Dear Friends and Allies of SCP, December 9, 2009
God bless you this Christmas as we remember how Christ came upon an ancient world ill-prepared for His Coming. He brought grace and hope, but most turned away. Upon His Return, He will shake the foundations of the world as the curtains of history come down. Mindful of the big picture, we must take courage in Him as we face new challenges that confront our faith at almost every turn.
It seems like only yesterday that JK Rowling flooded bookstands and movie theaters with Harry Potter—the compelling occult tale that captured the public imagination for over a decade. As I anticipated, the Potter craze set things up for the next wave. Now Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series has elevated the supernatural dimension to the next level.
SCP came up with the best crossover tool we could in producing the recent Vampire Journal. It is designed to reach unbelievers and open the eyes of Christians. Since its release at Halloween, SCP has gotten more media attention than usual. Ted Baehr of Movieguide asked me if he could reprint the two main articles for his mailing list. I was very encouraged.
Then Janet Parshall, one of the superstars of Salem Radio, interviewed me for an hour on the Vampire phenomenon. She loved our journal. The interview was carried on 270 Syndicated stations in major metropolitan areas across the country. Our phones rang nonstop for days. Two days after the interview was broadcast across the nation, all movie attendance records were broken as Twilight: New Moon came out in movie theaters around the world. A good friend of mine told me that all one hundred of her middle school students were passionately intent on seeing Twilight. But our crossover effort hasn't met with all green lights.
Danny Aguirre, SCP's long-term Access Director, who is now operating within the greater New York metropolitan area, has been showing the Vampire Journal around to Christian leaders, pastors and bookstores. The day before record numbers of youth stormed the movie theaters, he took the Vampire Journal to the largest Christian bookstore in the greater New York metropolitan area situated in Queens. He showed it to the owner of the store (Danny had taken it there a few days earlier to show the younger staff who loved it). Sadly the store owner dismissed the journal without even looking inside, announcing that "the cover was a bit strong." In his pivotal position, he would not deign to carry it only hours before youth in record numbers would be watching images on movie screens that paled the images on the Journal cover.
Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, that has carried all of my books on its book table at one time or another, was sent the Vampire Journal. Let's hope that they order copies for the savvy New Yorkers who attend this dynamic culturally aware church. It is certainly a church with a broad cultural vision. Perhaps you can think of similar doorways of entry for our Journal.
When I left India a converted Christian after being under a very dark spiritual power, one of the guiding Scriptures that lodged in my soul related to the sheer force of spiritual deception. So great would be this deception that, "If it were possible, even God's elect would be deceived" (Matt 24:24). I am not sure it is possible to couch a stronger warning regarding the sheer potency and blinding power of delusion that would not only misdirect the world at large but also many in the church.
How does delusion work? How does collective error capture, deceive and exploit those under its sway? Ironically, the best image for grasping the colossal scale of the delusional process comes from the movie industry—which is itself among the chief purveyors of delusion (yet, every now and then, the system "outs" itself!)
The movie that portrays the massive scope of strong delusion is The Matrix. Many of you may have seen this very popular film. In The Matrix, the entire world seems to be operating normally. Life appears seamless as people go about their daily routines, flooding streets at rush hour, sitting in cafés, talking in restaurants and commuting between home and work. But something is terribly wrong.
Opening his actual, physical eyes for the first time, the main character, "Neo," sees the pod in which he sits, surrounded by a kind of amniotic fluid—he has been living in an artificial womb. He looks off into the distance and sees identical pods as far as the eye can see. He then reaches back and feels the cable plugged into the back of his head. It has been feeding his mind with the imaginary world in which he and countless millions have been immersed. Indeed, it is "the Matrix."
I believe the church will face escalating anti-Christianity in the form of compelling delusions. This will make our task even more difficult. So we must be courageous and strategic, believing God will intercede for our cause. Indeed, in an emerging anti-Christian atmosphere, taking a stand or speaking truth to power can be very costly. Sometimes we have no choice but to take a stand on important issues, knowing that to balk or compromise would betray the very reason for our existence as a witness. Similarly SCP does not want to desert the battle front for convenience or expedience. Opposition will strengthen the true church, while fair-weather churchgoers, who have never counted the cost, may end up vacating their once comfortable pews. In the West, Christianity with a price will have a different face than it has in the past.
Regarding SCP's costly mandate, I have always had the fear that we would be tempted to compromise truth in order to "maintain respectability" or because it was "financially smart." The temptation to compromise is very real with all ministries, though it brings bad fruit sooner or later. It is the temptation of ministries that want to have prosperity and respectability by making sure never to rock the boat or offend anyone. So their ministerial words are weighed for their effect. By ducking costly stands and sidestepping controversy, believers, churches and ministries can become "ashamed of the truth." SCP needs constant vigilance to avoid this dangerous trap and easy temptation, especially in an age of political correctness.
SCP remains viable. We are in the black as usual, with no debt of any kind, and the ministry has remained as productive as ever with journals and newsletters going out regularly as we try to grapple with important and often difficult issues. Our accountant-auditor again reassured us during a recent audit for the Evangelical Council For Financial Accountability, of which SCP has been a long-term member, that we get an enormous amount done per dollar compared to most other ministries. The ECFA agrees.
I want to thank all of you for your feedback and encouragement. God has used you in our lives. We thank you for hanging in there with us. We continue to need your prayers for all these things and we are grateful for your loyalty and support.
Yours in the Great and Timeless Battle for the Faith,
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