Friday, December 9, 2011

Knowing Part V - So?

So the teens get back from their regional youth conference. They are invited to lead the next Sunday morning service.  Some sang.  A few do a skit. Two are lined up to give testimonies, and one preached.

James it the first to speak during testimony time.

"Thank you for letting me come.  I really had a good time at the conference. We got to hang out a lot, play paint ball and do some rock climbing. It was a lot of fun.  I got to hear some interesting talks which got me thinking a lot.  I love God and I am so thankful for the Good News of the Gospel. I'm quite confident that the whole Christian story is true and that gives me great hope and I'm ready to live consistent with those beliefs."

He hardly notices the extreme quiet in the room and how many of the congregation were even starting to squirm in their seats a bit.

Britney comes up next.  She starts to cry (she doesn't realize why she is crying. She is crying out of nervousness and performance anxiety).  In her weepy voice she says, "God is sooooo real to me! I feel the Spirit of God on me." The tears flow. "I knew the day I met Him the first time that he was there and I've never doubted that for a second." Amen's break out.  Her self-confidence grows.  "Jesus was there at the retreat.  I could feel his arms around me and they were as real as any real arms I've ever felt . . . even more real than  my mom's arms and I know  my mom loves me a lot."  She continues to cry as bright smiles are everywhere in the church.  She goes on, "I saw so many miracles and people these days don't say miracles still happen but they do!"  Amens continue. "I watched as Amanda, who could never swim before, swim across the deep end of the pool.  It was just like the water was holding her up . . . but we all knew it was Jesus."  Amen! "One boy said he actually saw the arms of Jesus beneath the water."  The people are smiling.

As tears continue down her face she adds, "I don't understand why James just THINKS God is there, I know He is. I feel him in my soul in a very real way. I know exactly what He is saying to me in His Bible.  When I read it the Spirit tells me exactly what God wants me to know.  I just know that God said it, I believe it and that settles it!"  Cheers break out.

Later the senior pastor approached the youth pastor and asked, "I think James was a poor choice for a testimony.  However, I think the Spirit moved the whole congregation through Britney.  She is a tremendous gal. It sounds like James went just to have fun."  The youth pastor felt bad.

So, down on the honest level, James took the conference very seriously.  He spent a lot of his time studying the scriptures between the  meetings to check the validity of what the speakers were saying. He did enjoy the games and hanging out with his friends too

Britney had as much fun as James.  She did all the games and even cut out a couple of the talks (which was against the rules) to hang out with her friends.  During one of the afternoon sessions, she sneaked out to meet her boyfriend, Nate.  While everyone was in the big auditorium, Britney and Nate found a cabin that was closed up for the winter. They got a window open, sneaked in and . . . as Nate had been strategizing for a while, to close the deal and have sex. That was the real highlight of her weekend.


I don't mean any disrespect in the above, fictional, story . . . but I have been a youth and have been around many youth (raising five kids) and I wanted to tell the story, and the irony of the story in graphic, honest detail . . . consistent with reality.

The point is, we Christians value certainty (not certainly as I mis-typed before) above all else.  This puts tremendous pressure on lifting up the kids who are certain and demishing the value kids who think and ponder, but are never certain.

The great error in certainty is that, in my humble opinion, it is never possible for fallen brains to reach true certainty.  Therefore, two groups, the Christians and the confident materialists both claim certainty.

I must explain how I'm using the term "materialists" here. I mean the atheists who are atheists because they believe that they have reached certainty through logic, however, they ignore the fact that logic starts with the premise that if it can't be examined empirically, then it doesn't exist . . . which defiles logic.  So both those groups, who express great certainty  . . . are really like two peas in a pod rather than totally opposites.

Often I've seen kids who were brought up in Evangelical worlds and taught that intellectual certainty is the only moral position to have.  So, when they start to learn in college that some of the things that they learned in Sunday School, were lies, then pitch all of Christianity and flee to the materialist position because the two are so similar.  This was especially true decades ago.

Now, it may be more common to them to take the other extreme of total ambivalence to truth.  They give up their search for certainty altogether because when you become a materialists and you are honest about it, you MUST give up all hope, all morals and all meaning.  Most materialists don't give up these things because they are dishonest and allow cracks in their seams for meaning to sneak in. Carl Sagan did this all the time. Even his TV show set looked very similar to a TV evangelist's set . . . screaming meaning.  This ambivalence is translated into the new (or what we use to call New Age) spiritualism or a twist on eastern mysticism.

I will do one more  posting describing where I personally stand in this area and my final conclusions.

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