Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Journey (Part III): The Reset Button...

Faith is a reset button. I know this sounds like an odd statement but hear me out. Logic and reason is in all of us. We ALL question our faith from one time to another. Some of us may even question our faith very hard. These questions are good and healthy. They push to an edge. A point where logic and reason almost push us over the line into unbelief. That is where faith comes in. Faith is that reset button that says, I don't understand and I can't explain but I accept it by faith.

I started Bible Institute in 1994 and stayed there for a year. It was at this point in life that I actually hit that “rebellious” stage. I had been raised in a very closed and sheltered environment. At age 18 I had spent the night at somebody's house without my parents only one time...and that was because my mom was in the hospital and dad was with her. I didn't have any friends except for my brother. It is why, even to this day, even though he and I are so polar opposites it seems on everything, he is still my very best friend.

I began questioning even at this point in my life, though at that time it was not really questioning my faith as much as just how I am and how I think. I studied everything from the opposing view. I wanted to be able to answer the questions an opponent might ask. For example, if I wanted to refute the subject of speaking in tongues, I would study it by refuting the questions and statements I would be confronted with. I don't know if that makes any sense.

I remember the first time I got into trouble for this approach. I was in a class on the book of Hebrews. And we had reached the verse where it says that we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. His verse I, of course, of course referring to Jesus and teaches that Jesus understands what we go through because he was tempted in all things like as we are, but he didn't sin. It was at this point that the professor taught us an essential part of christian faith. Jesus could not have sinned. Not that he did not, but rather he could not...a very fine line but significant. The argument is that the god nature in him would not allow him to sin. In short, he was incapable of sin. Well, here is where I got in trouble. I dared ask the could he empathize with us and our temptations if he was incapable of sinning? If you are incapable of sinning then you are incapable of being tempted and if you are incapable of being tempted then you cannot empathize with somebody that can be tempted.

It was here I learned a couple of lessons about fundamentalists. First, when confronted with a sound argument they cannot answer they become very agitated and angry. It is a natural reaction to being cornered. It is called being defensive. The anger and threats that result are not natural. It is here where I first heard words like heresy and the threat of being rejected by God for questioning his word. The second lesson I learned is that, when confronted with an argument they cannot answer the inevitable answer is faith. I believe now in retrospect, that it was that night, after class, when I was called aside by one of the other students in the class and warned to tone it down in class or I would get expelled and that I needed to learn some things do not have an answer and have to be accepted by faith, I believe it was that night that my journey began.
I am reminded of an Old testament story. The story of Gideon. In this story Gideon questions God and God didn't kill him for it. God then sends Gideon to destroy the altar of Baal. When the mend of the city see what he has done they call for his death. Gideon's father then says, if Baal is a god let him defend himself. I have often thought of this. If God is real, then why can't he defend himself. Why do church people have to be so mean and ugly about it?

As I mentioned, I grew up in a very sheltered environment. I had never worked a job, even part time. Had no concept of money. I was not allowed to listen to contemporary christian music, much less non christian. We had no TV and never ever went to the movies. When I left home, though I had the best of intentions, it wasn't long before I got a lot of temptation I had never faced. It was here I hit that rebellious stage I mentioned in part 1. I began listening to country music (gasp), going to the movies...started making friends that were not in church. Went to a couple of bars, smoked....typical little rebellious things youth do.

My pastor asked me to go with him to a meeting he was preaching in Michigan, so I did...and it was there I met my first wife....but that would be part of the next post....



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