When Helping Hurts with Dr. Brian Fikkert
October 13, 2022
In today’s podcast I interview Dr. Brian Fikkert, co-author of “When Helping Hurts” and Founder/President of the Chalmers Center.
Link to "Becoming Whole" - https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Whole-Opposite-Poverty-American-ebook/dp/B07G2WLLJY
Youtube - https://youtu.be/lpLwzCFtW18
Contender: Going Deeper in the Book of Jude - This all-inclusive small group study on the book of Jude is out now. Check it out on the course page: http://courses.andymilleriii.com
Five Steps to Deeper Teaching and Preaching - I’m excited to share some news with you. Recently, I updated this PDF document and added a 45-minute teaching video with slides, explaining this tool. It's like a mini-course. If you sign up for my list, I will send this free resource to you. Sign up here - www.AndyMillerIII.com or Five Steps to Deeper Teaching and Preaching.
Today’s episode is brought to you by these two sponsors:
Bill Roberts is a financial advisor, who has been serving the retirement planning and investment needs of individuals, families, non-profits, and churches for 25 years. He is a Certified Financial Planner and accredited investment fiduciary. Bill specializes in working with Salvation Army employees and officers by helping them realize their financial goals. You can find out more about Bill’s business at www.WilliamHRoberts.com
Wesley Biblical Seminary - Interested in going deeper in your faith? Check out our certificate programs, B.A., M.A.s, M.Div., and D.Min degrees. You will study with world-class faculty and the most racially diverse student body in the country. www.wbs.edu
Thanks too to Phil Laeger for the new podcast music. You can find out about Phil's music at https://www.laeger.net
Welcome to the more to the story, Podcast. I am so glad that you all have come along. I have been waiting for this day for a long time, because I have a special guest on who I've admired For a long time. I've watched videos. I've read his books. I've said his name hundreds of times, and now he's going to be here. But before I get to introduce our guest today. 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.
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Andy Miller III: We do that through a variety of academic programs, from bachelors to master's degrees, Master Divinity, of course, is our standard degree, and then also doctor of ministry programs, then we have a variety of allay initiatives that are available as well, so check us out at Wbs dot e D. U.
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Andy Miller III: Secondly, I want you to make make sure that people know of a new resource that's coming from my website, Andy Miller, the Iii and it is A six-week small group video study of the book of June called Contender. And this study is, it's interesting how God is using it in this time, because there are several churches within the Methodist kind of world, particularly united Methodist, who are become a global Methodist who are thinking about the disaffiliation process.
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Andy Miller III: And this is like addressing that very particular situation as people as churches, like What happens in Jude's situation is,
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Brian Fikkert: a group of leaders have secretly slipped in who are distorting the faith, and so he calls in the contend for the faith. Once we're all delivered to the saints, so I would love for you to check out this study, contender, and it's available just at my website again, so check that out. And finally I'm thankful for Wpo. Development, who helps me make all this
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Andy Miller III: that makes this happen that help me pay for all the resources to make this go, and they are a team that helps people with feasibility, studies, capital campaigns, mission planning studies, and they've done that for, like two hundred and fifty churches and organizations around the country and their Ceo Keith Waters is a friend of mine, and he really supports this podcast, so you can check out a link to him in Wpo development
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Andy Miller III: in the show notes. And if you don't mind taking a minute just to share a link to this like it. Share it on Facebook. Whatever you can do that helps this message get out more. All right.
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Andy Miller III: Here it is. I am so glad to welcome in Dr. Brian Ficke. Brian. I am a huge fan of your. You can't even believe it. If I had a poster in my bedroom. You might be on it.
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Brian Fikkert: I want to get out more, Andy.
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Brian Fikkert: It's It's it to be with you,
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Andy Miller III: and I thank you so much for coming on this podcast. It. It took us a little while ago. We were sharing so much before by pressure, Corey. So ah, it it really means a lot. I I mean it. I have. I have said your name so much. We used a video series that you did to train staff boards. Ah! When helping her to such a Ah! I think a book that's going to be remembered for a long time, and it's so useful. So thank you so much, for I. But we're here today to talk about
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Andy Miller III: the kind of I don't know if you call a sequel or prequel, but it's it's
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Andy Miller III: yeah, so becoming whole. Why, the opposite of poverty, isn't the American dream. So it's both a prequel and equal. Tell me what you mean.
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Brian Fikkert: Yeah. So we wrote one help. It hurts, and God used that book in ways we never could have imagined. And then what happened is a lot of people come up to me like at a conference or something, and say, You know i'm working with this particular people group on an island in the Pacific, and they have this particular issue. What do I do?
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Brian Fikkert: I'm like. I have absolutely no idea, and not he knows what to do. The The questions were so specific,
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Brian Fikkert: and I realized what people really needed was wisdom, that that that I could possibly give them the formula for every situation. I thought, Did you think with me to know what It's God's story. What What are the goals that God is trying to achieve? And how does he typically go about achieving those goals?
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Brian Fikkert: And I realized people didn't know the Biblical story very well.
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Brian Fikkert: And then I realized that we, as a people, have lost our sense of story, that that America has lost its way that we don't know what human flourishing looks like anymore. We don't know how to achieve it, and so there's kind of this irony that
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Brian Fikkert: we're trying to help poor people to become like us, but we're missing,
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Brian Fikkert: and so it needed a better story so becoming whole. Ah tries to develop more of a framework to help people to live in the Gods story, and I think in some ways it was there in when helping her. It was kind of lurking. But this is a fuller understanding of that, and that's because, quite frankly, I've continued to learn it to grow. I don't think I could have said all this stuff the time we wrote and helping her. So it's. It's the underlying stuff behind when helping her to put it for
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Andy Miller III: right. It's, for instance, one of the things we we want to do in one of the reasons when helping her is is so powerful. It's like helping us see like beyond just the immediate band-aid sort of response that we have. So okay give you example. So, for instance, I I began in, and other writers have been helpful and have been in my podcast, and ah, ah, Prince Brent Waters, I don't know if you know him, his book on capitalism really really helpful. But But you two together, and Steve, who is your co-author, and and this all,
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Andy Miller III: or to Kelly, I i'm i'm interested, I I would say, like the way we solve homelessness in this given town, like, wherever I was serving, particularly like, I think my last appointment in Tampa Florida was that we give people access to the market.
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Andy Miller III: Okay, that's that. And that obviously works. But it doesn't necessarily answer the questions that people have
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Brian Fikkert: like, Yeah, yeah, that that might solve the problem. Where do we want people to go? And I think that that's what you're after Here is like not just getting people out of poverty. But what what is the answer, like, Where? Who recalled to be? Oh, that's it. You know It's interesting. So i'm an economist. I love economics. I love markets. I love capitalism. But there's a funny thing going on. I if you actually looked at
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Brian Fikkert: well, being in America,
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Brian Fikkert: it's not improving an end. If you actually look at anxiety and depression. Those have been steadily increasing from the nineteen thirty S. To the present. So there's this irony that the the the wealthiest nation in the world during a period of unprecedented economic growth, anxiety and depression have continued to rise. It's not just recent. It's not just the iphones. This goes back to one thousand nine hundred and thirtys all the way to the President. Why is that
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Brian Fikkert: there's a further irony as globalization is spreading Western style of capitalism to the rest of the world. We're seeing material poverty, plummet by the percentage of people living below dollar. Ninety per day has been reduced by about fifty percent in the past twenty five years.
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Brian Fikkert: But at the same time, in those very places where there is increased economic prosperity, there is less self-reported happiness and greater anxiety and depression. So something is wrong here. How can we understand this? Maybe a different story? Wow! So the the answer isn't just
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Brian Fikkert: more stuff. I think you're kind of get this in the subtitle of the book. Why, the opposite of poverty? You have to think about this, for this is this one of these clever times. Why, the opposite of poverty, isn't the American Dream. So one of the key things that you do into and helping hurts, and then you do it again. This book it's helped us understand what poverty is, So we we think of poverty one way and i'll let you say I. I've quoted you to me a time stamp. I'll let you say. Okay. So So if you ask most Americans what's possible,
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Brian Fikkert: we'll define it as a lack of some material thing, lack of food, lack of clothing, lack of shelter, and because we tend to find poverty and lack of some material thing, our solutions tend towards providing material things to poor people,
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Brian Fikkert: or we could get more sophisticated and say, You know what I don't want to give them handouts. I want them to be like me. I want them to work hard, earn a lot of money so they can cover their own expenses. The problem is, neither of those are working very well. The handout solution creates unhealthy dependencies. We all know that
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Brian Fikkert: right. But the economic empowerment strategy isn't working that well, either. Again, we've got all kinds of stuff. We
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Brian Fikkert: but we're miserable. Anxiety and depression on the rise. Communities are falling apart. Families are falling apart. The political system is a mess, and I actually think that's due to the economic empowerment strategy and what's lurking behind it. So what is that? And you talk about this? What is the economic theory that's at the heart of this.
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Brian Fikkert: That's a terrific question. So so at the heart of Western style, capitalism at the heart of globalization is this creature that economists refer to as homoeconomicists
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Brian Fikkert: a date with homoeconomic. So so, and it flows out of a Western naturalist understanding of what a human being is. And it basically says the human being is fundamentally a material creature.
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Brian Fikkert: There's no soul, and it's an autonomous creature. Relationships don't matter. And we're kind of this consuming robot. So a happiness for homo economics comes from more stuff. Well, how can people like get more stuff? Either? Give it to them,
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Brian Fikkert: and then we kind of get sick of that. It's expensive, and it creates dependencies,
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Brian Fikkert: or you can empower them economically, and that's essentially what Western style economics is based on. Let's help people to get jobs. Let's help them to earn more income, and as they earn more income, they can buy more stuff. Now,
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Brian Fikkert: you know, Satan is so tricky, because there's some good things in that, right? Right? You want people to be economically empowered. We want them to have jobs. We want them to prosper economically. The problem is that we tend to turn good things into idols. And so, instead of saying, You know, work is um an offering to God work as part of worship. Work is how we honor and serve our Creator. We're wired for work. Adam and Eve are told in the garden.
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Brian Fikkert: Be fruitful and multiply, increase in number, subdue the earth. Work is central to us, but it's work as service. It's work as love to God and to others. Our whole economics is in love, in God and others.
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Brian Fikkert: Economics is loving himself by greater and greater consumption. Well, the systems we've created the structure of the global system, the way that companies are formed. The narratives that we're living into are all
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Brian Fikkert: shaping us, increasingly into homoeconomic as a self-centered, highly materialistic hyper individualistic creature, and we're not need for that. We're made from something else. So we need a different story, a different system, different practices
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Brian Fikkert: for ourselves and the materially poor for us to all flourish.
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Andy Miller III: And this what I find interesting as somebody who kind of works in more theological disciplines, is that the way you come at this is through, and I don't know if you say this directly, the theological anthropology.
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Brian Fikkert: So it is.
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Brian Fikkert: Yeah. And and it's almost like this book is an economic. Ah, I don't know this is this isn't it. Maybe it's so. An economic appropriation of a proper Biblical anthropology.
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Brian Fikkert: That's it nice. Well, there you go. Okay.
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Brian Fikkert: I could be a Wesleyan. Hey?
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Brian Fikkert: I think you are. I'm gonna claim you. I'm gonna go becoming whole that you could say becoming holiness. This is it. I know you're a Covenant College.
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Brian Fikkert: Your president wrote a book, Holiness. We're gonna contextualization for Wise Ladies. It's becoming holiness. I'm with you.
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Brian Fikkert: But it's exactly right. It's it's. We're trying to say there is a Biblical anthropology and Western civilization doesn't have it. And I don't believe the Western Church has it
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Brian Fikkert: Okay, So So what what is that? And now, if you want to get the detailed answer from a philosopher, check out my podcast with Steve Blakemore On what is the soul. But tell me, Brian, what in your view, what is it that makes us up? What are we as people?
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Brian Fikkert: I'm speaking to somebody who knows more about this than I do. So this is terrifying. Yeah, Basically, in becoming whole, we argue that Um, that ah Bible believing Christians in Western civilization have essentially adopted what we call an evangelical Gnostic framework,
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Brian Fikkert: that basically the body and the soul are completely separate from one another. The body kind of contains the soul the way that um a glass light contain water, and so the glass holds the water, but the glass and the water are not intertwined, and you can pour the water out, and you can kind of pour the solo.
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Brian Fikkert: And in in this story Ah! The goal is to get the soul to heaven. Ah! To float around on clouds! Ah, wearing diapers and playing harps for all eternity, and it's not really a story for the body.
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Brian Fikkert: And so we don't we don't know what to say, and so we just revert the only story we know which is the story of the American dream. People need more stuff. Either. Give it to them, we help them earn it. So it's kind of live your best life now, and get your soul to heaven for all eternity. Right, right?
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Brian Fikkert: Not what we're wired for.
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Brian Fikkert: Yeah. So what the Bible teaches, I think, is that the body and soul are highly integrated.
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Brian Fikkert: And so we're not just bodies that contain souls. We're body's, soul mixture thingies.
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Brian Fikkert: And then the most important thing, quite frankly, or one of the most important things for our work is to say that the Bible also suggests that human beings are deeply relational creatures. So we're highly integrated body, soul relational things.
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Brian Fikkert: So yeah, And I like that technical description.
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Brian Fikkert: Yeah, that's good. Birth thing is so. What happens to us relationally?
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Andy Miller III: Yes,
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Brian Fikkert: affects us spiritually and physically, and that matters.
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Brian Fikkert: Yes, because when that woman walks into our church asking for help with her electric bill. If we're thinking of her as a material creature, we're going to give her stuff
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Brian Fikkert: right if we think the goal is to get our soul to heaven, we're going to give her stuff and then give her a tract to share the process of salvation to get her soul to help.
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Brian Fikkert: Yeah, if we think that she's a body so relational creature, we're going to say, and human flourishing is to live in the right relationship with God, with ourselves, with others as creation,
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Brian Fikkert: and something is preventing that from happening here. When you talk about that is, and my goal is to restore this person to right relationship. That's what human flourishing looks like. And suddenly it's not going to be about stuff. It's going to be about
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Brian Fikkert: empowering, loving relationship across time. So the methodology, this isn't just a bunch of abstract seminary stuff like you guys feel it.
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Brian Fikkert: I want to get something done, and I want to help that lady.
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Brian Fikkert: Yeah.
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Brian Fikkert: And and so it's got to a relational kind of approach.
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Andy Miller III: Now I like to how you highlight in this book that you There's another dimension, too, and I think you just alluded to it. There's a little bit there that, and I like how you Don't back away from this,
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Andy Miller III: that there is a spiritual dimension to even demonic influence. And look, if you in that fourteen years, and in a sense a lifetime of working in the Salvation Army. There's if you ignore the the demonic aspect you're missing one of the things that is ah contributing to whatever. Now again. It's not helpful to go along and say that somebody's in poverty because they're possessed by a demon. But certainly there is some an enemy of our souls that and that works through systems, and you
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Andy Miller III: don't back away that you're not a Pull it yourself up by your own bootstrap or a guy all together, but it's it. There's a couple of angles like there is. Ah, a sometimes personal decision, sometimes a systemic sort of concern, but sometimes demotic. I like how you like. Thank you. As academic. You did not back away from something that is totally Biblical.
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Brian Fikkert: You know we're currently in. The By the way, my primary spiritual gift is offending people. So somehow I love joy, peace. I got offensiveness. So i'm going to really guarantee everybody in your audience right now.
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Brian Fikkert: But you know there's this ridiculous debate going on right now in the American Church, and it's not a new debate, but it's kind of resurrected as ugly head again, are people who are because of their individual sin or our people, or because of structural injustice or broken systems. And everybody's fighting over this?
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Andy Miller III: Yeah, yeah,
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Brian Fikkert: Just go ask kids in Sunday school at the Salvation Army. What what has the fall of humanity affected? They're going to say? Everything
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Brian Fikkert: it's affected everything. It's affected us as individuals. It's affected systems and
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Brian Fikkert: post-fall post genesis three, as you're mentioning demonic forces have been given greater latitude in the created order, and so Why are people experiencing broken relationships with God's Self- others and the rest of creation because of individual sin,
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Brian Fikkert: because of broken systems, and because of the demonic forces the Church has said for many, many years. We're fighting against the world, the flesh and the devil it's just that.
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Brian Fikkert: Yeah, that's yeah.
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Andy Miller III: You can't miss a part of an interesting thing of this study I put together on Jude is the emphasis that comes in highlighting Genesis six versus sport and volume, which It seems a little odd and strange, but yet there's this definite, demonic sort of complete influence, and I like how you help me sing joy to the world better.
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Andy Miller III: Because, like I said, say this influence, as far as the curse is found.
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Brian Fikkert: That's right. This is this is this: it's not. It's not one or the other. But But yeah, we still make. We still have problems. And I, I said, and you you help. Since your spiritual gift is offending people, you help me offend many people right?
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Brian Fikkert: You're welcome. I'm. So i'm spreading the gift I bring. I I just bring your books, and I hold them up, and I I proclaim what you say, and people get mad at me. So I stopped. I stopped a soup kitchen
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Andy Miller III: as a result of when helping hurts, and not being not, I don't, but display. I just and I. I stopped going on the street in a very compassionate oriented way, going around and feeding people on the street and said, What I want to say is that we're going to get people into, and once they make a commitment to get into a shelter, and they get into a program and get into a relationship where we're going to look at the details of what's going on in somebody's life. I I use kind of inflammatory language. I think the spirit of Bryant came upon me.
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Brian Fikkert: I just said, we are not going to like we're not gonna we're gonna stop throwing food at people. That's it.
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Brian Fikkert: We're going to stop throwing Christmas gifts at people.
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Andy Miller III: What? What? Because what am I saying when I do that that the answer to your problem is your lack of stuff.
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Brian Fikkert: That's it.
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Andy Miller III: So it's. And I like again how you bring up this. This is a relational piece, the the various aspects of our relationships being highlighted that it's not just it, our our relationship with God. What we end up doing We act in a paternalistic way, where we assume that somebody and needs our work. We need we we We are the hero who's coming in to save people
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Brian Fikkert: as A:
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Brian Fikkert: yeah, you're going to. I didn't have a good question there, but I go ahead and come in.
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Brian Fikkert: Ah, we're really trying to do. Andy is to root our understanding of poverty, as you're mentioning earlier in a Biblical anthropology, and what I have found helpful is to start to think of it this way: God creates human beings as these body, soul, relational creatures,
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Brian Fikkert: and then he puts them in a habitat that's conducive to flourishing for that kind of creature. So so he put fish in the ocean. He put giraffes in, and he put human beings in a setting that was conducive to flourishing for that kind of creature.
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Brian Fikkert: Okay, it's Garden of Eden. And so in the garden human beings had a deep communion with God in a deep communion with others. Adam and Eve,
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Brian Fikkert: a sense of dignity and worth as image bears, and then God says to them, Be fruitful and multiply increasing numbers. Subdue the earth, you give them a task. That's the relationship to creation.
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Brian Fikkert: What's interesting is the fall happens right? And so all of that's distorted. But the image of where it's all going isn't souls that foot around like ghosts,
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Brian Fikkert: right right stored, and Eden the imagery and trophy is restored. Garden of Eden, where once again the dwelling of God will be with with people, and we will had our old jobs back in Revelation That, he said, going to be restored as priest rulers. That was the initial job of Adam and me.
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Brian Fikkert: That's what we're gonna get. We're gonna get our old jobs back.
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Brian Fikkert: Hey, man, What's the thing?
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Brian Fikkert: Hey, man, It's such a It's such a much more pleasing, Not a helpful picture like this is like what God has put this desire in in us for another world. It's. Those are the interest of this. Go back to my series. I have a three part series on heaven, and what we mean by Heaven and Brian. You might like this I don't know. Maybe you might. You might be a cat person, but that I my final one, is, Will my dog be there? So you have to chuck it out.
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Brian Fikkert: Dogs are gonna make it cats or not. No, you and I are together on that.
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Brian Fikkert: The
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Brian Fikkert: Oh, we just lost half the people. They just signed off. They're they're gone. They're gone. So okay, you have a good ah summary sentence for me. That comes on. Let me see
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Andy Miller III: page one hundred and three giving ongoing handouts and an evangelistic message to able-bodied people and clarify able-bodied people is a terribly common case of when helping her
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Brian Fikkert: it's the most. It's. It's the biggest problem we have. So So by in one helping Hert we make a distinction. Distinctions in relief and rehabilitation and development. These are three different approaches to helping the poor, and each of them has a role in certain settings. So relief is a handout
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Brian Fikkert: right this isn't the point of the parable and Good Samaritan, but the Good Samaritan but applied relief appropriately. The dudes lying on the side they're up leading to death. He can't help himself, as the Good Samaritan gives him stuff that's completely appropriate when there's a crisis and the person is incapable of contributing their own improvement.
00:23:02.900 --> 00:23:06.070
Brian Fikkert: Mm-hmm but once the bleeding is stopped. You.
00:23:06.210 --> 00:23:17.719
Brian Fikkert: We should ask people to participate in their own recovery process, not because we're up type stingy republicans, although we might be, but it's not because of that. We want to restore them.
00:23:17.730 --> 00:23:47.640
Brian Fikkert: The image, be it. And to be an image bear is to steer our gifts, use our gifts to develop those gifts, to help rule our God's creation, so that we ask people in rehabilitation to to start, to contribute so so many of the tube with the the good sphere, and it doesn't tell us the rest of the story. Once the guy is kind of a start to recover, and he's starting to. Ah, ah, maybe do some fiscal therapy. We ask him to contribute to his physical therapy. Why can we?
00:23:47.650 --> 00:23:55.839
Brian Fikkert: A storm, then? Development is helping people and communities to achieve higher levels of worse than ever before. And here's the problem:
00:23:57.060 --> 00:24:12.950
Brian Fikkert: The vast majority of people in the world need development, not relief. They are not in a crisis. They are in a chronic state of poverty, but they are able body. They can contribute to their own improvements,
00:24:12.960 --> 00:24:29.120
Brian Fikkert: and what the number one probably have is that churches and Christian ministries apply relief in context. Where development is the right intervention, we do it for a long period of time, and it cripples people. It undermines their dignity to minimize their capacity.
00:24:29.130 --> 00:24:47.389
Brian Fikkert: There's this huge irony. There's probably one or two Republicans listening on this podcast, and i'm just thinking just. Yes, and you know, many of us who are more Conservative politically, are very critical of the Federal Government welfare programs. But then we do the same things in our churches. And
00:24:47.400 --> 00:24:57.890
Brian Fikkert: and so we're creating all those kinds of dependencies by doing relief in context, where development is the right intervention, it undermines good good poverty, alleviation work.
00:24:58.030 --> 00:25:12.639
Brian Fikkert: Yeah, it's. It's so important to be able to see that distinction. And it in your book is moving that direction to help both your books. And then not only that, it helps us to see the way that it hurts us when we do that, It's not just.
00:25:12.650 --> 00:25:39.990
Andy Miller III: It's not just that we're crippling a group of people, though we are. It's also that we're hurting ourselves because we we get this idea that we're actually helping. You know, a typical situation. Um, in the context of this operation Army is um. Somebody will come in and they'll say, I want to volunteer. I want to do something. Okay? Great. Um! And the answer might be, I want to bring my kids because I want them. I want them to see how good they have it.
00:25:40.000 --> 00:25:41.059
Brian Fikkert: Yup, Yup:
00:25:42.050 --> 00:25:43.190
Andy Miller III: Okay,
00:25:43.200 --> 00:25:47.289
Brian Fikkert: What about What about the people we're serving? They were creating God's image?
00:25:47.300 --> 00:26:02.460
Andy Miller III: Yeah, like I do. You want me to create a zoom like I could. I could do that where you can see that such a thing exists. I mean, that's That's almost what people want in those. And now I actually I tried to be sympathetic in that moment that I was at that point
00:26:02.470 --> 00:26:27.160
Brian Fikkert: now as well, and I have other deficiencies. I'm sure at this moment that i'm aware of. But it's it's me enabling you to continue under this idea is not serving you. It's like not now that I know the truth. It's not helping. It's got an interesting um. A lady in Uganda once wrote an article, Larry, the editor in the New York Times,
00:26:27.170 --> 00:26:38.989
Brian Fikkert: and she basically, said, Stop giving your kids a great week experience at my kid's expense. I'm: Ah, having these folks coming over and treating my kids with their animals in a zoo that you're all looking at
00:26:39.000 --> 00:26:45.510
Brian Fikkert: It's so. So we do real harm there. Another dimension of the harm is this:
00:26:47.110 --> 00:26:58.909
Brian Fikkert: All of us are suffering from broken relationships. They just bubble up in different ways in our lives. And so i'm experiencing a broken relationship with self.
00:26:58.920 --> 00:27:11.550
Brian Fikkert: We all are but the way that my broken relationship with self tends to interact with. That same brokenness in the poor is a really big problem, because many of us
00:27:12.180 --> 00:27:14.249
Brian Fikkert: ah are full of pride,
00:27:14.260 --> 00:27:42.990
Brian Fikkert: all of a sense of I worked harder. I achieved. I accomplished it. I'm not like that homeless person, so we have a sense of pride. We have a sense of superiority. And then, when we work with people who materially poor, they're off, often suffering from a sense of shame, a sense of incapacity, a sense of being less than human, so they tend to be a little passive. So what happens is I rush in.
00:27:43.000 --> 00:27:55.510
Brian Fikkert: I take over. I try to fix them. Yep, and they don't respond because I haven't really empowered them. I've communicated. You need me to fix you, and they become more passive, and then I get more disgusted.
00:27:55.520 --> 00:28:07.429
Brian Fikkert: I knew they were good for nothing. I knew they were lazy, and so their shame is enhanced, and my pride is enhanced. And so their way out is the Gospel, the good news of the gospel,
00:28:07.510 --> 00:28:15.179
Brian Fikkert: the good news, the Gospel is not that you and I are okay. The good news. The Gospels that were not okay. They may, says, Okay,
00:28:15.440 --> 00:28:24.460
Andy Miller III: Amen. This is. And I like where this this prequel sequel book that you have points us in that bigger story, this bigger picture
00:28:24.470 --> 00:28:53.120
Brian Fikkert: of where we're going like what we're trying to do in poverty alleviation. Not just there It's It's something more now. Ah, the typical examples that people would use who are looking for help and trying to figure out what to do, trying to be active at community. I'm going to give you another one. That is that you reminded me of when you said that, like what we do when we come in, and it's. It's a typical story in my denomination, and and then other denominations that also serve kind of have ah at their origin,
00:28:53.130 --> 00:29:11.289
Andy Miller III: reaching out to people who are working class or people who are in poverty, and it's this story, and I I I did it. I I would go in to a low-income housing area or the projects, and I would ah with a bus with our church's logo on it.
00:29:11.300 --> 00:29:25.000
Andy Miller III: And then I get a group of kids that would come. I could almost guarantee I could make this happen in any community, right, and I got fifty to seventy five kids and then get to know some of those kids work with them, creating God's image. But what end up happened A lot of times was
00:29:25.080 --> 00:29:32.730
Andy Miller III: would knock on a door. I get to know the families. I would even walk in, and the parents wouldn't respond,
00:29:32.740 --> 00:29:46.080
Andy Miller III: and I would then say, Um, all right, kids, let's wake up. Everybody get going. Get dressed. We're gonna go to Sunday school and we're gonna. We'll give you a breakfast and lunch, and we'll make sure everything is taken care of, and there would be good stories that would happen, but I realized
00:29:46.640 --> 00:29:50.829
Andy Miller III: later, and I look back at dozen hundreds of these situations
00:29:51.150 --> 00:29:56.890
Brian Fikkert: I was stepping in, and I wasn't enabling the parents to be parents. That's it
00:29:56.900 --> 00:30:17.739
Andy Miller III: like, and and create what what was ultimately needed now, like i'm i'm thinking some of those situations are people who have who have so so so-called, mated not in the quite the American dream, but they're made out, and maybe there's part of the work that we did that contribute to that. But I look back and say, you know what would have been but a better use of my time. There it's like in the same thing happens. I've seen it on men's faces
00:30:17.750 --> 00:30:26.609
Andy Miller III: when we give Angel tree gifts to people right. We're we're kind of saying you can't provide for yourself. So i'm going to get your Christmas guests for you. You want to respond to that.
00:30:26.620 --> 00:30:45.299
Brian Fikkert: That's it. So So So um, you know, when a helping hurts, I would tell a story of a church that the pasture was preaching about outreach and care for the poor priest, God for all that. And so the church members decided to go to door to door and hand out turkeys and toys.
00:30:45.310 --> 00:30:47.700
Brian Fikkert: Turkey said Thanksgiving toys at Christmas time.
00:30:47.940 --> 00:30:56.699
Brian Fikkert: Well, ah! Nothing ever changed. Year after year They're doing the Turkish and toys things and nothing's changing. And after a while the people in this church started to go. You know what
00:30:56.810 --> 00:30:58.990
Brian Fikkert: these people are good for nothing.
00:30:59.000 --> 00:31:14.380
Brian Fikkert: Ah, they they! They! They don't want to work. They're lazy. And ah! Did you ever notice there's no men in these households? These are women for having children on a well. Ah! When these are welfare mothers! And so the pride in the church members is going up
00:31:14.460 --> 00:31:29.640
Brian Fikkert: Well, the Church did some more research, and they found out there actually were men in those homes, husbands and fathers. But for a variety of reasons, both systemic and personal and demonic, and a hard time finding and keeping work, and they were ashamed of it.
00:31:29.650 --> 00:31:35.780
Brian Fikkert: When these, when these black fathers see a bunch of white folks coming out with turkeys and toys,
00:31:35.790 --> 00:32:01.659
Brian Fikkert: turkeys and toys. They can't afford to provide for their own kids. They ran out the back doors of their houses and hit behind garbage cans in the bushes. They didn't have to endure the shame of all these white church people coming in. But what that does is real hard because those men who are already struggling with their sense of inaccuracy, The message to them in front of their kids and their wives is you really do stink.
00:32:01.670 --> 00:32:05.490
Brian Fikkert: And so it's actually very disempowering. Wow
00:32:05.640 --> 00:32:14.210
Andy Miller III: it! What what would you say to some of these turkeys and toys sort of programs like? But, By the way, Brian, you also help me stop a turkey drive.
00:32:14.230 --> 00:32:19.890
Brian Fikkert: I i'm shutting down Thanksgiving, and i'm kind of like the grinch. The
00:32:19.900 --> 00:32:20.590
Brian Fikkert: Yeah,
00:32:20.600 --> 00:32:34.699
Brian Fikkert: I had somebody. I don't. I actually don't blame you. I like I think we might have this a similar personality. I'm. Ah willing to take it. I we had somebody who would give as many turkeys as we would. They would write the check
00:32:34.810 --> 00:32:50.350
Andy Miller III: as many turkeys as we could give away they would pay for. I'm. I am talking truckloads of of turkeys. Okay? So they're willing to. Yeah. And the problem is, it looks really good. And you know you know what I
00:32:50.360 --> 00:33:14.500
Brian Fikkert: I get, and in the savage Harry book I can get the Tv stations with. All of them would come out and watch me give away turkeys. And you know. I say, say, this year, and with our angel G program we did not just five thousand we did. We can wait ten thousand guests. Wow, Andy, Captain Andy, you're doing so good. But am I? Maybe not.
00:33:14.510 --> 00:33:16.989
Andy Miller III: Is that a good thing that we have more people to serve
00:33:17.000 --> 00:33:18.410
Brian Fikkert: You don't
00:33:18.680 --> 00:33:21.289
Brian Fikkert: so? So
00:33:21.610 --> 00:33:50.610
Brian Fikkert: i'm sorry I got you. I I got here to come over. It's four o'clock in the afternoon. But there's no recipe. There's no formula that tells us exactly what to do in every situation. Okay. But ask yourself the following question: What's God's story? It's creation fall, redemption, Consummation.
00:33:50.730 --> 00:33:55.970
Brian Fikkert: Yeah, that's the story of Scripture creation fall redemption and consummation.
00:33:56.080 --> 00:34:03.790
Brian Fikkert: So the whole redemption costs. Consummation piece is about restoring all of creation,
00:34:03.800 --> 00:34:05.790
00:34:05.800 --> 00:34:08.110
Brian Fikkert: So what we're credit to be
00:34:08.150 --> 00:34:21.859
Brian Fikkert: so just to ask yourself is what we're about to do, moving in the direction of Restoration. Well think about the family when I give turkeys and toys to people, and I undermine. The dignity of the father and mother.
00:34:21.870 --> 00:34:50.780
Brian Fikkert: Is that consistent with restoration of the family? It's not consistent with our family is for the parents to provide for their kids to be Mom and Dad being loving and providing work. So just think, creatively, how can I help that family be what it's created to be well. My simple solution that many have pursued is, you have a Christmas store in which you allow the parents to come in and shop at a very at this kind of rate for the turkeys and the toys, and they can bring them home
00:34:50.790 --> 00:34:58.600
Brian Fikkert: and something. They're the heroes in their kids eyes, not us as the outsiders. And so it's just always the story of restoration,
00:34:58.610 --> 00:35:25.779
Brian Fikkert: restoring individuals, restoring families, restoring communities. How can we go in the direction of clause in chapter one where Jesus Christ is described as the Creator and sustainer and Reconciler of all things to reconcile us to put things back into right relationship. Again, we ought to be those people who are best known for restoring proper relationships. That's the thing they may.
00:35:25.790 --> 00:35:44.519
Andy Miller III: I love that, Brian, and one of the things that happens is that it's It's hard to make this move to do like, I said. Essentially, I think you have to do less for the for the churches that are doing large outreach programs like this, and they get a lot of volunteers out. They get a lot of energy behind it
00:35:44.530 --> 00:35:59.389
Andy Miller III: to do the type of thing where you're looking at individuals and getting to know individuals and the systemic, the personal demonic influences that have led them to the place where, wherever they are. How How do you help them out? Well, you can't serve ten thousand. I don't know.
00:35:59.400 --> 00:36:11.550
Brian Fikkert: What do you think, Can you? Right. That's exactly right. You've got it instead of instead of ah writing ten thousand checks this year for electric bills. You've got to focus in on fifty
00:36:11.560 --> 00:36:22.990
Brian Fikkert: and fifty people that you're going to walk with across time. So when when you say do less, I would say probably smaller numbers of people. But you're actually doing more.
00:36:23.000 --> 00:36:31.270
Brian Fikkert: Yes, because what you're just focusing in more intensely on a smaller number of those people who really want help.
00:36:31.280 --> 00:36:43.790
Brian Fikkert: But what i'm describing isn't less work, and it's not less money. A lot of people think that what we're saying is, Pull back, don't give as much what we're saying is give more,
00:36:43.800 --> 00:36:54.090
Brian Fikkert: but give it differently, give it to ministries and organizations that are willing to walk in a highly relational and empowering ways, which is far more expensive than dispensing turkeys and toys.
00:36:54.100 --> 00:36:57.659
Brian Fikkert: So what you're talking about is way more expensive
00:36:57.670 --> 00:37:22.079
Brian Fikkert: in terms of time, in terms of energy, in terms of ah social capital. It's way more taxing way, more expensive. Isaiah Fifty eight says we're to spend ourselves on behalf of the hungry. This is way more than writing a check. It's way more than a short term mission strip. It's much more. It does more, but probably more intensely with a smaller number.
00:37:22.090 --> 00:37:38.400
Andy Miller III: Yeah. Well, I think that that is the answer. If we can get to that place where we can and answer for us, maybe one of the critiques would be Well, Brian, the thing is when I give away the turkeys and toys, or I go out in the street, and I hand out meals, or
00:37:38.410 --> 00:37:52.270
Brian Fikkert: it's a start, and we have to get people in some way. What do you think Is that a good way to get people in? So I think the answer to that is very context-specific. And so it's hardly one size, fits all answer. But
00:37:54.550 --> 00:38:00.530
Brian Fikkert: material resources should be given in the context of relationship. The
00:38:00.540 --> 00:38:16.390
Brian Fikkert: And so people people, people, people. People take what i'm saying, do stupid things don't be stupid, so they say. Let me give you an example. I I was speaking somewhere, and there were two young ladies who came up to me, and they said, Dr. Ficker, We applied exactly what you said,
00:38:16.400 --> 00:38:33.290
Brian Fikkert: and I said, What do you mean? They said, Well, we were staying in the street corner, and there was a little old lady. She was ninety-five years old, and she asked us to help her across the street.
00:38:33.300 --> 00:38:39.249
Brian Fikkert: I want to face Jesus someday he's going to say Brian Little all livies don't get walked across the street anymore.
00:38:39.570 --> 00:38:50.000
Brian Fikkert: Don't be stupid, So So I have a I have a friend who is um who struggles with homelessness, and do I give him Christmas presence? Yeah, I do.
00:38:50.060 --> 00:38:53.189
Brian Fikkert: Of course I do because he's my friend. I gave him a Christmas present,
00:38:53.200 --> 00:39:10.479
Brian Fikkert: right in the context of a relationship and a narrative in a way of behaving with him. That? Says, Brother, what are your gifts? What are your abilities? How can we walk together? But we're not saying, become a jerk and the Christmas present?
00:39:10.490 --> 00:39:28.119
Andy Miller III: Yeah. And that comes in the context of a relationship. One of the things that happened in um. So we had a Ah, I would say a large emergency shelter, and so we had to figure out how how it's going to work, and what we cable the relational question. Now, it might not seem like that at first, but before anybody would come into shelter we asked the question,
00:39:28.500 --> 00:39:42.050
Brian Fikkert: Do you want to be housed? Yes. Do you want to be house? And what that did. Then. Was that okay? If you could say yes to that That means that within twenty-four hours we're going to have a system around you
00:39:42.070 --> 00:40:01.369
Andy Miller III: to walk you through what it takes to be housed. Now this isn't like. Ah, ah! We're not in the the business of saying, do you? Um? What do you want? You want to bed. I'll give you a bed. You want some food. I'll give you food. What's your goal? And I think that's what this book is his points to. He's like, We want to develop a better goal
00:40:01.380 --> 00:40:18.779
Brian Fikkert: for people, and that's not just getting how that's one thing. Instead, it's into this relationship that's not just taking our evangelical Gnosticism and putting on display and saying, we're going to have our souls going to heaven and hopefully things work out well if you now, but it's a look at a new creation. I love this book, Brian.
00:40:19.990 --> 00:40:23.090
Brian Fikkert: I love the Salvation Army. Do you?
00:40:23.100 --> 00:40:24.490
Brian Fikkert: Yeah, tell me about that.
00:40:24.500 --> 00:40:45.870
Brian Fikkert: So So I think the Salvation Army could use a lot more. Brian. Okay? Well, it's, you know. So uh my father is a Presbyterian minister. I apologize for that to your audience. But you know Okay, So you know. But then my mother's side of the family for generations for Salvation Army officers. I've got cousins who are Salvation Army officers. I love the Salvation are, and I think, part of it.
00:40:45.880 --> 00:41:04.490
Brian Fikkert: Part of I have felt called to work amongst the person since I was a kid. Okay, partly because of that Salvation Army influence now in your grandfather was the Arc Commander. He helped all the and I think it's interesting. That's one program that really kind of puts a lot of this into into play like,
00:41:04.500 --> 00:41:12.790
Brian Fikkert: Yeah, I don't know how he was doing. I don't, know I I'll tell you funny stories. So he was Yeah, He was in the retired officer's residence, in Adsbury Park.
00:41:12.800 --> 00:41:13.589
Andy Miller III: Oh, yeah,
00:41:13.600 --> 00:41:15.049
my great-grandmother lived there.
00:41:15.060 --> 00:41:18.189
Brian Fikkert: I love that place. So I was a little kid. I used to get to visit that.
00:41:18.200 --> 00:41:20.669
Brian Fikkert: Yeah, he had kind of like a um.
00:41:20.800 --> 00:41:22.979
Brian Fikkert: I don't know, like the kind of a
00:41:22.990 --> 00:41:44.839
Brian Fikkert: like historical park that was sort of a tribute to William Booth. And so my grandmother was a little kid, My grandfather's. He's been there, and he points my head around there, and there's busts of William Booth's portraits of William Booth. It's like the William Booth Temple, you know he, he's, He shows me this. This is Brian, who is the greatest man I ever live. Oh, wow, I couldn't say William Booth, because I could,
00:41:44.850 --> 00:41:48.090
Brian Fikkert: that Jesus Christ. And so so I got through that one I
00:41:48.100 --> 00:42:02.690
Brian Fikkert: I like. I want the Salvation Army. I love the folks. They're great people. Yeah, we Ah, i'm glad you didn't get in trouble for not saying William Booth. There's a you know. He has a beard. He looks very similar. Jesus, you know. Maybe people.
00:42:02.700 --> 00:42:07.790
Brian Fikkert: I noticed that I wasn't in the will in the end. So maybe that's it.
00:42:07.800 --> 00:42:10.290
Andy Miller III: Now you wanted to ask me a question.
00:42:10.350 --> 00:42:11.889
Brian Fikkert: Yeah, it is before it can,
00:42:11.900 --> 00:42:21.089
Brian Fikkert: and I understand that you know I'm just getting to know you on this thing. But I understand that you're kind of picking the Salvation Army should use the sacraments a little bit. What's all about?
00:42:21.100 --> 00:42:33.290
Brian Fikkert: Yeah. So you might not know. Maybe you know, through your family tradition that for the first several years of the Salvation Army's. Ah, history, We did practice the traditional Protestants.
00:42:33.300 --> 00:42:43.679
Andy Miller III: Yeah. So it's found in one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, and as savage army's developing thirteen years after the Star it became the savage army, no longer the Christian mission,
00:42:43.690 --> 00:42:59.170
Andy Miller III: and this military metaphor picked up. And there's this real sense that If we just apply these methods, the whole world can come to Jesus, and let's just not get too caught on things that divide people. And also we're not really a church.
00:42:59.180 --> 00:43:18.889
Andy Miller III: And so let's just focus on getting people safe. And, after all, there's some theological justification for this, too. Um! The The idea of holiness being this concept that we are in ourselves, our lives are a sacrament. These are all like kind of ideas that we want to move away from ritualistic Christian.
00:43:18.900 --> 00:43:28.530
Brian Fikkert: Yeah, yeah. But sadly, what happens is we created our own ritualistic Christianity, and it involves uniforms and ranks and some things that God is used right.
00:43:28.540 --> 00:43:40.479
Andy Miller III: We created our own sacraments, and we really, no matter how we can say it sociologically, are a church. And so there's a resistance to the idea of the language of church.
00:43:40.490 --> 00:44:09.120
Brian Fikkert: And so even Williams, in one thousand eight hundred and eighty three, when he moves away from the sacrament, says, We're um, since we're not a church, you know. We won't. We don't need to do this, and and it really this is in the context of the Church of England like That's who the Church was right There Weren't churches like we have our denominations. So all of this kind of interest into this stew of confusion about an identity. And really what what needs to have, I think clearly, a savage journey is a church. We're part of the Universal Church.
00:44:09.130 --> 00:44:28.749
Andy Miller III: We have very orthodox stock friends. We might not be Presbyterians, Brian, but we are in this, like Wesleyan tradition and all that. This is the one thing that's that unique. It's this strange thing that we have, and it really separates us, and at times keeps us out of deeper communion with other Christians because they question
00:44:28.760 --> 00:44:30.689
Andy Miller III: um rather not. We're a part of the church.
00:44:30.700 --> 00:44:52.910
Brian Fikkert: I get that. So why do you want to bring this so given the the potentials for abuse for ritualism for division. Why do you want the sacrament to be rock? That kid? What you you got along well without him? What do you need him for? Yeah. Well, I just a couple of reasons. It's because I have the Brian picker in me. I like to challenge things. I I got to make people mad, so I
00:44:52.920 --> 00:45:14.110
Brian Fikkert: i'm. In this situation, where I think one the the most com comrades is Scripture like in Scripture is incredibly clear. Yeah, and we've gone back and reinterpreted Scripture our own far away. And there's some clever ways that you could say things. But essentially we're moving against the history of interpretation of Scriptures. First Secondly, it's. I call the good thing argument.
00:45:14.170 --> 00:45:15.790
Andy Miller III: It's a really good
00:45:15.800 --> 00:45:18.790
Brian Fikkert: Yeah, Taking Lloyd's supper is a beautiful thing.
00:45:18.800 --> 00:45:42.980
Brian Fikkert: The public declaration of this of of baptism is connecting you to the church. You know our side is um. And then also our connection to the Universal Church, like I think, the Savage Army, as you've highlighted has something unique to offer the Church as a whole. Not that we ah, not. The church is wrong, but, like we have a unique flavor, and it's not our non-sacramentalism. It's the fact that God's called us
00:45:42.990 --> 00:45:52.689
Andy Miller III: to proclaim a holistic gospel, and we do it a unique way So I think that message is minimized because of people are suspect of us.
00:45:52.700 --> 00:45:53.189
Andy Miller III: Are there enough?
00:45:53.200 --> 00:46:03.689
Brian Fikkert: I love that. I love that it actually and becoming whole. We make the rather strange argument that the Lord's Supper is part of power alleviation. Hello!
00:46:03.700 --> 00:46:09.360
Brian Fikkert: Not because our bellies are being filled with that little tiny piece of bread.
00:46:09.750 --> 00:46:16.389
Brian Fikkert: What human beings are hardwired to dwell in God's presence.
00:46:16.400 --> 00:46:24.889
Brian Fikkert: Yeah, it's when it And this goes back to what's human flourishing. So when Adam and Eve are thrown out of the garden. It's not just a change of address.
00:46:24.900 --> 00:46:30.680
Brian Fikkert: Yeah, we're hard, whiter to dwell in the very presence of God in the image of
00:46:30.690 --> 00:47:00.500
Brian Fikkert: of the new heavens and new earth. The first thing we read Revelation twenty. One is now the dwelling of God is with people. We're widered to dwell in God's presence. Yeah. Yeah. I believe the sacraments are part of how God's presence is communicated to us right now to actually believe the bluris of is part of our rebation. Amen: Yeah, it's It's It's so interesting like Ah, in poverty. Alleviation, as you know, worked in that when people come in and get involved in a savage from a church
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Andy Miller III: would have people who we walked through in a great like becoming whole way,
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Andy Miller III: and kind of came to Christ. Got things straightened out. We're developing disciplines, and and then they find out we don't practice the sacraments. I'm going back to the Presbyterian Church.
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Brian Fikkert: Yeah, So that's it. So It's kind of a church growth strategy for us. We don't do any evangelism. We don't throw the outreach. You do it, and then give them in our doors. And that's right. That's right.
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Brian Fikkert: I have one more question for you, and that's connected to the the title of a podcast. More to the story. There's like a theological meaning behind that there's more than just being saved that we have the opportunity to experience God's sanctifying grace. But there's also there's probably more of this story than Brian record Norma gets to tell like so. Is there something else that you don't you? You lecture on this talk about these themes a lot. But is there something about you that's distinct, a hobby or something that you don't talk about a lot.
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Brian Fikkert: Green Bay packers, Man: I grew out about our south of Lambo Field, and the packers are God's team, and you're going to tell me that you have some other team. I can look at him. Who's your team?
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Brian Fikkert: Who's your team? The bears?
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Brian Fikkert: Oh, brother, let's talk about. Last Sunday the kingdom was brought to bear. Oh, my goodness, we had a great first drive we we really ripped you up that first drive
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Brian Fikkert: it. Oh, well, this might not. I might not be able to publish a podcast with a Green Bay. Packer Fan. I don't know
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Andy Miller III: that's great, Brian. I've had way too much fun, so thank you for your time today for coming on this podcast, and thanks for your work as an economist and as a theological economist. It means a lot to the church to have somebody like you speaking into. It's like, and and your co-authors, too. I don't mean to read them out. But um! It's really meant a lot to my wife's and my ministry,
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Brian Fikkert: and also I think, to the kingdom as a whole. So thank you, brother. It's a joy to be with you.