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My Story, Part One

August 18, 2009

It’s easy, these days, to hide behind the wall of the Internet. We can avoid telling people who we are, or even, make up a character to play. And in the realm of atheist/Christian dialogue, people can use that wall to be brave and say anything they want. It’s easy and it’s safe. You can hide behind the walls of logical argument, historical proofs, or scientific investigation.

But, telling your own story is way more difficult. It opens yourself to be fully picked apart in areas that you might consider very personal.  And, I have to confess, I have put it off for a few days because I didn’t want to do it. My story isn’t really that dramatic. I don’t have any “I was on drugs, but Jesus saved me” type of moments. I seriously doubt I would ever be asked to give a testimony in one of those TV churches. Instead, my road is one long battle with my doubts, my faith, and trying to work on both in the context of the church. I don’t know how exciting it will be, but don’t say I didn’t warn you beforehand.

First, everyone should know, I’m a creed confessing, bible reading, Jesus loving fool.  I believe that God created the world (over a long period of time using  natural processes). I believe humans were created in God’s image (a huge issue that can’t be covered in this post) that we sinned and feel from our image bearing role. I believe that sin is the source of all human suffering and pain. I also believe that God entered into our pain through the person of Jesus Christ.

I fully believe that Jesus was fully man, or as I have told my boys, he laughed, he cried, he hurt, he farted and he picked his nose. But, He was also God. There, I said it, the farting God. You can quote me. I believe He offered himself up in our place and took on not just our sins, but our pain and suffering. I believe He rose again on the Third day. I believe He will come again to restore the world and make things right. I don’t believe He is coming to take us away to happy heaven land, but to restore this earth in all of it’s goodness.

Now, I’m sure that might distress some of you. I’m guessing you were hoping that I would be more “liberal” in my beliefs and that’s why I’m so accomedating in this blog. But see, that’s what you don’t understand. I really believe my faith. I’m not afraid when people question me. Do I still doubt? Of course. Does it scare me? Absolutely. But, I still believe. And all that drives me to let people be who they are and express honest questions. I don’t expect atheists to act like they believe in God, or pretend to be nice in regards to that particular question. Real truth can’t be gotten to unless you ask honest questions. In my mind, if God can’t take some questions, then He isn’t worthy of worship.

My story begins in a small Indiana town. I grew up a good German Catholic boy, serving as an alter boy, and I loved it. I still have a very soft spot for the Catholic church. It’s where I learned the Nicene Creed and all the basics of my faith that still guide me.  I went to mass everyday and loved it. I didn’t have daddy issues (and still don’t). My family loved me and didn’t shove faith down my throats. I was allowed to explore, to create and to love my world. I especially loved the natural world of rocks, bugs, trees, and creeks.

But as I moved to St. Louis when I was in sixth grade, it changed my world. Doubt entered into the question and I reacted to that doubt by throwing myself into the nondenominational Charismatic world. It’s there I became the chief of sinners, a know-it-all, pedantic, pharisee. The worst of sins, spiritual pride entered my heart.

I will pick up my story there in my next post.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. AdamK permalink
    August 18, 2009 2:02 pm

    Thank you!

  2. mouse permalink
    August 18, 2009 2:34 pm

    “… if God can’t take some questions, then He isn’t worthy of worship.”

    Bingo, that’s the bottom line. Well said.

  3. AdamK permalink
    August 18, 2009 2:41 pm

    mouse –

    Ha! My “bingo” moment was in the same paragraph, but one sentence earlier:
    “Real truth can’t be gotten to unless you ask honest questions.”

    “That’s the bottom line. Well said.”

  4. Ray S. permalink
    August 18, 2009 3:07 pm

    I’m not distressed so far.

    It’s not the taking of questions I’m interested in. It’s clear answers.

  5. AdamK permalink
    August 18, 2009 3:18 pm

    “It’s not the taking of questions I’m interested in. It’s clear answers.”

    Clarity will begin to show itself when we start to see some translations from the christianese. “God’s image”? “Sin”? “Fully man…also God”? “Rose again”? I have a feeling it’ll be a while.

    What I’m interested in is more what it feels like to be a christian, and how it could possibly feel good & right. There are enough intellectual arguments over religion on the internet, about which I am right and everybody else is wrong, I might add.

    (Meanwhile remind me to bite my tongue when I’m tempted to ask what eating the fictional flesh of a 2000-year-old zombie rabbi has to do with morality, cosmology or abiogenisis. I am not as sharp-tongued in real life as I tend to be in writing.)

  6. August 18, 2009 3:20 pm

    One thing I could never accept on an emotional level is that the world (or humanity) is “broken” somehow, made wrong by sin. It’s one of those things where I just needed to look around, see the people around me, even the more misguided ones, aren’t “broken” at all. Neither is this “world of dust”, it’s such an amazing place! Just look around, the world is great! The people are great! Sure, we can be stupid, or misguided, or mentally ill or damaged on an individual basis, but “sinful”? The evidence of my eyes tells me that just doesn’t wash.

    But it’s a common thing, isn’t it? Certainly the Abrahamic religions have it. Confuscianism held that the world was out of steps with the heavens, so things were bad and needed to be fixed. Buddhism holds a low regard for the world of dust and maya. And on and on it goes. Why is it, you’ve got all these faiths that spend so much thought on how the world is a terrible place (especially compared to Heaven), the people are so sinful and fallen, and so forth? I guess the more cynical among us might call it part of the con. You want to hold people to your faith? You convince them that all that awaits them outside is terrible and horrible, and only the One True Faith can save them from that. It’s certainly valid and there are faiths that do use it that way.

    But I’m a bit more optimistic than that. I think it’s more an emotional thing. Injustice is everywhere, I know that. Bad things happen to good people, accidents happen, and so forth. The world isn’t perfect, bodies break down, you can’t always get what you want. So it’s easy to fall into that line of thinking that this is all for a purpose, rather than a million reasons. That there’s continuity to suffering. So it’s natural to come up with a reason for that. It’s how people are, we’re really good at thinking up reasons for things. And so, sin. It’s elegant enough, and ties in with explanations of other things, so it catches on and becomes part and parcel of the religion in question. But like I said, not necessarily convincing to me.

    I don’t need to be saved. There’s nothing to be saved from.

  7. Shannon permalink
    August 18, 2009 3:53 pm

    “Real truth can’t be gotten to unless you ask honest questions. In my mind, if God can’t take some questions, then He isn’t worthy of worship.”

    A friend of mine (claims to be) is a Jesuit. I don’t know if what he told me when I first began to question my faith is true, but it stuck with me – and this reminded me of it. So, being me – I share.

    “hey,” he said – “look, it’s simple. Man can challenge God three times – and God will always answer that challenge. In those moments of absolute despair, don’t be afraid to actually ask the question that’s burning in your chest, no matter how supposedly awful or blasphemous. What good is blind faith?”

    It really did stick with me – it stuck to the point of leaving my faith, mind you, but it did stick with me. Examined faith matters; unexamined faith is so much rah-rah handwaving.

    I say this to say I admire the bravery it takes to post a testimonial, to state the path your faith has taken, and to spotlight those hard questions you’ve asked. And – thank you for doing so. I look forward to reading the rest.

  8. AdamK permalink
    August 18, 2009 5:21 pm

    Kelseigh – Very nice post. The world that religions envision always seems small and cramped to me. It’s one of the reasons I keeps asking why anybody would want a religion.

    I have the same issue with the idea of “brokenness.” We’re really smart, amazing, wonderful apes. What’s broken about that? Who said organisms had to be perfect?

  9. August 18, 2009 5:56 pm

    If you are looking for proof of “broken” humanity, then that is what you will see; that does not mean “sin” is a sufficient explanation for the human condition. It seems a bit shallow, given what we know about psychology, etc.

  10. Stormkahn permalink
    August 19, 2009 1:33 pm

    Bravo, you have a clear turn of phrase, an honesty, an openess, that sets you apart from the unwashed mass of Christianity. Hold on to it.

    You are a little oasis, so many Christians say “He is a God of Love” and then display no such thing to their fellow human beings (Pastor Tom I hope your ears are burning).

    Keep Smiling,

    Dave.

  11. August 19, 2009 8:18 pm

    Enjoying this series, Jonathan. Thanks.

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