Interview: Dr. Jim Showers, “Here We Stand”
When you hear the word “doctrine”, what are your thoughts? Do you think of religious teachings that are often over the average person’s head? Or do you light-up wanting to know more about what people believe? This week we’re sitting down with Dr. Jim Showers, the executive director here at The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry and talking about what our organization believes. In our most recent issue of Israel My Glory magazine, we did something very unique, we broke down our statement of faith or doctrine statement and explained each point in detail. Why are we spending time on these issues? Why are they important? You’ll want to listen to find out. It’s deeper—but also simpler—than you think!
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Steve Conover: This is The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover, and with me is Chris Katulka. When you think about church doctrine, I'm sure some eyes begin to glaze over. Maybe you think of church doctrine as dogmatic, mundane, irrelevant, maybe even divisive. To paraphrase Christian writer and poet Dorothy Sayers, she said, "Doctrine is not boring. It's actually dramatic. It's not beautiful phrases nor comforting sentiments, but the terrifying assertion that the same God who made the world, lived in the world and passed through the grave and the gates of death. Show that to an unbeliever and they may not believe it, but at least they may realize that here is something that someone might be glad to believe."
Chris Katulka: And that's a powerful quote Steve. Doctrine does get a bad rap and it's definitely not boring. In fact, doctrine really defines what we believe as Christians. And that's why today we're happy to have Dr. Jim Showers, the executive director here at The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, to talk with us about our most recent issue of Israel My Glory, which is called Here We Stand. It's all that we believe here at The Friends of Israel. It's the key Christian beliefs that really govern and define who we are as an organization. And so we're excited to have Jim on with us to share about that. And then Jim's actually going to stick around to talk about the legacy and the life of a dear brother, a dear saint that we lost back in the spring, Dr. Renald Showers. And Jim is Dr. Shower's nephew. So we're excited to have Jim share with us about the life and legacy of Dr. Showers.
Steve Conover: It's going to be a great program. Let's get right to it.
Chris Katulka: Jim, you're a busy guy and I'm thankful that you took the time to be able to come and to share with us here in the studio. Welcome.
Jim Showers: My pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting me.
Chris Katulka: We're talking about our most recent issue of Israel My Glory, and the issue is called Here We Stand. It's our September/October issue for this year of 2019. And Jim, I was talking with Lorna Simcox who's the editor in chief of Israel My Glory, and we were talking about this latest issue, and it's pretty much an entire issue surrounding the key doctrines in the church and primarily the key doctrines that matter to us here at The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. And Lorna told me that this is an idea that you had, that you proposed to her, and I'm interested to know why did this matter so much to you to see this written?
Jim Showers: First of all, we're seeing today within Christians, within believers, a lack of really understanding or desire to study theology, doctrine. In fact, to give you an example of that, we're noticing today that particularly amongst younger believers, there's a declining understanding of Israel and appreciation of Israel and support for Israel. We ask the question why? It's because many are not being taught what the Scriptures say about Israel. So doctrine is what God wants us to know about him. It's a study. Theology is the study of God and what he teaches us through his Word. And that should be vitally important. In fact, it's foundational for everything we do. If we don't get that right, we're not going to get right the other things we're doing. I think theology is the study of theology in the statement of what you believe really frames who you are and it gives guidance to what the priorities are in life and what we believe God's will is for our life.
Chris Katulka: And I love the way that this recent issue of Israel My Glory lays it out. It really takes the core essence of our doctrinal statement, and takes each issue and defines it. And actually for the layman, explains why these doctrinal issues matter to The Friends of Israel. And I love that. So for anybody that's interested, this recent issue of Israel My Glory is a great way for you to see what we stand on. It's all biblical, but we stand on these core doctrines. And Jim, in this latest issue, we deal with the various doctrines. They range from God and creation, to salvation in Jesus Christ, Israel and the church to the prophetic events of the Bible. Jim, why do these doctrines, you know, these are very particular, some of them are more particular than what we even see in a church doctrinal statement. Why are these particular to The Friends of Israel?
Jim Showers: Well, we believe these are very foundational doctrines and one of the things you know that's unique and distinctive about The Friends of Israel is not oftentimes appreciated within the church community of believers is that we look at the Scriptures from a historical, grammatical, Jewish context. And so we try to bring in the understanding of the Jewishness of Scripture as we read through it and understand both the New and Old Testament. We also look at the overall focus of what God is doing here on earth. And some of these doctrines are key to that understanding that oftentimes are just ignored or not really studied in depth by the church. Or as we would understand that many in the church do not hold to the beliefs or the doctrine that we do. And so doctrine is a really very critical issue, Chris. It defines what you believe and where you're going to spend your time.
Chris Katulka: And one of the issues that we spend our time on, you were talking about the way we look at the Scriptures and we read the Scriptures, at The Friends of Israel we are a dispensational organization. We look at the historical, grammatical, the literal interpretation of the Bible. We don't think God is tricking us. And so that matters to us. Dispensationalism matters to us. And one of the core doctrines that comes out when we're talking about defining who we are as an organization is a value for Israel, the Jewish people, and a future for Israel. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Jim Showers: And also the distinction between Israel and the church.
Chris Katulka: Yes.
Jim Showers: Not mixing the two together as many want to do today. But dispensationalism, it literally means an administration, it's how we view Scripture. The reason that's so important is because God gave us his word. It's what he wants us to know about him. And it's also to guide us in what we do in our faith and practice. And so if you get the understanding of God's Word wrong, you're going to get your faith and practice wrong. And these are life and death matters, and they have eternal consequences. So to me, there's nothing more important than having a correct view and understanding of Scripture. In our professions today in life, men and women spend a lot of time studying and preparing for what they do because it's so important to get it right. And to be a professional there is a discipline to that. And we think that, in fact we're convinced, that doctrine matters and makes a difference.
I find it very interesting, Chris, we just came away from our Lancaster Prophecy Conference a few days ago. I had so many people come up to me at the conference and tell me what a great issue this was. Some people tell me it was the best ever. I had a pastor there who said, "You know Jim, since I received your magazine, this current issue and read it", which he said is outstanding, he said, "I have three different people in my church come up to me and say, 'Pastor, what do we believe?'" He said, "I said to every one of them, 'Here, take this magazine and read it, because they say it better than we could say it, and what they say is what we believe.'" So it really is important and I think it's important for people in their church to know what their church believes. The church beliefs should align with what you believe or what the Word of God teaches, and many people in churches today have no idea what the church believes.
Chris Katulka: And it's really been, if you think about it, sometimes even the belief systems have been watered down a little bit. So not only do the people not know what the church believes, but then on top of that, the leadership of a church might be watering down the doctrines, and the pulpit and the pew could be separated in what their belief systems are. I've noticed that a lot in a church, that the pew and the pulpit are often in two different theological camps and that's why I believe and I'm sure you do too, it's important for a Christian to be aware of what the doctrines are of their local church. Wouldn't you say?
Jim Showers: Yes, because that's where most doctrine is taught. The local church is the seat of where we go and study and have the Scriptures exposited to us. And so local church is vitally important. It is what God designed for this age of time, for the believer to belong to and to be a vital part of. Most churches have a doctrinal statement, but for many people it's on the top shelf, it's collecting a layer of dust. They've never read it, or if they have, they've simply just glanced at it and put it away and so they really don't understand what their church even believes. And yet if the doctrine represents your understanding of the Word of God, what God has communicated to man, you should know what it believes. And you should be in agreement with it, comfortable with it, because it's really what your church is supposedly communicating and it's teaching in its propagation of the Gospel.
We did this issue and I asked Lorna to do this issue because I just felt it was important for us to communicate to our readers of Israel My Glory, what it is we really believe. As we travel you run into this just like I do because you travel and speak as well. We run into people all the time that say, "Thank you. We're just not getting this kind of teaching anymore." And so I felt it was really important for us to stand up and say, "Here's what we believe." Not because we're doing anything heroic, but simply because that's the way it should be. We should be willing to say what we believe. If it really is important, it should be a priority to say what we believe.
Chris Katulka: And listen, to our listeners out there, for some of you you might already get Israel My Glory. You might've already gotten the Here We Stand issue, our September/October issue of Israel My Glory and you might already have gone through it and we thank you for that. But for those of you who are listening who do not get Israel My Glory, I want to encourage you to go to foiradio.org and right there on our homepage, you can go there and you can sign up for a one-year free subscription to Israel My Glory by going to foiradio.org. And when we come back after the break, Dr. Showers is going to be sticking with us, and we're going to be talking about something that's really near and dear, not only to The Friends of Israel, but to him. We lost a giant last spring, Dr. Rennie Showers and we're going to talk and remember it, his legacy, his life, and just chat about how amazing of a theologian and Godly man he was. So be sure to stick around.
Steve Conover: if you follow the news, you've probably noticed that the world seems to make a little less sense every day. Uncertain times can cause people to ask, "What's life all about? Where have I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?" You may even ask, "What on Earth is God Doing?" Fortunately, the Bible has answers to all of these questions and in Dr. Renald Showers' book, What on Earth Is God Doing? You can walk from creation to eternity in a compact, exciting, and easy to read format. It's guaranteed to change the way you look at the world. You'll understand the war Satan is waging against God, and how that conflict affects history and the direction the world is heading. If you're looking for answers and want to understand God's plan for it all, pick up a copy of What on Earth Is God Doing? At foiradio.org. Do it today.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back everybody. With me is Dr. Jim Showers, Executive Director of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. And last spring, we lost the spiritual giant here at The Friends of Israel, Dr. Rennie Showers. After decades of faithful service to serving the Lord, Dr. Showers went home to be with the Lord on April 5th. Dr. Showers was a personal friend of mine and one of my first bible teachers when I attended The Friends of Israel's Institute of Jewish Studies. And speaking of doctrine, which is on the tips of our tongues as we've been talking about it this episode, I sat under Dr. Showers for many doctrinal courses. And again, he will always be remembered to me as a humble man who was so well versed in the Word of God. But for Jim, Dr. Showers was even closer, he was Uncle Rennie. Tell us about Dr. Showers and what he meant to you, not just as a student but as his nephew.
Jim Showers: Well, Chris, I've been incredibly blessed in this life to know my uncle, to be related to him. Of course, I've known him from the time I can remember life, although he was somewhat at a distance only because when I was a child he was in school studying. But anytime I was around him, he was warm and friendly. He loved to joke. He always made me feel important and valuable around him. And as I got older I began to really appreciate what he had done in investing his life in the study of the Word of God. For Rennie, and that's what we always called him, was Rennie or Uncle Rennie.
I remember the first time here in a meeting at Friends of Israel shortly after I started, we were having a discussion and Rennie's name came up and I referred to him as Uncle Rennie and everybody began laughing. And I wasn't sure what I had said that caused everybody to laugh until I realized that they had never heard him called Uncle Rennie, he was just always Rennie. And that name speaks so much to his humility. You learn a lot by just observing, and I observed my uncle on countless occasions. After speaking, he would give people whatever time they needed. He would stay around, sometimes be the last one to leave the church or the meeting hall because people wanted to talk to him, they had questions. And Rennie was so patient with people and so gracious. You sat under his ministry, you know he was a great teacher.
Chris Katulka: Yes, he was very patient with me, you know?
Jim Showers: Yes. Well with everyone, me too. Rennie loved teaching and in fact, one of the comments I consistently got about Rennie was he could take the most complex passages of Scripture and break them down in a way that the common man could understand it. So that was part of the genius of Rennie, but he was headed down a path that was not going to take him into ministry and into theology. Rennie grew up... He was a very good student in school. The local family doctor for his family took a liking to Rennie. And so as Rennie was in high school, Rennie expressed an interest in going into medicine. The doctor was able to help him get into Cornell University and with a goal toward the medical school there and even got Rennie a scholarship.
Chris Katulka: Oh, wow.
Jim Showers: It was Rennie's senior year, it was May, he's graduating in a few weeks and he gets called down to the guidance office and told that he's got a scholarship, a free ride scholarship to Cornell, all costs paid. And back in those days, this is the '40s, money's tight, the war has ended a few years ago. My grandparents never had any real wealth and so it was huge for them to have a son who had college paid for. But Rennie didn't have a peace about it. The guidance counselor kept after him because they wanted to release this to the paper and Rennie kept avoiding him at school every day until finally he caught up with him and reluctantly Rennie said sure, but throughout the summer he had no peace. God just did not give him any peace about that decision until a week before he was supposed to go to Cornell to start his studies, he informed my grandparents that he wasn't going to go to Cornell. He really felt God wanted him into ministry.
Chris Katulka: How did they feel about that?
Jim Showers: Well, disappointed, you can imagine. Rennie announced this over dinner one night and he was so upset he went up to his room, he couldn't finish his dinner. And he knew he was disappointed, and that was one of the struggles he had, was he knew how important this was to his parents. And yet my grandfather, who was a believer but had only been a believer a short time, went up to Rennie's room and he said, "Rennie, do you really feel this is what God wants you to do, to go into ministry?" And Rennie said, "Yes dad, I do." And my grandfather said, "Then that's what you need to do." He did not give him a hard time. He encouraged him to do it.
Now Rennie had not applied with any Bible college. The long and short of it is he ends up at Philadelphia College of the Bible, and he studies there and then it goes on to Wheaton to get a master's and then on to Dallas to get another master's degree in theology. And eventually at Grace Seminary he earned a doctorate in theology. So Rennie spent a lot of time studying and preparing for his ministry, but at the same time, throughout all that time he was teaching and being used by the Lord.
Chris Katulka: It's just interesting that we're having this conversation while we're talking about the issue of Israel My Glory, Here We Stand, because a lot of the classes I had from Rennie were doctrinal courses. I really feel like that was at the heart of who Rennie was, to make sure that people understood the value doctrine, the importance of doctrine, and the reason that we believe these things, especially here at The Friends of Israel. Because by the time I met Dr. Showers, he was working and ministering full time through the Institute of Jewish Studies and with The Friends of Israel. But he had already had a very long ministry teaching at the Bible College at Philadelphia College of the Bible.
And for the people listening who don't know Dr. Showers at all, you know, for you and I, he's very familiar to you as a family and for me as a personal teacher, a mentor. But for someone driving and listening or on the podcast, they don't know Dr. Showers, what's a book that would be a great intro for people if they want to get to know the teachings of Dr. Showers?
Jim Showers: Well, the first one I would always recommend to people is What on Earth is God Doing? That is a book that really gives you a good understanding of the bigger picture of what God's doing here on earth from creation, to the new heavens and new earth. Rennie puts everything in context of God's universal battle with Satan. And I remember in my personal life, I read that book at a very critical time. It's as God was beginning to move me in a direction toward ministry. I was in business at the time and I read that book and suddenly it was like a jigsaw puzzle where suddenly you could see where the pieces went and it started forming a picture that gave me tremendous understanding. And suddenly things that didn't make sense before started making sense. And so I credit Rennie for a lot of my understanding.
My dad also was a great Bible teacher. I had a great foundation sitting under his ministry for over 30 years. But Rennie also helped me get a great understanding. And there's another book I would highly recommend is There Really Is a Difference. we were talking earlier today about what we believe, and you were talking about dispensationalism, why it's important. The other theological system that generally is out there is covenant theology. And so Rennie wrote a book to contrast the two. So if you want to know the difference between covenant theology and dispensationalism, get Rennie's book, There Really Is a Difference. Two key books.
You know, Chris, I wouldn't be sitting here having this conversation with you today if it wasn't for Rennie. And there's many reasons why Rennie impacted my life so significantly that led me to where I'm at today. But one of the greatest ones is he's the one that turned my name in here when Bill Sutter was looking for someone to hire to replace his position when he became Executive Director. And so Bill reached out to me and that led me here. If Rennie had not been with The Friends of Israel and had not given Bill my name, I don't believe I'd be here today.
Chris Katulka: It's amazing.
Jim Showers: That was Rennie. Rennie loved to connect people and help people who wanted to get into the ministry, direct them to places. He never interfered with the process, but he was great for opening doors and making connections.
Chris Katulka: For our listeners, if you're interested in getting one of Rennie's books to maybe get an... Because he wrote several books and we have them all here at The Friends of Israel. The last book he wrote before he passed was a book called The Sign Of His Coming. We actually did an entire national conference on it. If you're interested in getting one of the two books or any of the books that Dr. Showers wrote, you can simply go to foiradio.org and we'll direct you to those books. When Jim talks about how Dr. Showers took some of these difficult passages and made them easy to understand, it comes across in his writing, Jim. I mean he really wrote so that everyone could understand and There Really Is a Difference is that way. What on Earth Is God Doing? These aren't big books, these are books that give you a lot of amazing insight in just a few pages that are really easy to understand.
And so I want to encourage you to go to foiradio.org and there you can really connect with the life and the ministry of Dr. Renald Showers who we are going to remember for a very long time for the legacy he has in educating and teaching and ministering to people all around the world.
Jim Showers: And Chris, we have a resource page on our website filled with articles, messages, videos that Rennie did during his ministry years. So that would be foi.org/rshowers.
Chris Katulka: rshowers. Okay. foi.org/rshowers. And so friends, please be sure to go there. You can see all things Dr. Rennie Showers. Jim, thank you so much for spending the time with us today, sharing about your uncle and how much he means to us here at this organization and to you, and sharing about the importance of what it means to know doctrine, to understand doctrine and the doctrine of The Friends of Israel. Why we stand here. Thank you so much for being with us.
Jim Showers: You're welcome, Chris. Thank you.
Steve Conover: We're glad you joined us today. Our thanks to Jim Showers for being with us to discuss the latest issue of Israel My Glory magazine. If you would like to purchase the latest issue or if you haven't subscribed and would like a free one-year subscription, please visit us at foiradio.org. Chris, I'm excited about the upcoming series on the Beauty of the Psalms. Can you share with us what to expect?
Chris Katulka: Yeah, you know, I think it's normal to maybe look at one Psalm and study one Psalm and glean from one Psalm, but we're going to look at really the layers of all the Psalms. You know there's an original intent to the Psalm. Then there's what happened when those Psalms meant something to the community as a whole and then even the beauty of the Psalms as they impact our lives today because the beauty of it all is how both something that related to David thousands of years ago is an issue that relates to us even today. So I think it's going to be an excellent study.
Steve Conover: Thank you, Chris. The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry has been sharing the love of the Messiah and supporting Israel and the Jewish people since 1938. If you feel led to support our work or you simply want to reach out to us, visit foiradio.org, again that's F-O-I radio.O-R-G in the United States. You can call our listener line at (888) 343-6940. You can write to us at FOI radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. Call our Canada office at (888) 664-2584, again in Canada, that's (888) 664-2584. And please let us know where you're listening when you call or write. Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, co-written by Sarah Fern. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong, and I'm Steve Conover, Executive Producer. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide Christian ministry, communicating biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while fostering solidarity with the Jewish people.
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Interview: Jim Showers (cont’d), “Remembering Rennie”
Chris continues in our second segment talking to our executive director, Dr. Jim Showers about his uncle and beloved theologian and teacher, Dr. Rennie Showers, or “Uncle Rennie” as Jim affectionately knows him. Dr. Showers was promoted to heaven earlier this year and we can’t wait for you to hear how this giant in the faith obeyed God’s calling on his life at an early age, stayed humble through the years, and impacted generations.
→Do you know we have a resource page devoted to the work and ministry of Dr. Renald Showers? We do! Visit foi.org/rshowers to view articles, hear messages, watch videos and purchase materials that Rennie did during his ministry years.
What on Earth is God Doing?
By Renald Showers
You’ll finally understand the war Satan is waging against God and how that conflict affects history, the persecution of Jewish people and Christians, and the direction the world is heading.
ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY!
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.