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ramblings

Friday, May 27, 2005
  Current struggles...
Okay the biggest reason I have this stupid thing is to vent and let you lovely folks know what rattles around in my cranium. So here ‘tis.

I think the biggest problem I’m having right now is a question I’ve asked myself (and have been asked) time and again over the years. How do I know that what I believe is really real? How do I know that God exists? How do I know that I’m not a heretic?

I ran that last one past Leigh last night. I mean seriously, “heresy” started with the apostles and hasn’t stopped to take a breath. Let’s say for argument’s sake that my current understanding of the scripture is one hundred percent spot-on. If that’s the case then an argument could be made that if you’re Arminian in theology then you are a heretic. If you’re SDA or Mormon, you’re a heretic. Unitarian? Straight to Hell. ICOC? Roasting with the rich man.

Now let’s flip that around. Suppose that I’m off base on even one thing (a major thing like baptism or the nature of the Trinity). Then that spells trouble for me, especially as I have been a teacher and God supposedly holds us to a higher standard (how that can really work I don’t know since we have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”). I could be a heretic and not even know it. When you consider that a lot of the early church fathers (2nd and 3rd century) were already slipping in some major weird theology I would be in good company I suppose, but that doesn’t get me “right with God”.

Now I know that I don’t have to be perfect. I know that I don’t have to teach everything correctly. I know that God’s grace is sufficient for his children. I’m pretty sure that there was even forgiveness for Judas. (Again all assuming that I understand what I read and that that is true.) How does all of this mesh with a God that is perfect in his righteousness and blood thirsty in his nature?

Now to the next question. What if all us Christians are wrong? From the RCC to the snake handlers in Appalachia, we could all be off our collective rockers. There is no shortage of belief systems out there, some older than Christianity some newer and all taken just as seriously as we take our faith. What if they’re right? Or what if the atheists are right? Okay that wouldn’t be as bad considering that there would be no afterlife for us to look stupid in but think about all the years of unnecessary guilt and shame we have felt. Sure we’ve done some good if we’re doing good works, but an equal amount of harm has been done in the name of various gods to start wars and make people’s lives miserable because that don’t “measure up” to our standard (I’m looking at you Religious Right). In any case this whole thing would’ve been a colossal waste of time at best.

I know that the apologists out there have a whole bunch of pat answers out there for all of these questions. I don’t need pat answers. I’m not sure what I need.

Here’s what I know.

I love my family.

I love my friends.

I love complete strangers and those that hate and persecute me or wish to.

I want to enjoy this life I have. No matter what the truth is, I only have one go round in this particular world.

I’ve no wish to hurt anyone in any way (including myself).

So I guess I’m not in a horrible place. I’m not completely in the dark. I feel love from friends and family. I know that there are people that care about me and don’t judge me for any of this. So I guess that’s it for now.
 
Comments:
I'm with you. I've been here myself, especially with all the bruhaha around the ICoC. I've had friends that came through this struggle is various ways.

As far as world religions go, instead of a pat answer, I studied them with someone that believed that they were true (except for Islam, my Muslim friend at the time moved back to Baku city). Amazing how quickly want I believed about God outside of the Bible and my Christian upbringing came out.

I want a god that is internally consistent.

I want it to be okay to be passionate and emotional.

I do not want a god to be my boss and make me work a second job.

I do not want more duties.

I do not want to worry about the next life when I'm in the middle of a life now.

I want an unlimited God.

I liked the structure of Islam and the focus on peace, but Allah seemed to be random and erratic, not to mention wrong about his own people's history. Right or wrong, I just couldn't believe it.

I strongly disliked Buddhism where passion was seen as evil. The desire in me to create things is strong and I do not believe it should be supressed. Right or wrong. However, I do appreciate some koans from the Zen tradition.

I studied to become a JW and realized that people can make the Bible say anything. I can't describe it in any other way other than to say that it was forced. God shouldn't have to force anything, he has unlimited power. It was a feeling and I know those are not always trustworthy, but that's what happened.

LDS runs in my family and I just knew it was no help. A group of people made sweeping decisions that affecting millions. Coca-cola was bad, then the LDS bought stock in it and it became good. LDS was racist, then in the seventies, it wasn't. I just couldn't believe that God would change his mind so often.

Of course, what attracted me to the ICC was that everything they believed had an explanation. Unfortunately, I didn't ask the right questions about what was expected after I got baptized. I regret that, because I stopped asking questions almost completely. Years later, I got burned out and stuck around for the fringe benefits. It took a worldwide revolt to get me thinking again.

I've learned that I can't be happen with finding THE answer. I've found some answers - I want to be Christian, I believe the Bible is the Word of God, and so on.

What has helped me is that I hold on to a resotrationist phrase "In essentials, unity..." I consider the list of essentials to be straightforward and smaller based on reading the book of Acts. I figure that what was essential to them should be essential to all of us.

Though they changed some essentials, those changes didn't affect what they taught about Jesus or God. The essentials that changed dealth with how to live your life after conversion.

I realize that having a small number of essentials makes my Christianity more conveient - I can deal with that.

I hope this can help somehow, not that I believe you should find my answers. You need to find yours.
 
What you say all makes sense and is good. Part of my search is trying ot understand why others believe as they do.
 
I think most of us ask this or similar questions. We question our belief system and that of others. We desire to know the truth. I can’t prove to anyone that what I believe is right, I only know that God reveals Himself and His truth to all who seek His face. It has only been in trying to understand myself that I came to realize that I believe in God and that I know that I am saved and will one day live with Him for eternity.

We start out our lives full of hopes and dreams and then life settles in. In the highs and lows of my life, I found that to understand myself and why my life is what it is, I must come as close as I can to understanding my Creator. I am created in his image...and he created me to respond to him. I know that I am only who I am in relationship with Him.

I know Him through all that he has created...the stars in the sky, the moon and sun, the entire nature of the universe.

My Creator, my God is so magnificent. He created the world and hung the stars, yet the simplest child can comprehend Him. In fact, simple children understand Him better than we do once we get our mind messed up with the intricacies of life.

So, I cannot know myself without knowing my Creator, and I cannot know Him without understanding Creation.

The result of the fall of mankind was that we lost our sovereignty. We try to do right, but we do wrong because we live in a fallen world. Without understanding this, we cannot know who we are and why we are here.

When God asked Solomon what he desired most, Solomon asked God to give him Wisdom. I think this should be the thing we desire most. God’s Word is total and complete. He reveals Himself to all that seek Him. With wisdom, we can study and allow God to speak to us directly through His Word. We should always measure what other’s say, by God’s Word.

Finally, the missing parts of my life, the questions that I asked were not answered by more education or better therapy. The missing piece of my life was to put Christ at the Center where He belongs. God creates each of us uniquely for himself. He has put a hole in our heart’s that can never be filled with anything else but Him. I can only fill this hole, by spending time with my Creator in the reading of His Word (his ‘Love Letter” to me) and by Worship and Praise.

Like you,

I love my family.

I love my friends.

I love complete strangers and those that hate and persecute me or wish to.

I want to enjoy this life I have.

I’ve no wish to hurt anyone in any way (including myself).

But first of all,

I Love my Lord and I know that He Love Me, no matter what.

God Bless You!
 
I had this big preachy-style response laid out and thought better of it. I'll just tell you what did it for me.

When my mother died, I took it hard. I also took it personal. "Why would a God that is carrying and righteous to this to one of his followers?" I was moody, I was suicidal and above all, my faith was lacking.

And it took several years for me to come around. One of the weird things about faith is, you never get a surge of it, it just ebbs and flows slowly in a person's life. One night, after having a fight with my father, I had a talk with God. A serious talk.

And this wasn't a run-of-the-mill chit-chat like normal people have. We were conversing like beer buddies do. No sir, I was laying out blame and spewing hatred toward the man that calls himself "I AM!" Screaming, crying, ranting raving mad. For a solid hour and a half, I drove around that night, basically yelling at thin air.

That was, up to that point, my darkest point in life. I'll never forget it, as it was extremely emotional. I had it out with the father of the Universe. I was, in essence, calling him out. If it was a playground, this would have been the note that said 'meet me by the swings at 3, we're going to fight'.

And then after all that was done, I felt silly and I felt small and I felt that nobody loved me. A very dark depression entered my life, and it stayed with me for several months. And it wasn't until I had a friend almost end their life, for what was basically something that was my fault, did I realize that sometimes it's not always about me. That it wasn't always about what I wanted. Now, granted, that's still a concept that I have trouble with, but the core feeling was there that I had to try and help them, and in the process of at least worrying and the hurt that I caused, and the feelings of hatred I had for myself, I realize, slowly oh so slowly, that I was put on this planet for a simple reason... to be there for people.

I like to make things epic, and I like to pretent things are bigger than they are. Mainly, because other people view things to be so insignificant, even when their actions will hurt other people even it's not their fault. I wanted to be a friend that people would like. That people could count on. But first, I had to right a wrong, I had to go back and repair a relationship with someone who had been there for me, and I knew it.

I don't know exactly where my faith comes from, but I know where my drive to keep it at it's intensity does. Now, I'm not saying I'm the world's best friend. Even to this day I hurt people. I don't want to hurt other people, but sometimes it happens and if I'm lucky, I'll learn what I did wrong and learn from it. I still cuss, I still have problems with pornography. I struggle with going to church. But my faith remains. I have faith that Jesus is my saviour. And always will be.

Scott, I wish I could sit down over a pint to talk this out. And I'm sure there are volumns to go over. Like I said, I've been exaclty where you are at in your spiritual cross-roads. And it's a hard thing to do, especially since you seen at one of Chud's most staunch Christians. I'm hoping that this is just another step toward your road to Heaven. I don't know how much you and Leigh have talked about this, but right now she's the best one to discuss it with I think. I envy your relationship with your wife, as I failed miserably at my marriage. Maybe I'll get to pick myself up and dust off the crumbs and get back on the horse.

Anyway, I wish you luck in your continuing journey. God bless.

*******

Just to nerd this up a bit, what did you think of Episode III?
 
I didn't get to see SW3 *sigh* but it was a good weekend and it does me good to see this encouragement.
 
Heresy - well, apparently you think I'm going straight to Hell (unitarian). I guess I'll look for a place between where it froze over and where it's still hot. It might work :P
 
Well Melissa that argument (that Unitarians are heretical) can be and has been made and that's all I'm saying. Does that mean all Unitarians are Hell-bound? That's up to the big sky Daddy. I'm not in any place to judge.
 
And let me guess, you voted clown college didn't you? ;-)
 
What makes you think that I would have picked Clown College?
 
Your sense of humor, though I've been known to misread you.
 
Wonderful and informative web site.I used information from that site its great.
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