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Holy Joys Podcast

Author: Johnathan Arnold

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A discussion of theology and ministry practice, all for a holy, happy church. A ministry of holyjoys.org.
28 Episodes
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In this final episode of a series on prevenient grace, Dr. David Fry and Johnathan Arnold discuss whether or not Wesleyan prevenient grace is biblical and what it means for something to be biblical.
In this episode, Clair Sams joins David Fry and Johnathan Arnold to discuss board culture and church government.
In this episode, Johnathan Arnold and Dr. David Fry discuss why the resurrection is the necessary for our redemption.
In this episode, David Fry and Johnathan Arnold discuss the Equality Act, its impact on churches and Christian organizations, and the void in our culture concerning what it means to be male and female.
In this episode, David Fry and Johnathan Arnold discuss a recent piece of cultural art and how the church can respond.
In this special Good Friday episode of the Holy Joys Podcast, Johnathan Arnold and David Fry discuss atonement theories: How does the death of Jesus on the cross accomplish our redemption? 
Philip Brown joins David Fry and Johnathan Arnold to discuss the rule of faith. The episode begins with a short current events segment on Rush Limbaugh and his impact on evangelical Christians.
In this episode, David Fry and Johnathan Arnold continue discussing Wesleyan Prevenient Grace in the thought of William Burt Pope. WPG is compared to the thought of John Cassian,  Jonathan Edwards, Augustine, Pelagius, and Charles Finney.Quotes from Fry:Arminians continue to be accused of being semi-Pelagian or perhaps even Pelagian for saying that we initiate our salvation.Our doctrine of grace has many implications for our pulpit ministry.The way we appeal to people to come to Christ matters. Those are delicate theological moments, and we need to make sure we are exalting grace in those moments instead of placing upon a person a burden that they can't carry.It very unfortunate that our revival theology has been shaped so much by Charles Finney who denied prevenient grace. Finney is not a friend to Wesleyans.Quotes from Arnold:I hear things like "God is just waiting for you to take the first step towards you." God is not just waiting.Pope defines faith as a "divinely-wrought belief." Faith begins with the act of God upon the soul.We cannot schedule a "revival." "Revivals" are days when we pray for revival and humble ourselves to ask if God would graciously give us revival.
In this episode, Johnathan Arnold and David Fry discuss whether or not the church should offer virtual communion and how the rush to live-stream the Lord's Supper reflects a general over-spiritualization of the church. 
Travis Johnson joins David Fry and Johnathan Arnold to discuss his recent article, "Ravi Zacharias and the Moral Failure of Spiritual Leaders."Quotes from Travis:Victims need to know that it's safe. The church can be a safe place to come forward and share your experience so that you can get the help that you need.  We in the church want to be a part of that healing process.We have to talk about this for the sake of transparency. People are struggling with this.Within the church, there are other victims of sexual abuse and they need to know we care. We need to be their voice. Many are afraid to come forward and they need to know the church can be a safe place to come forward and share your experience so you can get the help that you need.We need to talk about it because we learn from our mistakes. Other ministries will look at this and say, “What can we do to make sure that this doesn’t ever happen in our organization?" Churches will be learning from this, hopefully implementing changes that will strengthen their ministries.Our people need to hear from us that we care deeply about these issues. That we as leaders want to live lives of holiness and purity. They need to hear from us that we need their help in this area of accountability and transparency. If there are victims of any kind of abuse in the congregation, they need to hear our voice that we care for them, that we love them, and that we will always stand with victims.Quotes from Fry:It ought to be a reminder to everyone that sin is never just about me and my private life. It always affects relationships and other people. As a church, we have to create a culture in which we are accountable, and have a culture and atmosphere so that if there is wrongdoing and lack of discretion, then that can be dealt with in a truthful and graceful way.When something comes to our attention, we have to listen to it.  It doesn’t matter how impeccable someone may seem to be.A church should have a policy for how things are followed up. If there’s a report of any wrongdoing, there should be a procedure. Quotes from Arnold:It’s important that we are theologically robust and defend the Christian faith with the best intellectual arguments. But if we are not living a life of integrity, then it doesn’t matter.This is something pastors should talk to their churches about.
Andrew Graham joins David Fry and Johnathan Arnold to discuss the recent news about Ravi Zacharias and what we can do in our own churches and institutions to expose abusers and help victims.Quotes from Graham:People in Christian leadership are not exempt from temptation, not exempt from the possibility of falling. There needs to be structures in place that protect them and the people who serve alongside them.If we view this as an isolated, RZIM-specific issue, then I think we will be talking about the next one. Rather than each of us in our own context looking at what needs to be done differently moving forward.What systems are in place so when a ministry leader acknowledges I am not okay, there is a place for restoration and recovery? Rather than feeling like the only way forward is to continue to hide.Books like Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused by Brad Hambrick and We Too: How the Church Can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis by Mary E. DeMuth are very practical resources that talk about what to do for the victim and victimizer. We need to listen to those who are victims. We need to hear their stories.Expressing your abuse narrative in a safe context is a significant part of beginning the healing journey. Identify someone who can help you.What am I doing and what are you doing in your context to make sure that the people who see you as a spiritual leader would say, “I know I can go to you and talk to you about this and you will handle it the right way."If someone identifies you as a safe person, you need to do the right thing. Quotes from Fry:We need to be very intentional as Wesleyans that we do not develop theological misconceptions that become a part of a structure that ensures something will happen and it will be overlooked because it can’t count as sin.We do not want to provide a theological shield behind which those who possess power in a ministry can hide.Someone who is caught up in sin will find theological reasons to justify themselves.We have to be aware that we are naturally going to be defensive of the system within which we work.We need room in our theology to understand that our system is not perfect. Quotes from Arnold:If we are serious about holiness, we must realize how we can undermine holiness by failing to call something sin that is sin.There are consequences for our theology. If we are not careful in the way that we preach and teach, real people get hurt.We’re unlikely to see red flags when our theological impulse is to justify those red flags.None of us are calling for the church to be weak on sin. We’re just calling for more nuance, more maturity, more carefulness, and more theological work. Because simplistic thinking hurts people. 
In this episode, Johnathan Arnold and David Fry continue to discuss prevenient grace in the thought of William Burt Pope.
This is the first episode in a series on William Burt Pope's doctrine of prevenient grace.
In this episode, Andrew Graham and Johnathan Arnold continue discussing how to care for others in distress.
In this episode, Johnathan Arnold and Dr. Andrew Graham discuss helping others in distress.Quotes from Graham:The best way to assess whether or not someone is in distress is to look at any changes in their mood, affect, behavior habits—eating, sleeping—and how these changes affect their functioning.There are people who are in distress while not yet disordered or dysfunctional or diagnosable.One detrimental mistake is to automatically assume that a distressed person has a spiritual problem.We can too quickly over-spiritualize distress or we can too quickly under-spiritualize distress.In addictions counseling, a frequently used adage is: Your past may explain your behavior, but it doesn’t justify it.Do not assume you know when someone is in distress or that you know the best way out.There is no situation beyond God’s power to redeem and restore for His glory and our edification.We can’t look at somebody and say that because they’re limping in the way that I limp, or because they’re going through a situation I went through, that means God is providing for them the same way out that He provided for me. We’re all called to come alongside those who are in distress.We need to support one another through relationship—through connection.How connected are you to the body of Christ? That is an important component to moving on and moving through times of distress.One of my passions is to help equip the church to provide soul care. There are situations where basic counseling skills can be used by laypeople—people who are not even naturally equipped in this way—to where they can impact their own church community and beyond.Quotes from Arnold:Sometimes in our churches, we’ve created a culture where we feel like we need to have it all together, so it’s easy to hide our distress.Helping someone else can help the whole body. When one part of your body is hurt, it draws energy and strength from the rest of the body until it is healed. That’s one of the reasons why I think maybe we avoid this. It can be costly and messy to get involved in somebody’s life and walk with them through the distress that they’re facing.If my wife is in distress, I know it. I don't have to guess, because I live my life with her. Maybe the problem is that we’re disconnected in our Western model of church—we're consumer-minded, we come to get what we want and then go. Maybe we have a little clique, two or three people that we talk to every service, but we don't really have a community. We don't know when others are going through distress or how to help them because we don't really even know them. They’re not a part of our life. What if the church looked like Acts 2—breaking bread together and living life together?Creating a healthy church may be one of the first steps towards being better at helping people in distress.
In this episode, Johnathan Arnold and David Fry continue discussing the pastor as theologian.Quotes from Fry:I want to challenge all of us to recommit ourselves to pulpit ministry—the preaching ministry of the shepherd. We are to feed our congregation with the truth of God.We are not going to grow personally, spiritually, or theologically by putting in the minimum study time—giving attention to everything else and just squeezing out the time we ought to be growing.Pastors, we must be growing ourselves if we expect our church to be maturing in Christ.The maturation we are after is opposed to get-big-quick schemes and methods. It requires long, slow, steady growth. It doesn't guarantee that we're going to go from a church of 50 to 500 in three to five years. But it does guarantee that we are going to shepherd people who are growing and in turn will shepherd others.We need to allow Christ to build his church his way rather than our own way. There are a lot of innovative ways to increase numbers, and it doesn't take a lot of skill to do those things, but it does take dedication and study to help people grow spiritually and mature in their Christian faith. As pastors, we cannot get sucked into this mentality of being a CEO who is tasked by our shareholders to grow as quickly as we can.Theologizing isn't just bringing up old dead people and reciting what they said. It is, this is why it matters to us who are alive today—this is what it means in what we actually face day in and day out.We need to be preaching about modesty because it is an opportunity to address a very important cultural issue from a deeply biblical and theological framework.The teenagers at our church really latch on to the theological rationale. They're convinced that immodesty is a serious issue. They cannot allow themselves to be immodest lest they live cross-way to what they believe about Christ, sin, and atonement.We need to know why we're doing what we're doing. Doing and believing is a connection that pastor-theologians must help people to make.Quotes from Arnold:Pastors probably need to read the Bible more than they do. I know your practice is to read the entire Bible every 100 days. But we also need better reading habits. If we're not equipped with how to read the Bible, we'll have a tendency to skim until we find the verse that we're already familiar with or that "stands out to us." We must invest in our exegetical abilities, read the best commentaries, and take advantage of historical theology—read the Bible with the communion of the saints.If someone sits under our pulpit ministry for 15 years, what are they going to know? I think that answer is pretty embarrassing sometimes. In Bible college, I heard things like, "Bible college is a place where you can learn why you believe what you believe." I thought that was the church. What is a pastor even doing?Pastors ought to be modeling how to think through challenging questions.Someone recently asked me why it's important to dress modestly. What am I going to do in this moment? I'm going to give him a biblical theology of modesty. And when I was theologizing in that moment, I was pastoring.I want people to walk away from a conversation about an issue like modesty—not thinking about the standards of a particular faith tradition, or about me, or about John Wesley, or about what we've always done, or even about our culture and how bad it is—but first and foremost about Jesus. I want them to think, clothing is about Christ. Because it is. If we start there, that's a very healthy context for discussing the particulars.We have incredible opportunities to bridge from the cultural issues that people are facing to Jesus and the gospel—to give a theologically robust, Christ-centered, beautiful response that can bring great health to the church.
In this episode, Johnathan Arnold and David Fry discuss the lost vision of the pastor as theologian.Quotes from Fry:Theology has been for generations separated in some ways—some formal ways, even—from the life of the local church. We need to bring those two together again.As we study God, we study all things in right relationship to him.As pastors, our task is to bridge the horizon of biblical truth with where our culture is. Pastors stand between Scripture and culture and we have to try to bridge that gap by informing culture with the truths of God and relating the truths of God to culture so that we are shaping culture as well.Being a theologian as a pastor is not an option—that's not even the question—the question is whether or not we're going to be a good theologian or a bad one. And that depends on our own willingness to know God, to study his Word, and to be increasingly better communicators of the truth about God and the world in relationship to God.Many pastors are heavily involved in many aspects of the church's business, administration, marketing, and graphic design—all of these various hats that pastors often put on that actually take us out of intentional, prolonged study of God's word, and even affect our prayer lives. They take our mind away from dwelling upon God and how we can make God known to our people.I have had people tell me that I am the CEO of the church. No. That's not how I view myself. Certainly, I have administrative responsibilities. But we need to change the way we think about the ekklesia. The church is not a business corporation. We are the flock of God. The pastor's role as a guide is about being a shepherd after God's heart.We are to give theological guidance that will help a person bridge the truth of Scripture with the facts of culture and life. A pastor-theologian is one who brings theology to bear on the daily life of the local church. It's making theology meaningful to the people not only when they are sitting in their pews but also when they go to work on Monday morning.Pastors have to get back to seeing ourselves first as guides in Christian faith. That means doctrine—explicating what Christian doctrine is, what it means, and connecting it to real life. That takes time, study, and focus—not being drawn into every other thing that we could be doing.Quotes from Arnold:Some people think that to be a theologian is to be up in an ivory tower, separated from the practical stuff of real-life ministry.People are faced with many complicated issues—this has been amplified by social media—and they need someone to shepherd them through the questions they are wrestling with. This is why theology is right at the heart of what it means to be a pastor.Pastors are called to provide a certain kind of comfort—a substantive comfort. We are to help the flock become grounded in the deeper truths of God through their suffering.Pastors are constantly addressing questions, whether from the pulpit or around the dinner table, and the issue is not whether or not we are going to give a theological answer, it's whether or not our theological answer is going to be substantive and meaningful or if it's going to be shallow.I know so many pastors who eat up guys like John Maxwell for breakfast. They want to get a Leadership and Administration degree. But when you talk to them about theology, they say, "Well, theology is important, but...."Pastors who are neglecting theological study are not equipped to navigate the questions of culture, so they begin to fall back on programs and other means to see "results" instead of growing the church organically and theologically. This leads to a lot of the anemia that we are seeing.
In this episode, Johnathan Arnold and Philip Brown continue to discuss the relationship between wisdom and holiness.
In this episode, Johnathan Arnold and David Fry continue to discuss the church's happy anticipation of heaven and how it shapes our life in this world.Quotes from Fry:In the end, heaven is a place on earth. Earth doesn't comprehend earth, but heaven comprehends earth.Simply put, heaven is the dwelling place of God.We have so separated heaven and earth that it leads us to a view that we can trash earth before God trashes it. That is not at all an orientation that God allows us to have towards the earth. And that's very dangerous. Christians need to recover a better ecology.My male body will be resurrected. We will be male or female eternally. We are not going to become angels. Jesus told us that there will be a particular way that we will be like angels, but that's not one of them.Anticipating the loss of the things that we take pleasure in now seems more like hell than heaven. The popular visions of heaven and hell are reversed—where hell is the place where you party and have all of the best of human experiences that we can experience now, and heaven is a place where you lose all of those things. But heaven is not the loss of all these things, it is the fulfillment of them.Whatever we have to say about heaven—as we study God's word and how Christian thinkers have reflected on it—we cannot leave out the importance of the resurrected, physical body of Christ which is the foundation of our faith. That's our starting point for thinking about things eternal, and that's a physical reality. That's where our physical theology has to start. But so many of our thoughts about heaven are spiritualized and disconnected and have really become more like fairytales than real, physical realities.Prolonging life at any cost actually takes away from the sanctity of the passing of a saint. That approach is grounded in the lack of belief in a physical resurrection. We go to an extreme to preserve bodily life as if we've given up hope of a bodily resurrection.In our great effort to prolong life, we actually end up making death worse than it is—more despairing.We are pilgrims and exiles or strangers. We are passing through this age. Kings come and kings go. And that's not to say that these things have no importance. But the basic Christian confession that "Jesus is Lord" ought to run through all of our public faith. It ought to dictate everything we do—from voting to living under authorities that perhaps we didn't vote for.Our thinking about heaven must translate into how we live in this world—a public faith that reflects careful, holy living and a passion for being creatures who are made in the image of God, conveying godliness. That has to be our guiding passion for thinking on these things.
In this episode, Johnathan Arnold and Darrell Stetler II discuss the kingdom of God as one of the most important yet misunderstood themes in Scripture.Highlights from Darrell Stetler II:The kingdom is a mega-theme in Scripture.We tend to zoom in on particular elements of salvation, such as justification by faith, but forget the context of the kingdom.Our understanding of the kingdom is sometimes conflated with our understanding of heaven as though the kingdom of God is only what is going to happen at the end.What is the kingdom of God? It is the saving reign of God—that when God rules and reigns, he reigns in a saving way. It rescues us from all that is not holy, all that is broken, all that ends in futility. It rescues us to a safe and established kingdom that is a place of peace.When we start to see the kingdom in its beauty and comprehensiveness, we begin to see that it affects everything.To explain the gospel without the kingdom is like reading your favorite novel but only reading the top half of the page.The gospel of the kingdom—the good news that Jesus and the apostles proclaimed—is that the saving reign of God has come through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son Jesus for our sins and in our place.The theme of the kingdom makes heaven so much more exciting and glad. Heaven is not just a city with streets of gold or floating on the clouds in an eternal church service.Sometimes when the kingdom comes, it looks different than what we would have expected.
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