September 25, 2013

Interview with Doug Van Dorn, Author of "GIANTS-Sons of the Gods"

I've known Doug for a long time, and I was honored to be a part of the preliminary work on his first book, "Waters of Creation".  He has now published a second, "GIANTS - Sons of the Gods" and in it, he addresses the Biblical issue of giants, the supernatural, and the victory that Jesus Christ won.

He was gracious enough to answer some questions about his latest book and about the supernatural in general. - Along with LEGO Legolas.

Sean: Why did you write, "Giants: Sons of The Gods" ?

DVD  I wrote the book for a couple of reasons.  First, it is simply fascinating.  I mean, who doesn’t love stories of giants?  Goliath is one of the best known stories in the Bible.  But when I found out just how many giants were in the Bible, and what the early Jews and church thought happened to them when they died, I thought this is a perfect way to tell the story of Christ in a way most people have never imagined possible. 

Sean:  I know in the book you addressed some of your frustration at the question, "what makes this practical?" But give me an idea of why this particular subject matters to us today.

DVD To our first mother, Eve, God promised that through her, one of her descendants would destroy Satan.  But along the way, there would be a great battle between the “seed” of Satan and the seed of Eve.  The giants are that seed in physical form in the OT.  This battle is a spiritual battle for the very souls of humanity, for our allegiance, obedience, and submission to the God of all creation.  These ancient foes present in very physical terms the spiritual battle that remains for Christians today.  We fight against the same foes.  Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers in heavenly places.  However, Christ has won the war.  It is his victory in this battle that gives Christians hope and freedom in the face of slavery and fear against our spiritual adversaries.

Sean:  If there is one thing you want people to take with them from your book, what is it?

DVD Jesus Christ has won the victory over the giants in the most stunning of ways.  This book is written so that he might be praised for his great work.

Sean: Explain a little more on how Jesus gained the victory over the Giants.

DVD I’m working on a catechism that will hopefully explain this in more detail, but one of the questions answers, “Jesus bound the ... giants in his life, disarmed and triumphed over them at the cross in his death, proclaimed victory over them in his resurrection, and rules over them in his ascension  and through his church, and will finally and totally destroy them in his glorious Second Coming.”  In other words, his entire earthly life was spent displaying his power over the demons, which the early Jews and Church Fathers believed were the disembodied spirits of the giants.  At the time of his death, Peter says that he went and proclaimed to them his victory over them.  Now, in his ascension, he is seated at the right hand of God, the position of power and authority.  This is a power over the powers and rulers and principalities that exist in heavenly places.  His victory and power is especially displayed in and through his church, which is where the kingdom of God comes, for in the preaching of the gospel, demonic strongholds are laid waste, and the people they hold captive are freed from their tyrannical and evil rule.

Sean:  If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?

DVD Not so far, but I’m always open to suggestions for a revision.

Sean:  Some of what you talked about in the book, for example, the half-breed creatures, was honestly, downright creepy.  Did any of this work keep you up at night knowing the reality of the things you were writing about?

DVD You know, that is actually an interesting question.  My first response was “no.”  However, I would be lying if I said I haven’t had a few creepy dreams about some of this stuff.  If the Fathers were correct, then even if the physical giants have all been slaughtered today (the verdict is still out on that question in my opinion), what they have left behind is perhaps too frightening to really deal with.  But that is exactly why the one thing to take away from this book that you asked a moment ago is so important.  Because Christ has overcome them (and their evil fathers), what has a Christian to fear?  I think Martin Luther may have said it best.  “And though this world with devils filled, has threatened to undo us.  We will not fear for God has willed, his truth to triumph through us.”  Christ will gain all the glory, and his saints will be saved and protected.

Sean:  Why do you think the supernatural explanation of Genesis 6 has been so discarded among evangelicals?

DVD  I’ve thought a lot about this question, and talked about it with several pastors.  My opinion is that we have been much more infected (I use that term like a disease) with modern rationalism and naturalism than we ever care to admit.  We are people of our own times, and this is all the more true when we do not read older things in order to help us see the blindness that our own culture can create in us.  C. S. Lewis wrote about this quite a bit in terms of what he called chronological snobbery, the lack of reading of old books, and the demythologization of our days.  What finally converted him (instrumentally speaking), was when he realized that the Bible was the myth that was true. 
But something else happened a lot earlier than modernistic philosophies.  It seems to me that what happened was that somewhere between the 3rd and 5th centuries, the church lost the worldview of the fathers of the giants—the sons of God, created the heavenly beings.  If the giants’ fathers are not supernatural, then it follows that neither are the giants.  In so doing, the church lost the very categories that makes such belief possible.  I’m not quite sure how it happened, but it is clear that by the time of Chrysostom and Augustine (around the 400 A. D.), this worldview had been thoroughly rejected by the church.  Perhaps the influence of the Rabbis, who basically outlawed the idea of supernatural “sons of God” because of the rise of Christianity after the destruction of their temple in 70 A. D. had some kind of a negative impact in the church in this regard, I don’t know.   Perhaps the sands of time literally buried older stories in the sands and deserts of the Middle East.  The later Fathers sometimes called these things “the silly ideas of the Jews” (and worse).  So it is ironic that it was the Jews that first put the kibosh in believing these things.  
Whatever the case, we need to stop paying lip service to our belief in the supernatural and then denying it when it stares us straight in the face, no matter how uncomfortable that may be for us.  We need to realize that this is no more “silly” than belief in a Trinity or a God-man or a virgin birth.  To secular people, these things are ridiculous and absurd.  To us, they are true, historical, and the core of our faith.
Sean:  I think that's a good way to put it, "paying lip service" to our belief in the supernatural.  In fact, it made me reflect on my own views of things and how at first all of what you write about seems so strange, but then again, so does a talking serpent, a talking donkey, a floating axehead etc. etc... yet all of those are in the Bible as well.  I think it's important to realize that for a lot of people, what you present in your book really is a kind of a shift in worldview for them.  I find it fascinating that many Christians (past and present) scoff at the supernatural view and yet the secular world embraces it. In Hollywood for instance with all the movies and books about vampires, giants, and even all the mythology that is so prominent at the box office with "Thor", the "Avengers", "Superman" etc.  Based on that, do you believe this subject matter could (and should) be used as an apologetic in the same way Paul used "the unknown God" to witness to the Greeks?

DVD  Very much so, and this also gets at the question you asked a moment ago about practicality.  X-Men, Superman, the Avengers—these are but the recycling of ancient myths for modern sensibilities.  We wrap it up in evolutionary and scientific garb, but it’s the same thing.  Thor is probably the best example, as he is both a modern comic superhero and a real Nordic demigod like Hercules, which would make him a giant.  If Christians can understand the old ways of thinking and wrap their minds around the idea that sometime in our ancient dim past, heavenly beings came down to earth and produced a race of demigods who were revered and then worshiped the whole world over, then suddenly we can make sense of why these themes do not go away (these beings never die), and we can begin to think of situations where we can enter into conversations with people to help them understand that there is tyranny involved when such powers are in play, even though it seems fun and cool the way it is portrayed in the comics and the movies.  But Jesus has freed us from that necessity; he has defeated the Prince of Demons, and ushered in the glories of the age to come through his work and his church.  I think two particularly fertile fields here are Mormonism, since they already have a worldview that accepts the gods, and Roman Catholicism, since their practice of saint worship is almost identical to the ancient practice of venerating and worshiping demons through statues.  We just have to figure out ways of making Christ’s absolute rule and authority, his utter uniqueness and power known, and the dangers of engaging in misplaced beliefs and practices to those who do not understand what they are doing.

Sean: By the way, are you aware that LEGO has an entire theme called "Chima", which is based on "Chimera" (and I think it was originally called Legends of Chimera before they changed it)? 

DVD  I’m not sure.  Is this the same LEGO that makes Leggo-My-LEGO-Eggo-Legless-LEGO-Legolas and his friend Legless-LEGO-legolas’s LEGO Lass? 

Sean:  While reading, "Giants: Sons of the Gods", I noticed you were very careful to avoid pure speculation, conspiracy theories, and just plain nonsense.  What did you encounter in your research that kept you looking for facts and reliable stories?

DVD  It is just a bent I have.  Actually, there are two bents that I have.  I’m actually drawn to conspiracy theories.  I find them fascinating.  But I’m not sure how helpful they are.  Did you ever see the Mel Gibson movie Conspiracy Theory?  People always remember that he got one conspiracy right, and that becomes the main storyline of the movie.  What people forget is that he got hundreds of them ... wrong!  In fact, the character was basically certifiable.  That’s what delving into conspiracies can do to a beautiful mind.  So I wanted to go against my darker side and write a book that was researched by respected and peer reviewed authorities.  Besides, there are a growing number of conspiratorial books on giants out there right now, so I needed to be different. 
That’s my other bent.  Perhaps it makes me a bit crazy, given that I like conspiracies.  But even those conspiracies I like to see how well documented and researched they are, and what kind of sources people are using.  I don’t like pure speculation.  I also know that there are a lot of claims I’m making that are difficult enough to swallow, even with good, solid research behind them.  So, I figured, let’s stick with the facts, and give people a good trail to follow in footnotes, so that they can check for themselves if what I’m saying is true.  The reader can draw whatever conspiracy hypothesis he or she wants to draw without any help from me.

Sean:  I think most people are in some way drawn into conspiracy theories.  I think they fascinate us because often times we hope it will lead us into a larger world, or a darker world, or a more mysterious world.  However, I also think they are very dangerous because it breeds fear (even if there are some truth to them) and in Christ, our fear has been cast out. Knowing you for as long as I have, I know you have a great and wonderful burden to proclaim the gospel.  What then is the appropriate response of a Christian embracing the view you present in the book?  Do you view it as a worship issue?  What can and should churches be doing in light of the facts you presented?  (I know, that was 3 questions rolled into one)

DVD  First, I think we need to be willing to embrace that which is clearly taught in the Bible, even if it seems strange to us.  This works on the level of our presuppositions.  It is a basic attitude we approach the Bible with.  Frankly, most of what I write about in the book is perfectly clear—if you have the ancient worldview to comprehend it. 
Second, all of life is in one way or another a worship issue.  So, yes, it is about worship.  We can fall off either side of the boat, however.  People who recognize the supernatural can still fall prey to its seductions.  They can even engage in demonic behavior while justifying that it keeps the devil away.  I think of saint worship or—and I don’t want this to offend anyone needlessly, so I’ll try to say it carefully—much of the “tongues” phenomena that takes place around us.  It looks so foreign to what we see regarding tongues in the Bible, and I believe it can certainly have demonic origins.  On the other hand, when we refuse to understand or acknowledge the invisible realities of what is before us, we can be duped into thinking it doesn’t really even exist or doesn’t really have much of an impact in this world.  This can have serious repercussions if we are not able to recognize that others, especially in places where demon worship is still so strong, are bound up in slavery by forces we don’t understand.  I have serious concern that this is exactly what is happening again in America at the present moment.  Perhaps Hollywood’s fun movies are portending something of a great evil that even now is descending upon our land, bringing about a neo-Dark Age.  But the gospel works at the supernatural level, proclaiming to them that when God saves a person (supernaturally), they no longer have a right to hold them captive. 
Thus, third, the church can start talking about these things again.  There is a ton of solid research that backs up the worldview I present in this book.  We first need to educate the church and understand how to make sense of these things while maintaining Christian orthodoxy.  Then we can strategize how we can use this knowledge to reach people with the only Word that will free them from that which they do not even know binds them in slavery.  This will in turn mean that we must recover the only gospel message that has any power over these entities.  “One little word shall fell them, that word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth.”  It is the message of Jesus Christ, born in flesh, dead in the tomb for our sins, buried to proclaim his victory, raised to life for our justification, ascended into heaven as King and Lord of the universe, returning again to judge the living and the dead.  This Word they cannot stand, for He has defeated them and they are powerless against the risen Christ.

Sean:  Has writing this book inspired you to start on another?  Is there something in your research and or writing that you would love to expound on one day?

DVD   I’m always working on books, too many of them probably.  If I could find a way to write a book on the fathers of the sons of God that was new material or old material told in a new way, I would do it in a heartbeat.  I’m also working, as I said, on a catechism to train people in the supernatural things in the Bible.  I’m calling it The Erie Catechism (a double entendre based on the town I live in). 

I would like to thank Doug for taking the time to do this little interview.  "Giants-Sons of the Gods", is available here  in both paperback and kindle versions.   You can also listen to Doug's sermons preached at Reformed Baptist Church Of Northern Colorado online here.

July 23, 2013

Tears In Heaven & Joys On Earth

"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." -Revelation 21:4-

This of course is part of the Apostle John's description of the New Heaven, and the New Earth.  How often have we all thought of it when loved ones have died, or have had it quoted to us when things on this old Earth have been difficult?  It's so comforting to think that those things which cause us pain, which cause us to mourn, which cause us to cry, will be no more!

This verse has not only comforted me, but it has also intrigued me.  Now, I beg of you, don't take what I'm gonig to say here and make a systematic theology out of it, because that's not the point of this post.  Having said that, this verse has always intrigued me because I believe it to be somewhat of a paradox that in the New Heaven, and the New Earth, we will have tears that need to be wiped away!  Why is this?  Perhaps it's because we will remember all the things that drove us to our knees in supplication - sickness, death, the sinfulness of this world etc.  Maybe (and I think this is very likely) it's because we will remember our own sin, and what our great Savior has done for us by redeeming us not only from the curse of death, but our evil natures, and has brought us to the fulfillment of what is so often promised in Scripture.  Or is it possible, that we might have tears in heaven because we miss the joys we were given on Earth? I know what some of you are thinking - blasphemy!  We are so trained in our modern (and in some cases postmodern!) Christianity to think of this world as bad, and heaven as good.  This of course is true in a lot of ways.  Turn on the news and tell me that you don't long for Jesus to come back.  Go through a break-up, and convince me that you don't desire that tear-soaked pillow to be replaced by the bosom of Christ.

There is much evil in this world (and let us not forget part of that is due to the fact that we as sinners, are in this world!) but we would be foolish to forget that God has given us many joys on this Earth as well.  We can't ignore Genesis, can we?  Did not the God who created this world, declare it "good"?  The fall of cousre has destroyed much of it, but this is still our Father's world, is it not?  Has He blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ?  Absolutely, but hasn't He also given us so many "earthly" blessings as well?  I believe He has, and despite some of the scoffing I may receive for saying this, I'm actually going to miss some things on this Earth in the here and now.  Who hasn't climbed a 14er here for instance and admired the beauty of God's creation and thought, "I'm sure going to miss this!"  (I know, I know, heaven and the new Earth will be very beautiful as well, but don't miss my point here)

Much of this thought was inspired the other night when Heidi and I were walking around the park near our house with our little darling Aisley.  It was a beautiful night, and we walked towards the park, and heard music getting louder as we approached.  (Apparently there was a sweet 16 Disney themed birthday party taking place)  The music was loud, as I mentioned, but it was fun, and we walked a couple of times around the park, talking and wanting to go to Disney etc.  The last time we were going around, Heidi suggested that we take Aisley to the slide so she could play a little before we left.  Much to my shame, that wasn't something I wanted to do because we were really tired, and it was still warm and I thought we should get back.  I repented of my sin, put on my "happy heart" and we headed over.  Aisley was thrilled.  She would climb the stairs to the top, sit down, and slide down into my arms. 

Then it happened.

Heidi went over to the stroller to get a drink, Aisley climbed the stairs one last time, and she paused at the top, looked around at the other kids playing nearby, then, looking down the end of the slide at me with that smile of hers she very joyfully said, "Hi!".  Moments like that seem so simple, and way too often, I take them for granted, and don't enjoy them the way that I should, but now that moment is etched forever in my mind - that picture of my little girl at the top of the slide before she had the joy of going down.  Afterwards, I teared up, and as we were making our way back to the car, Heidi asked me what was wrong, and it took me a little bit to answer.  Why was I sad?  Why was that beautiful moment with Aisley affecting me this way?  I answered Heidi that I was said, because I knew that there would come a day, where we wouldn't see our little girl at the top of a slide anymore - for any number of reasons.  Something may happen to us, something may happen to her, and unless Jesus comes back first, death will find us all, or it may be as simple as the fact that she will grow up.  Even thinking about it now, I tear up and get emotional.  Sin has ruined the world, but we still have joys in the world.  As I said, one day, I won't see Aisley with that big smile on top of the slide, and it breaks my heart.

In heaven, I'm going to miss that joy on earth, but I'm sure I will remember it.  And when I remember it, I'll need Jesus to wipe away those tears.  For now, I will enjoy those moments and treasure them up, even if it makes me sad to think that one day those moments will be gone.  Enjoy the joys we have been blessed with here and now,  the joys on earth, and look forward to the glorious day when the Great King will wipe away the tears in heaven.

February 25, 2013

2012 Books In Review

A little late, but here is the list of books I read in 2012, in the various categories I've labeled.  I've done a very brief review of my favorites from each category.


Table Talk  by Martin Luther
Right In Their Own eyes  by George Schwab
The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume II  by Thomas Brooks
The Bondage Of The Will  by Martin Luther

Favorite:  Table Talk  by Martin Luther
     I haven't enjoyed a book like I enjoyed this one in a long time.  I usually mark pages for quotes and passages that I want to remember, or that i love etc.  This one has little page markers all over it.  Luther is hilarious, insightful, witty, and an amazing storyteller.  What I wouldn't give to have been one of the students who sat at his table!


The Two Towers  by J.R. Tolkien
The Hunger Games  by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire  by Suzanne Collins
The Endless Knot  by Stephen Lawhead
Chosen  by Ted Dekker
Patrick  by Stephen Lawhead
Killing Floor  by Lee Child
Mockingjay  by Suzanne Collins

Favorite:  The Hunger Games  by Suzanne Collins
     My favorite author is Stephen Lawhead, and most of the time, his book(s) would definitely be the favorite.  However, this year, I was intrigued with the Hunger Games.  It was an amazing page-turner, and although Collins isn't the best writer I've read, she can certainly tell a good story, and that's what the Hunger Games was.  Unfortunately, the rest of the series wasn't as good in my opinion, and went nowhere.  The Hunger Games thrived where the other two books, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay, lost steam as they progressed.  It was actually a big disappointment by the time I finished the third book, but that takes nothing away from the brilliance of the Hunger Games. 


Through My Eyes  by Tim Tebow
God's Battalions  by Rodney Stark
American Conspiracies  by Jesse Ventura
Walt Disney by Neal Gabler

Favorite:  Walt Disney  by Neal Gabler
     This could have been tied with American Conspiracies, but "Walt Disney" edged out.  It was a long book.  A LONG book, but very interesting and I couldn't really put it down.  Perhaps it stems from our love of Disneyland/World, but it was extremely insightful into who Disney really was.  At the same time, it's a sad story of a man who has left so much conjured up happiness in the world.  I highly recommend this biography to anyone in the least bit interested in Walt Disney.  The sections on Snow White and Disneyland are especially notable. 


Crime and Punishment  by Fyodor Dostoevsky
To Kill A Mockingbird  by Lee Harper

Favorite: To Kill A Mockingbird  by Lee Harper
     Easiest choice of the year.  I didn't get to read hardly any classics this past year which was disappointing.  This is due to "Crime and Punishment".  The book took FOREVER to trudge through and thus deprived me of time to read other classics.  I know a lot of people like this book, but it just never took off for me.  However, "To Kill A Mocking A Bird" was every bit the classic I've always heard it was.  The character of Atticus Finch is one of the best in literature, of all time, hands down.  His morality, courage, and the lessons you get along the way are phenomenal.  My only regret is that I was never asked to read this in high school! 


Lit!  by Tony Reinke
The Trellis And The Vine  by Colin Marshall
The Intolerance of Tolerance  by D.A. Carson
Manly Dominion  by Mark Chanski
The Archer And The Arrow  by Philip Jensen

Favorite:  Manly Dominion by Mark Chanski
     This was the hardest choice of the year.  So many great books in this category.  A very close second runner up is "Lit!".  (Any book on reading books gets my nod!)  However, "Manly Dominion" was very timely, goring through a year with little Aisley.  It has such great insight and knowledge on what God requires of men as men, as husbands, and as fathers.  Given to me by dear friends, I would very much like to see this book read and discussed by groups of men (and women!).