I’ve become a student at Liberty University

As of August 1st, 2017, I have officially enrolled at Liberty University as a student.

Nearly a year and a half ago, I started this site with the desire to document my journey of self-study regarding The Bible and God. Since then I’ve been pretty productive in most months, providing commentary on Christian films, books, documentaries and online classes.

Unfortunately, one thing that has always been in the back of my mind is the idea that I may be “missing out” on major parts of the Bible and understanding of more intricate, larger-in-scope Christian topics. So, since 2015 I’ve been researching different possibilities school-wise, and as of the time when I started this site, I just wasn’t sure how to proceed.

In my very first post I wrote this: “I really do need to learn more, and going to church in-person is a real struggle for me…so this online, distance-learning approach is the best way. -&- Also, at the end of the day I’m not looking for a degree — a degree is nice…but a degree is a very worldly thing. -&- what I’m looking for is a much better understanding of The Bible, how it relates to the world we live in at this point in time…and a better relationship with God.

As you can see, I wasn’t necessarily looking for a degree early on (as I already have multiple degrees) and I was very concerned about a degree “focus” being a “worldly” thing I’d be pursuing, vs. a closer relationship with God. A year and a half later, I’ve realized that I need to make the next step and get actual training from experts (at what is the largest Christian university in the world), vs. trying to learn on my own, all the time. Surprisingly, of all the major, regionally accredited Christian schools I looked at, Liberty was the most affordable. It also was the easiest to enroll in, considering its reputation — no unnecessary amount of paperwork/essays/references/etc. — many schools wanted multiple church references.

This program I’m now enrolled in consists of 20 courses, and if all goes well I plan to study more things at Liberty. It feels wonderful to be a real student again (last time was 10 years ago exactly, in 2007!), and at the end of August classes officially start (I still haven’t decided what I’ll be taking first). Lastly, I did look into pursuing more classes at Koinonia, Moody Bible Institute and other lesser-known, less-accredited Bible schools (primarily to save money), but Liberty is what I’ve found to be the best mix of reputation, affordability and flexibility, by far.

 

Buddhism – Charlie Campbell

Buddhism is also extremely complex, involving all sorts of paths and obstacles one must travel and overcome in order to essentially become nothing, when everything is said and done. Why anyone would want to bother with such a weird religion is beyond me, but Charlie does a very good job (as usual) explaining all the odd intricacies that permeate throughout this mysticism heavy belief system.

I don’t have anything bad to say about this film, and I think it helps give a very thorough — yet approachable — insight into what believers of this faith think, and how one might go about trying to talk to them.

Hinduism – Charlie Campbell

In this video Charlie covers Hinduism, and it’s pretty fascinating to learn about the origins of Hinduism, how it’s very much like New Age Spirituality in many ways (all is part of God, but he is an impersonal God) and it was weird to hear about the 300+ million “avatars” that are the Hindu god Brahman in various physical forms.

Even more bizarre is how the entire religion is clearly India-focused, as the name itself is from an area of land in that part of the world, and almost all of its followers are from that specific nation. That alone should tell its followers that it’s not possibly true, because if all humans were capable of becoming perfect and becoming part of Brahman, then it’s very bizarre only one nation really — in the entire world — knows the truth and can escape the eternal torment of reincarnation (due to humans’ wicked behavior).

It was also sad to see that the religion has kept so many of India’s population in extreme poverty … because according to Hinduism, it’s actually bad for anyone to help others less fortunate. That — you see — will screw up your chances after you die, and may cause you to come back again, which isn’t what you want. So people avoid helping the poor on a massive scale. This bizarre mindset also explains (to Hindus) why there is such a divide between poor and rich people — poor people are that way because they were evil previously, and rich people are well-off because they were very good people previously, and deserve it.

The entire religion is very odd, and the way it’s designed to keep the caste system in place among Indians is extremely unfortunate, but helpful to the wealthy.

The Global Flood and the Hydroplate Theory

Apparently there is a brouhaha in the Creation Science circles about which theory best explains the global flood that affected Noah. The longest running (and most well known theory) is the “Canopy” theory, which says that a layer of water/ice surrounded the planet, and that, in turn, caused the rain for the global flood. The next well known (and currently most popular) theory is the Plate Tectonics-based theory, which states that the plates’ moving allowed for waters “from the deep” to occur, but that likely a canopy and/or outside-Earth influence created most of the water involved in the flood.

The last theory, and the most hotly debated one, is the “Hydroplate Theory,” which says that the Earth’s crust was created on top of a large pocket of water (about 10 miles beneath the surface) and that was under immense pressure and erupted. That eruption caused one super continent to break apart (creating the continents we have now), created all the mountains of the world in a matter of hours, was responsible half of the world’s ocean water, caused all the space debris, defaced the moon with its crust ejection (water went up 20 miles), increased years to 365 days and also created all of the world’s radioactive materials. It’s an all-in-one theory that may bite off more than it can chew, in my opinion.

I feel like this lecture is a perfect example of what’s wrong with some people’s focus in Christianity. Instead of all of these “scientists” spending their time trying to find the exact “science” behind an unknowable event, they should be making worthwhile content that can help others. I feel like this lecture shows the ugly side of cliques in religion and how whole groups of people say “You don’t know the Bible!” and then, “Oh, but I love them – they’re dear Christian brothers.”

The theory was mildly interesting, but not convincing, and the lecturer talked in a somewhat condescending manner. I also felt like I was being given only some of the details, since I checked out his website and another topic he discussed (which I do know about) omitted large amounts of data and showed poor reasoning skills. So I’m taking what I heard from him with a grain of salt. Oh, and the last half-hour Powerpoint presentation wasn’t good, so I didn’t watch that in this $10 on-demand rental.

Roman Catholicism – Charlie Campbell

The next presentation I watched from Charlie Campbell covered the Roman Catholic church in a good amount of detail, and shed some much needed light on many of the church’s odd, lesser-known teachings.

For starters, I found it amazing how the Catholic church added 11 books to the Bible (called part of the Apocrypha by non Catholics) in the 1500s that up to that point weren’t considered canon, yet were often the source for the church’s focus on accumulating wealth from its followers. I also found it really bold and dangerous how terrible some of the verses were from those non-canon books, when they flat out say donations to the poor (via the church, obviously), allowed all sin to be forgiven. What!?

Another thing that was very odd to me was how much the Catholic church likes to revise its own history. They’ve changed their focus and scriptures and message globally around the world throughout the centuries so much that it probably would take a lifetime just to learn all of its history — and for all its history, they can’t even prove a direct connection to the Apostles.

Lastly, the prayer to Saints and Mary always bothered me, and I feel that Charlie did a pretty good job explaining it, and how no one but God is good (so we shouldn’t be praying to anyone but Him). Charlie could have perhaps dug into that aspect a bit more, because I feel that’s always one of the most obvious things people feel is “odd” about the church, and wish to discuss.

This is a good discussion worth hearing, and the end part where he explains how to listen to and discuss subjects with Catholics was actually pretty helpful, so I think the entire presentation — from start to finish — is worth watching.

New Age Spirituality – Charlie Campbell

This New Age Spirituality video from Charlie Campbell dives into the odd world of New Age mysticism, and how, at its core, those beliefs try to convince followers that they (and everyone else!) are actually God. All is one, one is all.

Charlie does a very good job in this video of explaining a lot of the very odd things they believe, like that humans, plants and even rocks are actually the same … and that humans have “forgotten” they are God, which is why they suffer and are evil. Oh, and speaking of evil, they also don’t believe there is any right or wrong, and that ultimately all religions and beliefs conclude with humanity becoming one and harmonious in nature.

Speaking of that “conclusion,” Charlie also explains that New Agers think that a one world government, religion, monetary system, language, etc. are what we all need, and what we should all strive for. That, obviously, is exactly what the Bible warned of (long ago!) before widespread New Age-anything gained traction.

This particular lecture was also very good because it was longer, and allowed Charlie the opportunity to explore certain topics and strange beliefs in greater detail, which was appreciated. The last part (witnessing to New Age believers) was short, but I suspect part of that is due to the fact that New Age followers likely won’t even listen to Christianity and reason, no matter what is said (since most New Age believers are almost certainly informed teenagers/adults who choose that faith vs. being born into it), because it allows them personal freedom and no accountability.

So I get that Charlie tried to offer a few ways to converse with New Age folk, but I suspect the options are limited with them.

Islam – Charlie Campbell

In this video Charlie gives a lecture on the foundation of Islam, what some of its core teachings are, how it differs from Christianity/Judaism and how you can possibly evangelize to them.

Unlike his films about Mormonism and Jehova’s Witnesses, I almost feel like this one wasn’t as useful, because it seemed flawed in two key areas:

1) While the history of Muslims is covered to a certain degree, I get the sense that Charlie didn’t want to issue blanket statements about them, with him roughly saying, “They’re not all bad or all radical in ideology.” I understand why he’s possibly saying that as a Christian who’s supposed to love thy neighbor, but the very core belief of Islam is that non-Muslims aren’t just wrong about their beliefs — they are to be annihilated. Christians can evangelize to anyone, no matter how bad they are to them … but Muslims genuinely want the eradication of all infidels, no matter how nice they are.

2) At the end of the video Charlie sadly makes it clear that you can’t really discuss the Bible with Muslims … at least not until they’re good and ready. Why? Because early on they cannot tolerate any questions about their faith at all. None. So, Charlie’s suggestion is to live a Christian life and have them see it. Again, I understand what he’s saying, but this just shows how hard it is to reach Muslims and I just wish Mr. Campbell sorta made it very clear that unlike other religions, Muslims are likely the most intolerant of others’ views, and that makes interaction with them dangerous.

Overall, not a bad video, but not a great one either. His outreach message simply didn’t hit all the right notes, unfortunately.