I am sure it feels different for many people, but when others say they are either “saved” or “born-again” … what does that mean?
Well my answer might scare many of you.
For me, it was not when I was baptized, it was not when I attended church, and it was not even when I said that so-called “sinner’s prayer”. It was not until I was completely “detoxed” from the man-made organizational religion called the “institutional church” or Western Christianity that I finally felt saved. I finally felt “born-again” the day my wife hung up the phone to cancel our family membership from our “local church”. That is the first time I felt free in Christ.
Here is a sad side note: After we left the church, my wife had to leave a voice mail to remove us from the church register. Nobody ever called to ask why we were leaving or to check up on us. We knew we were canceled because we stopped receiving mail from the church. In a way, the church not calling did not surprise us what-so-ever. It helped solidify our decision to leave. We never found any sort of community inside the walls, so why would they want to build community with us as Christ after we decide to leave? (We went to a church with 18,000 members)
Actually a lot of the churchgoers think we are heathens or outsiders or unbelievers.
Well, I wanted to get as far away from the fundamentalist Christian thinking as possible. Being involved in a man-made institution really started to freak me out, and it still creeps me a bit when “fundies” start talking to me too. I know where they are coming from because I was one of them once. When they speak it seems to be very hurtful, judging, and condescending (but in a nice fake smile way). The talks are usually about the issues of the day and how the nation should be morally legislated, and the dislike of Obama is typically the third word out of their mouths. Their talk and actions are generally mean.
I know being mean does not have a thing to do with anything, but fundamentalists are mean a lot of the time, and they seem to think this is somehow OK to be that way. Now when it is a Muslim fundamentalist being mean we see this rather easily. I know that Christian fundamentalists do not blow things up on purpose or cheer those on who do, but we are talking only about a matter of degrees.
Well, the church-going fundamentalists try to avoid me at all costs, because when we get to talking they notice that I do not fit their perfect definition of “Christian” and when I do not meld into their way of life, and their way of thinking they do not want to be with me.
I am theologically and culturally different. But, none of that should really matter at all. All that matters is Christ and the love He IS. So what if I am different, I still love Christ (which is loving others too). I love others regardless of how they see things theologically or culturally. I agree to disagree on the things that should be disagreeable. It is not my job to change people to Christ. It is my job to show the love of Christ.
Here are some of my theological thoughts, which really in the scheme of things matter not, but I thought I would share anyway. (and are subject to change too.. J )
I hold no place for young earth creationism. I see the common sense of a six-day creation, and I see where it could be a possible way for creation, but I do not need to believe in a young earth to believe in Christ. The earth very well could be a billion years old, but who the heck knows? None of us do.
I do not read any particular version of the bible. To be honest I pick up a bible now and then, but I do not use it as a weapon and cherry pick verses to fit my own theology. I read it to find Christ. I also do not read it every day as a spiritual discipline most churches teach. (Read every day or you suck at being a Christian).
My description of scripture does not choose to use the word, “inerrant”.
I have a hard time believing in the rapture sometimes.
I do not believe “church” should have a hierarchy or an elder board.
I lean really far the side of Calvinism.
The four “Spiritual laws” are not the Gospel.
I think the “Great Commission” was for the chosen disciples of that time (not for all of us).
I think altar calls are just plain wrong.
I think a paid pastor is unbiblical
I think baptism is not a pre-requisite for heaven.
And sometimes I do not pray over my food … actually I really hate it when someone asks me to open or close in prayer.
Well enough theology, how about the cultural side of things.
I strongly suspect that most of what is on the shelves of “Christian” bookstores is mostly heretical.
I avoid TBN and really most preachers like a fundamentalist would avoid a rated R movie or shot of bourbon.
I consider the use of alcohol to be harmless, if used in moderation.
Tattoos are pretty cool. I do not think I would ever get one, but if a person wants one… so be it.
We have moved our kids to public school this year after homeschooling for over 6 years. (Some fundies would think I am Satan himself by sending my kids into that den of wolves)
I liked dancing when I was younger, and I hope my children do too.
I read a variety of books that fundamentalists might consider “worldly and dangerous”. My kids read some of them too.
My kids and I play violent video games. My son actually is way better at getting head shots in Call of Duty than I am.
I listen to all kinds of music ranging from Tool to INXS and the Cure, to Rush or even current dance music. Actually I find “Christian” music to be somewhat embarrassing sometimes, with a few exceptions of course.
I really love a good movie, even if the language is rough. I watch True Blood, Newsroom, and Game of Thrones.
I have raised my children to love Christ and others, but I do not want to shelter them from bad culture, bad language or flawed people.
I have taught my children that it does not impress God if you dress nicely for church, wear a WWJD bracelet, a Jesus T-shirt, or listen to a “Christian” radio station. I have actually told them God is great and loving enough to speak through any medium he desires.
I love candy at Halloween, and we do participate.
Well, I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
I left the fundamentalist compound a long time ago. Every so often, I look back at some of the good times, and good people I found within the walls, but I am not ever going to raise my kids in that environment, and I am not ever going to go back either.
I do not think Jesus was a mean, negative person who viewed life as a conspiracy or a political rally. I think Jesus was a positive, gracious person who thought God was into everything, which was a matter of great rejoicing.
I have decided Jesus was not a fundamentalist, and so I am not going to be one either.