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New Horizons

March, 1999: Y2K: Facing Possible Disaster

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Contents

Preparing for Possible Disaster

By this time you are no doubt aware of the rising crescendo of concern about the Y2K ("Year 2000") problem, also called the millennium bug. Somehow, we are told, the brilliant people who launched us into the computer age made a gigantic mistake when designing software by using only two digits to designate years. Thus, many computer chips will not run properly past the stroke of midnight on December 31, 1999, interpreting the next year, "00," to mean 1900! According to some computer experts, we are rapidly approaching an electronic doomsday, when the whole fabric of our electronic and computer—controlled infrastructure may experience a colossal breakdown.

Well, what should we Christians do? Should we head for the hills? One influential writer of Reformed books has indeed moved to a rural setting and installed equipment to ensure that, whatever happens to others, he will have his own private sources of water and energy. Read more

A Christian's Response to Impending Crisis

The classic children's tale The Horse and His Boy, by C. S. Lewis, is about crisis. It's a powerful story of the Christ—figure Aslan's protecting and promoting the welfare of his people. In his master plan, a baby is kidnapped and raised by a stranger in a foreign land, knowing only misery and suffering. Why? So that he might be in the right place at the right time to discover a terrible plot to attack and destroy his homeland, Archenland. The book is the exciting story of the discovery of this impending crisis and Shasta's response to it—racing across the desert to warn and deliver his people.

One incident in particular merits a closer look. As Shasta and friends cross into Archenland, they look back across the desert and see something far off in the distance. "It looks like smoke. Is it a fire?" asks Shasta. "Sandstorm, I should say," replies Bree (his horse). "Not much wind to raise it," says Aravis (his companion). "Oh!" exclaims Hwin (her horse). "Look! There are things flashing in it. Look! They're helmets—and armour. And it's moving: moving this way." Indeed, it is an invading army, and there isn't a minute to lose. Read more

The Spiritual Side of Millennial Fears

The countdown has begun. Apocalyptic predictions abound. Pundits and prophets warn that at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2000, computers (and computer chips embedded in all sorts of equipment) all over the world will malfunction, since they have not been programmed to recognize the year 2000 (the so—called Y2K problem). Since there are not enough experts to fix all the computer programs before 2000 arrives, doomsayers prognosticate dire consequences: air traffic—control systems will fail, national defense systems will crash, the IRS will be unable to collect taxes, vital utilities will fail, assembly lines will grind to a halt, etc., leading to widespread hardship, massive layoffs, and civil unrest. Such an apocalyptic scenario finds a ready audience both in the broader culture and among Christians.

During the past century, many evangelicals have embraced dispensationalism, with all of its pessimistic end—times expectations. Predictions of gloom and doom fit right in with the dispensational worldview. But a number of Christians in the Reformed tradition have also sounded the alarm, claiming that the Y2K problem poses a serious threat to our modern civilization, and may even bring about its collapse. So as we approach the new year, Christians from various traditions, as well as many non—Christians, warn of impending disaster. Read more

Thoughts from a Y2K Programmer

I work with computer systems for a major financial firm. During the past two years, I have been involved with the programming effort to address the Y2K issue for a large group of my company's systems. Having been in programming for sixteen years, I didn't think that any computer task would be too difficult to deal with. Y2K came pretty close, though.

The complexity with Y2K was that changes were required in all parts of our systems. We contracted with another company to make the necessary modifications to our software programs, but the task of testing those modifications was ours. This required us to create test data that had dates not only in the 1900s, but also in the 2000s. The sheer volume of changes made, and the need to validate them all, led to over a year of constantly repeated testing, analyzing why something went wrong, fixing the program, and then retesting. I would spend the normal working hours managing my group, and then come home and do further testing on my own. Read more

The Bible Teaches the Doctrine of Election: Part II

The God who chose the Thessalonians for salvation chose them through his appointed means. He chose them, says Paul, "through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth" (literally, "by sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth") (2 Thess. 2:13). What exactly are these two means, and how do they relate to each other?

The New Birth

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