Episode 249: Recovering Our Sanity: How the Fear of God Conquers the Fears That Divide Us: Dr. Michael Horton

In this profound episode, Jonathan is joined by esteemed theologian and author Michael Horton to discuss his latest book, "Recovering Our Sanity: How the Fear of God Conquers the Fears that Divide Us." In a world teetering on the brink of chaos—from unsettling politics to the lingering effects of the global pandemic—Horton's book offers not a typical self-help guide but a deep theological exploration of how a proper fear of God can liberate us from our myriad earthly fears.

Dr. Horton, Professor of Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary, walks us through what it truly means to fear God—both biblically and theologically—and how this reverential fear can effectively drive out fears of the future, others, and even death itself.

Throughout the episode, Dr. Horton discusses the different types of fears that plague our society—from cultural anxieties to personal struggles—and how these stem from a lack of genuine fear of God. He emphasizes confronting our earthly fears with the hope found in Christ, rooted in the Gospel, and the shift from self-preservation to a Christ-focused life.

This episode is a humbling, thought-provoking, and hope-igniting journey that challenges listeners to replace false securities with the profound joy of knowing Christ, who commands us, "Do not be afraid." Join us as we explore how cultivating a healthy fear of God can recover our sanity in these turbulent times.

After you listen to this episode, you may have your own questions. We would love to hear from you! To ask Jonathan a question or connect with the Candid community, visit https://LTW.org/Candid

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This transcript recounts Candid Conversations with Jonathan Youssef Episode 249: Recovering Our Sanity: How the Fear of God Conquers the Fears That Divide Us: Michael Horton.

[00:01] Jonathan: My very special guest is Mike Horton. He is a professor of systematic theology and apologetics at Westminster Seminary in California, and he is the author of many books, includingThe Christian Faith Ordinary andCore Christianity. He also hosts theWhite Horse Inn radio program. He lives with his wife, Lisa, and their four children in Escondido, California, and it looks like he’s on his back patio,  having a conversation with me and being very gracious with his time. Mike Horton, thank you so much for taking the time to be onCandid Conversations.

[00:45] Michael: Thank you, Jonathan.
[00:50] Jonathan: I do thank you for your time. Now Mike, I’ve read your books, I have subscribed and I do recommend all of our listeners subscribe to theWhite Horse Inn. If you could just give us a quick, whirlwind tour of your story, we can talk a little bit about the podcast and some of your books as we progress through the interview.
[01:19] Michael: Well, thank you, Jonathan. Yeah, I was raised in a Christian home and came to understand the doctrines of grace partly through my older brother. Kind of had my own little, not little, my own Romans revolution and then started digging deeper into Church history and theology and biblical studies, and eventually went to Biola University, Westminster California, then to Oxford for doctoral studies and then post-doc at Yale and came back to teach at my alma mater and have been here for 25 years. Blessed to be able to have a hand, with my colleagues, in training pastors; pastors training pastors.
[02:17] Jonathan: I’ve been a recipient of many of the students of Westminster Seminary who taught me at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta, and I’ve been really blessed by your work. You’ve got a very jovial, friendly, California vibe to you, but when you speak, you’re like a double-edged sword. It’s so penetrating. And I think there could be a theological issue that I’ve been struggling with for months and you’ll say it so concisely in a few sentences, and I’ll think,Where was that when I needed that?
[03:09] Michael: You’re too kind. Thank you.
[03:11] Jonathan: Tell us a little bit about theWhite Horse Inn. It has been on for something like thirty years.
[03:17] Michael: Yeah, thirty-plus, almost thirty-five years now. It has been such a fun thing. I’ve learned so much from my colleagues on the program. I still learn from the new team. We produce a magazine, too,Modern Reformation Magazine, which is really—I encourage people to subscribe to that. It’s a good digest of topical theology related to culture. The umbrella organization is called Sola Media, and one of the things that we do that I’m so excited about being a part of is called Theo Global, where we host theological conversations (like we do on theWhite Horse Inn) between Baptist, Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican traditions and bring people together from a particular region. So we’ve been doing it for eleven years in India and also almost that long in Nigeria or in Kenya, in Nairobi. And then also Cairo for the Middle East. We just did one in Thailand that Pakistanis and Indians were able to come to, because they’re not able usually to see each other. And then we are, Lord willing, starting another one in Southeast Asia, probably Singapore.
So these have been so rich. Out of them are coming, a series of theology books from the global church to the global church. And so instead of having just regional theologies or theologies that pretend that they’re not culturally contextual, we want to hear the voices of people from different locations testifying to the same Gospel, and that's just really been lots of fun.
[05:42] Jonathan: Well, having ministered near that area of the world in Australia, you’re right, there can be a disconnect between the cultures. We read each other’s books and that sort of thing, and those are Western cultures, but I think we miss out on hearing about what is happening in Southeast Asia, Because they do face similar obstacles but also some quite different. As one of the points of your book is, there is still the one true God and the one Gospel that reaches across those cultures and reaches across so many of those things that we would consider barriers. And I think that's wonderful. I pray the Lord would bless that.
[06:30] Michael: Thank you. One of the things I find, Jonathan, is there is a sweet unity around the Gospel that binds us when I go to these other places. Wherever I am in the world, I don’t feel like I’m a stranger because I’m with my brothers and sisters. I wish I felt the same way in America. It’s very different here.
[06:51] Jonathan: Yeah, I was going to say it’s interesting that what you’re doing is you’re unifying and uniting across denominations, across cultural things, and yet that's working almost in the opposite direction of where we see things here, which is there’s division within denominations; there’s division within small regions. You’re undoing what is happening on a bigger scale in some of the Western parts. It’s exciting to hear that's not happening everywhere, that there’s actually some unification taking place and that's encouraging. And I know that’s going to be an aspect of what we talk about in our conversation about one of your new books.
Now, I know that you had some health issues with your heart a couple of years ago. Maybe for some of our audience who didn’t know or having heard any updates, are you healthy?
[07:54] Michael: Thanks for asking. Yes, what it was was a valve that just exploded in my heart, so it was an emergency open-heart surgery. But they said—they know my arteries and my heart better than anybody, they said, you’ll die of something, but it won’t be of heart disease. You have a good heart; you have good arteries; this was just a fluke.
[08:24] Jonathan: Unbelievable.
[08:25] Michael: So—yeah. I’m fully recovered. They said I could go bungee jumping again if I want to.
[08:32] Jonathan: Again. I’m glad that you were already doing that—I picked up your book a while ago and I’ve been wanting to have you on the podcast ever since reading it. And the book is calledRecovering Our Sanity: How the Fear of God Conquers the Fears that Divide Us. And my goodness, what a perfect title for everything we see. Give us a little bit of the reason for writing and the timing of the book.
[09:18] Michael: Well, it had been percolating for years now, actually. I wrote a book many years ago calledBeyond Culture Wars: Is America a Mission Field or a Battlefield? And this is in a similar vein, but really in light of the fears that really divide us today. And the center used to be the Bible, the Gospel, getting the Gospel right and getting the Gospel out. We have our doctrinal differences across the evangelical mainstream, but basically we had different political views and those political views didn’t divide between brothers and sisters and churches.
And what I’ve seen lately has just been like a food fight in a cafeteria, and political issues and social issues raised to the level of the Trinity. And it’s like, okay, well, we can argue about that over coffee, but we don’t bring it into the church. That used to be kind of how people thought about things. These things are important, but they’re not as important as our unity in Christ. But I hear people attacking pastors, pastors attacking their flock, back and forth over these issues. And I think people don’t get this heated over the doctrine of election or justification or the Trinity. Does it suggest that these issues are deeper in our hearts than the truth of Christianity, so what really binds us?
And I looked at it and I said what really binds us is salvation, what we think we’re saved from. If we think we’re saved from the people over there who are threatening our values, or the people over there who are different from us ethnically, or the people over there who have a different view of economics and social justice? What are we really afraid of? What are our ultimate fears? And I argue that we have all these secondary fears. The real fear deep down, the mother of all fears, is the fear of death. And none of the solutions that can be offered by FOX or CNN, there is no solution to that. But we have it. Why isn’t that on our dashboard as central, getting it right and getting it out?
[13:01] Jonathan: In the book you cast a broad net in kind of what you’ve just said up here, picking out a few of the issues that you’re seeing so much division over. But then you lay out some of the theological framework to reorientate your reader to where fear should rightly be placed. And it’s away from the fear of one another and having a right fear of God.
And you use the wordsublimein the book, which I found really helpful as an aspect of God. I wonder if you could give us a little bit of explanation and walk that out for us.
[13:52] Michael: Sure. I love that word. Sublime is really, I think, what we’re talking about when we talk about the fear of God. Some people will say, “Well, it’s not really fear. It’s reverence, awe.” Fear is a big part of it, but it’s a kind of fear that attracts. Think of what happens if you’ve ever stood at the mouth of a volcano, looking over it, watching the lava flow. Or I live in Southern California, so we have fires, and there’s a kind of weird attraction to going to the fire and seeing it. Or you’re out on the ocean and you’re terrified. A squall comes up you’re afraid, but you’re also kind of your heart is racing not just because you’re afraid, but also because you’re kind of in awe of what's happening. In awe of the waves.
God, you know whenever an angel shows up in the Bible, an emissary of God, what's the first thing? You know the number-one commandment throughout Scripture? The number-one command is “Be not afraid.” Because when even the mailman of God shows up, people are terrified.
[15:31] Jonathan: Yeah, or Moses’s face is a little too bright.
[15:36] Michael: Yeah. Hey, put a napkin over that or something… That's what, really, is the basis for all sublime events, encounters that we have is really the fear of God. And so it’s … A Jewish writer, John Levinson, puts it well. He says, “In the Hebrew Scriptures God beckons with one hand and repels with the other.”
So there’s a kind of don’t get too close. Even Jesus in His Resurrection, “Don’t touch me. I’m different.” God is different from us. And that sense of awe, of majesty, of even terror. Think of the disciples in the boat with Jesus. They were afraid of the storm, and then Jesus calmed the storm and they were afraid of Jesus. Who is this who has control over the winds and the waves? They were terrified. And that's the kind of Who is this? What am I dealing with here? The kind of shock and awe, the surprise is something that is missing, I think, from a lot of our experience as Christians today.
[17:11] Jonathan: Well, and I know in the book we’ve seen a lot of the statistical evidence that comes in support of what you’ve just said, which shows that evangelical Christians really don’t know what they believe. They have a complete misunderstanding of God, of the nature of Christ, of their roles.
[17:51] Michael: If the fear of God is not the beginning of our wisdom, then something else will be. We’ll fear something else. We will fear other people who are different from us and we’ll fear cancer, we’ll fear losing our job, we’ll fear environmental collapse and catastrophe, we’ll fear these other people taking over. It’s not that those … that there aren’t legitimate concerns of a political and social and cultural nature. But we have a disordered fear. And if we have disordered fears, we have disordered loves.
God is not only the source of our greatest fear, legitimate fear; He’s also the only one who conquers our fears and says, “Welcome home, prodigal. Welcome home, here’s the feast.”
[19:22] Jonathan: And deals with our, as you refer to it, the mother of all fears.
[19:27] Michael: Death. We’re dying. In California, people aren’t allowed to die; they pass away; and we put these cemeteries out, far away from view, or we turn them into parks and things. And it used to be every time you walked into a church there would be headstones, and it reminded you as you walked in why you’re going in there. The Gospel is for dying people, and we’re all on that road. And so the question is, How do we face death? … How is that ultimate anxiety relieved? We mourn, but not as those who have no hope. So what does that mean for my daily life now? I could be twelve years old and I’m dying. I could be eighty and I’m dying. So what … Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about the dying and the resurrection of the dead and being attached to Jesus so that what He is in His humanity right now, glorified, we will be. Let’s talk about that. That's a lot better than anything on CNN or FOX.
[21:00] Jonathan: I love it. I think in the book you tell the story of when you went to a debate with, I might be messing this up, but I think it was with an atheist and you sort of said, “Yep. Great. Can I talk about Jesus now” and kind of put him off, and he sort of like, “I wasn’t prepared to debate that.”
[21:22] Michael: Yeah. This was years ago. Bill Nye the Science Nye.
[21:24] Jonathan: Bill Nigh, that's right.
[21:25] Michael: He was talking about how religion is based on false fears and so they develop myths and so forth.
[21:37] Jonathan: And you were like, “Well, that's true.”
[21:39] Michael: Yeah. I don’t disagree; that's a pretty fair analysis of religions. I guess you’d have to take one by one and analyze it, but as a generalization, now can I talk about Jesus and His Resurrection? Let’s keep getting back to the main business here.
[21:59] Jonathan: The main issue. Yeah. In the book you draw this distinction between naturalistic and hyper supernatural, but then you sort of carve out this third option of ordinary. Can we talk a little bit about that and how we see that playing out in our world today, particularly in the Church?
[22:23] Michael: Sure. Often what you see today is a naturalism underwriting the progressive agenda and John Lennon’s “Imagine.” On the right, you tend to have a hyper supernaturalism wedded to a conservative agenda. And so what do I mean by that? Well, a naturalistic worldview says, of course, God isn’t involved. If God exists, then He’s not involved in this world. He didn’t create it, it’s self-evolving and so forth.
A hyper-supernatural worldview says that God works miraculous. You know, to say that God did it means it’s a miracle.
[23:34] Jonathan: Yeah.
[23:35] Michael: Whereas in the Bible God does all sorts of things. Mostly, He doesn’t perform miracles. What about all the times when we cut our finger and it heals after a week? What about that? What about a child [who] has a brain bleed in NICU and it resolves in 24 hours. How about those? Those aren’t miracles. People say, “the miracle of childbirth.” There’s no miracle of childbirth; it’s just a spectacular example of God’s providence. That’s part of our problem is we’re looking for God only in the spectacular, only in the extraordinary, only in places where we can point to and say, “Oh, God did that.”
So we can’t explain how somebody recovered from cancer; we say, “Well, God did it, not the doctors.”
[24:46] Jonathan: Right.
[24:47] Michael: Well, how about God did it and the doctors did it. God did it through the doctors.
[24:52] Jonathan: How much control does God have here?
[24:55] Michael: Right. He has control of everything. It’s not just supernatural events; it’s not just miracles. God’s in control of every second, every breath. Every breath that you and I take is under His dominion.
[25:11] Jonathan: That's right. He holds all things together. You know, I hear that phrase a lot, “That was a God thing. That was a God thing,” and I always have to stop and say to them, “Everything is a God thing.” I mean, conversations. The fact that your brain works. The ability to read. The ability to understand and reason. It’s like I hate when you get that narrow scope, as you’re saying. We’ve lost the sublime. We’ve lost an understanding of how much—you know, it's almost a deistic view that, you know, God sort of—
[25:42] Michael: Yes!
[25:43] Jonathan: He’s put some things in place and then He occasionally steps in and—
[25:47] Michael: That's why I argue that actually naturalism and hyper supernaturalism unintentionally conspire with each other against Christianity—
[25:57] Jonathan: Right.
[25:58] Michael: —you know because, you know, we get to the place where we don’t see God in our ordinary, everyday existence, but only in these punctuated events, and we’ve got to raise things. I think we do a lot of pretending. We pretend that things that have an ordinary explanation are miracles because we have to have God in our life. These large swaths of our lives where there are no miracles are upheld by God’s marvelous providence.
[26:40] Jonathan: Right. Amen to that. In the book, one of the fears you mentioned is fear of losing your job. And I think in the book you helpfully distinguish between calling and vocation or job and helping us understand and distinguish the two things. I wonder if we can talk a little bit of bringing clarity to that, because we’re longing for something to put our identity in. Is it a football club? Is it a university? We’re currently, I don’t know when this will air, but we’re in the middle of March Madness. Who did you pick? What's your university? What's your background?
And vocation is very much one of those things we can put our identity in, and yet I think you talk about the ultimate and the penultimate between calling and vocation. I wonder if you could bring some clarity to that, and then we’ll turn to some of the practical outworkings of the division we see after that.
[27:53] Michael: Yeah. Well, one of the things I try to maintain throughout the book is, look, the things I’m talking about are not unimportant. They are legitimate fears. There is a legitimate anxiety. The question is, where do we go with that? But yes, let’s affirm it. It’s real, it’s a deal, but penultimate not ultimate.
For example, if I am in a circle of people I’ve never met before, we’re having breakfast, and I ask them, “Tell me about yourself,” very ordinarily they’ll say, “Well, I’m a dentist. I’m a …”
Now okay, there’s an example. That is part of our identity. Vocation is a gift of God; it’s a calling. So to say, you know, we shouldn’t place our identity in our vocations, well, not ultimately. That's the problem. It’s a part of our identity, just like being a father is part of my identity. That's a calling. And we have to realize, as Luther said, we have many callings, many vocations during our life. We’re parents, we’re spouses, we’re children, we are extended family members, we’re dentists, and cleaning movie theaters. We have all kinds of callings/vocations. Sometimes we have a vocation to suffer, to carry a cross. Sometimes we have a vocation to be a friend. We have lots of vocations, and keeping them in balance is very important.
Keeping them penultimate, not ultimate, is my point. My ultimate identity is chosen, redeemed, justified, being sanctified, will be glorified, in union with Christ. That's my identity and that's really who I am. Paul talks about himself as if he’s almost collapsed into Jesus. His identity is so bound up with Christ that he can even say his suffering is something he glories in because it shares in Christ’s suffering. That's my identity; that's where I really find who I am. The other stuff is not just stuff I do, that turns it back into a job. It is part of my identity, but it’s penultimate, not ultimate.
[30:57] Jonathan: Well, as we said at the beginning, we see division in so many different places. We’re, of course, as you know, we’re in another election year, and that—fear is going to be used as a … it’s going to be weaponized this year, particularly this year, in America. And we have an international audience, so I want to be sensitive, but I know that internationally also they see a lot of American news as well. I think you talk about how, in the book, two sides to the fear coin. You mention both in the book. One side, fear is easily exploited as a motivator. On the other, fear is a weak motivator in the long term. Why is that? Let’s kind of unpack that a little bit.
[32:07] Michael: Yeah. I use the analogy of deer who are … there is this fight or flight that God gave us and the animals as well. It’s purely instinctual, instinctive. You don’t … Whether you’re a deer or a human being, you don’t really think about, you don’t contemplate, you don’t calculate, you don’t explore what … You have a car coming towards you, you flee. You get out of its way if you can. But what happens is—
That's adrenaline. That adrenaline rush is just a marvelous gift of God’s providence. The problem is what would happen is deer had this disease of constantly being afraid, every crack of brush of another deer drove them wild running in fear? That's what I see us doing now, and what happens is it works in the short term. If you’re going to cynically use fear to get a herd of people to do what you want them to do, that might work in the short term, but long term, people can’t live like that. Long term, people actually become cynical. They won’t participate at all. They’ll just turn it off because “I’ve had this scare a thousand times and I’m not going to have it anymore. I’m tired of it.” It just runs out.
And that's what I think a lot of people are feeling right now with American politics. So I’m not an analyst of American politics by any stretch of the imagination; I’m simply looking at it on the pastoral side. What is driving us to be like the deer in the headlights every five minutes? And it’s exhausting us.
[34:33] Jonathan: Yeah.
[34:34] Michael: Each side whipping up the other side against each other. If I don’t win this election, dot, dot, dot. If the other person wins the election, dot, dot, dot. It’s apocalypse not. I especially find offensive any use of God or the Bible or Christ for that fear. Anyone who does that, particularly cynical leaders who don’t even go to church, aren’t professing Christians really, but they use the lingo to gain the nomination of particular groups. When Christians participate in that, they carry crosses to the U.S. Capitol to storm it and talk about hanging the vice president, and they’re carrying crosses with Bible verses, this is the sort of thing that must just aggravate our Lord and Savior whose name is taken in vain.
And yeah, is that a critique especially of evangelical political conservatives? Yes, it is. Because they are my brothers and sisters closest to me. The secularists aren’t really invoking the name of Jesus and Bible verses and carrying crosses. I’m more worried about evangelicals distorting the gospel than I am about who wins this next election.
[36:54] Jonathan: What is that doing to your testimony to those people who don’t know the Lord? What message is it giving them?
[37:10] Michael: That Christianity is about power.
[37:11] Jonathan: Right, exactly.
[37:12] Michael: It’s not about a cross with God who has all power becoming flesh being spat upon and then being crucified upon a cross, bleeding for our sins. It’s about basically choosing Caesar over Jesus, making Pilate our hero rather than Jesus.
[37:45] Jonathan: I found that chapter, I can’t remember if it’s the Christian nationalism chapter or the one before, but it was really helpful the way that you walked out American history in a way that probably a lot of the readers might say, “I don’t know if I understood that.” Or “I don’t know if I fully understood Thomas Jefferson and his letter to the Danbury Baptist Church in Connecticut.” Understanding separation of church and state, understanding like how we got to where we are and the creating of even thinking between the British … French revolution and those different paths that were laid out before us. And even just understanding our own history and how we got to where we are, I think a lot of it is just cast as Christian nation. And I found it helpful the way you distinguish that.
Because I hear this a lot in the church in terms of America being the new Israel, are there blessings that have come with certain things? Sure, fine. Our Constitution is well put together. I love the history of Witherspoon, the Scottish Presbyterian, and you can see some of that in the language that comes out through the Constitution. Again, I think it’s helpful to have your historical understanding rather than this reinterpretation that we have now that it’s, as you said, it’s this feeling like someone’s come in and taken this from us. And now, to use the title of your other book, now we’re at war, right? It’s not a mission field, it’s a battlefield. We’re fighting for the honor of our country. And all that's done is create us and them division and a lack of clarity and a lack of what we’re called to in a mission sense as Christians. Where was I going with that? Who knows? Anyway, I found it helpful.
[40:10] Michael: You said it better. Preach it, brother.
[40:16] Jonathan: Just random thoughts. Just reading your books and regurgitating it to the people. So later on in the book you sort of walk us through the areas where division has come in. So we have Christian nationalism has certainly seeped into churches. Then you have some really helpful, short chapters with issues with LGBTQ+ community, cancel culture, racism. Let’s just kind of walk through some of these and help Christians who are listening to this who are saying, I thought this was the right way to handle that situation but you’re saying something else. Let’s kind of walk through maybe even just one or two of those. Again, you had a really great illustration under your LGBTQ+ chapter of the young man whose family had sent him to you and you were pastoring him and what happened with all that. If you could tell us a little bit about that, just to help kind of encapsulate what we’re talking about here.
[41:35] Michael: Sure, this brother struggling with homosexuality, his dad was on the board of a prominent evangelical organization, and his pastor had told him that we basically don’t want your influence in the church, so he was considering leaving the faith. But then he readPutting Amazing Back Into Grace, a book I wrote a long time ago, and came out to work at our organization as just a pretext for just hanging out and shepherding this guy. He became a part of our church and a lot of people looked after him and we got a lot back from him.
He went back home, and his pastor said that all this reformed teaching he was getting was heresy and so forth, and no, you’ve lost your salvation. Romans says that He gave them over to a depraved mind. So he committed suicide and …
So what is it? Why do you do stuff like that? Well, you do it out of bad theology, to be sure, but also out of fear. There are a lot of churches that just don’t want to deal with it. They don’t want to have this problem. They don’t want to say that they have people in their congregation who are really, really suffering. If you’re a secularist, you don’t suffer from homosexuality. You don’t suffer with gender dysphoria. Only Christians do. And only Christians suffer with greed and envy and malice and other sins that are listed in these same sin lists in the New Testament. You don’t lose your salvation over those.
The key is repentance, right? We’re called to a life of repentance. Whatever our tendencies are towards particular sins, we’re all corrupt in heart. We’re sinners and we’re sinned against and we are in a sin-cursed world. And so where do we go with that fear? And then once that fear is solved objectively in Christ, having been justified through faith, we have peace with God. That's an objective fact. With that now as an objective fact, how do I respond to this brother or sister who’s justified just as I am, and who is being sanctified just as I am, but has propensity toward a particular sin that I think is particularly serious, particularly great? How do I love this person? How do I respond to this person?
John Calvin said a pastor needs to learn how to have two voices: one for the sheep and one for the wolves. And what I’ve seen in some very close cases to my own experience, what I’ve seen sometimes is pastors confusing the sheep for wolves and treating them as apostates or as people who, you know, if you really were a Christian, you wouldn’t be suffering with that. Well, they’re not saying, “I have a right to this sin.” They’re not saying that it’s okay. That's why they’re struggling with it—and they’re struggling with it in your church.
So one of the surveys, actually a couple of the surveys concluded that about 80 percent of people in the LGBTQ+ community were raised in conservative Roman Catholic or Protestant churches.
[46:39] Jonathan: Give that statistic again because I think we need to hear it again.
[46:42] Michael: I don’t know exact, it’s in the 80s, 80 percent.
[46:46] Jonathan: Over 80 percent.
[46:49] Michael: Right. And what's even more striking is the same percentage said that they would come back to church, even if they didn’t change their rules, but listened to them and cared for them. That's what I found amazing. I was glad that they asked … they added in that survey even if they didn’t change their beliefs but they were kind and they listened and they cared for me.
So if I’m fearful, here again the adrenaline, the deer in the headlights, that's a gift God gave us for fleeing something that is imminently threatening. This is not imminently threatening. If I come to understand that, then I’m not a deer in the headlights; instead, my brother or sister, my friend, parent, I’m someone who is looking out for the best of this person and now I can actually get ahold of myself and think and make judgments and articulate things. And ask questions and get information. That's a big part of it. It’s not all spiritual. People are suffering from mental health disorders, and that's physical, that's brain chemistry. All kinds of things.
People are suffering from sins that have been committed against them in the past. A lot of this is very complicated, and it’s not all that person’s direct fault. Again, we’re all sinners, sinned against, and live in a sin-cursed world. And all those factors play into what we have to consider when we’re not the deer in the headlights but can sit down with people over a long time, be willing to walk with them over a long time, be willing to read up on things, ask them questions, we’re that interested in them and understanding what they’re going through, understanding their pain. It’s like if they have cancer we’d be at their house with casseroles, but if they have these things, you know … So let’s … fear of the Lord drives out the fears of everyone and everything else. This is the beginning of wisdom.
[48:52] Jonathan: Exactly. Well, I think we could probably have this conversation for probably another four more hours, which we might do just because we’re having so many technical difficulties. You know, I can’t recommend this book enough. Mike Horton,Recovering Our Sanity: How the Fear of God Conquers the Fears that Divide Us. I told my team I want to re-air this as we get closer to November so that we can all be reminded once again of what we’re called to. Mike, what are you working on at the moment?
[50:35] Michael: I’ve been kind of obsessive compulsive about a project, three volumes with Eerdmans. First volume is coming out in May, titledShaman and Sage. This is a very different project. It’s the history of spiritual not religious. Where does this come from? You have this divine self within trying to break out of all constraints. And so I trace it all the way back to ancient Greece and to the Renaissance. And then the second volume, Renaissance to the scientific revolution. And then the third volume is covering Romanticism to the present.
[51:31] Jonathan: Oprah.
[51:32] Michael: Exactly.
[51:35] Jonathan: That’s going to be a massive help for believers, because that's the one we see a lot in those statistics. Yeah, I hear that from quite a few people, spiritual but not religious, or whatever the phrase is. But well, Mike Horton, it’s been such a privilege. I’m so grateful for your time and coming on toCandid Conversations and sharing with us.
[52:10] Michael: Jonathan, thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure.
[52:14] Jonathan: Thank you, brother.
ad heaven awaits