11 October 2023
The IBTM Newsletter

Good afternoon from London! I’m down here on a fellowship visit, seeing old friends from our ministry in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. (They may be old friends, not Vicki and I—youths that we are. 😉)

I’ve also just returned from a fruitful weekend in Geneva, Switzerland. This is where I spent my very first night in Europe (summer 1980). It’s also where Vicki and I had our honeymoon (Lenk, in the German-speaking part of the country). To top it odd, our dog is a Bernese Mountain dog (a Swiss breed)—a point of pride for us and esp. our Swiss friends. Switzerland is of the most beautiful countries in the world—although the Alps are fast destabilizing (global snowmelt).

In Geneva I taught on church governance, and spoke on the Women’s Role on Sunday. The church now many Ukrainian members—a number newly baptized—as the Geneva Christians have a big heart for those displaced by the war. So it wasn't just French being spoken on Sunday—lots of Russian and Ukrainian, too. In class on the women’s role I describe myself as almost egalitarian. Others would call me a soft complementarian. I am still thinking through the issues. Watch HERE if you’re interested in my take on the scriptures on this important topic.

Lac Leman and its famed Jet d’Eau. The local church is L’église du Christ du Léman.

With church leader Thierry Fender & Daniel Bertholet (my host). We’ve been friends for 30 years.

Flying Manchester to Geneva, I connected in London—a city dear to our hearts, and our old home for 10 years.


Writers like C.S. Lewis (Narnia), J.R.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings), and many others aim to awaken a sense of the spiritual in young readers. They also help secular thinkers discover their inner longing for the things of the spirit. This is a good thing.

The Protagonists in Harry Potter resist the dark world—and the dark Lord—just as we should. These books would be evil indeed if readers were urged to emulate the evil characters (Voldemort, Malfoy). But they are not. Such novels help the relativist to believe in good and evil, far better than an academic lecture or sermon ever could. They also get children reading.

The Harry Potter Shop at London Heathrow Airport

Not all Christians are positive about the Potter series. Yet if it's wrong to read books about dragons, sorcerers, and magic, then the book of Revelation would have to be excluded, as well as many sections of the Old Testament. G. K. Chesterton quipped, "Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed." My interpretation: Fantasy isn't an inherently bad thing—unless the message takes away hope. It is yet another way to open people's minds to the truth.

A Threat to Faith?

Does J. K. Rowling, author of the Potter series, see her work as a threat to faith? "To me [the religious parallels] have always been obvious." Further, consider comments on the inscriptions on the tombstones of Harry Potter's parents and Dumbledore's mother and sister [1 Cor 15:26 and Matt 6:21]: "I think those two quotations he finds on the tombstones at Godric's Hollow, they sum up—they almost epitomize the whole series." (1 Cor 15:26: The last enemy to be destroyed is death. Matt 6:21: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.)

Intrigued? You may want to listen to my audio talk (with notes) on Harry Potter. CLICK HERE.

Many other films are analyzed at the website, for example Black Panther, Avatar, Hunger Games, and Divergent.


This was the title of a recent post at Renew.org. There we read, “Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven over 2,000 years ago. Before he left, he empowered his disciples and asked them to take the gospel to the world… Many have gone out but took a message that did not accurately convey the truth of Jesus’ teaching. It was called the ‘gospel’ but was, in fact, only a series of spiritual propositions constructed from denominational doctrines and beliefs.

“Many have learned the tenets of these evangelism programs. But simply accepting these abstract beliefs is not what truly saves. Also, the content of these presentations is often incomprehensible and inaccessible to people holding a contradictory worldview from those who developed it.”

This article should make us think. ACCESS IT HERE.


Our next course is Holy Spirit & Doctrine – included at an overall discount in the AIM Spiritual Perspectives module, although it’s also a stand-alone course. Dates: 28 October-17 December, kicking off with a live online session 9:30am-1:00pm ET on Saturday 28 October. The course is taught 100% online.

A major component of this course is the study the Holy Spirit. In addition, we overview the basic beliefs of Catholicism, Protestantism, Calvinism, Mormonism, Sabbatarianism, Messianic and Judaic Christianity, the New Age Movement, postmodernism, liberal theology, fundamentalism, prosperity theology, and the megachurch movement.

Early Bird Discount: Register by October 16 for only $119 — and save $80. That’s 40% off the regular price.

To join our next AIM course, please email our AIM assistant: help@athensinstitute.org, and you will receive instructions.


We are around all week, renewing driver’s licenses, hanging pictures, setting up broadband, unpacking—everything that goes in to a move. Sunday was the final series on the John Zoomunion series. I’m launching an 8-week series, Jesus in Genesis. You can access these communion messages live or once they are posted. Please use the Zoomunion link at the website.

Next weekend I head to the Czech Republic (to teach), then Slovakia (for a personal spiritual retreat). Thanks for your prayers and support. Thanks for your prayers and support.