Pastor Bill, a fundamentalist Baptist pastor and childhood family friend, is corresponding with me regarding my loss of faith. He has kindly agreed to allow me to post his correspondence here on my blog.
I ask my readers to be polite to Pastor Bill. Even though he has disagreed with my decision to become a Lutheran, and most recently, an agnostic, he has always been kind and polite. You are welcome to post (respectful) comments below the post(s). Whether Pastor Bill chooses to respond to readers’ comments is his choice as I know he is a very busy man.
I will intersperse my comments in red.
In Jesus’ Name, “Greetings Bloggers”!
For some time young Gary has been asking me to put down in this place some of the ideas that I hold to, believe in, trust and love. It is with some reluctance that I do this, as I know that I’m apt to be misunderstood and/or misquoted. I do not claim to be the brightest bulb in the package, I guess the Apostle Paul must have felt similar when he said in Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. At the same time I often rely upon another verse Paul wrote, 1 Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. I am very grateful that over the past 49 years there has been a truth ringing in my heart that has always caused it to rejoice, 2 Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
For those who reading this and you’re wondering about the doubts you might have, we’ll try to deal with some of those soon. In the meanwhile understand this. Even John the Baptist had some doubts as he was in prison for his strong stand against sin. Note his thinking at this time, Matthew 11:2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? It would seem to me that there are some doubts there which Jesus addressed as such, Matthew 11:4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. This must have fixed things for John the Baptist for in just a few short verses Jesus will refer to John this way, Matthew 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Doubts seem to be a real tool and evidently a workable one that the devil uses on people. After His resurrection Jesus came to a number of His disciples in their doubt, Matthew 28:17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. In another place we read, Mark 16:14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. My understanding is that the reason for their doubt was unbelief and hardness of heart. We see from the later verse that Jesus was not thrilled with this and expected more.
So as we begin this journey I’m asking the Lord to open eyes (II Kings 6:17), soften hearts and produce faith. (Romans 10:17)
The Lord says, Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. The testimony of a friend, educated at the headwaters of liberalism, a classmate of Martin Luther King Jr, Pastor of a Southern Baptist Church for nine years as a lost man was, “Reason lead me to the Bible and the Bible lead me to Christ”.
Acts 17:23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. May the Lord Jesus Christ be glorified and may people be helped as we travel through these (for me) uncharted waters.
Responding to some of the things already said might help a bit. I was told that I have been “brain washed” by a “cult”. If I understand what a cult is I’m happy in that situation. One dictionary definition says, “a cult is a small religious group that is not part of a large and more accepted religion and has beliefs regarded by others as strange or sinister”..That may well describe me as I do not believe much of what is taught as “religion” in the world today. It might be a good place to mention that the Lord Jesus hates religion. Religion calls out to God and says, “What must I do to be accepted by you?” and the answer returns from the Lord, “There is nothing you can do to please me,” That’s why Jesus came …. to pay the price of our sin. Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. There are not enough “good works” that any of us could do to present ourselves perfect before a righteous, holy God. Our works stink to the Lord and so Jesus came, 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. While the religious world struggles, trying to please God, it simply cannot be done in ourselves. Romans 10:3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Everyone who believes in “life after death” or “something beyond the grave” is trusting either in what they have done or what someone else has done. John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. …….Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Those who truly do not believe in a future after physical death have been taught that UN-belief. The Lord Jesus has built within each of us a desire to live on a trust and hope that loved ones are waiting somewhere for us in a place too wonderful to be anything but heaven. Some made attempts to say they never believed, I find that difficult to believe but if so, Romans 3:3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? 4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. It was not me who said , “Ye must be born again” that would be the Lord Jesus speaking to a very religious, highly educated and well connected man by the name of Nicodemus in John 3. Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
1 Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
The whole idea was the Lord’s, and His motive was that He loves us…..you as well and perhaps easier than myself. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Here are some questions, Pastor Bill, if you are interested in addressing them:
1. Why would an eternal, perfect God need to create a universe?
2. If God knew that man would use his free will to choose to sin and would therefore endure horrific suffering for thousands of years, why did God go ahead and create us anyway?
3. If God really loved the world, wouldn’t it have been better if he had never created us? As an example, if I knew that I carried a genetic disorder that would cause every one of my children to be born with a severe, extremely painful disability, of which they would suffer every day for 70-80 years, wouldn’t it be more “loving” of me to choose NOT to have children?
4. Why would God create mankind knowing that the overwhelming majority of us will suffer horrific pain for all eternity in the fires of Hell? If he is all-knowing and good as Christians claim, wouldn’t it have been the right thing to do to NOT have created us to begin with?