Horton: One of the justifications for laziness is often to say, “I want heart knowledge, not head knowledge.” “Oh, I don’t want to know about Jesus, I want to know Jesus.” Why is that a cop out?
Riddlebarger: Well, it’s a cop out because Jesus reveals himself to us in his Word, which requires understanding subjects, verbs and objects. It requires reading and studying. And this whole experiential thing is just a Gnostic shortcut to truth and information.
Jones: And I think it’s a false dichotomy. When we talk about the gospel message, we talk about the whole person. Redemption is the redemption of our total being. It includes emotions, but the problem is, our emotions are not just free to go hither and thither, they are governed by the Word of God. I love what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10: “ . . . bringing every thought into captivity, and casting down every high thing and vain thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bringing every thought into captivity and into the obedience to Christ.” And so, therefore, even my emotions are governed by the Spirit, and that’s part of Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians, you can’t just go your own way and label that “the Spirit,” because he’s the Spirit of order as well.
Horton: I can’t say, “I have this wonderful emotional experience with my wife but I’ve studiously avoided knowing anything about her. If you claim to have a personal relationship with someone, about whom you don’t invest time to learn, then you can’t really pass off to many people in the room your interest in that person.
Jones: Isn’t that what Jesus illustrates in the parable of the talents? The servant that had so many talents, he says, “Knowing that you were this, that or the other, I did nothing with the talents.” But the master comes back and says, “If you had known me, you would have put my talents to use.” So, you thought you knew Me. And when Jesus comes back and many will say, “We did this in your name,” and Jesus will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” Or the Samaritan woman, “You worship what you do not know.”
Riddlebarger: Mike, you may remember this category, we had it growing up in fundamentalism, where we would kind of belittle the mainliners because they would go to church to become better people. So when you asked them questions about Christianity, their default setting was always, “Well, it’ll make me a better person.” Or, “I’ll learn to get along with others better.” The kind of answer that kid gave us is a modern version of that same thing: “I just go to experience God—I’m not beholden to anybody, I don’t have to do anything, it’s that cop out answer that basically lets him off the hook and doesn’t say a darn thing.
Rosenblatt: I think there are a lot of youth leaders that desperately need firing. Now, I know the parents aren’t doing their part behind it, but I’d start by firing the youth leaders. In other words, you want somebody who’s going to, because of his talents, he can do some of this, to instill the content of the Faith, slowly, methodically, however he does it, into the kids during the time he has them. I don’t mean that it turns into a monestary, I mean that’s part of what he himself sees as part of his calling. I remember when Francis Schaeffer was almost an unknown, there was a youth leaders thing at Mission Bay, and I went, and if I remember nothing else from that conference, I remember Schaeffer looking out over all these youth leaders from all over America, and saying, “I plead with you, I plead with you, when you present the gospel, present it first of all as true, not as helpful.”