Back to the Way Of Strife Home Page

The Sidious "family": Darth Sidious, Doctor Claw (from Inspector Gadget), Lobo (AKA "the Main Man", "the Last Czarnian", the galaxy's greatest fragger ya bastitch!) with mortal remains of Santa Claus, Zorak, Bane (the man who broke Batman), Beavis, and the Baroness (click for a larger image)

Way of Strife Literature - About the Editor

"My Wit Is My Weapon"
Testimony Of A Fun-loving Christian Author and Renaissance Man

By "Darth Sidious"

Contents:

Salvation--"He Set Me Free"

God's Call--"I'm just a cheap pen in the Hands of a MUCH better Writer!"

Bible Study--"Small Groups, Discipleship, and Whatnot"

Practical Experience--"Young Whippersnapper at Work"

Way of Strife Literature--"Cloud's Instruction Is The Way of Strife"

O'Blasphemy Magazine--"Too Clever Even For MAD Magazine's Bill Gaines, Lord Rest His Soul"

Research Into Christendom--"Behold the Wicked Abominations..." and gleefully mock them!

I often get inquiries as to my background and testimony. I'm not gonna try to "puff it up", make it into something it's not. I'm just a Christian who seeks after Christ, and sometimes struggle with my faith. There's nothing to be ashamed of in that, and this isn't something to be treated cheaply: a realtionship with Christ is a serious, tender and wonderful thing, and if someone accuses me of not having faith, so what? It's better to look for Christ and know He's there, than to just claim to know Him without trying to find Him at all. But anyway...

SALVATION--"HE SET ME FREE"

I had been an atheist for the better part of ten years, and it's partly because of why I was that, that I'm led to take fundamentalists like David Cloud on. It was fundamentalists who taught me that the fastest, dirtiest way to power was not to disbelieve in God, but to claim belief, to claim "justification" in His name and a kind of "salvation" that might give all sense of assurance but doesn't leave room in the heart for Christ to work and change one like unto Him in a real, genuine relationship with Him. When people like Cloud ask "are you saved?", they aren't concerned about your soul in the least... they just want to be sure that you are "like them", that you think like they do and that you are in a "Bible-believing fundamentalist Baptist church" so they can claim "pastoral authority" over you. That way leaves no place for God to reign in the heart, because the heart is instead given over to an institution of men instead of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Let's talk about "pastoral authority", because that's something Cloud likes to talk about on his site. I don't believe in it, because NOWHERE in the Bible is there found pastors such as Cloud relishes bringing up. You can try to find it yourself, they aren't in there. Now, that does not mean that there aren't leadership positions in the churches, because there are. But "pastor" as is understood by fundamentalists doesn't have the historical meaning of the New Testament church. Those "pastors", "deacons", "elders", what have you, were servants, not rulers, of a church. They did not establish the identity of a church, for that was established in and by Christ Jesus. They were chosen by God to be humble examples of what Christian service was meant to be. Contrast that to the proud-hearted like Cloud, who elevate a pastor above the flock, a man who dominates the church and "serves" by shutting out anything that God might be using to otherwise lead that church in growth. When was the last time you heard a fundamentalist pastor coming to others in the church with a matter of his heart? Are some chosen by God to live unto themselves, shut off from the fellowship and godly counsel of others? I fear for any church with a pastor as this, for it is one man's heart they have given authority unto, rather than unto God. This is the institution that Cloud and others seek to perpetuate.

Do I belong to a church? Yes. Do I yield to authority of others? Yes... BUT their authority over me is because God has shown me that they are brothers and sisters in Christ who are further along in their growth in Christ than I am. If my discipleship partner holds me accountable for something, I know it is something God is trying to show me, instead of a "pastor" who demands obiesance simply out of his assumed position. The elders of my church I hold in authority because they are men who have submitted themselves to Christ in the sincerest humility and love and desire to serve others.

And that's what it's about: loving and serving Christ, just as He loved and served, and STILL loves and serves, us. Contrast that to what David Cloud once wrote to me in an e-mail when I took him to task about his slanders on InterVarsity Christian Fellowship:

I don't sit on high and I am not proud. I don't consider myself better than anyone. I am a wretch saved by the lovely grace of Jesus Christ. period. I was called to preach the Word of God 25 years ago and I am commanded by the Lord to prove all things and to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. I will continue to strive to do that by God's grace in spite of the vicious and slanderous judgements made against me by people like you. By the way, if your message is loving and gracious, I would hate to see something hateful.
Ummmm... yah, not proud, whatever...

I had been an atheist and when I began my writing career, I published things in the local paper that I am definitely NOT proud of today. My second piece was about abortion... defending it as a "right to choose". Seven years later in college and I'm getting death threats for trying to humbly articulate why abortion is wrong. Only by the grace of God could a change like that happen in a person's heart.

I finished high school not as an atheist, but as a believer in God but also believing that I was irredeemable because of some of the things I had done against Him in my years of anger. There was no way the universe could have come into existence on its own unless someone had wonderfully engineered it that way... like, the gravitational constant is so precise that were it to be a hair's more, the universe would contract on itself. A hair less, and matter would fly off in all directions in a tumultous space of chaos. So there had to be a God... the thing of it is, I didn't know if God wanted me then.

Well, God did. And He set me free. Which brings us to...

GOD'S CALL--"I'm just a cheap pen in the Hands of a MUCH better Writer!"

God wanted me to be at Elon College, North Carolina. In my third year of community college I applied to two schools to transfer to: UNC-Chapel Hill, and Elon College. On the day I turned 21, I got the acceptance letter from Elon. That, and the way the Lord opened for me to actually attend there, was the first miracle concerning a place that I've since come to expect nothing but the most amazing miracles that God has worked there, especially through the lives of the people He introduced into my own.

In my first week at Elon, I literally stumbled into the Baptist Student Union, and met the first of the many people who would begin to guide my path to Christ, and then my walk with Him. It was here, among these Christians though I was not one of them yet, that I began to spend every Thursday evening with, listening to them talk about their relationships with Jesus Christ, what the Lord had shared with them in the Word, what He was doing in their lives. I met my future roommate at BSU and the following January we started sharing an apartment in Burlington NC. I spent all that year with BSU, but I wasn't quite ready to make the committment to Christ... yet.

During my first year at Elon I was majoring in journalism, and at the end changed it to history with a minor in secondary education. I also learned HTML and some Internet techniques, the following summer even pulling off one of the most-visited websites of 1996 (Chris Knight's Unofficial ID4 Homepage). And at The Pendulum I began to develop a tremendous love of op-ed writing.

During my second year at Elon, I finally relented and took my roomie's advice and went to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, which though I did not know it at the time would prove to be the most life-changing series of events I have yet experienced. I started going to the "large groups" at Elon's IV and got attached to a small group, headed by a guy who would later become my discipleship partner and one of about five guys I consider "best friends".

At the beginning of October 1996 Elon's IV chapter had a beach retreat at Sunset Beach, North Carolina. My roomie, a guy from Boston and me drove the three hours down there and... that night with everyone gathered there was the most joy and love I think I'd ever known in a gathering of Christians. Singing those songs, knowing the kind of thankfulness and rejoicing that was present... it's hard to say how beautiful an experience it was. But God definitely was there, and it made me wonder if God could be in me too. It was hard on the retreat not to look into a pair of eyes and see the love of Christ in them.

The following day a friend of mine had been asking questions about Jesus, and a lot of people were telling him about Him. They were largely the same questions I had, or perhaps a better way to say it is that they were questions about Jesus that I had wanted to ask but was afraid to. The Jesus they spoke of wasn't some distant symbol of power and might, but a loving and forgiving Person who bestowed grace freely, withholding nothing. The idea of "accepting Jesus into your heart" as I understood it was an alien concept here: it wasn't just about "accepting" and then letting the issue stagnate, but about believing in Him, accepting Him, following Him and growing to intimately love Him in a way that the style of "fundamentalism" I had seen could not afford. Jesus isn't about power, He's about being made justified in the eyes and presence of God... not to be saved from Hell (although that is a nice benefit) but simply because we know we can't do anything on our own to justify our sinful nature in the eyes of God. We need Someone who, being without sin, made the sacrifice of Himself so that we could know God and He, us.

And when you think about how awesome and terrible a sacrifice that was, does that justify someone to stand boldly and proudly, or to out of thankfulness tearfully go on bended knee before the Lamb that was slain? I've known two kinds of "Christians" in my time: the ones who talk about Christ in voices above all others, and the ones who are humbled into silence at His majesty... and desire only to testify of Him to fellow man.

That night at the retreat, my friend accepted Christ into his life. A month later, after searching my own soul and returning to the point where I wanted Him but didn't know if I was really worthy of Him, I realized just how unworthy of Him I was. But God had made ready brothers and sisters in Christ who loved me and showed me how wonderful and irresistible His love is for us. On November 3rd 1996, I accepted Jesus Christ into my life, and have been trying to follow Him ever since. Lacking of faith at times, yes, especially in the times when He leads me into the valleys... before showing me out again and onto the peaks. A little over two years later, in the presence of almost everyone who God had put into my life in college who had led me to Christ, I was baptised in a nearby Baptist church.

During my third year at Elon God began showing me that He was leading me into a writing career of some sort. It had gotten to where every column I was writing, at some level, was always coming back to God. In my fourth year there was no doubt: God was wanting me to enter the "arena of ideas" as a full-time writer. The day after I was baptised I wrote a piece about the White Rose, the young people in Germany who wrote pamphlets against Hitler during World War II. It was written after I came down with the flu that night, and a fever of 103... and I don't know HOW it was written, only that it was. The following week a lady told me that her preacher wound up using that column in his sermon a few days earlier.

That's when my writing philosophy came to me that I've used ever since: "I'm just a cheap pen in the Hands of a MUCH better Writer!" And it's true: you can't really write and be used by God unless you yield yourself over to Him as a writing instrument in His Hands. Every time I begin a column or write something for the 'net, I pray and ask Him to give me the words to use. If He doesn't want me to write, it just doesn't get written... it's as simple as that.

BIBLE STUDY--"Small Groups, Discipleship, and Whatnot"

Beginning from the day of my salvation, I've tried to maintain a constant thirst for the Word of God, ever hungering for what it is He's wanting to show me in His Scripture.

When I graduated from the community college the church nearby gave me, and all the other area graduates, a copy of the Holy Bible. Appropriately it was the Student Bible, an edition of the New International Version. As of this writing it's the Bible I still use, although when I first received it it was shiny and new. Today there is writing on the inside cover: a list of things I was thankful for and what God had done for me in the four years I was at Elon, all the people I was indebted to for leading me to Christ. There are also a few nametags I stuck in there that I'd worn at InterVarsity, copies of songs we had sang together, photographs, and Scripture references for whenever I need to find something readily, as well as verses underlined that are favorites of my friends and myself.

What's my favorite verse of the Bible? It's Habakuk 1:5, which states...

"...I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.
Even before I became a Christian, that verse held special significance for me (if you want to know why, ask me in an e-mail) and since then, it has come to encapsulate so beautifully what Christ has done in my life (and yes, that IS the King James Version quote of it. I use KJV when writing, and NIV for my personal devotion. One is just easier to study than the other, but there's no real difference between the meaning of the two but hey, I like to consider myself a "classical writer" so KJV in publishing, NIV for myself :-)

While at Elon I became involved with InterVarsity "small groups": about 10-20 brothers and sisters in the Lord who came together at various times during the week to study the Word together, to pray, to talk about what God was showing in our lives, and to give honor and praise to Him in a more intimate setting than the weekly large group could perhaps provide. Something God showed me during those times which is going to run counter to a lot of fundamentalist teaching: God can use ANYONE to reveal something to you, and it doesn't matter if it's a man or a woman. Okay, I do believe that there's a definite role for a man in a marriage, and he is to be the head of it and for the woman to submit to that, just as he is to serve her as Jesus served His bride, the church. I believe that marriage is meant to be a model of what our relationship to Christ is supposed to be, and we are to look to Him being His bride even more than an earthly bride looks for her husband. Know that, but also know that I've done a LOT of studying in the Word, and I can't find where Paul EVER forbid a woman to be used by God in the building up of God's kingdom. I wouldn't be where I am in Christ were it not for women of the Lord... women that I regard as dearly and lovingly as dear, sweet sisters. Some of them I learned more about what it means to love the Lord than anything I heard from the most ardently fundamentalist pastors.

God cannot be limited. He'll use anyone who is willing to be used by Him, for His glory. Who are any of us to say otherwise?

And let's try to look at Paul with some perspective. At various times in Scripture he makes a marked shift between when "the Lord sayeth..." and "I sayeth..." Is it God who is absolutely disallowing women from working unto Him, or is it Paul, the man who is trying to defuse situations like what was going on at Corinth? Paul was the greatest missionary in history, he had the greatest testimony of conversion of perhaps any Christian, but he was also a man who struggled in and of the flesh. He wouldn't have been able to be so great a preacher of the Lord if he were any more than that.

And when I was in college, the Lord provided me with someone who became more than a friend, but a brother in Christ, someone who's challenged me to keep firm and straight my tread along the narrow way: my discipleship partner. The person who's held me accountable to God when I didn't want to be accountable to anyone. Someone who helped to oversee my growing in Christ so that I would come to hold myself accountable to Him. There have been many other people who I have deferred to in spiritual matters, but it was he especially (because of the nature of this site, I choose not to reference him by name). All that's important to know is that at the right time in my life and my walk with Christ, the Lord put the right people there who guided and inspired me to look to Christ and to the Bible to grow as a Christian.

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE--"Young Whippersnapper at Work"

About two years or so after becoming a Christian, for the first time I began to see what it was that kept me from Christ to begin with. I was seeing the errors of man committed in the name of Jesus Christ and assuming that these derived from the fault of God. Of course, that is impossible, that God could be anything less than perfect. And that was the beginning of my education in the affairs of God, of man, and of power... and He began showing me some things.

Soon after becoming a Christian in late fall '96, I began searching the Internet for resources that would further feed my yearning to grow in the Christian life. One of the very first I found was a ministry called "Way of Life", by someone named David Cloud. At first I thought "okay, this guy is on the level" but there was always something about him nagging on my conscience... like, "is it really something of a Christ-like heart to spend so much time attacking Catholics and so little time ministering the Word of God to those who want to hear about Jesus Christ?" "Why is this guy harping on 'women preachers' so much... is it just harder for him to be a real man's preacher?" "He loves to name all these people he doesn't agree with but he has nowhere the same zeal for teaching about the fruits of the spirit, such as humility and compassion and love... why?"

If you've ever seen Cloud's website, you know what I'm talking about. Now, I'll admit to agreeing with some of what he's saying there, up to a point. For example, ecumenicalism is a dangerous thing: it's putting the leadership of man before the authority of Christ. Ultimately it becomes about defining God in man's terms, effectively nullifying Jesus as being the standard of our identity. And if Cloud sees the inherent danger there, I applaud him for sounding a warning. But that's not why he might be so against it: he's against ecumenicalism just to be against something. He's so paranoid about this "conspiracy theory" involving a one-world church that he'll rabidly attack ANYONE he disagrees with as belong to the "ecumenical crowd". Cloud attacked one person I happen to know, a fairly well-known Christian singer, as being an ecumenicalist. This person is nothing of the sort: she is someone who sings praises unto the Lord out of sincere and beautiful joy, but that doesn't pass muster with Cloud. You know you're on his bad side (and that's more or less everyone) if you're "with Rome", whatever THAT'S supposed to mean. Not even Mother Teresa and Billy Graham cut it with Cloud, he's attacked them also (and James Dobson, and Jerry Falwell, and...). Whatever it was Cloud was (and is) doing, it was decidedly NOT in a Christian spirit.

Here was a guy who was spreading un-Christian doctrine to a wide audience. Obviously, this was a guy who needed to be corrected in a humble, prayerful manner.

My first e-mail to Mr. Cloud concerned his extreme stance on the King James Version of the Bible. If you only know English, you can only read the KJV according to Cloud. If you're bi-lingual in English and Spanish, you're supposed to only read the KJV 'cause that's the "most preserved" one according to the KJV-Onlyites (of which Cloud is one of the most chief). If you know fluent Russian and have high school proficiency in English, *ding* read KJV or be damned as a heretic, so say the KJV-Onlyites and so shall it be done!

My e-mail was about translations in other languages, such as one version for Pacific islanders that turned "snow" into "inside of a coconut". Now, let's think about this for a sec, please: how many Pacific islanders ever see snow? How do they KNOW what snow is supposed to look like? It's white, but are we trying to let them know "snow" or "their sins shall be washed as white as..." Sheesh, it's not like some Monty Python movie or somethin' is it?

But that doesn't matter to Cloud. It's not enough that a Pacific islander should understand the power of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross... no, he must understand that it's white as snow, not a coconut. Here's what Cloud wrote back to me:

Thanks for the note. Bible translation is an extremely difficult task, but I am convinced that the dynamic equivalency method of translation is wrong. There are better solutions to the problems that you mentioned. I helped set up a Bible translation committee in a foreign language, so I know a little about it. My complete report on Dynamic Equivalency can be found at my web site.
That's it? I wrote an eight-paragraph letter about why dynamic equivalence is necessary if we're going to share the Gospel with everyone, and he fires back with a stupid plug for his crappy literature?!

I kept my eye on Cloud, especially as I began seeing his work mentioned on FreeRepublic.com, a site I participate in regularly as "Darth Sidious". Then a few months later came his attack on InterVarsity Christian Fellowship...

...that's when God put it on my heart that someone must take this fight straight back to Cloud, and fight it as viciously as he is to others. But how to do that in a spirit of humbleness and love?

The answer was obvious...

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (1st Corinthians 1:27)
God showed me that I could show how foolish Cloud was, by pointing out his proud arrogance... by being foolish myself! Being a longtime fan of "Weird Al" Yankovic and MAD Magazine, and with the dark side of my nature loving to cause mischief... if it was for a good cause, and funny... and after a LOT of sincere prayer on the subject, the Lord led me to undertake this webpage project, which is meant to pokerize and skewer the "ministries" of David Cloud and a LOT of other "fundamentalists". By making people laugh... and to think... and if I can do it in any little way, to lead them to draw closer to God.

The young whippersnapper began to work...

WAY OF STRIFE LITERATURE --"Cloud's Instruction Is The Way of Strife"

It was the "InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Rome" paranoia that started it all. I spent four years with IV, and NOTHING that happened there had ANYTHING to do with being "dedicated to ecumenical relationships with Rome."

David Cloud had slandered. Again. This time he had slandered an organization that was near and dear to my heart, a group of people who showed me Christ's love when people like Cloud had only shown me anger and vitriol and a god of hopelessness.

It was after a lot of thinking and prayer about it that I had to realize what was long staring me in the face: Cloud is preaching "another gospel", one dangerous to the preaching and living of the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Cloud's "gospel" drives people from Christ, not to Him. And when you think about it, is there anything more dangerous in this world?

There isn't. And there is no life to be found in Cloud's twisted "gospel". His instruction is the way of strife instead.

"Say, that sounds like... heh-heh-heh..."

And so, Way of Strife Literature was born in March 2000. It will be some time before WoS can counter ALL of Cloud's material (he has had 25 years of wasteful "preaching" and we've only had a few months of this writing... yes, "we": others want in on this project also) but we feel it will be time well spent. And we won't just go after Cloud either: there's a LOT of "fundamentalists" on the Internet that are doing a LOT worse than anything coming from the likes of Foundry United Methodist Church in D.C. or from the books of Bishop Spong. In fact, I lump Cloud right along with Spong: in the end, they are both about power over others, instead of seeking and building the Kingdom of Heaven. Their methods differ, but their goals are the same.

I've fought religious liberalism long enough... now it's time to fight religious fundamentalism, and show why it's equally dangerous.

O'BLASPHEMY MAGAZINE--"Too Clever Even For MAD Magazine's Bill Gaines, Lord Rest His Soul"

Relax. There is no "O'Blasphemy Magazine". That was just a straight spoof name for Cloud's "O Timothy" magazine.

So far...

RESEARCH INTO CHRISTENDOM--"Behold the Wicked Abominations..." and gleefully mock them!

Y'see, no matter who they are, liberals or fundamentalists, they've made a mockery of Christ-like living and trying to bear the fruits of meekness, humbleness, compassion, and love, for far too long. They DESERVE to be mocked, if done so in a factual, dead-on-target, and yes, though we don't seem it perhaps on the surface, a loving fashion. I don't hate David Cloud. But neither can I just sit here when God has shown me that He's given me tools, a medium, and a desire to fight in the arena of ideas. I've laid down the gauntlet to Cloud and every other fundamentalist out there. Let's see if they pick it up. If they can do so in a demonstrably Christ-like fashion, I'll salute them. If they run and throw dung from the parapets like the French soldiers in Monty Python And The Holy Grail, I'll make a further mockery of them.

In the meantime, Way of Strife Literature is here to stay. We're going to do our best, we're going to do what God is leading us to do. And we're gonna have a little fun along the way...