Hello, this is Matt Slick from the Matt Slick Live Podcast, where I defend the Christian faith and lay out our foundations of the truth of God's Word. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds. Enjoy it, share it, but most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. This is the Truth Network. Kingdom Pursuits, where you hear from ordinary people instilled with an extraordinary passion.
Together we explore the stories of men and women who take what they love and let God turn their passion into Kingdom Pursuits. Now live from the Truth Booth, your host, Robby Dilmore. Well good morning to Kingdom Pursuits and today you have Dwayne Carson rather than Robby Dilmore filling in. Robby is with his future son-in-laws up in Ohio.
They're doing some fishing, fishing for fish, but if I know Robby, he's also looking to be fishing for some men. As we know, Robby is a great soul winner. It's an honor to be filling in for him today at Kingdom Pursuits because for me, one of the first things I got to do with Robby is come on this show to tell about my passion of Date the Word. Date the Word is where we give a verse for every day and today is March the 11th or 3-11 and we go with 1 John 3-11 where John writes that this is the message that you have heard from the beginning that we should love one another. That's the way we should be living.
On 3-11 we love one another. There's also Ruth 3-11 where Boaz is going to make a statement about Ruth's character and I think it's one of the most compelling verses when we think about what kind of character and how we should be known because Ruth 3-11 says, and now my daughter, do not fear for I will do all that you request for all the people in my town know that you are a virtuous woman. How are you known around town? Do you have a character that the moment someone thinks of you they think that's a man with a good name? There's a lady right there of noble character.
We need to be conscious that we are known by how we act and we don't want to give the name of Christ a bad name. So Ruth 3-11, 1 John 3-11, this is Kingdom Pursuits today and we're going to be talking with Dr. Brian Hack. Good morning Dr. Hack.
Good morning sir. He's going to be talking to us about a very important subject here in just a moment as we think about helping churches work with those who have various disabilities like autism and we'll talk about that in just a moment but you know Robbie always likes to present to his listeners a question, maybe a riddle. Well you know Easter is coming up. Now I don't know about you but there's been for me one of those questions of how come Easter is never the same date? I mean Christmas is always December the 25th and someone says hey does anybody know when the 4th of July is? Well it's the 4th of July but when is Easter and having worked in a role of being a pastor, a school administrator, one of the things you have to always know is when is Easter?
Always looking forward to the next year. Now this year it's April the 9th. I already know next year it's March the 31st. Why is Easter different dates and who determines?
How is Easter's date determined? That's my question and if you know the answer call in at 866-348-7884, 1-866-348-7884 with the answer and you'll have my admiration if you have the answer and if you don't know the answer I'll give the answer toward the end and Dr. Hack will remind me not to forget to tell that answer. It's a great answer. Now Dr. Brian Hack, he is a Christian researcher, a professor, an educational leader. I'm telling you that's some great description of this man. He's a man that I've come to love and appreciate. I met him when I was ahead of school at Salem Baptist Christian School. As his son came to our school, Jeremiah, his son has autism. He's a father of a child who's on the autism spectrum and so Dr. Hack, he has a doctorate degree in education, got that from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary here in North Carolina back in 2017. He holds a master's of science degree in health science and also a bachelor's degree in health care.
In other words, we got a very informed person here and his scholarly work investigates the church's strained relationship with people who live with disabilities like autism and demonstrates the intersections of Christian doctrine with other scientific areas of studies. Dr. Hack is trying to bring together how a church can minister to those who have different types of disabilities and that's what we're going to be talking about today and we're going to have him telling about this. I also want you to know that Dr. Hack has served in the Navy.
I could call him not just Dr. Hack but Lieutenant Hack. He's also served as a coach. Not long ago he was with North Carolina A&T. He's coached football for many a year so he's known to me as Coach Hack. If you get a chance, check out the Mississippi Miracle. Google that. You might find that to be one of the most exciting plays you've ever seen.
It has 15 laterals in it. So he was part of that. Anyway, Dr. Hack, welcome to our show today. Thank you, Duane. I'm really happy to be here.
Very honored to be invited. Well, we're thrilled that you're here because I know your work. You are passionate about this work. Not just because of Jeremiah but because of so many others who are dealing with various challenges and the church sometimes, many times, tell them the truth, they don't know how to relate.
They don't know how to help. Tell us a little bit about yourself and a little bit about your passion for this ministry. Well, thank you. The passion, of course, was born in me through my son. My boy taught me how to see children that I never noticed before but when his struggles began to come to light with his challenges and autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts your ability to communicate.
It impacts your ability to socialize fluently in the ways that we normally expect and it also impacts behavior. So as I began to understand his challenges, one of the things I understood was that almost right away was a lot of the places that he would cry constantly began to make sense because I was learning about sensory integration problems and how the flashing lights and the big crowds and all the noise, it was too much for him. So one of the first things that I had was with a pastor at our church and before I continue that story, I should say that reconciliation has been made and we're all friends again. I want to start with that but at that time nobody really knew very much about autism in the church and when I went to ask for some accommodation that was recommended by his therapist, I was stunned when the children's pastor said, no, there's no way we can do that.
We get 700 kids a week here and 500 of them are 11 and younger and what you're asking me to do is just impossible with the staff that I have. But I began to understand that I started doing research because I was like, how in the world does this happen in a church? The first people that I thought would rush to help us were the first ones to cut us loose and that conversation did not go very well because I began to have that fatherly protective instinct from my son and I began to start pointing things out like, well, how can you say it like this? I mean, my son is made in the image of God. Our mission statement says this, I'm a serving deacon at this church.
How can you just shove me away like that? And it's interesting how that process developed and I look forward to telling you the rest of it after the break. I want to hear it. I know our listeners want to hear it because Jesus came for everyone. That's right.
And anyone that's struggling, especially with different things, makeup, we ought to be able to reach out and help them. That's right. Hey, this is Kingdom Pursuit. We'll be back in just a moment. You're listening to the Truth Network and truthnetwork.com. Well welcome back to Kingdom Pursuits.
I'm Duane Carson filling in for Robbie Dilmore and we're at 1-866-348-7884, filling your questions. And I put a question out. Could someone tell me how we arrive at the date for Easter each year?
Because unlike Christmas that every year, December the 25th, Easter can be March or April. And we've got Bradford from Virginia and he's got an answer. Bradford, welcome to Kingdom Pursuits and it's going great, sir. And I'm looking forward to your answer because I say you're from Virginia. Where are you in Virginia? I'm actually in Glen Allen.
It's a little bit northwest of Richmond, kind of a suburb. Yes, sir. And we're going for UVA tonight?
I don't know. I'm more of a tech fan. Hey, that's okay too.
But if it's in the team, I guess I've got to pull for them. Yes. All right, so Easter. This year it's April the 9th. Next year it's March the 31st. I've had Easter on April the 20th. I've had Easter early like March the 27th. What in the world? How do they come up with this date?
Well they have this dark board. No, just kidding. It's actually the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, which is the first day of spring. Man, you are exactly right. I knew someone from Virginia could come up with that answer. You're exactly right. You have my... And they even used the big word, vernal equinox. I know, I know.
That was pretty impressive. I would just say that it's after the first day of spring. So hey, listeners, if you're trying to figure out how in the world do they come up with a date of Easter, why is it always a different date, it is determined by being the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of Easter, after the first day of spring. So this year we've got spring started on March the 20th, then comes first full moon April the 6th, which then the first Sunday is April the 9th, and that's how we have Easter for 2023. Bradford, thank you for giving the right answer.
I'm going to tell Robbie Dilmore that you are the winner of the riddle that Pastor Carson puts out. Alright, thanks. I'm also going to say, go tech when it comes to football, but I am going to say, go Hoos when it comes to basketball. Is that okay? Well, I'll tell you what, my wife is a Tar Heels, she went to UNC, so basketball season is the time of year where I walk very lightly around the house. So just let her know, I was there to watch North Carolina lose to Virginia the other night and it was a special moment. And we'll leave it at that.
That was the night that was very quiet around the house. I like Tar Heels being quiet. Now that doesn't mean I don't love you Tar Heels, and we still want you to be listening to the program. Bradford, again, thank you for the call, thank you for the answer. This is Kingdom for Suits, and we're talking with Dr. Brian Hack, and he is telling us about his son Jeremiah dealing with the spectrum of autism and his journey with him and, listen, with the church.
That's right. Dr. Hack, continue with your story. Well, as I said, the first group of people that we thought would come alongside us was the first one that cut us loose. Because as that conversation became heated with the Children's Pastor, which I would like to remind your audience that resolution was made, we got it worked out, we're still friends. But one of the things that he suggested was, well, listen, maybe you should go to church somewhere else. And he was just responding in the way that probably people had always responded up until that point.
And I understand that now, but that day I didn't understand it. And so I had resolved that I was going to resign my post as a deacon, and I was going to find somewhere else to go to church. And I looked around all over town, and I discovered that this problem just wasn't at my church. It was probably a problem in the church as a whole. So I started doing research.
I was convinced eventually to attend seminary, where that became the focus of my terminal degree work. And I started looking at books and journal articles, and I began to understand that this problem had been well-documented, intellectual or developmental disabilities, and even physical disabilities earlier on. People with disabilities have always had problems accessing the full life of the church. And the body of literature bears that out. And people with intellectual and developmental disabilities tend to be the most stigmatized and marginalized in all of these groups.
And this is confirmed by lots of different evidences. If most people go to church on Sunday and they look around, if you even have somebody who has autism attending your church on a regular basis, you should know that you're in the minority. The vast majority of churches and Christian schools don't include people with these disabilities.
It's not because we don't love. I want to be very clear about that. But I think it tends to be an overwhelming problem, that the problem seems so big that most of us get paralyzed and we don't ever begin somewhere. And the Christian literature has produced an increasing number of titles that address this matter years and years and years and year over year. And we have so many titles now that we even have a new genre of literature that is called disability theology. And essentially, despite all of that work being done by a lot of great Christian writers, it's had very little impact on the church. Why do you think that that is so that, I mean, disability theology sounds like we're finally getting our arms around it, but you're not seeing that.
No, and I think most people who have a loved one with a disability would probably agree. The first problem is, I think, is that we accept the notion of a, quote, disability theology. If you look at the Bible, the Bible does not offer a separate theology for people with disabilities. The overwhelming doctrine that applies to humanity is the biblical doctrine of humanity. In older writings, you hear that said as the doctrine of man. So the idea, there's just one doctrine of humanity, and it includes all of us.
And as you said in the last segment, we have to love everyone, everyone who seeks a saving relationship with Christ, we have to find a way to include them. So a willingness in our minds to separate people, even in our thinking, with a separate doctrine, a doctrine of disability, there is no such thing. Now we can learn from the Bible how Jesus treated people with disabilities. We can learn in the Old Testament some things about disability.
But there is no separate doctrine for people with disabilities. So there's that problem. And then I also think that the pressure to publish has maybe been a problem. Because when I went to seminary, one of the first things that, as a terminal degree holder, they tell you is, look, for legitimacy, if you ever want to work in higher education as a professor, you need to publish something. So what a lot of us do is we write something in order to get it published.
It's exactly what I did with my journal articles, is I wrote for the attention of the academy. But what I began to understand, and there's another Christian researcher in the U.K., her name is Jill Harshaw, and she lamented, I contacted her after I read her book, and she lamented that for all the work that's being done, it doesn't seem to be impacting the local church. And when I exchanged emails with her, she said in one of her emails to me, it really gripped me by the throat, she said if we had a proper sense of ecclesiology, the notion of a disability theology wouldn't even be necessary. And that really, I never forgot what she said, and I told her that I was going to shape my work around trying to make a difference in the local church. And then as I read Paul, in 2 Corinthians 2, 1, where, and I'm going to paraphrase because I don't remember the exact verbiage, he said, when I came to you, brothers, I did not come with lofty speech. Dr. Darrell Bock Did not come with lofty speech or lofty wisdom. Dr. Jon Streeter Exactly, so that your faith might be in the works of God and not in the words of men.
And so I resolved at that time that while I still had to publish my dissertation for the academy's satisfaction, that I would write something else that would be for the church at large, and that's where I've resolved to make myself understood and speak in plain terms so that people would understand, you know, why this is important. Indeed, I think people with disabilities, particularly intellectual and developmental disabilities, may be a lost people group right here in our own country and in other developed nations around the world, because this problem is well documented in many nations, not just our own. Dr. Darrell Bock And we may have listeners right now who have questions for you.
They could call in at 1-866-348-7884. You may be up there and you may be a pastor and like, okay, how should I be approaching this so that we're not segmenting, segregating, if you will, a group of people that we make sure that we're able to embrace and work with all of these children, regardless of what they're dealing with, so that they can know the love of Jesus. You may be as a parent, maybe you got a story of, like Dr. Hack, call us here at Kingdom Pursuits 1-866-348-7884, Dr. Hack, you're doing some different work now. Talk to us about that, how your work is going to be differing from the work that other people have been doing. Dr. Howard Hack First of all, it is different, but I'd like to say that my work is actually founded on those scholarly works of other writers. So I'm very thankful for their work, but I felt like where my gifting is, is to take their work and then aggregate it and then translate it into plain terms where I can present it to other people.
So I really look forward to talking about that after we come back from the break. Dr. Darrell Bock Yeah, we'll be back in just a couple of minutes. I want to thank you for listening today to Kingdom Pursuits. I'm Duane Carson. I'm not Robbie Dilmore, but I am Duane Carson with Date the Word, and we encourage you to come back in just a few moments to hear more from Dr. Brian Hack.
You're listening to the Truth Network and truthnetwork.com. Duane Carson Well, welcome back to Kingdom Pursuits, and I'm Duane Carson filling in from Robbie Dilmore, and he is with his future son-in-laws, and they're fishing for steelhead trout. And I just got a picture from him, and it is, it's a fish tail. I'm telling you, he has caught some big fish and maybe went to a store and bought them. I don't know, but I'm telling you, it's some big fish. And not only is he enduring and trying to catch fish, it's a picture of them standing in the snow.
And we don't have any of that down here in North Carolina, but up in Ohio where he is, they've got snow. And again, Duane Carson here having the joy of filling in for Robbie and to talk about a person's passion. Robbie has this dream with Kingdom Pursuits of talking to what we just would call ordinary people who have extraordinary dreams. And today we have Dr. Brian Hack, and part of his journey is, he has a son named Jeremiah. I've had the privilege of being the head of school where Jeremiah was attending, and what a delightful young man. But he's on the spectrum with autism, and so there's a variety of challenges that come with that. And some of that comes not just from a school having to learn how to adapt and meet those needs, but with the church. And Dr. Hack, you're talking right now, been telling us about how your work, and this isn't just the work of a father, this is the work of an educator who wants to be able to help other people help children like his son.
So Dr. Hack, I'm going to turn it back over to you. Tell us more about how your work is different. Well thank you, and just a reminder to those who may be just now tuning in is, my work is different, but it is founded on the work of other scholars who came before me.
And I'm very grateful for their work, and a lot of what I do now is based on areas where they said needed further study. So one of the things that I see in the body of literature right now as we read it is that the vast majority of these published titles, whether they're journal articles or books or op-ed pieces in the newspaper, they assume bad theology, which there's probably some truth to that, you know, when you look at a person with a disability, a great many people, even people within the church, the first thing they see is an object lesson for themselves. And no, that person is intentionally created and loved by God and is in need of a savior, just like the rest of us, so our thinking tends to put a partition between ourselves and other people who are differently abled for whatever reason, and we suddenly seem to think that those people, I don't know if we think it, maybe I spoke carelessly there, but we behave as if those people don't need to hear the gospel and be included in the life and fellowship of corporate worship like everyone else, and that's simply not true. Another thing you see in a lot of the present literature is, you know, they assume that there's an ignorance of what we should do, and there's a lot of articles and books out there on how to include people with disabilities in your church community or in your Christian school community, and that does need instruction, so I'm grateful for those titles, but in those cases where you talk about how people with disabilities are marginalized, the vast majority of those titles examine those disability marginalizations as case studies. In other words, a father will write how his son was treated or how his brother was treated, or in the case of Nancy Eastland, who first revived this subject back in the early 90s, she wrote as a disabled believer, who she herself had difficulty accessing the full life and fellowship of her church, but yet, as powerful as her work was, it was still a case study, and she highlighted a couple of other case studies in her work, so I think what ends up happening is when pastors read those titles, they say, well, yeah, that's one case in one church. That doesn't mean the whole church has a problem, and it's sort of like when you get told by a loved one that you trust that you have a flaw in your character.
It's hard to take. That's hard news to accept, but then when other people start telling you that they also observe that flaw in your character, you get to a place where you're willing to listen, and so I wanted my work to be different in that I didn't want it to be a case study. I actually wanted to do a quantitative study that examined many, many people and represented many, many churches so that at the end, my data could be such that I would be able to make a generalizable conclusion, so in my research, I had more than 500 churches represented in the initial study, and as the research continues, some people tried it out, as happens in many studies, and of course, with the ethics in scholarly research, you can't really confront those people because you give them the right to withdraw at any time for any reason and even to not give you a reason, so my instructions to the people that I interviewed via surveys was if you ever decide you don't want to participate anymore, just simply stop participating.
You don't need to contact me or even give me a reason, so in the beginning, I had more than 500. I ended up finishing with about 380, and one of my dissertation advisors who also sat on the approval board was a PhD in statistics, and he told me, yeah, 380, you're still okay, so but that research basically showed that prejudice and marginalization of people with autism is indeed so widespread that we can call that outcome an expected norm. An expected norm that they're going to be marginalized. That they're going to be marginalized because it's so widely observed in my study, and those about 1% of the churches represented in my study actually had mature autism-friendly programs and staff and facilities that were ready to serve those people with autism. Now my work is focused specifically on autism, but I would say that once you've learned how to serve somebody with autism and you're doing it regularly and you have a sustainable growing ministry in that area, chances are you can serve probably just about anyone else. You may have just answered a question that I'm kind of thinking, what about churches in communities where there really is no one with autism living there? Why should those people be concerned about this discussion of autism? Well that's a great question, and I appreciate you asking it. Let's go back to the biblical doctrine of humanity, which defends all human life.
It's not the purpose of it. The purpose of the doctrine is to tell us who God created us to be, what our role is in relationship with God, with one another, and with the rest of the created order. We're familiar, and one of my aspects of my study was to actually test church attendees for what do they actually know? Because in the modern church today, Christian Smith, who wrote a book many years ago now, he did a study called the National Study of Youth and Religion, and what he discovered is that a lot of people who call themselves Christians tend to espouse beliefs that are decidedly anti-biblical, and they don't even know it.
And Barna also confirmed this sometime later. So the biblical doctrine of humanity, our knowledge within the church, we're so familiar with it that we think we know what it means, but when you test somebody on the objective truths of that doctrine, as instructed by the Bible, in my research, the sample group scored a 62.4. Now that's a D minus, and in a good undergraduate school, a D minus isn't even high enough to get credit for a course. So, and about 20, the most disturbing thing that I found is about 25% of the tested sample claimed to be seminary trained paid staff. Now I didn't vet them, I didn't try to verify those answers or anything like that because I would have had to encroach on their personal information in a way that I was unwilling to do, but if that's true, I was alarmed by that because when I did a manipulation check of the data to see what the impact of those 128 people were in the sample, when I removed those people from the sample, the average score only dropped by 0.6. So those seminary trained professionals that were on the church's paid staff didn't even significantly improve that average. So they didn't score significantly better than the laity, many of whom may have just been attending church. They might not even be true believers.
Now why is this important? Well, autism is just one disability. It's the one that I was focused on, but we also have people who will lose abilities to old age, disease, or injury, and if you have a wrong view of what it means to be human, you're going to have problems if you don't understand this doctrine.
We'll begin to marginalize people that Jesus never marginalized. Absolutely. Hey, this is Kingdom Pursuit. I'm with Dr. Brian Hack, and we'll be back in just a moment to talk a little bit more about this critical issue.
You're listening to the Truth Network and truthnetwork.com. Well, welcome back to Kingdom Pursuits. I'm Duane Carson filling in for the awesome, great one, Robbie Dilmore, Kingdom Pursuits, where we're looking to hear from people, ordinary people who have extraordinary dreams, hear about their passions, and we're with Dr. Brian Hack today, and Dr. Hack has an incredible passion for helping churches connect with people that many times find themselves being marginalized because of maybe some intellectual development challenges, and he's telling us how we've got to have a biblical worldview as we work with all of God's created children. I love the statement you said earlier that every one of us are intentionally created by God, regardless of the level of intellect, regardless of the level of social standing. We're all created by God for special reasons, but understanding this, we can find ourselves low even as Christians, even as seminary trained, marginalizing those that really need us to be working, going the extra mile to make sure they can hear the gospel and know the love of Jesus Christ.
So Dr. Hack, tell us more about how your views are different, how we've got to understand the true God-centered view of who a human being is. Thank you, and I really do think it's even more important than I'm able to verbalize here, but let's start with the fact that a church that doesn't know its doctrine of humanity can't share it with other people, just like a person who doesn't know Jesus isn't out there trying to win souls. They can't offer people what they don't have, and in my study, what I found is that the vast majority of churchgoers who are familiar with the phrase made in the image and likeness of God are yet unfamiliar and even in some cases nearly illiterate when it comes to what exactly does that mean and why is it important. And history shows that the church doesn't just suffer for its shortcomings. Church problems become society's problems. So if the church can't be a model for society in this particular way, I fear that we're going to very soon see a day coming when our elected leaders and their appointed bureaucrats, many of those appointed bureaucrats, make decisions that escape the vision and scrutiny of the voters.
They're going to start trying to deal with economic and social hardships and problems on the horizons of our nation's future, and they're going to start proposing so-called solutions that are absolutely unthinkable. They're unconscionable for the person who believes that every human is intentionally made and loved by God and shares the very image of God, but we're not really living that in front of the society the way that we should. If the church is marginalizing, it won't be long before the government marginalizes. That's right. Is that what you're saying?
That's right. I have friends that I love dearly who depend on things like health care and the social care support that they get from some of our local and state and federal public trust. But what I'm fearful of is at some point, human worth in a secular view, that from people who don't have a biblical view of human worth, and just to be very brief, I know we're in our final segment here. To be very brief, the biblical view of human worth is that humanity has unassailable worth. Every single person, regardless of their ability, regardless of their intellect or their ability to integrate and fluently use any of their physical or mental capacities, has undying, unfailable love and value and worth to God. And we know this because Jesus went to the cross to die for every person.
That's exactly right. However, if we're not teaching that, almost anything can fill that vacuum. And we see a lot of different secular theologies, if you want to call it that. There are ideas on what makes human, human. Some theories, it's what I call an abilities-based approach. There's animal rights activists, for instance, that will say, look, whales and octopus and certain birds and the great apes demonstrate human-like intelligence. So they should have human rights. Now if you want to confer human rights to an animal, fine, go ahead and do that. But the thing that I'm concerned about is what happens when you say, well, we're going to confer human rights based on this functional ability. What happens when a human doesn't satisfactorily develop that functional ability to your satisfaction? And then if you can legally grant human rights to some, I'm sorry, but the other side of that coin is as you like to say, the other side of that coin is you can legally disenfranchise somebody from that definition of human. And this is where that doctrine of evolution is coming in, only the fittest survive.
If you can't provide, if you can't contribute, you're not needed. That's not Christianity. That's right. That's what we call the utilitarian view of humanity. So we'll pick back up with that after the break.
I really look forward to talking to you about those dangers. No. One last word to parents. Oh, one last word to parents. Your child, regardless of their ability was made in the image and likeness of Christ. And to pastors, you can't start a mature ministry overnight, but do what I tell my athletes to do.
When you're starting to change, do what you can do every day and grow from there. Hey, this has been Kingdom Pursuit with Dr. Brian Hack and touch base with us here at Truth Network. If you want more information with Dr. Hack and we thank you for listening today, have a wonderful weekend, the Lord bless. This is the Truth Network.
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