Map Check

What is the nature of a journey? Simple: it’s the motion from one place to another. Mode and destination can vary, but as long as there is a destination and movement towards it, there is a journey.

Is a spiritual journey any different? Certainly the motion is more mental and less physical. What about the destination? Unlike a physical journey, the destination of a spiritual trip — mine, anyway — seems much less well-defined. There are fuzzy edges, and the destination is much larger than a single city or an old castle in a medieval village.

At what point should I have answers? At what point can I be held accountable for what I believe and what I don’t believe? If we’re speaking in terms of accountability to God, we can’t answer. I wonder if it’s different for accountability to humans?

A reader asks for a map check:

Before we can move forward to any meaningful discussion here , it MUST first be determined IF you even believe in the Bible.

The short answer is, “No, I don’t.” The long answer is, “No, I don’t. But there is something very appealing about belief, about faith, about Christianity and I’d like to believe.”

There are some serious roadblocks to my belief, though, and I’ve been sharing them here.

Meaningful discussion: I haven’t had meaningful discussion about the Bible in ages. I’ve raged against it; I’ve declared it backward, idiotic, full of nonsense, and challenged Christians to prove me wrong. That hardly counts as “meaningful discussion.”

Instead of raging, I’m seeking answers. Instead of declaring it backward, idiotic and full of nonsense, I’m trying to understand how very intelligent people see it differently. And here’s the key: I’m doing it all in the hope that eventually my views on scripture will change. That feels meaningful to me, and as long as I’m asking these questions respectfully, I hope it seems meaningful to others.

You have stated in the past that you do NOT know what position you take (theologically), hence, if you DO NOT believe in the Bible, then any and all discussion is a moot point,and frankly,it looks like you’re just playing games.

I used to play such games. Atheism was a new bauble and I took it to school after Christmas for Show and Tell, convinced I’d found something magnificent. I used it to feel superior to others, and I used it as a tool for mockery.

Fortunately, I did most of this in my head, even the raging declarations mentioned previously. Occasionally, with friends, I might share some of my thoughts, but generally speaking, my atheism was a personal affair. I certainly wanted more people to reject faith and embrace rationality (as I defined it), but I understood that  I wouldn’t change their mind; they had to change their mind.

And now that has circled back on me.

So, I hope I’ve outgrown games of this nature. Maybe I haven’t. Maybe I’m fooling myself. Maybe I’m wasting my time and everyone else’s. Or maybe not.

So, let me ask you straight out – (and it requires just a simple “yes”,”no”,or “I don’t know” answer). DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE BIBLE AND DO YOU SINCERELY WISH TO FIND AN ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTIONS ?

I’ve often held that many Christians are unable to understand how (or even believe that) anyone could not accept the tenants of their faith. It seems black and white to them, so the third option is helpful.

I choose a fourth option, though: I don’t believe, but I want to. To frame it Biblically, I am proclaiming the second half of Mark 9.24 before I can mutter the first half. I have many reservations. I don’t believe much of it now. But I’m looking for alternative points of view on the questions that matter most. This is a journey. I’m picking up my feet slowly, and I’m looking carefully before putting them back down, all with the hope that I’m moving toward a destination that has more meaning than my starting place.

Not a simple answer, I understand. Then again, these are not simple issues.

I shall await your HONEST answer.

I hope this suffices.

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4 thoughts on “Map Check

  1. Pastor Mike says:

    You state: “Not a simple answer, I understand. Then again, these are not simple issues.

    I shall await your HONEST answer.

    I hope this suffices.”

    Fair enough, So,allow me to give you my (and I emphasize “MY”) advice/suggestion(s).

    As I have learned from past mistakes with NB’s,especially atheists,continuing to tell them,”The Bible says this,. . ” or “The Bible says that. . ” , it is not only ineffective – it illogical.

    Christianity is not something to be shoved down your throat or forced on you. You have your life to live and I have mine. All I can do is tell you what I have learned and experienced. After that,what you do with Christ is YOUR decision.

    The point is,if you want to see what’s really there,you’ve got to get rid of what’s obscuring your view. In the case of Christianity,many people approach it with such foggy thinking that they can’t see what it really is.

    All too often,many well-meaning (albeit overzealous),Christians want to “convert” or “save” every NB they come in contact with. But NO ONE can “save” ANYONE ! We can’t even “save” ourselves!

    So,my initial advice to you,given in brotherly Christian love – is , if you SINCERELY wish to become a Christian , all you need do is go off somewhere by yourself, get on your knees and surrender your entire life to Jesus Christ.

    I am often asked ” How do I get Saved ? ” And that question is usually followed up by , ” I want to get Saved , but it seems there are a lot of contradictions in the Bible about Salvation , Why is that ? ”

    And these are valid questions . I KNOW – because I used to ask them MYSELF before I got Saved . I’ll also say from the outset , that there will probably be many who will disagree with me , as , frankly – I am NOT a ‘politically correct’ type of person , nor , do I care to be , and that is , of course , their prerogative . I tell people what they NEED to hear . . NOT , what they WANT to hear ! Just as the prophet Elijah did in his ministry . Elijah was sent to CONFRONT – NOT ‘comfort’ . Jesus , as well was NOT ‘politically correct’ , when HE confronted the Pharisees and Sadducees .

    Oftentimes , people (both the Saved and Un-Saved ) will simply ‘take for granted’ what any ‘Christian’ and / or pastor , minister , etc . tells them , without seriously researching AND studying the Bible itself – which is a ‘ MUST ‘ for EVERYONE !!

    When ANYONE – begins to study the Bible , they MUST do so with the INTENT of finding the TRUTH , as well as the answers to their questions , as opposed to ‘ looking’ for whatever chapter and verse that ‘fits’ THEIR agenda and/or comfort zone. I hear many Christians , as well as non-Christians – make the statement when it comes to interpreting a specific chapter or verse in the Bible , ” Well , I BELIEVE it means . .”

    But what they DON’T understand ,is it’s NOT what the reader BELIEVES – what matters is the TRUTH !! When people ask me questions concerning various issues , IF I KNOW the (Biblical) answer , I tell them , and refer them to the chapter and verse , as well as the biblical source and will discuss it with them , if they so choose . IF I DO NOT know the answer , ( as I am still learning , myself ) – I’ll tell them , ” Gee , I don’t know . Let’s see what the Bible says about it.” And we will then learn TOGETHER . If they haven’t the time right then and there , I’ll tell them I’ll FIND the answer via the Bible and from reliable and accepted Biblical scholars and get back with them .

    Now , much of the secular world tells us that we are “accidents” of nature . That we began as some type of “ooze” in a pond , evolved into apes , and finally into humans . We live , we die , so we should grab for all we can get in this life – after all , that’s the only way to fulfillment . In contrast , the Bible tells us that we are NOT accidents ! We were created by a loving God who knew about us BEFORE we were even born ! We are here for a purpose , and we can find ultimate fulfillment by finding a relationship with Him .

    God is NOT some “force, ” an unspeaking or unseeing idol , or merely another name for our own self-esteem . Instead , God is a person , our Creator , who created us to be in relationship with Him .

    Now , I realize that sometimes people don’t understand the concept of having a “relationship” with a being they cannot see or touch – ( I know I sure didn’t understand it ) . Yet it IS a reality .

    FACT : You must personally respond by trusting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior .

    Now , even if you grew up in a church , you STILL need to accept Jesus PERSONALLY . Even if you’ve led a terrible life of sin , NO ONE is “too bad” for God ! And again , DO NOT LET ANYONE TELL YOU ANY DIFFERENT !! A person does NOT have to “clean up his act” BEFORE coming to Christ ! In fact , Jesus died to take away all that sin and to help a person start anew . So , therefore , being “good” is NOT good enough , yet NO ONE is “too bad” to be able to be forgiven . God wants ALL people to come to Him . ALL people NEED to TRUST IN JESUS in order to be saved !

    Now , my friend , may I humbly ask if you would like to accept Jesus as your Savior ?

    If you’re ready , you can express belief and trust in Christ through prayer . Now , prayer is simply talking to God , just like you talk to your friends . It IS NOT chanting useless repetitions of some denominations definition of “prayer.” It is NOT “praying” with a useless set of some type of pagan beads !

    God knows what you mean , even when it’s difficult to express . Use YOUR OWN words , or you can repeat the following :

    ” Dear God , I know that my sin has separated me from you . I accept Jesus Christ this day as my Lord and Savior , and ask Him to come into my life , and thank Him for cleansing me of my sins with His precious blood from the cross . I now turn my entire life over to you , Lord . I give you thanks for choosing me and I accept your free gift of Salvation . . In Jesus’ Name , Amen . . ”

    That’t IT !! You are now a member of God’s family ! We are brothers / sisters in Christ .

    But please remember , that just as a baby isn’t left to fend for him / her self after being born – neither should a BORN again Christian ! You are vulnerable to all sorts of predators – and BELIEVE ME – SATAN HAS ‘EM !!

    I urge you to get into a good Bible-based church , where , on issues of doctrine(s) – the Bible is the FINAL authority – NOT MAN !!

    Fellowship with other Christians , check with your pastor about getting into Bible-study , and CONTINUE to seek the truth for YOURSELF !!

    ” . . with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” ( Acts 17:11 )

    And , by all means , if I can be of any assistance to you , please DO NOT hesitate to contact me at : pastorstahl@aol.com

    May God’s Grace , Love , and Peace be with you always . . .

    Yours in Christ ; Pastor Mike

    • The Itch says:

      I appreciate the advice. I’m not at a point where I’m ready to pray such a prayer, to accept such a notion.

      When will I be? Maybe tomorrow; maybe never. I’m not going out for milk and butter, spiritually speaking; it’s a much more significant change I’m contemplating, and the data are not all in yet.

  2. KarenElissa says:

    It seems to me that the spiritual journey (mine at least) is more like a road trip than I’m trying to get to ___ place as fast as I can. You may, or may not, know exactly where you are going, but all the in between stuff is pretty up in the air. There seem to be lots of stops and starts and detours in my journey. Some of it may be bad, deliberate sin, but a lot of it isn’t bad, it is just part of the journey. I’ve been Catholic for two years know, and while I believe that it is the “fullness of truth” I don’t for one minute regret the other things I experienced before. They made me who I am today.

    I guess my advice would be don’t worry too much about the end, just take each moment as it comes. Explore your thoughts and questions, but don’t worry too much about where they lead. I believe that God will use them to draw you to Himself in the end, but just focus on this moment in the journey.

    • The Itch says:

      I agree with you to a degree. In the end, though, there is a destination: truth. Or, if I want to indulge my new theistic tendencies, Truth.

      I believe it’s the same for atheists and theists alike. The goal — truth — is the same. The difference is where the emphasis is. I believe, going back once again to James’ “The Will to Believe,” that there are two ways of approaching the issue: seeking truth or avoiding error. Atheists tend to want to avoid error, hoping to get to truth eventually (at least that’s always been my approach). A theistic approach would be to seek truth, understanding there will be errors but also understanding that they might be there for a reason.

      Thank you so much for you comment. I hope to hear from you again.

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