Monday, February 9, 2015

A Breath of Fresh Air: Ken Baugh To Speak at Capo Beach Church

Dr. Drew's first en plein air painting done in Laguna Beach
CA beneath Las Brisas restaurant.
I was pleased to hear the news this afternoon that my ex-pastor, Ken Baugh, will be preaching at Capo Beach Church next weekend. While I enjoy following Ken's blog "Encouraging Discipleship" and his twitter account, I really miss hearing him share his insight and wisdom in front of a live audience.

Ken Baugh will be teaching on Saturday, Feburary 14 at 6:30 p.m. and on Sunday February 15 at 8:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The folks at Capo Beach Church want to remind us that all three services are identical, so we should pick one that fits our wake-up time or sports schedule. (I'll be there Saturday evening, thank you.) If you have a middle schooler or high schooler, you may want to come to the 10:00 a.m. service so your students can attend services with their age group. Apparently, childcare and Children's Church are available for all four weekend services. For more information, please check out their website at

I should add that Capo Beach Church has a special significance for me. My brother Tom and his wife Michelle were married there two decades ago. Trish and I went there as part of our first date. We were too early for dinner at Las Brisas in Laguna Beach, so we went to the Saturday evening service as a spontaneous lark. It was an unusual religious service for me. At the time, I was still an atheist.

One of the odd examples of synchronicity that I remember from that evening is that the preacher, Chuck Smith, Jr., went out of his way to praise atheists that night. As I recall, he ranked atheists over agnostics because the atheists at least had put in the time and effort to come to a definite conclusion. Whatever the reason, I felt quite welcome and accepted that night. I was certainly a passive fan of Christianity. I remember that I was confident that the Christian church had been a live-saver for my future wife. As a political scientist, I understood enough about political culture to understand that the American way of life would be physically impossible without its firm foundation in the Christian faith of our founders and early settlers.

Overtime, of course, I left aside my atheism. I got baptized by some friends of mine who were part of our Bible study group in Irvine, CA. I like to think that they -- and Trish -- figured out I was a Christian prior to me getting that figured out myself. We are still active in a small group today where we are living life along the guidelines so thoughtfully suggested by Ken Baugh during his remarkable tenure at Coast Hills Church. For better or worse, there are a number of us out there who are unhappy with the way Coast Hills Church parted ways with Ken Baugh. Recently an ex-parishioner at Coast Hills wrote: "I did not like how Coast Hills handled this situation. It was very abrupt and just funky. I truly loved serving at Coast Hills over the past 10 years... and just felt that it was time to leave Coast Hills." Expressing what must be the thoughts of many, this observer wrote: "I truly loved Ken's messages and his heart. The messages he spoke truly touched my life."

Since that first date, however, I have also come to have a darker take on atheists. Unfortunately, the worse mass murderers of the last century were atheists including Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. As a fairly decent student of Marxism myself, I can report that my atheism preceded my commitment to being a Marxist socialist ideologue. I can also report that my spiritual recovery preceded my eventually renunciation of Communism as a worthy goal.

I am also aware that atheists in power are dangerous whether or not they are Communists. During the French Revolution, the revolutionary leadership made an aggressive attempt to root out the Catholic Church and Catholicism itself. The leaders of the French Revolution sent thousands out to the guillotine and when that was too slow turned to tying Christians to logs and letting them drown in the rivers.

As an ex-atheist, I am painfully aware of how easy it is to justify the murder of millions of people simply because they are getting in the way of your particular utopia. These Godless regimes do not have the internal strength to last, but they do massive damage to themselves and their neighbors. Atheists tyrants routinely lack the humility needed to be safe rulers and safe neighbors.

At any rate, it will be a pleasure to visit Capo Beach Church again. I will reminiscent about how the church welcomed me despite my flaws and look forward to how the church will keep alive the gentle, healing Biblical insight of Ken Baugh.


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