My story is told briefly and selectively.
I have been part of the Renewal Movements (Pentecostal, Charismatic and Neo-Charismatics) since my conversion in the Jesus Movement in the 1970s at a little Assembly of God church in southern Oregon, USA, in my mid-teens. (See my post: What Are Renewal Movements in Christianity?). A friend invited me.
At my age and before the worldwide web, I knew very little about denominations. I did not fully understand, further, that I was part of the Jesus Movement. I just lived it. I was never part of the hippy-and-drug subculture, but I saw firsthand the salvation and deliverance that came to the hippies.
I moved to Southern California to attend Melodyland School of Theology (long ago defunct), where I got a B.A. in Theology. I attended Melodyland Christian Center, for a few years, where numerous leaders from the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements were guest speakers. The church building was right across the street from Disneyland. (The MCC building, a theater in the round, has long ago been demolished.)
Further, a group of students and I often piled into a car and went to the Friday Night (or Saturday night?) concerts at Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, where innovative music was being introduced to churches for the first time. I seem to recall that the electric guitar made its first appearance in church services then. It was exciting to be at the hub of the overlapping Charismatic Renewal and the Jesus Movement.
After I graduated from MST, I went to Paris, France, to do missions, where I helped a French Baptist church, pastored at that time by Jules Thobois, and St. Michael’s Anglican church, Paris, pastored at that time by Englishman Rev. Peter Sertin. Both were part of the Charismatic Renewal and are now deceased. While spending sixteen fun and productive months in Paris, I realized, when talking with Europeans, who did not know the Bible, that I could not communicate with them about life or history or complex issues, other than by that ancient book. There was a mutual impasse. I was much too uneducated. I had to close the gap.
I returned to Southern California, but soon went to Lubbock, Texas, to attend Texas Tech University and got a B.S. in Education at that state university, which would not go defunct. I then went back to Southern California and earned an M.A. in Religion at Vanguard University of Southern California.
From there I earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at UC Riverside (1994), majoring in Religious Studies and Classical and Hellenistic Greek, in conjunction with the Classics Department at UC Irvine and the History and Classics Departments at UCLA, where I took graduate Greek classes. I also took senior-level classical Greek classes at UC Riverside. I specialized in early Christianity at UCLA and in the Religion Department at UCR, at that time only an undergraduate program. Hendrickson published my dissertation: Women, Class, and Society in Early Christianity: Models from Luke-Acts (now out of print).
I also took critical literary theory in several seminars, reading Derrida and Lyotard and Barthes and Foucault and Jameson and others. I have long ago left this topic behind, except in a few posts, where I criticize their views.
I have become a generalist in my teaching career. I have taught basic philosophy and ethics, world literature, Shakespeare, Humanities I and II, world religions, and basic writing at various colleges and once in a while at a university. I cannot claim that I am a Grand Expert in these various fields, but I worked hard and learned a lot. I share my notes on this website.
I have written over 600 (substantial) articles, most of which have been posted at my first and now defunct website Live as Free People. Many of them had also been posted first at American Thinker. I have imported many of them into my new website, here.
After 9/11, I studied the Quran and Islamic traditions, and then, feeling nudged by the Spirit, I began to write my findings in articles, from 2004 to 2007 and revised the ones on sharia in 2012. They are hard-hitting but truthful because this is online writing. People had to be warned. I also share those posts with you.
Now let’s transition to my ministry today. Here’s one of my life verses, which describes who I am by God’s call on my life:
God has placed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers … (1 Cor. 12:28, my translation).
I’m the third guy. That’s it. My personal motto:
I learn; therefore, I teach.
The next equation sums up my life in Christ and study of Scripture:
Perpetual Learning = Perpetual Discipleship ….
I am a life-long student / disciple. Since I have been a generalist for many years, I don’t consider myself to be a top-level scholar in any one field, but I learn from them.
Time to wrap this up.
My full name is James Malcolm Arlandson, and please put the accent on the first syllable in my last name (pronounced: AR-lund-sun). I go regularly to a contemporary, mid-sized church, which is part of the Renewal Movements, in southern California.
If you need a category for me, I am a Jesus follower (who loved the pejorative “Jesus freak” back in the day) and teacher and essayist, with the degrees of BA, BS, MA, and PhD.
I hope you’ll enjoy the site and learn from it as much as I am learning.
About the Site (where I very briefly lay out its purpose)
‘Total Inerrancy and Infallibility’ or Just Infallibility? (my view of Scripture)