As always, the recent KI Strategic Perspectives conference held in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on October 22-23 was insightful and inspirational. The theme of the conference was revival: national, corporate, and personal.
Twenty-three year old pastor Ben Courson, son of renowned pastor Jon Courson, kicked off the conference on Friday evening. Although Ben’s ministry is geared toward the younger folks of his generation, his teaching was hardly that of a youth. I soon realized that his generation has some of the same problems as mine. Ben noted that in previous generations the fear and awe of God was prevalent, but today’s generation has lost that fear of God and takes the love of the Father for granted.
Ben posed the question, “As we interact with the world, are we a thermometer or a thermostat?” He further explained, “A thermometer registers the temperature; a thermostat sets the temperature. Do you simply measure the ‘spiritual temperature’ of what’s going on around you, or do you set the temperature?” Talk about raising the bar—Go Ben!
American conservative political activist, Alan Keyes, spoke after Ben. His message was simple. The American Constitution was founded on a belief in God and declared as such in the Declaration of Independence. God is the source of justice and righteousness, and our liberty as Americans is rooted in the freedom that comes from doing what is right.
Yet today, we find that God has been kicked out of the Constitution along with our responsibility to Him. Keyes delved into some rough territory as he explored “the idol of partisanship.” He proposed that as conservative (dare I say it…) Republicans, we’ve put our partisan position above not only the Constitution, but moreover, God. He closed with a challenge to American Christians, that as good citizens of the Kingdom of God, we have a responsibility not to subjection, but to leadership. He noted that if it is right to do, then we have the right to do it.
On Saturday morning, Dr. Dan Stolebarger opened up the day with an awesome teaching on the Aaronic blessing from Numbers 6. Dan pointed out that the word “bless,” from verse 24, “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee,” has embedded in its meaning the idea of kneeling. Making the connection to John 13 where Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, Dan pointed out that in blessing His own, he kneels before us to minister—wow!
John Loeffler followed Dan by opening up with a question regarding the current condition of the United States: In essence, how did we get here? He referenced a provocative theory of American history proposing that America has had a series of 80-100 year cycles and generational turnings, including a high, an awakening, an unraveling, and a crisis. He suggested that we are in the “crisis” part of that turning, an actual tipping point, which historically has caused us to go back to a previous type of governing or a change in government; lending itself to the question, “Are we going to stay free, or throw out the Constitution?”
Further, Loeffler pointed out that today our society embraces “dialectic thinking,” based on pragmatism and rationalism, instead of “didactic thinking,” which is based on facts. Citing several examples, he showed how many in the Church today have also embraced dialectic thinking and urged pastors and leaders to get back to didactic thinking, especially in regards to the Bible. Loeffler ended with the challenge, “What can we do?” He proposed that wherever we are we can engage people and reject consensus thinking. As he closed, I was reminded that KI is an excellent place to “prepare to give an answer.”
KI Member and Silver Medallion holder Steve Elwart spoke next. His topic on cyber-security and “The Unseen War” was rather frightening. Steve proposed that cyber attacks are a different kind of war because they are asymmetric compared to other types of attacks. To begin with, there is a relatively low cost to a cyber-attack and a high cost to defend against such an attack. It can also be virtually impossible to find out who did it, making retribution impossible as well.
Most of us are familiar with what a virus or worm can do to a personal computer, but imagine the damage that could be caused by a disruption to our nation’s critical infrastructure, like our electrical grid, for example. Even our defense networks have been hacked into, which could inhibit our ability to wage war!
One recent cyber attack causing numerous problems was the Stuxnet worm, which was introduced into staff computers at the Bushehr nuclear plant in Iran. As Steve explained, the Stuxnet worm is the first known worm to target industrial control systems that can be used to take over power plants, dams, or chemical facilities. Yikes, talk about Pandora’s Box! In closing, Steve noted that one of the biggest problems with cyber warfare is that it causes an erosion of our freedoms in an attempt to combat it, because everyone can be a suspect.
Dr. Chuck Missler took the stage next and roared through a fascinating talk that centered on an epistemological view of science. He started out with a reminder that at times we have an illusion of knowledge; and that over the centuries, numerous scientific errors have been corrected with further study. To drive this thought home, he pointed to recent discoveries about the difference between the influences of gravity versus electromagnetic force in the universe. Chuck noted that the empirical method in science is to observe, seek patterns, formulate a hypothesis, and then try to disprove it; untestable statements are meaningless. He used the phrase, “metaphors reign where mysteries reside.”
I was reminded that our study of the Scripture is not dissimilar from studying science. In effect, we observe, seek patterns, formulate a hypothesis…but then do we try to disprove it, or do we retreat into metaphor when confronted with a mystery?
Discovery Institute’s Stephen Meyer gave an inspiring talk on the scientific view of Intelligent Design (ID) within the universe. Meyer posed the question, “Is design real, or is it illusory?” He pointed to living cells, which he termed “molecular machines” as having been obviously designed. The tail of one “simple cell,” for example, is connected to what amounts to a rotary engine with machine parts that can’t be made any more efficient! Would Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection lead to a functioning motor like this? Being fair, Meyer proposed that it could keep it functioning (survival of the fittest, as it were), but could not help build the motor—it is obviously designed, not an accident.
Using DNA as another example, Meyer stated that what’s true in information science is true in biology. In other words, for something to change, information must be added. And the enigma of DNA is that no one can pinpoint the origin of the information, which even biologists must admit. The obvious conclusion here is that to have information, there must be intelligence—and in the case of the universe, a Designer.
Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily concluded the conference by bringing it full circle to the “so what question” for America. His talk entitled “Conservatism in Crisis,” pointed to a similar theme that Alan Keyes addressed, which was our “rights” come from God and with that comes a responsibility to our Creator.
He spoke about the Tea Party movement and shared his views on the state of the party. He questioned if the party was being neutered by those promoting a simple economic agenda and ignoring the social issues, like abortion and same sex marriage, which are important to Christians. He also pointed to what appears to be surrender by Conservatives to the homosexual agenda and proposed that the Conservative Party is essentially being run by talk show hosts and pundits who are not politically accountable to anyone.
In closing, as with any conference, the highlight for me was seeing old friends and making new ones. If you’ve been at KI for any length of time, you’ve made friends with classmates and meeting them for the first time is a great experience. If you haven’t been to the conference, pray about joining next year!
You may purchase your own copy of this year’s Strategic Perspectives conference, available on DVD and AudioCD.