9/12/2013 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Anthony C ~
JUNE 4TH 2011
Where do I start my discussion on my approach to the truth of Evangelical Christianity? There are many places I could start. So I have decided to discuss it from the approach of my experience of and with God.
Firstly, after 31 years, I have decided that I am no longer an "Evangelical Christian". When I examine the last 31 years of my spiritual pilgrimage, I was looking for an experience to encounter God. This was according to what the Bible says or pastors and teachers say the spiritual experiences of God should be. (we all want this). I had been a sincere, dedicated Christian, seriously trying to live a Christian life and understand Christian doctrine, basically having the correct beliefs.
"And as a result of doing just what I had been told to do -study and learn Christianity - I had discovered a spiderweb of cracks in the very foundation! In short, my faith was starting to slip away. I had no intention of walking away. Indeed, I fought. I kicked and raged over each millimeter".
Not my quote, but this reflects my sentiments.
All of the teachings regarding experiencing God have not come to be a "reality" in my actual life experience. I truly did believe, but only because I desperately wanted to believe, so I focused my attention on things that bolstered my faith, i.e. Bible prophecy which turned out to be controversial to say the least. (MANY false predictions), I turned to the historicity of the Bible to confirm my BELIEFS, ( based upon what "scholars said").
I also spent countless years trying to make sense of all of the divergent denominations that contradicted each other. I wanted to be certain that I had the "correct" beliefs to know that I was in right standing with God. Here is a list:
- Prophecy: End times. What is the correct view? Pre, Mid, post rapture? Amill, Post mill, NO MILLENIUM?
- Some say that Revelation has already been fulfilled in the first century. Many changes through out Christian History.
- Once saved, always saved? Huge disagreement amongst Christians
- Doctrine of HELL. Divergent views with Christendom.
- Prophecy about the future of the world? Read Church History and the varying views will astound you.
- Baptism: dunking, sprinkling or NO BAPTISM?
- The Eucharist: NO, "in" "with", and "around" the element of the bread and wine. The belief in the Eucharist, where the bread and wine turn into the actual body and Blood of Christ This was a church belief and practice up until the time of the Reformation. Why did this belief change after 1500 years?
- The deity of Jesus: Doctrine of the Trinity formalized at the council of Nicea 300+ years after the time of Jesus. ( Major controversy during the first 300 years of the church. Christians had different views about this. It was not a uniform belief).
- Origin and transmission of the scriptures: Bible difficulties. Oh there are many. Why did I have to perform mental gymnastics to reconcile difficult verses? Better yet, I had a difficult time reconciling the character of God in the Old Testament vs the new Testament. There is a qualitative difference that's difficult to reconcile.
- Decision making and the Will of God: Very confusing and elusive. (this was the main issue that commenced my questioning of the very faith I've been taught).
Greg Koukl a Christian apologist for STAND TO REASON, an apologetics organization, correctly identified the errors by Christians with this issue. If he is correct, why are Christians lead astray in this area? Don't you think that God would perhaps clear up the CONFUSION?
- The Shroud of Turin. This is controversial to say the least.
This approach of bolstering my " Faith" worked for many years, but ultimately I could not sustain it.
This is just a partial list of beliefs/doctrines that I focused on to bolster my faith.
But here's an important question: If believers are in dwelt by the "Holy Spirit", and The God of the Bible is The True God, why do Christians struggle? We have to read countless " other books" to explain the Bible, or to explain Bible difficulties....
Well, So much for "ALL I NEED IS THE BIBLE". Why are these areas not cleared up by God?
Why must Christians resort to techniques of looking for "guidance," looking for "doors of circumstance to open or close," "the still small voice", casting lots, etc.) if the Holy Spirit dwells within them? What is the benefit of an indwelling Holy Spirit if he doesn't manifest himself in day-to-day living, and he has to be coaxed into revealing God's will in major decisions?
I'll quote Dallas Willard, (professor of philosophy USC) here:
" The Spirit who inhabits us is NOT mute, restricting himself to an occasional nudge, a hot flash, a brilliant image or a case of goosebumps". (Hearing God. page 22.)
It is precisely these subjective experiences that I believe that Christians seek to encounter. It is not a two way communication, where God and I have this two way communication where I speak to him and he SPEAKS to me.
Why did I have to spend countless hours seeking those more Mature Christians who claim to have the correct beliefs or the " right" technique on how to follow Jesus?
As Dallas Willard has said, "its the failure to" UNDERSTAND" Jesus!
Well, if God's children are struggling, and I don't understand, WHERE'S the COMFORTER? The Spirit of TRUTH?
PRAYER? When one prays can we honestly say that we experience God where one hears him respond to our prayers? Is there an "actual" " experience" where one can honestly say that they have experienced God? Can I say that God actually interacts with me during my daily Existence? Lets see? Is it my subjective experience or is it God the Holy Spirit? HOW does one distinguish whether its my own thoughts or God. When I look back over time, my conclusion is: it's my own thought life. If it were God IT WOULD BE CLEAR. So this whole aspect of prayer and interactive relationship is plainly not a reality.
In the area of experiencing his " presence", that is you know that he is there, I Mean, "KNOW", like really KNOW he's there.. The answer is NO.
My past subjective experiences have all been elusive. I.e. We have the emotive experiences that we want to be from GOD, and frankly, they're not divine in origin.
My experience tells me that in actuality I had "beliefs ", but an absence of God. In other words, It has been my experience that God does not interact with his creation in this way.
There was always these nagging questions about experiencing GOD and what is the spiritual life supposed to be like? From an evangelical perspective it has always been elusive. To say otherwise, I would not be telling the Truth.
There is more confusion than clarity. Where is God in all of this confusion? Look at all of the voices within the church. There are countless denominations that develop techniques in how to encounter GOD. Or what are the "correct" beliefs and doctrines one should believe?This comes from both Catholic and Protestant denominations. (especially Protestant). WE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO ENCOUNTER SO MANY OBSTACLES TO ENCOUNTER GOD.
IF GOD Is OMNIPRESENT as Christians argue, why has he not revealed himself to all of humanity to remove all confusion and doubt? Instead we have Christians running around claiming to have the right technique or program to encounter GOD. They're all different and contradictory. This can't be from GOD. God is not the author of confusion?
IF GOD Is OMNIPRESENT as Christians argue, why has he not revealed himself to all of humanity to remove all confusion and doubt?What has prevented me from asking these questions in the first place?
FEAR! Unadulterated FEAR! I now believe that humanity has a mind to rationalize and reason. Humanity has the capacity to question the very beliefs we have been taught..
Belief becomes a habit driven by fear of the unknown or the fear of rejection if we doubt or question, so our questions are internalized, and we begin to feel guilt.
In the Divine Conspiracy pg:xiv in the intro: Dallas identifies an aspect of the church,
"It is the Failure to understand Jesus", I'll stop right there.
You see, that's one of the issues, "it's always the failure of humanity on how to get the spiritual life correct. We spend so much time trying to figure it out!
If we have not figured it out, than the response is, " it's SIN in your life" or you're not "doing it right"........... or you're not trusting GOD........ or it's your lack of faith.........!!!
There's Greg Koukl from Stand To Reason, who rightly identified that Christian's are running around trying to figure out Gods will for their lives:
"What is GOD's WILL for your life ?.....just name it....... occupation?..... Who should I marry?.....
What should I eat for breakfast? etc etc..... Something’s not right here..?
We have Christian teachers who say we need to "learn" to "listen" to GOD's voice. Dallas Willard would say "we have to practice the spiritual disciplines in order to "have an encounter with GOD".
It's always, the individual Christian that has to perform certain acts or apply certain formulas to have this encounter with GOD. If we are not successful, it's not GOD's fault, it's the Christian's lack of faith, or their spiritual "tuner" is broken!
Or we hear the phrase, " the LORD spoke to me", "I believe that GOD wants me to"............"
I prayed for this job and the LORD gave it to me. ….. two weeks later, he loses his job!!!
Is that God's will? Is God changing his mind? We spend time trying to figure out, maybe he's punishing me? Or maybe this was not God's will in the first place? When only two weeks ago it was his will!!!!!!!! There's something wrong here?
Think about this, according to Christian Theology, God is a " perfect BEING", and Man is corrupt, therefore imperfect. It's the imperfect creation that has to resort to all of these techniques to encounter a Perfect BEING. This makes no sense! If Christian Theology is correct regarding God's nature of all loving and perfection HE WOULD CLEAR UP THE CONFUSION!
I have decided that This world view does not correspond to reality, my actual life. If it were so, it would be obvious!
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