Getting Personal With Christianity
I am a Christian
It has not always been easy to say that I am a Christian because I have not always considered myself one. Doubt has played a large part in questioning what I was supposed to believe as I grew up. There may be others out there that have experienced the doubt that I experienced and that is the purpose of this article: to share and maybe help identify and overcome doubt.
The Absurdity of Christianity
The first thing that I called into question (still causing me reflection) is the conception and birth of Christ. It wasn't that I thought that Christ was anyone but a upstanding person, but his mother I always called into question.
In my logical mind, it made no sense that Mary was a virgin. I thought it was a rouse that she used to trick her betrothed husband Joseph in to marrying her. He was too enamored with her charm to see that she has committed fornication and ended up having a dream about her, Mary, and the child because he truly did love her. His love for her caused him subconsciously to excuse her behavior and make up some delusion so that he could still feel good about marrying her.
It made no sense to me, so I put it out of my head and just accepted that part of the Christian experience as lore of the religion. It, of course, created doubt in my mind each time Christmas would role around and people spoke of the virgin Mary. I was too afraid of God (Whom I did not know at the time personally) to say anything about my issues.
Mary was not this upstanding person that we were all supposed to revere as the mother of God. She just stopped Jesus from being born a bastard! At least that is what went through my head.
Even after I had found God and converted to Christ, I could not reconcile theses long held feelings of doubt in the very story that set Jesus apart from all men and women born. Some how, I was supposed to accept that the Spirit of the Lord rested upon Mary as the presence of the Father overshadowed her.
Absurd! Who in their right mind would believe that? I know I experienced serious cognitive dissonance regarding the issue. The bastard child ended up becoming the most important and influential religious leader and icon of all time!
Of course, I would not dare share my view with any person. In fact, this article is the first time that I have admitted that those feelings ever went through my mind. It was almost as if some unseen influence continually pressed this issue upon my heart to cause me to question my faith.
The Price of Doubt
Youths, such as was I, do not have fully developed frontal lobes and are prone to make rash decisions. Doubt can cause great calamity in youths whose frontal lobes can take up to 25-years-old to mature.
Why do I mention this? The frontal lobe is associated with the decision and reasoning functions of the brain. Because I was such a young person the conclusions that I reached were very unpredictable and not necessarily based in reality. I suppose that could be said of some adults!
The price that I paid for doubt was losing my confidence that Christianity was correct. I left the faith after some scandal with some church that involved adultery. (I do not remember who and where.) I concluded that if the servants of God could not even live the religion that it must not be true.
I was an evolved ape!
I read in the Holy Bible where such things as adultery were incorrect. Thanks to some of my high school teachers, religion was cultural I learned. It made sense to discard old cultural beliefs that had even become outdated with clergy.
It was not too difficult for me to come to that conclusion since the doubt of Christ's validity whispered in the back of my mind. I made a rash judgement of the faith of my youth, which I did not understand enough to make such a judgement. I went further and decided God did not exist.
It followed that I would come to such a conclusion rather than accept the notion that I no longer had direction because without God, life had no meaning. Without my Christian heritage, what was there? I was an evolved ape! I had no divine nature.
The only problem with that new belief was that the evil that had lurked in the background never stopped whispering in my ear new things to confuse my still developing lobe.
Doubting My Doubts
Man (women too) is a creature of habit and needs to have such patterns so that he can live without fear. We humans have it in our very natures to worship something. Think about it. Even atheist worship something.
What I mean by worship is to give great time and devotion. I needed to have something to give my devotion since I then relieved God of that attention. Being a teenage youth at the time of the crisis I did what any American teen boy would do. I worshiped at the alter of girls and friends.
I let my hormones do the talking and my brain marinate in stupidity. Now, as I worshiped at the alter of this new god of mine, I did not do anything that caused me to lose my chastity. I did not know how to find any girls to accomplish that--not for lack of trying. I wanted to hang with the cool crowd.
I went to my cousin Terry and revealed to him that I wanted to have sex with a girl and figured he could tell me what to do about that. He was an attractive guy and appeared as if he could get any girl he wanted. I figured he could provide me with some tips. I did not know he was Christian at the time, but I was desperate to remove the title of virgin and he was my last resort.
Instead of laughing at me, he took me on an adventure around town with the idea in my mind that he would somehow magically de-virgin-ate me. At the end of the night I ended up drunk and beaten. That's another story.
It was not Terry's fault those things happened to me, but he successfully purged my thoughts about sex that day before the drinking and beating happened without saying a word for or against premarital sex. For that I thank him.
The next day, I started to rethink my exclusion of God. I decided that there must be a higher power. I figured that this higher power had very little to do with us humans, but it did exist and arbitrarily intervened at his or her pleasure. We were mere play things.
Such a belief did not sit well with me either. There had to be more to life that what I had decided to make of it I thought. During this time of reflection, a glimmer of hope appeared while in class at school, social studies or world history, I do not recall. I learned about Moors, Black Muslims of Northern Africa. I immediately decided that Allah did exist and I would learn as much about Him as possible.
I found out very little being that where I lived was a small rural town in South Georgia. Being a Jehovah Witness was as diverse as it was in my town religious-wise. Only Black and White people lived there--with the exception of one Japanese girl whose name I can say, but would not dare type it because I would butcher the spelling.
The Nation of Islam was what I could find on the internet at the school library. I loved the clothing these people wore. I wanted to wear those smart outfits too! I decided that I would become a Muslim and learn about Malcolm X and the lot.
I decided to doubt the doubts I had about God and search Him out in another faith.
We occasionally allow ourselves to become paralyzed by the things that cause us pause in life. Because I did not want to remain trapped in the quagmire of disbelief I struck out to find religion again. I did not want to give up.
For me, Islam was safe from the deception of shady clergymen and miraculous virgin births. (I found out later that the Qur’an teaches that Christ was a miracle virgin birth also!)
Finding Jesus Christ
God has a way of leading us to the truths that we need to know at the moment we need to know them so that we can get closer to the truths that lead us to Him.
If we want to believe that there is a higher being and refuse to go beyond that point of belief, He will work with us and provide blessings within that realm of belief. He did for me. He blessed me and aided me in all stages of my way to Him.
I was open to the truth. I was willing to accept anything that I was told about God. I was thirsty for information. I was ready for Islam
Finding all the information that I could on the computer about Islam, I decided to check on some books about Islam that would provide me further information as the school library. Unfortunately, at that time there existed no public library within my range of travel of which I was aware. I am sure there was no Qur’an in the library at that time either, but I searched.
I searched for Moors. To my great joy I found a book that had something to do with Moors. I thought I did at least. It was sky blue with clouds on it and had a golden man blowing a trumpet on it. The title read: The Book of Mormon.
Whatever you, the reader, may have heard about this book I did not know at the time. I thought it contained words about The Great and Honorable Prophet Mohammad. I remember reading about moormen on one of the sites I had visited online or in a book. I therefore figured Mormon was just another name for Black Muslims from North Africa.
I had never heard of a Mormon or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My young brain was too slow and erratic to connect the name listed as publisher on the book with any Christian organization.
I dived into the book reading all I could. I could not stop! I found myself enthralled by the words of the strange prophets in the book! I began preaching from the book to myself. I imagined audiences of people before me as I read. That book converted me to Jesus Christ.
It testified of the virgin birth, and I believed it. It testified that Jesus was the son of God; and I accepted it. All my doubts and worries melted away when I found another book that testified that Jesus was the Christ.
I decided to be Christian again. I started going to church again taking my book with me every place that I attended. I would ever hold that book dear for reintroducing me to my faith in Christ.
You Weigh In
Have you ever had a question about your faith that you had a hard time accepting?
What changed that made Christianity no longer absurd?
There was no magical enchantment on the book that made all of my doubts go away. There was no vision from heaven that gave me a new brain.
Experience is what helps me to overcome my doubts in my Faith in Christ and to accept Him as the Lord whom I would follow. I read the Book of Mormon, but I still did not have a personal relationship with God. My prayers were not to God; they were at Him--as if I was wishing on a star.
The relationship with God would come later. Because of the experiences that I had searching and then deciding for myself--coming to my own conclusions based on what I had read--I made a choice to believe the scriptures rather than have empirical evidence of everything.
In the beginning, my dilemma was I wanted every aspect of Christianity to make logical sense so that I could believe. The solution was to believe without explanation. It was easier for me to do that with two different books declaring that Christ was Lord; however, it was more than that alone.
My heart and mind had accepted the idea that Jesus Christ really is the Son of God. I previously and mistakenly equated the Bible with the behavior of the people who professed to teach it.
I learned that the Bible is its own witness of God's love and does not depended on the character of the person who declares it to me--even though good character can only help. The Book of Mormon was my other witness--the witness that converted me to Christ and restored my faith in the Christian religion.
The Actuality of Christianity
In my personal walk toward God, knowing that He lives did not come until I met missionaries who taught me how to pray. Even after I found that I had His ear and could talk with Him about my beliefs I still would pause on the virgin birth and how I felt about it before I decided to follow Christ again.
I wondered if other people might feel that way. If there were other people who did, I have never heard of them. Christians should take stock of how our beliefs may seem strange and contradictory to non-Christians. We should look for ways to help others understand what we believe without throwing up on them--giving too much information.
Each person must decide for his or herself if he or she wants to know the truth about God. From there, God will work through experience to teach the willing learner the truth. It worked with me.
God loves all people and His teachings are not about force, but entreat. Christ asks us to follow Him. He will never drive us before Him.
God waited until I was ready; He then opened up my eyes as He will do yours and others.
- Getting Personal With Christianity # 2
It is really important for me to answer those questions honestly so that I can know how to approach God for help in changing if I find my answers unacceptable. Maybe there are Christians out there who have thought of these things?
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© 2014 Rodric Johnson