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.