The Graduation Banquet is planned for Friday, May 12, at 5:30 pm at Millville Community Baptist Church located at 23625 Millville Way, Millville, CA 96062. There is no cost for 2017 graduates to attend. The cost will be $15 for non-graduates, faculty, staff,friends, and family. You can start making paid reservations with Faith McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Payment can be taken over the phone with the receptionist or other staff member.
Reservations need to be made no later than Wednesday, May 10.
Graduation is at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 13, at CrossPointe Community Church, 2960 Hartnell Ave. (across the street from SBC).
There is a President's Reception immediately following graduation in the SBC chapel. Light snacks and dessert will be served and everyone is welcome to come!
I first read The Shack not long after it was published by William Young in 2007. As a teenager it impressed me; I was moved by it’s portrayal of God’s love and His ability to bring good out of any tragedy. I didn’t pick up on any of the theological errors which supposedly popped up throughout the story – I simply appreciated it for the good things that it made me aware of in God’s character. It has only been more recently that I have been made aware of the fact that the Shack’s portrayal of God is often out of line with what we know to be true from the Bible.
The movie version of The Shack hews closely to the plot and emphasis of the original novel. Mackenzie “Mack” Phillips, a husband and father of three, is physically abused by an alcoholic father during his childhood. He finds happiness in married life, but is still distant from God, and can never bring himself to address God in a personal manner, like his wife, Nan, who affectionately calls God “Papa.” Mack’s life is struck with what he calls “The Great Sadness” after the abduction and murder of his youngest daughter during a camping trip. His relationship with God grows even more distant, until a mysterious note shows up in his mailbox, supposedly from “Papa,” asking him to come to a meeting at the very shack where his daughter was killed.
The greater part of the story consists in relating the details of Mack’s time at the shack, where he is surprised to find three people; Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu (The Holy Spirit). In his subsequent conversations and interactions with the members of the Trinity, Mack is taught lessons about God’s love and forgiveness, and His ability to bring good out of any circumstance.
There is certainly nothing obviously sinister in The Shack’s story line or purported main message. It is a bold story, attempting to serve as an apologetic for God’s purposes in allowing sin and suffering; a daunting task, to say the least. On the face of it, the most controversial aspect of the movie for Christians is the decision to portray God the Father as a woman. But there is more to the theology of the book – and consequently, the film – than that. It is not merely the uplifting tale of a man finding peace and comfort in learning to trust God after unspeakable pain and suffering. It is also the story of a man who finds that peace and comfort in ways that are sometimes out of line with the way the God of the Bible offers peace and comfort to mankind.
The book is an attempt by William Young to express his personal theology and understanding of God. To the extent that his theology lines up with the Bible’s depiction of God, all is well. The movie is full of beautiful, well-orchestrated scenes in which Mack is taught important truths which he previously overlooked, and many in today’s world have not taken time to examine. Many, therefore, who watch the film might walk away with a desire to know more of who God is, and with a challenge to their conception of God as an aloof or heartless deity.
But there are others who would walk away with a skewed idea of who God is. In the first place, Young’s representation of the Trinity is problematic. While it is true that God embodies everything that is good about Fathers and Mothers, he has chosen to reveal himself to us as a Father. By casting God as a woman, Young portrays God in a way that He has chosen not to portray himself; by creating God in a way that we want to see instead of accepting the way God has revealed himself. But more troubling than this is a conversation Mack has with Jesus, in which he asks him if he, too, is God like “Papa” and Sarayu. The character Jesus hedges, answering only that he is “the best way” for humans to relate to God, and that Sarayu is “my Spirit.” It would not have been difficult to answer with an unquestioned “yes” concerning the deity of Christ, but the film chose not to do so. Instead it offers up a picture of Jesus that trends significantly away from biblical orthodoxy. A basic belief of Christians is that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, having complete humanity that in no way diminishes his absolute deity. The Shack doesn’t affirm this truth, instead, it confuses it.
Perhaps the most obviously non-biblical theme of the film – which could be considered its main theme – is the idea of God being so full of love and forgiveness that he has no room left in his character for wrath or judgment. When Mack asks “Papa” about God’s wrath, she casually replies “You lost me there,” going on to explain that “I don’t need to punish people, sin is its own punishment.” The film goes so far as to hint at universalism, several times implying that God is not only willing to forgive, but actually will forgive everyone for their sin, since every person is one of God’s children, and God is “especially fond” of every one of his children. This is most graphically portrayed in a pivotal scene in the movie for Mack, where he is sent into a cave for a meeting with a woman named “Wisdom.” Wisdom asks Mack to serve as the judge of the man who killed his daughter, and when he firmly proclaims the man should be damned to hell, she then asks him to choose which of his own remaining children he would like to send to hell. The point the film makes is clear; for God to send any of his children to hell is unthinkable, as awful as asking any human father to choose between two of his children, imperfect though they may be. This idea of God completely overlooks significant biblical themes. It is not merely a matter of omission or incomplete information, rather it presents a picture of God that is directly at odds with God’s revelation. The theme of God’s holiness and his anger towards sin is evident throughout scripture. For example, Romans 1:18; “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness…” The message of The Shack is expressly incompatible with such passages.
The scene with Wisdom was a stark portrayal of one of the greatest weaknesses of the film; its unwillingness to point to Christ as the way to God and his death as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, though there were several times in which this truth could easily have been brought up. Considering the story’s universalist tendencies, this omission is not unexpected, but for the Christian, it is grievous. That is not to say that every valuable story must include the gospel, but for a film that is supposed to explain God’s forgiveness and desire for fellowship with mankind, the omission is inexcusable. Ephesians 2:8-9 expresses the beautiful truth of the gospel; “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Faith in the work of Christ is the only way to true peace with God, unfortunately, Mack is never taught how to find that peace.
Does all this mean that there is no truth or beauty in the film at all? Of course not. It is a complex film, full of both truth and error. The portrayal of the film – and of film in general – is powerful, and has great potential both for good and for ill. A mature Christian who has learned to discern what is good and evil can be challenged by the film, while taking care to notice which messages are incorrect. But for the uninformed or immature believer, who hasn’t learned discernment and simply “drinks it all in,” they will likely gain a false or, at the least, an incomplete view of God, one which could easily shape both their thoughts and emotions in a non-biblical way for years to come.
The same concern is evident for the non-believer. While it is possible that an unsaved person could enter the theater with a view of God as a vindictive monster and leave it appreciating God’s heart for the world, it is equally possible for someone to be confirmed in their view that God is too kind to punish anyone, too merciful for wrath, and that all one needs to do to find purpose in life is to trust in God – with no real idea of who, or what, they actually ought to be trusting.
When I originally read The Shack, it was a valuable experience for me. Watching the film, I found myself wishing for it to succeed, hoping that it would correct the errors of the book and present God in a complete biblical light. Sadly, that did not end up being the case. I am still glad I saw the film. It helped me examine what I believe biblically, and encouraged me to think carefully about how I understand God. As such, it was a valuable time, and I believe that many other discerning Christians could find the same value in the experience. But for the unsaved, as well as for many Christians, those who do not have a solid understanding of the fundamental truths about God, The Shack is not the place to find it.
by Dr. Larry Vardiman, Answers Magazine, 12/27/15
Used with permission.
How can one type of crystal adopt so many beautiful forms? Some of the world’s greatest scientific minds have puzzled over this question.
Cloaked in the mid-winter darkness, John quickly made his way across the Charles Bridge to the newer residential section of town. His destination was on the opposite side of the river from downtown Prague and the castle. He was running late for the New Year’s Eve party. To make things worse, the shops were closed where he might have purchased a gift for the host, his patron who had paid for his scientific research over the past year. As he passed under one of the lamps on the bridge, he noticed snow had begun falling lightly. Small, individual snow crystals were collecting on the dark fleece of his jacket. He stopped abruptly and watched with fascination as one geometric shape after another fell onto the arm of his coat. Their designs glowed brilliantly in the flickering light from the lamp above. Here was a small hexagon; there a featherlike pattern; a third, the shape of a star. Yet each crystal had six corners.
Why Are Snow Crystals So Varied?
When water freezes, it forms a simple, solid, six-sided crystal. As each crystal falls through the cloud, the crystal grows. Depending on the water in the air (humidity) and the temperature, the shape and direction varies. While the possibilities are infinite, two basic shapes are most common: columns and plates. The large, branched stars (the most familiar type of plate) require both high humidity and a very specific cold temperature (around 5°F, or –15°C).
Never before had John taken the time to investigate individual snow crystals. Normally in snowstorms a dozen or more crystals would fall jumbled together in a large snowflake so he couldn’t discern the individual crystals. But tonight they fell individually. The air was probably so cold and the snow falling so lightly that they didn’t clump together. As John studied the various shapes and sizes, an idea began to form—he would explain why snow crystals all had six corners and present his thoughts to his patron as a gift!
He began to speculate. What if snow crystals are built from small particles, so small that they can’t be seen with the naked eye? Could these particles fit together in a pattern to form hexagonal shapes with six corners?
He didn’t just think in two dimensions. How could particles fill three-dimensional space to form hexagonal shapes? He visualized a stack of cannon balls and realized, when viewed from above, the stack forms a hexagonal pattern. He considered why bees construct hexagonally shaped honeycombs and why flowers have different numbers of petals. He considered how pomegranate seeds fill space and other objects form hexagonal patterns, always with the question in mind—“Why do snow crystals have six corners?”
Today John is known as Johannes Kepler, the famous German astronomer who later developed the laws for elliptical orbits of planets. His laws formed the basis for Newton’s law of gravity. He didn’t have microscopes to validate some of his ideas. But even today with high-power microscopes, we don’t have a complete explanation for how snow crystals grow. It’s a source of endless fascination. Because of the pamphlet he later presented to his patron in 1611 (On the Six-Cornered Snowflake), he is recognized by many today as the father of crystallography.
He was unable to prove to his own satisfaction that the packing of small particles adequately explained six-cornered snow crystals, but he was on the right track. His insightful treatise shows how the relatively new scientific method combined careful observation and testing theories.
In addition to his proposal that particles fill space to form snow crystals, Kepler suggested that the Creator instituted a built-in “formative principle” which determines the shape. We know today that information is built into water molecules, which causes them to form hexagonal shapes when they freeze together as snow crystals.
If the humidity is too dry or the temperature too warm, the crystal will remain solid without branching patterns. Despite centuries of study, scientists still haven’t figured out all the laws of water crystal growth.
Today crystallographers have classified over 80 basic types of snow crystals. Some patterns are even more complicated than six corners. The basic hexagonal pattern can be modified in a number of ways as the cloud’s temperature and moisture varies. Snow crystals grow in one dimension faster than in the other, depending on the temperature. As humidity increases, the corners develop more branches. Kepler’s argument for a “formative principle” is still valid today, not just for snow crystals but for all types of molecular processes. These are our God-given laws of chemistry and physics.
The marvelous rules that govern such processes do not produce “organized complexity.” Molecules like DNA are examples of organized complexity because they use a language and store information to be retrieved later. Snowflakes are complex but not “organized” in this sense. So we can’t argue that the beautiful designs of snowflakes disprove evolution.
What does contradict evolution is the existence of the unchanging chemical and physical laws, attributes that our Creator God built into the molecules from the beginning of creation. “Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
The next time a snow crystal lands on your sleeve, take the time to enjoy its beauty, and share the glories of its Designer with the next person you meet at the party you’re headed to!
Dr. Larry Vardiman is currently serving as a professor of science and math for Shasta Bible College& Graduate School in Redding, CA. In the past he has served as professor of atmospheric science and chair of the Department of Astro-geophysics for the Institute for Creation Research until his retirement in 2012. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and meteorology and an MS and PhD in atmospheric science
Of Caves, and Scrolls, and Such
George Gunn, PhD
The recent discovery of a twelfth Dead Sea Scrolls cave in the cliffs west of Qumran has sent a shock wave through the Biblical Studies and Antiquities worlds. The early days of Dead Sea Scrolls discoveries in the mid 1900s had revealed eleven caves containing some 972 manuscripts and 15,000 manuscript fragments. No new caves had been discovered for 60 years (since 1956). However, Dr. Randall Price from Liberty University, along with two archaeologists from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (Dr. Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia) recently discovered a long sought after twelfth cave. Unfortunately, this cave did not yield any new scrolls or fragments; although, it is obvious that some had been there at one time. 2,000-year-old storage jars and lids were found – all of them broken, and almost all of them empty. A couple of iron pickaxe heads from the 1950s discovered in the cave’s tunnel told the story – the cave had been previously looted, and anything of value removed. The archaeologists did manage to find:
What does this mean for Biblical studies? Directly, we do not learn anything new about the Biblical text or the Essene sect that created the scrolls. Indirectly, we certainly have further confirmation that many such scrolls did in fact exist. In addition, by implication, we can suspect that there is good likelihood that continued archaeological effort might yet turn up additional scrolls.
The absence of actual scrolls from this cave sounds a caution to those who visit the Holy Land about picking up archaeological artifacts. Having led numerous tours to Israel on behalf of Shasta Bible College, I can attest that one is free to walk around many archaeological sites. Erosion from foot traffic and rain sometimes unearths some treasure formerly hidden beneath the ground. It could be tempting simply to stoop down, pick up something that looks valuable, and take it home in your luggage. After all, who wouldn’t love to have an authentic piece of Biblical archaeology to show off to friends and listen to them “ooh” and “ah” at the fine piece you have in your private collection. But consider this – wouldn’t it have been better for an archaeologist to have examined the specimen in its original context, so that the find could be properly recorded, evaluated, and published for the benefit of the entire scholarly community? The scrolls removed from Cave 12 were likely sold on the black market and are now in someone’s collection, or even possibly in a museum. But once removed from the original site of discovery such artifacts lose much of their archaeological value. The looters may have made off with some cash, but the world of scholarship has been robbed of precious historical information.
The problem of looters in the Judean Desert is a real problem. The terrain is rugged and somewhat isolated. This makes it difficult to police. Who knows how many other caves have been violated? The Israel Antiquities Authority has recently begun what they call “Operation Scroll.” In fact the discovery of this twelfth cave was actually part of Operation Scroll. It is hoped that this new effort will result not only in new discoveries, but in increased policing activity in the Judea Desert.
All of this brings up a political issue (What doesn’t involve political issues in the Middle East?). The need to protect the freedom of archaeologists to continue excavating must be guarded at all costs. But here’s where the political problem comes in. What would be the result for archaeology were a “two-state solution” for Israel and the Palestinians to be imposed on the area? Controversy has hovered for years around the excavation of Dead Sea Scroll sites, since Qumran is located in the West Bank, a territory Israel won back from Jordan during the Six-Day War in 1967. Jordan has asserted on different occasions that it is the rightful owner of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Palestinians (and the United Nations), on the other hand, consider the West Bank to be their own territory. If the hundreds of caves remaining to be examined were to fall under the hegemony of either Jordan or the Palestinians, how likely is it that archaeologists from either the Hebrew University, or a Christian University would have the freedom to carry out unhindered excavations in the Judean Desert? Both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority officially deny any Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Yet archaeological discoveries in Israel provide very strong proof of Israel’s ancient connection to the land. I do not foresee either Hamas or the Palestinian authority favoring Jews and Christians poking about in caves that may contain artifacts that undermine the Palestinian narrative. Whatever future political agreements come about in Israel, my prayer that the Israelis retain sovereignty over these precious archaeological sites.