Thursday, December 20, 2007

So Much to Say and So Little Time to Say It

It is hard to know where to begin, not because there isn't much to say, but there is so much to say. It is like hooking a garden hose up to fire hydrant.

It think, to address this issue appropriately I must do it somewhat chronologically . . . again starting with my own story.

I shared in brief in my first posting but I want to add a few more dimensional lines to that story. I was tempted to write the whole freaking story . . . but I'm afraid the details would be distracting. The best thing to do is to share a summary.

First I must point out, as I did earlier, that I grew up in the Bible Belt and was typical of any such heritage. Looking back, it is clear to me that for the majority of the Bible Belt culture, being Christian is a facade superimposed over reality. In my reality, I had some very serious that God was even there.

When I encountered a group of Jesus Freaks (my last year of high school) I was attacked to something different in their lives and I, maybe for the first time, had a honest desire to explore Christianity further.

The Navigator leader (the Jesus freak . . . I'm not being silly here, he really was a Jesus freak, with long hair, beard, beads and a micro bus) told me that to doubt was sin and the opposite of Faith.

This concept was one of about four foundational blocks that later crumbled and lead to my Christian downfall.

So, if my doubts were considered as sin . . . I really had only one choice, to suppress them. So I did. I never talked to anyone again (for the next 15 years) about the doubts that continued to thrive deep in the cellar of my soul.

The second concept that was part of my downfall (and I believe part of the great error of modern Evangelicalism) was the concept of the "New Creature" (based on II Cor 5:17 ) and the whole idea of sanctification. I really think it is a great misunderstanding of the verse. This erroneous concept basically goes like this: 1) When you become a Christian, you are entirely new. Your genetics (personality traits) prior experiences etc have no meaning or bearing on the future. The problem here is that we are a product of nature and nurture (our genetics and experiences) and those things DON'T go away with a presto and a zap. So, when you carry tendency towards depression (or any other problem), you have to deny it now that you are a Christian.

2)The second part to this is a very wrong concept of sanctification. It believes that everyone has the same opportunity to grow at the same rate and rate is determined by four exercises; A) reading and studying the Bible, B) fellowshiping with other Christians, C) Praying and D) Evangelism. If you do these activities for X number of hours, you will "grow" at X rate. Now as you grow, you reach different levels. The old Baptist would call the high level "strong Christian." The Navigators would call it becoming "godly" or becoming a disciple, or a disciple-maker. These things are all on a continuum. The other point, is that as you become godly, you sin less and less.

When I was in an intense training program in the Navigators, I actually had a chart on which I recorded my sin. My goal was going an entire week with no sin at all.

The problem with all the above, is that we had a very, very poor understanding of the depth of the fall on our own being. We did not understand sin.

Jumping ahead, my downfall came when suddenly I realized that my super-spiritual/man of god, boss had been abusing my family and myself for three years. It was three years I had to do psychological gymnastics to keep the facade going.

At the same time, I thought myself as godly as well. I mean, after all, I had jumped through all the godly hoops for 15 years. I was out of touch with my own failings.

In one horrible night, on a dirty street in downtown Cairo, the facade crumbled and I was in deep despair.

I think at this point, I will stop this post. I will then copy and paste part of chapter of a book I am working on that describes this night from an emotional standpoint.

Later I would start to describe my journey that finally led me to the truth . . . but a very lonely truth.

1 comment:

Like a Child said...

So, if my doubts were considered as sin . . . I really had only one choice, to suppress them. So I did. I never talked to anyone again (for the next 15 years) about the doubts that continued to thrive deep in the cellar of my soul.

Sounds exactly like my path. Found your blog by way of Internet Monk