Left Behind – 2000

Earlier in the year I reviewed the recent Left Behind film that came out, and I felt like it didn’t have much to say in terms of God or getting saved or anything like that. My feeling was if it didn’t have much to say about that, it probably didn’t warrant a viewing.

This original film version starring Kirk Cameron from 2000 does a better job, and wasn’t nearly as low-budget or bad as I remembered. I would say it’s on par with a bigger-budget-than-usual made-for-TV movie from that same era.

The film follows Cameron as a reporter who is on a plane when the Rapture occurs, after he has done a new story in which Israel is nearly invaded by its neighbors. After he lands, end-time events unfold. I’m not sure how true to the movie is to the book, but it’s surprisingly watchable from start to finish.

The weakest parts though are the very odd ones with the airline pilot finding God after a lifetime of neglectful behavior and even cheating on his wife. Maybe it’s portrayed better in book form, but it just isn’t convincing at all here. Also, the ending with the Antichrist is very jarring and felt unnecessary, from a narrative sense. That could have been saved for a sequel (there are two, apparently).

If you find this for cheap or see it on TV, I would say give it a watch. It doesn’t have a ridiculously strong Biblical message, but it does offer much more than the newer film adaptation does.

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LibertyU Blog – Getting Ready!

Wow — hard to believe how far I’ve come along with my return to college in such a short amount of time! A month ago I wasn’t 100% sure I was even going to attend a real college anytime soon, but after I decided to take the plunge, here I am, with a week or so remaining before classes officially start.

I’m currently enrolled in two classes — Hermeneutics I and Theological Survey I — both of which will run for two months. It’s been over half a decade since I’ve taken a college class of any kind, so this will be quite the return for me!

I called Liberty U Admissions today to clear up financial aid stuff (I just can’t get it this time around due to previous loans, so it’s all out of pocket) and they also explained that my courses do not include textbooks — I would have to get them via the store. I honestly thought the Willmington School of the Bible had pre-made textbooks specifically for the classes, but nope! This is truly a return to normal classes for sure!

I ended up having to buy four textbooks — three Biblical textbooks and one report-writing/standards book (likely for use with all the papers I need to write). I should also mention how nervous all this paper-writing is making me — I haven’t really done that in ages also!

In my next post about the college I’ll dive into some things I picked up to help me get back into the swing of things, but I will say this regarding textbook ordering: I was able to get three of the books via Amazon, and when I went to checkout, Amazon informed me that if I had a .edu address, I could get a free Prime membership for 6 months! Using my @liberty.edu address I quickly said yes and — in addition to saving approx. $50 from the school’s online bookstore — I was able to save at least $50 for Amazon Prime (which I didn’t have). In fact, since I can renew it for the next four years, I just saved $200+ from Amazon.

I’m very excited to be returning to college — even if it’s just purely online-only this time around — and I’m excited to document my journey of learning!

The Egyptian, Masonic, Satanic Connection

I was drawn to this book because I wanted an in-depth, not-sugar-coated look at the occult and its impact in modern society. I kept seeing references to this book online, and figure it must be the go-to source of material for this subject matter.

However, at 109 pages, I really feel like the book does very little to fully explain Egyptian, Masonic or Satanic content in any significant way. I understand what the book is trying to do — briefly cover what each of the three are about, spend a couple chapters saying they’re linked to one another, and then have a couple chapters devoted to real-world crimes occult followers commit … but throughout my reading of it I felt like there was very little substance to it all. I mean it’s pretty obvious Ancient Mystery Schools, Egyptian Mythology, Masonic rites and Satanism are all connected and it’s highly unlikely anyone picking up this hard-to-find, expensive book would be unaware of any of these.

What I expected the book to do was explain — with real-world crime cases one after another — how the occult was involved. Instead, we get about 10 pages of low-resolution kids’ drawings, vague references to a few cases where actual names are used … and that’s it. Buried in the back of the book are all the references cited, but what the book really needed was more real-world examples in modern society, and less hard-to-read verbatim quotes about very cryptic passages in very old books.

It’s not a bad book, but considering its high price (over $20 new, for a small-format and roughly ~110 page book), it’s hard to justify buying it. I also want to point out the book is in serious need of spelling/grammar editing and even basic typesetting, which actually does hurt its readability.

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.

 

The Bible: In The Beginning… (1966 Film)

Recently I watched The Bible: In The Beginning, a 1966 film that covers the events of creation until when Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac.

Now, I will say that for a film so old, the visuals hold up — and the scenes in the Noah segment of the movie are really well done (compared to the mostly computer generated effects done nowadays) … and many scenes are well shot and really transport you to a different place — for example, during the Tower of Babel section when you see little people moving in the distance — those are actually actors!

The most effective and interesting parts of the film to me were the Noah and Sodom and Gomorrah parts. The Noah part is impressive due to the animals and care it took to coordinate everything. The sets also looked really neat, and I enjoyed the idea of Noah’s family staying busy during the time on the boat, taking care of the animals. The Sodom and angel scenes though were striking for a different reason — it was an incredibly dark and terrifying thing to watch. The goat with with weird headdress and its human female worshipers was particularly creepy, and the city masked in dark shadows was very unsettling, along with the terrifying mob of men.

Unfortunately the rest of the film just isn’t very good, and has some very questionable content. The very first part of the movie features multiple scenes of male and female nudity, when it could have been implied and not shown. The other part is the casting of George C. Scott as Abraham, who doesn’t look the part at all … and his (and his wife’s) dialog is so hard to understand and bizarre that audiences will get bothered by it. Luckily, Peter O’Toole makes a brief cameo as an angel, and balances things out somewhat, acting-wise.

Personally, I would avoid this long, strangely cast film with pretty graphic content.

The Torah Codes

The Torah Codes is an interesting documentary that takes a very close look at the significance of hidden messages within the first five books of the Old Testament, and how they have been discovered in recent decades — some even discussing recent events.

The concealed words and phrases are found by modern Jewish scholars using a Cray supercomputer that looks for unique words in equal letter distance sequences, within small blocks of Ancient Hebrew text. The smaller the amount of text searched and more numerous equal letter distance words and phrases found, the more unlikely it is that these are just random occurrences of words, and were very likely purposely generated, by the author.

The film itself is interesting in that it jumps between talks with Jewish scholars to a military captain serving in Israel and with people in a town nearby anti-Israeli forces (whose enemies keep trying to blow their town up with rockets). While this is an interesting approach editing-wise, it’s pretty clear why this was done — there just isn’t enough code-specific material to warrant a full documentary run-time.

That said, the code parts are interesting, and certainly thought provoking. Unfortunately you do get the sense only Jewish scholars (focusing on Jewish things) are involved though, as not one clearly labeled/named Christian seems to be involved in the project.

The biggest weakness of the film though is its paltry 60-minute run-time. While the Captain part adds to the film in the end, the other non-code material seem to act as filler, and comprises probably 1/2 to 2/3 of its length. I would definitely give this a watch if you find it for cheap or free online, but the $14.99 price most places charge is way too high for the tiny amount of actual content received.

The Coming Convergence

This documentary’s creators also made “The Final Prophecies,” which I reviewed last year, and in that review I said this:

“…and the film, despite its focus on “prophecy” — barely seems to mention Jesus Christ’s saving grace and the fact that Satan truly exists, and wants to literally damn humanity to Hell. Prophecy is a nice subject, but if there’s no reason for people to believe (God’s love and compassion), that makes it a hard sell.”

Unfortunately, their new film misses the mark yet again. About 20-25% of the film is just a random pretty girl walking aimlessly (through what looks like Detroit), while she narrates confusing and cryptic dialogue to a bewildered audience. Basically, a massive chunk of the film’s total run-time is complete nonsense, and will only turn away non-Christians if they watch it.

And does the film cover Jesus Christ or Satan? Nope, not really. Yet again, the people making these films omit these two figures almost completely (this makes you wonder if the films’ creators simply want to avoid all talk of Jesus and Satan!).

Now, a few minor things like the increasing number of earthquakes and massive volcanoes being found in the ocean are neat, but when things like “No one knows the day or hour” is brought up, the film suggests an answer I have never heard before in my life. Even more bizarrely, the film doesn’t talk about the Rapture whatsoever, barely discusses the Antichrist and avoids all talk of the Tribulation. This feels like a generic prophecy film aimed at all audiences, by saying nothing of real value.

I rented this for $4.99 from Amazon and — even if it was free — I wouldn’t watch it again, and wouldn’t recommend it to other Christians … and definitely not nonbelievers.