Saturday, March 28, 2020

Apocalyptic? #1: The End

I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Ἐγὼ [I AM] τὸ ἄλφα [ALPHA] καὶ τὸ Ω [OMEGA], πρῶτος [PROTOS] καὶ ἔσχατος [ESCHATOS], ἡ ἀρχὴ [ARCHE] καὶ τὸ τέλος [TELOS],

(Revelation 22:13—See also Revelation 1:8 and 11 and 21:10)


Four hundred years before John penned these words in the Book of Revelation, the Greek philosopher Aristotle coined a word—entelechy/εντέλεχεια—to describe any process that has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  The last Greek word in the quotation from Revelation 22:13-- τέλος [TELOS]—is actually found in Aristotle’s term entelechy.  The “TEL” in enTELechy is short for TELOS.  Trillions of everyday processes are entelechies, processes that have a beginning, middle, and end.  A seed being planted, germinating, growing and finally producing new seeds, for example.  A day, beginning at dusk (in the Biblical pattern), proceding to morning, and ending, once again, at dusk.  Water, evaporating from the seas, rising and condensing in the skies, falling back to the Earth as rain, flowing from puddles into creeks, into streams, then rivers, and eventually reaching the seas again.

Your life is an entelechy.  It had a beginning, as you were conceived by your parents.  It has a middle—which you are now experiencing.  It will have an end, whether that end is produced by a coronavirus, an automobile accident, a terrorist attack, or just the limits of old age.  Likewise, God created the existence of humanity as an entelechy.   Humans had a beginning, with Adam and Eve.  They have had a middle—chronicled from the Book of Genesis to the future predictions of Revelation.  They will have an end.  But, like all entelechies, ends are just new beginnings.  The seed that grew and produced new seeds started a new beginning in its seeds.  The day that began at dusk and proceeded through the daylight hours to dusk started a new beginning at dusk.  The water that evaporated from the seas, rose, condensed, rained, and flowed back into the seas started a new beginning, there.  99% of all humans that have lived on Earth have sensed that death is not only an end, but also a new beginning.  There is an afterlife.  And, humanity, which began in Eden, and which will someday end, is expecting a new beginning—a New Heavens, a New Earth, a New Jerusalem, coming out of Heaven from God.

It is fair to question my credentials on this matter.  After all, thousands of theologians have written and taught trillions of words in explanation of the Book of Revelation.  Why should anyone accept the teachings of a seventy-year-old professor at a secular university on this subject?  Please, pardon what may appear to be my lack of humility as I offer you my credentials, but I know that I would never personally trust someone on this subject, unless I knew his or her credentials.  Although I have presented more than a dozen scholarly papers on Revelation, over the years, at regional, national, and international conventions of such learned societies as the Society of Biblical Literature, I have found that biblical scholars have a herd instinct.  If one diverts from the conclusions of the herd, one meets resistance.  For example, I contend that the Book of Revelation was written (as the book itself claims) in 69 A.D., as do F. F. Bruce and John A. T. Robinson.  This dating makes a definite difference in the interpretation of the book, as I will explain in future posts.  The herd, however, believes it was written in 96 A.D. or later.  The herd’s mentality was indicated to me, as I was once introduced at a national convention with words to the effect that Dr. Lindsay contends that Revelation was written in 69 A.D.; the majority of scholars disagree, but let’s “pretend” for the moment that he is right and see what he has to say.  I answered by thanking him for “pretending,” and proceeded to point out that, while mine was the minority position among scholars, it makes more sense than does the majority view.

I do, however, claim to be foremost in scholarship on the subject of entelechy.  My Ph.D. dissertation, at Purdue University, was entitled “The Burkean Entelechy and the Apocalypse of John.”  My department’s graduate faculty at Purdue chose to nominate my dissertation for a national honor:  The Council of Graduate Schools/University Microfilms Dissertation Award.  The University Press of America subsequently published my book Implicit Rhetoric:  Kenneth Burke’s Extension of Aristotle’s Concept of Entelechy and Lehigh University Press published my book Revelation:  The Human Drama, which is a unique approach to Revelation, using the principles of entelechy.  I believe I can offer many interesting insights to the Book of Revelation from this perspective.

Let’s begin, counterintuitively, with the END.  There are numerous articles, sermons, books, advertisements, etc., in the news today regarding what are called “apocalyptic” events.  The Opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal on March 27, 2020 reports: “Though less devastating than World War II, the pandemic has remade everyday life and wrecked the global economy in a way that feels apocalyptic” (  The Jewish publication The Jerusalem Post proclaimed on March 26, 2020:  “According to some on social media, the coronavirus is part of the biblical prophecy of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” ( 
Those Four Horsemen (from Revelation 6) are Conquest, War, Famine, and Death.  The two World Wars, followed by the attempts of the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and Communism, plus the attempts of Iran, al-Qaida, and Isis, have allowed the world to witness, in the last century, numerous entities intent on conquest, leading to war.  Pandemics (such as the coronavirus), abortion, and terrorists have produced mass death among the relatively innocent population, but not yet to the same extent as the Bubonic Plague (which killed an estimated 50 million people).  Famines have occurred in the world, but they have often been counteracted by the welfare programs of benevolent nations.  Nevertheless, Conquest as a motive has been a part of the human condition for a long, long time.  The ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans have tried to conquer the world, just as Hitler and Napoleon did in more recent years.  War, unfortunately, has been a near constant throughout the history of mankind.  Famine has seen more powerful effects in years past.  Death, of course, has been a problem for every human, other than Enoch and Elijah, throughout all of history.  So, why do the present circumstances seem apocalyptic?  Revelation does speak of the last plagues, and the coronavirus does seem very much like a plague.  We’ll consider that fact in future posts.  Both Exodus and Revelation speak of a plague of locusts, and we have recently witnessed widespread locust devastation.  We’ll look at that.  Abortion is the killing of innocents on a global scale, so there is plenty of reason for humankind to examine its behavior.  I will, therefore, engage in a series of posts on the subject of Apocalyptic.

For today, however, let’s look at the end/TELOS, not in terms of the end of humanity, but the end of you, personally.  Granted, your personal earthly life could be ended by the coronavirus.  As I have driven some of the deserted highways, streets, and back roads around Walt Disney World, in recent days, I am struck by the fact that, although the likelihood of my death may have been increased, if due to a virus, it has been significantly decreased, if due to an automobile accident.  The roads are safer, much less traveled.  For a portion of my life, as I was working toward the completion of my Ph.D., I was a life insurance agent.  I wrote a book, explaining the rationale behind purchasing life insurance.  It was first published by Oasis Books, under the title The Twenty-One Sales in a Sale.  Now, in its third edition, the title is Making Offers They Can’t Refuse. 
In the book, I point out the incontrovertible fact: “You will die.”  The odds of this happening are 100%.  I used to tell my clients that LIFE insurance is misnamed.  No company can guarantee that you will live.  You won’t.  I told them that the middle name of LIFE insurance is the two letters IF.  There is no IF when it comes to your dying.  You will die, sooner or later.  The only question is WHEN.  So, I take the IF out of LIFE insurance and substitute the letters OV.  I call it LOVE insurance.  The only reason anyone buys it is if there is someone that he or she LOVES.  The one or ones you LOVE will receive the money from the LIFE insurance policy, not you.

Here, then, is the advice I have offered for years, since you will definitely die, but you don’t know when.  Four GETS:

1.  GET RIGHT WITH GOD, so that if you die today from a virus, accident, or anything, your family will not have to worry about your well-being.  Read your Bible, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, repent from your sins, confess to others that you believe in Him, and be baptized.  Then, work every day to live closer and closer to his Word.

2.  GET LIFE INSURANCE, so that if you die today from a virus, accident, or anything, you will not have to worry about your family’s well-being.  You need at least 10 times your annual income in life insurance.  At your death, it will come income-tax-free to your family.  They can invest the entire amount and live on just the interest generated.

GET SAFE.  Don’t take stupid risks with tobacco, alcohol, drugs, dangerous activities.  In the age of the coronavirus, follow the recommendations of the government.  I smile that I wrote the following in my book The Seven Cs of Stress:  A Burkean Approach, page 21, over 15 years ago:  “If the lives of newborn babies can be threatened by what one would consider the clean hands of health care workers, everyone is at risk of corporal stress from the transmission of disease through hand contact.  Sparklingly clean and disinfected restrooms in the home and the office are certainly helpful.   Frequently disinfecting door handles, faucets, flush handles, locks, and railings should reduce disease transmission.  Frequent and proper hand washing, consciousness of the diseases passed by handling paper currency, and being on the lookout for potentially accident-producing circumstances in the home and office reduce other types of corporal stress.  . . . Clearly, everyone at times enters environments that might pose risk for corporal stress.  Even if you wash your hands frequently, you may encounter germs on the door handle as you exit the lavatory.  Consider keeping a supply of alcohol-based wiping cloths at your desk, in your car, wherever it is convenient.  Additional protective measures might include flu shots and pneumonia shots.”

     4.  GET ON WITH LIFE.  You can not possibly know or do everything that could save your life, so just accept the fact that some day the end will come.  Don’t worry about it.  As Jesus said, “Take no thought for your life . . . But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6: 25-33).  Enjoy your life on Earth.  There is more life waiting for you when it is over.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Coronavirus 2020: The Gospel Goes Viral

If you are like me, this Sunday morning (March 15, 2020), you are sitting at home, perhaps listening to a live stream sermon or a recorded podcast (or, perhaps even, reading this blog).  The Coronavirus scare may have prompted your church to cancel live gatherings and church services out of caution, to slow the spread of the Coronavirus.  I would never suggest that God planned or even approved of this pandemic, but I am always conscious of His promise that “all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 CSV), so, I am looking for the silver lining for the church and the Gospel in all of this.

In the past, when bad things happened in the world, the Word of God discovered new ways to advance.  When the Jews were persecuted in the Holy Land, the Diaspora (the dispersion of Jews throughout the world) was produced; thus, disseminating God’s Word to the nations.
Whenever the Christians have been persecuted, they have formed underground churches (from the times of the Roman Empire to the Communist Regimes in the USSR, China, and other countries).  As the Church expanded during the First Christian Century, the Apostle Paul used the best communication technology available to him (written letters) to send the Gospel to the churches he had established throughout Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).  Just as the Jews had, for centuries earlier, read aloud the Torah (Old Testament Law) to Jewish believers, every week (on Sabbath), so Paul’s letters were read aloud in churches throughout the Roman Empire every week (on Sunday). 
In 1450 A.D., with the invention of Gutenberg’s press, the communication technology leapt forward with the hard copy publication of Bibles, so that every home could have a family Bible.  When radio and television were invented, Christians moved in to buy broadcast time and even broadcast stations and networks.  But we are now in the computer age.  A little thing like a pandemic cannot stop the expansion of the Gospel.

The problem with “broadcasting,” as in radio and television is that it is often TOO BROAD.  Much that is BROADcast is wasted on the audience.  Broadcast advertisers, though they attempt to locate increasingly targeted demographics in various program audiences that would correspond to their specific products, realize that much of their “reach” (the number of audience members who receive their advertisement) is “wasted reach.”  They are BROADcasting their messages to many audience members who have no interest at all in their products.  What advertisers have seen is the value of the internet in “NARROWcasting,” as opposed to “BROADcasting.”  Your movements and actions on the internet—from the data produced, when you search the web, to the personal data that you voluntarily give to social media, when you sign up in any group—allow internet advertisers to NARROWcast advertisements to you.

Let’s face it, the Church has had a problem with BROADcasting for a long, long time.  Since the message is delivered (in sermon format) typically once/week, and the audience consists of tens to hundreds to thousands of people in the pews, there is no way that the message can be adapted to the individual needs (or even the Biblical or academic knowledge level) of the tens to hundreds to thousands of people who are receiving it.  So, the sermons are typically “aimed” at the lowest common denominator in the audience.  Critics have phrased it in this way, using a river metaphor: “The message of the Mega Church is a MILE wide and an INCH deep.”  Dr. Paul Benjamin observed: “Sunday School is the only school from which no one ever graduates.”  Why?  Because, the Church often does nothing more than teach elementary school level Christianity, every week, all the time.  Even in adult study sessions, the messages are often so dumbed-down, so that novices will understand, that no college-level or graduate-level Christian education is ever offered.  There are not high enough numbers of local church audiences to justify such educational offerings.

Enter the internet—finally forced upon the Church by the Coronavirus.  Actually, a new paradigm, using the internet, may solve some of the BROADcasting dilemmas.  Having taught successful online courses, for years, at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as a Teaching Professor for one of the two Preeminent state universities in Florida, and having developed and offered an on-line minor for that university and having begun the process of developing an on-line master’s degree at that university, I believe in developing an online system of Christian Education for Faith-seeking audiences at many advanced (and some not-so-advanced) levels.  Through this blog, for the past decade, I have been supplying free college-level Christian education.

In my online university courses, I include a discussion element, encouraging (okay, requiring) my students to post their comments and questions.  This option is also available via this blog site.  Although the posts from readers is first screened to eliminate vulgar or hateful comments, legitimate questioning or disagreeing views are permitted.  Although this may be a less-satisfactory version of fellowship (KOINONIA) than can be found by interacting face-to-face with fellow believers at a local congregation, still it is a version of fellowship that can be conducted online.  At a time when citizens are instructed to maintain “social distance,” they truly sense the importance of KOINONIA. 
The first part of the word “KOIN” means “common.”  It is the same term we use when we think of our “common” monetary exchange: “the coin.”  We share our coins and bills with one another (and that may be one method by which the Coronavirus spreads).  The ending of the word “IA” means an ongoing process.  Therefore, fellowship/KOINONIA is the process of sharing with each other the things we have in common.  The key thing we have in common, as Christians, in KOINONIA is the gospel. Some churches have mistakenly identified fellowship with singing songs together in worship.  I guess we do share the words and notes of the song, but is that really KOINONIA?  Do we really share with each other our common experiences and our common faith?  Another application made by the church is to have everyone shake hands with each other and say things like “Peace upon you.”  Again, not much depth in sharing our common faith. 
It is true that people used to share aspects of their lives around the dinner table, as the Reagan family does in the TV show Bluebloods, but do church pot-luck dinners or meals shared in Small Groups even approximate the level of KOINONIA depicted in Bluebloods?  We typically conduct what Kenneth Burke calls “phatic communion,” saying nothing more than trite phrases (How are you?) and discussing benign matters (like the weather).  Never would we discuss religious (or political) issues in polite society.  Perhaps, when Jesus said,
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them (Matthew 18:20 NIV), we should take him literally.  We Lindsays sometimes have “Lindsay Church.”  We get together at a home or at a restaurant, in a group of three to ten, and discuss some aspect of the Bible or some issue in our everyday lives from a Biblical perspective.  We have a sharing of common faith.  We have KOINONIA.  Admittedly, even on this blog (as in Sunday School or home-based life groups), many will be hesitant to truly have fellowship/KOINONIA.  They will be fearful (as are many of my students, by the way) of truly sharing stressful situations or questionable views.  And, that’s not necessarily bad.  People are often too open on social media sites, and the resulting embarrassment causes stress, sometimes leading even to suicide.  Therefore, we may need to revert to such old technology as the telephone.  Jesus did say “where two” are gathered.  If we need to see each other’s nonverbal messages, we can use Skype or Facetime.  The issue is not the technology.  True, during the pandemic, we may not be able to give each other a hug or a kiss, but we should be able to have Christian fellowship over Biblical issues and our own personal struggles as viewed from Biblical perspectives.  I hope that one development from the Coronavirus crisis is that the Gospel Goes Viral!

RESOURCES:  For agnostics (and believers seeking to defend their faith), I wrote the book The Logic of Christianity:  A Syllogistic Chain.  The first draft that book is available FREE on this blogsite.  To move to the first chapter of that book, simply search the internet for “Stan.Point Logic of Christianity.”  Choose a low-numbered chapter, scroll to the bottom and click on “older post.”  Keep scrolling to the bottom and clicking on “older post” for each previous post until you find Chapter One.  Then, you can proceed in reading through the book in chapter-by-chapter order by clicking on “newer post” at the bottom of each post.  Likewise, I wrote the book Disneology:  Religious Rhetoric at Walt Disney World.  The book has been a textbook for undergraduate and graduate courses.  It helps readers visualize and understand theological issues by relating them to various aspects of the Disney parks.  It sells in paperback on for $47.95 (currently, on sale for $28.42), but the first draft of that book is available FREE on this blogsite.  To move to the first chapter of that book, simply search the internet for “Stan.Point Disneology” and repeat the scrolling and “older post” steps described above.  My soon-to-be-released book Angels and Demons:  The Personification of Communication (Logology) will be available on Amazon in a few weeks.  It is a scholarly-but-quite-readable discussion of the topic of Angels and Demons, which I began in my master’s thesis at Indiana University and have worked on for the past 40 years.  I do not know the price at which it will be offered yet, but the first draft of that book is available FREE on this blogsite.  To move to the first chapter of that book, simply search the internet for “Stan.Point Angels” and repeat the scrolling and “older post” steps described above.   You might also be interested in searching the internet for “Stan.Point Atheists.”  There are a few items in various other posts, such as the discussion of morality in “Hidden Mickeyisms.”  All of this is available FREE, of course.

So much for the FREE stuff.  If you are still hungry for my discussions of various other matters and have a couple of dollars sitting around the house, feel free to go to and search the INDEX below the ORDER FORM to see what topics interest you.  The index includes a growing list of audio clips (listed as FILE numbers) typically lasting approximately 20 minutes each.  The instruction level of these clips closely resembles the college-level lectures that I record for my online courses at the university.  

Of course, while you are searching on the internet, you will find plenty of opinions and perspectives on biblical issues.  I certainly cannot vouch for the credibility of everything you come across, but as a life-long active member of the Society of Biblical Literature and as a life-long Bible-believing Christian, I constantly work to make sure that my work is trustworthy.