BENYOLA: Usually the first step toward truth is seeing a disparity in what you currently believe. That’s where it was for me. I wasn’t ready to know and understand the truth until I realized that there was a hole in my theology big enough for you to drive a truck full of Nazis and an Ark through.
STARKWEATHER: Sure. So one other thing. My desire for some of these things was to try and be a witness to people that otherwise wouldn’t be witnessed to, and therefore, I’m supposed to spread the gospel. I’m not a preacher. I’m not a missionary. But I do work with various people that I’ve had from a technical perspective. And every time they talk about evolution — I had to write my papers to get them accepted by the various committees that would get them published. For example, I did a lot of stuff on visual displays, print quality, things like that. I would always use the human eye as designed for this purpose. They didn’t quite know how to interpret that. They couldn’t really say it was anything bad. Now, if I had said created … but I could say it was designed. Then someone would come to me and say, “What did you mean by that?” [slams table] “Good. That’s what I wanted you to do. Got your curiosity up now.” So, that’s kind of how I’ve approached my witness is, I want to pique your curiosity to the point where you ask the right questions. As I used to tell the young researchers, “It’s not getting right answers, it’s asking right questions.”
BENYOLA: So you’re about 20 years old, you’re an aspiring, rising scientist/physicist/programmer, eventually you went into code. So now you’re in a Baptist church and you’re persuaded of the Doctrines of Grace. I’d like to know how and when you came to the Reformed tradition, going to a Reformed church, and how you eventually made your way to Florida and came to St. Andrew’s.
STARKWEATHER: Most of that happened when I went to Seattle. I think that I had pretty much always accepted the Reformed tradition, because I couldn’t see any other way. But I had to be careful in a church that wasn’t in the Reformed tradition, because they always interpreted Calvin as some sort of guy who said that you don’t have to have missionaries, because the Spirit will awake them anyway. No, that’s never what he said. So when I got to Seattle, we went to a church that really wasn’t Reformed but it was a Christian church, but I’m not sure what it was in that regard. So fortunately, I got a call from one of the pastors. He knew my background, and we talked over it. And he said, “How would you like to start a Sunday school class?” I said, “That would be great. The only thing is, I’m going to teach. I’m not an administrator. I don’t know how to establish mission programs. And if we’re going to have a class, I want it to have three legs on a stool: We have our teaching of the class, we have socializing so that the people get to know each other. I want them to understand who we are … And the third thing is, we need an outreach. We need to do something with what we’ve learned. So we did, we had a fellow who did our mission work and another fellow who was basically president of the class, who did the announcements and worried about the administration stuff of it, a fellow by the name of Curt Brannon. Wonderful guy. He had studied under R.C. Sproul. I hadn’t known a lot about R.C. even though I had heard of him. Curt was a Navy chaplain and had some very harsh experiences because he was in Vietnam. He said, “I had lots of 19-year-olds die in my arms. I tried to talk to them about eternity and so forth.” He and I sat down and I discovered that, pretty much, R.C. Sproul was saying things that I’d always kind of felt that sort of thing. So we got together and we taught the Reformed tradition to this class, and we went through and took the Five Solas. And then I spent about a year taking them through various belief systems, all the way from, say, Jehovah’s Witnesses, all the way down to the Baptist church I grew up in, saying, “How does it correlate with this?” So ask these questions when they come up, and show them that when someone proposes something to you, you can start asking intelligent questions about it, and start to analyze what’s going on. We grew that class from six people to 70 in six years.
BENYOLA: This is the church in Seattle?
STARKWEATHER: This is the church in Seattle. Um, the pastor of the church was kind of put off by all of this because he was very much a populist, and he was afraid that I was building an insurrection or something like that, I guess. Last thing on my mind, I would never do that sort of thing. But they finally came around to saying, “Now this class has actually been pretty good. These people are still in church. They’re still giving.”