at the same time it's

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Andy Miller III: it's tends to be troubling. I don't know it in a in a positive direction. So it's. I really like how you set it up there. This is a teaching tool, like one thing that's coming to mind now is like you could just take these questions.

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Andy Miller III: You could form a a a a sermon series based upon them like, okay, you can say, Well, while this might be the trend in the even gel close them, or in America as a whole the United States. It's not going to be the trend in my church. I'm going to talk about the divinity of Christ, and where I like. At least you heard it once from great

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snichols: and yeah, and you know, as you bring up the D to Christ, the this is the other thing we're. We're not looking for theological minutia here, or we really it's it's doctrine of Scripture doctrine of God. Doctrine of Christ what is salvation

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and then some cultural issues just to see how they come into play. But we're we're really talking about doctrines that are part of the historic Christian orthodox faith that we're trying to gauge.

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Andy Miller III: Yeah, that's helpful. And and even though, like some people might know with league in your ministries, okay? Well, we might disagree with where our c. Spoil was on, on, on perseverance and the saints, or something like that. That's not a part of this at all. I'm curious before we get into some of the data itself, though

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Andy Miller III: what is the distinction be on? Who makes up an evangelical in this service? How do we define the in this one? The the hardest turn. We still use it, and I'm thankful for it. I probably call myself the Evangelical most of the time. But i'm just curious how you define that with this survey

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snichols: I i'm right there with you personally. My My hobby is American Church history. I'm very intrigued by this label, Evangelical.

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snichols: It's been, it's become very. It's essentially today. It's a political voting block is how the us uses it. We know it's a very elastic term, and I wonder if it's so elastic that one of these days it's just going to snap. But for the so I i'd love to have a

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snichols: longer conversation with you someday about this, because i'm with you. I'm intrigued by it. But

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snichols: we 2 ways one is they can self identify as the second way is life way partners with the National Association of Evangelicals, and at the end of our survey the N. Ae. Has added 4 questions

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snichols: that this was historically what we used to call the Beington quadrilateral. That would identify what an evangelical is Conversionism must be born again. Activism. It's a faith that is engaged in you know, serving people, and and

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snichols: communicating the Gospel Crusoe centrism, which is Christ at the Center, and that Christ died in the Christ died for me. And then Biblicism, and taking the Bible seriously. It was called the Beington. He was a church in the Beington Quadrilateral. The nae sort of massaged those a little bit, and you'll find those they're the last 4 questions. So so that becomes a sort of content way

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snichols: to define an evangelical. But for the most part, when we say general population. Evangelical. It's those who have self identity.

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snichols: So in your survey it could be anybody who calls themselves, and even jealous. Exactly. Okay, that's helpful. Yeah, I I I think the the Bemington Quadrilateral, so to speak, is definitely a good place to start, and

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Andy Miller III: on my podcast, you know, talking about that we're I, but my academic work is in nineteenth century England, and so it's right right in his ally, and I've talked to people about it. Of course he never.

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Andy Miller III: If you read the book where he started this. You know that tradition from 1,730 is on he wasn't. He was just trying to think all right. This is what I be when I say, even jealous that probably anything for the United States. But it there is something that that sticks with this

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that work. So i'm glad that you incorporate that from the Naa side. But the same time. One of the challenges, of course, is that

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Andy Miller III: when people just self identify it's hard to. But it's it. They They could be somebody who doesn't even attend church, and and that's part of what what comes up in this survey as well. But nevertheless, I think it. I think it's a helpful helpful tool to use. It provides some distinction for them as well.

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Andy Miller III: Okay, let's get into this survey. So I what? What is

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Andy Miller III: What's the

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Andy Miller III: most positive piece that you see coming out of this survey? I saw a couple of things. There was a couple of good moves, but otherwise i'm not excited. It's a real challenge to the preachers who are listening as podcasts and teachers to realize what our task is. But what's what's the best news from this survey this year?

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snichols: If we move away from a well, I do believe it's the logical question because it gets at the heart of the image of God and being human.

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snichols: But we have a question about abortion as a statement rather than abortion is is a sin, and

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snichols: that answer is one of the few. That statement rather is one of the few statements where the results are trending in the right direction.

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snichols: and especially what's interesting is, you can go back in and break this stuff up demographically. So when you go into the younger age group. It's even trending better among than and I mean young adults, 18 to 28 right so spending better among them than their seniors.

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snichols: And you know we talk about this, and this is the group that grew up with their siblings sonograms on the refrigerator.

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snichols: so they didn't grow up with the boom as a black box. They they grew up, knowing that there's a breathing

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snichols: human formed inside there, and they had the picture to prove it. And

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Andy Miller III: so I I think it's interesting. That question has definitely is trending in the positive direction. And you know that's very encouraging. So there's one. Yeah, that that's great. I love that one, because it's moved in in 2,01687, agreed that abortion was a sin amongst evangelicals.

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snichols: but now that is, at 91 and it is gone up at each year. So I think that is a very positive thing. Yeah, and I think it's closer to 96 97 when you go into that 18 to 28, which is even more encouraging. So yeah.

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Andy Miller III: Well, I think for people to go to this. But even as we're talking, you could take a It's a very interactive place, website, and you can see data from more than just the way they break down by

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snichols: graphically done. Great! I appreciate that you guys have made this so accessible to somebody who's not in the stats like me

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Andy Miller III: Well, when the first one first piece that comes up is the nature of God, and it's it's a bit of a like you don't say it like process, theology, or something like that. But you say the the statement is

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Andy Miller III: rather, and not People would agree with this statement. God learns and adapts to different circumstances in 51% in the Us. Not not even jail calls, agreed with that. Yes.

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Andy Miller III: is that. And is that a new statement? Because that one. I didn't see as much older data on.

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snichols: Yeah, that one is, I think it's a modification of one. And so what When we do that if we modify it far, it sort of becomes a new one if we just sort of tweak it, we keep the longitudinal data.

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snichols: Yeah, no, that one is important because this is this is the historic classic theism of the immutability of God and God does not change. We love the Him. There is no shadow of turning with the, and that is our only hope that God doesn't change.

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snichols: But here's the thing. And now we'll see this.

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snichols: This is what's really sad about this Evangelicals Don't trail too far behind the general population on these things. So you mentioned 51% pop general population, 47 or trial. 48% rather Evangelicals agree with that statement. The statistically, they're really not that far off basically half

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snichols: of evangelicals and half of the American population believe that God. It learns and adapts and changes in is a creature like us. Wow!

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Andy Miller III: And that what I know we can't say what leads to this Exactly. I mean what the source of that. Why would folks make this change now? The the trending, though, makes you wonder if there's if there's a cause to it? Do you have any ideas on that, any thoughts.

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snichols: It. It comes back to. What is the Church's task.

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snichols: and it it is to teach the Word of God. You know you, you that beautiful scene where Paul's gathered with the Fusion Elders. and he says, I did not shriek back from teaching you the whole council of God. And you know you think what a what a mass Ephesus was

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snichols: as this massive city, Roman pagan debauchery, horrible ethic.

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snichols: Paul could have spent all his time engaged in culture and politics.

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snichols: What's he doing the whole time he's in Ephesus? He's teaching the whole Council of God because it's it's that timeless word of God, the timeless truth of the Word of God that helps us stand in our in our moments. And I just think we need to. It's to me. All these are a clarion call

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snichols: for us to say. The answer is, we we should teach. We gotta teach God's word and teaching God's word and trust in that to be the best thing for God's people.

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Andy Miller III: Yeah, when you get to the statement on truth and i'm looking at the evangelical response, this is it to like the Bible? This is the statement. The Bible, like all sacred writings, contains helpful accounts of ancient myths, but is not literally true.

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Andy Miller III: Maybe people have in mind something thinking like a 6 day creationism, or something like that. Who knows? Like? But there's been a huge shift in the last 2 years in 2,02015 of Evangelicals agreed with that

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Andy Miller III: now 26%.

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Andy Miller III: So this is so so I mean troubling. So people are then saying, No, it's just like other sacred writings. It's not true now. You don't even use

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Andy Miller III: words that we might disagree with as scholars like an errand. I I I. In our tradition at West Biblical scenario, we use the word narrative, and our proud, enthusiastic and errant is right, like some people might not, but just basically saying Rather not. The Bible is true. This is. This is really a tough one to see. I'm sorry, but i'm glad you're letting us know.

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snichols: Yeah, it is, and it and it was a such a quick dip for Evangelicals, and and it I mean it's, it's it's dramatic. If you look at it on a general population. The I went back to 2,014. This question for the general population, and it was 41%.

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snichols: And it is now 53% in 2,020,

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snichols: and every year it was just study, steady study, I mean, I think, some of that is this cultural moment. We find ourselves in, and there is more of an animosity towards Scripture as a dangerous book culture. Now that really wasn't existent.

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it it doesn't mean everybody believe the Bible to be the Word of God, and absolutely authoritative and inspired in an errand. But

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snichols: I think culturally there was a sense of the Bible is the good Book, and we're in a different cultural moment. And I think that does have an impact on People's view of the Bible.

00:26:57.330 --> 00:27:10.950
Andy Miller III: It impacts then even how Evangelicals read it like. There was a move in a positive direction between 2,016 and 2,018. It went up it like, or it went sorry between 2,018 and 2,020 went down.

00:27:10.970 --> 00:27:29.820
snichols: So there was this positive like, okay, maybe at least, the Evangelicals are holding to the ground, if the but they didn't really popped up. I mean. I wonder how much of this is related to sexuality. Human sexuality, like people often are changing because their experiences are changing, and that's there. You have a question about sexuality as well.

00:27:29.820 --> 00:27:34.770
Andy Miller III: I mean, do you think that that might lead people to want to reject Scriptures authority.

00:27:34.800 --> 00:27:40.130
snichols: I think people feel these cultural pressures immensely and I think they think

00:27:40.680 --> 00:27:50.620
snichols: that they're helping non-christians or helping people who are started with this stuff by by sort of paving and compromising.

00:27:51.010 --> 00:28:16.390
snichols: so they can somehow meet them, or somehow introduce them to a kinder God, or a more accepting God. and at that house some that that in some ways doing them a favor, when, of course, we know that the best thing you could do for someone is, tell them the truth and tell them that they are center, and they need a Savior. Not that whatever they choose is okay. And God is okay with that.

00:28:16.400 --> 00:28:22.350
snichols: And I I think people feel that cultural pressure, and they almost again like, feel like

00:28:22.450 --> 00:28:27.140
snichols: the more noble thing to do, or the good thing to do is to

00:28:27.210 --> 00:28:36.840
snichols: relate to that person right, and I I honestly it's the worst thing we could do for someone is to tell them. Oh, God's fine with you!

00:28:36.870 --> 00:28:45.540
snichols: He's not. He's not fine with us.

00:28:45.950 --> 00:29:01.210
Andy Miller III: And now i'm hopeful that the kind of proto- evangelical approach of the AD campaign. He gets us, you know, like I don't want like I. It's trying to do something it's. And I think if you lead people to Scripture or lead people. Jesus

00:29:01.310 --> 00:29:14.650
Andy Miller III: go to negatively on that. But I think if we minimize the message so much so that, like it, it's just like we're all good. We're all good, and and God God gets us. He understands you. Nobody liked him anyways.

00:29:14.900 --> 00:29:16.040
Andy Miller III: Well, that might.

00:29:16.050 --> 00:29:25.310
Andy Miller III: Maybe that will lead some people closer. But again. The truth is. we're not good.

00:29:25.970 --> 00:29:45.740
snichols: Yeah. And then I think there is just pressure on people. If they don't know the word of God, and they're not taught the word of God. It's sort of like a vacuum. It's gonna be filled with something, and and there's plenty of voices. I think of our young people, the voices that come at them all the time through

00:29:45.790 --> 00:29:48.360
their social media usage.

00:29:48.780 --> 00:30:03.710
snichols: Th they they're, you know. I go back to like what our C. Said about students right? I want their minds. There, there's a force at work that says, I want their minds, and it's a battle. We sense

00:30:04.640 --> 00:30:24.370
Andy Miller III: the other thing, one in in light of that, with what you're saying to about Nature of Scripture, and how like we want to get in and help people think through this in a deeper way, one of the key question comes on: Christology is: Jesus was a great Teacher, but he was not God. It's been a shift you said, like the survey shows the survey says

00:30:24.370 --> 00:30:39.860
Andy Miller III: 30% from 20 to and 2,020. But 43% amongst Evangelicals agree with that statement. Yeah. And and this is a huge shift in it. Yeah, go, go. I'll let you address it. I I have a few thoughts, too.

00:30:40.100 --> 00:30:55.900
snichols: Oh, I love to hear your thoughts. I mean, yeah, the this is the the person of Christ is essential to the work of Christ, and that is the Gospel. And there's another question that gets directly at the Gospel about: Does God accept the worship of other religions which is really troubling?

00:30:55.900 --> 00:31:03.040
So when we have a troubling view on the personal Christ. In a troubling view of the work of Christ we expected of culture.

00:31:03.130 --> 00:31:06.650
snichols: That's that's they. They need to be taught. And here the gospel.

00:31:06.710 --> 00:31:12.680
snichols: But when it's in self described and self-proclaimed evangelicals this this

00:31:12.810 --> 00:31:17.740
snichols: Evangelical has gospel that's what the name is

00:31:17.980 --> 00:31:22.400
snichols: And if we don't have a faithful gospel. We have nothing to offer. We're not the church.

00:31:22.400 --> 00:31:42.110
snichols: And so this is very troubling it's at the center, and I don't think it's because it's a trick question. I don't think it's because you need some theological subtlety to answer this properly. I I think it just shows that people don't know they should be leave in the Angeles. Don't know they should believe in the deity of Christ.

00:31:42.110 --> 00:31:48.290
Andy Miller III: Right? I mean it's it's not a trick question. It says Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.

00:31:48.590 --> 00:31:54.710
snichols: Yeah, I mean, you're not like you. We're not getting the distinctions in the Trinity. You know anything like that. This is just a

00:31:54.710 --> 00:32:10.530
Andy Miller III: a basic understanding of what it means to follow the orthodox Christian faith that is, once for all delivered to the same. So this is a clear statement, and I think the challenge for me, the the the challenge I want to take as a preacher, but as somebody who is training preachers

00:32:10.650 --> 00:32:15.010
Andy Miller III: is to take this task on like. Ask yourself this question.

00:32:15.080 --> 00:32:28.790
Andy Miller III: If in your church people might not be able to answer this question. This, then, should have formed, not just your preaching, but your discipleship program and everything. I mean this. This is an essential question for salvation.

00:32:28.820 --> 00:32:33.660
snichols: right absolutely. And and what you're doing with. It is exactly our hopes and prayers for this

00:32:33.700 --> 00:32:39.440
Andy Miller III: that this this translates back into the teaching ministry of the Church.

00:32:40.110 --> 00:32:56.560
Andy Miller III: It one of the things that's interesting as we work through. This is like you bring up. You brought it up just a second go. The idea of Jesus accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Now there'd be some who would. Who would suggest like? There's kind of like the

00:32:56.560 --> 00:33:04.080
Andy Miller III: Karl Rayner talks about the anonymous Christians. Maybe those some would think that in in Christian

00:33:04.080 --> 00:33:17.760
Andy Miller III: philosophical theology a lot of times we divide things between Universalists or inclusivist and exclusivist and some Evangelicals have space for there to be an inclusive view that maybe there's a post-mortem

00:33:17.760 --> 00:33:29.210
snichols: evangelical encounter with God. So like a and maybe even taking the line, maybe from Cs. Lewis's last battle.

00:33:29.570 --> 00:33:34.910
Andy Miller III: part part, or people is more moving in that way. Or is this All religions are the same?

00:33:35.610 --> 00:33:43.720
snichols: I mean, I I think you're right. It so you've got the finer points of inclusivism and exclusivism. And then you've got various

00:33:43.900 --> 00:33:47.840
snichols: inclusive zooms right? There's various ways to get at that.

00:33:48.360 --> 00:33:50.100
snichols: But

00:33:50.140 --> 00:33:54.690
snichols: in in one sense the idea is is there.

00:33:55.780 --> 00:33:58.610
snichols: This is really a pluralism question

00:33:58.770 --> 00:34:14.199
snichols: in the sense that if we didn't identify Christianity, Judy and Judaism and Islam. You got that beginning question. God accepts the the worship of all religions, and I think that's the question that says

00:34:14.230 --> 00:34:28.739
snichols: what ultimately is salvation found in Jesus Christ or not? Is Jesus the way, the truth in the life to the Father or not? And now we're getting at the that

00:34:28.760 --> 00:34:39.679
snichols: that notion of the Gospel, which quite honestly is very offensive, right, and and can cause us difficulties as Christians, especially in this very pluralistic

00:34:39.840 --> 00:34:41.900
snichols: 20 first century world that we live in.

00:34:42.290 --> 00:34:55.800
snichols: What I find interesting about it, too, again is as you're talking about is the trends, and the trends on this one are alarming. And then, now you flip the demographics. So if the demographics were helpful on the abortion question

00:34:55.800 --> 00:35:09.920
snichols: here is where the 18 to 28 year olds are way out ahead in the wrong ahead of their older counterparts. And here, too, like when I was growing up in my little western Pennsylvania town.

00:35:11.530 --> 00:35:22.630
snichols: the the the only opposite thing of Well, it was, or the it was Methodists and Baptists. and in an occasional Catholic like those were the religions.

00:35:22.850 --> 00:35:28.600
snichols: you know, kids like they have. They have Muslims next to them in their classroom, and

00:35:28.620 --> 00:35:45.610
snichols: it's so they're in this pluralistic. So you're going to tell me that my friend, that I play with is is not a Christian, and or is not going to be in heaven because they were born into a Muslim home. And I was born to houses to a Christian home. And so I think they that's again

00:35:45.610 --> 00:35:59.560
snichols: their moment. Their context is cultures very much affecting them rather than what do we do with John? 14, 6, and and not just on 14 6. But what do we do with all the teaching of the exclusivity of Christ? And

00:35:59.670 --> 00:36:03.550
snichols: then what do we do with our command

00:36:03.620 --> 00:36:19.240
snichols: to evangelize and proselytize the world? This this really removes the need. If God accepts the worship, let them be, it removes the need to evangelize. So this is very troubling, and it's it's worth pondering for a while.

00:36:19.260 --> 00:36:27.060
Andy Miller III: No, absolutely. I mean it. It is something to work through, and it doesn't mean we don't have a sensitive, loving approach to people that we

00:36:27.060 --> 00:36:56.720
Andy Miller III: don't. Take those questions from our gate. I hope my kids ask that question at some point I hope all kids do like, and at the same time I want to lead them. If if i'm going to stake my life on the reality that God has revealed Himself in space and time through the Scriptures, the Old New Testament. If God created the world out of nothing. Then he has the ability to shape the way he determines that reality. And I I want to be in line with that, and it's it's hard, because you you show in this study

00:36:57.190 --> 00:37:16.710
Andy Miller III: from 22 to 2,022. It moved from 42 to 56, so that's just amongst evangelicals just assuming that everybody was. I can't I? I didn't get into this specific data. Oh, it may. I don't know if you have it, or you could just tell me like how much different that is for young people

00:37:16.820 --> 00:37:20.640
Andy Miller III: like that. You said they're going, though it

00:37:22.280 --> 00:37:27.600
snichols: Yeah. So there. So let's say there on that question. They're ahead in the wrong direction.

00:37:28.450 --> 00:37:40.610
Andy Miller III: How do you handle that at a. We have some approaches here at Wesley Biblical scenery, but in your college, in Reformation Bobble College, do you? Even from a curricular standpoint? What are we trying to do to combat that?

00:37:40.980 --> 00:37:52.570
snichols: Yeah, I mean we. So we we offer one degree. It's a degree in theology. So so we are. We have our Our main curriculum is 8 semesters of Bible Study a Bible survey.

00:37:52.570 --> 00:38:03.030
snichols: 8 semesters of systematic theology, one whole class on Christology, and then we also have a true of of arts. So we have 8 semesters of great works.

00:38:03.030 --> 00:38:32.350
snichols: and we recon Hebrew around that. And Biblical theology, church, history, philosophy. We wrap some classes around that. But that's the core, and I mean it's. You know it's what we do. It's our niche. We're a very small place. We know we're going to be very small. We're intentionally small. But yeah, I like to say, we do. We just do 3 things here, theology, theology, theology, and and so we we make sure they get inoculated to a good historic, Christian orthodox faith.

00:38:32.560 --> 00:38:50.810
Andy Miller III: Yeah, I love it that that's part of what. When we've we've just started an undergrad program as well, and we just have one degree like you, just a bachelor and Christian ministry. Sorry you could just be, could be theology like yours, and just be just the same. But one of the things we've done is that we've shifted to even think about our Church history course

00:38:50.810 --> 00:39:20.810
Andy Miller III: courses. We used to have just 2 churches, street courses, like traditionally divided into 2 segments of history, to the Reformation that touched our thing. But we've adapted our curriculum to have a history of Christian thought, and just like to really work through, to say, we want to focus on ideas as much as talking about theological ideas. So we're helping people learn to think about what it means to be a Christian in our time

00:39:20.810 --> 00:39:35.830
snichols: that you are entrusted with, and you have an obligation generation to generation, and it's the historic Christian faith, and that's what we are keepers of, and we've got to make sure the next generation won't catch it

00:39:35.830 --> 00:39:41.800
snichols: very intentional and systematic and programmatic, and and teaching it to them.

00:39:42.220 --> 00:39:57.930
snichols: You have 2 flashpoint questions, and and we'll. I'll try and finish up with these. But i'd love the sexuality in January. I could guess i'll let you set it up. I Won't. Just read the question, because I can tell. The language is very specific.

00:39:57.930 --> 00:40:03.120
Andy Miller III: And just to tell me how you approach developing these questions, and then what what you found.

00:40:03.650 --> 00:40:11.990
snichols: So I wrote these 2. I knew exactly where you're gone, and we we saw what was happening with transgenderism.

00:40:12.060 --> 00:40:18.250
snichols: and we know what Scripture says about male and female, that these are not social constructs.

00:40:18.540 --> 00:40:24.410
snichols: And so we put a question in that's going to get right at it. Gender identity is a matter of choice.

00:40:24.450 --> 00:40:27.860
snichols: Wow! Our statement rather gender identity is a matter of choice.

00:40:27.890 --> 00:40:45.570
snichols: and then the other one, and we worded this one very purposefully, because we don't want to get into the debate of, you know. Does Does the Bible allow for homosexuality? What's going on with David and Jonathan, and all that sort of nonsense that goes on sometimes in Biblical interpretation.

00:40:45.870 --> 00:40:48.570
snichols: Let's avoid that. All together. Let's put it this way.

00:40:48.730 --> 00:41:03.180
snichols: The Bible's teaching on homosexual behavior no longer applies today. That's it. So we're not going to debate what what Paul said. We're not going to debate that. But there. But is it a passe book? Is it time to move on?

00:41:03.780 --> 00:41:14.570
snichols: And so those are as 2 hot button culture issues as you possibly get, but they're very there. There. They get right at the heart of Genesis, one to 3 in the foundation of the

00:41:14.580 --> 00:41:24.070
snichols: natural order of things, creation of human beings in the image of God, creation of male and female, and heterosexual marriage.

00:41:24.350 --> 00:41:33.810
snichols: So on the on the gender one, as I look at it, if I remember, the general population was 38%

00:41:34.240 --> 00:41:40.800
snichols: of agreeing with gender is a gender identity as a matter of choice in 2,016

00:41:40.920 --> 00:41:48.500
and 2022 it's, 42, so not a huge increase, but it's slowly moving up. When you put that

00:41:48.650 --> 00:41:52.150
snichols: question to Evangelicals

00:41:52.550 --> 00:42:08.180
snichols: in 2,016, it was 32 so a little bit behind the general population it went up to 37%. So again it's steadily increasing as culture is steadily increasing so it's a little bit behind where the general population is

00:42:08.320 --> 00:42:14.960
but it's steadily increasing. And then the homosexuality question Culture

00:42:15.010 --> 00:42:21.210
snichols: again in 2,016 was 42% and 22 is 46%.

00:42:21.480 --> 00:42:28.190
snichols: And the evangelical world it was 19 in 2,016,

00:42:28.410 --> 00:42:38.410
snichols: but 28% and 22. So that's a big jump so again it's behind the general population. But the trend is that it's

00:42:38.530 --> 00:42:40.560
snichols: getting closer every year.

00:42:41.110 --> 00:42:50.740
snichols: So those are 2 questions that you know they are. You could say they're political, but I also think they are Biblical and theological, and it's interesting to keep an eye on them.

00:42:51.030 --> 00:42:55.410
Andy Miller III: You know we I have some pastors I've talked to who, I think, would

00:42:55.440 --> 00:43:07.510
Andy Miller III: they would say, in in my office or in their offices. I meet with them. They affirm a Biblical orthodoxy, as it relates to human sexuality, but they've said to me. Well, I i'm not going to ever preach about it.

00:43:07.600 --> 00:43:18.770
Andy Miller III: I'm not gonna about it, because it's too divisive. There'll be people in the room who are going through things and it I I don't have enough time to be clear to me, I think.

00:43:18.770 --> 00:43:37.190
Andy Miller III: Well, that is exactly why we get this place where it was 11% in 2,020, and now 28 is because we're not teaching on it on all of these subjects. So keep keep doing that, and we'll see what happens to me. That's a recipe for the church moving away from the the

00:43:37.190 --> 00:43:53.340
snichols: someone's teaching them on this. Can I share a quick story, please do. We do these apologetics conferences called always ready for youth. We did one out in California, and that we do. These talks, you know, is Jesus. The only way can I trust the Bible? What about other religions?

00:43:53.380 --> 00:44:01.410
snichols: But we always end with the Q. A. And they they line up. And this young lady. She couldn't have been more than 13 years old.

00:44:02.010 --> 00:44:13.320
snichols: and her question to me was, what do I say to my friends who are pressuring from the Lgbtq community who are pressuring me to join them.

00:44:14.620 --> 00:44:28.020
snichols: And I said, let me make sure I get this right. They're not. They're not asking you what you think about them. They're they're actually pressuring you to become participate in what they do. And she said, yeah, what do I say to them?

00:44:28.170 --> 00:44:31.270
snichols: And I mean honestly, you know i'm a my!

00:44:31.510 --> 00:44:36.610
snichols: We have teenager at home, and then a 20 and 18 year old, and then a 14 year old.

00:44:36.760 --> 00:44:47.720
snichols: I mean? How does this not break your heart of the pressure? This young lady is facing from her classmates. And so we need to tell her

00:44:47.950 --> 00:44:53.660
snichols: what God thinks about these things. That's what she needs to know.

00:44:54.040 --> 00:45:10.710
snichols: She doesn't need to know what her 13 year old peers think because they're not thinking rightly. She needs to know what God thinks, and she needs someone to come alongside her and tell her this is what God thinks, and you know it might be difficult for you to stand up for this.

00:45:10.890 --> 00:45:11.640
snichols: But

00:45:11.980 --> 00:45:22.070
snichols: this is what God thinks, and that's all that matters, and you need to stand firm on this.

00:45:22.120 --> 00:45:24.710
snichols: It should not surprise us at all

00:45:24.720 --> 00:45:27.470
snichols: where people end up. In answering these questions.

00:45:27.540 --> 00:45:35.410
Andy Miller III: Yeah, I'm going to be fairly bold to say like, if you, if you've been involved with the Church for a while, and your Pastor Doesn't address these

00:45:35.460 --> 00:45:52.710
Andy Miller III: important issues of our like the most significant cultural issues of our time. You might need to question if this, If if you're in line with this same tradition, if you want to be a part of a progressive movement, progressive denomination that doesn't affirm these truths that are in this survey, then in, or if any of these questions are not addressed.

00:45:53.080 --> 00:46:06.900
Andy Miller III: this is a place where you want your children to be catechized. Is this a place where you want your children to be? Decide, or you yourself to be disciplined? So I, just this this tool is helpful because it we we can't. We have no more space

00:46:06.900 --> 00:46:25.680
Andy Miller III: for kind of like cultural Christianity. This cuts through Steven. I so appreciate the way that you and Legioneer have taken the time to give us this barometer of what's going on. Is there anything else that you'd like to highlight that? Maybe I didn't ask about that is that that came through in this most recent survey.

00:46:25.960 --> 00:46:44.680
snichols: No, no, you hit the highlights, and I appreciate your You're putting a light on this for folks, and for your circle, and for those that that you engage with in your seminary there. So this has been a delightful conversation with you, and you really appreciate it. Yeah, it's been my pleasure. Really.

00:46:44.680 --> 00:46:57.100
Andy Miller III: we'll see. The one thing I always ask is the title My Port Podcast is more to story. So I just i'm curious. Is there more to the story of Steven Nicholson is normally to to do? You have a hobby? Is there something that you don't talk about when you go on a podcast.

00:46:57.720 --> 00:47:10.390
snichols: I usually don't like to talk about myself, because I just, you know I want to talk about the the work, the ministry that we do. I guess my hobby is a pretty boring one. I like distance running.

00:47:10.390 --> 00:47:30.760
snichols: Oh, to yeah, okay. You've done. How how many marathons have you done? Do you do, Marathon? I've done a couple, but I think those days are behind me. It the issue is time. I can't sure if I time to train for these things. So i'm half the man I used to be. I do half marathons, and I can find the time for those.

00:47:30.760 --> 00:47:34.240
snichols: and you know I was in Pennsylvania for years, and that was hills. But

00:47:34.320 --> 00:47:52.540
snichols: we're Flatlanders down here as you from your time. I do. I love. I love jogging in Florida. That was great by summer when it gets July, August gets so rough. But you know. But yeah, I go out at at 5 am. In the summer, and i'd realize I was sweating about 2 s in

00:47:52.540 --> 00:47:54.500
I would I was missing the midwest

00:47:54.620 --> 00:48:11.020
snichols: There is that i'll grant you that. Well, Steven, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Thank you for your work at Legion Year and Reformation Bible College. We'll have a link to both groups. We we really appreciate your ministry. Thanks for your time, too, today. Oh, my pleasure! This has been delightful. Thanks so much.

Copyright ©2023 Andrew S. Miller III